What: Because You Love to Hate Me by Renée Ahdieh et al.
Who: Bloomsbury Childrens
When: July 24th 2017
How: A copy of this novel was provided by Bloomsbury Australia for review.
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!
I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed an anthology before. And I think it’s because I don’t particularly like them. Or who knows, maybe it was just this one? But I thought I’d love Because You Love to Hate Me since three of my favourite authors were included, and a handful of others who I really like. But there was something about almost all of the stories that fell flat for me. None of them were above three stars.
I came to my overall two star rating by taking the average of all my ratings for the stories. It ended up being 2.46 and I rounded down to two because I can’t honestly say that I enjoyed this anthology as a whole.
I’m going to write little mini reviews for each of the stories, so you can skip ahead to the ones you’re interested in, or read them all (which would be nice! And appreciative of me!), but it’s up to you. So here we go…
The Blood of Imuriv by Renée Ahdieh (★★★)
Nothing really struck me as particularly great or not-great about this one. I did like the idea of a women-run society in the future but considering it was from a guy’s perspective, and he wanted the power back it lost some of its awesomeness. The prompt that sparked it was so different from the story but you could see where the author drew inspiration from.
trigger warning: reference to execution (matricide), use of ableist language, manslaughter (of sister), and animal hunting (digitally rendered)
Jack by Ameriie (★★)
I wasn’t a huge fan of this story. I thought the writing style was nice, but I felt like the point was kind of lost on me. The ending seemed vicious and out of nowhere, and left me pretty dissatisfied and wondering why I’d read the story to begin with.
trigger warning: reference to animal cruelty, reference to animal death, depictions of gore, murder
Gwen and Art and Lance by Soman Chainani (★★★)
This was probably my favourite of the whole anthology, which is surprising! This story is told through texts and emails, and I thought that wouldn’t work for me but it really did. The character relationships were really vivid and intricate, and I liked the ending a lot.
trigger warning: use of ableist language, financial hardship, absent parent, reference to bullying, reference to physical fight
Shirley and Jim by Susan Dennard (★★)
I wanted to really like this story but there was something missing. I got that it was supposed to be a retelling of Sherlock Holmes but there was nothing particularly Sherlock Holmes-y about it. I think the fact that it was told in a letter, but was recounting things that the person receiving it would surely have known felt too convenient for me. The romance was pretty cute, though.
trigger warning: use of ableist language
The Blessing of Little Wants by Sarah Enni (★★)
I guessed the twist, which was a little bit unfortunate because I feel like it should have packed a big punch. All in all, the ending of this one didn’t really give me anything. I felt like the main character’s motives weren’t explored enough, given her actions.
trigger warning: reference to multiple deaths, reference to body mutilation, murder (graphic)
The Sea Witch by Marissa Meyer (★★★)
This is one of my favourites. I loved seeing the back story of Ursula, and to know why she turned out the way she did. The writing style was lovely, too. To be honest I would have liked this story to be even longer so that more of the origin story could have been shown.
trigger warning: bullying, animal cruelty, animal death
Beautiful Venom by Cindy Pon (★★★)
Another of my favourites. I was engaged with this story from beginning to end, and I was most definitely rooting for the villain because it really took the ‘what makes a villain?’ question and explored it from more than one angle. This definitely made me want to pick up a Cindy Pon book, that’s for sure.
trigger warning: sexual assault, rape (off page), victim blaming of rape survivor, reference to multiple murders, death
Death Knell by Victoria Schwab (★★★)
I read this story first because SCHWAB. But even though I liked it I didn’t fall in love with it. The writing was of her usual standard, and the story was interesting, but there was something missing for me that prevented me from loving it. I think it might have been emotional connection– which I usually have in droves for Schwab’s characters – that I didn’t feel in this story.
trigger warning: death themes, alcoholic parent, death of mother (un-named sickness), death via head trauma due to fall
Marigold by Samantha Shannon (★★★)
This story definitely took the ‘the villain is the hero of his own story’ road, and I quite liked it. I felt like it did drag at times, but the ending made up for it.
trigger warning: sexism, child abduction, missing sister, racism, reference to romantic cheating, reference to suicide of parent, use of ableist language
You, You, It’s All About You by Adam Silvera (★★★)
Another case of ‘I thought I would love it but I didn’t’. I definitely thought this story was interesting – a teenage girl who’s the head of a drug cartel – but the relationship between the main character and one of the side characters was so murky that I feel like it lost its message.
trigger warning: forced drug use causing amnesia/brain damage, reference to torture, reference to child abuse (physical), multiple murders, forced suicide, fatal physical fights, depictions of gore, reference to murder of father (patricide), reference to arson, reference to romantic cheating, death via falling statue, attempted murder, physical assault, reference to bullying
Julian Breaks Every Rule by Andrew Smith (★★)
Foreshadowing. Every fifth sentence in this story was something like “that’s foreshadowing if you can’t tell”. I was over it by the second time it happened. Also, I wasn’t sure how the setting was futuristic at all. I wasn’t a big fan of this story.
trigger warning: death themes, animal cruelty, bullying, use of ableist language, intent to kill, depictions of gore, reference to animal death
Indigo and Shade by April Genevieve Tucholke (★)
My least favourite of the anthology. So much animal death, and animal hunting, and I just couldn’t get beyond how boring the main character was, either. I got that it was supposed to be a retelling of Beauty and the Beast but with a twist on the characters and their relationships but I just didn’t enjoy it at all.
trigger warning: use of ableist language, animal hunting (graphic), multiple deaths (graphic), murder, depictions of gore, reference to execution (hanging), stoning, reference to physical fights, sexism, animal death
Sera by Nicola Yoon (★★)
This story was interesting, but the narrative choice was one that didn’t really click with me. It was told from Sera’s mother’s perspective almost the entire time, and the blatant emotional abuse she inflicted upon her daughter was really quite painful to read about. I’m glad Sera found her inner strength in the end, though.
trigger warning: murder (of sibling), suicide, attempted murder, reference to fatal physical fights, romantic cheating, family bullying, emotional abuse
© 2017, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.