Review: Fools in Love anthology
by Rebecca Podos, Ashley Herring Blake
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Publication Date: December 7, 2021
Genres: Romance, 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:
Join fifteen bestselling, award-winning, and up-and-coming authors as they reimagine some of the most popular tropes in the romance genre.
Fake relationships. Enemies to lovers. Love triangles and best friends, mistaken identities and missed connections. This collection of genre-bending and original stories celebrates how love always finds a way, featuring powerful flora, a superhero and his nemesis, a fantastical sled race through snow-capped mountains, a golf tournament, the wrong ride-share, and even the end of the world. With stories written by Rebecca Barrow, Ashley Herring Blake, Gloria Chao, Mason Deaver, Sara Farizan, Claire Kann, Malinda Lo, Hannah Moskowitz, Natasha Ngan, Rebecca Podos, Lilliam Rivera, Laura Silverman, Amy Spalding, Rebecca Kim Wells, and Julian Winters this collection is sure to sweep you off your feet.
I am a humongous fan of romance tropes, so I was especially excited to read this anthology of fifteen young adult stories each centered around a specific trope, from snowed in to mistaken identity to mutual pining. It’s queer as all get out, with quite a few sapphic pairings as well as some gay and trans characters. It’s also delightfully diverse, in both its characters and authors.
Like most collections, there are some stories I liked more than others. First up, the fantasy/scifi stories.
“And now said competitor is trying to get me drunk. I should report them to the trail runners for subterfuge.”
“Subterfuge!” Ru looked gleeful. “What a delightful word!”
Mila rolled her eyes. “What would you call it, then?”
Natasha Ngan’s “Silver and Gold” (snowed in together) covered a moment of quiet and understanding in the middle of a fantasy Iditarod. This was delightful, atmospheric and adventurous by turns, and it was a great start to the collection.
Rebecca Kim Wells’ “Unfortunately, Blobs Do Not Eat Snacks” recounts Tess and Davina’s attempts to complete their magical academy exam…. if they can get to the small town they’re supposed to investigate some random minor magical mishap in without killing each. This is the “kissing under the influence” trope, which is not a particular favorite of mine, but I adored this story and would love an entire series starring Tess and Davina. Definitely one of my top faves!
“What Makes Us Heroes” is one where the author, Julian Winters, went all out and decided to interrogate the trope of hero vs villain. In a world where superpowers are hereditary but racial and class inequalities still exist, what is the real difference between heroes and villains?
“My Best Friend’s Girl” by Sara Farizan helpfully tells you what the trope is in the title, but the rest of the story, about a regular girl who falls for her superhero best friend’s girlfriend, was anything but boring. The world-building was fascinating, and I loved the portrayal of the relationships between all three of them. This is definitely an author I’ll be looking out for.
“Disaster” by Rebecca Podos is the last story in the collection and straddles the line between contemporary and SF. I loved this one, its sly humor and utter believability of a second chance romance resisted due to the possible complete destruction of the earth.
As for ones that particularly didn’t work, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Malinda Lo was, like the title says, incredibly fun, but it also reminded me a lot of Cinder.
Surprisingly enough, the contemporary stories had even more standouts, though I have a bit less to say about them.
“Earlier today she was a crush, just someone to look at, really. She was more like a metaphor than a real girl, if I was honest with myself. She was freedom and confidence and being out in a way I still couldn’t completely imagine. But now, in a matter of minutes, she’s transformed into something way more and less than that all at once. Just a girl I feel like I could understand and who maybe could understand me.”
“Five Stars” by Amy Spalding involves a case of mistaken identity when Krista, who recently moved to LA, gets mistaken for a rideshare driver by Audrey, the hottest girl in high school. It’s so cute, and Krista’s internal freakout is hilarious and so sweet. I absolutely adored this one. Almost equal to me was Laura Silverman’s “The Passover Date.” It had one of my favorite tropes, fake dating, and was cheesy (literally) in all the best ways.
Hannah Moskowitz’s “And” has one of my least favorite tropes, the love triangle, and while I liked the way it was resolved, the second-person POV was very jarring. Lilliam Rivera’s “These Strings” has the sibling’s best friend trope, a favorite of mine, but despite the interesting premise (Latinx puppeteers!) the emotions fell flat for me. In contrast, “Teed Up” by Gloria Chao deals with some of the same feelings (feeling unheard by your parents) but it worked out a lot better for me, despite revolving around golf, which is definitely not an area of interest for me.
Overall, while there were a handful of stories I didn’t particularly care for, overall the stories I liked were enough to earn this collection a solid 4 stars from me. Highly recommended if you’re a fan of romance tropes and want several fresh views!