"Grimm: The Chopping Block" Book Review
Written by Michel Sabourin
Published by Titan Books
Written by John Passarella
2014, 315 pages, Fiction
Released on February, 18, 2014
For fans of the hit TV series Grimm, Grimm: The Chopping Block will be like revisiting old friends, but taking a bit more time to really listen to their stories. It has the same feel and pace as an average episode, but it also takes the time to build its world a bit more; expansive yet familiar at the same time. It has all the characters you like from the show, and feels at home with the greater universe established in the series. Best of all, it's not just a throw away bonus story. Chronologically sandwiched between the last two episodes, "The Waking Dead" and "Goodnight, Sweet Grimm", the book actually adds to the second season while not affecting the plot of either in a way that non-readers would miss in the show. The plot finds Portland Detective/Grimm Nick Burkhardt and his partners trying to solve the mystery behind several recently uncovered bodies that have been picked down to the bone and chopped into pieces and a sudden rash of missing persons cases. Meanwhile, some members of the Wesen community have, not coincidentally, gathered for a major feast that happens only once every 25 years. Can Nick and company save the remaining kidnapped victims?
Author John Passarella seems like a writer for the show in his ability to capture the rhythm of character dialog and how closely he hews to normal character actions and interactions; so much so that I went on IMDb.com to see if he was credited. Passarella is no stranger to adapting television for print, having written several adaptations in the Whedonverse (shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel) and Supernatural, and his talent shines here. The Chopping Block is a gripping and fast-paced read that never flags or lolls unnecessarily. It's the kind of book you can pick up and get lost in, finishing in the wee hours without meaning to.
As a fan of the show, I like Passarella's take and how it complements the show without veering too far afield. The biggest advantage he has in writing the story for novelization is the ability to describe in grisly, visceral detail the killing, stripping of flesh and cooking of human sacrifices for the feast. It could just as easily been shown on the show, but the descriptive words somehow lends more gravity and reality to the proceedings, leaving the reader more emotionally invested and fearful for the victims. His language somehow makes the whole mess gorier than anything your eyes could just see.
I really like Grimm: The Chopping Block and I hope Passarella writes more stories interwoven in the series. It's a quick, fun read and I recommend it for fans of the show. While Passarella does a fantastic (and blessedly short) character introduction/backstory for all the characters and events of the show, it's probably a bit involved for non-viewers to get fully engrossed, but a layperson to the show could pick this up and follow what's happening. Often in these adaptations, so much time is spent in backfilling the uninitiated that there is less time for plot development, and the overall project suffers for it. Not so for The Chopping Block.