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Review: A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

Title: A Midsummer's Nightmare
Story Arc: Standalone
Publication: June 5, 2012 by Little Brown
Hardcover: 304 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit, Realistic Fiction
Age Group: Teen, Young Adult
Content: Sexual References, Heavy Kissing, Profanity, Assault, Underage Drinking
Source: Bought | Quote(s): Yes

Hangovers are a bitch.

Whitley Johnson's dream summer with her divorcé dad has turned into a nightmare. She's just met his new fiancée and her kids. The fiancée's son? Whitley's one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin' great.

Worse, she totally doesn't fit in with her dad's perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn't even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she's ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn't "do" friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn't her stepbrother...at least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together.

Filled with authenticity and raw emotion, Whitley is Kody Keplinger's most compelling character to date: a cynical Holden Caulfield-esque girl you will wholly care about.
Another reason to be a Kody Keplinger fan
I relished the opportunity to read A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger since I’m such an enthusiastic fan of Kody’s work. Her books feel young, clever, and sexy and I draw immense pleasure from them, from the themes they incorporate and the gorgeous, sensual love interests who divert the main characters from the cracked and disappointing roads they’ve been walking down. So far, THE DUFF remains my favorite but A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger is DEFINITELY a super close runner-up! I couldn’t quite tell you if it has to do with the similarities the two novels share or how much I ended up LOVING the slowburn sexual tension between Whitley and Nathan, but A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger is not only the perfect summer indulgence and amazing for Kody Keplinger fans, but it’s incredibly written, fun, and entertaining if you enjoy reading about teens who get themselves into some really funky situations and come out having evolved and fallen in love.

And, REALLY, who DOESN'T love that, hmm?

Whitley is not, thankfully, a drunken hoe-bag
Whitley doesn’t drink this way because she’s had it easy peasy. Poor girl leads the epitome of a dysfunctional life with a bitter, resentful, neglectful mother waiting at home, a place which is miles away from a man unclear on the definition of a father, and a brother whose gone off to live his own life and start his own family. Whitley’s loneliness and outcries for attention are blatant and sad and emotional—I think peeps who are children of divorce can especially relate even if the circumstances were different than Whitley’s. I despaired over Whitley’s lack of parental involvement, and raged over how unchecked her life has been going up until this point. Those big sisterly urges I sometimes mention in my reviews threatened to smother me when it came to Whitley. What makes it even more emotionally painful? The fact that Whitley doesn’t whine and demand change but instead keeps it locked up inside, taking it and taking it.

Whitley is certainly not as bad as people would like to believe, overlook, and use to satisfy their own greed for gossip or release. She’s actually a jaded young woman who thinks very little of herself and is willing to settle for a few moments happiness no matter how difficult the consequences when her reality is so miserable and wretched. So she seeks solace with the tequila bottle, and, sometimes, when she’s too plowed for her own good, she unintentionally falls into bed with random boys. However, the one-night stand that sets this ball rolling is quite different from the ones that came before.

Harrison, Nathan, and other parts of the step family
Whitley’s step family is nothing at all like she initially expected upon first glance. Wicked stepmother? That’s out the window. Annoying stepsister? Not the case. Forgettable stepbrother? Not. Even. Close. In fact, Nathan is not only UNFORGETTABLY SMOKIN’, but he’s that one-night stand that Whitley is determined to forget, because, for once, what she remembers doesn’t make her wince in shame or regret, but makes her want more from this boy of contrasts than she’s willing to ask for and take, let alone give back. Which makes for all sorts of electric chemistry and loaded looks and hot little knowing smirks. But, I’ll get to all that later.

Not only has Whitley barred any opportunities for romance from her life—and, truthfully, she’s never received any offers—but she’s refused herself the luxury and complications of simple friendship. Some of you might remember Harrison, Wesley’s only close friend in THE DUFF. Well, Harrison begins branching out, it seems, because he adopts Whitley under his wing, and tugs her along into parties and sleepovers and shopping trips and just regular ol’ hanging out no matter how reluctantly and grumpily Whitley behaves. His tenaciousness makes him so much more lovable, and I downright adored him. He and Nathan, together, are the best cure for Whitley and her wayward ways.

Sparks are SOARING, bro
You guys, I felt tingles I don’t normally feel unless I’m reading REALLY good, thorough YA or sexy adult fiction, and I love that about Kody’s books. THE DUFF is all about the sexytimes but in a way that suits the story and has meaning. Here in A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger there isn’t any actual sex apart from flashbacks of that all-too-good, romantic sex she had with Nathan during their one-night stand, and yet all the heated looks and repressed touches gave me spine-tingling, warming shivers in all sorts of places.

The fact is Nathan’s a down-to-earth, honest-to-goodness nice, great guy. He’s trying to atone for the mistakes back in his wild partying days and making up for the hell he put his mother through throughout high school following the death of his father. He gets angry with Whitley, intervenes, protects, and comforts. He sees the potential Whitley does her best to hide, and unwittingly brings out the good in her. And she makes him work twice as hard to keep leading a clean and honest life. I love that their worst qualities and awful pasts make each other want to be better than what they are, that they inspire each other by understanding their mistakes.

