a published collection of poems or other pieces of writing
I only ever like a villain when they are written in a specific kind of way. I can’t pinpoint it or explain it to you but the number of villains I actually care about can be counted using the fingers off one of my hands.
I see most villains as either just greedy of power, petty, lack attention, and/or just throwing one giant tantrum because they feel like the world owes everything to them.
They’re just villains to me. Bad guys. Someone to contribute something to the story to make the hero look good. Nothing more. That is why I don’t really care if some of my favorite authors publish “back stories” about their famous villains.
What is the use? To justify their bad deeds? To explain to us why they are what they are? No.
So when I heard about Because You Love To Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy edited my Ameriie, my first reaction was to roll my eyes.
I am by no means always celebrating a book’s protagonist (let’s face it, most of them are stupid and annoying) but antagonists are still lower in my opinion.
So to read an entire book celebrating villains and our “love” for them seemed like a complete waste of my time.
Until I heard that BookTubers were the ones who prompted the authors to write their short stories.
Like many readers nowadays, I turn to YouTube’s book channels (BookTubers) for book news, book recommendations, book reviews, book tags, and book vlogs. I am subscribed to the more famous ones and to those who are still starting out with their channels and are genuinely just excited to be sharing their thoughts about the books they are reading albeit their small number of subscribers.
So the fact that the ideas from the villain stories came from readers such as myself was very exciting to me. Especially Samantha of Thoughts On Tomes and Regan of PeruseProject who are two of my most favorite BookTubers ever!
Another reason that convinced me to read this book was the cover! That whole “don’t judge a book by its cover” can sometimes be considered as words of wisdom or just crap because how can you not judge books by their covers especially if they’re this pretty? Good job, Bloomsbury!
And the final reason that finally pushed me over the edge and get me to read this book albeit my dislike or disinterest in villains is that Victoria Schwab and Adam Silvera has both written stories in this.
The premise of the anthology is all in the title. 13 Tales of Villainy. So I can’t really provide you with a synopsis because each short story has a different genre, plot, characters, and settings.
So instead, I will rate each individual story from my most disliked to my most favorite.
#13 – The Blessing of Little Wants
By: Sarah Enni // Prompt: Sophia Lee
First of all, I don’t know the author. I am not familiar with her name, much more any of her works. But it’s not her writing style that made me not like her story the most. I could’ve liked this the most because it is a story about magicians seeking greater power. That’s really something up my alley. However, the story took turns that I didn’t like and I felt were a little too close to Voldemort’s story. Especially when I read the prompt at the end. That made me see how Harry Potter was basically the idea behind this story. All the more reason why I was disappointed. Plus, it was boring. I know it’s a short story but it felt like forever before I was able to finish it.
#12 –Indigo and Shade
By: April GenevieveTucholke // Prompt: Whitney Atkinson
Of course there will be a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Same with the Fae, this trope needs to be stopped asap. I get it, you’re all obsessed with Sarah J. Maas’ retellings. But people, we need new things in the book world. Not only is the trope maddening, the main character in this was too in love with himself. And then in a span of a week, he’s willing to throw away everything for a mysterious girl? Sure. That’s how life works.
#11 – The Blood of Imuriv
By: Renee Ahdieh // Prompt: Christine Riccio
Unpopular Opinion time! Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn is in my most hated books of all time list (you best believe I really do have a list!). Her characters there annoyed me to death and I didn’t even realize when the love story began because it was so unlikely and definitely felt like insta-lovey. So I was a bit hesitant to read through this short story upon seeing her name as the author of it. I was scared that it’ll read like her book. Surprisingly, though, it didn’t. This short story is sci-fi and it revolves around two siblings who are to inherit the sovereign once their mother is gone. Now, I could’ve loved this story if it weren’t exactly like all the other sci-fi books I have read! How generic this was. And so predictable! Of course he was going to turn into a villain. He’s been jealous and hot headed since the beginning. You can do better than that, surely?
#10 – Jack
By: Ameriie // Prompt: Tina Burke
I am not a fan of Jack and the Beanstalk. No matter how many spin-offs you people make me watch or read, it will always always be the same to me. And I will still have no interest in it. That’s all there is to not liking this story.
#9 – Shirley and Jim
By: Susan Dennard // Prompt: Sasha Alsberg
I expected so much more from this story especially since it is a retelling of Sherlock Holmes! I love Sherlock. So can we talk about the fact that the female version of his name was Shirley??? There are so many other names. You lost me at Shirley. I liked the idea of flirting Sherlock (I refuse the name Shirley) and Moriarty enough. But then Sherlock didn’t feel like Sherlock. Where’s the super smart detective? They literally just played chess! It was a slow-burn for nothing. It didn’t even focus on the plot. I hated that. Such a disappointment, this one. If you’re going to get inspiration from famous stories, do it some justice. Stick to the original a little. If not, then might as well do a completely new one in my opinion.
