Goodreads: Sleeping Beauty Dreams Big
Series: Grimmtastic Girls #5
Published: January 2015
Briar Rose arrives at Grimm Academy determined to live life to the fullest before her twelfth birthday arrives and the curse laid on her at birth comes into effect. However, her first days quickly turn from exciting to heartbreaking when the students start to believe she’s really a villain. It looks like E.V.I.L. has managed to rewrite her story! Can Rose convince her new friends that she’s really against E.V.I.L. or will she fall asleep for a hundred years first?
Sleeping Beauty is my favorite fairy tale and I was excited to see that the Grimmtastic Girls series had finally retold her story. I decided quickly that I like Rose’s spunky nature (even though the idea of Sleeping Beauty cramming in life experience before her sleep is not new) and that her crush is sweet and kind and therefore a perfect match. However, their tale was overshadowed by the plot holes that began to appear in the overaching storyline. In the end, I could only think that Sleeping Beauty deserves so much more.
The story begins slowly enough, rehashing old plot points and even familiar details of the Grimm world–apparently Rose’s newness to the Academy means readers must wade through explanations of who prominent characters are and recaps of the past four books. With these details out of the way, the story finally has the freedom to move forward, but it continues to do so sluggishly, repeating every few pages Rose’s thoughts on her curse, jousting, her family, and more. The feeling of repetition never fades; Rose and her crush even seem to have a variation of the same conversation every time they meet.
Between Rose’s musings on knighthood and her curse, the series plot slowly progresses, but this time it begins to raise troubling questions about how the world of Grimmlandia really works and why essentially no adults seem concerned about the reemergence of the E.V.I.L. Society. It’s like Harry Potter, with schoolchildren repeatedly saving the world, while the adults stand by and watch–except in this case readers do not even have the certainty of knowing that Principal R. even knows what’s going on in his school. The one adult who definitely does know what’s going on typically hides herself while directing twelve-year-olds to do her work. She’s supposed to be the most powerful enchantress in Grimmlandia but she’s afraid to reveal herself? Yet she’ll risk preteens?
Of course, even though the E.V.I.L. Society knows the identity of several of their enemies (Rapunzel, for example, blithely reveals her plan to thwart them in the last book, in a strange reversal of the explanatory speech usually given by foolish villains), they do nothing about it, so maybe the enchantress believes the kids ares safe. One wonders if some sort of unwritten truce exists. The good side, after all, knows the identities of several of the E.V.I.L. members, yet allows them to continue teaching the youth of Grimmlandia. You might think that they want the villains where they can see them–yet the Academy holds the most powerful artifacts in the land and, by allowing the villains to teach there, the good side grants them easy access to all the magic they need to carry out their plots.
Or perhaps the good side can’t get rid of the villains at all since they belong in the fairy tales? But that does not explain why the plot of this book features the students at the Academy shunning Rose when they believe her to be evil. (Her story is rewritten to show her spitting up as a baby on the thirteenth fairy–truly villainous stuff there.) One can’t say that the kids avoid her because her parents are written as rude–the Queen of Hearts is rude but no one cares. And Snow White’s stepmother is an well-known witch actually named Ms. Wicked, but no one holds that against Ms. Wicked or Snow. Why are villains allowed to teach at the school–Snow White’s stepmother tries to murder her, after all!–but a girl who spat up on a fairy can’t be trusted? No one explains. In fact, it all just brings up another question–if the characters all know their fairy tales, why doesn’t Snow know that her stepmother is jealous of her and wants her dead? Why are there so many gaping plot holes?
I still enjoy the Grimmtastic Girls series, but I need some of these questions to be answered fast. I want to be able to focus on the characters and their personal journeys, rather than find myself preoccupied with attempting to wrap my head around the illogical plot elements. I hope the sixth book will illuminate these matters, but I’m doubtful it will.