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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.

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Posted on: October 24, 2017 • By: Chiara

22 Responses to Because You Love to Hate Me: A Disappointing Anthology

  1. Valerie says:

    I’m kind of not surprised by your rating at all, though maybe I am because some of these authors are really well known and are my faves? So I’m half tempted to pick this up despite the mediocre stories. Sad about the Schwab story though, since that’s the one I would expect the most of. But now I’m convinced to read something of Cindy Pon’s since you enjoyed that one a lot.

    I think this is the first and only review I’ve read of this anthology? But anyways, awesome review Chiara!

    • Chiara says:

      I was a little surprised by how underwhelmed I was by this anthology. But I have since realised that anthologies are not really my thing, even though I like short stories on their own. There’s just something about collecting them together under a theme that doesn’t work out.

      I highly recommend WANT by Cindy Pon! I read it after this because I liked her story so much and it was great :D

      Thanks, lovely!

  2. Tasya says:

    I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this one Chiara! While I was excited for this book, I guess I’ll skip it now since most of the reviews I see were underwhelming. I like reading anthologies, I think it’s a really great way to read a lot of things when you don’t have a lot of time, but most of the time they don’t really hit the mark for me due to the short pages. The stories are ofter underdeveloped and rushed, even though most of the time I know I’d love them if they come out as a whole book. I hope your next read will be better! :)

    • Chiara says:

      Me too! I wish I had read a few more reviews before deciding I was going to read this one. But the premise and the authors involved lead me to believe I would love it. Sigh.

      I totally agree with you! I feel like you don’t get to know the characters, their motivations, and their relationships well enough. Sometimes an author does it really well, but with so many in one book it overall felt like they weren’t good enough.

      Thank you!

  3. Annemieke says:

    My favorite was Beautiful Venom. But I agree, this one was very dissapointing. I had high expectations with the names attached to it but it just didn’t work.

    • Chiara says:

      Beautiful Venom was really good! I would have loved to see it as a novella or even a full novel because it had so much potential. I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you, either, Annemieke :(

  4. I like anthologies to an extent – I usually enjoy most of the stories, even if I want more – but I’ve never really been interested in this one. I’m sorry it felt mostly flat for you. I think I’d like Marissa Meyer’s story. Bummer you didn’t really love Adam Silver’s though!

    -Lauren

    • Chiara says:

      I don’t think anthologies are my kind of thing. I have yet to find one where I feel I’ve enjoyed most of the stories. It’s usually the other way around :/ Marissa Meyer’s story was super cool! And yeah, I was very disappointed that I wasn’t a big fan of Silvera’s story :(

  5. I had the same feeling about this anthology (and it’s pretty much the same with the previous ones I have read) Some were definitely highlights – The Sea Witch & Beautiful Venom – but others let me down..

    • Chiara says:

      I feel like anthologies are not my thing. I’ve read another one recently and it was two stars, as well. And even though there were some I really enjoyed in this one, it felt like a bit of a waste of time because of the ones I didn’t like :(

  6. Kayla says:

    Rounded down to two! So harsh! I think I might just end up getting this out of the library. I absolutely love short stories, but anthologies often don’t do it for me because the stories can be very hit or miss. And the only author in this one I know I NEED to read is Marissa Meyer D:

  7. Ugh what an overall disappointment.🙈I’M SAD. I wanted to read this (mostly for Schwab haha) but overall I never really enjoy short stories either? I also can’t write them so maybe it’s just me + short stories that have some sort of block. Oops. 😂Maybe if I find it at a library someday I’ll give it a try though!!

    • Chiara says:

      I know! I didn’t even really like the stories from my favourite authors *sob* I think it takes a different kind of writer to master the novel and the short story and I’m not so sure these authors fit the bill *hides* If you ever read it, I hope it clicks with you, Cait!

  8. Louise ✨ says:

    Oh no, I was looking forward to reading this one but after seeing a few mixed responses I’m a little unsure. I’m not the biggest fan of anthologies or stories with villain protagonists anyway so maybe I’ll give it a miss.

    • Chiara says:

      I was, too! I was super sad it fell so flat for me overall. I do quite like stories with villain protagonists, but this anthology didn’t really hit the mark for me.

  9. Jackie B. says:

    Your reaction to this anthology doesn’t really surprise me after some of the other reviews I’ve read. It seems like this collection of authors, while they might be amazing novelists, aren’t quite as good at the short-form story. Anthologies are always a bit hit-or-miss, but it seems like none of these were particularly great!

    I’m glad that your favorite story is in an epistolary format! I adore epistolary novels. Are those not your thing typically?

    • Chiara says:

      Yeah, I feel like this one wasn’t quite as well received as the publisher was hoping… I think the writing of a short story requires a completely different skill set to writing a novel, and sometimes I don’t think people have the two different sets. Eep.

      I have read and loved books told in letters and diary entries, but never texts and emails. So I thought some things might be missing but they weren’t. I thought the characterisation in that story was one of the best!

  10. Aww… I’m sorry to see this was so disappointing. :( It had such a promising premise. I can definitely see where you’re coming from though. Nonetheless, thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

  11. Oh dear, I’m sorry this collection was so “meh” for you. I’ve read many many mixed reviews of this one, which makes me a bit sad because I ADORE the “villain as hero” trope… but can totally see how that might fall flat far too easily. I’m not sure if you’ve read Once Upon a Fairytale? It’s one of my personal favourite anthologies, also told from the perspective of the villains, but written by comedians & entertainers & illustrated by the most gorgeously talented artists. Perhaps one to pick up if you’re looking for a palette cleanser after this one? <3

    • Chiara says:

      I’m sorry, too! I loved the idea of the concept, and the fact that so many of my favourite authors were included. But it certainly wasn’t for me, sadly. I have not heard of it! I am a little wary of anthologies right now because I read another one recently and it was a two star read, as well. But I will keep it in mind, lovely!

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