Defy the Dark

By Saundra Mitchell, Courtney Summers, Aprilynne Pike, Dia Reeves, Malinda Lo, Rachel Hawkins, Valerie Kemp, Sarah Rees Brennan, Beth Revis, Carrie Ryan, Jon Skovron, Myra McEntire, Christine Johnson, Sarah Ockler, Jackson Pearce, Tessa Gratton
Published on June 18th 2013
Published by Harper Teen
Source: Publisher
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?

Defy the Dark is a collection of sixteen short stories all by different authors. They're all stories of what happens when you're in the dark, but vastly different writing styles and genres. I don't quite know how to rate/review a collection of stories. Some I loved, some I didn't, and some I just... didn't get, I guess? So, rather than give a detailed review of each (they're short... I don't want to give anything away), I'm going to give a snippet of my thoughts on each.

Intro by Saundra Mitchell
Technically, I guess I don't have to review her letter to the readers, but it's worth noting that I feel like she was talking directly to me... like she made this book just for me to read... and thus, I had an instant connection to the book which made it all the more enticing to read.

Sleepstalk by Courtney Summers
This was an exceptional story for me. Probably one of my favorites. The writing was super eerie. And, I understood what was going on in the story, but I was confused at the same time. I guess I didn't understand the "why" of the main character's actions. Last sentence, BAM, hits you like a truck, and it is perfection.

Nature by Aprilynne Pike
I took notes on each of the stories I read, just so I wouldn't lose thoughts I had by the time I was done with this collection, and I literally called this dystopian story "a little gem." I thought it was a fantastic post-apocalyptic tale of what happens when you hand over a large freedom to the higher powers that be in the name of rebuilding. Honestly, this felt like a set-up for something larger. I could see this short story being an awesome novel.

The Dark Side of the Moon by Dia Reeves
Okay, this one... The writing was beautiful. I will say that. But, other than that, I didn't understand it. I got some of the ideas about this story. Boy (Cado) likes girl (Patricia), girl likes boy, but it's taboo for some reason (I'm really not sure why). Or, Patricia's parents don't like them together. So, he decides to do something to impress them. Unfortunately, all I got from that point on was the town is weird and there's a Night Trolley that when people ride, they don't come back. That's his bright idea - ride the Night Trolley, live to tell about it, and impress the folks. Unfortunately, even though I get the premise of how it ends, I still have no solid clue of what went on or what you were supposed to get about the ending.

Ghost Town by Malinda Lo
This one was alright. Although, it centers on a strong female character who is lesbian and prefers to look like a boy. And, with a name like Tyler (called Ty), she now expects the behavior that she gets in her new small town. I felt that was a nice change of pace from the usual characters I read. The story wasn't anything spectacular. There were three sections to the story and they were backwards in time sequence. (i.e. The first section was the last thing that happened, the second section was the second thing that happened, and the last section was the first thing that happened.) The sequence of events did nothing to add to or detract from the story. I would have preferred it in time order, but even as is, it was still a run of the mill ghost story with a kick butt main character that I liked. Her inner dialogue was highly amusing.

Eyes In the Dark by Rachel Hawkins
This was a good story. As I was reading, I felt like this would be a perfect story to tell around a campfire in the middle of the woods! The suspense was good. The situation that the characters were in was spectacular. I just had a problem with the characters/development. Without giving much away, I couldn't stand Sam (the main female), Kelley (the main male), or their "relationship" (or rather lack thereof since Sam actually has a boyfriend).

Stillwater by Valerie Kemp
This was probably one of my absolute favorites out of this entire book. Imagine Groundhog Day meets Under the Dome and you've got literary short story gold! Mix into that the fact that the Reese families have a big split in their family tree going back to before the Civil War starting with the ax of infidelity. Half the Reese family is white, half the Reese family is black with Pruitt Reese and Delilah Reese trapped in Stillwater, in the middle of it all. They have to escape before they go to sleep, but can they?

