Tuesday, February 26, 2013

REVIEW: The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

The Nightmare Affair (The Arkwell Academy, #1) The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The plot was good. The characters, not so much.

+ the protagonist
The book was written exclusively in 1st person POV from Dusty’s side. I love this type of POV, but I quickly found Dusty lacking as a heroine in many ways. When you remove her special powers and circumstances, she was as plain and uninteresting as her (nick)namesake, dust. More than plain, to my perpetual discomfort, Dusty didn’t exhibit prudence, caution, or any apparent trait that showed she had any sense of self-preservation. I generally liked Dusty, but her irreverent attitude aggravated me at times.

When a teacher teaches you a potentially life-saving magic trick, you practice the shit out of it. Dusty never did, but instead depended on luck and an emotional rush to work her magic. WTF? If people being murdered at the boarding school where you live is not a maddeningly strong incentive to practice self-defense magic, I don’t what is. Worse, throughout the story Dusty had more than one teachers revealing vital information, but she did nothing with the information to protect herself. No, she blabbed and placed herself and people she told in more danger, emphasis on more.

I liked that Dusty was frank with her friends, but was it really necessary for her to blab everything, including state secrets, to basically everyone who asked? Dusty was no dimwit; she even suspected her mother. I wished she was conscious of the strong possibility that people who act friendly towards her might be doing it with malicious intention, and perhaps the bad things that happened wouldn’t have so bad as they was at the end.

I also blamed the magical PTB for those bad things. It boggled my mind how the magical PTB never once set protective details on Dusty. You have a girl who is prime to national security, has a predilection for trouble, and lives in an enclosed place where a murderer is on the loose, and you don’t have people hiding in the shadows watching over her? I... *facepalm*

+ the best friend
Shallow development, forgettable character, replaceable character. The best friend role could have been taken by anyone, and the story would have worked fine. She only showed up when it was convenient to the plot and Dusty’s needs.

+ the love triangle
It was between the hot human jock and the hot half-breed geek. I was thankful the romance only took dominance in a limited handful of scenes, and that Dusty didn’t completely let herself become besieged by unnecessary boy trouble. However, I wished she was committed in her romantic decisions. I didn’t like that the boy she didn’t choose paired up with the designated mean, slutty girl. It was awfully cliche and contrived on several levels, and potentially offensive if you have been reading too many YA with too many mean girls who exist only to foil the virginal and socially outcast heroine.

I didn’t care for the jock; one of the many reasons for that was the soulmate trope attached to his character. WTF? Was this a YA or a PNR? I love PNR, but a soulmate trope in YA is ridiculous. The other reasons were that he was pretty bland (as a character overall, not because he was human), he didn’t really do anything for me to like him, and for the most part he didn’t contribute much to the mystery solving beside being Dusty’s medium. Half of the times, he hindered more than helped.

I liked the geek. Hail to the only student in the story who actually took their education seriously because everyone else, especially Dusty, didn’t seem like they did. Arkwell Academy felt like such a slacker school. Anyway, I wished there were more scenes with him. More importantly, I wished things at the end did not turn out the way that they did with him. It was bittersweet.

On the upside, the love triangle resolved itself by the end. In spite of the bittersweetness, it was mind-blowing how it converged with the mystery plot and became part of the great twist.

+ the plot
The mystery plot was the best part of the book. Red-herrings and suspects rose as the story progressed. The plot had me guessing on everything, and I loved it. I got excited every time the plot imparted a revelation. I liked that they were dished out periodically so I didn’t get bored or impatient. The pacing ranged from steady to fast, the transition smooth. I was exhilarated when I learned the story was unexpectedly based in the Arthurian legend. Despite a few loose ends, the ending was satisfactory.

In Conclusion

I rate The Nightmare Affair 3 stars for I like it. The characters needed improvements, but they were decent enough. The fluffiness was minimal, and the mystery was spectacular.

Goodreads | Amazon

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