Author: Krystal Sutherland
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5 Stars)
Release Date: September 5, 2017
“She’s passed the fear barrier, and she’d lived, and she’d discovered not certain death, s she’d imagined, nut impossible splendor. What other beautiful things had fear been hiding from her? What else has the curse long kept her from discovering? For the first time in a long time. She wanted to find out.”
A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares is a hilarious and inspiring take on fear, growth, and battling your inner demons. Esther Solar is cursed. Her family has been cursed by Death to succumb to their greatest fears. For her father that’s agoraphobia, her mother bad luck, and her twin brother Eugene it’s the dark. But Esther doesn’t know her greatest fear, and she’s in no hurry to find out, that’s why she keeps a list of all her “worst nightmares”. But a surprising reunion with her childhood friend Jonah Smallwood leads Esther down a path to confront her fears in an attempt to try and stop her family curse before it consumes them all.
Things I Liked
I absolutely LOVED the fun and humor in this book! You might not expect a book about your worst fears to be so light-hearted, but I found myself smiling or laughing in almost every chapter. Esther, Eugene, and Jonah all have a jovial sarcastic personality. Even though they all are dealing with their fears and anxieties, they maintain really snarky humor that I loved.
I really liked the inclusion of little mini-lists that were observations or facts about a certain situation from Esther. I thought they worked really well in the story, they added more information and context – especially regarding her grandfather Reginald.
Jonah Smallwood is a treat. He’s so charming and suave and devil-may-care. I really liked him (even though I got mad at points). I loved that he wanted to do special effects makeup – it’s a truly unique artform, and I loved that we got to see a character pursue art in a different way. I love how relentless and charismatic he is, it’s so easy to follow these adventures he and Esther are on, because he is such an effervescent personality.
I really liked how Death/The Man Who Would Become Death were personified in the story, through Reg’s stories. It really made this abstract concept/curse more grounded and gave a depth and history to the story and their family.
The writing in the story was so easy to fall into. The story had this grand adventure feeling. It was so lively, humorous, and fun, when it easily could have felt formulaic or repetitive with the fear-a-week method Esther and Jonah used.
Things I Didn’t Like
I would have liked to see more of Hephzibah, Esther and Eugene’s best friend. I felt like I didn’t really get to know her, therefore I didn’t care about her relationships with either Eugene or Esther.
A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares is a story of finding the strength to battle your demons, both real and imaginary. I loved the humor and the joy I had while reading. I like that we get to see the characters trying to fight their fears in different ways – facing them head on, talking to each other, talking to a therapist – it was nice to show that growth comes in many different forms. This was a great story that was filled with fantastic characters and large personality.
*Trigger warnings for: suicide, self harm, and abuse
I received a copy of the books from G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.