Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Book Review: Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
#2 in the Anna series 
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen 
Pages: 336
Received: Review copy from publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

WARNING! This is a review for a sequel, so there are some small spoilers for the first book.


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.


Cas is back!

And so are Carmel and Thomas, Cas's mom, and even Anna! It was so nice to hang out with the gang again. This sequel is more character driven than the first book and while that slowed the plot down a little, I appreciated getting to see them all grapple with the emotional fallout of previous events.

Cas's humor is just as dry and off-beat as ever (I particularly loved how he messed with his fellow students). Thomas is steadfast and a pretty kick-butt friend all around, so it was especially harrowing to see him go through so much heartache.

And Carmel, I think I have an auto-soft spot for her because she reminds me a little of Alona from The Ghost and the Goth series. And she, like Alona, managed to make me love her and sympathize with her despite her sometimes appalling behavior (you'll want to slap her AND hug her).

It's like a Supernatural-Buffy hybrid!

Remember in Buffy when the Watchers' Council made her jump through a million dangerous "tests" to prove her slayerness? And then remember how Buffy responded?

The whole second half of the book reminded me of that Buffy episode. But not in a ripoff way. I mean, ok, maybe once or twice I wanted to picture the New Girl speaking like Kendra and whipping out Mr. Pointy, but the New Girl is really totally different.

Erm, I feel like I'm digging myself into a hole here. What I mean to say is, Kendare Blake's books remind me VERY strongly of a lot of my favorite shows and books (Buffy, Supernatural, The Ghost and the Goth, etc), but at the same time they feel completely fresh and new.

So her books are more like "If you like cheesecake, then you'll LOVE chocolate cheesecake!" as opposed to "Avatar is like Dances with Wolves in space." See, one is a copy of an original that is changed enough to make TWO awesome desserts and thus vastly improving the world, and the other is just a copy.

But wait, what about the FIRST half of the book?

The first half is a lot slower than the second half and it kind of felt a little unnecessarily stretched. I was reading along, totally happily, mind you, because I do love these characters and Kendare Blake has an easy-breezy way of writing that just makes me fly through the pages. But a tiny part of me was wondering, where is this book going??

Cas spends a lot of the first part of the book being depressed and kind of mopey about Anna being cast into hell and Thomas and Carmel are pretty much exercising the Willow and Cordelia methods of comfort, respectively, while worrying about him going off the deep end. Which is nice and all, but, eh, I wanted Dean-and-Sam-shotguns-of-salt-style ghost busting.

BUT WAIT. Because that definitely happens, and Kendare Blake still has the ability to scare the ever loving crap out of me. Now, granted, we all know I'm a big wimp, but come on, I defy you not to be at least a little wigged out over the spectacular combination of psychological mind-twistingly horrifying Anna scenes and the classic horror show hauntings Kendare Blake cooked up. I mean, there's a super scary barn scene and they trek through a suicide forest for crying out loud!

Books like this are tough for wimps like me because on one hand, I'd totally want to issue the Don't Read This In Public warning because you might scream out loud and that can cause all sorts of problems if you're on, say, a train. But, what wimp wants to read a scary book ALONE?

So, yeah, pick your poison.

Wait just a minute, I thought this was a trilogy?!

I know, I know, I'm always all whiny and "Why does this have to be a trilogy???" because I hate waiting and my memory is bad and it's worth saying again that I'm very impatient. But I feel a little blindsided that this is THE END. A part of me is still sort of holding out hope that there will be another book in this series

(like, when Gandalf the Grey "died" and I was all NOOOOO but secretly I wasn't convinced he was really dead because fantasy wizards like that always defy death and come back better than ever (someone please send J.K. Rowling this memo, stat!). But, yeah, so part of me is still holding out hope that Kendare Blake will decide to make a fifty nine book series because I would totally read fifty nine Cas books).

But, fine, if this IS the end, then it's a pretty darn good one. Everything is wrapped up all nicely and I have closure on a much more mature level than I was expecting (even though Ms. Blake, you ripped my bleeding heart out!)

Why no 5 stars or Special Shelf?

I don't know...I've toyed with the idea of five stars, but eeehh, as much as I really do love these characters, I don't LOVE THEM love them. That spark is missing. I don't know, maybe it really is because they're SO close to Buffy and Co. but kinda just falling a little short? Or maybe I just haven't spent enough time with them yet (*hint, hint*). Whatever the reason, we're not THERE yet, though I do like them a whole lot.

Bottom line

Readers who liked the first book will probably be just as happy with the sequel. You definitely DO need to read the first book first, because the whole entire plot of this book is one big continuation and follow up.

I'm very glad I have a personal copy and I've ordered one for my library as well (great for boys AND girls!). Do I need to say it again? I HIGHLY recommend this series.  

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Girl of Nightmares that I haven't addressed?
Feel free to ask in the comments!

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  1. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much! I wasn't a huge fan of Anna Dressed in Blood, so I probably won't be checking this out for a while. Too many books, too little time and all that. But I'm still glad you loved it :D

    1. I totally understand where you're coming from. If you didn't love the first book, then I think you're making a good call pushing the sequel further down your pile. They're very similar in overall feel.

  2. I'm really glad to hear that this series is only two books. There was another set of books I thought was going to be a duology but then ended up being a trilogy and I was disappointed. Leave them wanting more is something I wish more authors embraced.

    1. I agree. I always want more because I'm all "more is more" but if I think about it most of my favorites are books that definitely left me wanting more, in a good way.

  3. So glad you enjoyed this one, Smalls! I've yet to read it myself but I completely addored "Anna" and have been waiting impatiently for my library to order a copy. I guess I have to nudge them a bit more.

    1. I think you'll love this follow up then! I hope your library gets a copy ASAP. :)

  4. Great review.
    I totallllly thought of Buffy too!
    Even the way the main character falls for the thing he/she is suppose to kill.

    1. eep! I love that you thought of Buffy too! :D YES, I was definitely getting those vibes from that angle, too.

  5. I recently listened to the first book (I've already read it once) to prepare for reading this one. Your review only makes me more excited to dive in! :)

    1. I hope you love it! I feel pretty confident that I don't think people who loved the first will be disappointed with the second.

  6. Great review! I really need to get on reading it. I loved the first book. I still can't believe it's only the SEQUEL, and not the second part in a TRILOGY or SERIES. :(

    Can't wait to start it. :) Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you! I know! I'm so shocked and surprised that there won't be a third book. That seems unnatural :P I hope you love it!

  7. I haven't read Anna #1 so I can't read this yet. I will return at a later date when I catch up, which I'm not sure when that will ever be. Hehehe

    1. Hm, I think you'd appreciate these books. Maybe not LOVE them, but I can see you enjoying them and liking Cas (the MC). They're pretty quick reads, too.

  8. I only read the first Anna a couple of months ago but that is exactly what I felt about it - it was like Buffy and Supernatural in book form. I know exactly what you mean about loving it, but not *love* love. Anna is such a great read and while I won't remember it until I die, I'll press it into the hands of everyone who wants a good YA horror.

  9. Okay, so I haven't read Anna yet, but I am really excited to and I hope to get to it soon. I just KNOW I'm going to love Cas. I like it when a book is reminiscent of things that you love and that doesn't necessarily mean that it is derivative or unoriginal. Though it certainly can be. Glad you didn't feel this was the case with this one! And what, no evidence of a third book?! That's surprising, I guess because I always assume there will be at least three books in any series.

  10. YEA I'm glad this one was just as good as the first one. I really enjoyed Anna, and need to get a copy of this one soon so I can read it. I love your comparisons to Buffy and Supernatural.


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