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Wild Awake
Hilary T. Smith
Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera
Bryan Peterson

Brave New Love: 13 Dystopian Tales of Desire

Brave New Love: 15 Dystopian Tales of Desire - Kiera Cass, Maria V. Snyder, Carrie Ryan, Jesse Karp, Seth Cadin, Amanda Downum, Paula Guran, Elizabeth Bear, Steve Berman, Nisi Shawl, Diana Peterfreund, William Sleator, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Carrie Vaughn, John Shirley, Jeanne DuPrau Reviewing as I go, so let's get this party started. Berserker Eyes by Maria V Snyder - 2.5 starsKnocking half a star off what's otherwise a good story because the ending feels rushed and anti-climactic. It's light on the love angle, which is fine, but it feels a slightly odd choice for this particular anthology. Kiss Count: 1Domes: NopeInsta-Love: Not really. Breeding References: YesNow Purple With Love's Wound by Carrie Vaughan - 3 starsThis is not the story I thought it would be, and that is a good thing. Throughout the first half I thought this was headed in a direction I was particularly unenthusiastic to follow (arranged bride selection, mind-altering drugs, wives as property etc), then Vaughan pulls out a perfect ending. High five for an unexpected take on "young love". Kiss Count: NoneDomes: No. Warlords and Fortresses, instead.Insta-Love: Yes. In a manner of speaking.. (ambiguous much, I know. But in this story it's used in an interesting way)"Breeding" References: Yes. Childbearing and lots of it is expected. Otherwise by Nisi Shawl - 2.5 starsThis is the first short story in the anthology that I thought nailed 'voice' - it's very strong and convincing. Nisi Shawl drops readers straight into the world with only subtle hints and clues about how things came to be this way, but it's unsettling and interesting. Drugs, destruction, polyamory - there's a lot going on but Shawl pulls in together convincingly. Kiss Count: 2+Future Speak: Took me a while to work out the Likewise/Otherwise talkInsta-Love: NoBonus Factor: Diversity!The Clearing by Kiera Cass - 1 starNo, just no. Non-existent world building. Riddled with plot and logic holes. Flimsy characterisation. If you're going to write about an abductee falling in love with their captor, you better back that up with some compelling writing. Sadly, that's not the case here. Kiss Count: 2 (I think). Domes: No - but the super sekrit titular clearing. That nobody has ever found, because it's hidden behind a mountain!Insta-Love: Yes. Watch girl. Kidnap girl. Help girl detox. Make out. BAM! True love!Sense: It makes none. The Salt Sea and The Sky by Elizabeth Bear - 2 starsThis is a slightly different take on "dystopia" to what's cropping up in YA recently. Bear's approach is more subtle, both in terms of the world building and the story itself. I liked the ideas behind this, and Bear's vision of the future is believable, but I didn't find the plot particularly compelling. Billie's characterisation was a refreshing change from the common 'dystomance' stock heroine. Kiss Count: 2Domes: Nope. Insta-Love: Nada. (OMG an actual relationship). "Breeding" References: Nay. In fact, childlessness is rewarded.Hidden Ribbon by John Shirley - 3 starsDespite the fact that the title is a reference to an element of the story I didn't particularly warm to an inexplicable connection to another person, I liked this one. It's very atmospheric and Shirley's acid-rain plagued, pollution-choked LA was evocative, with some sinister details that really fleshed out how quality of life has deteriorated. The ending feels a little rushed and slightly implausible, but the characters are interesting and Shirley doesn't try to bludgeon the reader with a "true love" message. Kiss Count: 1Domes: YesInsta-Love: Well.. insta-connection, maybe? "Breeding" References: CheckCover ThoughtsBrave New Love, huh? Yeah, I see what you did there. But that tagline - "When society crumbles, can young love survive?" - based on the cover alone I feel it should actually be: "When society crumbles, can eyebrows really be this well maintained?"