Title: A Semi-Definitive List Of Worst Nightmares
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books
Publication date: September 5th, 2017
Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather met Death, her entire family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime—a fear that will eventually lead each and every one of them to their graves. Take Esther’s father, for instance: He’s an agoraphobe who hasn’t left the basement in six years. Then there’s her twin brother, Eugene, whose fear of the dark goes far beyond the things that go bump in the night. And her mother, Rosemary, is absolutely terrified of bad luck.
As for Esther, she’s managed to escape the curse…so far. She doesn’t yet have a great fear because she avoids pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces, crowds—anything that might trigger a phobia is off-limits and is meticulously recorded in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.
Esther thinks she has it all figured out, until she’s reunited with an old elementary school classmate—and first crush—Jonah Smallwood. The encounter leaves her stranded at a bus stop and swindled out of her phone, all her cash, a Fruit Roll-Up she’d been saving, and her list—not to mention her dignity. But the theft is also the beginning of an unexpected friendship between the two, one that sends the pair on a journey of self-discovery as they try to break the curse that’s consumed Esther’s family. Together they face their greatest fears, one debilitating phobia at a time, only to discover the one fear they hadn’t counted on: love.
“Esther changed into a costume of Wednesday Adamds, and then they went, the three strangest teenagers in town: a ghost who couldn’t speak, a boy who hated the dark, and a girl who dressed as someone else everywhere she went.”
This is one of the weirdest contemporaries I’ve read in a while. And I’m saying that in a good way. Kind of. It’s true that I’ve really enjoyed the book, but I have to say at first I was a little confused by the writing and the genre, because, well, the thing is it felt like a magical realism and it seemed like it would be one, but turns out it wasn’t. And I was in a HUGE reading slump at that moment, so my lazy brain wasn’t grabing everything and it took me a while to get into the story.
This was one of my most anticipated reads of this year, and ever since I read the synopsis and saw the cover (look at it, isn’t it gorgeous??), I knew I had to read it. It was what I expected but in a very unique way, and yes, it had a lot of elements I loved, but I had some issues as well that made me lower my rating a bit. I’m blaming myself and my reading slump for some of those, and I’m considering re-reading it in a future just to see if my opinion changes. But for now, this is what I thought of it.
“She’s passed the fear barrier, and she’d lived, and she’d discovered not certain death, as shed imagined, but impossible
What other beautiful things had fear been hiding from her? What else had the curse long kept her from discovering?”
At first when I stared reading the novel I thought the characters were okay. Yes, our protagonist was quite extravagant and liked to dress up, but it wasn’t mind blowing to me and definitely not remarkable. However, as I continued reading it, I found them more charming and started liking them more (that’s how the story goes, right?). And Esther fit into that category. I wasn’t a huge fan of hers, but I have to admit her development was one I loved the most, beause she went through some tough things, but she grew stronger, and that’s something I like seeing in a protagonist, especially in YA contemporary.
Let me tell you I didn’t quite like Jonah at the beginning because, well, he was quite an asshole to her, but oh my god, I loved him and how supportive he was with Esther, our main character, and I definitely adored their love story. It was quite odd due to the genre the book is in, but it was a very beautiful romance, where they’re trying to get the best out of each other, especially once you get to the half of the book.
I liked how the book talked about mental illnesses. I believe I haven’t read a novel that unique and though I had a few issues with how it’s portrayed at the beginning, its development was well done and I’m satisfied with that. I liked how they seeked help. I also wanted to point out that there was an author note explaining the research she did before and while writing the book, so extra kudos to that.
“And sometimes love, even if it was all they had to offer, was enough.
It had to be.”
As I mentioned previously in this review, the writing was a bit weird at the beginning, and I wasn’t as focused in the story as I would’ve wanted to, so it took me a bit to get used to it. It fit so good to the story, but oh well, I couldn’t concentrate. And there were a few things that made me feel it was going to be a magical realism, but then it wasn’t???
And there was something that I still don’t know if it was true or not, and that was Death. Yes, there was an actual person that had the role of Death in the story. Allegeldly. Throughout the whole book you believe that Esther’s grandfather met Death and befriend him, and everything related to him was true. But in no point it’s told that he doesn’t exist and is a normal person, or the opposite, and that’s something that confuses me and bugs me a bit, frankly. However, I loved reading about Esther’s grandpa’s relationship with Death. Those experts were my favourites, because they had quite an interesting comunication, and their encounters were very unique.
So overall, despite having some issues with the story at first, I did really enjoy it, and I’m really exited to read more about her!
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