Published: 2 January 2018
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Category: Young Adult/Contemporary
Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors.
Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.
This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.
Rating: 3 Stars
The lineup for this collection sounded impressive and was what made me want to pick it up. Some of the stories lived up to expectations and others, well, simply didn’t.
Siege Etiquette by Katie Cotugno: 1 Star
That was a horrible way to start the collection. The story was boring and the main character, Hailey, was not a good person. I’m sorry her parents died, but that doesn’t give her a pass for being a bitch beforehand or since. The method of storytelling was rough, too. The entire time the reader is being told about the action rather than showing it and letting us experience it.
Print Shop by Nina LeCour: 3 Stars
I wanted to like this stort because it had a lot of potential. it sounded like it could be really good, but happening in roughly 12 hours made it suffer. How much the MC knew about her employers at the print shop, the quickness of the LI inviting her to follow her inside an empty place…it all felt super rushed and a bit creepy.
Hourglass by Izo Zoboi: 2.5 Stars
This one more than any of the previous stories felt like it wasn’t a short story so much as some pages ripped out of a longer work. The meet cute couldn’t really be called that as there was minimal contact between the supposed parties of the meet cute. In fact, give it another minute and it wouldn’t have existed at all. Hourglass was disappointing because there was a lot of potential, but with the abrupt ending, the feeling of being part of something bigger, I couldn’t really like it as much as I wanted to based on the content.
There is some racist commentary from a side character and some borderline comments from the MC toward the owners of African dress shop she visits.
Click by Katharine McGee: 3 Stars
The concept of the Click program was interesting, familiar in a way because a lot of dating sites use that sort of things. Click, however, is way more intense and in-depth, possibly even a bit invasive; people give up a lot of electronic freedoms/privacy for services. Alexa and Raden were the first meet cute couple that I actually liked and thought, hey they deserve this story. It actually felt like a complete story and while it could have gone on, it didn’t need to.
The Intern by Sara Shepard: 3 Stars
Clara was a developed character, with her good parts and her flaws going together to create someone that I actually enjoyed reading about. Phineas wasn’t someone I was totally into as someone to read about, but he was extremely nice to Clara and helped her focus.
Somewhere That’s Green by Meredith Russo: 5 Stars
Easily my favorite of the collection, Meredith Russo’s story about a transgender girl, a school production of Little Shop of Horrors, and a conflicted love interest felt in-depth and intensely interesting. Her voice remains, from If I Was Your Girl, a strong one with well thought out prose that brings you in.
There is a lot of discussion and points brought up in the course of Somewhere That’s Green from Nia about what it’s like to be transgender and Lexie about her inner turmoil, her own beliefs vs those being shoved upon her by her parents/small town thinking. Having a view point shoved on you all your life and the strength it takes to stand up to that, to years of something and make your own stand. I would love to read more about Nia and Lexie.
The Way We Love Here by Dhonielle Clayton: 2 Stars
There were wonderful visuals within this story, from the beach to the moonlight to candles and the people the light reflects upon. However, the predestined loves, the lack of freewill, and the disrespect for ace/aro characters was upsetting and made The Way We Love Here a lot sadder and distasteful than I was expecting.
The whole coils-on-your-ring-finger-until-you-meet-your-beloved is an interesting concept, but it is extremely restrictive, not to mention the motto of the island: A life without love is impossible. Sebastien’s mother is said to believe that people are doomed without love. It felt like a constant yet almost subtle hounding that aro people are doomed, which is so far from the truth.
Viola, or Vio, has questions about the way things work on her island, about how she’s never given thought to boys or girls or loving them, but believes that there must be more. Places where people can choose their own loves or can choose not to love at all. She could have a future where her possible aro identity is comfortable, she’s a painter like she wants, but by the end of the story she’s been shoved into conformity with the rest of the island, including Sebastien.
Visually Dhonielle’s story is nice, but content wise I was very disappointed.
Oomph by Emery Lord: 5 Stars
THIS is the story that I was waiting for. While there are others I liked and even another 5 star read, Oomph is the one that really fulfills the idea I have of a meet cute.
Taking place in an hour or so between two senior girls waiting in an airport, we get glimpses into who they are, what hopes and fears they have regarding life right out of high school, and what might be in their future. Who knows if they’ll end up seeing each other again, but there’s possibility here. Peggy and Natasha (before we find out they’re really Cassidy and Joanna) tease each other, flirt well, and yet still have nerves (at least on Cassidy’s part).
While I want to say that I’d like for there to be a follow-up book to this story, I don’t think it would work out as well as some of the previous entries here. Oomph ties things up nice and neatly, satisfactorily even, and I’m okay with Cassidy and Jo getting on their respective planes and going home.
The Dictionary of You and Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout: 2 Stars
This had elements of being a really cute story, but the beginning just sounded so much like a potential horror film that it distracted me from whatever adorableness was building between Moss and “H. Smith”. The phone calls she had to make on behalf of the library, requesting an overdue book back from H. Smith, had a tone of creepiness that I couldn’t shake.
The Unlikely Likelihood of Falling in Love by Jocelyn Davies: 5 Stars
Meet cute plus scientific inquiry plus taking place in NYC? Jocelyn Davies’s short story about statistics, falling in love at first sight, and subway cars was well written, strong with characters, and conclusive in the eventual meeting of Sam and Dev. It wasn’t fun, exactly, but it was enjoyable. Watching Sam work on her AP Statistics project in relation to this random sighting on a morning train was intriguing and a bit sweet.
259 Miles by Kass Morgan: 3 Stars
The interaction between the two primary characters, Philip and Blythe, was good and they could have been really cute. There’s a “twist” that I thought was unnecessarily cruel and I didn’t care for that. Because of it and an event prior to the start of the story, I’m not sure how well Philip is going to do after the conclusion.
Something Real by Julie Murphy: 4 Stars
Two of the cutest bisexual ladies I’ve read about in recent memory, June and Martha were a bit. Meeting on the set of a reality dating show would be nice enough, but when it’s the two of them competing for a date with a music star and falling for each other instead? That put a smile on my face.
Say Everything by Huntley Fiztpatrick: 2 Stars
This had all the dimension and flair of a cardboard cutout Reader’s Digest story. It alternated between telling and showing, neither in particularly successful ways, and even the parts I did “like” were just on. There was no reason to like either Emma or Sean or what could barely be called a cute between them. I didn’t flat out hate it, but it was a story that I knew, as I read it, that I would have no interest in ever reading again.
The Department of Dead Love by Nicola Yoon: 2 Stars
The framework of a story about departments of love, helping you to heal or have a do-over, was fairly stable, but the flaws that came up in the telling had me scratching my head more than once. It was almost like a companion to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but with less engaging characters. Thomas rubbed me the wrong way, Samantha (his ex) felt like a doormat, and Gaby…her I might actually have grown to like, but we only saw her through Thomas’s eyes and the story ended before I was really able to get to know her.
This collection overall was a letdown. A little over a quarter of the stories were outright disappointing letdowns, a few were middle of the road, and the few (4) ones that rated highly are not enough to buy a collection that was at times poorly written, mildly offensive, and dull.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.