SC SER (Reviewing “Serendipity: Ten romantic tropes transformed”)

So this is the PERFECT time of the year (just before Valentine’s Day hits) to pick up a book of love stories and “Serendipity: Ten Romantic Tropes Transformed” edited by Marissa Meyer did NOT disappoint from the Young Adult side of the aisle. This book includes short stories from a star studded cast of Young Adult authors including:

  • Julie Murphy (author of “Dumplin'” and “Ramona Blue”)
  • Leah Johnson (author of “You Should See Me in a Crown”)
  • Abigail Hing Wen (author of “Loveboat, Taipei”)
  • Caleb Roehrig (author of “Last Seen Leaving” and “White Rabbit”)
  • Marissa Meyer (author of “The Lunar Chronicles” and “Renegades”)
  • Sarah Winifred Searle (author of “The Greatest Thing” and “Sincerely, Harriet”)
  • Elise Bryant (author of “Happily Ever Afters”)
  • Elizabeth Eulberg (author of “Better Off Friends” and “The Lonely Hearts Club”)
  • Anna-Marie McLemore (author of “When the Moon was Ours”)
  • Sandhya Menon (author of “When Dimple Met Rishi”)
Cover image is has a blue floral background with pops of red, peach, and purple flowers that form the shape of a heart behind the text "Serendipity: Ten Romantic Tropes Transformed, Edited by Marissa Meyer"
Cover image of “Serendipity”

The book’s stories were beautifully diverse not just in race, culture, and socioeconomic status of their characters, but also had stories that broke away from the heteronormative, cis stories that you’d expect in a love anthology. The book also featured a short story in graphic novel format, which was a lovely surprise in what I thought was going to be an all-text anthology! Honestly, my “defects” on this book are going to be really tiny, nitpicky kinds of things because this was a beautifully pieced together work. Meyer really chose the best of the best for this anthology and it shows in just how lovely it was to read!

3 Defects

  1. So… IDK if they REALLY “transformed” the romantic tropes, so much as they messed with the possible outcomes of the trope, or they messed with the gender or sexuality of the characters to mess with the trope. Some stories played with it more than others and some followed the predictability of the trope entirely.
  2. This definitely felt like it fell on the younger side of YA. While this isn’t REALLY a defect, it might definitely turn off some readers, who, seeing the list of authors, might be expecting something slightly different (or something more “mature” in content). This is ALSO one of my delights… so… *shrug*
  3. This one is likely to become dated quickly, based on some of the social media/meme/etc. references, but it’s a price that must be paid to be relevant NOW.

3 Delights

  1. I love me YA romance that’s appropriate for slightly younger YA fans! This definitely would be appropriate for 7th/8th graders, as well as older readers. The language is pretty tame throughout the book (a couple of minor swear words here and there, but barely enough to mention), there is no “hard and heavy” physical romance, and even the few instances of the word “crotch” or a character being partially nude (some after hours swimming in a pool in their underwear), it’s honestly really tame. The biggest “controversy” is going to come from the LGBTQA+ relationships.
  2. YAY! Not just gender and hetero normative relationships! While I would have loved a deeper dip into more variations on sexuality (cuz teens have a wider variety than this text), for a short story anthology, I’m pretty happy.
  3. Short and sweet. Each of the stories is an appropriate length and keeps things just long enough to keep you interested, but just short enough you get the feel good fuzzies of the love story in a 10-15 minute window of reading. This was my school-pick-up-line read this last week and I could finish 1-2 stories during each 20-25 minute wait.

Secret add on delight? I love that there’s a Wisconsin girl in the mix of authors! Elizabeth Eulberg might be living in New York now, but she’s a self described “Proud Cheesehead” from Portage, WI who’s mom was her high school librarian… and that makes me so happy.

FIC STR (Reviewing “It’s Not Me, It’s You”)

Dumped publicly right before her senior prom, Avery Dennis decides that she needs to understand what happened – she’s always been the one to dump her significant other, NOT the other way around. So Avery swears off dating and decides that in order to better understand why all of her relationships have ended, she’s going to interview ALL of her previous boyfriends to collect data. Every single one of them, starting with her first “boyfriend” in kindergarten. And Avery won’t be doing this alone – she’ll drag her friends along for the ride, especially her best friend Coco Kim and her trusty science lab partner, James “Hutch” Hutcherson. Each chapter focuses on one of Avery’s many failed conquests and as she examines each one, she realizes something new about herself that starts to reform the way she thinks about what makes a good partner and a good relationship.

3 Delights

  1. I could tell that the author is a fellow “old millennial”, because while most of the pop culture references will be recognizable by the modern teen, there’s definitely a lean toward adults who are young vs. young adults. This could also be considered a defect, but as an “old millennial” reader, I loved it. It also means that the novel will appeal to both your average high schooler or upper middle schooler, as well as adult readers.
  2. The failed romances are 100% relatable, especially the middle school romances and how both parties thought about what dating was supposed to be. Older teens are sure to feel the same horror/angst/embarrassment that Avery does in reliving each experience (heck, I sure did).
  3. I personally love when a book breaks the fourth wall – this book is written as if Avery is giving her interviews/writing to her social studies teacher, but this format gives it the feeling of breaking the fourth wall and that Avery is actually talking to the reader.

3 Defects

  1. The characters might be a little unrealistic or perhaps a little stereotypical – but no more so than any other humorous high school romance novel. There were points when I felt that the characters were a little over the top… but so are the characters in every other teen and adult romance novel I’ve read. I’ll put it as a defect, but maybe that’s just the genre.
  2. There are a lot of characters. A lot of named characters that you sometimes have to remember who they are and why they’re important to the story. This may be hard to track for some readers. I read novels with extreme amounts of named characters (LOTR, Game of Thrones, Dune, etc.), so this felt like a cakewalk, comparatively.
  3. The humor DOES lean a little “adults who are young” vs. young adults. So… 20/30 somethings may appreciate the pop culture references in this book more than some modern teens. Although I know PLENTY of high schoolers who are into the same stuff as the character in the book, so the cross over power of this one is there for sure. These references WILL make this book “dated” in a shorter span than others, though.