A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The Colosseum and Medusa play important roles in the Netherworld.
In his journey through the Netherworld, Charlie gets a master lesson on how to get the upper hand on fear. Acknowledging fear helps dilute its strength, he realizes, but the only way to render it powerless is to face it squarely and understand why you're afraid. Friendship, honesty, loyalty, and faith help Charlie and his friends find their way to safety. Friends and family who reach out to him demonstrate understanding that outward prickliness can be a sign of emotional suffering.
Positive Role Models
Charlie feels bad about how he's treating the people close to him and takes responsibility for putting his friends, his community, and others in danger. When Jack's threatened, Charlie steadfastly works to help him, as do other characters who risk their safety to aid his quest. He and his loyal, compassionate friends have bonded by supporting each other through difficult times. Charlie's family members are frustrated with his behavior, but they still try to comfort and help him.
Violence & Scariness
Charlie's in constant peril in the Netherworld. Beyond the cackling witch and her cat, hungry to eat a boy, there are gorgons, fanged bunnies, goblins, and countless more monsters.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Rocco whistles at Charlie's stepmom and says she's "hot."
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Products & Purchases
A few brand names are mentioned, including Lego, Swiss Army, Jeep, Scotch tape, Sytrofoam, Krispy Kreme, and Range Rover.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Nightmares!, by actor Jason Segel and veteran author Kirsten Miller, explores dark territory and uses scary imagery. But, ultimately, it's a reassuring, comforting book about the power of fear and how to overcome it. The death of Charlie's mother several years earlier and his suspicion that his new stepmother's a witch drive the plot. His friends have their own weighty worries, including a boy dealing with teasing and a girl whose mother suffers from severe depression. Their adventures in the Netherworld can be harrowing: They're in constant danger, and menacing characters lurk everywhere.
Is It Any Good?
This is a charming read rather than an edgy, dark thriller, more Tim Burton and Roald Dahl than Lemony Snicket. NIGHTMARES! the first in a trilogy by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller. Charlie's nightmare is based on the same scary dreams that spooked Segel as a child, and he and Miller aim to reassure children that fear is normal, OK, and conquerable.
The writing is a little flat, and the children, armed with positive affirmations and frequent epiphanies, rise a little too easily to formidable challenges. But children are likely to enjoy the warmhearted, affectionately told tale and the appealing characters. The Netherworld is richly imagined with a nice balance of humor and horror -- this is one nightmare young readers will eagerly revisit.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.