Authors: Saundra Mitchell, Aprilynne Pike, Carrie Ryan, Beth Revis, Rachel Hawkins, Myra McEntire, Malinda Lo, Sarah Ockler, Jackson Pearce, Dia Reeves, Jon Skovron, Courtney Summers, Sarah Rees Brennan, Tessa Gratton, Valerie Kemp, Christine Johnson, Kate Espy
Published: June 2013
The seventeen original stories in Defy the Dark, an eerie, mind-bending YA anthology, could only take place in darkness.
Open the pages and discover: A creepy guy who stares too long. The secrets of the core of the earth. Dreams of other people’s lives. A girl who goes mad in the darkness. Monsters in Bavaria. A generational spaceship where night doesn’t exist. And other mysteries and oddities.
I admit I bought this anthology for a few reasons: Saundra Mitchell edited it and I love her short stories. Courtney Summers has a short story published within it and I must read everything she has written. Sometime during/after The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, I became a huge fan of Sarah Ockler.
I enjoyed some more than others, and some I DNF'd. The breakdown:
Sleepstalk by Courtney Summers - 4.5/5
"I should stop calling what happened an accident." Clever and unsettling, impressively so for how short the story is. The ending is typical Summers -- open-ended and pitch-perfect for the story that preceded it.
Nature by Aprilynne Pike - DNF
This was weird and confusing with overwhelming worldbuilding right away. Too convoluted, too many tropes, and I did not care.
The Dark Side of the Moon by Dia Reeves - 2/5
This was sadly a disappointment for me as an introduction to this author. I thought the story was predictable and out-of-touch. "Haz" -- really? Did anyone, every, really communicate like that? Memes are one thing, texts another.
Ghost Town by Malinda Lo - 3/5
This was an entertaining and creative story about "the Salem of the Rockies" but it just wasn't scary or creepy enough. It felt sedate and uncomplicated with a lesbian protagonist and a great ending. The story needed more meat to it but I liked Lo's style and imagination.
Eyes in the Dark by Rachel Hawkins - 3/5
There are a couple obvious tropes -- hot guy with a mysterious past, ill-advised makeouts in isolated cars... but still got pretty damn creepy with some original creatures. I would've liked to see this one lengthened out.
Stillwater by Valerie Kemp - DNF
I liked the foundation of this -- smalltown, interracial family, old grudges -- but grew quickly bored. Story stalls and the characters wear thin, especially with the lack of plot.
I Give You My Love By the Light of the Moon by Sarah Rees Brennan - 3/5
So this wasn't too predictable but it's nothing above average for a teen werewolf story. It definitely lacks the bite or wit of Brennan's longer and more well-known novels. I did like what SRB did with the characters, though.
Night Swimming by Beth Revis - 3/5
I love the addition of a scifi short story! This is all unrequited love on a space ship, with some conspiracies and murder. It ends a bit anticlimactically but the story is well-rounded and will likely by enjoyed even more by fans of the series its set within.
Sunflower Murders by Kate Espy - 1/5
Maybe I just didn't get what this story was or what it was trying to do, but for me, it missed the mark. For me, it missed the target. Pointless and bland and boring.
Almost Normal by Carrie Ryan - 4/5
So Carrie Ryan does her expected zombie thing like Revis does her space thing and it's pretty good. It's got a Zombieland-feel but also creepy and suspenseful. The atmosphere is a lot more enveloping than any other story up to this point.
There's Nowhere Else by Jon Skovron - 2/5
Is it lucid dreaming? Is it possession? Do I care? (No.)
Naughty or Nice by Myra McEntire - 1/5
So this is about Krampus? I feel like this might have missed the right anthology for this story. But it also lacks suspense or chemistry or life.
Shadowed by Christine Johnson - DNF
Something with shadows and curses and oh I don't even know.
Now Bid Time Return by Saundra Mitchell - 3.5/5
This was unexpectedly.... cute? I kept waiting for the other boot to drop, the chills to crawl.. and this story about polar night in Norway remained pretty unsuspenseful. I did like that the MC was a person of color.
The Moth and the Spider by Sarah Ockler - 3/5
So this wasn't bad, per se. I just do not think this type of story is suited to Ockler's strengths as a writer. The medium was too short, the characters not given enough time to evolve. It was an odd story but it wasn't as memorable as I had hoped.
Where the Light Is by Jackson Peace - 2/5
Silly and somehow boring. For that Pearce retells fairy tales for a living, her story lacked suspense or emotion or a real sense of danger. I was not impressed.
This Was Ophelia by Tessa Gratton - DNF
Gratton's writing and I just do not mix -- either in short story or novel form.