I Gave You My Love by the Light of the Moon by Sarah Rees Brennan
This story was good, but it wasn't exceptional. It was just another "teen" vampire/teen werewolf story for me. I don't know if I'm desensitized to them at this point, since they're all the rage now or what. Don't get me wrong, the writing was wonderful, and it truly was a likable story for the most part. Honestly, I'll read more by the author if I get the chance, as I did like her style.

Night Swimming by Beth Revis
This one was very sci-fi. I liked it, but I felt like I got a chapter of a novel to preview. The story developed beautifully, thinking it was headed one direction, and with one paragraph, it turned everything around in my mind. But, then it ended and I was left wanting more. I wanted the knowledge the characters had/were learning. I was intrigued by the entire thing. The one downfall to this was the main character was unknown (no gender/no details/completely nondescript), which both annoyed me, as well as added to the feeling that this was a chapter out of something larger, in which the main character was fully explained.

Almost Normal by Carrie Ryan
This was another favorite of mine. Amid a zombie apocalypse, the dead bearing down on them relentlessly, four teenage friends decide to go to an amusement park for one last fling. Everyone knows they're fighting a losing battle and the normalcy of everything they're doing is basically a moot point. But, when the world is crashing down, don't we all turn to the mundane for comfort?

There's Nowhere Else by Jon Skovron
This story felt awkward to me. I just couldn't get into it. The premise is fantastic, but I can't really say anything without spoiling it. It was the writing style, but I can't pin down exactly what. I did love the voodoo feel to the whole thing though.

Naughty or Nice by Myra McEntire
I've probably watched too many episodes of Tales from the Crypt, but I couldn't help feel like this would be a perfect story for an episode! Bex and Henry are in Bavaria for the holidays and they find out the story of Krampus who doles out punishment and certain death like Santa gives presents. The only way to escape being his dinner is to steal his sack and get away. Perfect length, perfect pacing, perfect characters. BRAVO to Myra McEntire!

Shadowed by Christine Johnson
The anti-fairytale of the bunch, it's the story of a duke's daughter locked in a tower to keep her safe from her shadow, who seeks to kill her. It was one of the more well-written stories of the book and despite not liking stories of knights/princesses and the like, I really enjoyed this.

Now Bid Time Return by Saundra Mitchell
Dacey gets to travel to a quaint cabin in Norway with a camera to photograph the northern lights that she never really cared about. She cared about getting away. She cared about one glorious week where the sun never came up. Dacey is an insomniac. But, a "glitch" in the photographs she takes shows her Kristian, a cute Scandinavian boy that she falls for. I understand the main ideas of the story, but I'm confused on the sequence of it. I'm just not sure if it was paranormal or time-travel or whether Dacey or Kristian was the ghost/time traveler. (Honestly, I may just be thinking way too hard about it...)

The Moth and the Spider by Sarah Ockler
I really, really didn't like this story. Cali is apparently like an inmate in her own home after an attempted suicide followed by a month-long stay at a center. After everyone is asleep, she answers the phone that has been ringing all night and that's where the weird gets weirder. I didn't really understand the phone call or the conversations Cali had with the girl at the Eastport Juvenile Detention Facility while she's writing a suicide note and watching a spider spin a web. I was thoroughly confused with the whole thing.

Where the Light Is by Jackson Pearce
I loved this one. Probably because I'm from PA and this is coal mine country... It centers on Will, a coal miner, like his Daddy before him, straight out of high school. He discovers Ennor, a Knocker, and she's a faery of the mine. Knockers reward respectful miners, while causing cave-ins to kill those who aren't. It's a story of friendship, and finally love, in the dark, where things that "can't" happen, do and a man becomes a hero.

This Was Ophelia by Tessa Gratton
For me, this one was strange. It's kind of a rehash of Shakespeare's Hamlet, but with gender-confused (or perhaps not confused - I was) characters in the 1920's when issues of that nature were taboo. Ophelia goes to clubs at night, dressed as a guy, calling herself "O" where she falls in mutual love with Hal King, only Hal doesn't know O is Ophelia. It's a dizzying ride of self-discovery, discovery, and testing boundaries, but I felt it stopped too short.

Overall, I absolutely loved most of these stories. This was (with few exceptions) a wonderful collection of what can happen... if you just turn off the light.

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