Summer Days and Summer Nights by Various Authors (Edited by Stephanie Perkins)
Published by St. Martin’s Press on May 17, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Anthology
3 Stars, Completed May 17, 2016
– minor SPOILERS ahead –
The fantastic thing about anthologies is that there’s always going to be a short story for everyone. I really enjoyed Stephanie Perkins’ last project with My True Love Gave to Me last winter (my review), so I couldn’t pass up the chance to read Summer Days and Summer Nights. Plus, it’s been a slumpy summer in the reading department for me lately, so what better way than get back into the reading groove with this assortment of sweet, seasonally appropriate romances? Plus, I have to confess I tend to gravitate towards all books with titles that share my name, haha.
Like my review for MTLGtM, I’ll be reviewing each story on its own, in depth, and doing a short summary for the overall anthology at the end.
“Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail” by Leigh Bardugo – 3.5 Stars, Completed May 15, 2016
A little over a month ago, I would have easily given this 4 or maybe even 5 stars. Leigh Bardugo is such a whimsical writer so I wasn’t surprised to find “Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail” a blend between a magical realism and fantasy short story about a boy and a girl that spend their summers together. However, because I recently watched and fell in love with Hotarubi no Mori e, a sweet coming of age story very similar to “Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail” but with an even more impactful ending, I didn’t find Bardugo’s story as unique or romantic. However, I still enjoyed it very much.
“The End of Love” by Nina Lacour – 2 Stars, Completed May 15, 2016
I think a lot of readers will probably like this story just because it does fit the diversity bill and has a F/F romance. However, I thought the romance itself was rather uninteresting and I couldn’t really feel at all empathetic towards the main protagonist, Flora, and her struggle with her parents’ divorce being someone that has also been raised by a single parent. Overall, it’s probably the least memorable stories of the twelve for me.
“Last Stand at the Cinegor” by Libba Bray – 1.5 Stars, Completed May 16, 2016
In the beginning, I immediately was intrigued by the story because it was just so different. Bray’s writing was quirky and the humor was fun. But then it soon got weird. “Last Stand at the Cinegor” felt like a story more appropriate in a Halloween anthology than a summer romance one. And towards the later half, readers reach a crazy turn of events that make the plot slightly confusing and unbelievable. Because of the twist, the plot was overwhelming and the fact that the couple ends up having an intense make out session in the end was sort of ridiculous and unconvincing. Also, I didn’t like that the male lead was practically swooning every time he made contact with his crush. At first I thought it was the teenage hormones but it later became redundant and annoying.
“Sick Pleasures: For A and U” by Francesca Lia Block – 3 Stars, Completed May 16, 2016
Judging from other reviews, just about everyone seemed to hate this story. I agree, that it was strange and disturbing, but compared to the others it was impressionable. Personally, “Sick Pleasures” was unique (in a good sense) and a quick page turner. It also reminded me of one of my all time favorite anime/manga, Nana. Like Nana, the main protagonist seems to make a series of bad decisions. But instead of leaving it like that, the story itself unraveled into something lyrical in a dark way. However, I didn’t like that all the characters were represented as letters; that made it difficult to follow (since there are so many characters; perhaps some were even unnecessary). But being this quasi-autobiographical I can see why Block did it for anonymity.
“In Ninety Minutes, Turn North” by Stephanie Perkins – 4 Stars, Completed May 16, 2016
This was my most anticipated short story from this compilation. North and Marigold had such a swoonworthy and sweet romance in My True Love Gave to Me so I was beyond excited to learn that this was a continuation of their story. And I have to say, it didn’t disappoint at all. What I love about Marigold is that she never hides her flaws or selfishness but displays in blatantly. And North is ever so sweet. I believe I fell in love with the couple even more after “In Ninety Minutes, Turn North.”
“Souvenirs” by Tim Federle – 3.5 Stars, Completed May 16, 2016
Because it’s a breakup story, I found this so refreshing amongst the others. And I loved the main narrator, Matty. He’s somewhat redolent of Simon from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens for his honesty, quirkiness, sensitivity, and adorableness.
“Inertia” by Veronica Roth – 4.5 Stars, Completed May 17, 2016
Fantasy and science fiction tend to be my go-to genres and I simply loved how creative, lush, and meaningful Roth’s story was. “Inertia” is a story about a girl attending her “last visitation” with her best friend through a brain simulation program that allows them to revisit their old memories before he dies. It’s been a few months since the two friends have had their last falling out, and in their final moments together they get to remember the better times of their friendship and relieve the strains of their relationship from their time apart.
