Dear Heartbreak by various
Rating: 3 stars
Synopsis: This is a book about the dark side of love: the way it kicks your ass, tears out your heart, and then forces you to eat it, bite by bloody bite. If you’ve felt this way, you’re not alone…
In this powerful collection, YA authors answer real letters from teens all over the world about the dark side of love: dating violence, break-ups, cheating, betrayals, and loneliness. This book contains a no-holds-barred, raw outpouring of the wisdom these authors have culled from mining their own hearts for the fiction they write. Their responses are autobiographical, unflinching, and filled with love and hope for the anonymous teen letter writers.
Review: I thought the concept of this book was very intriguing and one that really stood out from all of the other anthologies that I’ve read in the past. However, I was less than satisfied by the execution of this book. I think some of it comes from the fact that I just didn’t really find myself able to connect with a lot of these as much as I thought I would. However, I also thought that this anthology provided an interesting opportunity into the exploration of platonic love and familial love and, really, just any kind of love beyond romantic because I feel like there are so many different types of love that teenagers experience. And while we did get one or two stories like that, I thought there was a lot of room for growth and just a general exploration of what the definition of “love” is. That said, there were some stories that I really related to and enjoyed, I just thought that this book could have done a better job at being well-rounded and exploring all of the different types of love.
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by various
Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis: Star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings. These are the stuff of fairy tale, myth, and folklore that have drawn us in for centuries.
Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.
A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place. From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish.
Review: I actually really loved this anthology. I loved not only the stories, but also how we got to learn about the author’s inspiration behind each of the stories and we got to learn a lot about Asian mythology and culture and I really enjoyed that and thought that was a really interesting decision to make. That said, there were some stories that I found… a bit ??? just because I didn’t really understand the point they were trying to make or the themes they were attempting to convey, but I do think that that is 100% on me and I could genuinely see someone enjoying all of these stories because, objectively speaking, I think they’re all really good. My favorite story, though, absolutely has to be Roshani Chokshi’s, just because of the beautiful writing and the characters that had my heart from page one. I really loved that one.
Man Tiger by Eka Kurniawan
Genre: magical realism
Rating: 3 stars
Synopsis: A wry, affecting tale set in a small town on the Indonesian coast, Man Tiger tells the story of two interlinked and tormented families and of Margio, a young man ordinary in all particulars except that he conceals within himself a supernatural female white tiger. The inequities and betrayals of family life coalesce around and torment this magical being. An explosive act of violence follows, and its mysterious cause is unraveled as events progress toward a heartbreaking revelation.
Review: I found myself really conflicted when rating this book because, while I really did not enjoy my time reading this and upon finishing, did think that some of the more graphic aspects of this book weren’t really necessary for the message that the author was trying to send, I do think that the message of this book is a very important one. This book is about generational trauma and how it affects families and communities and how people can cope with it in different ways. While the synopsis, in my opinion, makes it seem like the magical realism aspect is a big part of the book, it wasn’t actually mentioned that much and I found this book to be almost realistic fiction-esque. I think this book does provide a platform for a voice that’s very necessary and I thought the ideas that this book develops do need to be explored further in literature, I just think if I had tried to write something like this, I would have handled some things a bit differently, but I’m not the author, so, alas. I do genuinely think that one can still get a lot out of this book and I would consider rereading it at some point in the future because I really think I can get a lot out of it.
Fence, vol. 1 by C. S. Pacat, Johanna the Mad, Joana LaFuente, Jim Campbell
Genre: contemporary, graphic novel
Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis: Nicholas Cox is determined to prove himself in the world of competitive fencing, and earn his place alongside fencing legends like the dad he never knew, but things get more complicated when he’s up against his golden-boy half-brother, as well as sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama.
Nicholas, the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion, is a scrappy fencing wunderkind, and dreams of getting the chance and the training to actually compete. After getting accepted to the prodigious Kings Row private school, Nicholas is thrust into a cut-throat world, and finds himself facing not only his golden-boy half-brother, but the unbeatable, mysterious Seiji Katayama…
Review: Here’s the thing about Fence: this comic is very short and I don’t think the reader is really given enough time to get attached to the characters. Like, I barely started understanding the basics of fencing and remembering who was who when the comic was over. I would like more time with these characters please, even if that would require having to wait longer for the next edition. That said, I did really enjoy the comic, when I wasn’t too busy trying to understand how fencing worked. I really loved our main character, though I am still really confused by all of the side characters who are not Seiji and I could not tell you who was who, even if you asked nicely. That said, I did really enjoy this edition and it left me with a craving for more. It seems I’m bound to love gay sports graphic novels. I will take any and all recommendations you have.
Fence, vol. 2 by C. S. Pacat, Johanna the Mad, Joana LaFuente, Jim Campbell
Genre: contemporary, graphic novel
Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis: Nicholas Cox is determined to prove himself in the world of competitive fencing, and earn his place on the Kings Row fencing team, alongside sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama, to win the right to go up against his golden-boy half-brother.
Tryouts are well underway at King’s Row for a spot on the prodigious fencing team, and scrappy fencer Nicholas isn’t sure he’s going to make the grade in the face of surly upperclassmen, nearly impossibly odds, and his seemingly unstoppable roommate, the surly, sullen Seiji Katayama. It’ll take more than sheer determination to overcome a challenge this big!
Review: I loved this one as well. Are we surprised? There really isn’t much to say about this one that I didn’t already say in my review of vol. 1. I think these do need to be longer because,,, I need more content. Like,,, it’s necessary for my survival. Truly. I also think that the tryouts for the team are taking way too long and the plot feels very slow. I would like to move on, please. I get how tryouts work, we don’t need like fifty different reincarnations of the same scene. It’s getting very repetitive. That said, I’m still very much looking forward to the next volume and I’m getting excited just thinking about it. So. Yeah.