I think the thing that frustrates me the most about YA fantasy and sf recently is that these are the genres of the imagination, and yet so many authors keep telling the same old stories, even, as it turns out, when those stories are populated by a diverse cast of characters, featuring characters of many races, genders, and sexualities. Some of these stories were dull and uninspired, some I thought were just dumb, and a few were fun. There was only one that really stood out from the pack. The ones I liked were from Rebecca Roanhorse, Zoraida Córdova, Tessa Gratton, Mark Oshiro, and Tara Sim. Most of those were 3.5 star reads, so good for me but not great (although Gratton and Roanhorse got 4 stars from me). The one that stood out was from Tochi Onyebuchi. Although it wasn’t perfectly to my taste, it was the only one I thought really showed talent above and beyond. Short stories are a whole other beast, and it really takes a great author for me to like them, because there just isn’t the time to develop anything, so you have to work really hard with the small amount of real estate you’re given. Onyebuchi more than delivered.
The rest of these stories were entirely skippable.
Below are my mini-reviews of all the stories, which I wrote as I read them:
“Habibi,” by Tochi Onyebuchi. This one was intense and really well written and the premise was so bizarre and sad. These two prisoners thousands of miles apart have a magical connection. They write letters to each other and get them basically the grossest way possible (which I found darkly hilarious; go ahead, ask me how in the comments). Very sweet in the end. 4.5/5 stars
[2.9 stars averaged out, rounded down even though that’s mathematically inappropriate bc I do what I want]
Read Harder Challenge 2021: Read an SFF anthology edited by a person of color.