#8 – The Sea Witch
By: Marissa Meyer // Prompt: Zoe Herdt
Not a fan of mermaids. I was never into their stories or myths or even trend (these girls who want to be mermaids? Give me a break). This one is yet another story too close to the original. That’s good. But where’s the originality? Sure, she didn’t get what she want. Of course she’s gonna be the villain! Oh she had injustice done to her? Well then, time for some revenge! Now I’m just a misunderstood protagonist. Guess I’m the villain everyone perceives me to be, then (Yes, you may read that in a mocking tone).
#7 – Marigold
By: Samantha Shannon // Prompt: Regan Perusse
This story was full of tropes that I hated. All in all it was sending a good message across: girl empowerment. But the way it was told, through the eyes of a boy who had absolutely no backbone. It was annoying, to say the least. And then the faes? I am so over fairy stories. Sure, they are cunning and mysterious. But really? There isn’t a YA fantasy that’s come out lately that does not involve faes with elongated ears and beautiful hair and dark brooding eyes. I’m sick of it. I skimmed this story, honestly.
#6 – You, You, It’s All About You
By: Adam Silvera // Prompt: Catriona Feeney
I love Adam Silvera. I have loved everything he has published so far. His works always manage to elicit genuine feelings from me, be it happiness or sadness. But this short story was just a little off-putting. It is told in a second person point of view, so it was disorienting. And even though I’m a true crime enthusiast (I love reading about them; I don’t do crime), I wasn’t entirely sold on the “morally gray drug dealer” character. I’m usually a fan of characters who are morally gray because let’s be real: there really isn’t a distinct line between good and bad on most situations in life. But a drug dealer? I am not interested. The end of the story was great, though. I didn’t see that one coming.
#5 – Beautiful Venom
By: Cindy Pon // Prompt: Benjamin Alderson
I have always enjoyed Greek Myth. And although it baffles me still how gods are so cruel in every story, I love reading about them and how our world came to be thanks to their powers. Medusa is one of the characters that I’ve always been curious about. She reminds me of the Basilisk in Chamber of Secrets. How awful would it be to have the ability to make your enemies into stones yet not to be able to look at your loved ones without doing the same damage? No wonder Medusa is full of hate. Especially since she was once the most beautiful girl in all the land. I loved the author’s twist in this short story. How the characters’ names sounded Asian. It made me think of Mulan but grimmer.
#4 – Julian Breaks Every Rule
By: Andrew Smith // Prompt: Raeleen Lemay
The funniest of all the short stories! At first it read like a typical teenage story who just complains about everything, including not getting in trouble for whatever he’s doing. Eventually he realizes that he’s Ealing Iowa’s Little Angel of Death and this story started with Steven Kemple and how he just would not die. I really need an entire book of this! Maybe even a series. I love Julian. Even if he is a psychopath.
#3 – Death Knell
By: V.E. Schwab // Prompt: Jesse George
The writing in this story was the best part. I can definitely tell that it’s Victoria Schwab. So atmospheric and dark and beautiful. I also loved that Death is our main character. We see him as a young boy and follow him as he comes to mingle with the mortals in order to get one soul. Don’t want to say much but know that I enjoyed it. Definitely had some Tim Burton vibes to it.
#2 – Sera
By: Nicola Yoon // Prompt: Steph Sinclair and Kat Kennedy
Now, THIS is a villain story I would love to read an entire book about. And actually like the anti-hero, Sera. Nicola Yoon’s writing style is engaging and powerful. I can definitely sense the characters’ feelings. Of all the short stories, this one felt like the only true villain story. You know from the get-go who she is and that despite of all that’s happening, she will be who she is. I loved this. This is amazing.
#1 – Gwen and Art and Lance
By: Soman Chainani // Prompt: Samantha Lane
I NEED an entire novel out of this! It’s so good! This one was contemporary (and surprised me because I love fantasy) and portrayed King Arthur, Lancelot, and Guinevere in the 21st century. I didn’t know I needed these characters in my life until I read this. It’s so good! It was written in an instant message/text message format where one character sends a message to all the other characters and their replies. The entire story was told in this format so it was such an easy read. But the feelings and emotions of the characters, the way they wrote their messages spoke volumes of they are as an individual. It’s amazing! I should’ve guessed that Sam of Thoughts On Tomes was the one who prompted this due to the Hades-Persephone elements to it.