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Sweet Summertime Reads: A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

Hey-a! It’s Magan with another summer beach read, A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger for our joint feature, Sweet Summertime Reads, hosted with Ginger and Tara!

A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger [website | twitter]
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 304
Keywords: Re-marriages, Step-siblings, Family Drama, Drinking and Hook-ups
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format Read: Paperback from TLA (Thank you!)

When I read The DUFF by Kody Keplinger, I identified. I felt connected to the main character and really felt like I could tap into her emotions as she navigated her way through her life’s troubles. I thought I would feel much the same with Kody’s new book A Midsummer’s Nightmare, but I didn’t. I enjoyed the writing and the craziness of trying to figure out if Whitley would get together with her soon-to-be-stepbrother, Nathan, but overall I could not relate to Whitley in the way I expected to.

Whitley’s parents have been divorced for a long time. She lives with her bitter, self-absorbed mother, but she’s always wanted to live with her father. Since that’s not the case, she spends every summer with him. When she graduates, she is looking forward to her last summer with her dad before college – listening to good music, hanging out in the condo and at the beach, and drinking. That all changes when her dad pulls up to a new house where she’s introduced to the woman her dad is going to marry. The woman, Sylvia, is someone she’s never heard of or met before.

To make everything worse, Sylvia’s son, Nathan, is the boy Whitley randomly slept with at the graduation party she attended. How’s that for awkward?

There is a lot that happens in this story – Whitley deals with her issues by randomly hooking up with guys and drinking to extremes. She can’t talk to her parents – her mom is too focused on her own broken heart to see her daughter is struggling, and her dad is trying so desperately hard to make life appear perfect with his new family. Oh, and then there’s all the tension with Nathan. Should they just give into their feelings for one another even though they’re going to be step-siblings?

I felt at times that while the writing was good and Keplinger could tap into the emotions of an 18-year-old really well, it was lacking in some depth. There was a lot of build up and anticipation, but very few pages were dedicated to the story settling and all the aforementioned issues wrapping up. I don’t need for everything to wrap up in perfect little bows – my imagination can wander – but with so many big things, I just wanted more. Whitley’s feelings of invisibility didn’t really come full circle for me.

While I didn’t feel extremely connected to Whitley because of how she wanted to ruin herself to make her family notice her, I did enjoy Sylvia and Nathan’s characters very much. Sylvia was the antithesis of a terrible step-mother. She saw the destruction happening in Whitley’s life and wanted to step in. It was hard for her to navigate the boundary between caring for Whitley but not getting too overly involved. Though it is a little awkward that they were going to be step-siblings, I appreciated Nathan’s character. He was not one to hold back how he felt. While he had his moments of being a little too honest and come across as hurtful, I always felt his intentions were for the best.

I suppose my last observation is that I always knew what was coming next in A Midsummer’s Nightmare. I felt the overall plot points were fairly similar to The DUFF, and I sincerely hope that Keplinger’s books don’t become formulaic. Estelle went to a signing a few weeks ago in New York and told me about the new book Keplinger is working on. This one pertains to a very big issue, suicide, and I think Keplinger has the ability to really push the boundaries and go deep. I hope she does.

Goodreads | Amazon

photograph of zac efron laying on blue plastic chairs

My Nathan = Zac Efron. Who wouldn't want your step-brother to be a cute, hot guy, especially if envisioned to look like SEXY Zac Efron?!

Image borrowed from People.com

June 18, 2012 - 3:52 pm

Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books - If the guy who was going to be my future step-brother looked like Zac Efron, I honestly don’t know how I’d be able to resist… especially with those eyes!

This book sounds interesting, though I’m not sure I’d read it right away. I don’t know what makes me so hesitant about it, but I just feel like I don’t need to read this one right now, if you catch my drift.

June 11, 2012 - 10:09 pm

Shelve It: 6/10/2012 - […] an adult fiction review! SSR: Big Kids’ Table: June & July adult fiction releases! A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger: Magan reviews Kody’s latest. SSR: Tune in Tuesday: Our summer listening picks! SSR: Retro […]

June 6, 2012 - 6:16 pm

Ginger @ GReads! - I struggled with the closure on this one, too. I don’t think it all could have been figured out by the last page, there was just TOO MUCH going on, but I felt some points should have been given a direction.

Holy hell at Zefron!!! He is a perfect choice of Nathan 😉

June 6, 2012 - 5:02 pm

elena - I’ve actually heard the formulaic concern about Kody Keplinger’s writing too. I haven’t read THE DUFF but I read SHUT OUT which I liked enough, even if I wasn’t the biggest fan. I’m excited for this one because it seems like an interesting premise. I’m glad that even though you couldn’t connect to Whitley, you liked Sylvia and Nathan. It makes really happy to hear Sylvia is an anthesis of an evil stepmother! Thanks for your honest review, Magan. 🙂

June 6, 2012 - 3:27 pm

Natalie @ Mindful Musings - That’s definitely one of the potential downsides of an author who’s writing in the same genre…the tendency for some of the books to become formulaic, like you said.

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Kody Keplinger, especially about The Duff, and I totally need to read at least one of her books!

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