Brave New Love: 15 Dystopian Tales of Desire is a YA anthology edited by Paula Guran, featuring many authors including Carrie Ryan, Diana Peterfreund, and Jeanne DuPrau.
This book is pretty much summed up in its title. We’ve got fifteen short stories featuring a dystopian world (just in time for The Hunger Games movie) that also give a shot of romance. I don’t want to ruin the fun by giving away any details of the individual stories, as they are short and a little gives away a lot!
What I will say is that Brave New Love is published by the same people that provided us with phenomenal anthologies like Corsets and Clockwork and Kiss Me Deadly, both of which I ADORED. So, even though it’s a different editor this time around, I definitely had high expectations.
Sadly, they weren’t met.
Some of the tales had a magnetic, eerie, interesting core and great start (to name a few I’d mention Berserker Eyes, Now Purple With Love’s Wound, In the Clearing, and The Salt and the Sky) but were either far too short or for some reason weren’t written in a way to feel fulfilled at the end. Some had so many conversations off page, seemingly to make the story shorter, that it was nearly impossible to feel anything for the characters or romances. This, sadly, made for a rather dry read most of the time.
Also, I was rather surprised to find that the vast majority of Brave New Love read more like a GLBT novel than I expected. That’s fine, but it’s not marketed that way – and I personally don’t read much of that genre. It would have been nice, maybe, to know beforehand. Doesn’t really make a big difference to what my main complaints are, but I thought you might like to know.
However, there were a couple of stories that came across stronger, such as Seekers in the City by Jeanne DuPrau and The Up by Nina Kiriki Hoffman. Seekers in the City still was a bit lackluster on really giving an intense feeling of dystopia or creativity, but I felt it was successful in giving a general idea of the society and more focus on the characters and longing. I felt more for them than most. Whereas The Up gave a haunting and distressing look at a dystopian future that had a surprise end. Both were far more enjoyable than the others. By far.
There were TWO stories I thought were really fantastic. And, go figure, they are from the authors I am most familiar with in this anthology. Foundlings by Diana Peterfreund had a good, solid, tense start that continued through the end. It gave an attention-grabbing twin dynamic and an original, frightening overall story that I found very satisfying. The Death Eater by Carrie Ryan was just as creepy as the title with a dark, seductive, confusing, but utterly hypnotic tale that was rather open-ended but quite memorable and extremely well-written.
So, out of fifteen stories only four of them I truly found to be enjoyable. I’ll admit I was pretty disappointed. Yet, this is only my opinion. You should always read it for yourself – maybe this will be your favorite anthology!