Title: A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Expected publication date: 5th September 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
“Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther’s father is agoraphobic and hasn’t left the basement in six years, her twin brother can t be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck.
The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them.
Esther doesn’t know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces, and crowds are all off-limits. So are haircuts, spiders, dolls, mirrors and three dozen other phobias she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.
Then Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, an old elementary school classmate. Along with her phone, money and a fruit roll-up she d been saving, Jonah also steals her list of fears. Despite the theft, Esther and Jonah become friends, and he sets a challenge for them: in an effort to break the curse that has crippled her family, they will meet every Sunday of senior year to work their way through the list, facing one terrifying fear at a time, including one that Esther hadn’t counted on: love.”
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this book but it really wasn’t anything to write home about.
A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares is, essentially, about a girl who believes that her family is cursed to die at the hands of their worst fears. The longer the story went on, the more I realised that the ‘curse’ was more down to a vulnerability of mental illness and the denial of this by out main character, Esther.
I really like this book because I related to Esther quite a bit in terms of anxiety; some of the things said/done/thought by Esther were very similar to the things I’ve experienced in the past which was strange but also comforting. However, some of the hardships in this book are ones that I have never experienced myself, regardless of this, a trigger warning needs to be set for some of the content, the most dominant of these themes being domestic abuse, suicide and self-harm.
I really enjoyed the developing relationship between Jonah and Esther, they were both funny, sarcastic and they worked together so well. Despite their relationship being based on Esther conquering her fears, everything just seemed so easy between them, nothing felt forced and they brought out the best in each other which was really great.
Throughout this whole book, the characters just seemed to support each other which was also fantastic. The friendships and familial relationships were so strong, they could all rely on each other when need be, which is always great to see.
The concept of this story was amazing, facing your fears takes courage, bravery and patience which is why I was excited to read it, however, it didn’t blow me away. I felt like there was no real climax to the book and it just kind of ended. I didn’t feel relieved when it ended or happy that it concluded the way it did, I just felt kind of meh (is it an adjective? no. will i use it as one? yes). I was really sad about this actually because I feel like it could have been a great book full of adventure with a great ending that left me happy and satisfied that this girl had done so much; I wasn’t unsatisfied, as such, I was just meh, and I have no real way of expressing it any other way. Shame.
(Side note for those who have read it: one thing I did feel strongly about was the revelation of Esther’s future, where did that come from? No I’m not ok with it, I don’t see the point in it.)
I’m still working some things out in my head so I might have to report back but these are just some of the main points I wanted to bring up. I have some very conflicting thoughts on this book which is why this review is quite messy and all over the place but I really wanted to share what I thought with you. I guess if you’ve gotten this far you’ve successfully muddled through (well done), so if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!