Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mini-Reviews: The Nightmare Affair and Perfect Scoundrels


Title: The Nightmare Affair

Author: Mindee Arnett

Rating: 2 Stars/DNF 

Release Date: March 5th, 2013

From first glance, Arnett's debut seems to have a lot going for it. An eye-catching cover? Check. Gorgeous title fonts and imagery? Check. A fascinating new idea? Check. Unfortunately, however, The Nightmare Affair is - no pun intended - a nightmare to read. While it starts off promising enough with a unique premises, it soon deteriorates into nothing more than a stereotypical paranormal mystery, riddled with a Hogwarts-eque boarding school and topped off with silly, unrealistic dialogue and characterization.

The Nightmare Affair starts out well enough, grabbing the reader in from the first chapter itself as we are introduced to our protagonist, Dusty, and her nighttime duty of gracing humans with nightmares. On this particular night, she happens to be in the home of Eli, an extremely good-looking guy from her former high school. Usually, kneeling over a hot, shirtless guy while he sleeps to give him a nightmare wouldn't be a problem, but tonight, everything goes wrong. For one, Eli's nightmare takes place on the grounds of Dusty's current school, a place for those with paranormal powers - such as werewolves, faeries, and nightmares - to hone their powers and, also, a place that Eli should know nothing about. Yet, to make matters worse, when Eli wakes up, Dusty's  magic refuses to work on him and the girl they've both seen dead in his nightmare is found to be murdered just hours later.

Needless to say, with such an engrossing beginning, I had high hopes for this one. Yet, to my immense disappointment, Chapter 1 is as good as it gets. Dusty is whisked away, back to her boarding school and from there, everything just gets worse. One of my biggest issues with this debut is the dialogue. It is obvious that Mindee Arnett doesn't really know - or understand - teenagers. Not only are the conversations in this story riddled with cliches, but the interactions with adults seemed too stereotypical and unreal to truly seem plausible. Dusty's mother, Moira, is cast in an utterly ridiculous light, failing to provide a foundation for a strong mother-daughter bond and Dusty's rivals in her school are just as predictable as your run-of-the-mill blonde cheerleader, from their expressions to the next words that come out of their mouth.

If all this wasn't bad enough, the romance set-up between Eli and Dusty is obvious - and far too boring - from the very beginning. As characters, Eli and Dusty bring nothing new to what we've already seen done time-and-time again and as a reader who went into this book looking for originality, I came across only the same old bland story lines, characters, and settings. From what I've heard from my trusted friends, it turns out that Arnett's debut has a love triangle to top this all off, one that seems wholly unnecessary since even I can already tell you who Dusty will chose, despite not having met the second guy yet.

Honestly, this book is just too simplistic, poorly executed, and unoriginal to be worth my time. I gave it nearly a hundred pages before giving up and simply have to arrive at the conclusion that it is not for me. I know plenty of readers who have found to be a fun and enjoyable piece, but I am unfortunately not one of them. If you don't mind a rather typical, but entertaining, paranormal mystery, The Nightmare Affair will most likely be your cup of tea, but if, like me, you were drawn to this novel because of its potential uniqueness in an overdone genre, look elsewhere.

Title: Perfect Scoundrels (Heist Society, #3) 

Author: Ally Carter

Rating: 4 Stars

Obviously, Ally Carter and I need to have a chat. A long one. Preferably ending with her releasing her books all in the summer so I don't waste my day reading instead of studying for my tests or doing my physics homework, all which I have to do now at around 10 PM. Still, I have to admit, this was worth it.

Perfect Scoundrels is hands down the best HS novel so far and I hope they just continue to get better from her on out. Unlike the last two novels which focus solely on heists, Perfect Scoundrels is about stealing back Hale. Nope, he hasn't been kidnapped, but ever since the death of his grandmother, he hasn't been the same. Now, Kat has to do everything in her power to make it okay and bring back the Hale she knows, even if it means finding his grandmother's real will and taking on a criminal who may just be as clever as she is.

What makes Perfect Scoundrels such a phenomenal novel is the mere fact that Carter has written three-dimensional characters. Finally. While her previous novels were fun, engaging, and compelling, Perfect Scoundrels blows them all away by exposing the more vulnerable side of Hale, showing us the deep ravine that actually separates the worlds that Hale and Kat live in, and ultimately forging stronger relationships. We get to see a different side of Hale, but also of Kat, especially since family plays a huge role in this book. Not just the family you're born into, but the family of friends you decide to trust and who remain loyal to you, no matter what.

For me, though, Perfect Scoundrels came alive because of all the raw emotion in it. Carter still retains her classic style of writing, fast-paced plot lines, intelligent con plans, and she throws in a fair share of heists too, but there's so much more of everything in this novel. It is more, more than what we've come to expect from Carter and in the best possible way. I can now only keep my fingers crossed that this series will continue to improve and its characters will retain the depth we've been lucky enough to glimpse in this installment.

16 comments:

Vegan YA Nerds said...

