Title: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories
Authors: Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina Lacour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith
Published: May 17, 2016
Length: 400 pages
Maybe it’s the long, lazy days, or maybe it’s the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.
Thank you so much to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a Kindle copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! I was extremely excited to read this, since I knew it would be an overall quick, light read, and because I absolutely adored the Anna And the French Kiss series by Stephanie Perkins.
Summer Days and Summer Nights was actually my first ever YA anthology – I’ve never been one to seek out or particularly enjoy short stories, because I always felt that they were rushed/underdeveloped. This wasn’t the case for a lot of the short stories that Stephanie Perkins put together, and this has definitely opened me up to the possibility of reading more anthologies in the future.
I wasn’t sure as to how I would rate/review Summer Days and Summer Nights, since I’ve never reviewed an anthology before, but I’ve decided to provide each short story in this collection with an individual rating/quick review before reviewing the collection as a whole.
1. Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail by Leigh Bardugo – ★★★★☆
There’s not really any way for me to summarize this book without giving away key plot points, but it wasn’t anything I expected – in a good way! Overall, I thought this was a really fun, cute read, and gave it a rounded 4 stars. It was a great way to open up this anthology and set the mood for the rest of the book.
2. The End of Love by Nina LaCour – ★★☆☆☆
The End of Love followed Flora (our protagonist) into a summer school geometry class that she didn’t need to be taking (she just really wanted to get out of the house), and as she realized she was taking the class with her long-time crush, Mimi Park, and a few other friends who she hadn’t spoken to since her breakup with her boyfriend. I don’t really know with this book. I thought it was cute, but it was also incredibly rushed, had very two-dimensional characters, didn’t have a very compelling plotline, and was just overall very unmemorable. It didn’t really have any lasting impact on me – although I did enjoy the LGBTQIA+ representation!
3. Last Stand At the Cinegore by Libba Bray – ★★☆☆☆
I can’t get too much into this without spoiling the major plotlines, but basically, our main character, Kevin, along with his best friend Dave and his crush Dani, is working at a horror movie palace called the Cinegore. This story takes place during the last night of the Cinegore, before it’s set to be bulldozed, where they feature a movie that is said to be cursed. Last Stand At the Cinegore started off just fine, but got (for a lack of better words) really weird. I just didn’t like where the story went, and felt that it was really cheesy, with an underdeveloped plot and confusing turns.
4. Sick Pleasures: For A and U by Francesca Lia Block – ★★☆☆☆
There’s no way for me to summarize this story – the best way I can describe it is that it’s a story where each of the characters go by a letter rather than a name – for example, A, I, and M are all characters in this story. I would classify this largely as coming-of-age, and the darkest story in this anthology. This didn’t leave me feeling anything good at all, and I once again felt that everything was underdeveloped and poorly written.
5. In Ninety Minutes, Turn North by Stephanie Perkins – ★★★★½☆
This story is about our protagonist, Marigold, who is returning to her hometown after having moved away to visit her ex-boyfriend North (they broke up when he found out she was leaving). She goes to find him with the intention of ‘saving him’ from a life he didn’t want to live, only to find out that he had gotten a job at a state park, working the cable cars – where most of this story takes place. This story was definitely one of my favorites of this anthology! It was adorable and well written, and very sweet. All of North and Marigold’s interactions, especially the ones on the cable cars, made me feel very !!!! inside. I applaud Stephanie Perkins for this gem.
6. Souvenirs by Tim Federle – ★★★½☆☆
Souvenirs is interesting in the sense that, right off the bat, we’re told to expect a breakup at the end of the story. In this story, Matt takes us through the last day of his summer romance with his boyfriend, Kieth. I liked this story, but it wasn’t a favorite for me – I found that my favorite aspect of it was the way it ended, and how everything felt very resolved, even if it wasn’t in the way that I had expected.
7. Inertia by Veronica Roth – ★★★★½☆
Inertia is the story of Claire and Matt – they were formerly best friends, but had a major falling out prior to the events of this story. This story takes place as Matt gets into a major accident, and isn’t expected to live. In this world, there’s a program called the Visitation program – the Visitation program allows for two people to relive shared memories together in the event that one person is not expected to live through a major procedure/accident. Matt had requested Claire for the Visitation program in his will, so we get to follow Matt and Claire through their visitation, and watch as they relive their favorite/most significant memories together. I loved basically everything about this story – I thought it discussed some really important issues, and that it was really touching ad heartwarming and healing. This isn’t the lightest read, but it’s such a good one.
8. Love Is the Last Resort by John Skovron – ★★★★½☆
Love Is the Last Resort is everything that I want from a summer contemporary! It was so uniquely written, pleasantly cheesy, and overall so much fun to read. It follows a set of characters at a fancy summer resort, and how they all come to find love in different ways.
9. Good Luck and Farewell by Brandy Colbert – ★★★½☆☆
Good Luck and Farewell follows our protagonist, Rashida, as she struggles to come to terms with the fact that her cousin (who basically raised her) is leaving their hometown of Chicago to move to San Francisco with her girlfriend. I thought this was a really warm and thoughtful depiction of family and the love between family members, as well as a story that largely revolves around the theme of healing – one of my only and biggest issues was that there was too much instalove for me to enjoy the love story.
10. Brand New Attraction by Cassandra Clare – ★★☆☆☆
I gave Brand New Attraction a very shaky 2 stars – I came extremely close to giving it a 1.5 star rating, but after a lot of deliberation, I decided on a shaky 2 stars. Brand New Attraction was written in typical Cassandra Clare fashion, with magic and demons and a snarky, special-snowflake heroine. There really wasn’t a lot I liked about this story – I really disliked the main character, and the story was very cheesy, rushed, and predictable, with two-dimensional characters and a lot of telling rather than showing. I honestly only gave it 2 stars instead of 1.5 because I thought the premise was really interesting and had promise – this was probably my least favorite story in this anthology.
11. A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith – ★★★★☆
A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong is about Annie and her crush on a boy named Griffin, and their eventual summer romance. While I did have a few small issues with this story, I loved the disability representation, and thought that Jennifer E. Smith wrote everything really well.
12. A Map Of Perfect Tiny Things by Lev Grossman – ★★★☆☆
I thought this story had one of the most intriguing premises – basically, Mark wakes up one day to find that he’s stuck in a time loop where the calendar doesn’t budge from August 4, and that everyone else in the world doesn’t know that they’re being forced to relive the same day over and over again. He’s under the impression that he’s the only one in the world that this is happening to, until he runs into a girl named Margaret who’s just as aware of the time loop as he is. This story was, like most of the other stories, really cute, but I thought it was a bit predictable and cheesy (not in a pleasant way), and didn’t find myself enjoying either of the characters very much. I did really like the underlying message of the story, though, (to enjoy all the little things in life), and thought it was a great message to finish the anthology with.
One of my favorite things about this anthology as a whole is the representation and diversity it provided – there are LGBTQIA+ couples, PoC characters, mental illness representation and discussion, representation of the autism spectrum, and stories with endings that aren’t necessarily happy, but are wholly realistic and satisfying (for the most part).
The stories in this anthology weren’t necessarily either a hit or miss – there were a few stories I really loved, a few that I really disliked, and plenty that I enjoyed just fine. I think this anthology is definitely worth the read, and that it makes a really light, cute, and quick read for the summertime.