Book Reviews, Reviews

Grim (Christine Johnson)

Grim (Christine Johnson)Grim Published by Harlequin on 25-02-2014
Genres: Adaptations, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy & Magic, Paranormal, Short Stories, Young Adult
Pages: 474
Format: eARC

Inspired by classic fairy tales, but with a dark and sinister twist, Grim contains short stories from some of the best voices in young adult literature today:

Ellen Hopkins
Amanda Hocking
Julie Kagawa
Claudia Gray
Rachel Hawkins
Kimberly Derting
Myra McEntire
Malinda Lo
Sarah Rees-Brennan
Jackson Pearce
Christine Johnson
Jeri Smith Ready
Shaun David Hutchinson
Saundra Mitchell
Sonia Gensler
Tessa Gratton
Jon Skrovan

My opinion:

I couldn’t resist Grim when I saw it on NetGalley.  Fairytales with a sinister twist?  There were so many great authors too – some I already knew and loved, like Kimberly Derting, but even more that I’ve heard a lot about but have yet to try.

Unfortunately, what Grim really taught me is that I just don’t really get along with short stories! I absolutely loved the concept behind so many of these stories, and yet I wanted more from them – more build up, more depth, more everything! As expected from an anthology, some stories worked better for me than others, and the highlights for me were The Twelfth Girl, Better and A Real Boy.

The Key (Rachel Hawkins)
In The Key, Lana is embarrassed to find her psychic mother has agreed to do a reading for some of the kids she goes to school with.  Lana has a small amount of psychic powers too, and in this story she sees something she shouldn’t when she peeks into someone’s head after promising not to.

While I enjoyed the storyline, this was one of the stories that stood out to me most clearly as a reminder of why short stories just don’t work for me.  I felt like the ‘twist’ was reasonably predictable, and the open ending meant the story felt like it’d barely begun before it ended.

Figment (Jeri Smith-Ready)
Figment, it turns out is a retelling of Puss in Boots, although my vague inkling while reading was that it reminded me a little of Tinkerbell.  In Figment, Elias, a 17 year old guitar player, inherits a little stuffed cat when his father dies, that turns out to be much more than it seems.

Although I couldn’t tell quite where the inspiration came from, I really enjoyed this story.  Despite being part of an anthology of unusual stories, the originality of this stood out to me.  The story is told from the point of view of the immobile stuffed cat (the titular figment), which was a really interesting point of view to read from.  I felt that this was a story that was truly complete, despite it’s short nature.

The Twelfth Girl (Malinda Lo)
The Twelfth Girl is a modern, urban retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses.  Liv is the new girl at the Virginia Sloane School for girls, and she’s fascinated by Harley and her friends, who reportedly go dancing every night and seem able to get away with anything.

The Twelfth Girl was one of my favourite stories of the anthology.  Although I don’t think the characters were particularly likeable, they worked really well for the story.  I enjoyed the writing, the plot and the imagery, and I would be more than happy to read a full novel of this story.

The Raven Princess (Jon Skovron)
The Raven Princess is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the story of a queen who wishes her daughter would turn into raven and fly away because she’s fed up of listening to her cry.

This is one of the clearest re-tellings, which is a little bit disappointing.  I also didn’t feel like it was particularly sinister – it was enjoyable, and charming rather than dark and twisted.  I enjoyed the twists Jon Skovron had put on the story, and it was a solid read, but it wasn’t one of my favourites.

Thinner than Water (Saundra Mitchell)
I don’t honestly know what this was a retelling of. I didn’t mind it but I didn’t particularly love it either, and I know a lot of people were put off by the incest and abuse themes.

Before the Rose Bloomed: A Retelling of The Snow Queen (Ellen Hopkins)
This is, obviously, a retelling of The Snow Queen, but it was one of my least favourites.  I found it quite dry and slow, and unfortunately this one really didn’t work for me.

Beast/Beast (Tessa Gratton)
This is a retelling of Beauty and The Beast.  I really enjoyed the writing, but the meaning behind the title honestly escaped me a little. I found that by the end of the book, Beast/Beast had just got lost among some of the more memorable stories.

The Brothers Piggett (Julie Kagawa)
This is a retelling of the Three Little Pigs, and it was one of the stories I enjoyed the most throughout the anthology.

Untethered (Sonia Gensler)
According to Hidden in Pages, this is apparently a retelling of The Shroud.  Although I didn’t find it quite as gripping as some of the other stories, I really loved the way it was written, and it seems to have been the favourite for a lot of people.

Better (Shaun David Hutchinson)
Better was one of my favourite stories.  The story follows Pip, an ‘artificial being’, who was created with the intention of using her to find a cure for the Disease, and Levi, the son of the scientist who is experienting on Pip. I really loved the way Pip was developed, and I’d be happy to read a longer story with this plotline.

Light it Up (Kimberly Derting)
Light It Up was a really creepy, modern Hansel & Gretel retelling.  Hansen and Greta are camping with their father and stepfather and wake up to find themselves alone.  Light it Up wasn’t one of my favourites, but I did like the way the relationship between Hansen and Greta was portrayed, and the story was convincingly creepy.

Sharper than a serpent’s Tongue (Christine Johnson)
I honestly have no idea what Sharper than a serpent’s Tongue is a retelling of, and it’s really hard to talk about the story without giving much away.  In short, the story follows Clara and Dina, two sisters living with an alcoholic mother and very different attitudes. In all honesty, I just found this story a bit strange.  It had lots of different elements and for me personally, it just didn’t work.

A Real Boy (Claudia Gray)
This was a sci-fi retelling of Pinnochio and probably my favourite of the anthology.  I loved the way this was written, the characters and the plot and I’d love to read an entire novel based on this story.

Skin Trade (Myra McEntire)
Another one where I didn’t know which fairytale this was a retelling of! Unfortunately it just didn’t work for me.  Despite the very strange nature of the story, I was really intrigued, but I didn’t feel like there was enough to sink your teeth into.

Beauty and the Chad (Sarah Rees Brennan)
This was a Beauty and the Beast retelling with a twist.  The Beast in this case is a modern day frat boy, sent to a classic fairytale setting.  This was one of the more amusing stories because the two characters may as well have been speaking different languages!  This seems to have been a lot of people’s favourites, but for me it didn’t live up to The Twelfth Girl, A Real Boy or Figment.

The Pink: A Grimm Story (Amanda Hocking)
This felt like the most classic fairytale of the bunch.  While I liked it, and enjoyed the heart-warming nature of the story, I didn’t feel like it fit in with the theme of fairytales with a sinister twist.

Sell Out (Jackson Pearce)
Sell Out was like a very twisted retelling of Snow White/Sleeping Beauty.  In this, the main character is able to bring people back from the dead by kissing them.  This was one of the more original feeling stories, probably helped by the male POV.  One of the better stories in the anthology for me.

 Buy it? This is one that I would personally borrow.
In a nutshell: A really interesting mix of fairy-tale retellings with a few real gems hidden in there.

Other Reviews of Grim: Book Munchies | The Daily Prophecy | In Bed With Books

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