Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Review: The Nightmare Dilemma


THE NIGHTMARE DILEMMA
Arkwell Academy #2
Mindee Arnett
Paranormal Young Adult
384 pages
Tor Teen
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The second in a thrilling new fantastical mystery series

Dusty Everhart might be able to predict the future through the dreams of her crush, Eli Booker, but that doesn’t make her life even remotely easy. When one of her mermaid friends is viciously assaulted and left for dead, and the school’s jokester, Lance Rathbone, is accused of the crime, Dusty’s as shocked as everybody else. Lance needs Dusty to prove his innocence by finding the real attacker, but that’s easier asked than done. Eli’s dreams are no help, more nightmares than prophecies.

To make matters worse, Dusty’s ex-boyfriend has just been acquitted of conspiracy and is now back at school, reminding Dusty of why she fell for him in the first place. The Magi Senate needs Dusty to get close to him, to discover his real motives. But this order infuriates Eli, who has started his own campaign for Dusty’s heart.

As Dusty takes on both cases, she begins to suspect they’re connected to something bigger. And there’s something very wrong with Eli’s dreams, signs that point to a darker plot than they could have ever imagined.


MY THOUGHTS
The Nightmare Dilemma is a solid, entertaining sequel to The Nightmare Affair, beautifully avoiding some of the pitfalls so common in second books of a series and taking us on a complete journey with Dusty instead of leaving us on the final page but only mid-story overall. The synopsis is a bit misleading in a way that doesn’t do this book justice, giving readers the idea that we’ll have to deal with a love triangle when Dusty’s ex-boyfriend reenters the picture to give Eli a run for his money, but thankfully once we crack the spine we find no triangle in sight. Dusty’s ex does make a return appearance, however, Dusty’s history with him is a complicated one and she’s in no hurry to replace her anger with any type of rekindled romantic feelings, her every action in this story making us want to open our arms wide and simply hug her.
 

Dusty’s snark and quick wit were highlights of the first book, but we find a bit more subdued version of her in this second installment, and though she’s still a joy of a heroine, we can’t help but miss her smart mouth just a touch. That infinitesimal niggle aside, Dusty remains someone extraordinarily easy to root for, never once slipping into the tendencies that seem to plague young adult heroines in sequels by thankfully limiting herself to a romance with just one boy rather than waffling between two, and that relationship is in fact a non-relationship for majority of the book. There’s a great deal of tension and unspoken attraction between Dusty and Eli, but it’s more a friendship that has the potential to be something special if both they and the world they live in will let it.

Dusty’s inability to keep a secret is another aspect of her character that has us falling a little more in love with her in this tale, her openness with both best friend Selene and Eli something that brings a huge smile to our faces. She doesn’t always open up to one or both of them immediately, but never does more than a day go by before she’s filling them in on what’s going on with Arkwell's latest mysteries. She’s perhaps not as quick to share personal feelings with Eli as we might like, however it’s all too easy to remember being her age and the sometimes paralyzing fear of rejection that comes with a friendship on the precipice of something both scarier and more exciting. Her tongue doesn’t stay frozen forever though, and we can’t help but want to applaud when the questions that have been tormenting all of us finally burst forth.

As with the first installment, we’re given a complete story in The Nightmare Dilemma, bits and pieces from book one beautifully continued and expanded in this second book, linked together but separate enough that the mystery elements could stand alone should a reader pick the series up out of order. There is a hugely significant revelation toward the end that will inevitably play a big role for Dusty and Eli moving forward, but we're left at the final page with this book’s big puzzle solved and a triumphant grin on our faces, ready for what awaits our dream-seeing pair in the next installment.

Rating: 4/5
 

Find Mindee:

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

38 comments:

  1. I am so bad with names but I think I remember book 1 cos of the cover style

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was The Nightmare Affair, and I really enjoyed that one as well:)

      Delete
  2. I haven't read the first one yet but it's always good to know that there is no love triangle! Atleast there won't be any drama from that side. Glad that the sequel worked for you, Jenny! This is one of the series I'm definitely going to read this year. Great review :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! I was a little worried after reading that synopsis, but really no triangle in sight. I should have had more faith in Mindee!

      Delete
  3. Nice review! I have not heard of this series until now. I'll be sure to check it out :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really enjoy this series Diana! Dusty is a fabulous character in my opinion:)

      Delete
  4. I only skimmed b/c I haven't read the first book, but I'm glad you continue to enjoy this series. Also, I am infinitely more motivated to hurry up and read it for myself knowing that there is resolution (of a sort) at the end of book 2. Cliffhangers---no me gusta.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No cliffhangers here Jessica! Both stories are stand-alones in terms of the mystery, but they tie together nicely as well:)

      Delete
  5. I'm glad to hear that this doesn't suffer from the second book syndrome. Ha! Lauren will be glad to hear about the no love triangle part:) And you got your daily dose of snark! Whoop :) So good to hear that the MC is open with her friends and is very relatable. I hope the next book will be just as successful in your eyes and will tackle a new big puzzle just for your entertainment:) Great review, my friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I hate when characters keep huge secrets from everyone around them and are intent on figuring things out themselves. Dusty's not like that, she relies on her friends for help:)

