Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
Maybe it’s the long, lazy days, or maybe it’s the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.
Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.
Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail by by Leigh Bardugo
2.5/5 stars. The writing in this short story was great, leading to my understanding as to why Bardugo is so beloved in the YA community. I, however, have never read one of her novels, and wasn’t particularly impressed by this one: I just thought the whole thing was a bit silly, and not described in a believable way.
The End of Love by Nina LaCour
5/5 stars. Never before have I really been drawn to any of Nina LaCour’s books, despite her being a very popular author in the YA community. However, I really enjoyed this short story, and am eager to read more of LaCour’s work: It’s so great to see divorce represented so honestly, as well as LGBT characters being represented thoroughly and in a really positive way. It’s nice to see an LGBT relationship flourishing in the same way a straight, cisgender relationship would flourish in YA literature. I have discovered that underrepresentation really is restricting my reading experience.
Last Stand at the Cinegore by Libba Bray
3/5 stars. I’ve always wanted to read a Libba Bray book, but – honestly – this short story put me off a bit. I thought it was dragged out and boring and consisted of too much backstory, too little action. That being said, it was a really intruiging plot and backstory. However, if I’m being really picky, I would have preferred this short story in a Haloween anthology of some kind – it didn’t suit my mood, nor the weather, nor the tone of the majority of the other novels.
Sick Pleasure by Francesca Lia Block
1/5 stars. I’ve read so many positive reviews for this short story, but I guess I just didn’t get it. Everyone’s name is a letter, which I found profoundly confusing, taking away from my reading experience. The love interest/story didn’t at all make sense to me, and I felt the plot twist at the end came out of nowhere. I also don’t seem to have walked away from this short story as affected as other readers – maybe I’m immune to Francesca Lia Block?
In Ninety Minutes, Turn North by Stephanie Perkins
5/5 stars. This was definitely one of my favourite additions to the collection. It was so great to revisit characters and see a crossover from My True Love Gave to Me – the anthology prior to this one – especially when said characters were some of my favourites. I love North and Marigold’s dynamic, and their personalities just lift off the page. This short story was funny and sweet and everything I was looking for.
Souvenirs by Tim Federle
3/5 stars. Again, the LGBT representation is what really sets this short story apart from a lot of the other stories. This romance felt fresh and unique, and I am so glad i read it. Never before have I read anything by Tim Federle, but I’m eager to now – his characters were so dynamic, and felt realistic to the point that I could imagine my own conversation with them. Finally, I loved that this short story focussed on the bitter sweetness of summer: saying goodbye.
Inertia by Veronica Roth
5/5 stars. I don’t know what I was expecting, because Veronica Roth has only ever written the Divergent trilogy. But I definitely wasn’t expecting this. I loved it! It was darker than a lot of the stories, but also very unique – Roth twisted and manipulated the tropes we already know from her, and made it all unique and refreshing. Likewise, it was good to see characters with problems and how they solved them. I also love friendships and how deep those bonds can be.
Love is the Last Resort by Jon Skovron
5/5 stars. This short story was another of my favourites in the collection, and I definitely think it was the one most suited to my reading tastes. I love melodrama, and the tone and the narrator in this novel was great – laugh-out-loud funny, and biased to the point of hilarity. I just love narrators that can hold their own. Likewsie, I loved how the fourth wall was not just broken but smashed to pieces. It was funny and heartwarming, and all of the characters were great, though it was a little confusing telling them all apart at first.
Good luck and Farewell by Brandy Colbert
3/5 stars. I feel as though the former half of this short story dragged a lot, what with introductions to characters and storylines and important events. However, the latter half was really engaging. It was refreshing to have a PoC cast, and I really enjoyed learning about our protagonist’s culture. Important issues are mentioned, and there’s also the lovely factor of love involved. I like seeing family values taking a big role in books, and this short story didn’t disappoint.
Brand New Attraction by Cassandra Clare
4/5 stars. I wasn’t the biggest fan of American Horror Story: Freakshow, so you can imagine I wasn’t the biggest fan of this short story – and dark carnivals in general, really – at first. It took me a while to muddle through the start, and get to grips with everything that was happening, but eventually I manged to. In short, I felt as though this story was too short to be fully satisfied with the explanation behind many of the events. It was really unique, though, especially in comparison to the other stories in the anthology. However, I would again think it would be more suited to a Haloween anthology.
A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith
5/5 stars. I loved this short story! I’ve been reading a lot of books focussing on autism recently, but this short story was so great because it looked at it in a really different way. It also had a really nice, summery vibe which reflected really well on the entire story. It was really sweet to read about, and I just love it when authors tackle difficlt topics in a gentle way. A triumph!
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things by Lev Grossman
2/5 stars. I’ll be honest: This was a disappointing end to the anthology. For me, anyway. Though it was an original plot – I’ve actually never read anything like it – I found it got to be quite predictable. It was also quite boring and repetitive. I didn’t connect wih the characters, and – if anything – I was eager for it to end.
If you enjoyed _____, you’ll love Summer Days & Summer Nights!