Book Review: Grim by Christine Johnson

21402149Title: Grim

Author: Christine Johnson (Editor)

Format/Length:Paperback/454 pages

Publisher/Date Published:  Harlequin TEEN Australia/February 25th 2014

Category/Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy-Retelling

Source: Library

Description: 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 Skrovon.

2/5 stars –


I was not sure how to rate this novel. How am I supposed to rate a book containing seventeen stories, each with their own quirks and differences, each which deserves their own star-rating? I’ll start by saying that I’ve never been a fan of short stories. I can’t write them very well — and they never excite me to read them. So why did you read this? you might ask. This novel has some pretty big names in the Young Adult industry — Julie Kagawa and Claudia Gray, namely. And those were the two authors which I was looking forward to the most. Ironically, though, those weren’t the authors whose stories I enjoyed the most.

Getting into this, I was a little apprehensive. I didn’t know what to expect! the simpsons animated GIF

The Key by Rachel Hawkins —

This was probably one of my favourites from the entire anthology. Short, wonderful, and heart-racing, The Key showcased some of Hawkins’s best writing if you ask me. I’ve enjoyed reading her novels before, especially the Hex Hall trilogy, and thought that her short story was the perfect way to start the novel. Twisting, dark, and thrilling — I loved it.

Figment by Jeri Smith-Ready —

This one was adorable. Really, it was. At this point on the anthology, I was looking for something that was a little bit lighter than The Key, and found that this was something I surprisingly enjoyed. Not amazing — but it was cute and made me smile.

The Twelfth Girl by Malinda Lo —

This one? This one took me awhile to get in to . . . and by the time I managed to get invested in the characters and storyline, it was finished. I wanted more. Not because it was particularly amazing, I just felt as though the story was not done yet. In saying that, though, I did enjoy the creepy edge to the story, and loved the modern setting. This is the first of anything I’ve read of Malinda Lo.

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How about the Twelve Dancing Stormtroopers? I’d totally read that.

The Raven Princess by Jon Skovron —

I love fairytales. Like, I really love them. And if there’s something more I love than fairytales than it’s unique, twisty and different retellings of them. So with this one I was kind of torn. It was different, but it was the same. It was unique, but it was close to the original. I liked it, but I didn’t love it like I really wanted to.

Thinner than Water by Saundra Mitchell —

This one dealt with quite dark and controversial themes — and I loved it. It was dark and creepy and made me feel disgusted. I loved the main character. I loved the disturbing edge to the story. I loved the author’s writing style. In essence, this was one of the best stories that was in anthology. The only thing that bothered me was the unsatisfying conclusion — it was left  rather open, and I would have liked to have known what happened to the father. Still, I loved this one.

Before the Rose Bloomed by Ellen Hopkins —

Here’s what I learned from this story: I am not a fan of poetry-styled prose. (When I say this, I don’t mean lyrical sort of prose, Laini Taylor-esque, but this one was told in verse.) The story was choppy and awkward and didn’t flow quite right. I probably wouldn’t read a whole novel by Hopkins, because really, the style of this story is something that you need to either like, or dislike. For me I just couldn’t bring myself to like it. I skim-read most of the story and found it did not improve.

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Beast/Beast by Tessa Gratton —

I liked it. I’ve never really been a fan of Beauty & the Beast to be honest, so perhaps that hindered my enjoyment of the story, but it was not a bad story. It was well written and enjoyable. Just not mind-blowing.

The Brothers Piggett by Julie Kagawa —

Oh, Julie Kagawa. How I adore you. Your pose, your characters… just everything. This was another that I enjoyed reading. It was creepy and dark, and was a retelling of the Three Little Pigs (which I guessed anyway because of the title). And it was awesome and twisting, thrilling and skilfully written. Another one of this anthology I really liked.

Untethered by Sonia Gensler —

Huh. I hadn’t really expected much from this one. But it was really good. AND THAT ENDING. I loved it. It took me quite a little while to get into the story, but I was completely enraptured with it by the time I finished it. I loved it.

Better by Shaun David Hutchinson —

Haven’t honestly got all that much to say about this one. Wasn’t a fan.

Lit it up by Kimberly Derting —

A bit rushed to be honest. Loved the relationship between the brother and the sister, but that was about it. Everything seemed to close to the original tale to take my fancy.

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Sharper than a Serpent’s Tongue by Christine Johnson —

This was awfully short and rushed. I liked it, I guess, but there was a lot of questions unanswered, and the ending was left wide open. I wish there had been more, and hadn’t been quite so much as rushed.

A Real Boy By Claudia Gray —

Nope, not a fan of this one, either. I went into this story thinking I was at least going to enjoy it… but I don’t know. It could not hold my attention very well, and by the time it was done, I was honestly glad. I did like, however, the sci-fi take on the story.

Skin Trade by Myra McEntire —

This one was certainly interesting. Short, clipped, slightly rushed, but good at the same time. The sort of story I don’t have that much to say about because I really liked because I neither liked nor disliked it. And to be completely honest I had no idea what was going on half the time. I kind of just went with the flow. My overall opinion: it was okay.

Beauty and the Chad by Sarah Rees Brennan —

Ohhh, boy. I did not like this one. It was a retelling, for sure, in every sense of the word, but the dialogue of “Chad” contrasted so sharply against the formal background of the story that it was so clunky and strange to read. I get the story, I really do. It just didn’t work for me.

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The Pink by Amanda Hocking —

It was all right. Nothing much to say about this one, either, because it fell into that “same but different” retelling category that I don’t know what to say.

Sell out by Jackson Pearce —

This one was pretty good. I am interested to see what else Pearce has written. I didn’t love it, but I enjoyed it.

Overall? I decided to give this two of five stars because a lot of them felt rushed and — not unfinished, exactly, just not quite there for me. Most of them didn’t quite hit the mark. I felt myself skimming through quite a few of the stories, because I didn’t quite get into all of them. However, there were those ones that I absolutely adored (Thinner Than Water, especially) and I will be seeking out those author’s books at once.

What is your view on anthologies? Love them, hate them? Let me know! Also, if you’ve read this book I would love to hear your opinions on it.


2 thoughts on “Book Review: Grim by Christine Johnson

  1. I don’t read many short stories either, but I think I’ll make an exception for this one – I love fairytales! Even if there’s one I adore it will probably be worth it, I think. I like that some of them are quite dark, but I think the “unfinished” feeling probably happens a lot in short story anthologies – after all, most of these authors are used to writing novels. Interesting you mention Ellen Hopkins – I’ve read a couple of her books and didn’t like the verse style either, but the subject matter and emotion of them almost make it worth it.

    I still might pick this one up from the library :)

    • Fairytales are amazing! <3 Any blurb which has the words "fairytale" and "retelling" in it — and I'm in! I think Hopkins has a style you'll either like or dislike… but it personally just was not for me. I would still recommend at least giving it a shot. :)

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