Book Review of The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

Posted March 4, 2013 by Kara in Kara / 36 Comments

Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: March 5th, 2013
Pages: 367
Genre: Young Adult-Paranormal
Source: NetGalley

Description from GoodreadsSixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.


Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli’s dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.

I have noticed, for the most part, that when a blogger says a book is “fun,” i.e., “this book didn’t have a lot of depth but it was fun,” that’s code word for it was meh. At least most of the time. But when I say it here, I actually mean it. The Nightmare Affair WAS fun. The story was fairly formulaic, but I appreciated the unique usage of a very famous legend. I enjoyed the mythology and there were some world-building elements I truly enjoyed. If you are a casual reader reading the book purely for story/plot, I think The Nightmare Affair will be one you most likely will love. Someone like me looks at all the mechanics of a book though, and that’s where the flaws lie. I’ll get to those shortly, but I can be objective enough to separate my thoughts from the way others are probably going to feel. That’s why, before I get into this review any more deeply, I want to say that I DO recommend this book for the casual reader. I thought it was AWESOME for that purpose.

Moving on. 

 photo gif1-20.gif

I know I didn’t need to include that GIF but I kind of wanted to because I have had it forever and I WANTED to use its so badly!

So, back to the book. 

Most of my issues were with the writing. When I started reading this book, I was actually worried I was going to have to DNF it. But I stuck it out and it did get better. That said, there was SO MUCH telling in this book. Almost zero instances of imagery. Poor character development which makes sense since the author was telling me everything about the characters rather than showing me. I didn’t believe in the chemistry between Paul and Dusty because the author didn’t show me it existed. The writing was bare bones: vague, lacking in detail, and just very meh.

The characters grew on me a little by the end, but still, most of them felt very flat to me. Eli, Paul, Mr. Morrow, Selene, Moira…ALL FLAT. I like my characters with personality and I just was not able to become attached to these people because of the poor writing. 

I did like the way the story wrapped up. The climax and fight scene kept me incredibly engaged and flipping those pages. I thought it was written well and paced correctly. That was one area of the book where I thought the writing worked. 

For as creepy as the setting should have been, it was not creepy at all. But that was because the appropriate amount of detail and atmosphere was not added. I don’t know if the author actually writes like this or because the editor made an executive decision that it needed to be simpler, but either way, it was a poor decision. I almost felt as if this book gave off a middle grade vibe, but then I hate to insult middle grade books because most of them have more depth than this. Ouch, I know. 

Also, you’ll find a couple of the typical YA tropes here: love triangle, instalove, shallow mean girl with no depth, the quirky best friend who wasn’t all the quirky, etc. Not to mention there were several interesting parallels between this book and Harry Potter. Clearly the author is a fan. Not that that’s a bad thing but this almost bordered on a bit too much. 

I could complain for a while about this book. But I clearly didn’t hate it as I rated it 3 stars. Which brings me back to the first paragraph. Sometimes I wish I still read as a casual reader, because if I did, 5 stars all the way. If I just read for fun and not to critique, this book would have been magic for me. But it wasn’t. But the story is a great ride, so if you are looking for a lighthearted paranormal read, I think I could recommend this to you. 

3/5 Dragons

36 responses to “Book Review of The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

  1. I loved this one. From an analytical standpoint I pretty much agree with you – though I really liked Selene. But even with the flaws in it, my enjoyment of Dusty and the whole story, and the world it’s set in, won out and I awarded it five stars.

    This was an excellent review, Kara, and I’m glad that you included the preface at the top that most casual readers will find enjoyment out of this.

  2. I just finished writing my review right now and I’m trying to communicate what you perfectly formulated here. It’s not bad, but it could have been better…and yet I liked it enough to read on. Maybe because it reminded me of Hex Hall and I loved that one.
    I love the gif 🙂

  3. I really liked the lightheartedness of this book but I couldn’t rate it 5 stars either no matter how much fun it is. Still working on my review but will be sure to link to yours!

  4. Damn it. I had a paragraph written and it got deleted. *flips off Blogger*

    Basically, I call books fun all the time and that’s exactly what it means (entertaining but lacking in depth). My meh books get called boring more often than anything.

    YES for using a gif for no reason. Love it.

    So this sounds okay, but I removed it from GR because it’s been 3 stars almost entirely across the board and if there’s not really a chance I’ll love it more than most, I’m not bothering.

    • I NEEDED to use that GIF. I’ve been sitting on it for far too long. 😀

      I don’t blame you for removing it, but if you are ever looking for a fun and mindless read (I sometimes am), you MIGHT like it. That’s when I would choose to read this if I could.

