Thursday, April 4, 2013

Revel In The Night

Expected Publication:  June 18th, 2013
Defy the Dark
Edited By: Saundra Mitchell
ISBN-13:  9780062123541

Defy the Dark, an all-new anthology edited by Saundra Mitchell. Coming Summer 2013 from HarperTeen!

It features 16 stories by critically-acclaimed and bestselling YA authors as they explore things that can only happen in the dark. Authors include Sarah Rees Brennan, Rachel Hawkins, Carrie Ryan, Aprilynne Pike, Malinda Lo, Courtney Summers, Beth Revis, Sarah Ockler, and more.

Contemporary, genre, these stories will explore every corner of our world- and so many others. What will be the final story that defies the dark? Who will the author be?

     The whole idea of this anthology is to explore things that happen in the dark and the ways they change us as people.  I first decided to pick up this book because I have read full length novels by most of these authors and enjoyed their writing styles/plots.  I was particularly excited about the stories written by Malinda Lo, Beth Revis, Saundra Mitchell and Sarah Ockler.  There were some really good stories and some really weird, on the fence ones.  I'm going to give a story by story breakdown, but they'll each be short as I am loathe to give anything away.  I will say that overall it was an interesting anthology, so far I still haven't read an anthology that I've loved completely.
Sleepstalk by Courtney Summers
- From what I managed to figure out, this was a story about a girl obsessed with a boy who doesn't feel the same.  She stands outside his house every night debating whether or not to throw a rock through his window.  This was more contemporary than paranormal (unlike most of the other stories) and in so short of a story, the girl came across completely crazy to me and not at all likeable or relatable.  Definitely my one of my least favorite stories in the anthology. VERDICT: 1.5/5 Stars
Nature by Aprilynne Pike
- This story had the spark for me that I wished Bumped by Megan McCafferty would have had.  I like the premise, a dystopian world where people are separated into the educated and the menial laborers.  Nature versus Nurture, a very old debate.  Only your test scores and your physical characteristics can decide which one you are.  And the latter can outweigh the first so easily.  The main character is on one track and gets thrust in the opposite direction after a routine physical.  This broke my heart, but I could honestly see it happening.  Scary, but really good and I would love to read this as a full-length novel! :)  VERDICT: 4/5 Stars
The Dark Side of the Moon by Dia Reeves
- To be completely honest, I was bored straight out of the gate with this one.  I could tell it was a sort of dystopian universe or something, but it started out so trite.  Girl and boy are in love, but sneaking around because her Mom and Dad won't approve (he's wrong side of the tracks).  There was a paranormal element to it, but it just never struck a chord with me.  VERDICT: 1/5 Stars
Ghost Town by Malinda Lo
- I really enjoyed this story and while I didn't love it, I think I could have if there had been more time with the characters developing the plot.  I did love that it wasn't the typical thing, but at the same time I enjoyed the whole cliché of new girl Ty being lured to 'explore' a haunted house by mean girl McKenzie.  The ending was different from what I expected and I can honestly say I really enjoyed this one. 
My only complaint is it started to seem repetitive closer to the end.  VERDICT: 3.75/5 Stars
Eyes In The Dark by Rachel Hawkins
- This story was a lot like those really weird urban legends that everyone believes.  Like what happens when the guy gets out of the car to explore the mysterious noise and the girl finds his corpse hanging from a tree or something.  There was a little bit more to this one, with the girl expecting to cheat on her boyfriend and ending up in creepy, deadly situation.  Gave me chills, but was really undeveloped and simplistic for my tastes.  VERDICT: 3.5/5 Stars
Stillwater by Valerie Kemp
- Possibly one of my favorite stories in the whole anthology (by an author I've never even heard of before), it is set in a small southern town where nothing ever changes - until a boy and girl whose families have been feuding for generations manage to look past the fog and actually see each other.  Can they escape the madness embraced by the rest of the town?  I liked that it had a contemporary setting, but an element of magic/random paranormal events to its plot.  Also, I really liked the main characters and got invested in their fates.  This was some powerful writing and I'll definitely be looking this author up.  VERDICT: 5/5 Stars
I Gave You My Love By The Light Of The Moon by Sarah Rees Brennan
- Berthe is just an average teenage girl, but when she's bit by something on a hiking trip her life changes drastically.  With the help of Stephen, will she be able to keep living her life like always?  I liked the growth of the relationship between Berthe and Stephen.  I thought though, that it was kind of bittersweet and unrealistically drawn.  But I honestly liked this a lot more than the actual full length books I've read by Rees Brennan.  She's a great character writer, and that really shines through in this piece.  VERDICT: 4/5 Stars
Night Swimming by Beth Revis
- This was a short story set in the same universe as Revis' Across the Universe series.  It was distinctively different from the others in the collection, being the only one with any real sci-fi elements to it.  I wanted to love it, seeing how I'm a gigantic fan of her series. But I spent the whole story unsure of who the narrator was and that ruined it for me.  It had no true emotional impact, because I didn't know who I was supposed to be feeling sorry for.  I did like having a peek into Elder, Harley, Kayleigh and Orion's past before Amy entered into their lives.  VERDICT: 3/5 Stars
Almost Normal by Carrie Ryan
- Something about the hopefulness and youthful feeling of invincibility on the part of the main characters endeared this one to me.  The zombies are closing in, so a group of teenage friends decides to spend one last night being free at the amusement park.  Things go horrifically wrong.  I have never read Ryan's zombie series, Forest of Hands and Teeth, but I felt like this short story was a part of that universe.  That said, it was easy to immerse myself into it and get completely terrified.  I did want to shout at the kids about their stupidity, just like when you watch a horror movie and can see the killer behind the victim!  Interesting, but in this case the lack of resolution wasn't a good thing for me as a curious reader.  VERDICT: 3.75/5 Stars
There's Nowhere Else by Jon Skovron
- Basically a twist on the downtrodden hero, where Sebastian's Mom has an abusive boyfriend and refuses to leave him.  At night when he dreams, Sebastian becomes other people - literally.  And the things he does as other people have very real consequences.  With a power like his, soon he'll have a choice to make.  Good versus evil, what will Sebastian choose?  The random entry of an entity that almost reminded me of Loki (only super evil) and another entity who was basically a voodoo priest made up the interesting parts of this story.  Honestly, felt mediocre about this one.  Could take it or leave it.  VERDICT: 3/5 Stars
Naughty or Nice by Myra McEntire
- Bex is on a school trip to Bavaria with her best friend Henry.  Things start to go awry when a local legend of a killer in a guise resembling Santa Clause throw them into terrifying circumstances.  Will they make it home alive?  This was so creative! :)  I absolutely loved the premise and the execution had the right amount of sass, mystery, legend and spine-tingling creepiness.  Probably tied with Stillwater for my fave story in the book!  VERDICT: 5/5 Stars
Shadowed by Christine Johnson

