Monday, May 30, 2016

Review: Summer Days and Summer Nights by Various Authors

Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories

Authors: Leigh Bardugo, Nina LaCour, Libba Bray, Francesca Lia Block, Stephanie Perkins, Tim Federle, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, Brandy Colbert, Cassandra Clare, Jennifer E. Smith, Lev Grossman
Release: May 17th 2016
Genre: Contemporary, YA


Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.


It is really hard to get the right kind of chemistry and attraction across the page if you're writing a short story about a romance. I get it. But I am really kind of disappointed to have read a book about 12 different love stories where I didn't even, you know ... feel the love in over half of them. Oh well. Yes/No indicates whether I've read something by that author before or not.

Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail by Leigh Bardugo (Yes)
Honestly, this was a perfect way to start the anthology, because Leigh Bardugo is awesome. I really liked this story, and I think the clandestine romance was accurately portrayed. It was very predictable, yes, but it didn't take away from the story. 

The End of Love by Nina LaCour (No)
You know, I really did like this for the most part, because it didn't only feature a romance, but the main character also made some friends in the process as well. However, I do think that it all ended a bit ... convenient? But then, this was the first time in the anthology for that to happen, so it didn't bother me that much at the time that I finished this short story.

Last Stand at the Cinegore by Libba Bray (Yes)
I loved the first half of it. It was amazingly well written, the atmosphere of the Cinegore was tangible, it was just so good. But then, it all got extremely absurd during the second half and also, the main character was kind of an asshole if I'm being honest. And again, very convenient ending? 

Sick Pleasure by Francesca Lia Block (No)
You know, this one was really weird and also really fucked me up in a way, because of the end note. I liked the more or less unique anonymous-style writing, it gave the whole thing a very mysterious air and all, but the relationships and characters fell REALLY flat. Like, there was no personality in this short story anywhere. There only is if you've read the last paragraph and the punch line, so to say. But then, I also did end up kind of really appreciating this one because it was controversial in a way and didn't shy away from being ... raw? You'll know what I mean if you've read it.

In ninety minutes, turn North by Stephanie Perkins (Yes)
My favorite out of all of them, I think. You see, Perkins managed what almost no other author in this anthology was able to do: She made me believe that these two characters actually had chemistry, that they had something worthwhile between them, and made me root for them. It was heartfelt and well-written and I really loved this one. EDIT: I just realized that Perkins' short story from My True Love Gave To Me was about these two as well. What?! Oh my God.

Souvenirs by Tim Federle (No)
To be honest with you, I am still not quite sure what to think of this one. Kieth was a huge dick to Matt, except for when he wasn't? I was really conflicted the whole time on whether or not to empathize with Matt and/or to be really angry at Kieth. I couldn't make up my mind, so I can't tell you. I did like the end though. None of the others ended like this.

Inertia by Veronica Roth (Yes)
Weird premise, to be honest. And I thought it was a bit lame and unoriginal, to be even more honest. Still, it was really deep and raw in a way that touched that stone-cold thing in my chest, and I thought the main characters were pretty likable and relatable. Not only that, but I also really liked the emphasis Roth put on mental illness and how that fucks you up pretty badly. And lastly, I did not expect this short story to end the way it did, after, you know, how Allegiant ended. 

Love is the Last Resort by Jon Skovron (Yes)
Again, this one was just way too easy. Like, so easy that it just felt cheap. Even in a fluffy short story about love, I still expect to have SOME kind of ... struggle? Anything to matter? I just did not care for any of these characters, I didn't care about the outcome, it was all really weird to me, and I was simply bored the whole time. Sorry. One of my least favorites. Even though I did really like the writing style.

Good Luck and Farewell by Brandy Colbert (No)
All in all, I liked this one, especially because it more or less discussed some problematic issues very subtly. And the overall themes of this novel — familial love, parental love, loss, again mental health, police brutality, racism and so on — were touched upon beautifully, tactfully. It was a short story so full of so many important things and I appreciated that so much. However, I do have to say that the love story between the main character and the love interest was very weird, too. They don't like each other, but suddenly, oh they do now. Ehh...

Brand New Attraction by Cassandra Clare (Yes)
I was wary of this going in, and I can't say this one has been of my favorites in this anthology, but I also can't really say too many bad things about it, either. The premise and plot outside of the romance was actually really interesting? I liked it a lot. The romance, though.... very insta-love, very Clare-like. You know. Also, the narration was really awkward and cringe-y sometimes, because it reminded me very much of that scene emo Harry Potter fanfic, you know the one? With Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way? Yeah, it sounded a bit like that. (Which is fitting, considering Clare's start was with Harry Potter fanfiction too) She should just stick to third person narrators.

A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith (Yes)
Another one of my favorites. The characters had, well, character and personalities to stand out, the romance was cute but not too rushed, there was a sort-of plot aside from that, etc. And it was about autism! All in all, I really, really appreciated and liked this one. One of the few really good ones from this anthology.

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things by Lev Grossman (No)
This was so boring it managed to make me fall asleep. Definitely my least favorite, and what a way to end this anthology. The main character wasn't that likable for me personally, neither was the love interest particularly well-written if you ask me, and the premise was kind of ridiculous. And the resolution/plot twist? Even more absurd, I don't know. It all felt a bit random. And like I said, lame. Sorry.

All in all, it was a solid anthology, with good and bad apples thrown into the lot. With so many different authors, it's really hard to hit the spot with every single short story, but I'm still pleased. I still wish that I'd liked it a bit more, but it's not like this was a complete waste of time and that every other short story was horrible. I do think, however, that the contemporary authors (such as Perkins herself, and Jennifer E. Smith) really did do a lot better than others who aren't mostly contemporary authors. (Evidenced by the fact that the short stories by those two were my favorites)

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