Book Review: Kaleidescope: Diverse YA and Fantasy Stories

KaleidoscopeCoverKaleidoscope is an anthology of speculative fiction stories, edited by Alisa Krasnostien and Julia Rios.  It features teens who are gay, teens of color, teens with physical and mental disabilities, teens who are immigrants – basically a huge cast of characters and storytelling styles.  I adore this collection, which features stories from Garth Nix, E.C. Meyers, Sofia Samatar, Ken Liu, and Jim C. Hines.

Normally I can pick out some highs and lows in an anthology but all of these stories are solid.  “Careful Magic” by Karen Healey, and “Ordinary Things” by Vylar Kaftan are very different takes on obsessive compulsive disorder.  “Cookie Cutter Superhero”, by Tansy Rayner Roberts, is a clever look at how superhero teams change constantly (with one token woman at a time).  “Walkdog” by Sofia Samatar just gutted me.  That story alone is worth the price of the book but for God’s sake have tissues ready.  I read that story days ago and I’m still staggering around trying to recover.

This is a masterful collection, with not a single throwaway story in the lot, and a great way to showcase some of the many ways that you can create a story that isn’t about a cis, heterosexual, white protagonist. The stories are well-crafted and avoid the common trap of seeming like an excerpt form a novel – but I want to know what happens to all of the characters after the story ends, not because the story feels unfinished but because I’m interested in the characters.  Were I assigning grades, this would get an A+.

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