A Review of Fools In Love
Story Reviews #2
Story Reviewed Today:
Fools in Love: Fresh Twists on Romantic Tales
Edited by Rebecca Podos and Ashley Herring Blake
With stories 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
It’s February… which means it’s time for a month of romantic book reviews!
(Also, I read a lot of cozy stories with romance, so many of my early reviews happen to be love stories and I thought this month would be fitting to drop some romantic book reviews!)
A Brief Synopsis of Each Short Story:
“Silver and Gold” (Snowed In Together): fantasy wolf-sledding tournament (fantasy)
“Five Stars” (Mistaken Identity): non-ridesharer’s crush gets into her car, thinking she’s a rideshare (realistic fiction)
“Unfortunately, Blobs Do Not Eat Snacks” (Kissing Under the Influence): witches on mission for an exam (fantasy)
“Edges” (The Grumpy One and the Soft One): grumpy loner loves popular, sunny one (realistic fiction)
“What Makes Us Heroes” (Hero vs. Villain): superhero and sorta-villain in a coffee shop (fantasy)
“And” (Love Triangle): girl falling for boyfriend’s friend (realistic fiction)
“My Best Friend’s Girl” (Best Friend’s Girlfriend): girl in love with superhero BFF’s girlfriend (fantasy)
“Fairy(like) Attracts Like” (Mutual Pining): girl with curse falling for someone despite her curse (fantasy)
“These Strings” (Sibling’s Hot Best Friend): girl in puppet family business falling for guy and standing up for her ideas (realistic fiction)
“The Passover Date” (Fake Dating): girl needs mandatory date for Seder (realistic fiction)
“Bloom” (Love Transcends Space-Time): girl goes back in time with flower magic to avenge her mother (fantasy/sci-fi)
“Teed Up” (Oblivious to Lovers): girl is only golfer in “boys” event (realistic fiction)
“Boys Noise” (Only One Bed at the Inn): two boyband members sneak off for a trip alone (realistic fiction)
“Girls Just Want to Have Fun” (Secret Royalty): mechanic girl encounters newcomer to city (fantasy/sci-fi)
“Disaster” (Second-Chance Romance): girl alone on school campus at a literal Y2K apocalypse (fantasy)
Alright, so this has become my favorite short story anthology.
I typically either a) like only a few stories from an anthology or b) dislike all of the stories.
This is the FIRST anthology in which I’ve either loved or liked all of the stories. I adored the concept for this anthology, but I’d also adored the concept for Hungry Hearts and ended up not vibing with it, to the point where I didn’t finish it. (That was the first book I DNF-ed last year, actually.)
Fools In Love is another story entirely.
Here we have a collection of fresh short stories inspired by classic romance tropes.
I really enjoyed “Silver and Gold” (the “Snowed In Together” trope) by Natasha Ngan, “Unfortunately, Blobs Do Not Eat Snacks” (“Kissing Under the Influence”) by Rebecca Kim Wells, “What Makes Us Heroes” (Hero vs. Villain”) by Julian Winters, and “Boys Noise” (Only One Bed at the Inn”) by Mason Deaver.
I was actually surprised which ones I enjoyed the most in some cases, as I either hadn’t read a story with that trope or don’t typically enjoy that trope. So I’m glad I read each story and that I read them in the order they appeared.
Not that you have to read them in order. I considered skipping to the tropes I was most interested in, but I liked seeing how the editors chose to arrange it.
I see the way editors set up anthologies as similar to how musical artists set the order of the tracks on an album. In either case, I’d like to listen to the album or read the book in the order they gave it to me in first. Then I can go back to listen or read my favorites!
I didn’t really like the idea of the “kissing under the influence” trope because that phrase makes me nervous that it might be iffy on the basis of consent, but “Unfortunately, Blobs Do Not Eat Snacks” wasn’t like that. (I feel like that’s not the greatest title for that trope?) This one is a fun witch story that gave me some The Invisible Library slash sorta Simon Snow trilogy vibes that I enjoyed quite a lot.