The ending was a little too perfect
All throughout A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger the lack of perfection is what makes the story so relatable. People aren’t always flawless and innocent and good; they make mistakes and do terrible, careless things. And yet, when the ending finally came, it felt a little TOO solves-all, everything’s-just-dandy and I felt like that cheated the book out of it’s ABSOLUTE amazingness.

Romance aside, Whitley’s emotional growth and her evolution into the person I always knew was there but was kept buried for a while, served as a major highlight of the book. Despite my few qualms with the ending of the book, I was just as dazzled by A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger as I’ve been since Kody first released THE DUFF. I adored what this book has to offer, and I believe anyone willing to try a Keplinger book will fall in love with this one as well!
"Christ, that's cold," I gasped.
My whole body tensed as his palm moved down the back of my arm. The chill started on the surface, but it seemed to move deeper. Invading my entire body.
It only got worse when he rubbed the gel between my shoulder blades and down my back. Nathan's hands were calloused, but not too rough. His skin passing over mine left a strange tingly sensation. Like an ice-cold fire spreading across my back and seeping into my veins. Even my fingers trembled a little, and I clenched my fists together to stop them.
"You okay?" he asked.
"Fine," I murmured, but I was on the edge of convulsing.
Every second Nathan's hands were on me, another moment from graduation night flooded back into my memory. The way his fingertips had pressed into my hips. The way I'd practically thrown him on the bed. The way he'd kissed me more passionately than anyone else ever had. I remembered the half-crazed feeling when he took his time kissing me, touching me, whispering things in my ear.
Most boys take advantage of drunk girls. They make the sex all about them and their own pleasure. But that night with Nathan had been different. It had been slow and sweet. All about me. It had been amazing. (71-72)
Rating: Perfect Bed Partner

A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger is, uh, very stimulating, kindling heat with the fiery attraction between Whitley and Nathan and igniting our sympathies for the main character due to her sad home life. I loved uncovering more about Whitley, learning that there’s a lot more to her than meets the eyes, and I basked in Nathan’s unerring faith in her. The rest of the characters are hilarious and real, and each of them work to intervene in Whitley’s self-damaging choices and treat her better than she’s known. Great for summer, certainly, but also a worthy and sexy addition to Keplinger’s stellar writing career!


Don't forget to enter my US (only) giveaway for both A Midsummer's Nightmare and Shut out when you click here!
Got something specific in mind? Dare I believe I might NOT have covered something you wish to know? If so, let me know down in the comments section. Don't be shy!


P E said...

Awesome review! Seriously, I love how detailed you were. I too adored the Duff. I liked it so much I bought a copy for my friend. I think this book sounds amazing. It's on my must read list. Kody Keplinger's books all have sexy scenes and imperfect characters, which I adore. I don't like overly happy endings though so I hope that doesn't take away too much from the story.

Tantalizing Illusions

Danny Bookworm said...

What a great Review!! I LOVED The DUFF it was phenomenal and although I liked Shut Out it was not as good... But. hearing that this one comes closer to the awesomenss that was The Duff - I need to read this book ASAP!!

Caitlin said...

I haven't read anything by Kody Keplinger but after you raved about Th Duff in your vlog I really should check her out. I love the sound of this one, I think Whitley will be the sort of HC I really like and end up rooting for. Its a shame about the ending, I think you're right a book filled with so much perfect imperfection can't then have a perfect perfect ending. It sorta negates itself a bit. Fanntastic review from you as always Asher!!

Cait x

Liz @ Planet Print said...

I want to read this, I want to read this! I loved The Duff! And I have Shut Out on my tbr, but not this one. I am determined to read them all! :P Nathan and Wesley both sound like characters you'd be rooting for, if you know what I mean. I already like them both, despite not having read the book yet :P. And I love how Kody's characters all have flaws, because it makes them realistic! Great review! :)

Liz @ Planet Print said...

LOL. I wrote Wesley. My mind is on The Duff ;). I meant Whitley, of course.

Ezmirelda Demetri said...

WHOA....that review was amazing. So detailed!
I mentally moved this up 10 places on my TBR list after I read it. I'm feeling a bit nostaligia after remembering how much I loved Kody's writing in THE DUFF.
Random Sidenote: When I first found out what this book was about I had flashbacks of the TV Show--Life With Derek.
Thanks for the awesome review Ash! You never dissapoint. ;)

LogodaedalyGiggle said...


Sam @ Realm of Fiction said...

Ahh.. the sexual tension! I haven't read anything by this author before but I've heard good things, especially about The DUFF. I keep meaning to read that. :P Anyway, this book sounds great! I'm glad you enjoyed it, Asher. Lovely review! :)

Sarah said...

Oh my goodness... that excerpt... I'm freaking BLUSHING O___O
ASHER. IT SOUNDS EFFING AMAZING! I've still not read ANY of Kody's work, and... yeah, I need to fix this. Clearly :D


Rebecca said...

I love Kody and her books. I've read them all and whilst I loved A Midsummer's Nightmare, The DUFF still remains my favorite as well! I did find this a bit deeper than her other, delving into family issues and such. Kody never disappoints and I absolutely can't wait for her next book to release already! Great review, that excerpt makes me want to re it all over again :)

April C said...

Ohhh this sounds good. I mean I did not love The DUFF, but A Midsummer's Nightmare seems more up my alley. I like reading about family issues and all that jazz.