Book Review: Meet Cute

Meet Cute: Some People are Destined to Meet
Authors: Jennifer L. Armentrout, Dhonielle Clayton, Katie Cotugno, Jocelyn Davies, Huntley Fitzpatrick, Nina LaCour, Emery Lord, Katharine McGee, Kass Morgan, Julie Murphy, Meredith Russo, Sara Shepard, Nicola Yoon, and Ibi Zoboi
Publication Date: January 2nd, 2018
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Short Story, Anthology
Page count:
CW: abuse, transphobia, homophobia, racism, death of a family member

Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors. 

Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants. 

This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.

This anthology really was a mixed bag for me. There were stories that had me rolling my eyes the entire way through, stories that had me madly in love with the characters, and stories that just were. A minor complaint I had was the use of the term ‘meet cute’ was very loosely applied here. A couple stories featured characters that had known each other a while. While I’m here for a love story where you discover new feelings for someone you’ve known a long time, it just doesn’t elicit the same feelings as a good meet cute and darn it! I was promised meet cutes! Additionally, this collection seemed to be really heavy on dead family members – dead parents in particular. It made absolutely no sense? And felt super unnecessary. This was a quick read with a few memorable gems that stood out but overall felt pretty average.

Siege Etiquette by Katie Cotugno – 1.5 stars
A bunch of high schoolers are hiding from the police after their party attracts too much attention and two of them happen to hide in the bathroom. The protagonist was highly unlikable and ultimately the meet cute (which involved cheating?) was pretty meh bordering on no thank you. This was honestly a rough start for the anthology. Abuse seemed thrown in this story, just because? And this was the beginning of the dead family member saga.
Print Shop by Nina LaCour – 3.5 stars
This one was cute. A soft f/f story about a new print shop employee appeasing an angry customer on Twitter. While the framing for the story was interesting, I do wish we’d been given a bit more interaction between the love interests.
Hourglass by Ibi Zoboi – 3 stars
I feel the best part of this story wasn’t the meet cute itself, which only just barely made it into the story, but rather Cherish’s growth through the story. She took total control of her life and her future without anyone’s help. I couldn’t help but root for her.
Click by Katherine McGee – 4.5 stars
This is one of the stories that really stood out to me. The main characters Alexa and Raden meet after being ‘perfectly’ matched by a dating algorithm but after Alexa discovers she left her phone the taxi on her way to their first date, they cancel their plans and spend the evening trying to get back her phone. Raden sometimes felt a bit pretentious but I’ll die a sucker for pretentious artsy types so I’m not even that mad. Ditto the not mad on a family member because it honestly added to the story. But, again. Dead family member story.
The Intern by Sara Shepard – 2 stars
Let me preface this by saying I’ve read my fair share of fanfic. There’s nothing wrong with it. However, this story felt like almost formulaic reader x (favorite pop celebrity here) fic with some like throw the dice, choose your own adventure elements thrown in for funsies? I super wasn’t into it. If I’m going to read fic, it’s gotta be someone I’m emotionally invested in and I just wasn’t. Oh, and +1 dead family member.
Somewhere That’s Green by Meredith Russo – 4.5 stars
This story tackled some pretty heavy, pretty topical content while still being a cute f/f moment which I appreciated. Trans issues, internalized homophobia, religious struggles with sexuality, and the usual struggles of being a high school student all rolled up in one angsty but sweet package? I’m into it.
The Way We Love Here by Dhonielle Clayton – 3 stars
While this was sold as a pre-destined love story, I loved that this story gave us multiple options for the futures that could be. While some aspects of the world-building were great, others left me very confused. Additionally, I felt that the main character read as aromantic and towards the end it was like, ‘Wow! Meet the right boy and magically you know romantic desire!’ It could also have been read as a girl who was just scared of love because of the concept of a soulmate. I’ve been sitting on this and I still don’t know how I feel about it. Also, mark another one down for the dead family count.
Oomph by Emery Lord – 5 stars
