Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Review: Girl of Nightmares

GIRL OF NIGHTMARES (Anna #2)
Kendare Blake
Paranormal Young Adult
332 pages
Tor Teen
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on. 

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.
 

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.
 

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

MY THOUGHTS 
Girl of Nightmares is tasked with the rather difficult challenge of trying to live up to its predecessor, a story that introduced us to a terrifyingly vengeful ghost who managed to elicit sympathy from us as easily as she instilled fear. While this second book doesn’t quite fully rise to that challenge, there’s no doubt Ms. Blake is a gifted storyteller, taking us on a dark journey to save a young woman from a fate someone with an outsider's perspective might say she deserved based on her past actions and her body count. We as readers are not those outsiders however, and we will Cas to dedicate his every waking moment to finding a way to help a villainous victim who’s equal parts grotesque and charming, and all the more fascinating for her contradictory nature.

Book one was ripe with tension, the threat Anna posed to Cas feeling as real to us as if it were playing out before our eyes instead of simply in our minds, her ability to morph into a red-splattered spectre capable of rending those who trespassed in two with her bare hands ensuring our eyes remained glued to the pages without the slightest inclination to look away. With Girl of Nightmares however, some of that tension is noticeably missing, largely due to the fact that Anna herself is absent for nearly three quarters of the book, the captivating paradox she presented replaced with a melancholy sense of waiting as Cas, Thomas, and Carmel struggle to understand what’s become of her. Without Anna, our link to Cas feels incomplete, the impossibility of their connection something that constantly fed our sense of wonder and enthusiasm for their story as a whole, and while we still enjoy our time spent in Cas’s world, the threads connecting us to it are frayed and left in Anna-shaped tatters.

Though the beginning and middle of Girl of Nightmares feel a bit slow, the weight of Anna’s fate seeming to wrap around our ankles with phantom fingers to restrict our movements and halt our progress, the ending is as action-packed as they come with Cas getting a second chance to avenge those he loves. Ms. Blake leaves us with a fitting end in terms of a relationship between a living person and a ghost, giving us a sense of closure even if the romantic in us might be wishing for a few more rays of sunshine and some roses. Overall, this sequel has a difficult time emerging from the epic shadow cast by Anna Dressed in Blood, but Ms. Blake is an author whose books I will always look forward to reading.

Rating: 3.5/5

39 comments:

  1. It's interesting how second books almost never live up to the first. When I've found that a second book surpasses the first, it's usually because the first book was relatively weak. Still, I can't wait to read this book.

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    1. Anna was just the highlight of the first book for me, so I missed her in this book.

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  2. I'm having a hard time getting into this one for the reasons you stated, it's slow without Anna there. Though there are ghosts and ghoulies, I miss her and the tension from the other book. Maybe nothing could live up to Anna Dressed in Blood. But I was hoping. I'm still going to give it a go. Great review! I get the feeling then that this is the last in the series no trilogy?

    Heather

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    1. Exactly. Anna was the focus of the first book and without her, I felt kind of lost. I got the feeling that this was the last book based on the end, but I'm not sure.

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  3. I think I felt pretty much the way you did. It wasn't as good but still was a good read. I wished for more Cas from book one as he was rather melancholy in this book. I wanted more of his humor. But still a good read!

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    1. It was absolutely a good read, it just had a lot to live up to! I missed Anna, and the way Cas was with her so I struggled a bit the first half.

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  4. Oh well.... It's always tough when the first book is so awesome! I'm not exactly happy about the romance part, something I wished for to be much stronger in this book.
    So, this is the last book then? I truly thought it would be a trilogy.

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    1. I had hoped the romance would be more too, but it made sense given Anna's a ghost and all. I'm not sure if there's going to be another book, but the Anna storyline seemed pretty wrapped up by the end.

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  5. This is on my maybe list because of the first book. I am kind of shocked it is only 2, I thought it was going to be 3. I will put this now on my maybe later list :)

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    1. Maybe there is another book? It just seemed to be that the Anna element had closure in this book, and I'm not sure were it would go moving forward.

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  6. I had mixed feelings for book 1. I thought the first half, when Anna was still scary as heck, was awesome but when she started to show her soft spot, not so much. I'm still interested to read book 2 though. I hope I find this much better instead, but awww that ending! I knew a relationship between a human and a ghost is impossible but I was hoping otherwise. :(

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    1. I was hoping otherwise too:) I love that HEA ending, and while this wasn't an unhappy ending by any means, I was secretly hoping for something else:)

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  7. Though I was intrigued by the first book, I just couldn't find the time nor the courage to pick it up. Excuse my scaredy cat-ness. =))

    Sorry the book was lukewarm for you, Jenny. Nevertheless, great review!

