Authors: Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Length: 355 pages
Source: Library Audiobook
The hilariously frightening, middle-grade novel Nightmares! is the first book in a trilogy about a boy named Charlie and a group of kids who must face their fears to save their town.
Sleeping has never been so scary. And now waking up is even worse!
Charlie Laird has several problems.
1. His dad married a woman he is sure moonlights as a witch.
2. He had to move into her purple mansion, which is NOT a place you want to find yourself after dark.
3.He can’t remember the last time sleeping wasn’t a nightmarish prospect. Like even a nap.
What Charlie doesn’t know is that his problems are about to get a whole lot more real. Nightmares can ruin a good night’s sleep, but when they start slipping out of your dreams and into the waking world—that’s a line that should never be crossed.
And when your worst nightmares start to come true . . . well, that’s something only Charlie can face. And he’s going to need all the help he can get, or it might just be lights-out for Charlie Laird. For good.
Protagonist: Charlie Laird is such an annoying narrator, it's not like I don't see where he's coming from, at least partly, but his constant prattering about how his stepmother's a witch and she's out to get him got on my nerves. If I were younger or less experienced with books that contained this cliche story line I might have found Charlie an enjoyable narrator, however since I am neither of those things it was hard to see the real Charlie through all of his hate and by the time it was gone there wasn't enough time to see him for who he truly is. Though I hope that the sequel will give me a better read on him going forward.
World-Building: The world-building in this book is fantastic. It's so imaginative how the authors created this nightmare netherworld for these characters to visit and explore. I loved getting to see the various aspects of the nightmare, plus the light philosophical messages about nightmares were really interesting and phrased in a way that I feel kids will understand without feeling like they're being talked down to. I'm sure that these authors have barely even scratched the surface of this world and I'm interested to find out more.
Predictability: So a little bit of a disclaimer, see, this book is meant for a middle grade audience, and most likely a lower middle grade one at that, and I'm 22 and have read my fair share of books in life leaving me well versed in classic tropes and cliches, and well this book was chock full of them. I mean before any foreshadowing was implemented I could easily guess the majority of this book's basic plot. That's not to say that there wasn't a surprise every now and again, and I did really enjoy the book, but I was acutely aware that I was reading a book well below my reading level which, even when I'm reading most Middle Grade books, rarely happens.
Ending: I was really surprised with how succinctly this book wraps up, I mean there's a lingering thread or two, but even those are vague enough not to really leave the reader guessing, but more intrigued knowing that there's another installment to see how it all ties together. The final climax was very entertaining and again felt very much like a one-shot story rather than the beginning of a trilogy.
So if I was rating this for a Middle Grade reader I'd give it five stars, but since I'm rating it for how I enjoyed reading it I had to give it a four. It's very enjoyable and I'm interested to know just how much Jason Segel wrote by himself because he could have a real talent here depending. I'm very interested to see how the next book unravels.