I saw the excitement for The Nightmare Affair on twitter but I decided not to jump on it because I didn't know how good it could be, so now I'm not disappointed. It sounds really middle of the road, although the very beginning reminds me of Monsters Inc.!

And, I really want to read Ally's books - they all sound so goo

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) said...

Yes! We pretty much felt the same way about both of these. You know I agree about Perfect Scoundrels, it WAS the best one yet, and apparently, there will be mooooore!
I DNF-ed The Nightmare Affair for the same reasons you did. It felt like a complete waste of my time and I figured I have better things to read. I really wanted it to be original and special but oh, well, what can you do.
Great reviews!

Paranormal Book Fan said...

I finished the Nightmare Affair and gave it 3.5 stars. I'm on the blog tour for it next week. But I did find it disappointing. Having met the second guy, he wasn't impressive and it was a very predictable read, but was slightly redeemed by the ending. I will pick up the sequel when it comes out, and hopefully things will have improved.

I'm glad to see you enjoyed Perfect Scoundrels, I haven't read this series. Great review Keertana

Renu said...

You took the words right out of my mouth. After seeing the lovely cover and reading the quirky synopsis I was really looking forward to The Nightmare affair, but I was left sourly disappointed. The dialogue didn't really work for me and tbh I was quite bored after the first few chapters.

Thanks for the honest review!

Sam said...

I enjoyed The Nightmare Affair more than you did, but I was also a little disappointed. I suppose as it was one of my most anticipated releases this year, I was expecting it to blow me away. Sorry you couldn't finish it. :( I haven't read your review of Perfect Scoundrels as I'm starting the series soon, but I'm really glad to see a high rating!

Jasprit said...

I felt exactly the same way about both of these books as you did Keertana, I rated The Nightmare Affair 2 stars and had to literally force myself through it, I found it a bit cliched and parts of it so predictable, it's a shame as like you I had such high hopes for it! Also yay for loving Perfect Scoundrels, I hated seeing Hale this way, but like you said it definitely made Perfect Scoundrels a more of an emotional read compared to her previous two books! Great reviews Keertana! :)

Rachel said...

I have The Nightmare Affair as well, so this is disappointing news. Although, sometimes it's nice to have a light predictable read. Yet, who has the time to waste? Everyone seems to have enjoyed the latest installment of Heist Society. I haven't yet picked up the series, and to be honest, I probably won't, but glad to see you loved it. It says something if a book distracts you enough you put off other things to finish it. Darn homework! ;) Great reviews Keertana, as usual.

Livvy said...

I'm sorry to hear about The Nightmare Affair. I have that one to read.

Cliches do annoy me quite a lot so I will probably be annoyed, but I'm willing to give it a try.

I've yet to read a book by Ally Carter, but I definitely need too. Especially since I've heard such brilliant things about Heist Society.

Great reviews, dearest! :)

Savindi@ The Streetlight Reader said...

Lol I love your definition of a "mini review." Your reviews are always so awesome Keertana.I liked your review for The Nightmare Affair a lot. I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy this one. I guess I liked it a bit more than you did, but I do agree with you about the dialogue and the characters.

I've never read anything by Ally Carter. I've heard good things about her books. Maybe I will pick them up someday :)

Lauren said...

Oh bummer about Nightmare Affair. I just downloaded that one, but I have a feeling it's going to be a miss for me too. Reading Perfect Scoundrels now and loving it so far—I love seeing the more vulnerable side of Hale too. Great mini reviews!

Jess Hearts Books! said...

Perfect Scoundrels was probably my favourite book in the series yet and although I felt bad for Hale his grief added a new layer to these usually fun light hearted books, lovely review Keertana!

Courtney Reads A Lot said...

What a shame! I was looking forward to Nightmare Affair because it had such a unique premise but now I don't think I want to read it. I've had enough of typical YA paranormal romances. I need something different.

And I really need to read something by Ally Carter. I will have to get on that. Glad you liked this one! Great reviews, Keertana!

elena said...

I was really looking forward to The Nightmare Affair but after all the mixed reviews, I'm wary.

I'm really glad you enjoyed PS though! I totally agree about characters getting more depth.

Kailia Sage said...

Ah so sad about The Nightmare Affair! The cover is gorgeous and idea sounded so amazing but oh well.

Perfect Scoundrels is a book I am so scared to read! I'm not sure how I feel about it ending (this is the last book in the series, right?) so I've been worried about reading it.

Sapir V said...

I had high expectations from The Nightmare Affair!! I am so sad to hear you didn't like it...
The romance is always the most important part of the book and it's really bad that the romance here wasn't good. Off my to-read list!
Thank you for your honest opinion.
New follower!

Please check out my new blog too. Thank you (:
Sapir @ Diary of a Wimpy Teen Girl

Candace said...

Shoot. I just skimmed The Nightmare Affair after seeing your rating. All I can say is that I really hope I like it more. I already have it, so I'll be trying it anyway.

I'm so happy to hear Perfect Scoundrels is the best yet. While I have enjoyed the books in the series I always felt like the characters were lacking something. And the romance was so frustrating cause it never went anywhere. So I'm excited to read this one since you say it's the best yet.