Friday, 28 February 2014

Grim by Christine Johnson (editor)


 

I admit it, I picked up this book because of Sarah Rees Brennan and, as always, she did not disappoint. But there were some other really great stories in this book, as well! And some that were very mediocre, indeed. It was a very unbalanced anthology. Still worth reading, because the good short stories are really good.

THE KEY by Rachel Hawkins (Bluebeard) - ★★★★
Lana's mother is a psychic, she does readings in their trailer. And Lana is feeling a bit ashamed of the way she and her mother live when Skye, the gorgeous guy from her French class, brings another classmate, Milly, to come and consult her mother on the whereabouts of the missing Kimberly - Skye's ex-girlfriend and Milly's best friend.
Lana's mother's prediction for her that day is that she would have to run, and fast!
Oh, this was so creepy! Hawkins managed to tell a perfectly satisfying story in just a few pages, but this would have made a wonderful full-length novel.

FIGMENT by Jeri Smith-Ready (Puss in Boots) - ★
Eli's father dies in a boating accident, they weren't close, but his dad left him a plush cat, informing him it would bring him luck. Eli is already a very talented musician, maybe a little luck is all he needs...
I didn't feel this story at all, but that's merely a matter of personal preference, since it combines two elements I have always disliked: the fairy tale Puss in Boots and teenaged dudes who carry a guitar everywhere.

THE TWELFTH GIRL by Malinda Lo (The Twelve Dancing Princesses) - ★★  
Liv is transfered to a new boarding school which seems pretty boring except for one thing: Harley. Harley is a girl who flaunts all the rules, she doesn't follow the school's dress code, she arrives late to class, and she occupies a turret with her eleven friends, with whom she goes out partying every night. Liv is eager to get closer to Harley, she doesn't know whether she wants to be her, or wether she wants her, but either way she wants  to become part of her group. But a palm-reader warned her to stay away from them...
I liked the whole other world through a trap-door, and how Lo retold this tale - I usually like Lo's stories because you can always count on her to skip the usual "there was this boy and it was insta-love", she takes the time to build the relationships in a dreamy way and, of course, the boy is a girl - but this time I didn't really feel this. Harley may as well have been the usual YA love interest stereotype, the whole thing needed to be more developed, it didn't quite work as a short story.

THE RAVEN PRINCESS by Jon Skovron (The Raven) - ★ 
I don't get it? What was this? The whole point of a fairy tale retelling is to retell the fairy tale, not re-write the exact same story as the original in your own words...

THINNER THAN WATER by Saundra Mitchell (Donkeyskin) - ★★★★★ 
tw: pedophilia, rape, abuse, incest
I hate this fairy tale so fucking much I didn't even know if I would be able to write an unbiased review of Mitchell's retelling... But Mitchell's writing was absolutely, flawlessly beautiful.
Merula's mother died after giving birth to her, making her father promise he'd never marry again, unless to a woman as beautiful as she was. 
The story starts horribly, as one would expect - but Mitchell showed the readers how absolutely revolting this abuse is, and the insidiousness of victim blaming. And Merula, despite her circumstances, was a true survivor and a delight to read.

BEFORE THE ROSE BLOOMED by Ellen Hopkins (The Snow Queen) - ?

Sorry, I just skipped this one, I really do not like vers libre.

BEAST/BEAST by Tessa Gratton (Beauty and the Beast) - ★★ 

It was alright, but nothing really stood out.. I liked how the Beast was described, but I didn't feel much of a connection between the Beauty and the Beast.

THE BROTHERS PIGGETT by Julie Kagawa (The Three Little Pigs) - ★★★ 

Percival Pigget is madly in love with Maya Thornton, a beautiful girl whose grandmother is rumoured to be a witch. But it takes him ages to gather the nerve to speak to her. But, when he does, things seem to be going well between them. Until Percival sees something that breaks his heart.
I was side-eyeing this story almost to the very end because of all the "Nice Guy" entitlement, really, all Percival was missing was a fedora... But suffice to say it had a very satisfying ending :)

UNTETHERED by Sonia Gensler (The Shroud) - ★★★★★  

Another fairy tale I hate, what with its sick message of ~Mothers who lose their children should bear their grief quietly because the child belongs to God now, and cannot rest in peace if she mourns~. Get out of my face with this shit, to be honest.
Gensler's retelling was amazing, though. It treated grief with respect, it made the reader feel it and sympathise. And if you're not familiar with the fairy tale, this retelling can be read as a mystery.

