Young adult novels can be a treasure trove of awesome characters, unique plotlines, and a few hours of good times. Of course young adult novels can also be a breeding ground for crappy authors just looking for their fifteen minutes of fame and a quick buck–we can all thank Stephenie Meyer and her shit Twilight series for that! Luckily for me, Blue is the Nightmares was not just a Twilight copycat but a young adult novel actually worth checking out!
Stacey Brown, a 16 year old Junior at Hillcrest Boarding School, is a hereditary Wiccan through her grandmother. She wants to have a normal high school experience, but things begin to crumble around her when she starts having terrifying nightmares about the death of her best friend and roommate, Drea. It is not the first time she's had these prophetic nightmares as, three years ago, a girl she used to babysit was murdered. Stacey had ignored her nightmares then, but now she’s having them again and, after the last time, she knows they’ll come true.
The author of Blue is for Nightmares (and the three novels that follow in the series) is Laurie Faria Stolarz. Her work always features teenage protagonists and blend elements of mystery and romance. The magical/Wiccan elements found in her books are influenced by her home city: the one and only Salem Massachusetts, known widely for the Salem witch trials of 1692.
The cast of characters in Blue is for Nightmares is a group of teenagers with a staple stereotype from each group. There’s Amber the eccentric crazy one, PJ the punkish class clown, Drea the diva, Stacey the regular girl next door, and Chad the all American athlete. Each character fits a stereotype but each character is also a human: they’re fleshed out and deeper than they appear at first glance. Chad is an athlete but is also an intellectual, Amber is strange but she’s incredibly loyal, and Stacey–the main character of the piece–is a practicing witch, having learned witchcraft (or Wicca if you prefer) from her grandmother, and as it turns out, isn’t as normal as she appears. The story may take advantage of the old teenage typecast standbys, but instead of becoming bogged down in them, Stolarz puts them to good use as a solid foundation to build upon.
The location of Blue is for Nightmares takes place completely on the campus of an American boarding school and I don’t know about the rest of you, but before this book, I’d never read a book that took place at a boarding school. A rich private school yes, but never a boarding school–it was a nice change on the stereotypical teen high school drama (just like the characters). What makes the boarding school so interesting a location is that the story must take place within these confines. In the usual private school setting the students don’t live there–they can come and go off campus as often as they like and when scary shit happens on campus, they can go home and ‘be safe’ (even though we all know that’s not how it works). When the scary shit happens on campus at a boarding school though, you live there–you can’t leave. It heightens the suspense and adds an extra level of danger to a plot that–if it were happening anywhere else–would be a little hum-drum.
With a unique setting and great characters, Blue is for Nightmares is something special compared to other young adult novels. The only thing I found myself not liking were the conversations that happened between groups of the main characters. They seemed like the sort of thing that adults think teenagers say instead of things that they actually do–but that’s the case with almost all novels about teenagers.
My final thoughts on Blue is for Nightmares is that it’s pretty good. It’s not the best young adult novel I’ve ever read, but it’s by no means the worst. It’s a young adult novel that gives more than most of that genre do with characters that you think you know, but don’t, a location that seems familiar, but is brand new, and a plotline that’s a little bit supernatural, but is just real enough to be truly creepy!