“Love is the Last Resort” by Jon Skovron – 2.5 Stars, Completed May 17, 2016
If you’re a fan of romantic comedies, this one would be for you. “Love is the Last Resort” was told in an unusual narrative and comical in the right doses. However, very reminiscent of rom-com movies, everyone seemed to pair off with each other by the end and it was extremely cheesy (but not necessarily in a totally bad way). If this was to be adapted into a movie or series, I’d expect it to be produced similarly to Jane The Virgin. I don’t know, it just had that feel for me.
“Good Luck and Farewell” by Brandy Colvert – 4 Stars, Completed May 17, 2016
“Good Luck and Farewell” was certainly one of the better stories. This is my first time reading a YA story that featured a couple where both of the characters were people of color (I find it so rare in YA lit, sadly). And I love how Colvert managed to represent them perfectly in an effortless way. The story is also set in Chicago and it was nice that Colvert highlights the beautiful city (both the nice and grungy side). Also refreshing, unlike the other stories in this anthology, the main couple isn’t immediately attracted to each other in their first meeting. Also, I found the romance progressed in a believable pace.
“Brand New Attraction” by Cassandra Clare – 2 Stars, Completed May 17, 2016
Cassandra Clare (tied with Richelle Mead and Sarah Dessen) is my favorite author for YA books. But I rather hoped that she’d use this chance to stay away from her usual work that tend to have absent parents, demons, initially douche-y but handsome guys, etc. But she didn’t. The romance was very un-Clare-like. I really wasn’t invested in the romance at all so that was extremely disappointing (because we all know I’m a huge Wessa and Malec and Jummer (Jem + Summer) shipper).
“A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong” by Jennifer E. Smith – 5 Stars, Completed May 17, 2016
This was my absolute favorite of them all. It was sweet and exactly the story I’d expect in a summer anthology. Our main protagonist is endearing (and courageous; I mean, I don’t think I know any girls-real and fictional-that have ever asked a guy on a date before; serious props to Annie for making the first move), her love interest is awkward but charming, and the romance was so cute. I also really loved how this story not only focused on the romance between Annie and Griffin but also her relationship with 6 year old, autistic Noah. I also really liked that this story just didn’t seem to try too hard. For some reason most of the short stories, though featured LGBTQ+ relationships, ethnic diversity, mental illness, also showcased the Disney trope aka absent parents (either dead or deserters) and I found it great that these two didn’t use the pity card and have problems in the family department themselves. They were just simple, traditional characters with okay to normal home lives for the most part.
“The Map of Tiny Perfect Things” by Lev Grossman – 2.5 Stars, Completed May 17, 2016
It was evident Grossman put a lot of thought into making this story distinct. “The Map of Tiny Perfect Things” stood out because I suppose it was essentially a story of fate and of time stopping (literally) for two people to find each other. The story was creative, clever, and thoughtful, but I felt that many moments dragged so my attention as I was reading was drifting away time to time.
Summer Days and Summer Nights Overall – 3 Stars
I took the mean of all the ratings and it actually averages out to be a 3.2 (but I only go by a 0.5 increment rating system hence 3 stars overall). There were some stories that I preferred over others, which is no surprise. The ones to look out for are Leigh Bardugo’s, Stephanie Perkins’, Brandy Colvert’s, and Jennifer E. Smith’s short stories. The last one being my favorite of the twelve.
Also, for readers that plan to read Summer Days and Summer Nights but are unsure if they need to read My True Love Gave to Me first… I’d say reading the winter anthology would be good just because both the Stephanie Perkins’ stories (“It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown” and “In Ninety Minutes, Turn North”) are about the same couple and the stories are connected. However, I also thought “In Nighty Minutes, Turn North” (the Perkins’ summer story) did a nice job recapping any events you needed to know, so I don’t think new readers will have trouble following along if they choose not to read the winter story either. As for the other stories by the remaining contributing authors, none of them are related and can be read on their own as well.
Lastly, in terms of ethnic diversity and LGBTQ+ themes, Summer Days and Summer Nights slayed. There were a number of stories that also showcased characters with mental illness. And, in comparison, to My True Love Gave to Me I actually believe that this one was even more varied in genre (a good balance between sci-fi, fantasy/paranormal, and contemporary).
In all, Summer Days and Summer Nights is going to make a wonderful read for many readers this summer seeing that it’s a greatly varied collection of short stories from prominent authors of YA literature.
Special thanks to St. Martin’s Griffin for giving me the opportunity to read and review Summer Days and Summer Nights and for allowing me to participate in the blog tour. In no way did this affect my reading experience or honest review. And thanks so much for supplying the gif version of Summer Days and Summer Nights book cover; it looks amazing!