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    1. I'm a huge wuss Gellie, HUGE! And while Anna could be terrifying at times, she also had this innocence about her (shocking I know given how many people she's killed) that made want to reach in and hug her:)

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  8. What an amazing review. Bravo! While I'm sad you didn't love it. I loved how you put it.

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    1. Thanks Juju! I still really enjoyed it even if I was missing Anna throughout:)

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  9. I find it interesting that a lot of readers who thought "Anna" 1 was slow and boring seemed to eat this one up in one sitting. I was already made aware of the slow pace but I couldn't help loving Cas and all his snark. I picked this one up from my library in time for Halloween. Hope this isn't really the end for these characters. I'm sad to leave them after this book.

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    1. I didn't think the first one was slow at all, and I think with this one I so badly wanted to have Cas and Anna reunited that anything that happened in between was not as interesting for me:)

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  10. Aww too bad. I was looking forward to reading this book. I loved the first book and was hoping the second book would go more indepth with the characters. Thanks for sharing Jenny!

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    1. This is still a really entertaining book, I just wanted more time with Anna and Cas together rather than apart:)

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  11. I so agree, I didn't think this quite lived up to Anna and that gripping anxiety was not present. I did enjoy more of Carmel, Thomas and Morfran...yes the ending was good, but I wanted Cas to get more of a happy ending as well. I look forward to future books from Kendare!

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    1. Yes, the sense of urgency from book one was missing I thought. Still, I love the way Kendare writes and can't wait to see what she comes up with next!

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  12. I've heard awesome things about Anna Dressed in Blood but I don't know if that's a series I would enjoy. I should pick up a copy of the first book though and see how I like it .. Glad you enjoyed this one, thanks for the honest and great review Jenny :)

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    1. I LOVED book one - very creepy:) Perfect for this time of year I think!

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  13. Aww the blood book, yes I do remember all those awesome reviews. Too bad it was not as awesome, though still good

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    1. I think when the first book in a series blows people away, it's hard for the second book to really compare. Still, I'd recommend both books:)

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  14. Nice review! I look forward to this one, yet have been reading reviews that elicit disappoint for lack of Anna. But still, reviews are pretty good. Chalking this up to another of those! This awaits me in my TBR mountain that I hope to one day get to!

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    1. Anna was my very favorite part of the first book, so I really felt her absence through most of this book. She'd be there in snippets, but I wanted more time with her:)

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  15. I just won this book from Tor. I am sad it didn't live up to the first one, but it still sounds like once it really picks up, it rocks. I can't wait to read this one. I'm thinking the slow parts may not bug me as much now that I'm forewarned. :)

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    1. I just wanted to get back to Anna the whole time I was reading, so anytime away form her was way too long! I think that made this book feel slower than it actually was:)

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  16. I completely agree with your review, Jenny. This second book isn't quite up to par with the first. I thought it was a necessary conclusion to the story, but it was certainly far more angsty than filled with action for a good portion of the book.

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    1. Yes, I was glad we got some closure for Anna, but I was secretly hoping things were going to end a little differently for these two:)

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  17. I always feel for the authors who have wonderful success with the first book not because of the success (which is fabulous) but because they now have the monumental task of trying to replicate that success. I've heard some very mixed reviews about this book, people who were disappointed with it because they expected so much...

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  18. I haven't read Anna Dressed in Blood yet, so I more or less skimmed through this, and while it doesn't seem to be as good as Anna, it sounds like you still really liked this so I'm glad. I hate starting a series only to be disappointed by it, so seeing your positive rating of this one just makes me want to pick up the first book all the more! Fantastic review, Jenny! :D

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  19. I haven't read Anna Dressed in Blood yet so I ignored reading the synopsis, but it's too bad the sequel isn't as awesome as the first book. I'm curious to find out what happens to Anna and I like that you mentioned there's a "fitting end in terms of a relationship between a living person and a ghost." I just can't make myself believe in those ghost-human romances that end happily ever after.

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  20. Wonderful review, Jenny! It's especially disappointing when you have such high expectations for a sequel when the first was so outstanding, only to realize that it didn't live up to the first. I really wanted to at least try out Anna, though... I'll keep your reservations with Girl of Nightmares in mind if/when I get to it. :)

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  21. I agree with you on this Jenny, while Ms. Blake is a gifted storyteller this conclusion lacked a little something. I felt Cas's personality was a little dim compared to the first. Brilliant review. :)

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  22. So glad to hear that even though this doesn't live up to or exceed book 1, it was still an enjoyable read that ended with the appropriate amount of closure!

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  23. I've read mixed reviews. I was big fan of the first book. I liked your honesty! Great review :)

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