Review | Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy

Because You Love to Hate Me
Title: Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy
Authors: Ameriie (Editor), Renee Ahdieh, Soman Chainani, Susan Dennard, Sarah Enni, Marissa Meyer, Cindy Pon, Victoria Schwab, Samantha Shannon, Adam Silvera, Andrew Smith, April Genevieve Tucholke, Nicola Yoon
BookTubers: Christine Riccio, Tina Burke, Samantha Lane, Sasha Alsberg, Sophia Lee, Zoe Herdt, Benjamin Alderson, Jesse George, Regan Perusse, Catriona Feeney, Raeleen Lemay, Whitney Atkinson, Steph Sinclair, Kat Kennedy
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Series Details: Standalone
Genre: Anthology, Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 339

Blurb from Goodreads:

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!

My Thoughts-01

Dear Book,

You had me at the Introduction. I’ve always had soft spot for villains especially those with amazing backstories that tells us of their struggles before they became the characters we love to hate. I appreciate the way the Introduction highlights the importance of villains in a story. Being a lover of good “bad guy stories”, I immediately felt like this book was made especially for me.

I checked this book out for two reasons:

  1. The title alone promises darkness being the biggest component in this book. Thirteen stories told from the villain’s perspective!
  2. Three of my favorite authors are in it—Adam Silvera, Victoria Schwab, and Marissa Meyer. And they delivered! Awesomely. I must add.

The team-up of YA authors and popular BookTubers is something I haven’t seen done before so it really piqued my interest. The collaboration didn’t work for me though. Sadly. I feel like the BookTubers’ parts didn’t help with the stories. I appreciate the creativity in each of the prompts—the funny essays, the quizzes, the tips on how to be a good villain—but to me they didn’t feel necessary. I think it would’ve been nice if the space for the prompts were given to the authors instead, so there’s more room for the actual story.

Leave it to the heroes to save the world. Villains just want to rule it.

While the stories from my favorite authors really stood out in terms of wickedness, I wasn’t very impressed with the others. Perhaps I was expecting more evil. There were some that didn’t came out strong and villainous for me, some I find confusing, and others are retellings that sticks too closely to the original fairy tale so it felt flat and less creative. But there were also stories from authors that I haven’t heard of before that managed to captivate and surprise me. Since this is a mix of noes and yeses for me, I decided to do a breakdown review and rating for each story.

THE BLOOD OF IMURIV – ★★★
by Renee Ahdieh
Prompt from Christine Riccio of polandbananasBOOKS

This is the first time I see Ahdieh write something in a futuristic setting with heavy family strife and political issues lying in the background. And it was good. It didn’t take long before I was fully immersed in her writing. It’s impressive how she quickly and clearly built a strong world complete with history and conflicts in such a limited space. However, I was expecting a much darker opening story for a book that is supposed to be full of villainous characters and their evil deeds.

JACK – ★★★★
by Ameriie
Prompt from Tina Burke of TheLushables

I’m not a big fan of Jack and the Beanstalk but I love this unique take of the old fairy tale. First, it’s set in the modern world, suggesting that even today there are still giants living up in the sky. Second, it’s a mix of fiction and reality which gives this story a bit of an informative vibe. The real elements incorporated in the story blended well with the fictional ones. Even now I couldn’t believe that some scenes in this story actually happened to real people from sixth century B.C. I was so intrigued by that bit of history that I actually started googling about this real life villain. And I think, when a story lights such curiosity in its readers, that’s when you know it’s a good one.

GWEN AND ART AND LANCE – ★★
by Soman Chainani
Prompt from Samantha Lane  of Thoughts on Tomes

People leave and enter your life for a reason.

Okay, I didn’t thought you could write an entire story in IMS format without loosing the understandability of the story or causing confusion. Until today. I think this is cool with regards to how it is written. It didn’t feel so villainous though. The main character, Gwen, is obviously a good manipulator. She creates drama and makes things complicated but that’s it. I want my villains to have deep reasons on why they became the loathsome characters that they are. I want a story that would make me somehow understand the choices they made. Gwen doesn’t have those, so to me, she’s just this bitchy character and nothing more.

SHIRLEY AND JIM – ★★
by Susan Dennard
Prompt from Sasha Alsberg of Abookutopia

I’ve seen a number of authors do a gender flipped version of Sherlock so I wasn’t very surprised with this one. The writing was addicting—the kind that makes you keep reading even though you’ve stopped caring about the characters. The story itself wasn’t as addicting though. I feel like the mystery was too simple for a Sherlock retelling—so much potential missed. Also, I think I would’ve been more interested in this if this was told in Moriarty’s POV. After all, this is a book about the villains.

THE BLESSING OF LITTLE WANTS – ★★
by Sarah Enni
Prompt from Sophia Lee of Thebookbasement

This one started out good and really interesting. The idea of magic was really enticing and it kind of gave me a bit of witchcraft and wizardry vibes. As the story progress it gets darker. It also gets weird and so confusing. I honestly didn’t fully understood what happened in that ending. And although this story has got some darkness in it, I’ don’t think the main character truly did a villainous act. Overall, I like the tone and the mood of this story but I wasn’t satisfied with that iffy ending.

THE SEA WITCH – ★★★★
by Marissa Meyer
Prompt from Zoe Herdt of ReadbyZoe

…for where there was magic, there was danger.

