Serendipity: Ten romantic tropes transformed, audiobook review | Before she drops one last match on my internal kindling —

Serendipity: Ten Romantic Tropes, Transformed
Edited by Marissa Meyer with stories by Marissa Meyer, Elise Bryant, Elizabeth Eulberg, Leah Johnson, Anna-Marie McLemore, Sandhya Menon, Julie Murphy, Caleb Roehrig, Sarah Winifred Searle, Abigail Hing Wen
384 pages, released January 4th, 2022

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

I loved this book of short stories! This is a book of YA short stories, and they’ve taken ten romantic tropes and transformed them in new ways. My favorites were Fake Dating, Stranded Together, Best Friend Love Epiphany, and The Makeover. Best Friend Love Epiphany was the first writing I’d ever read by Caleb Roehrig, and I was not disappointed. I read this on audiobook so I read most of this one in the shower and I maybe cried a little bit while reading it. There’s a lot to love in this collection – I didn’t dislike any of the stories in it!

“Bye, Bye, Piper Berry” by Julie Murphy focuses around the fake dating trope, and this is one of my favorite tropes of all time and I loved this one. The love interest of this story, Gabe, is explicitly described as chubby in this one, and one of the quotes is “You’re fat, but who cares? That’s not even a bad thing anyways!” which I found very good.

“Anyone Else but You” by Leah Johnson has the “stranded together” trope and it’s fantastic, Leah Johnson has my whole heart, she’s so funny and such a smart writer! It’s about two co-presidents who get trapped in a store together overnight and one thing leads to another — this is a really really good f/f story.

“Auld Acquantance” by Calebe Roehrig, which features the “best friend love epiphany” trope, was possibly my favorite short story in the collection; my heart swelled with worry and fondness for these two boys figuring out love and who will kiss whom at midnight.

“Shooting Stars” by Marissa Meyer is about the “Only One Bed” trope. I’ve also never read anything by Marissa Meyer but I’ve heard a lot of good things! It’s about Misty who goes on a senior class trip and she keeps getting into situations with her crush, Roman, where there’s only one bed between them. It’s super super cute and sweet.

“Zora in the Spotlight” by Elise Bryant is about the “grand romantic gesture” trope, and it does involve someone popping out of a large pink cell phone. To say anything else would be a spoiler; but I will say that this story uses Instagram and social media in a way that feels Actually Correct and not weird in the way that most literature often is.

“In the Blink of an Eye” by Elizabeth Eulberg is the trope “trapped in a confined space” together. I really liked this one because it’s not a romance story between the two main characters – and they’re both autistic or autistic-coded; the main character’s special interest is London and she finally gets to go to London but then her least favorite person is there, her best friend’s boyfriend and her former crush! He’s explicitly stated to “be bad at social cues”, and I am just saying, their instant first chemistry is because they are both autistic. There’s a lot of twists in this one and each of them delighted me.

“Liberty” by Anna-Marie McLemore has “The Makeover” trope, which is about Ximena using makeup to force herself into “popular” (white, Eurocentric) beauty standards to fit in on the cheerleading team until her favorite beauty YouTuber joins the team and MAYBE THEY FALL IN LOVE? You’ll have to read it to find out! (It’s very good.)

“The Surprise Match” by Sandhya Menon with the trope Matchmaker, and its protagonist is Rosie, who is working on a matchmaker app to match up her friends. It’s really really cute, and I love the representation of Girls In STEM where it’s not explicitly called out or made out to be a super weird thing. “It’s just Duolingo, threatening me with bodily harm because I haven’t worked on my Spanish for four days.”

I received an audiobook copy of this book, and every story has a different narrator – some of the stories with multiple POVs have multiple narrators! My favorite narrator is Kristen Sieh, who narrates “Anyone Else But You” by Leah Johnson. She also narrated “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing” (and its sequel) by Hank Green, and I think she did fantastically here.

This is a really diverse collection of short stories, very much in the vein of a Dahlia Adler anthology collection. If you’ve liked her anthologies before, you’ll like this one (although it is edited by Marissa Meyer, not Dahlia Adler, to be clear). Five stars!

Find it on Storygraph here, or on Bookshop here.

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