Mina Grime doesn't keep a diary, so much as a journal she calls "Unaccomplishments and Epic Disasters." In her life, it's a pretty apt title.
Mina is clumsy. Not socially awkward like many teens--though she is definitely that, too--but physically clumsy. It's a given that she'll spill chocolate milk on herself at some point during the day, and if anything calamitous happens, she's sure to be in the middle of it. She doesn't mean to cause trouble; she just does.
What seems odd to Mina, though, is that after she's involved in some big mess, her widowed mom packs up Mina and her mute younger brother, Charlie, and moves the family far away.
It turns out that the Grime family isn't moving to avoid embarrassment. The move is to distance themselves from an inevitable force that's ready to make Mina's life really awkward.
The Grime family's real last name is Grimm, as in "The Brothers Grimm" and their fairy tale compilations. For centuries, the Grimm family has been cursed to live out all of the stories before the curse can be broken. When one Grimm dies, the next is chosen, and he or she has to start at the beginning.
On the day of the class field trip to a bakery, when Mina saves the life of the most-popular boy in school, she had no idea that she was the next bearer of the Grimm Curse.
"UnEnchanted" started off on an awesome note. I loved the way Mina describes her own clumsiness and social ineptitude, as well as her self-deprecating humor. This was a nice twist from every other YA-Paranormal series available. All too soon, however, we were back in normal YA-Paranormal territory: the unlikely romance, the reluctant and untried hero(ine), the training, the secret worlds/secret beings among us, etc.
"UnEnchanted" is heavier on "the unlikely romance" than on any of the other factors. In fact, this is where the book loses focus. Mina has one training session with a Fae, plus a powerful book called the Grimoire--which she has no idea how to use--and that's it. She's left to go into battle with just those meager tools.
And Mina Grime, while not a complete idiot, isn't even the sharpest spoon in the drawer, so there's no way she could ad lib her way to safety as she does.
In many ways, this seemed like a YA-Romance, with a Fantasy element squeezed into the mix, sort of like "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" did, only not quite so lofty.
There are definitely some faults in "UnEnchanted," but there are some bright spots as well, mainly in Mina's interactions with minor characters. Moreover, I think young teens and tweens would probably like this book, though it might be a little gushy in parts. Finally, I think the premise of the fairy tale "curse" is interesting. I wish it had been developed more--maybe it will be in book two, "Fairest," which is available now.
All in all, I really like Mina Grime. I'd love to see her grow in her role battling the curse, but still maintain that awkward, clumsy, schlubby quality that she showed in "UnEnchanted" chapter one.
When a girl doesn't normally wear makeup, she looks strangely unnatural when she does. That's the same vibe I got from Mina. When she was hiding in the back of the bus, or showing up late for school so often that her teacher had photocopied tardy slips at the ready, this was an interesting, natural character. The warrior battling for her friends' lives? It just didn't feel right based on the exposition we're given.
Someday, maybe Mina will get there, and inhabit the heroine role so it feels more natural. Or maybe it's time for a clumsy, awkward new kind of heroine.