- The second out of two stories that I completely had no interest in, over the course of reading the anthology.  Princess Esme is cursed and must keep in the shadows, away from the light.  Longing to be free, maybe the handsome Knight Rylan can help her escape her tower.  Not at ALL in keeping with the rest of the anthology, which seems to be made up of contemporary or futuristic dystopian stories.  This was a jarring addition, that felt to me like it didn't fit at all.  I was not paying any real attention and was glad when it was over.  Maybe if it had been in a different anthology I would have liked it.  VERDICT: 1/5 Stars

Now Bid Time Return by Saundra Mitchell

- Dacey enters a contest and wins the trip of a lifetime, to the Scandinavian part of Europe to photograph the Northern Lights for a week.  When her pictures all have the same mark/defect on them, she thinks her camera is faulty.  But there might be another more supernatural explanation, by the name of Kristian.  The imagery, plot and romance in this one were absolutely gorgeous!  I loved that it was part ghost story and part alternate dimension/time travel interlude.  It was wonderful and while I am a romantic at heart, it still had my eyes rolling slightly at the tooth achingly sweet ending.  Still one of my top stories in the anthology for sure.  VERDICT: 4.5/5 Stars

The Moth and The Spider by Sarah Ockler

- Very different from everything else I have ever read by Sarah Ockler, but definitely intriguing.  As always she has a way with words and I enjoyed the machinations of the main character, Cali.  Felt like there was something missing, but overall it grabbed my attention and wouldn't let go.  Another good piece of writing from one of my favorite authors.  VERDICT: 3.75/5 Stars

Where the Light Is by Jackson Pearce

- Born a miner, die a miner.  Or at least that's what Will thinks his fate is until he meets Ennor, one of the Knockers, a creature living in the mines with the power to create cave-ins.  The power to control a miner's very fate.  Will they be able to bridge the gap between their worlds, or will they both combust from a lethal encounter?  An interesting and more literal take on the theme of darkness and I enjoyed the folklore feeling that the myth of the Knockers created for the story.  It was very American to me, in that everything has to have it's own origin story.  I liked it, but felt that the romantic interest between Ennor and Will was entirely unnecessary.  VERDICT: 4/5 Stars

This Was Ophelia by Tessa Gratton

- Ophelia wishes she'd been born as a man and lives like one, in the time of Prohibition.  She meets and falls in love with privileged Halden King.  The only trouble is, he thought he was falling in love with another man.  And he may not want Ophelia romantically once he knows she's a woman.  She wants freedom and Halden, but he wants a different kind of love.  Will they stay together?  Ophelia in this was portrayed definitely as a stronger woman than in the original play...but the point is that she doesn't even really view herself as a woman.  I did like the premise, but at the same time thought it was kind of dated in its execution.  Thoroughly original idea though.  VERDICT: 3.5/5 Stars

OVERALL AVERAGE VERDICT:  4.56/5 Stars, Overall it was a very good collection and I would highly recommend it to fans of these individual authors and fans of scary stories or stories with paranormal elements at the foundation. 

*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. It became available for purchase on June 18th, 2013.*

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