Cover Three Sides of a Heart: Colorful geometric triangular patterns

Cover Story: Kaleidoscope-y
All-Right Angles: “Dread South” by Justina Ireland, “Omega Ship” by Rae Carson, “Hurdles” by Brandy Colbert, “Waiting” by Sabaa Tahir, “Before She Was Bloody” by Tessa Gratton
A-Cute Angles: “Lessons For Beginners” by Julie Murphy, “Unus, Duo, Tres” by Bethany Hagan, “Riddles In Mathematics” by Katie Cotugno
Obtuse Angles: “Work In Progress” by E. K. Johnston, “Vega” by Brenna Yovanoff
Bonus Factors: Futuristic, LGBTQ
Break Glass In Case Of: Indecision

Cover Story: Kaleidoscope-y

Do you remember those toys you had as a child, where you’d put it up to your eye and twist it around and it looked like you were tripping on acid before you understood what that meant? That’s kind of what this cover reminds me of. I love it!

The Deal:

Is there anything more ubiquitously young adult than the dreaded love triangle? Certain sparkly vampires weren’t the first to use the trope, but it felt like the love triangle was really having its moment there in the mid-2000s. But now we’re past the days of Katniss and Peeta vs. Gale, and everyone’s landed on their side of Elena and Stefan vs. Damon. Now whenever someone mentions a new YA story contains a love triangle, it seems as though our first instinct is to roll our collective eyeballs. Even Chandler Bing is SO over it

But this anthology is here to show you that those pesky triangles have their place. Here’s how to do a love triangle right: make it organic and make it secondary. These stories aren’t only about picking the guy or gal you’re going to snog for the rest of your teenage life; they’re about choosing what type of person you’re going to be, then figuring out who makes the best sense to take that journey with you. Suddenly feels a lot less frivolous, huh?

All-Right Angles:  “Dread South” by Justina Ireland, “Omega Ship” by Rae Carson, “Hurdles” by Brandy Colbert, “Waiting” by Sabaa Tahir, “Before She Was Bloody” by Tessa Gratton

Ireland’s “Dread South” looks to be set in the same world as her upcoming book, Dread Nation, with unrelated characters; her South is a place where zombies appeared during the Civil War and now roam around the countryside, stopped only by former slaves who went to special schools to become Attendants (AKA zombie-killing protectors) to rich white people. Just one little taste of this intriguing world, and now I want the whole book in my grabby hands yesterday.

“Omega Ship” crash lands one teenage girl and two teenage boys onto their new home planet. They are all that’s left of a ship that was designed to save the entire human race. Rae Carson brought up some really interesting ethical questions, and this was probably one of my favorites of the entire book.

I really enjoyed Brandy Colbert’s other short in the Summer Days and Summer Nights anthology, and I found myself just as smitten with the characters in “Hurdles”. Mavis is an Olympic track hopeful and finds herself pulled between her safe but loveable boyfriend and her best friend’s older brother, fresh out of rehab with a boulder-sized chip on his shoulder.

Sabaa. SABAA. You better be careful with the smolder you write, girl, because this book was in danger of going up in flames! Ani’s cup runneth over with options in “Waiting”: Felix, the popular basketball player with a heart of gold and eyes like melted chocolate, or Sam, her buff BFF possibly turning something more until he got sent to prison for dealing meth. (I mean, I know there is definitely a clear, real-life, SAFE choice here, but Sam gets his moments and this is fantasy, dammit.)

Tessa Gratton’s “Before She Was Bloody” was one of the most unusual of the set, and also probably the one that really took the love triangle aspect to its fullest—and craziest—extent. Set in a Middle-Eastern-esque fantasy world, it follows a princess who fulfills the solitary role as Her Glory the Moon Eater’s Mistress, but who also has serious feelings for her body double and her brother’s friend. There is so much to unpack and discuss with this one…it was one of the few I would’ve loved to have read as a full novel.

A-Cute Angles: “Lessons For Beginners” by Julie Murphy, “Unus, Duo, Tres” by Bethany Hagan, “Riddles In Mathematics” by Katie Cotugno

What I loved is the most “stereotypical” love triangles of the bunch—contemporary, non-magical settings, often taking place in or around the high school—were all LGBTQ romances.

Julie Murphy brings her on-brand sass in “Lessons for Beginners” with a girl who gives private kissing lessons to people from her school, but meets her match when her former friend-crush and her boyfriend pay for her services.

A private boarding school is the perfect setting for some sweet and dangerous vampire lovin’ in “Unus, Duo, Tres”, which I can thankfully say did not remind me (much) of Twilight.

“Riddles In Mathematics” had a great, relatable protagonist who, ever since she came out to her friends and family, feels like people treat her like she announced she has an incurable disease. The romance is sweet, but my favorite part of the story was the relationship between the girl and her mom.

Obtuse Angles: “Work in Progress” by E. K. Johnston, “Vega” by Brenna Yovanoff

“Work in Progress” was quite high concept, showing the same three people in three completely different lives/situations, yet always struggling with the same issues. I found it interesting but it lacked a resolution, so I was left more frustrated than satisfied.

Brenna Yovanoff has a unique voice, and “Vega” certainly captures that. It’s a gritty look at the dark side of humanity set against the blinding and fake lights of Las Vegas. It was a pretty bleak moment in a generally even-keeled anthology, and it just kind of bummed me out.

Bonus Factor: Futuristic 

A city floating in space with a atmospheric dome and flying ships/cars.

A good chunk of these stories had sci-fi settings or futuristic gadgets, and they all just worked for me.

Bonus Factor: LGBTQ

Pride flag being waved in a parade

I mentioned a couple of LGBTQ stories above, but at least half of the anthology featured some form of gay romance, which feels a lot more inclusive than we’ve come to expect! 

Break Glass In Case Of: Indecision

Are you stuck on what to read next? Have too many books at your fingertips? (I feel ya there.) Go ahead and pick this one up; it’s got a little bit of everything, and I bet by the time you’re finished you’ll have found a story that stuck with you and you didn’t want to end. Now you know exactly what you should go look for to fulfill that tome-shaped space inside you.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from HarperCollins. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. Three Sides of a Heart: Stories About Love Triangles is available now.

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.