Monday, April 8, 2013

Review and Giveaway: The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett


Review: The Midnight Affair by Mindee Arnett
Goodreads
Rating: I think my expectations were a little too high. But it was definitely charming, and elements of it were incredibly original, and I'm still completely in love with the premise and the fun and funny heroine. I loved the second half but only liked the beginning.

The Nightmare Affair (The Arkwell Academy, #1)

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

Literally.

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.



The cover: I ADORE silhouette covers. I've had my eye on this book for a while partly because I find this cover so gorgeous. The shape of the white phoenix is a little wonky, as is the concept of a white phoenix to me (especially since the phoenix in the book is black), but the deep purples and black gravestones are all so super pretty. Love her sassy ponytail.

The story: The moment I heard about this book, months and months ago, I knew I had to get my hands on an ARC. Luckily enough, I did. And while I definitely enjoyed The Nightmare Affair and recommend it to those who prefer their paranormal stuff on the humorous side rather than the drearily romantic, I'm not sure it quite lived up to my sky-high expectations.

What I absolutely hands-down loved was the mythology. Arnett's system of magickind was genius and so unique. I loved all the politics and prejudices between various forms of magical creatures. I loved the concept of a Nightmare, a creature that must feed on people's dreams to survive and the idea of a dream-seer, aka a Nightmare and his/her partner that can see the future in dreams.

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Who are you?
 
Arkwell Academy is a fun boarding school setting, where the kids learn telekinesis instead of chemistry and the kids accidentally get turned into snakes every now and then. Arnett included some really cute quirks  like how furniture and electronics can develop (usually cantankerous) personalities and sugar is a contraband substance because it's basically cocaine for fairies.

I also loved Dusty. I found her a little too quippy at the beginning, but she quickly won me over. She's flawed and fun. Feisty, incredibly stubborn, and more than a little hilarious, Dusty is an easy girl to love. She's got a serious mouth on her and can never quite manage to hold in her snarky, snotty comments, which is always something I can relate to. I would have loved to know more about her life before she came to Arkwell. She hardly ever talks about her father or her previous friends. But watching her try to adjust to a magic world that has no place for her and doesn't want her was amazing. Nightmares are generally hated, and Dusty's own estranged-ish mother was the most hated of the lot. Poor Dusty has a fearsome reputation to live down, but no matter how hard she tries she can't shake people's negative expectations of her.

Dusty, like all good plucky PIs in the making, throws herself headfirst into this murder-investigation business. I love a good murder mystery. I will always one hundred percent support a teenage girl snooping through underground tunnels to catch people doing nefarious deeds. Add magic, hot boys, and a harbinger of death or two and I'm doubly sold.

 

Where Arnett lost me a little bit was in the side characters. I really liked Eli, Dusty's dream-seer partner, but I wanted more of both him and Selene, Dusty's siren roommate (who is hilariously campaigning for the sexual objectification of sirens, a historically sexy and beguiling mythical creature, to stop). Eli was yanked out of his "ordinary" high school pretty abruptly. I would have enjoyed to see more of the growing pains of that and how it matched up with Dusty's own experiences of suddenly leaving the world she knew behind. I wanted Eli to do more stuff! Be more present! A for there to be less Paul (but not Les Paul). Most of the teachers fell flat to me, to the point where I actually had trouble remembering who was whom. And the Paul character just completely didn't work for me at all. Especially when Eli was just sitting there all hot and Eli-ish in comparison. Dusty. Put your contacts in. One has a weird blond ponytail and the other has abs of death and blue eyes. This isn't difficult.

As for the mystery... I wasn't so engaged in the beginning, but once things picked up, I was like "I MUST KNOW THE DEAL HERE." I totally pegged one of bad guys from the very beginning, and was actually rolling my eyes every time Dusty interacted with this person, because they were so obviously evil, but the rest of the reveal definitely surprised me. The climax was exciting and intense, and I loved that so much of it happened because of Dusty's flaws and strengths. Everything happened both because Dusty was too stubborn to see the truth and brave enough to seek it no matter what. I loved her complicated relationship with her mom, though again, I thought Dusty was seriously missing the obvious there.