      Delete
  6. I liked the first book and wasn't really sure if I should read the second one, Jenny, but it sounds a bit stronger. It's too bad Dusty is a bit more subdued in this one because I liked her snarky tone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I definitely missed her snark a bit in this one, but she's still so much fun to read about:)

      Delete
  7. Now, see, that's what I like. A series in which each book is a full story as well as part of a story arc. Why can't more be like this (well, besides the fact that it must be challenging to write)? I haven't read the first -- is this a trilogy? I might wait until all three are out to read them. But this series IS on my TBR!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right? I love that Jennifer Estep's books are that way too - we get a complete story in each installment. It just makes me happy:) I *think* this is a trilogy, though I'm not entirely sure.

      Delete
  8. I'm glad The Nightmare Dilemma is a solid, entertaining sequel to The Nightmare Affair. It's nice when the second book skillfully recaps the first book, yet keeps the mystery going. I hope I can get to these two books soon, they both sound wonerful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you get a chance to read them as well Kim, I'm a Mindee Arnett fangirl:) I loved Avalon too.

      Delete
  9. I haven't tried this series yet, but I read Avalon and the author's writing just wasn't for me. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much though, Jenny. I'm also happy to hear that there was never really a threat of a love triangle.
    Great review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry Avalon didn't work for you Nick! I really enjoyed that one, but definitely not a story for everyone. And yes, so happy there was no real love triangle. *whew*

      Delete
  10. I am so glad you liked this, I know the first book had some crazy all over reviews so I am glad this one seems like it is more solid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really liked the first one as well, Dusty's a trip. I just think there's a nice flow to both stories, and I always tear right through one of Mindee's books. I'm a fan:)

      Delete
  11. I definitely need to read these books. The first Mindee book I read was AVALON, and I *loved* it to pieces. So I have a feeling that I will love her other books as well. This series sounds so good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you'll like this series as well Hannah! Mindee is awesome:)

      Delete
  12. I haven't read this series, but you know how much I loved AVALON, and you know how I just adore Mindee. This sounds like a solid book with a great plot...perfect for me! Great review, Jenny :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just have fun with this series. There's mysteries that go dark places at times, but the overall tone is never too heavy. They're quick reads and really entertaining:)

      Delete
  13. I've yet to read book 1 but I'm glad this one avoids the middle book syndrome. The heroine sounds adorable and someone that I could root for.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I've completely forgot about this series. Uh...
    I'm happy that you enjoyed it that much. I am big fan of strong and smart heroines too, I'll put it on the top of my reading list.
    Great review, Jenny.

    Glass @ Ja čitam, a ti?

    ReplyDelete
  15. I so need to pick up this series. I remember the first book being popular. I will read it! Thanks for the review.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I am going to tell my friend Wendy about this series. I am fairly certain she would just LOVE IT!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have the first book but haven't read it yet. Your review has me wanting to pick it up asap! Also, I ADORE these covers!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I've been wanting to read that first one for a while now and I'm so glad to hear that this one rocks as well. I'm glad it didn't leave a big puzzle left to be resolved. After several cliffie books, I'm ready for something like that!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I wasn't a fan of The Nightmare Affair and have since realized that Arnett's writing just doesn't work for me for some reason, but I'm glad to see you enjoyed this sequel, Jenny! I'm also glad they haven't changed the covers as they're so unique and perfect for the plot. :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. This isn't a series I have read, but I am always delighted to hear that the second book is strong. Lovely review Jenny I am glad to see you are excited for the final book.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Dang it! I had planned on reading the first book before this one released, but I failed. I'll still get to them, especially knowing this was a strong sequel.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I loved The Nightmare Affair. Glad you enjoyed the follow up. Its on my list.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I completely spaced on this one, I had no idea it was coming out this week! I'm so excited to get my hands on this, I loved the first book. Glad to hear you enjoyed this, and that it has a fully contained mystery while advancing the series story arc. Lovely review Jenny!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I really enjoyed the first one, so I'm definitely excited about the sequel! Dusty's snark was one of my favorite parts of the first book, so it's somewhat disappointing that it's not as frequent in this one. However, it sounds like she grows a lot as a character in other ways. The storyline seems just as amazing as the last one, too. Awesome review :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. No dreaded love triangle or waffling?! That's a total win, Jenny! I have the first book in this series, but I might still might wait until the last book releases to read this series. I'm sort of trying to stay away from trilogies unless all books are released. Wonderful review, Jenny! :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. So glad to hear you liked this one as much as I did! I was very relieved when there was no love triangle in the book, and actually the presence of Dusty's ex was extremely relevant to the plot of the book and not just an excuse to add tension.

    I have to say I actually liked that Dusty kept her foot-in-mouth tendency a bit more in check, but she was as adorable as in the first book!

    Fantastic review, Jenny!

    ReplyDelete