Finally a story that perfectly fits the title of this book! I’ve read Heartless and that made me sure of one thing—that this author can do villains. And she didn’t disappoint. Our main character, Nerit, held all the perfect elements of a villain—a bit of innocence, a lot of hurt, a big motive, evil deeds, and blood in her hands. There’s a quality to Meyer’s writing that makes you root for a character despite the awful things she did. She lets her readers know right off the bat that Nerit has evilness in her, that she’s not all innocent. But still I found myself cheering for her as she exact revenge from those who have wronged her. And it was most satisfying.

BEAUTIFUL VENOM – ★★★★
by Cindy Pon
Prompt from Benjamin Alderson of BenjaminofTomes

I haven’t read anything from Cindy Pon before but that’s going to change after I enjoyed this short story so much. This is a beautiful and villainous remake of Medusa who is one of my favorite villains of all time. I really love the refreshing Asian twist added into this. Pon masterfully wrote about the many things expected from a woman in that period. The story also shows how women valued beauty at that time. Lastly, I appreciate how Pon brought up the subject of rape and the ugly things that comes with it—like judging and blaming the victims for their attacks—which, sadly, is a part played by society even today.

DEATH KNELL – ★★★★★
by Victoria Schwab
Prompt from Jesse George of JessetheReader

People are peculiar. They have a way of seeing only what they want, of not seeing anything they don’t.

I think I’d reached the point where I’d gladly give five stars to anything with Victoria Schwab in it. Honestly though, this story deserves that rating. This is both creepy and pleasing at the same time as Schwab presents a different and unusual version of death—personifying it and giving it a human body with otherworldly powers. The ending was awesome, reminding us that death comes for everyone—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, that it is inescapable, and it’s never cheated.

MARIGOLD – ★★★
by Samantha ShannonSamantha Shannon
Prompt from Regan Perusse of PeruseProject

This one wasn’t bad but it didn’t stood out the way I hoped it would either. I like the strong folklore feels though. And despite being fantasy themed, Shannon painted a realistic presentation of how women were treated in the 1850s, and how they were expected to be submissive and subservient to men. The thing that made this story different from the others is that our main character is completely unaware that he is actually the one on the wrong side. In his perspective, he is the hero valiantly risking his life to save the woman he loves, therefore making everyone else the villain.

YOU, YOU, IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU – ★★★★★
by Adam Silvera
Prompt from Catriona Feeney of LittleBookOwl

And here’s my favorite! Every time I read something from Adam Silvera I always end up loving it. Aside from his catchy plots, his writing is so captivating. Everything just flows effortlessly in his works—the words, the plotlines, the twists—despite the chaos in the world he’s built. This is simply the most inventive story in this entire collection and Slate is unquestionably the most horrifying villain. You do not want to cross her path. I really love Silvera’s idea of writing about three particular drugs that have specific effects to suit its users’ need. There was so much possibilities surrounding it and Silvera explored them quite nicely in such a limited space. Really impressive. And let’s not forget about that jaw dropping twist! Pulling off a twist like that in a short story is pure talent. Hands down Adam.

JULIAN BREAKS EVERY RULE –
by Andrew Smith
Prompt from Raeleen Lemay of Padfootandrongs07

Unfortunately, the good writing and good humor wasn’t enough to hold my interest in this story. I can see the budding psychopath beneath Julian’s perfect image but, apart from that, not much else was very interesting. Julian was an unreliable narrator and it left me constantly doubting his narrative. Had he really killed people just by wishing them dead? Or was it just his imagination? I think it’s a nice idea to have the story keep that bit of mystery to itself, leaving some room for readers to fill with their own speculations. But for me, I’d rather see Julian doing the actual deeds than just hearing him say he did it. And to my great disappointment, the story ended right after Julian decided to do just that!

INDIGO AND SHADE – ★★★★★
by April Genevieve Tucholke
Prompt from Whitney Atkinson of WhittyNovels

A most creative retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It follows the origin myth well but with some really unique twists added into it which is why it’s hard to forget this take. I love how the author played with this piece—merging some major characters from the classic tale into one. It’s also very entertaining being inside Brahm’s head and reading about his thoughts. He has too much pride in himself and often thinks very highly of his skills and talents, and of course, his looks. But I didn’t see him as boastful or conceited. Instead I find him hilarious especially every time he describes himself. Overall, this is a well done retelling that I would love to see turned into a whole book.

SERA – ★★
by Nicola Yoon
Prompt from Steph Sinclair and Kat Kennedy of Cuddlebuggery

A life is a series of past moments, all of them leading you to the present one.

Yoon has left her usual fluffy love stories for this book. She really did go dark with this short story—going way outside the boundaries of cute and sweet with a main character who was born strange and different and who secretly wanted to belong. However, I wasn’t entirely hooked. So much time was spent on the flashbacks and while we did see Sera’s growth through it, I didn’t get much of what’s happening in the present, which is what I’m most interested about.

Overall, this is still a good book despite finding some of the stories a little weak. But the good thing about anthologies is that it has a little bit of everything for everyone. This book might appeal to lovers of origin stories and retellings. There are also original villainous tales from some of the authors for those who prefers fresh and imaginative stories of wickedness.

 

Three Star Rating-01

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