Sunday, September 30, 2018

Review - Because You Love to Hate Me

Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy
edited by Ameriie
Date: 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Reading level: YA
Book type: short stories
Pages: 320
Format: e-book
Source: library

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!

Featuring writing from...

Authors: Renée Ahdieh, Ameriie, Soman Chainani, Susan Dennard, Sarah Enni, Marissa Meyer, Cindy Pon, Victoria Schwab, Samantha Shannon, Adam Silvera, Andrew Smith, April Genevieve Tucholke, and Nicola Yoon

BookTubers: Benjamin Alderson (Benjaminoftomes), Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia), Whitney Atkinson (WhittyNovels), Tina Burke (ChristinaReadsYA blog and TheLushables), Catriona Feeney (LittleBookOwl), Jesse George (JessetheReader), Zoë Herdt (readbyzoe), Samantha Lane (Thoughts on Tomes), Sophia Lee (thebookbasement), Raeleen Lemay (padfootandprongs07), Regan Perusse (PeruseProject), Christine Riccio (polandbananasBOOKS), and Steph Sinclair & Kat Kennedy (Cuddlebuggery blog and channel)

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I don't know why I keep reading these short story collections. They're usually a mixed bag for me. But sometimes there are a few gems, and I might come across an author who has a style I really like.

Here are my thoughts on the individual stories and commentary (only the stories will get ratings, though):

"The Blood of Imuriv" by Renée Ahdieh - Well, that was a disturbing way to start the book. Yes, villains can be compelling, but in this case, I didn't care for Rhone at all. He was a silly little boy, pissy because he had to put up with being second best, just like pretty much every woman in actual recorded history (in this story, the society is matriarchal). He was an entitled brat, and a possible psychopath. Gee... I wonder why nobody thought it was a good idea to let him have too much power.

"The Evil Vaccine: Keep the Darkness at Bay" by Christine Riccio (PolandbananasBOOKS) - Amusing, but fairly pointless. I'm not sure if I'm going to like this commentary business...

"Jack" by Ameriie - I was really enjoying this one until the ending. You'd think that, with the ability to watch TV, the giantess would have understood about things like the placebo effect. Heck, even Jack talked about certain stuff being all in the head! But then I guess there couldn't have been that rather disturbing ending.

"Giants and Tyrants" by Tina Burke (The Lushables) - My eyes sort of glazed over a bit reading this commentary; it reads like a textbook. But I am glad that it pointed out that the bronze bull was a reference to Philaris of Agrigento; I wouldn't have caught that on my own.

"Gwen and Art and Lance" by Soman Chainani - I found the format of this one really hard to read. It was a series of text messages, and that wouldn't have been so bad if it had just been between two people... but it wasn't. I really kind of despised Gwen by the end of this; she was a manipulative bitch.

"The Bad Girl Hall of Fame" by Samantha Lane (Thoughts on Tomes) - I found this commentary rather disturbing. The author asserts that "there is no clear distinction between hero and villain anymore". Um... yes, there is. Also, this attitude is starting to make me a bit uncomfortable; when we start to romanticize sociopathic behaviour ("Our obsession with antiheroes and antivillains is a result of social ideals being rewritten."), we have a serious problem.

"Shirley & Jim" by Susan Dennard - I'm starting to think that people don't even understand what heroes and villains are anymore! A hero isn't a hero simply because they don't get caught when they do bad things. A villain isn't a villain because they blow the whistle on the "hero". What the heck is going on with these stories?

"Dear Sasha, the 411 for Villains" by Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia) - This commentary was self-indulgent and just plain stupid. I really have nothing else to say.

"The Blessing of Little Wants" by Sarah Enni - This story obviously had no editor, judging by the misused words and repetition throughout. Which is a shame, because the premise is compelling. I couldn't figure out what was going on until the very end, and that ending brings up more intriguing questions. However, I just can't rate a story very highly when it's as rough as this one, technically speaking.

"Will the Real Villain Please Stand Up?" by Sophia Lee (thebookbasement) - I don't think Lee really understood the story or the character arc. And her confusion kind of ended up colouring my opinion. From now on, I need to be more careful to write down my thoughts on the story before reading the commentary.

"The Sea Witch" by Marissa Meyer - This is more along the lines of what I thought I'd be getting when I picked this book up: a well-known story told from the point of view of the villain, perhaps in a way that makes them more sympathetic. The story was good enough (if predictable), although the editing left something to be desired.

"Villain or Hero? You Decide!" by Zoë Herdt (readbyzoe) - Again, I'm disturbed by how the younger generation views right and wrong. No, you were not a coward for refusing to cheat on a test because you knew it was wrong; a coward would've cheated because they were afraid of failing the test. Doing the right thing is never cowardly. (I'm not sure if I should be worried about the morals of the millennial generation, or if they're just all in need of a good dictionary. Cowardice. Look it up.) Oh, and the quiz was pretty pointless. Was there a word quota that needed to be filled?

