It is really hard to review something I have read half a dozen times, but am re-reading for the first time in a decade.
I really love the creepy nightmare house game set-up. It made it easier to get to know several of the characters, and I just liked watching them overcome their worst nightmares. It felt like a sadistic game show and gee whiz am I a terrible person for taking such pleasure in that kind of thing.
I remember spending a great deal of time the first time I read this trying to figure out what I could draw that would seem realistic as a horrible fear for me but not be what I was most frightened of (probably spiders). I knew I could never make it through a room full of terrible tarantulas or something, so I was going to have to improvise so I didn't die (or get laughed at). As far as I remember, I never did come up with anything plausible, but it is strangely fun to think about while reading.
In general, the characters are good. Julian is kind of fascinating in a way that seems overdone today but that didn't seem so when I first read it. He seems very much the type of character made to appeal to a teenage girl, and thus my affection for him (while never fangirl-ish to begin with) has faded a bit.
Dee and Audrey are amusing as foils. I liked them both, although their bickering is annoying. Their nightmares taught me a lot about them. I feel like Jenny is easy enough to like, though I don't feel terribly attached or anything. Michael and Zach are completely adorable for obviously very different reasons.
I feel bad about not liking Summer, but there is really nothing there to like. She exists to be pathetic, sort of, and we don't ever really get to know her through her nightmares, unlike the rest of the group. She is very much like a small child, but without having the excuse of actually being a small child.
Tom is a lot more questionable. I feel like I know almost nothing about him even at the end of the book, and those small parts of what we know I don't really like. Mostly he seems to exist to take Jenny for granted and be kind of annoyingly boisterous. I don't really care for either of these character traits, and his relationship with Jenny seems to be due entirely to "they've known each other forever," which is not a terribly valid reason to remain together, I don't think. Especially when it was a relationship formed when they were actually children.
This is fun. That is kind of what I look for in an L.J. Smith book, honestly--she was a go-to author for a hefty chunk of my teenage years because I always enjoyed reading her stuff. Her plots are interesting, even when they aren't super detailed, her universe feels just different enough from ours to seem almost-barely plausible.