Title: Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Anthology/Short Stories
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
Okay, so this book: I've had it on order since last year. I'd heard about it the way I usually do with new books: I read an article by Bustle, and as soon as I was finished reading the article, I reserved it for myself. It sat in the library stack for a month or so, and then my niece picked it as the next book she wanted me to read. And to be honest, I've been really pumped ever since I heard about it. I love short story anthologies; they are kind of like literary palate cleansers after reading big novels. And this book definitely scratched my itch for them. Plus, that theme! I'm obsessed with villains, and so this brand new spin on them got me really excited. The editor, Ameriie, is a Grammy-nominated singer, and she collaborated with thirteen Booktubers and authors to curate the stories for this anthology. The authors wrote a story that the Booktubers wrote an accompanying piece for that offered their opinion it, based off of a prompt that the Booktubers gave them. The format was unusual and exciting, and I was laughing constantly over the commentary.
I won't do an individual review for each story; instead, I will choose my favorites and write a brief description of it. Okay, so here goes, my favorite stories briefly outlined:
Jack by Ameriie: A wonderfully, strangely tender retelling of the classic story Jack and the Beanstalk. Jack is the princess of the giant people and despite her reputation, she longs to be brave and see the human world and all its wonders. And when a mysterious boy named Jack comes to steal her father's golden goose, she attempts to make peace with her fears and be brave. And plus, that ending! Oh my goodness, I was not expecting it at all. A fine starting story for the collection, and one of my favorites!
Gwen and Art and Lance by Soman Chainani: A modern retelling of the classic love triangle from King Arthur! King Arthur was one of the first classics I ever read, and one of my favorite parts of it was the torrid, forbidden romance between Lancelot and Guinevere. Chainani takes this and gives it a fresh, modern twist; the story is told entirely through text messages! I also really liked the new perspective on a classic character that I thought I knew. The ending was cool, and I really enjoyed it; the way that the story ended. It was so unexpected and exciting!
Shirley and Jim by Susan Dennard: I loved this story! Sherlock and Moriarty is a classic hero/villain combination, and I loved how Dennard made it into a tragic love story! Ugh, and the banter. I loved it. Plus, the ending was somewhat surprising, but I was kind of expecting it. I also really enjoyed the format; of course, Sherlock would be writing to her Watson about her romantic woes! Oh my gosh, this story made my heart hurt in the best kinds of ways. One of the best stories in the collection, in my opinion.
Beautiful Venom by Cindy Pon: Two words for you, kids: Diverse Medusa! I've always been fascinated by mythology, but especially the Greek pantheon, and Medusa has always baffled me. I loved the way that Pon took this traditional legend and turned it on its head. Victory for the wronged woman! I also really liked the format of the story, the way that it was told backward. It really put a new perspective on rape culture and victim-blaming. One of my favorites of the collection!
The Sea Witch by Marissa Meyer: Easily one of, if not the favorite of the collection, this story puts a new spin on the classic villain story of The Sea Witch. I also really liked the way Meyer, who has made a career off of retelling fairy tales, stayed true to the classic telling of the original story. I really sympathized with Nerit, whose longing for love sends her to the surface. But when she is betrayed, she turns to the dark side of her magic to corrupt others and takes revenge. A no holds barred, unapologetic villain story, I loved this one!
Death Knell by Victoria Schwab: I love me a good life and death story! I've always been fascinated by grim reapers and the afterlife, and this strange, gorgeous story made me laugh and cry in turns. When Death comes to collect, he finds himself drawn to the human mark he must kill, and in the process, learns how to live again, if only fleetingly. I loved the bittersweet ending, as per Schwab's signature. Just beautiful!
Sera by Nicola Yoon: Gender-flipped God of War! I'm so here for this, all day! I also really liked the way the story switched perspectives throughout, from Sera's mother to her sister, to Sera herself. The story starts out with Sera marching through her town, infecting men (and men only) with the sudden, insidious urge to kill one another, with as much violence as possible. I loved the way it went back and forth between family members, ending with a shocking, scary twist. I wasn't expecting that at all! The bottom line: A fun, promising collection that reminds us that sometimes it's fun to go to the dark side, I loved Because You Love to Hate Me--one of my favorite books of 2017! Next on deck: When I Am Through With You by Stephanie Kuehn!