Genres: Young Adult
Format Read: Paperback
Published by Bloomsbury Australia on 24 July, 2017
Book Depository | Buy from publisher
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).
I’m not usually a fan of anthologies, but Because You Love to Hate Me (BYLTHM) has really made me do a double take and rethink these types of novels. Perhaps it’s the caliber of authors in this anthology that’s helped shape the novel, or perhaps it’s my love for villain backstory that really made me sit up and go “yeah, I might actually want to read this anthology”. Or, it’s both. It’s probably both.
BYLTHM really took me by surprise. I wasn’t following or aware of any hype behind the novel before my copy landed on my doorstep, so I was quite excited and surprised by how quickly it piqued my interest. Considering how huge my TBR list is, the fact that BYLTHM shot straight to the top for me is a really good sign. And it didn’t disappoint — well, the majority of stories didn’t disappoint, which is pretty good for an anthology.
If you haven’t heard of this book before, well you’re in for a treat. Compiled and edited by YouTuber, Ameriie, the novel follows a pretty cool concept. Other YouTubers work with the authors by providing them with a prompt, and the author then goes and writes a short ‘villain-themed’ story. I really enjoyed the concept, as I often LOVE villain backstory.
Overall, I’d give the anthology a 3.5 out of 5 stars. There were some stories that absolutely stood out for me, and some that didn’t work as well for my tastes. That’s not to say that the stories weren’t great — each story probably resonates differently for each reader, so don’t hate me if I didn’t like your favourite short story in this anthology. At the end of the day, these are just my opinions! The one downfall to the anthology however, was the random essays / analysis at the end of each short story, which was written by the YouTubers that submitted the prompts. Half the time they made no sense, and didn’t add much to the overall notel. It was often a bit jarring to my enjoyment of the book, quite unnecessary, and I ended up skimming through most of it.
Aside from that, I did really enjoy the book overall. And for the first time in a long time, I managed to force myself to take down notes for each short story — so here’s a bunch of mini reviews!
THE BLOOD OF IMURIV by Renée Ahdieh
I thought this story was too short to really understand the complexity of the situation. I understood the main theme, which explores how the main male protagonist deals with being emasculated as a man living in a matriarchal society. He’s short-tempered and feels suppressed — and most of all, he was super annoying, which I guess was the point. I think this story would have been great if Renée was given the chance to write a full length novel, as the short story doesn’t do the overall exploration of the theme justice.
JAK by Ameriie
I really liked this prompt, and thought it was super creative! The story kept me guessing the whole way through, as it was a Jack and the Beanstalk retelling, but told from the perspective of a female giant. It was just the right length to develop its characters properly, and the ending had my gasping. Was a delight to read, especially after finding out what the actual prompt was.
GWEN AND ART AND LANCE by Soman Chainani
This one was a weird prompt. It was a mashup of two stories — one that’s super obvious (which I’m sure you’ve already picked up), while the second was just…weird to have in the mix. The story was fun and light-hearted, but I found it to be a bit lacking. Very cliched.
SHIRLEY & JIM by Susan Dennard
Written in letter form, Susan Dennard did an amazing job with this retelling of Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes. I really loved how she made the story modern, and fully fleshed out the character of Moriarty, who tends to be quite elusive when it comes to its backstory. Loved this one, and how developed it was from a simple prompt. I feel liie Susan should stick to modern day retellings, rather than fantasy novels.
THE BLESSING OF LITTLE WANTS by Sarah Enni
This one was a little odd, and I couldn’t pick out what the prompt was at all. The ending stupified me, and I still don’t really get it. Maybe I’m just stupid? *shrugs*
THE SEA WITCH by Marissa Meyer
Now, I haven’t read Marissa’s Lunar Chronicles series yet, but I’ve heard amazing things about it. Which is why I went into this story with pretty high expectations. It was okay — a nice retelling of the sea witch / background story of The Little Mermaid’s Ursula…but I felt it was a little too cliche, and didn’t root for the characters as much as the others in the anthology.
BEAUTIFUL VENOM by Cindy Pon
Cindy Pon’s Asian Medusa retelling was unique and beautifully written. I was SO surprised by this one (own voices woo!), and it was very different to all the stories that came before this one. The story revolves around the idea of victim blaming, a huge issue that’s being explored in today’s literature. Cindy puts a fantasy twist to it, as well as plops the protagonist into an Asian setting that I thought worked really well. The way Cindy addressed the issue of victim shaming was really powerful. Especially in a Medusa retelling.
DEATH KNELL by Victoria Schwab
Super interesting retelling of Death told in multiple parts. Not really a villain, per se, but you end up feeling sympathetic for both Death, a boy that wakes up at the bottom of the well who’s super hungry. Not for food, but for the next human life that he’s meant to take. As always, Victoria Schwab’s writing is spot on —beautiful, lyrical and sucks you right in.
MARIGOLD by Samantha Shannon
I’m a bit of a sucker for Victorian era settings these days, so I really enjoyed Samantha Shannon’s take on it. Samantha turns the damse in distress on its head in this short story. The overarching question that lingers asks why society is so harsh towards females, and why indepedent women are seen as ‘off’.
YOU, YOU, IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU by Adam Silvera
I think this is my favourite story in the whole anthology. Written in second person (which I usually hate!), Adam Silvera really took my by surprise here. I absolutely loved this story, maybe because it’s not a villain origin story, or trying to hide from the truth of the situation. This story really captures the villain in all its gloriousness, and didn’t shy away from depicting someone that is all shades of grey. Very surprised that a contemporary author like Adam pulled this one off. If he writes any other stories like this, I’m so in.
JULIAN BREAKS EVERY RULE by Andrew Smith
This one follows a teenage psychopath that I felt was super weak as a character. I’m not sure how it fit into the actual theme of being set in a ‘futuristic’ setting. Very predictable and easy read, but doesn’t stand out. I think this story was the weakest of the whole anthology.
INDIGO AND SHADE by April Genevieve Tucholke
Meh. I think I’m a bit over the Beauty and The Beast retellings. This one was super predictable, and seemed to lack the spark for me. Didn’t really stand out.
SERA by Nicola Yoon
This one was such a good story to end off the book on. Nicola Yoon did a really great take on a gender flipped god of war. I was super impressed with the narrative style, and the way that Sera was depicted.
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.