All in all, this book was a really nice setup for what should be a fun paranormal series. I still have some questions remaining that didn't get answered, particularly about Arkwell and the different types of magic creatures and how the heck this giant magic just exists in the middle of Ohio (random) without anyone noticing, and a few other tiny things. I'm hoping everything will get clarified in the later books, when I can tell all the good stuff is coming, because I loved how The Nightmare Affair ended. This book was definitely a lot of setup and a lot of clunky but interesting info-dumps, but once it got to the goods, the goods were great (unlike that sentence).

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Want a copy? Well, I'm giving one away! As long as you live somewhere the Book Depository can ship to, you're eligible to win!  

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

26 comments:

  1. Eli was definitely a character I could have used some more of, and I completely agree that Dusty should have liked him as much as I did from the start. Just saying.

    Also, yes, I was expecting a little more from this book, but I did enjoy it. It was a fun read, and I also thought it was fairly unique.

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    1. Definitely Team Eli. There wasn't nearly as much Eli in this book as I wanted.

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  2. My default answer for this is a wendigo, but on second thought I'm pretty sure that would ultra-blow. Fairies are pretty cool though.

    Got this sitting on my shelf. I was going to start it last week, and then I remembered that The Name of the Wind exists and hasn't been read yet. And Unspoken. So maybe next week...

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    1. I had to Google a wendigo and learned that they are COMPLETELY TERRIFYING good God woman! Also READ UNSPOKEN. READDDD ITTTTT.

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  3. You really make this book sound interesting! I'm not typically one for paranormal, but maybe the unique mythology and complex relationships it sets in place would be worth it?

    As for mythical creatures, I've always had an affinity for things with wings, and the inner six-year-old is me is screaming that I desperately need to be best friends with Tinkerbell, so I'm going to say I'd love to be a fairy. :)

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    1. When I was six I was convinced a whole colony of fairies lived under my bed. So I say good choice :)

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  4. Oh my gosh, Gil, I love this entire review. You are so freaking spot-on. We were like joined at the mind while reading this book. Also, the "abs of death" bit made me laugh out loud.

    Oh! As for the question asked... I think either a siren or a Nightmare. Being a Nightmare would be cool (though a little awkward until I got used to it), and I would totally like to be a gorgeous siren. I'm too sarcastic for anyone to objectify me though.

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    1. "I'm too sarcastic for anyone to objectify me"

      MARRY ME, SOUL MATE.

      Just checked out your review and saw how similar our opinions are. Seriously. Book twins.

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    2. My jaw dropped honestly. If I'd known, I so would have coordinated my reading to line up with yours.

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  5. I've seen this book around but never thought of reading. Another book to go on the ever growing TBR list. Thanks. I'm not sure what kind of creature I would like to be. Maybe a fairy.

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  6. Either vampire or siren. Vampires are eternal and hot. Sirens can lure men... and they sing a lot which is fun! I'm a singer, so I'd love that aspect!

    mestith at gmail dot com

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  7. I would def like to be a mermaid! That would be legit! But I also would like to be a Vampire... so maybe I could somehow be a Vampire Mermaid lol.

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  8. Teehee, Mulan gif!

    Umm, what? She's torn between magic abs and a ponytail? Girl, stop. Hie thee to an eye doctor STAT, because your sight is obviously effed up!

    I'm really not sure whether I want to read this or not. It sounds like a solid three star, but I'm not sure if I have the motivation with so much else out there to read.

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  9. I believe I will go with fairy....

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  10. I would like to be a wizard!!! thanks!!!

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  11. I think I would want to be a witch, just because I could see myself with more options as to what I could do with with my powers.

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  12. I've been wanting to read this book for a while. I've heard some mixed reviews, but your review clearly moved it up the TBR list.

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  13. Wizard definitely! I want myself a wand so I can cast spells and do crazy magical things :D

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  14. I think I'd be a demon, unfortunately lol. Sometimes it's just too fun to be bad!

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  15. Probably demon 'cause bad ones always have more fun. LOL!!! Thanks for a giveaway and great review! :)

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  16. half demon and half angel ... one side a good girl and the other side a bad girl ajajaja it will be so funny !!!
    almendra in the rafflecopter

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  17. Definitely a wizard, that would be so cool.

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  18. WIZARD! Then I could finally go to Hogwarts :D Thanks for the amazing giveaway!

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  19. Definitely a wizard like everyone else here. thanks so much!

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  20. I think I'd go with wizard. Do I even really need to explain why??? You could do soooo many cool things.

    Brynna

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  21. Eh, probably a mermaid! I want to see the underwater world. :D

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