This review does not contain spoilers.
This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeous romantic stories set during the festive period, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. The stories are filled with the magic of first love and the magic of the holidays.
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me … a book that I’ve wanted to read for AGES! (Okay, so my true love is the library. Not even mad.) This book had me from the concept to the cover love and when I finally, FINALLY had a chance to read it, I was not disappointed. The overall feel of the book is fantastic, with just the right mix of weird and wonderful fluff and emotional storytelling.
Instead of giving a super in-depth review that would spoil everything, I’ll just do a little snippet on each story.
Midnights by Rainbow Rowell
A powerful way to open the novel. Rainbow Rowell’s writing managed to capture me quickly and effectively with just the right amount of pining without going over the top.
The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link
It took me a while to warm to the staccato writing style but I did really enjoy the romance in this one, if not the ensemble characters.
Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Peña
For me, this short story is everything that the book is about. Charismatic characters, romance, real life drama and whimsy. This is where My True Love Gave to Me really found its footing.
Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han
I want to know more about these characters! The main character, Natalie, managed to seem appropriately young for her age without being childish, and there were just enough tidbits in here to potentially fuel an amazing full-length novel that could rip my heart out.
It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins
GIVE ME MORE. I’ve never read anything by Stephanie Perkins before, but I’m pretty sure I can see why her contemporary YA romances are so popular.
Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan
Eh. I actually really liked this story right up until the end, when things took a decidedly different turn and I was face-palming because I thought the character was about to ruin EVERYTHING. The end seemed intended to be poignant and meaningful but it felt more like it ended in mid-sentence, as though the author wasn’t sure where he wanted to end it.
Krampuslauf by Holly Black
I think there was a little too much build-up here. There was almost a two-month period from start to finish with not enough skimming to make it seem negligible and not enough detail to make it memorable. I do love Holly Black’s writing style, though, so I found myself being swept away at certain points.
What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman
I really, REALLY liked this one. Like Angels in the Snow, it was one of the strongest and most on-point stories in the book.
Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire
The story was probably the most obviously cheesy one in the novel for me, but humour was its saving grace. Especially the comment on the first page about glitter being the herpes of the craft world; that’s my friend Liz’s go-to comment whenever glitter appears in the office so I immediately settled in for some fun.
Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White
I’ve never even heard of Kiersten White but I loved this story. Is it fantasy? Is it contemporary? Is there a bit of magical realism? Who knows?
Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter
The premise of the story was fascinating but I found myself wishing it had gone in a different and darker direction when the reveal came.
The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Laini Taylor basically punched all the contemporary reads in the face. She was not having any of the romance everyone else was doling out. This is a total departure from the rest of the book and I still have kind of mixed feelings about it. The story was amazingly inventive, as one would expect, but it mightn’t have been the strongest ending to the anthology.
It’s a mixed bag here! I honestly wish that a YA Christmas anthology could happen more frequently, with different authors contributing to a volume every year or two. Guaranteed there will be people who love some stories and loathe others but overall I found it really enjoyable and I can see myself revisiting it for another Christmas.
I rate it ★★★½