Published: October 2012
Source: I purchased this book from Amazon.
If the melt-down, flood, plague, the third World War, new Ice Age, Rapture, alien invasion, clamp-down, meteor, or something else entirely hit today, what would tomorrow look like? Some of the biggest names in YA and adult literature answer that very question in this short story anthology, each story exploring the lives of teen protagonists raised in catastrophe’s wake—whether set in the days after the change, or decades far in the future.
New York Times bestselling authors Gregory Maguire, Garth Nix, Susan Beth Pfeffer, Carrie Ryan, Beth Revis, and Jane Yolen are among the many popular and award-winning storytellers lending their talents to this original and spellbinding anthology.
I'm torn on an overall rating for this collection because it's far more polarized than I usually tend to find these anthologies. I'm really into dystopian literature, so naturally I love the theme of the anthology, and there were quite a few stories that I really loved, but there were also several that just didn't do it for me at all.
As I usually do when reviewing short story collections, I will be skipping story summaries and just offering my brief thoughts on each story.
The Segment by Genevieve Valentine
This story was a great start to this anthology. It is a truly bleak and depressing world the author has envisioned, and I felt for the main character immediately. This one kept me on my toes, in the best way. Great tension.
After the Cure by Carrie Ryan
Loved this. I was really surprised that this story had nothing to do with The Forest of Hands and Teeth (which I love) but it was so nice to read something really different by Carrie Ryan. This story was beautifully written and perfect for this collection.
Valedictorian by N. K. Jemisin
Fantastic. I connected with the main character immediately, I was completely horrified by the world she found herself in, and I would love to read about whatever comes next for her.
Visiting Nelson by Katherine Langrish
I'm middle of the road on this one... It was mostly good but not great for me, but there were certain aspects that I really enjoyed, as well as one really successful creepy moment.
All I Know of Freedom by Carol Emshwiller
I enjoyed this story well enough, though I kept worrying about the fate of the dog, and I found that somewhat distracting. Kitten sadness. :( There was some good stuff here but I didn't love it.
The Other Elder by Beth Revis
This story frustrated me the moment I saw the title, just because I love Beth Revis, and I love Across the Universe, but when am I going to get to read something new and different by her? I skipped this one out of frustration, so I'm not giving it a rating.
The Great Game at the End of the World by Matthew Kressel
This story was so freaking bizarre, and I definitely think it's a love it or hate it kind of weirdness, but I loved it. Some nice poignant moments between family members in this one.
Reunion by Susan Beth Pfeffer
This was a really interesting take on the topic, and I liked that it was so different. I completely despised the mother, but I thought the story was great.
Blood Drive by Jeffrey Ford
I know the point of this anthology is to examine what happens "after", but I wish this story provided just a bit of backstory. It was so bizarre to think of a high school where students are armed and have such a careless attitude about guns. I enjoyed the story but I kept finding myself distracted from what was happening because I was obsessing over what might have led to this kind of reality.
Reality Girl by Richard Bowes
I liked aspects of this story, but I kept finding myself tempted to skim parts of it. Not one of my favorites.
How Th'irth Wint Rong by Hapless Joey @ Homeskool.guv by Gregory Maguire
This story is so hard to review, because ohhhhhh my goddddd, the dialect made me insane. I physically recoiled a bit when I read the title, and I really had to work hard to get into this one. However. The payoff was great, and I ended up really glad that I had persevered.
Rust with Wings by Steven Gould
I liked this one quite a bit as I read it. The dystopian setting wasn't quite as high stakes or as horrifying as some of the other stories, but it was a good read.
Faint Heart by Sarah Rees Brennan
This *might* be my favorite story in this collection. I will definitely be seeking out more of the author's work. This was like a dystopian fairy tale. Great characters, fantastic premise. I loved everything about this one.
The Easthound by Nalo Hopkinson
This was chilling and emotional and just really skilled, from start to finish. The writing is incredibly precise; every word is carefully chosen and important to the story.
Gray by Jane Yolen
This was a really short poem. It didn't do much for me, and I really didn't feel like it fit in this anthology. It was too short to accomplish much of anything.
Before by Carolyn Dunn
I wish this was longer, and I liked the beginning the best. It started out deliciously creepy and tense and kind of petered out. Around this point the anthology started going downhill for me.
Fake Plastic Trees by Caitlin R. Kiernan
This one completely lost my interest about a third of the way through, and I let myself skip the rest of it. I couldn't connect with the main character at all and I did not enjoy the random capitalization of IMPORTANT WORDS like THE GOO. It felt jarring and every time it happened I felt very irritated. Since I didn't finish the story, I'm not going to give it a rating.
You Won't Feel a Thing by Garth Nix
I liked this one quite a bit - it was dark and sad and really different. I think the author has at least one book set in this world, so I might check that out at some point.
The Marker by Cecil Castellucci
I wasn't sure about this story at first, but I ended up enjoying it. This dystopian world was especially frightening because it felt completely possible.
I struggled to settle on an overall rating for this collection, because for me there were a lot of highs and a lot of lows. In the end, I'm going 3.5, because the stories that were great were really great.