Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Inside Story Review (Michael Buckley)

Sabrina and Daphne Grimm have studied hundreds of fairy tales as part of their family business, but they never thought they'd actually be in one. And yet that's exactly what happens when they follow the diabolical Master of the Scarlet Hand into the Book of Everafter - a mysterious tome in which copies of the world's fairy tales live out their stories over and over again. The Grimms must track down the Master while avoiding the Book's tyrannical Editor, who is devoted to keeping the stories on track, and his army of story-gobbling revisers. In the Book of Everafter, stories can be rewritten and destinies changed, which is why Sabrina and Daphne must find the Master before he can alter his fate - and the fate of the whole world.

I've found this series funny and one of the cleverest "retellings" I've read in a long time. Most of the characters are annoying, especially Sabrina, but if you are a fan of fairy tales and like to read comedies based on them, then you can ignore these annoyances. Daphne is awesome, and Sabrina does get a little better after . . . five or six books. And the series definitely keeps you guessing once the main plot is introduced (which doesn't take long). That said, let us turn our attention to Book Eight.

I didn't hold too much hope for this one. Eight books is a lot, and authors can make fun of fairy tales for only so long. After reading Book Seven - The Everafter War - I was a little tired of them and dearly wishing Michael Buckley would stop, even though I was greatly impressed with Book Seven's twisty and unexpected ending. Who would have ever guessed that he would turn out to be the Master? I'm glad it took Mr. Buckley a year to write The Inside Story, otherwise I might have found this one tedious. But the rest did my perspective good, and even so there is no denying that this one was entertaining.

As an author, I view characters in a much different manner than your day-to-day bookworm. They can be, and usually are, as real to me as any friend. They have their personalities, desires, bad days, and undying loyalty (or clever evilness, depending on what sort of character they are). An author may think they control their characters' fates, but meddle with their wishes too much and the characters may rebel. It is because of this that I found the situations involving the Editor and the characters in the Book of Everafter so hilarious and rather relate-able (in a sense). The Editor thought he controlled the characters; he revised and revised as much as he wanted in order to keep the stories on track, but in the end some of the characters rebel and he has a hard time keeping them from killing him. In reality, rebellious characters won't kill you (not usually), but they will leave your service, giving you nothing but an empty shell with their name. And trust me - readers notice when this happens.

Over all, this was a fun adventure - following Sabrina and Daphne through various familiar fairy tales and seeing how they messed them up. A safe "what-if" scenario. I particularly liked what Michael Buckley did with the Snow White story. He introduces a concept that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs wasn't always like it is now; that it was once a very dark, depressing, and dramatic story that was too dangerous to be kept that way, and it had to be revised. But the dangerous element could not simply be wiped away - it is still out there, desiring to be free.

Fans of the The Sisters Grimm won't be disappointed. Especially with the hilarious situation between Puck and Sabrina, and the surprising end (though not nearly as surprising as The Everafter War). My only hope is that Michael Buckley will not drag this series out to a point where people just get sick to the teeth of it and quit. Buckley can get by with at least one more installment - possibly two more, but it will be stretching it. Any more and he will be hitting the dangerous zone.
Star Rating: 3/5 (liked it)

Others in The Sisters Grimm Series:
1)The Fairy-Tale Detectives
2)The Unusual Suspects
3)The Problem Child
4)Once Upon a Crime
5)Magic and Other Misdemeanors
6)Tales from the Hood
7)The Everafter War
8)The Inside Story

9)The Council of Mirrors

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