A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares – ARC Review



Well, that was a heck of a lot darker than I thought it would be.

I knew going into this that it would deal with topics such as fear and anxiety, but I never guessed it would be as deep as it was.

The story follows the life of Esther Solar, a girl whose family has been cursed by Death itself to die from each of their deepest fear.

Her mother is afraid of bad luck, so she buys lucky rabbits and spends all their money on slot machines. Her father has severe agoraphobia so he locks himself in the basement and has not come out in six years. Her twin brother, Eugene, is afraid of the dark and the demons he swears he sees inside of it, so it’s been years since the lights in their house were turned off. Esther is the only one who does not yet know what her fatal fear, so with the help of her childhood friend, Jonah, she hopes to cross a few off the list.

As first, that is exactly how the book starts. Then, the deeper we see into all of their fears, the more we see that maybe, just maybe, it’s not Death that is out to get them. That maybe, the real monsters are the ones inside their own minds, and that they are the creators of their own curse. From there were start delving pretty deep into the different types of mental illnesses each of those characters face and how they deal with their inner demons and it was all pretty beautifully done, especially on Eugene’s part.

My one regret while reading this book, is that I was unable to enjoy it more. I always feel bad for not loving books such as this. Books that are obviously trying very hard to deliver a good message and bring certain hard topics to light. The book is informative and well written and presents the illnesses it shows in ways that are not condemning or mocking, but rather like it sees the gravity of them and urges people to seek help. The book is also full of diversity: from all the types of mental and physical illnesses to the POC love interest. Over all, I should have loved it. Sadly I did not.

It took me a long while to get into this book. It took me a long while to care about the characters and the plot. It was hard for me to concentrate on it and far too easy for me to put it down. At first, it all seemed just a bit too quirky, like everything was being exaggerated. The book takes on this air of almost magical realism while juggling serious topics and also trying to be a quirky YA contemporary and I just wasn’t feeling it. Paired with the fact that I didn’t like either Esther or Jonah for the first part of the book, I was left dying to put it down. In fact, I almost did leave it down a few times. It wasn’t until later that I began to like Jonah, and to really love Eugene, who has got to be my favorite character here. I think Sutherland did a great job at depicting him and his struggle. Sadly, I don’t think I ever got to really liked Esther.

In the end, I still think that this was a pretty good book. I think my lack of enjoyment had less to do with the book and a bit more to do with my mental/ emotional state at the moment. Still, I think many of you would greatly enjoy this one.

Be warned, this book deals with topics such as depression, anxiety, gambling addiction, suicide, self-harm, domestic abuse, among others. If these are trigger warnings for you, I recommend you take caution.

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**I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.**

{A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland will be published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers on September 5th 2017}

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3 thoughts on “A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares – ARC Review

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