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Brave New Love: 15 Dystopian Tales of Desire [Paperback]

Paula Guran

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Book Description

27 Jan 2012
Young love has always had its challenges, but even so, the world falling apart at its seams is a pretty big obstacle. This stellar collection of YA dystopian tales explores survival of the fittest in terms of love, passion, and humanity. When the survival of the human race is at stake, what will it take for the bond between two people to hold strong together?

Featuring some of the most well known and best-selling names of the dystopian genre, as well as the hottest up-and-coming authors, this anthology includes works from Jeanne DuPrau ("City of Ember"), Kiera Cass ("The Selection"), William Sleator ("Interstellar Pig"), Jesse Karp ("Those That Wake"), Diana Peterfreund ("Secret Society Girl"), Carrie Vaughn ("The Kitty Norville" Series), and Carrie Ryan ("New York Times" bestseller "The Forest of Hands and Teeth").

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"San Francisco Book Review/Sacramento Book Review"
"Teens and adults will delight in the short fiction contributed to this title by fifteen of today's hottest dystopian writers... I enjoyed seeing fifteen different worlds for the price of one book and I loved the fact that this compilation was filled with diversity of race and sexual orientation. I haven't seen very many anthologies deal with dystopian environments, but I do think that Brave New Love did it well, and the obvious play on Huxley's Brave New World title is relevant and smart. The volume reads fast and gives the reader much to ponder. Highly recommended."Mukilteo Library
"A fascinating anthology with strong writers contributing their best. With stories ranging on the spectrum from blatant in-your-face problems to subtle commentary and abstract points about society the collection has a short story for every reader to enjoy."

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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An anthology with some hits and some misses 4 Jun 2012
By Natasha Reeves - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The average of all the individual stars was 3.6, but I rounded up.

Just a small disclaimer, I have nothing against gay/lesbian/bi/etc. couples, I am critiquing the writing only.

This book had the "brave" and some of the "new", but love was lacking in some of the stories. Please be aware that five of these stories do have gay/lesbian/bi themes so if you don't like it, skip those stories. They will be noted in the individual reviews below.

HIDDEN RIBBON by John Shirley
4.5 stars- Good world building, a fast paced story, and a sweet romance. Classic dystopian world with a sealed bubble that only the elite can live and thrive in and the rest of the contaminated world for the rest of them. Girl gets invited in, boy loves her and can't go, and conflict ensues.

THE SALT SEA AND THE SKY by Elizabeth Bear
2.5 stars- Two girls, in a world where women are only allowed to procreate with a man or run away. The main character only has her heart set on running away and seemingly is indifferent to Shaun, the love of her life. Shaun proclaims her love to Billie several more times, but the characters were flat and the situation was further exacerbated by cliched lesbian stereotypes. The story just didn't have a very strong foundation.

4.5 stars- A great dystopian society coupled with a group that has essentially "defected" made for a great short story. This rogue group have made themselves 'Borrowers' of a sort by taking essentials from the proper society. This story could definitely become a novel, even if the idea was already written in UNDER THE NEVER SKY. Great character building in such a small allotment of pages.

OTHERWISE by Nisi Shawl
3.5 stars- Gritty and rough, two lesbians (one bi) plan an escape to a safe compound to find Aim's boyfriend. Oh, and they randomly pick up a kid. Being dropped in mid-story doesn't help matters and it kept me confused until the end. However, there are no lesbian stereotypes and the "in your face" characters were endearing. As far as dystopians go, there's no clear reason why the world fell apart and in this case a reason would really help the story.

3.5 stars- A very dull and overused storyline, this story is not distinctly dystopian. A middle class girl is chosen to be the wife of the Warlord's son. The question is, was she made to love him by serum or has she always loved him? The son's a wimp, lamenting about how he loves her but can't trust her love is real. The girl, meanwhile, dangerously explores ways to prove her love, yadda yadda. Dull, cliched, and had me rooting for no one's happiness.

