This is a spoiler-free review. I will not be giving away any major plot details beyond the premise of the book.
Because You Love To Hate Me is a collection of 13 tales of villainy by 13 authors. For this collection, the 13 authors were paired with 13 BookTubers who gave them writing prompt and wrote essays on their partners’ story to accompany them in the book. These stories include retellings of classic literature through a villains’ perspective, as well as stories about completely original villains.
Me personally: anthologies aren’t my thing. Last December I read My True Love Gave To Me, an anthology of 12 holiday stories. Each one was a hit or a miss – some I liked and some not so much. Because You Love To Hate Me had the same effect. Now, that doesn’t mean to say that I hated or even strongly disliked some of the stories. Each one was interesting and enjoyable to some degree, but only a few grabbed my attention. This isn’t me saying that I thought the stories were bad – it’s just that short stories aren’t my thing. It takes me more than twenty pages to warm up to characters and get a feel for a story, so I don’t read them all too often. But what made me pick this book up is that the stories are about villains. And I love villains. I think a lot of people secretly do, and that’s the point of this book and why anyone who loves villains and/or anthologies should pick Because You Love To Hate Me up.
For the sake of keeping my review short and avoiding giving away too much, I’m only going to give my quick thoughts on three of my favourite stories from this book. I will leave a complete list of the stories, their author / BookTuber pairings, and the villain the story is about at the end of this review.
Without a doubt, my favourite story in this book was The Sea Witch by Marissa Meyer (prompted by Zoe Herdt). Going into this book, I did have a feeling it would be my favourite or at least high on the list because I love Marissa Meyer. She’s written two villain-origin novels before (Fairest, the origin story of Queen Levana from The Lunar Chronicles; and Heartless, the origin story of the Queen of Hearts from Alice In Wonderland). The Sea Witch follows a similar story – about how a young mermaid became to be the horrible Sea Witch in The Little Mermaid. It was beautifully written, gut-wrenching, and packed so much in for such a short story. Marissa Meyer needs to get onto a full-length Sea Witch novel ASAP!
Another story I loved in this book was Beautiful Venom by Cindy Pon (prompted by Benjamin Alderson, which followed the story of Medusa. This story was unique because it blended Greek and Chinese mythology, but is similar to The Sea Witch in the sense that it was a great origin story and a little heartbreaking to read. Beautiful Venom highlights how we can sometimes see people as a villain even if they’re just a misunderstood victim.
The third story I’ll mention is Death Knell by Victoria Schwab (prompted by Jesse George). This one is told through the perspective of Death, and it reminded by of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It shows death as being a figure that doesn’t know why he must take lives but that there is some uncontrollable force that makes him do it. This force leads him from victim to victim, and it’s a beautifully morbid story that makes us think about how life short can be, and how suddenly it can end.
As I wrap this review up, I must say that the true gem on this anthology is the contributions that the BookTubers put in. They wrote short essays analysing the villains that their paired author wrote and their insights are fascinating to read. Their thoughts on villainy made me rethink how I see people – how I see human behaviour. It puts the idea of good and evil, right and wrong, into perspective. And it made me see the grey area in between more clearly.
MY RATING: 7/10
READ IF YOU ENJOYED:
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
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FULL LIST OF STORIES
The Blood of Imuriv
Author / BookTuber: Renee Ahdieh / Christine Riccio (polandbananasBOOKS)
Villain: The Grandson of an Evil Dictator
Author / BookTuber: Ameriie / TinaBurke (The Lushables)
Villain: The Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk
Gwen and Art and Lance
Author / BookTuber: Soman Chainani / Samantha Lane (Thoughts on Tomes)
Villain: Lancelot from King Arthur
Shirley and Jim
Author / BookTuber: Susan Dennard / Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia)
Villain: Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes
The Blessing of Little Wants
Author / BookTuber: Sarah Enni / Sophia Lee (thebookbasement)
Villain: A Dark Sorcerer Seeking Immortality
The Sea Witch
Author / BookTuber: Marissa Meyer / Zoe Herdt (readbyzoe)
Villain: The Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid
Author / BookTuber: Cindy Pon / Benjamin Alderson (Benjaminoftomes)
Author / BookTuber: Victoria Schwab / Jesse George (JessetheReader)
Author / BookTuber: Samantha Shannon / Regan Perusse (PeruseProject)
Villain: The Erl-Queen
You, You, It’s All About You
Author / BookTuber: Adam Silvera / Catriona Feeney (LittleBookOwl)
Villain: A Masked Crime Lord
Julian Breaks Every Rule
Author / BookTuber: Andrew Smith / Raeleen Lemay (padfootandprongs07)
Villain: A Futuristic Psychopath
Indigo and Shade
Author / BookTuber: April Genevieve Tucholke / Whitney Atkinson (WhittyNovels)
Villain: The Unwanted Suitor (aka Gaston) from Beauty and the Beast
Author / BookTuber: Nicola Yoon / Steph Sinclair and Kat Kennedy (Cuddlebuggery)
Villain: The God of War