Sunday, September 23, 2012

Foretold: 14 Stories of Prophecy and Prediction edited by Carrie Ryan

Foretold is a collection of short stories from fourteen different authors focusing on, like the subtitle says, prophecy and prediction.  Each author has his or her own take on the word, and incarnations ranging from the cult to the occult.  There is fantasy, contemporary, and paranormal in these pages.  Seriously, it's quite the collection.

The Stories and Their Authors:
  • Gentlemen Send Phantoms by Laini Taylor
  • Burned Bright by Diana Peterfreund
  • The Angriest Man by Lisa McMann
  • Out of the Blue by Meg Cabot
  • One True Love by Malinda Lo
  • This Is a Mortal Wound by Michael Grant
  • Misery by Heather Brewer
  • The Mind Is a Powerful Thing by Matt de la Peña
  • The Chosen One by Saundra Mitchell
  • Improbably Futures by Kami Garcia
  • Death for the Deathless by Margaret Stohl
  • Fate by Simone Elkeles
  • The Killing Garden by Carrie Ryan
  • Homecoming by Richelle Mead
Star-studded?  Yes.  For sure.  The ones I bolded were the ones that touched me the most, and therefore, the ones I'll talk to you about, to give you a hint of what the stories are about.  I promise, no spoilers.  

"Burned Bright" is about Bright, daughter of the prophet.  "Tonight, the lodge will be shaken off its foundation by the power of our prayers.  Tonight, it will glow with our devotion and burn with the strength of our love."  Those are the first two lines of the story, giving you an inkling as to what Bright's mindset is.  Sam is another member of the group who are waiting to be swept up and away into heaven because Bright's father has predicted it.  And Burned Bright is the story of what happens when things don't turn out exactly as people predict they will.  This story had the most impact on me, more than the others combined.  I'd recommend the collection just so you could get your hands on this one.

"Misery" is about Alek, who has lived in Misery for three years.  He can't remember before, just that it had a lot of colors.  Misery is black and white and gray.  "Misery was a strange name for a town, and Alek wasn't at all certain that it was fitting."  That is the first line of this interesting, powerful story.  Another line to give you a hint about the story is "It was never a good morning in Misery.  Just morning.  Then afternoon.  Then evening.  Nothing was good.  Or bad, really."  It's twisty and thought-provoking and definitely worth your time.  

Some of the stories, like Malinda Lo's "One True Love" were predictable and pedestrian.  I did not enjoy Malinda's piece not because it was about lesbians, but because it was by Malinda Lo and I knew just from the by-line it was going to be about lesbians.  It is as if some of these authors have pigeon-holed themselves into the same old thing time and time again.  I want to be surprised by an author, not be able to tell you the ending after the first page because of who wrote it.  I felt the same about Matt de la Peña's story, "The Mind Is A Powerful Thing", though not nearly as strongly.  While I realize that authors have a specialty and a place in literature where they feel most comfortable, the thing that will make them great authors is pushing and breaking the boundaries they set on themselves.  And that is when I, the reader, am swept off of my feet and taken breathless by their work.  Not when they settle into the rut they've found comfortable.

The rest of the stories were mostly above-par for shorts in the Young Adult medium.  You would no doubt have a different take on them than I would, and you would definitely have different favorites than I.  Lisa McMann packs an entire story into eight pages, not surprising, but definitely a feat.  

The short on these shorts?  Worth a read.  The cover makes them look way spookier than they are.  This is not a Halloween-specific collection.  In fact, I don't get a Halloween vibe from it at all.  

Have you read these?  Do you want to?  Tell us your take in the comments below.