BERSERKER EYES by Maria V. Snyder
5 stars- I have always loved Maria V. Snyder's stories, and this one is no exception. We're thrown right in the thick of things and the story unfolds with the perfect amount of information given at just the right times. There's great world building in such a short span of "time" and beautifully polished characters. The characters are deliciously dark and brooding and the story is constructed wonderfully.

2 stars- Another unfortunate gay couple built of stereotypes. The story started out promising with a strong lead named Tetch, but it was negated completely by weak and wimpy Allard who is young, privileged, and pretty and that's pretty much it. Very short and not very sweet, the kiss at the end is overshadowed by the very unbelieveable "whoah, even though I'm a teen, I have all of a sudden realized I'm gay RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT and this has never occurred to me before!" Come on, please.

RED by Amanda Downum
4.5 stars- A lesbian couple comprised of one human and one zombie. I sense a new and promising story! There's fantastic world building and characterization with a few major stereotypical relationships thrown in. I actually enjoyed this spin.

FOUNDLINGS by Diana Peterfreund
4 stars- Twin sisters, one pregnant and one not. Mix in a hot young male agent and a freaky government spy program for young unwed teens, and this could go several directions. Good characterization and decent, plausible actions made for a good read.

4 stars- Two pre-teens catch a glimpse of one another and make it their mission to find each other once more. Sweet, but a little juvenile and pointless lacking a moving plot like her previous novel (which I loved) THE CITY OF EMBER.

THE UP by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
4 stars- A civilization living underground can't sustain their lifestyle and must leave their settlement to go above ground to survive is a bit of a worn plot, but this story has some unique sparks to it. The fact that there is communication between other settlements is new, as is the knowledge of the above world. There are careful inbreeding rules enforced that made the plot a bit more realistic (honestly, you'd think that most dystopian writers don't think through their worlds). This story is mostly a compilation of previously used ideas, but it was a good read nonetheless.

THE DREAM EATER by Carrie Ryan
4.5 stars- Dark and confusing, the main male character is in love with the Cruce, a girl chosen to come every night and take any memories associated with pain or shame from the entire settlement. She's disgusting and horrible, yet every night the male lead remembers he loved this girl before she became the Cruce, just for a moment before it's taken from him. Good, but confusing.

357 by Jesse Karp
4 stars- Brilliant world building but super confusing, the protagonist falls in love with a girl who may or may not exist and goes in search of her in the building where each floor is inaccessible from the rest. There are 357 known floors and secrets abound.

ERIC AND PAN by William Sleator
2.5 stars- One of the lamest stories in this entire anthology. This story is also about two gay boys who sneak around and see each other secretly. That's it. No clear worldly civilization distress, just two flat characters making gaga eyes at each other. Disappointing.

2 stars- I honestly could not make heads or tails out of this story. I just know it involves minds, computers, and deserts. I couldn't even find the love or the bravery.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars New love? Sure. Dystopic...not so much 17 Dec 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Note: I'm going to review each story separately, then review the volume as a whole.

"Hidden Ribbon" by John Shirley
Having never read anything by this author before, I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this story. Giorgio was running from some thugs when he came upon Felice's little hidey-hole in dystopic Los Angeles (2044). The two hit it off, but given a choice will they choose each other?

Its quick, but given to telling us what the two are talking about rather then showing us so there's an inorganic feel to the bond they form. The ending is kind of a cop out, since the choice Felice is given isn't really a choice (considering her personality), but its sweet.

"The Salt Sea and the Sky" by Elizabeth Bear
I really enjoyed this story--though I tend to enjoy Bear regardless of anything else. I'll warn for same-sex pairing, since some folk like to be told about that. There was never a question of if they'd be together. The question had always been for how long?

This had less of a dystopic feel to me then some of the others. Maybe because it was set in Ireland and most dystopias I read are set in America (or Australia oddly enough). This is also less about the love story the two have and more about what that love means to the narrator and how it could change her plans.

"In the Clearing" by Kiera Cass
I almost skipped this one because I really didn't like THE SELECTION, but I figured why not? For once in his life Dylan chose something for himself, too bad that something turned out to be a someone. Now if he can't convince her that something is wrong, everyone is in trouble.

