Pretty Dark Nothing by Heather L. Reid
Book One of the Pretty Dark Nothing series
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads):
It’s been twenty three days since Quinn has slept for more than minutes at a time. Demons have invaded her dreams, stalking her, and whispering of her death. The lack of sleep and crippling fear are ruining her life. Energy drinks and caffeine pills don’t make a dent. When Quinn dozes off in the school hallway, Aaron, an amnesiac with a psychic ability, accidentally enters her nightmare. The demons are determined to keep them apart, and Aaron from discovering the secret locked away in his memory. Together, they could banish the darkness back to the underworld for good. That is, unless the demons kill them first.
What I Liked:
I really, really liked this book! I had a feeling I would enjoy it, but I think it is safe to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. The characters, the world building, the plot... I really think the author had great control over her craft.
The characters are diverse and unique, all playing their archetypal roles superbly. Quinn is definitely a tortured heroine, perhaps even a damsel-in-distress at several points in the book. She has so much going on - with her cheer leading captaincy on the line, her academics plummeting, Mommy and Daddy issues, and a lack of sleep. Oh, and don't forget the fabulous demons who haunt her in her sleep, and eventually, while she is wide awake.
I believe that Quinn undergoes a significant amount of character development, and at the same time, she handles her situation differently and well. Sometimes it is difficult for her to express her obvious frustration, as was evident with the hair scene (trust me, you will know what I am talking about if/when you read the book!). She begins as a lonely, isolated character who wants nothing to do with anyone but Reese and Jeff, and in the end, she cares about herself, her friends, and Aaron.
I think the hardest thing for readers of this book to understand is WHY Quinn did some of the things that she did. Yes, she did treat Aaron poorly at times. But look at her reasoning. Why did she push him away every time they grew close? It is not really because she wants to go back to Jeff. It is because of the demons and their threats. While I find Quinn weak at times in the book, I understand her weakness. I empathize, because I know it would not be easy to make any other decisions, when in her situation.
That being said, I really liked getting to understand what was happening in Aaron's point-of-view. This book is in third-person, limited. So, we see Quinn, we see Aaron. Aaron is interesting. Up until the very end, we do not really understand why he helps Quinn, why he keeps coming back to her despite her actions, why he drives himself towards her. I really like him. He puts up with her, he doesn't.
The world-building and setting of this book is fantastic! I can't say that there is anyone as obnoxious as Jeff's ex-girlfriend/current girlfriend/drama queen in MY high school, but it reminded me of Mean Girls, which was hilarious. But I really felt like the author recorded and interpreted the high school setting well. I also felt like her incorporation of the paranormal (the demons, hallucinations, dreams, etc.) was well done. In my opinion, it seemed real.
The end is where you will find the source of the paranormal aspect of the book, and a touch of the explanation of the paranormal aspect. This is an interesting structure for a paranormal book, to introduce the paranormal aspect in specifics at the end of the first book. But, I know that the author plans to expound upon the paranormal aspect and explain it to readers in Book Two.
Okay, so, there IS a love triangle... but if you cannot already tell, I am not buying the Jeff side. Jeff is Quinn's ex-boyfriend, another source of added problems, in addition to the demons, the parents' issues, the grades, the captaincy, the lack of sleep, and so on. I think this love triangle is obvious, which makes me not get upset at the book. But it might be a messy one, who knows.
Okay, I will stop. I really like this book, everyone!
What I Did Not Like:
I suppose some of Quinn's actions bothered me. I totally get that she was trying to protect the ones she cared for, but sometimes, I wanted to shake her. But then, I have never been hounded by demons, or have had to deal with any of the awful symptoms of the lack of sleep that she did.
Quinn has a lot to manage, everyone! But I feel like Quinn's actions are what get to people, especially the people that do not see past her actions, and to her reasoning. Have some compassion!
Would I Recommend It:
I definitely would, especially to lovers of scariness! While this book is not a horror novel, such an audience would enjoy this book. The average paranormal lover would be interested in this book! I think that people may have problems with understanding the characters, but readers who pay attention will see the desired result!
5 stars. I really, really enjoyed this book!