From the author of Our Chemical Hearts comes the hilarious, reality-bending tale of two outsiders facing their greatest fears about life and love—one debilitating phobia at a time.
Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther’s father is agoraphobic and hasn’t left the basement in six years, her twin brother can’t be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck.
The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them.
Esther doesn’t know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces and crowds are all off-limits. So are haircuts, spiders, dolls, mirrors and three dozen other phobias she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.
Then Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, an old elementary school classmate. Along with her phone, money and a fruit roll-up she’d been saving, Jonah also steals her list of fears. Despite the theft, Esther and Jonah become friends, and he sets a challenge for them: in an effort to break the curse that has crippled her family, they will meet every Sunday of senior year to work their way through the list, facing one terrifying fear at a time, including one that Esther hadn’t counted on: love.
|Publisher:||Penguin Young Readers Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)|
|Age Range:||14 Years|
About the Author
She moved to Sydney for college (and safety), where she cut her writing teeth as the editor of the student magazine at the University of New South Wales. She kept gathering tales as an exchange student in Hong Kong and as a foreign correspondent in Amsterdam. Her first book, Our Chemical Hearts, was released in 2016, and was published in over twenty countries.
Her three greatest fears are heights, dark caves . . . and (perhaps worst of all) frogs.
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Excerpted from "A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares"
Copyright © 2018 Krystal Sutherland.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Such a clever and unusual book. It takes such subjects as family dysfunction and anxiety and depression and ... oh-so-many difficult subjects, and wraps them in an unique and unusual story that is fun and sad to read at the same time. Definitely one-of-a-kind. I was turning the pages as quickly as I could to find out what would happen - and was surprised and intrigued and totally captured/captivated. I loved it!
A SEMI-DEFINITIVE LIST OF WORST NIGHTMARES is quirky and hilarious while still delving deeply into some serious issues. It will certainly make you laugh and make you cry, and it is an absolute delight to read. This book is like The Addams Family meets an Adam Silvera novel, and it is just wonderful! The concept of this story is so unique with this broken yet loving family, who believe they have been cursed by Death himself to suffer and die from one great fear. In an attempt to come face-to-face with Death and convince him to break the curse, Esther Solar and her pickpocket love interest try to tackle Esther's list of fifty fears. As a reader, accompanying them on their quest is an absolute pleasure. This book is impossible to put down and unlike anything I've read before. Esther Solar is such a phenomenal character. Her voice is so unique and so much fun to read. She is definitely one of the most interesting characters I've had the pleasure of meeting this year. Everything from her fashion sense to her sense of humor is original, and she is without a doubt one of my new favorite heroines. This book is full of laugh out loud moments. This is certainly one of the funniest books I've ever read. Some of the characters do suffer from serious mental health issues, and Sutherland certainly makes no jokes about that. She brilliantly balances the fun, romantic, and funny moments with some serious messages about mental health and the importance of seeking help when you need it. Because of the focus on mental health, this book does include some potential triggers. I won't include warnings here, because I don't want to spoil the story, but please feel free to message me if you would like to know more. This book mostly reads like a contemporary YA novel, but with these brilliant elements of speculative fiction sprinkled throughout as well. There is also a mystery component, and the way Sutherland ties them all together creates a plot that moves really quickly and is entirely engrossing. The romance in this book was a lot of fun. Jonah is a very dynamic and interesting character in his own right, and the way his character and Esther's interact is both hilarious and adorable. This book was such a pleasure to read. It is perfect for fans of Lance Rubin, Adam Silvera, and Jeff Zentner. I cannot recommend this to YA readers highly enough, and I can't wait to see what Sutherland has in store for us next.
4.5 Stars “She’s passed the fear barrier, and she’d lived, and she’d discovered not certain death, s she’d imagined, nut impossible splendor. What other beautiful things had fear been hiding from her? What else has the curse long kept her from discovering? For the first time in a long time. She wanted to find out.” A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares is a hilarious and inspiring take on fear, growth, and battling your inner demons. Esther Solar is cursed. Her family has been cursed by Death to succumb to their greatest fears. For her father that’s agoraphobia, her mother bad luck, and her twin brother Eugene it’s the dark. But Esther doesn’t know her greatest fear, and she’s in no hurry to find out, that’s why she keeps a list of all her “worst nightmares”. But a surprising reunion with her childhood friend Jonah Smallwood leads Esther down a path to confront her fears in an attempt to try and stop her family curse before it consumes them all. Things I Liked I absolutely LOVED the fun and humor in this book! You might not expect a book about your worst fears to be so light-hearted, but I found myself smiling or laughing in almost every chapter. Esther, Eugene, and Jonah all have a jovial sarcastic personality. Even though they all are dealing with their fears and anxieties, they maintain really snarky humor that I loved. I really liked the inclusion of little mini-lists that were observations or facts about a certain situation from Esther. I thought they worked really well in the story, they added more information and context - especially regarding her grandfather Reginald. Jonah Smallwood is a treat. He’s so charming and suave and devil-may-care. I really liked him (even though I got mad at points). I loved that he wanted to do special effects makeup - it’s a truly unique artform, and I loved that we got to see a character pursue art in a different way. I love how relentless and charismatic he is, it’s so easy to follow these adventures he and Esther are on, because he is such an effervescent personality. I really liked how Death/The Man Who Would Become Death were personified in the story, through Reg’s stories. It really made this abstract concept/curse more grounded and gave a depth and history to the story and their family. The writing in the story was so easy to fall into. The story had this grand adventure feeling. It was so lively, humorous, and fun, when it easily could have felt formulaic or repetitive with the fear-a-week method Esther and Jonah used. Things I Didn’t Like I would have liked to see more of Hephzibah, Esther and Eugene’s best friend. I felt like I didn’t really get to know her, therefore I didn’t care about her relationships with either Eugene or Esther. A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares is a story of finding the strength to battle your demons, both real and imaginary. I loved the humor and the joy I had while reading. I like that we get to see the characters trying to fight their fears in different ways - facing them head on, talking to each other, talking to a therapist - it was nice to show that growth comes in many different forms. This was a great story that was filled with fantastic characters and large personality. *Trigger warnings for: suicide, self harm, and abuse I received a copy of the books from G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
I loved this. Like an obsessive I-can't-wait-to-read-it-again sort of love. I love love loved Esther and Jonah and Eugene. I liked BFF Hephzibah, but she was a little elusive on the page, which was effective when it paired up with how Esther described her. The four of them are loyal and supportive and delightfully strange and I desperately want to hang out with them. Plot wise, it had ups and downs. There was sweetness and laughter and heartbreak and swoons and pretty much every emotion I had available. I loved the way it progressed and while slow in some scenes, I enjoyed the growth and the revelations. The ending had me nearly screaming in glee and in frustration all within a paragraph. It could not have been done better. I'm sure this will be a book I pick up again and again. **Huge thanks to GP Putnam's Sons for providing the arc free of charge**