A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares

32969999A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
First Published: September 5th, 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR
Recommended Age: 12+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Family History, Contemporary, Mental Illness, Romance


Esther thinks she has it all figured out, until she’s reunited with an old elementary school classmate—and first crush—Jonah Smallwood. The encounter leaves her stranded at a bus stop and swindled out of her phone, all her cash, a Fruit Roll-Up she’d been saving, and her list—not to mention her dignity. But the theft is also the beginning of an unexpected friendship between the two, one that sends the pair on a journey of self-discovery as they try to break the curse that’s consumed Esther’s family. Together they face their greatest fears, one debilitating phobia at a time, only to discover the one fear they hadn’t counted on: love.


In the beginning, this story reads like a modern fairy tale.

Then it gets darker, while still keeping a fairly light atmosphere. Although this book deals with mental illness and anxiety, it never is overwhelming or overdramatic. In fact, for the most part, I was enchanted and delighted.

I am somewhat surprised by how much I enjoyed the story, characters and writing. But the best part of this book is the narration, which makes the reader feel as though (s)he is lucky to be privy to Esther’s story about family, friendship, love and encounters with Death.

I read Krystal Sutherland’s debut – Our Chemical Hearts. It was not memorable. I must admit I skipped to the ending of that one, because the romance moved me… not even a little bit.

But Esther and Jonah, they’re wonderful because they are friends before they are romantically involved. In fact, these two characters don’t become an item right away and the chase is quite entertaining. That, for me, is a beautiful breath of fresh air. I liked how Jonah helped her get past her fears and genuinely cared about her well-being. Plus who can resist witty back-and-forths?

The writing is great. As a university student, I read a lot of books and articles from pretentious writers with pretentious and grandiose writing styles. It doesn’t help that what I’m studying (Art History) leaves so much room for purple prose and metaphors about paintings and subject matters. But I know this is something I have to deal with, so I thank the world for providing me with such charmingly-written books to read during my spare time to dust the pretention off me.

(Boy do I need to stop complaining about the pretention I’m exposed to as a university student. Sorry, folks. Last time, I promise.)

The story focuses on the curse and ridding Esther of her fears for the most part, therefore the mental illness theme is not officially discussed until particular unfortunate events appear in Esther’s life. Before that, it’s alluded to, but I have to say most of the time I was wondering if this book was of the magical realism genre.

Perhaps not entirely, but there still is magic in it. *wink* *wink* One of the most original YA contemporary books I have read this year for sure.


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