"Beautiful Venom" by Cindy Pon - Aside from some editing problems, this wasn't bad. The villain wasn't really the villain, though, except in the sense that she was made one by the actions of an even worse villain. But I was kind of distracted the whole time I was reading it by this question: Would this have been acceptable if, say, a white author had retold and recast a Chinese tale with white characters and a Western setting? That leads to a longer answer than a basic book review warrants. But it still made me think... a lot (about the question rather than the story, unfortunately).

"Without the Evil in the World, How Do We See the Good?" by Benjamin Alderson (Benjaminoftomes) - Reading this glowing commentary (he really loves this story), I realized how heavy-handed the statement about consent and rape and victim-blaming was. I picked up on it while I was reading the story (it would be pretty hard not to), but now that I think about it some more, it was a little much. The Goddess of Purity was almost a stereotype of every entitled old white man who's ever asked a stupid question like, "What were you wearing?"

"Death Knell" by Victoria Schwab - Finally, a good one! This is an interesting take on death personified. Although we're still left with some questions, the story as a whole is coherent and intriguing. I liked this!

"Dear Death" by Jesse George (JessetheReader) - I don't even know what to say about this commentary. It was just... I don't know. Boring. Personal, and yet too general to be really interesting.

"Marigold" by Samantha Shannon - This was just okay. There were no surprises, just a couple of historical sexist pigs who arrogantly tried to take on the elves.

"Evil Revealed" by Regan Perusse (PeruseProject) - Thanks for explaining the purpose of folklore. I had no idea! (Seriously, though, this commentary is kind of unnecessary. The story is clear enough with its themes and intent that, if you didn't understand it, extra explanation probably isn't going to help.)

"You, You, It's All about You" by Adam Silvera - This was actually fairly good, and I didn't see the twist coming. The second-person POV threw me off a little, but it didn't really stand in the way of a decent story.

"Behind the Villain's Mask" by Catriona Feeney (Little BookOwl) - Yes, I think we all understand the symbolism and meaning of masks. Moving along...

"Julian Breaks Every Rule" by Andrew Smith - I thought this was a decent story with an intriguing premise... until I saw what it was supposed to be: a psychopath in a futuristic setting. Not only was the setting not futuristic (it was contemporary, small-town Iowa), but Julian didn't really seem like a psychopath until the last few lines (and even then, we don't know if he's just posturing). It wasn't his fault he couldn't get into trouble; heck, he tried to get into trouble. The fact that Steven Kemple never died makes me wonder if Julian really had any power at all, or if the other deaths were merely coincidences... which kind of blows apart the whole psychopath theory.

"Julian Powell: Teen Psycho Extraordinaire" by Raeleen Lemay (padfootandprongs07) - This Raeleen person claims to have read the story multiple times, but I almost wonder if she's read it at all. Julian is a "typical psychopath" who can talk his way out of anything? That's not what I read. He actually called the cops on his own house party to get it cleared out, told the trooper he needed everyone gone, and the guy just walked away while offering to order more pizza. Sorry, but that doesn't seem like a psychopath trying to talk his way out of anything. (I think part of the problem was that Raeleen set the story challenge, so she was expecting a psychopath. Even though that's not what Smith gave us, she still thinks it is. Interesting how her expectations shaped her reading of the story in a way that's probably unique to her alone--for those of us who didn't know what the premise was supposed to be, it's likely we saw Julian in a much less menacing way.)

"Indigo and Shade" by April Genevieve Tucholke - Sorry, but I didn't see Brahm as the villain here. Yes, he was a horrible person (sexist, narcissistic, and more than a little entitled), but he also--in effect--saved the girl.

"Glamorized Recovery: Expectations vs. Reality" by Whitney Atkinson (WhittyNovels) - I have no idea what the point of this commentary was. I thought these things were supposed to address the stories that came before. But this was just a generic ramble about villains that seemed to ignore the story for the most part.

"Sera" by Nicola Yoon - That was interesting, although I'm still not sure who the "villain" was supposed to be. And why the stereotypes about males? If you're going to gender-flip the premise, why stop at the main character? (Sera had as much reason to have it out for females, based on experiences in her own life.)

"The Bad Girls' Guide to Villainy" by Steph Sinclair and Kat Kennedy (Cuddlebuggery) - Again, kind of generic. Oh, well.

I don't think I'll ever want to read an anthology in this format again. The commentaries were either boring, redundant, confusing, or not related to the stories they were supposedly discussing. Just give me the stories and let me come to my own conclusions; if I want to read reviews, I'll go find a book blog!

Overall: 2.85 out of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment