Saturday, July 29, 2017

Review: Because You Love to Hate Me by Various

Because You Love to Hate Me

Authors: Ameriie, Renee Ahdieh, Soman Chainani, Susan Dennard, Sarah Enni, Marissa Meyer, Cindy Pon, Victoria Schwab, Samantha Shannon, Adam Silvera, Andrew Smith, April Genevieve Tucholke, Nicola Yoon
Release: July 11th 2017
Genre: Anthologies, Fantasy, Contemporary


Leave it to the heroes to save the world--villains just want to rule the world.

In this unique YA anthology, thirteen acclaimed, bestselling authors team up with thirteen influential BookTubers to reimagine fairy tales from the oft-misunderstood villains' points of view.

These fractured, unconventional spins on classics like "Medusa," Sherlock Holmes, and "Jack and the Beanstalk" provide a behind-the-curtain look at villains' acts of vengeance, defiance, and rage--and the pain, heartbreak, and sorrow that spurned them on. No fairy tale will ever seem quite the same again!


This anthology was really divided into either really, really good short stories or the really, really mediocre/boring ones. I'm not quite sure whether it was an even split, so I'll go through each one separately and then make a statement at the end. Also, why did almost all of these Bloggers/Booktubers do literary analyses? That's so predictable and dull, eh.

Yes/No indicates whether I've read stuff by this author before or not.

The Blood of Imuriv by RenĂ©e Ahdieh
We were supposed to root for these villains, no? Or, at the very least, be a little empathetic and all. There was nothing towards this douchebag. To be honest, the directive given was shitty to begin with, so I'm not sure I can blame Ahdieh too much, but yeah... This short story was not only very predictable, it was also very lackluster. Didn't really like it.

Jack by Ameriie
I was actually surprised by how this one ended. The whole time, I was wondering who the villain was supposed to be, because it wasn't clear at all — to me, at least. And I loved this mash-up of modern technology and ancient, mythical folklore; that's something I always really appreciate.

Gwen and Art and Lance by Soman Chainani 
I absolutely loved the modern adaptation of doing the whole shebang via text message/e-mail. That's a great way to show creativity and throw in your own little twist on a given directive. I can't say I did like the end product, though. I mean, sure, Sam's challenge was pretty hard to implement (she always gotta sneak in that Hades and Persephone, lmao) but still... I will say that, given the difficulty, Chainani still did a good job (and I actually really liked Sam's piece too. It was so cool and well thought out.)

Shirley and Jim by Susan Dennard
I'm not that huge on Sherlock, and honestly, maybe I set myself up for disappointment because when I first saw that both Sherlock and Watson were gender-bent, I was hoping for some f/f action betweem them, lmao. Oh well. It was still quite interesting, but as much as it pains me to say because I love Dennard, it was nothing spectacular.

The Blessing of Little Wants by Sarah Enni 
This was definitely too short to properly set up. A story like this one needs some sort of emotional impact to really work and make the "plot twist" pop, but it was too short to set up those emotional stakes. There was no time to get attached to either of these characters, so when it all blew up, I was left sitting there like "eh, whatever." Otherwise, this would have been a great premise and probably a good read. 

The Sea Witch by Marissa Meyer
I had major [book: The Seafarer's Kiss] deja vu, which I guess is to be expected, but in comparison, this one was just... dull. Mostly because it's full of hetero bullshit like always, when The Seafarer's Kiss wasn't. The premise in and of itself was stupid tbh, so I don't know who or what to blame. I'm just not that interested in Ursula to begin with and her descent into villainy was precedented by so many dumb choices that she herself made that I can't even empathize, because, hey, it's your own damn fault. I did like the brutal ending, though, and the foreshadowing concerning Ariel's journey.

Beautiful Venom by Cindy Pon 
Damn, son. This was just too good. The unapologetic jab at modern rape culture was A+++ and the fact that Pon made this her own retelling by transporting the Medusa myth into a culture that resembled ancient China was so inspiring. Truly iconic, definitely made me want to read her newest book (which I already own) that much more.

Death Knell by Victoria Schwab 
Spectacular. Show-stopping. Amazing. Talented. Genius. Incredible. Loved it. So, so much. Schwab can literally do no wrong.

Marigold by Samantha Shannon
This actually kind of reminded me of Pon's short story a bit, so that ... surprise factor so to speak was already taken away. Unfortunately, the setting and story itself weren't that interesting either, so this story has very little going for it. I liked the feminist undertones and the moral ambiguity that is left open — who's the real villain here? (I mean, besides the obvious one, but rather between Isaac and the Erlqueen, who's more at blame) Other than that, though, it was a little lackluster as well.

You, You, It's All About You by Adam Silvera
Damn, the directive given by Catriona was already awesome to begin with, and the story Silvera spun from it really only highlighted its awesomeness. He added his own twists and the challenge actually gave him freedom to do so (I feel like others were really restrictive in and of themselves), so props to both of them. The plot twist at the end truly threw me off and was not one I saw coming, and this villain is actually very compelling. I don't know about you, but I was definitely rooting for her for some reason. And that's what this book was supposed to be all about, right?

Julian Breaks Every Rule by Andrew Smith
This was actually hilarious and SO well done. I think this might actually be my favorite short story in this whole anthology (well, maybe tied with Schwab's one). Really made me want to read some of Smith's own books. This was such a perfect blend of unpredictability, humor that contrasted heavily with its theme(s) and a likable protagonist (who, of course, turns out to be a villain). 

Indigo and Shade by April Genevieve Tucholke
Ehhh. I really liked Whitney's directive, and the plot twist at the very end I did not see coming, but everything in between was ... very average. I really hate all romances of any sort in these types of short stories, because there's no way to build it up and thus, it always falls flat and really just annoys the hell out of me. I know it's just supposed to be there and not a disturbance to the actual story being told at all, but to me it's so unbelievably irritating that it completely overshadows everything else. It doesn't help that, save for the end, the plot is sooooo predictable and not alluring enough to draw me in.

Sera by Nicola Yoon
The premise was, once again, really cool. And I did like what Yoon made out of it, but it also wasn't quite as amazing as I'd hoped it could be, unfortunately. Still, I liked it, and it was definitely at least one level above simply average.

Sooo. There were definitely some gems in there that I loved, some of these short stories I liked but weren't anything totally dazzling, and then somes that were either very boring and/or I didn't like at all. I guess that's just the curse of anthologies, but I do get the impression that the majority of these fell into the last category, with the odd good one here and there. A shame.

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