Charles's Reviews > Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories

Kaleidoscope by Alisa Krasnostein
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's review
Dec 25, 2014

really liked it
bookshelves: 2015-challenge, short-story, superheroes, science-fiction, fantasy, stat_1, reviewed

Stuff I Read - Kaleidoscope ed. Alina Krasnostein and Julia Rios Review

Amusingly enough, I actually read one of the stories in this collection, "The Truth About Owls" by Amal El-Mohtar, at Strange Horizons just a few days before I got to it in the collection. So it was a timely read for me, I guess. It's a great story. Indeed, most of the stories in this collection are great, delivering on the promise of diverse speculative fiction. It also features mostly YA protagonists, which was another great aspect to it. Of course, this is a collection that seems a bit more geared toward adult readers than younger readers, though I suppose the goal is to present some amazing stories to younger readers in hoping that they will get them and that seeing the protagonists that are like them will help them through some of the very dense and challenging material.

There are some amazing stories in this collection, though. "Cookie Cutter Superhero" by Will Joey was quite charming and fun, looking at the way people choose to live up to expectations and cliches and the way tipping points work, when things start to change, when people start to change the way society sees them. "Careful Magic" by Karen Healey was also fun and very good, showing a side of a girl with OCD and how she uses who she is to cast magic. It's great and fun and does a great job of showing how dangerous it can be to see someone as their disability, as desirable because of their difference and not because of who they are. And "Chupacabra's Song" by Jim C. Hines was another fun story, that one about the nature of magic and being understanding to life and, basically, not being a capitalist jerk. It was well done and fun and also dealt with the idea of speech problems and mental illness in a way that seemed understanding. Which was a great part of the collection as a whole, that it dealt with mental and physical disabilities in ways that didn't make the story solely about that but also included them. It was a way of showing these characters not as broken but as able of being agents in their own right.

I'm not sure that every story in the collection quite lived up to that goal, though. There were a small few that I was a little hesitant about, that bothered me because I felt they weren't quite giving the proper gravity to their situations. Teen pregnancy, for example, showed up once, though not in the traditional way, and I was...not convinced that the story really followed through with thinking about just how much that can change things and how dangerous that is. Luckily, the stories I didn't enjoy were in the minority and I felt that, overall, the quality was great and I had a lot of fun reading the stories.

It wasn't all fun, though. There were also a great deal of rather serious stories. Love and death and magic all came up again and again and some were definitely stand-out to me. "Every Little Thing" by Holly Kench was powerful and well done, showing how we sometimes don't really know what we want. That sometimes we have to think outside the box to see what might be best for us. "Double Time" by John Chu deals with expectations and family and is a nice glimpse into the lives of the characters. And all the stories do a nice job of having a great range of characters. Not all white, not all cis straight, they run the gamut and I really like that.

In short, these are the stories I'd want young people to be reading. I'd want them to skip over whatever crap that people would point them toward (the stuff that is 95% straight white male) and instead enjoy these stories that revel in the diversity of the genre and the genre's ability to tackle important and relevant issues. These are good stories, and the collection is a satisfying one, one that earns a 8.5/10 from me.
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Reading Progress

December 25, 2014 – Shelved
December 25, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
December 25, 2014 – Shelved as: 2015-challenge
January 18, 2015 – Started Reading
January 18, 2015 – Shelved as: short-story
January 18, 2015 – Shelved as: superheroes
January 18, 2015 – Shelved as: science-fiction
January 18, 2015 – Shelved as: fantasy
January 18, 2015 – Shelved as: stat_1
January 19, 2015 –
page 46
10.22% "Two stories down and quite impressed so far. Hopefully it's all this good."
January 31, 2015 –
page 129
28.67% "Still very much liking this. The stories hit well, and certainly fit with the diverse theme of the collection."
February 8, 2015 –
page 231
51.33% "These stories are...good."
February 14, 2015 –
page 450
100.0% "Some lovely stories, both for YA and as adult fiction. Good stuff."
February 14, 2015 – Finished Reading
February 20, 2015 – Shelved as: reviewed

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