Title: A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares

Author: Lauren James

Series Number: 1

Publication Date: August 28, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

Where I received the book: I received a copy of this book from Penguin NZ in exchange for a honest review.

Star rating:★★★★

Summary: Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather met Death, her entire family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime—a fear that will eventually lead each and every one of them to their graves. Take Esther’s father, for instance: He’s an agoraphobe who hasn’t left the basement in six years. Then there’s her twin brother, Eugene, whose fear of the dark goes far beyond the things that go bump in the night. And her mother, Rosemary, is absolutely terrified of bad luck.

As for Esther, she’s managed to escape the curse…so far. She doesn’t yet have a great fear because she avoids pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces, crowds—anything that might trigger a phobia is off-limits and is meticulously recorded in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.

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.


i wasn’t expecting to like this book as much as i did.

a semi definitive list of worst nightmares is such a fun read. i don’t know what i was hoping this book would be about, but the way the characters fight the “curse” makes it seem like there’s more to life than just being scared of everything.

i really wasn’t a fan of jonah. i couldn’t relate to him and i just didn’t trust him. i kept thinking that he was going to do something bad. however, i quite enjoyed esther. i liked the way she faced her sort-of fears. but i can’t lie: death is my favourite thing about this book. i love the new perspective that krystal sutherland has shown us. he was fun and intriguing.

the only things i didn’t like about a semi definitive list of worst nightmares is how long it took for me to get into the book. it was very slow going at first, mostly due to the introduction of the characters and the plot, but once i got into it all was good. i also didn’t like the how the use of mental health (suicide, and the like) were all brushed off fairly lightly or joked about.

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