Review: Because You Love To Hate Me anthology
‘Villains. Stories are nothing without them.’
It’s been difficult to approach writing this review, because I’m conflicted about Because You Love To Hate Me. On the one hand, I think it’s a brilliant idea – making the villains into characters which it’s hard to resist sympathising with – but on the other hand I just don’t really understand why it needed to be a collaboration with Booktubers.
Yes, it added a unique twist to the anthology, but with only a couple of the Booktubers contributions being worth the time it took to read them, I found myself puzzling over why they really had to be involved. The collection would have been stronger without their additions (with the exception of Jesse’s letter to Death, which was a beautifully written piece of prose which made me excited to read more of his writing in the future) so I ended up subtracting a star before I even started working out the ratings for the other short stories.
Here are some brief thoughts on each of the short stories, along with the individual ratings I gave them:
- The Blood of Imuriv by Renee Ahdieh: a twist on the stereotypical family dynamic results in a boy killing his sister to gain the power which she would have inherited through the matriarchal nature of their monarchy. 5/5
- Jack by Ameriie: a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk (mixed with the story of Phalaris of Agrigento, which I’d personally never heard of), in which Jack becomes close friends with the giant’s daughter… For a while. 4/5
- Gwen and Art and Lance by Soman Chainani: the story of King Arthur, retold through increasingly cringey text conversations. 1/5
- Shirley and Jim by Susan Dennard: a gender-swapped Sherlock, in which Holmes falls in love with Moriarty. I wanted to read so much more of this! 5/5
- The Blessing of Little Wants by Sarah Enni: in a world where magic is rationed between a finite amount of witches and wizards, a girl decides she wants more for herself. Feels more like the prologue to a much larger piece, so wasn’t satisfying as a standalone story. 3/5
- The Sea Witch by Marissa Meyer: a very nice, twisted version of The Little Mermaid which is far more compelling than the Disney story. 5/5
- Beautiful Venom by Cindy Pon: an #ownvoices retelling of Medusa, which tackles victim blaming culture. 4/5
- Death Knell by Victoria Schwab: a girl ‘escapes’ Death after bargaining for one more day of life. Schwab’s story is followed by Jesse’s letter to Death, which as I’ve already said is the only worthwhile Booktuber contribution. 5/5
- Marigold by Samantha Shannon: when Marigold is taken by the Erl-queen, her lover and brother attempt to ‘save’ her. I’d never heard of the Erl-queen, but this definitely made me interested in learning more about her. 4/5
- You, You, It’s All About You by Adam Silvera: my first experience of Adam Silvera’s writing was a little underwhelming. This short story also feels like the prologue to a much greater piece, and by the time I’d wrapped my head around the different drugs that Slate was dealing the story was already drawing to a close. Confusing and jarring. 3/5
- Julian Breaks Every Rule by Andrew Smith: in the same vein as the Adam Silvera story, by the time I’d gotten my head around the concept of Julian – who only has to wish someone dead for it to come true – the story was over, ending on a highly unsatisfying cliffhanger. 3/5
- Indigo and Shade by April Genevieve Tucholke: a play on Beauty and the Beast, when the Beast is a girl and Beauty is the male hunter attempting to track her down. My second favourite story in the collection. 5/5
- Sera by Nicola Yoon: the second most disappointing contribution to the collection. Sera is told in three parts, the majority of which are brief descriptions from throughout Sera’s life. The scale of the story being squeezed in is far too large, and needed many more pages to do it justice. 1/5
If you’re interested in learning more about Because You Love To Hate Me, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!
My actual rating for this collection ended up being 2.7 stars, but I rounded that up to 3 stars (which would have been four, without the Booktube essays). If you’ve already read Because You Love To Hate Me, did you love the Booktuber’s essays or are you on the same page as me?