I am an absolute sucker for hero-villain stories, particularly of the superhero/supervillain variety, so I really enjoyed “What Makes Us Heroes.” I also super like (heh, get it?) when the villain is really more of an antagonist than an actual baddie, so this story had all the bases covered.👍
Interestingly enough, I read this collection a few weeks after having read the free teaser comic for Galaxy: The Prettiest Star given out at Free Comic Book Day ‘22 and drew quite a few connections between that and the story “My Best Friend’s Girl” (“Best Friend’s Girlfriend”) by Sara Farizan. I checked the author names on the comic, but they didn’t match. (My guess was that they might be in the same “Galaxy” universe and the main character in the comic could be “Galaxy Girl” from the short story, but I can’t tell.)
“And” (“Love Triangle”) by Hannah Moskowitz was the second story I’ve read with three characters falling in love with one another. The story started as a love triangle and transformed into a love story between three people, much like the relationship between three of our main characters in the webcomic Muted (which I started and finished very quickly last year because it was so good).
I’m not a love triangle person for the most part. The drama stresses me out!
“The Passover Date” by Laura Silverman was sweet, but I was mildly annoyed about whether or not a high schooler could afford a giant wheel of cheese, until I went to the grocery store and looked at cheddar cheese wheel prices to confirm.
To confirm, cheddar cheese wheels in my area are apparently about $50-$60, which would have been price-y but could still have been possibly reasonable to bring as a gift for a crush in my high school days.
I did also like the point about family tradition and how being forced to bring a date to family events is unfair; just because something is tradition doesn’t mean it should stay. Tradition never automatically equals good, which is a theme throughout several of these stories.
I see a similar theme carried in “These Strings” (Sibling’s Hot Best Friend”) by Lilliam Rivera, “Teed Up” (Oblivious to Lovers”) by Gloria Chao, and “What Makes Us Heroes” with parents blatantly ignoring their child’s emotions, needs, and wants in the name of tradition.
I expected to like “Boys Noise” the moment I saw that it was about boyband characters, because I love Alice Oseman’s I Was Born For This. And if you enjoyed that book, I’d definitely recommend this story because it has such similar vibes.
If you liked The Lunar Chronicles, specifically Cinder, we get very similar vibes from “Girls Just Want to have Fun” (Secret Royalty”) by Malinda Lo because secret royalty and mechanic girl in a sci-fi location during a festival.
While I did like every story in some way, there were a few issues I noted.
My biggest issue was the situation in “Five Stars” that would be problematic in real life but isn’t presented that way in the story because romance.
In this story, we have someone getting into the wrong car and the driver leaving with them in the car anyway. And lying about it because they’re anxious and they have a crush on the person who got into the car. It eventually gets resolved and things are okay in the end, but what if the characters weren’t actually attracted to each other? That’s a pretty creepy situation if you look at it through the lens of the characters not being attracted to each other!
Secondly, the ending of “Bloom” confuses me a fair bit. Like, I understand that it ends up alright, but the way they actually reach each other through time confuses me. Even after rereading the last two pages, which explain the reunion, I still don’t understand how it worked. I just kind of gave up trying to understand because I honestly really dislike time travel tropes, so this was the story I was least looking forward to. The story was still a decent read for the most part, but the ending was just vague and confusing, as most time travel stories always seem to be when I read them.
And finally: I guess this one isn’t necessarily a con, but the ending is a bit unclear for “Disaster,” as the way Podos wrote it makes it feel intentional. I just don’t particularly like that it’s sort of ambiguous if things are okay or not. Like, I think they are, but the last line throws me off, which I think it’s meant to.
Overall, I’d rate this anthology as a whole a 4 out of 5 stars. (I’d give each story a different rank individually, but I’m ranking them together because they’re presented as a whole.)
It’s my favorite anthology so far and I really enjoyed it, but I didn’t absolutely adore it (which would make it a 5/5 star).
Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by! If you liked this review, feel free to give it a like and maybe subscribe if you wanna see what I’ll do next.
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Most of all, I hope you have a day as wonderful as you are!
It’s convenient that I had checked this book out as the same time as Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake, given that she co-edited this anthology and wrote the short story “Edges.”
A side note, but when I opened Delilah Green Doesn’t Care, the dedication is to Rebecca Podos, co-editor of Fools in Love. Sweet!