Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Nightmarys (Book)

Author: Dan Poblocki. Release date: 2010. Publisher:  Random House Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 9780375842566.
Plot summary: Seventh-grader Timothy July has been plagued by nightmares ever since his brother was wounded while serving in Iraq. These nightmares are terrifying and keep Timothy awake for hours. During the day, he sometimes finds himself imagining horrifying things while he’s awake. To make matters worse, Timothy isn’t sure what to think when he gets partnered with strange and quiet new girl Abigail for a field trip to the local museum. His best friend, Stuart Chen, is his usual partner, and is angry that Timothy unwittingly volunteered to team up with Abigail. Things get even more odd while the class is at the museum. Abigail seems nice, but Timothy can sense something different about her. When the two venture into the museum basement, the horrifying images from Timothy’s nightmares converge upon him, causing him to panic. When he confesses what is happening to Abigail, she tells him that she has also been plagued with terrifying nightmares. It seems that a curse has been placed on people connected with Abigail that is causing the things from their nightmares to torment them even after they wake up. Can Timothy and Abigail determine the origin of the curse and stop it before the terror consumes them?
Review:  This truly frightening tale from Dan Poblocki is full of twists, turns, mystery and, above all, scares that will delight brave tween readers. Almost from the first pages of the novel, the reader develops a sense of dread at the horrifying images that seem to be haunting the characters. At the center of the waking nightmares is a mysterious man in an overcoat and hat. Timothy begins to experience these terrors as well, and is determined to fight them, with the help of his new friend Abigail. As the primary protagonists, Timothy and Abigail are very likeable. Timothy is kind to the new girl who everyone else makes fun of, and is also brave in his resolve to overcome whatever is cursing him and his friends. The story contains many different plot lines that converge in the nail-biting finale. Overall, The Nightmarys is an entertaining and terrifying adventure that tweens are sure to enjoy.
Genre: Fiction/Horror
Reading level: Grades 6-10
Similar titles:  The Stone Child by Dan Poblocki, The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn.
Personal thoughts:  If I’m being completely honest, this book terrified me. As I was reading it, I kept having to remind myself that it is a young adult novel, and therefore not “worthy” of making my eyes dart around and covering my head with the blanket at night. I admire Poblocki’s ability to create a sense of absolute horror with no gore or violence. The idea of the waking nightmare is quite scary, and I would only recommend this book to brave readers. Younger tweens are likely to have nightmares themselves after reading this story.  I know I did.
Themes: Nightmares, curses, mystery, horror.   
Awards/Reviews: Positive review from School Library Journal and Booklist.
Series Information:  N/A
Character information:
Timothy July – Seventh-grader who has been experiencing terrifying nightmares ever since his brother was wounded while serving in Iraq. After meeting Abigail, his nightmares start to continue during the day, and he discovers a curse has been place upon them causing their fears to come to life.
Abigail – Seventh-grader, who is a quiet loner and recently moved from New Jersey after her parents split up. Timothy unwittingly volunteers to be her partner for a school fieldtrip and she learns that he has been experiencing waking nightmares just as she has. She and Timothy must discover the source of the curse that is causing them to be plagued by terror.
Stuart Chen – Timothy’s best friend. He is very cynical, and is mad at Timothy and Abigail when they are partnered for the school field trip. He also is plagued by waking nightmares and almost drowns as a result.
Zilpha Kindred – Abigail’s grandmother. She has a connection to the mysterious curse, but Abigail and Timothy are not sure what it is.
Mr. Crane – Timothy and Abigail’s science teacher. He also becomes plagued by waking nightmares.
Annotation:  What would you do if your worst fears and the things from your nightmares haunted you during the day? Timothy and Abigail must find a way to put an end to the curse that is causing them to be plagued by terror even when they’re awake.

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