2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Stuff of Nightmares (Paperback)
I picked up this book because I knew Malorie Blackman was good, in fact, I think her Noughts & Crosses series is quite possibly the best set of young adult drama novels there is. In this book, the main character Kyle and his friends go on a field trip, unfortunately, the train they are on is involved in a crash which brings many of the passengers close to death. Being close to death has suddenly given Kyle the ability to jump into his friends' nightmares - some real, some fantastical, some horrible. Six of the 'nightmares' have actually previously been published in other short story volumes by Blackman so some fans may feel cheated by the fact they'll find half the stories very familiar.
As a whole, I don't think the book quite clicked, I felt the main story arc revolving around Kyle and the train crash was weak and served only as an excuse to launch into the short stories. I found myself wanting to skip the bits about Kyle and just head straight onto the 'nightmares'. But my oh my, some of those short stories were brilliant. My personal favourites were the ones devoid of overt fantasy elements but full of thrills, horror and drama - genres which I believe Malorie does best. So ones to watch out for are: Steve's nightmare, Roberta's nightmare, the Stranger's nightmare and Lily's nightmare. The rest of the nightmares verge on being plain old ghost stories which suffice to keep the reader interested with some good twists every now and then but they just don't have the same gut-wrenching impact as the more 'realistic' stories that involved suicide, murder, ethnic cleansing and rape.
In summary, Blackman's attempt to rehash some of her short stories into a new collection, fell slightly short of the mark. If I hadn't felt like wanting to fastforward the times Kyle had a flashback into his own life issues, I would have given it 5 stars. The short stories by themselves are well worth a read though, even for adults. I think everyone would come away with their own favourites.