Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Review: 'Grim' by Ellen Hopkins, Julie Kagawa, Claudia Gray and others

I have been crushing on fairy tale adaptations, such as Angela Carter's, so I decided I should have a look at this collection of fairy stories as well, especially considering it features stories by a couple of YA authors I haven't read anything by yet. And I'd say that overall this was definitely an enjoyable read.
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 and Jon Skrovan.
This collection is quite short, if you ask me. I almost raced through it, not necessarily because the stories were so amazing but because each of them is relatively short and it was quite easy to move on from the different stories. With the actual Grimms' fairytales, I usually had one read to me and then, as a child, I would be thinking about it, imagining different endings or beginnings, i.e. each fairytale stuck with me in its own right. This didn't happen for me for most of these stories. I found it really easy to move on and didn't become very connected to most of the characters or the plots. Whether this is my fault for picking it as my travelling read for today or whether it reflects on the stories themselves I don't know.

There are a ton of issues in reviewing a collection because you can't discuss each story but you don't want to ignore any of the authors either. So I'm going to discuss the two different categories of stories that I saw: the inspired and the original stories. Those inspired by the classic fairytales I think I generally enjoyed more. Ironically, I again found myself most excited by those derived from Beauty and the Beast and especially 'Beauty and the Chad' by Sarah Rees Brennan, whose Unspoken I love as well. This story seems to have real potential for gender discussions and Brennan really went with this and wrote not only a very entertaining story, but also raised some really interesting points. The original stories occasionally lacked what I feel is essential to fairytales: a clear moral. Although this means occasionally fairytales become preachy, they fulfill their purpose to teach.

The writing in general was quite good. Each of the authors managed to set the scene and create characters that acted quite convincingly. I was very happy to see it lacked those cliche 'love at first sight' moments and has given me hope that there are good YA novels out there. Of course I know they're out there, but they can be hard to find and now I've been given a whole list of authors to check out. Each story did have it's own style and was different in how it chose to narrate and show the action.

Overall, I give this collection...

3 Universes!

I would recommend this collection to either YA fans or fairytale fans, but if neither is really your genre, there's not a lot for you here. I enjoyed reading it but kind of flew through it without being too affected. This is not the place to find any kind of deep emotions related to these narratives.

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