Ignoring the romance, because this was almost Stockholm Syndrome Romance and that squicks me a bit, I was fascinated by the world. Of course its kind of like the world of Miranda from the film "Serenity" (with drugging the population into complacency). Just with less death. I have a feeling if this had gone on much longer (and its easily the longest story in the collection) I would have thrown it across the room, the characters grated on my nerves.

"Otherwise" by Nisi Shawl
Another new to me author, this one had a weird flow of writing. Note there's a same sex pairing here as well. Aim was everything Lo wanted in one package, but was that enough? And if it wasn't, was Lo prepared to risk everything so Aim can be happy?

This is another drug as a dystopia future--except this one was more like 'Here take this hallucinatory drug so you can have the fantasy life you always wanted'. The mechanics are a bit iffy--the world that isn't Otherwise is dominated by the uber-rich...but anyone can go Otherwise at any time because they're all kind of exposed to it? Or something? So I spent more time thinking about that then the overly dramatic romance.

"Now Purple With Love's Wound" by Carrie Vaughn
Carrie Vaughn rarely let's me down and this one gave me one of my favorite kind of endings--the lady or the tiger ending. Elspa was given the highest honor in the land, but for her it was incomplete without Thom's heart.

This really felt out of place. Aside from the one odd mention of indoor plumbing, this was easily a fantasy short story. Still I really enjoyed it and thought it worked well as a concept and in execution. I would love to see this expanded, but then again I think this ended appropriately.

"Berserker Eyes" by Maria V. Snyder
Hands down Snyder is in my top five favorite writers. Even the books which I'm so-so on are usually better then most others. So yes, I looked forward to this story and bought the collection almost exclusively for it. Kate had always heard that to go Berserker was the absolute worst thing that could happen--you're a threat to everyone you love then. But what if that's a lie?

I want this as a novel. Or a duology. Or trilogy. Anything at all that gets me more of Kate is a good thing. While the beginning has a bit too much exposition right off the bat, Snyder packs a punch in how close two people can be with very few words. Well worth the money spent.

"Arose from Poetry" by Steve Berman
DNF, no seriously this story is like maybe 10 pages? And I couldn't bring myself to read it. The voice just...didn't appeal to me at all. So. Yeah. I think its same sex pairing however.

"Red" by Amanda Downum
I love Downum's fantasy books, so I was excited to read something different from her. This was..surprising. [insert name] had dreams of a red-eyed girl and garden of death in the North. But with a secret as big as hers to keep and a new family she doesn't want to lose, can she afford to seek out the truth?

This didn't read like a short story, this read more like a novel that had bits cut out and the bare essentials pasted together. I wouldn't specifically label this as a 'romance' (same sex or otherwise) since [insert name] doesn't see Felice that way, but as a kindred spirit more like. I wouldn't be opposed to seeing more of this world.

"Foundlings" by Diana Peterfreund
Peterfreund and I have a rocky relationship in terms of reading. I enjoy her shorter stories set in the 'Unicorn Killer' books, but not the books themselves. Twin sisters, one always the 'good' twin and the other always the 'troublesome' twin, find themselves fighting to make a decision society thinks they're too irresponsible to make. I think this could have been longer. The 'good' twin, who helps her sister hide her pregnancy by matching her (weight wise) and taking her place for some things, has far more characterization then the 'troublesome' twin, or the guy who helps them.

I'd also argue this is less about the romantic love felt between two characters, then the love between the twins who both make extreme sacrifices because of that love for each other.

"Seekers in the City" by Jeanne DuPrau
I had never read the 'City of Ember' books, but I found myself enjoying this sweet tale. A fleeting glimpse of each other send two teens in a crowded future on separate quests to find the other. This *really* doesn't fit into the collection. While the other stories have some sort of desperate future to them, this story could have easily been placed in a contemporary setting and still not lost its shine. DuPrau weaves the 'dystopian' elements in subtly (over population, Governmental oversight taken to the nth degree, etc) and stays focused on the two teens.

"The Up" by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Haven't read Hoffman, though I've heard of her and I think have one of her books on my shelves, but I wasn't keen on this. I'm not really sure what the story was here? It was kind of a girl wanting more then she had and grabbing an opportunity when it presented itself, but the last few lines suggest it was less opportunity and more of a plan. Which conflicted with about half of the girl's internal lamenting.