Easily my favorite story of the lot. The MC captured my airport anxieties perfectly but somehow I don’t ever banter or flirting from cute girls at the airport when I have delays? Real life, please fix this?! I honestly want SO MUCH MORE of these two. A very memorable f/f meet cute that was just fun.
The Dictionary of You and Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout – 3 stars
Guy checks out book. Girl librarian keeps calling to get book returned. They have some drawn out phone conversations as a result. This story honestly didn’t really speak to me at all. It was just sort of … there.
The Unlikely Likelihood of Falling in Love by Jocelyn Davies – 4.5 stars
HONESTLY, a main character I felt I could truly relate to. I am definitely the type who would go all out for a school assignment – especially in a class of all boys to prove girls can do it too. I’d also definitely do everything I could to try and get my transit schedule to overlap with someone else, just to see them. Honestly? This was so cute. And the boys in her class cheering for her and being so supportive was honestly so sweet?
259 Million Miles by Kass Morgan – 2 stars
This one completely missed the mark for me. Our protagonist, Phillip, is going all-out for a space program as a result of ‘the incident’ that he’s trying to escape. He’s locked in a room for 24 hours with a girl whose personality boils down to ‘I’m quirky.’ The reveal of ‘the incident’ felt kind of ‘eh’ to me and the twist at the end didn’t really do anything for me? Also, we returned to our regular programming of dead family members in this story too and at this point in time I was so done with it.
Something Real by Julie Murphy – 3 stars
The concept behind this is something I’m totally down with. Girls on a dating competition falling in love with each other instead of the guy they’re competing for? It’s happened before on reality TV and I LOVE it. However, both the celebrity star and the host of the show were so absolutely disgusting and vile that I had a hard time even stomaching the story. Had this been an entire book, I would have DNFed and called it a day. +1 to dead family member count.
Say Everything by Huntley Fitzpatrick – 1 stars
I found nothing about this romantic. Or cute. Almost everything the ‘love interest’ does comes off creepy as hell. Literally everything he does? Please, don’t do it! Combine weird stalker-ish behaviors with a huge power imbalance and a hard to follow plot and you’ll get this.
The Department of Dead Love by Nicola Yoon – 3 stars
The concept of the world Yoon built was really cool? I know I could definitely have benefited from departments to help you heal after a breakup. To have a support network like that? A super fun concept. I was silly and returned the book to the library before finishing this report but it also had some lovely quotes in it. However, my issues with this story had to do with the character who refused to give up on his ex. I feel like demanding answers on why a relationship didn’t work rather than just accepting it puts the other party in an awkward position, especially when sometimes they don’t know themselves. I feel this is more personal problems pushing through than issues with the story itself though. Characters trying to get back with exes long after the relationship has ended always rubs me the wrong way. Overall, a unique concept – just not for me.

Meet Cute promised the beginnings of romance and to varying degrees of success, it did just that. While I appreciated the diversity in the stories (I honestly went into this expecting few to none in the department of f/f stories and wound up with a handful and a transgirl falling in love!), a lot of the stories fell short for me. Though I suppose a mixed bag is similar to how love works in real life, I wanted more. I wanted better. All things considered, this wasn’t a disappointing read but it certainly won’t be one to add to my collection and gets a 3 out of 5 stars from me.

Have you read Meet Cute? Other works by these authors? If so, what did you think?

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Meet Cute”

  1. I didn’t realize there were so many queer stories in this, so that’s great to see! This has been an anthology I’ve been interested in, but haven’t made a priority. Nina LaCour is one of my favorite authors so I think I’m mostly just interested in reading her story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The number of queer stories surprised me too! But in a totally good way.

      Can you rec me a Nina LaCour book? I didn’t really care for You Know Me Well and I just finished We Are Okay and it didn’t really do it for me the way I wanted it to. I see a ton of people love her work and I really want to give her a fair try!

      Like

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