Saturday, 28 February 2015

Book Review: Naomi Grim

Naomi Grim by Tiffany Nicole Smith

3 stars

You’ll probably enjoy it, but it is flawed.

The assignment:Collect lifestones from humans after they die.

Rebellious, sixteen-year-old Naomi craves a normal life, but unfortunately, she's a Grim by birth. That's right, she sees dead people and hoards their living essence in a stone. Not a fun occupation.

In order to be good at her job, she must live among human teenagers for weeks at a time. But Naomi soon becomes attached to the kids she's been assigned to watch over. And knowing that these teens are gonna die under less than ideal circumstances, she has the opportunity to prevent their deaths from occurring. Only one big problem--interfering with death is the worst crime a Grim can commit. If she intervenes, she'll put herself and her family in danger.

Naomi must make the hardest choice of her career, go against the sacred covenant or watch her new friends walk blindly to their deaths.

Only one thing is for certain--Naomi has a grim knack for finding trouble and she's about to break all the rules...


This is brilliantly original. The first chapter hooked me with a clean and crisp concept revolving around Grims collecting lifestones from the dead. I thought I’d never put it down, until the flaws seeped through and the weaknesses left too many holes for me to pick at. Around the middle, my rating had plummeted, and towards the end I just wanted it to stop before it shot itself in its foot. Overall, this had five star potential but it wasn’t written like a five star book.

The writing is very simple, which is good and bad. Terms are explained very simple and carefully so anyone can understand them. The pace was swift and it was easy to read. Okay, so it was a little dry, but it also reflected Naomi’s personality and drew me in. It's a book anyone could read.

As the novel went on, the simple writing started to get to me. Smith nearly always tells rather than shows, and hardly anything in the novel is actually described. Sometimes paragraphs were awkward because they contained a chain of unlinked events to move the story along. The writing style doesn’t have much flare or creativity either. The words do their job, but nothing more.

My main issue with this? There are more characters than you could shake a stick at. Picture that for a moment...

Seriously. Even chapter one lumbers the characters on quite heavily, but each chapter seems to dispatch another fresh set of faceless names. I can list 30 off the top of my head, although I can’t exactly remember what they were called or their personality. I felt very distant to most of them.  It would be easy to scrape back on around ten of them, and others could have been reused so that readers have a chance to connect with them more. For example, Naomi and Keira don't need younger brothers - neither affects the plot and neither are memorable.

I also got very annoyed with some of the stronger characters. Naomi's brother Bram started out as an entitled hothead, who I thought would be an unpredictable troublemaker with heart. As the story progressed he came across as nothing more than a selfish bully. Naomi’s best friend Keira is supposed to fancy him, although seeing as he shows no positive qualities, I have no idea why she would. The only reason given for why he likes her is that she’s beautiful. There’s nothing that makes me root for that relationship. It doesn’t help that I stopped liking Keira, too. For a best friend, she doesn’t seem very understanding. I found them one dimensional for the most part of the book.

The only person I knew and liked was Naomi. She has a good heart and a terrible decision to make. But even then, she tended to act thoughtlessly and with little concern for her actions, especially concerning those she’s supposed to care about most. It made for a good story, but it felt illogical and clashed with her personality. By the end of the book I was a bit frustrated with her too because she seemed inconsistent and very passive.

I’ll avoid spoilers by not going into details, but there were also several plot holes, (arguably) illogical actions, and somewhat unlikely events. At times, the plot felt wrong. Messy. It was still entertaining and full of action, but I felt like the book was unravelling the more I read it.

In other places, it lacked emotion. If one scene hadn’t mentioned ‘so and so was crying’ I would have thought they were rather impartial to the matter. Naomi in particular became dryer and dryer. This line in particular summed it up for me: *** See bottom for quote.
That said, I wasn’t going to stop reading. The plot is very giving, and keeps moving forwards and onwards to the next issue. There was always something to draw me back in. It's such an original and creative world; I wanted to know more about it.

It could have been written better. It could have fewer characters and more emotion. The plot could have been tighter, and description in general would have been a nice touch. The pace was still excellent, the world building was amazing. I still loved it, but I'm not sure if I'd recommend it.


***Might be considered a slight spoiler:
”You pretty much sentenced yourself to death, didn’t you?”
I shrugged.
(At that point I started to wonder what Naomi did care about...)