"The Dream Eater" by Carrie Ryan
I won't lie, I was hoping this was "A Forest of Hands and Teeth" short story, since I adore those, but this was surprising. Warning for same-sex pairing(s). One girl volunteers each generation to take on all the misery and painful memories of everyone else in the village. What happens when that girl reaches out? Unlike the others, this doesn't quite give us the 'well at least they have each other' vibe. On the one hand I felt this worked well--Ryan didn't reveal the endgame until the very end, nor tip her hand in its execution.

On the other it was bittersweet at best. Then again all of her stories are like this aren't they?

"357" by Jesse Karp, "Eric and Pan" by William Sleator and "The Empty Pocket" by Seth Cadin all didn't interest me at all. I think at this point I was kind of like 'oh geez another one' and felt burnt out. Too many of the stories felt rushed (writing wise, if not content wise) and barely explored.

The interesting thing about this collection is that quite a few of the authors aren't normally YA authors. Amanda Downum for instance writes fantasy and John Shirley writes a like of media tie-in fiction for games and movies. Also there's about twice as much LGBT fiction in here then any other anthology I've read in genre fiction (not specifically geared in that direction). In that, I found this worth reading.

It fails however in that yes its a dystopic future, but very few of the stores give us plausible reasons why, implausible but at least entertaining reasons why or even a reason why. "Otherwise" implies its because everyone began taking the drug (which may have been legal at one point?). "In the Clearing" likewise implies that its because of the drug...but we're only given a very small idea of this drug's effects on the population. Is everyone using this drug to keep the people docile? Is this a government thing or is it a corporation thing? Why?

Many of these stories fail to give a reason how the story got to be in a bleak (or at least strictly controlled totalitarian regime) future. And that's frustrating. I also wish there was a more unified approach to length of story. I read this on my Kindle, so I don't know the exact amount of pages, but some really seemed to drag on.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Brave New Disappointment 16 Dec 2012
By GlttrGuitarAngel - Published on Amazon.com
I was rather disappointed with this book. Out of the 15 short stories, I liked 4. Many of the stories, probably due to the short story format, simply led up to the meeting of the lovers or the discovery of their love--they didn't really get a chance to focus on the romance itself, just lead up to it and leave you hanging once things actually got interesting.
As a disclaimer, I have nothing against homosexual relationships, it just doesn't particularly float my boat to read about them since I can't personally relate. About half the stories in this book are about homosexual relationships. Had I known that beforehand, I probably wouldn't have purchased the book. I like romances because I can imagine myself as the heroine and how it feels falling in love, which I can't do when it's a homosexual relationship.
Regardless of some of the stories being about homosexual relationships, most of the stories just were not well written and were simply not engaging. Some of them were just plain hard to follow due to all the unexplained dystopian future terminology.
The only stories I actually liked were:
In the Clearing
Now Purple with Love's Wound
Berserker Eyes
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars YA romance dystopia gay and straight couples 30 April 2012
By Haiku Reviews - Published on Amazon.com
What is Brave New Love
What does it mean to be brave
To be courageous

Thirteen tales of love
Girls who like girls who like boys too
And boys who like boys

There are straight couples
Who fight the good fight and win
Young couples who try

I loved this good book
Keep an open mind and read
You may find something
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent YA/adult dystopian anthology with hope 1 Aug 2014
By Cissa - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This is an amazing anthology in which all the tales are excellent.

The subtitle is a bit misleading- "desire" is often an alternative word for erotica, and that was NOT true here. Some of the loves were fulfilled and some doomed, but there was nothing explicit, if that matters.

I'd say it's suitable for mid-teens through adults, because the writing is generally pretty sophisticated.

The dystopias varied wildly, both in details and in the writing; some stories were almost hyper-realistic, while others were much more dreamlike and evocative. It was a well thought out blend, w2ith a very good arrangement of the stories.

Highly recommended, especially for those of us who rather like dystopias, but also like there to be some hope.
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