Timothy July has been having nightmares. About his brother, who is in a coma after being wounded in Iraq; about his best friend, Stuart, who is behaving like a jerk; about the old biology specimens in jars lining the walls of his classroom; and about Abigail, the new girl who seems to be a magnet for trouble. Or perhaps she is the cause.
Suddenly Timothy’s nightmares are coming true. His brother, his face decaying, approaches Timothy on the street. Stuart ends up in the hospital, terrified that monsters are stalking him. And the specimen jars are tormenting not only Timothy but his teacher as well.
What is the secret in Abigail’s past that is the key to these horrors? And can Timothy figure it out before his nightmares become a deadly reality?
A follow-up to the well-received Stone Child, Dan Poblocki’s second novel will have his readers mesmerized until the last page—and sleeping with the lights on.
OPINION: 5 STARS
Engaging and creepy, The Nightmarys is a great read with plenty of depth, twists, and scares along the way. Tying in several different angles and arcs, the root of the issues is muddled deep in the midst of everything going on, making it hard to predict. The two feisty central characters also do a great job in driving the plot and pulling the reader in.
Timothy is a good kid, not one to really bully other students but also comfortable in his friendship with Stuart, his neighbor and best friend. His feelings get hurt, and his temper can flare, but Timothy is realistic and easy to read. When he unintentionally volunteers to partner with Abigail on a class museum project rather than with Stuart, things start straining between the boys, and Timothy is also plunged into a living nightmare. The way he handles it is both appropriate for his age and showing a great strength to him as well.
Abigail has moved to Timothy's town under surprising circumstances, bringing a few secrets of her own. She is seemingly brash and volatile, but as Timothy spends more time with her, the underlying reasons and her nature start to come out. Abigail is a great opposite character for Timothy, and the two have a great companionship that helps push the plot forward.
Poblocki's writing is fantastic, allowing the book to read easily enough for middle grade readers while still keeping it sophisticated in a way teens and adults will be sucked in as well. His scene descriptions, particularly of the nightmare aspects, really bring things to life and paint the picture fully. The opening scene alone is brilliantly creepy and catching.
The plot is intricate, with several separate arcs that tie together smoothly as things progress. The final outcome is hard to predict, but Poblocki does a fantastic job tying everything up and leaving the reader in a good place. There are plenty of unpredictable twists and shocking turns along the way as well.
Overall, The Nightmarys has a fantastic creep/horror element, but is written in a way middle grade readers will love and older readers will also enjoy, boy and girl alike. Every time one of The Nightmarys came onto the pages, Poblocki's imagery and descriptions really brought them to life, playing it out like a perfect horror in my head. This book has all the makings of a great movie, from creepy settings to a lingering horror element. A steadily paced plot, plenty of action, and the creation of The Nightmarys in itself all make this book a great read.
Source: ARC received for review from author/publisher
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (August 24, 2010)