BETTER by Shaun David Hutchinson (The Pied Piper) - ★★★★★ 
tw: rape
Aboard the space ship Hamelin, Pip is an artificial human built for the purpose of being experimented upon, so that a cure may be found for the disease killing the Hamelin's children. All the Hamelin's children lie in stasis, waiting to be awoken when a cure is found, all but one: Levi. Levi is Pip's only friend, the only one who sees her as a real person, and Pip is willing to do anything to save Levi from the disease that's laying his body to waste.
This was an absolutely amazing story about love, loss, impending death, being disabled, and what it means to be human; and I really, really wish it would be developed into a full book!

LIGHT IT UP by Kimberly Derting (Hansel and Gretel) - ★★★★ 

Greta and Hansen's dad is dying of cancer, and their greedy step-mother, under the pretext of a family camping trip, abandoned them in the woods. They wander lost, and nearly hopeless until they come upon a cabin. The ranger within it offers to drive them to the ranger station so they can radio for help, but first they should eat some deliciously tender steaks...
This was so creepy, omg!!

SHARPER THAN A SERPENT’S TONGUE  by Christine Johnson (Diamonds and Toads)
- ★ 

How can you write a retelling with less content than the original? Nothing actually happened, and every facet of the story was weak and undeveloped.

A REAL BOY by Claudia Gray (Pinocchio) - ★ 

I hate it when sci-fi starts off with a scientist turning to another and going, "Oh no, this is wrong, we're playing God". Believe me, if awesome shit is happening no scientist is going to say that. Even if I'd just finished re-watching Jurassic Park and someone turned to me and went, "Hey, want to bring dinosaurs back to life?" I wouldn't say, "Wait a sec, hasn't this film taught us blah blah?" No. I'd be knocking people out of my way so I could finally bring velociraptors back. 
So when Blue (a special snowflake who is changing her actual name to Blue because of her dyed blue hair streaks) turns to one of her cybernetics professors when they're creating the greatest robot and starts thinking about God and whatever, and then zaps the robot awake and insta-loves him... I'm sorry, but no.

SKIN TRADE by Myra McEntire (The Robber Bridegroom) - ★ 

Morbid as the original fairy tale is, I always laugh at the part where the other girl drinks three glasses of wine and dies - what a lightweight! But yeah, the cannibalism that follows puts a downer on everything... Even if the bride gives the most badass wedding toast in history. If you haven't read this fairy tale, please go read it because it's actually amazing.
The retelling however, was not.

BEAUTY AND THE CHAD by Sarah Rees Brennan
(Beauty and the Beast) - ★★★★★ 
Beauty's father barely escaped with his life from the Beast's castle - he only managed to flee because he promised the Beast his son in service. Having no son, he thought himself really clever. But Beauty finds this dishonourable conduct reproachable. So she disguises herself as a boy and off she goes to the Beast's castle. The Beast is one among many who have lived in the castle - this Beast is named Chad. Chad was totally uncool to this broad and she just kidnapped him from his frat house, dropped him into the castle, and turned him into a monster. Not cool, am I right?!
But now Chad has this totally awesome new bro called Beauty (not judging your name, bro! parents, right?) to hang out with, and he's so great, just throwing keggers at the castle and being best bros, and he's so... dreamy... NO HOMO. Well... perhaps a little homo. Perhaps a lot.
This was so, so funny! I loved Chad! I loved Beauty! I loved their story! Go read this right now!

THE PINK by Amanda Hocking (The Pink) - ★ 

I never liked this fairy tale, angels everywhere, people tearing people to pieces, husbands shutting their wives in towers to starve to death, a really creepy kid, and almost everyone redeemed by God.
This retelling didn't bring anything particularly new to the fairy tale, so...

SELL OUT by Jackson Pearce (Snow White)
- ★★
Snow White with a twist! Emmett has the dubious gift of bringing back to life any corpse he kisses. So he makes his living kissing rich dead people. His next assignment is Elise Snow. She used to go to school with him, the rich girl in class who'd bully him and made fun of him for being poor.
I guess this is supposed to be very deep about how people change and you're supposed to forgive the bullies who tormented you because they are now changed people, but I'm not here for this, so no.
It started out great though, and it was well written...


Buy Grim
@ The Book Depository (with free worldwide delivery!) 

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2 comments:

  1. Oh dear, your comments are delicious (especially the one about Mr Nice Guy™). You've got me interested, not even going to lie.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's really worth reading for the good stories - and maybe you'll like the stories I didn't like?

    Also, hi, another Isa!

    ReplyDelete

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