Review: A Universe of Wishes anthology
by Dhonielle Clayton, Samira Ahmed, Libba Bray, Zoraida Córdova, Tessa Gratton, Kwame Mbalia, Anna-Marie McLemore, Tochi Onyebuchi, Mark Oshiro, Natalie C. Parker, Rebecca Roanhorse, V.E. Schwab, Tara Sim, Nic Stone
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Publication Date: December 8, 2020
Genres: Young Adult
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
From We Need Diverse Books, the organization behind Flying Lessons & Other Stories, comes a young adult fantasy short story collection featuring some of the best own-voices children’s authors, including New York Times bestselling authors Libba Bray (The Diviners), Victoria Schwab (A Darker Shade of Magic), Natalie C. Parker (Seafire), and many more. Edited by Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles).
In the fourth collaboration with We Need Diverse Books, fifteen award-winning and celebrated diverse authors deliver stories about a princess without need of a prince, a monster long misunderstood, memories that vanish with a spell, and voices that refuse to stay silent in the face of injustice. This powerful and inclusive collection contains a universe of wishes for a braver and more beautiful world.
AUTHORS INCLUDE: Samira Ahmed, Libba Bray, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova, Tessa Gratton, Kwame Mbalia, Anna-Marie McLemore, Tochi Onyebuchi, Mark Oshiro, Natalie C. Parker, Rebecca Roanhorse, Victoria Schwab, Tara Sim, Nic Stone, and a to-be-announced debut author/short-story contest winner
Content warnings: View Spoiler »violence, child death, murder, cannibalism, homophobia, racism, child abuse, suicide (off-page) « Hide Spoiler
What an absolutely amazing anthology! This is a collection of fantasy and science fiction stories written by an inclusive group of authors and starring a diverse cast of characters. With everything from retold fairytales to apocalyptic landscapes, there’s a little bit of something for any young adult reader. While I’ve read some of the included authors before, most were new to me, and these stories were a great introduction to their work.
“Wonder, Thorn realized, was beautiful; it banished what was impossible and made room for belief.”
“A Universe of Wishes” – Tara Sim – ★★★★★
A boy harvesting wishes from the dead, caught by the boy who works at a funeral parlor, offers him three wishes in exchange. I loved the world building and the sweet development of the m/m relationship, plus the resolution on this one is just sheer perfection!
“The Silk Blade” – Natalie C. Parker – ★★★★
Willador, one of three warriors chosen to compete for the hand of the Bloom, heir to Everdale’s throne, has second thoughts after meeting Rabi, one of her fellow competitors. Lots of excitement and fun worldbuilding.
“At last! A proper adventure!”
“Two dead men and a missing Rakshana agent isn’t an ‘adventure,’ Fee. It’s trouble.”
“Trouble is always an adventure.”
“The Scarlet Woman” – Libba Bray – ???
I haven’t read the Gemma Doyle books, so I honestly had no idea what was going on. The worldbuilding seemed interesting, and I liked the byplay between Gemma and Fee, but I was so confused I don’t feel like I should rate this one. Not recommended if you’re not already familiar with the books.
“Cristal y Ceniza” – Anna-Marie McLemore -★★★★★
A gorgeous reimagining of Cinderella with a trans prince and the difference between tolerance and acceptance. I haven’t read this author before, but her books are going straight on to my TBR.
“Liberia” – Kwame Mbalia – ★★★★
What we leave behind is almost as important as what we take with us in this story about teens piloting an aging spaceship to a colony.
“A Royal Affair” – V.E. Schwab – ★★★
Another story where I haven’t read the series, but this one was much more understandable. It’s quite sad and dark, which *waves at 2020* isn’t really to my taste right now, but the worldbuilding was interesting.
“The Takeback Tango” – Rebecca Roanhorse – ★★★★
Loved this one! A teen thief plans a caper to steal back her planet’s artifacts, but there’s a complication. I’d love to read a set of stories about Vi and Val!
“Dream and Dare” – Nic Stone – ★★★
I liked the message behind this one – about girls who don’t fit into the traditional gender roles – but the writing didn’t work for me.
“Wish” – Jenni Balch – ★★★
An imaginative retelling of the genie myth, but this time in… spaaaaaace. Honestly, this one just fell a little flat for me.
“But she chose to believe the world would be better if everything had its place and every question had its answer, like pairs of matching socks. So she could prepare.”
“The Weight” – Dhonielle Clayton – ★★★★★
A young couple is preparing to undergo a medical procedure that will tell them who they love and how much they love them. Dhonielle Clayton writes stories that are amazing in their own right and then absolutely roiling with meaning under the surface.
“Unmoor” – Mark Oshiro – ★★★★★
The world building in this one was exquisite. A teenager employs a magic service to help ease his heartbreak. It sounds like a great idea, except, well, there are always trade-offs, aren’t there?
“The Coldest Spot in the Universe” – Samira Ahmed – ★★★
I was all-in on this lyrically sad intertwined tales of an alien civilization investigating Earth many years after global warming destroyed it, and a teenager living through those last days. Then there was a twist at the end – “synchronicity” – that was just too preachy for me.
“The Beginning of Monsters” – Tessa Gratton – ★★★★
Unbelievably imaginative. In a world where bodies can be magically re-architected – adding claws or changing genders – what does being “human” really mean?
“Longer Than the Threads of Time” – Zoraida Córdova – ★★★★
A Rapunzel retelling that stopped much too soon for me! Another author going to the top of my reading list!
“Even though they were rarely about Arabs, and rarely about young Arab boys like me, if I squinted, I could see in the contours of their heroes something of my shoulders and my hair and my hands and feet. If I closed my eyes, I could imagine myself as the main character. And I was a hero who did not destroy things but saved them.”
“Habibi” – Tochi Onybuchi – ★★★★★
Two imprisoned teen boys – one from Long Beach, California and one from Palestine – communicate through magical means. An absolute powerhouse ending to this anthology.
Overall, while some stories didn’t work for me, this was an excellent collection and I’ll definitely be picking up the rest of the We Need Diverse Books anthologies, as well as checking out many of the authors’ individual works. Highly recommended!