  5. The creativity and ideas were just not enough to overcome the flaws in the writing. I loved the ideas and the premise.. but I often found myself struggling to push through reading. Other than Eli looking hot in red boxers, I could not fathom why Dusty liked him. IMO, he didn’t seem to possess much of a personality. It’s certainly not the worst book I’ve ever read, but because I liked the ideas surrounding the book so much, I was very bummed I didn’t like it more than I did.

    • Completely agreed. And great point that you made about Eli there. I didn’t get into depth about why I didn’t like the characters, but that’s a very good reason.

  6. Amy

    I liked this book, but didn’t love it. I thought it could have been shorter and there was a lot of filler content in it. I did like Dusty. I thought she was a fun character. Great review!

  7. Sam

    I think that’s the thing with being a reviewer – and having read so many similar books. I gets more and more difficult to just enjoy something without thinking about the mechanics of it all. I found this ‘fun’, too, but not brilliant enough to stand out against everything else. I’m still unsure if I’ll read the sequel, but I am curious about it. Great review, Kara! I agree with you completely on this one.

  8. Uh, yep, basically agree with this entire review, Kara. This book IS fun and engaging, but it also lacks strong writing and characterization. I enjoyed it but couldn’t get past a few really big issues, all for which you mentioned here.

  9. I wasn’t a big fan of this either. I actually didn’t even finish it and I found the dialogue, amongst other aspects, to be seriously lacking. For some reason, the characters just didn’t work for me. A strong, balanced review, Kara! 😀

  10. I love your blog! I have this novel on my to be read list on good reads. I have been debating actually spending money on it or trying to get it from the library…. I try not to let reviews sway me, but yours was so good!! Am now following you!

    • THANK YOU!! I couldn’t find a blog for you but I do follow back so if you have one, let me know, k?

      I’d try to get this one from the library. But I would still read it cuz it’s fun.

  11. Sigh… Another ‘neh’ review. I’m wondering whether I should even bother reading this in the first place if everyone I know only just kinda enjoyed it. And the premise sounded awesome. I’ll push it back down the list, I guess. Thanks for the great review!

  12. I think the most important thing you said here, at least for me, is that the characters seemed flat. I’ve been giving up on books a lot lately when I can’t picture the characters in my mind. It is seriously so frustrating for me. I like a “fun” book every now and again, but without multi-dimensional characters, the fun is sucked out of the entire book.

    • Me too! And I have just had so many “meh” reads lately, Flannery. I am ready for this reading slump to be over. Though I am reading Mila 2.0 right now and I am really enjoying it so far.

  13. “I don’t know if the author actually writes like this or because the editor made an executive decision that it needed to be simpler, but either way, it was a poor decision.”

    …this is the kind of thing that terrifies me…

    • I mentioned that because I saw an author the other day saying their editor made an executive decision to cut down the details in their writing. I found that very disappointing and until then, I didn’t know an editor would ever request something like that. Especially since the book in question is getting reamed by reviews for being all tell and no show. 🙁

  14. Ugh, flat characters and too much telling are big turnoffs for me. I love the premise for this book, and certainly expected it to be creepy. It’s a shame the author couldn’t pull of that kind of atmosphere. Kind of makes me wonder if the same book had been written by Laini Taylor or Neil Gaiman what the outcome would be. 🙂

    This is such an interesting review, because I feel this way often—I have a lot of fun reading the book, but I know there are massive problems I’m going to have to talk about, and a small part of me wishes I wasn’t reviewing, just reading.

    It’s funny, despite all these problems which normally have me running for the hills (instalove, LT, telling, etc.), the first paragraph of your review probably means I’m going to still read it. Just with adjusted expectations, and only when I need a light, purely fun breath of fresh air. Great review!

    • It would have been creepy if there was more imagery and less telling in the writing. It would have been a much better book, methinks.

      Yes, I still wish I was reading just for fun sometimes. Those days were the best!

      I can totally understand why you would still choose to read it. I’d read it again and probably enjoy it more if I was in the right mood. 😀

  15. KM

    I’m really interested in this book! I’ve got a copy on my kindle but haven’t read it yet. I’m glad at least it’s fun and lighthearted. I’ll read it when I’m in the mood for something less serious and more brain candy-ish. 🙂

    • Yes, brain candy is the perfect description for this one. It’s like takeout Chinese food. Satisfying for a little while but in an hour you are hungry again. 😀

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