Anthologies and short story collections tend to be difficult for me to read due to my ADHD and also how unfulfilling so many of them can feel. They either leave me wholly unsatisfied and wanting a ton more content, or they don’t have enough content to make me connect with them on an enjoyable level. However, even with the challenges I have with them, I keep reading them because every once in a while I will come across a collection that totally takes me by surprise in the best of ways. A Universe of Wishes is one such collection.
Edited by Dhonielle Clayton, this diverse young adult science-fiction and fantasy anthology is one of the best narrative compilations that I have read all year long. Today, rather than give you a traditional book review, I thought it would be fun to highlight five awesome reasons why y’all should give this title a try, especially if you’re a fan of the sci-fi and fantasy genres.
05. Amazing Author Line-Up
A Universe of Wishes has a spectacular line-up of talented writers offering up wondrous tales in this anthology, many of whom I admire as both people and creators. They include Tara Sim (Scavenge the Stars), Anna-Marie McLemore (Wild Beauty), Kwame Mbalia (Tristan Strong Punches a Whole in the Sky), Nic Stone (Dear Martin), Samira Ahmed (Love, Hate, & Other Filters), and Tochi Onyebuchi (Rebel Girls) to name just a few.
A few authors have short stories from their much-beloved pre-established universes as well include V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic, Zoraida Cordova’s Brooklyn Brujas, and Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle serials.
04. Cool Cultural Diversity
There are so many cultural identities in the anthology that shall come as a comfort for all sorts of readers and I appreciated that with every ounce of my heart. One of my favourite stories is “Cristal y Cerisa,” which is about a Mexican girl that attends a grand ball, akin to the traditional Cinderella tale. It was so beautiful reading how the main character interacted with her family, using their native language and talking about some familial traditions that make up the bulk of their day-to-day lives.
In another story, “The Coldest Spot in the Universe,” my heart bloomed with joy and excitement at reading about a Muslim South Asian character speaking in Hinglish in making references to balancing multiple cultural identities that I related to on a very personal level as a South Asian person myself. Plus, I’m always super ecstatic to read about Muslim characters who are just living their lives, more so when there is a sci-fi twist to the tale!
03. Superb Queer Diversity
The Queer representations in A Universe of Wishes is what truly took me by surprise. While I was expecting there to be many gay characters, I was utterly caught off guard by the awesome portrayal of Trans folx, bisexuals, lesbians, and asexual identities as well.
02. Themes to Inspire Hope
Almost every single story deals with a wondrously touching theme that shall appeal to anyone who has ever experienced even a morsel of the emotions and experiences shared herein. Some of my favourites are the ones that relate to loss and learning to accept and move forward in the wake of great loss, especially when it relates to family; finding hoping in a situation that feels utterly bleak and miserable, particularly in the face of oppression; the strength of friendships; and the beauty of unexpected romance in an unlikely situation.
01. Incredibly Imaginative Works of SFF
Even with all of these brilliant qualities, what truly makes A Universe of Wishes such a gem of a collection is the scope of its imaginative prowess. The creativity that formulates the backbone of the whole anthology was mind-blowing to me, someone who is quite an aficionado of the sci-fi, fantasy, and speculative genres.
One story is about a young boy who harvests hidden wishes from corpses in order to make the impossible come true. Another centres on a scientist that is working on growing plants with ancestral ties to his and the crew’s homeland. Then there is the tale of two people who love each other dearly and literally weigh their hearts to prove that love.
Reading each of these tales showed me that the imagination truly has no bounds and it re-emphasised within me the magic of storytelling and why I absolutely love books and reading so much.
A Universe of Wishes is a super fabulous anthology that I highly recommend to all folx who enjoy an excellent science-fiction and fantasy story. If you’d like a couple more reasons as to why to pick this up, the collection is perfect for people that don’t typically gravitate towards these genres as the use of their respective traits are rather light overall, each story is very easy to read and get swept away by making them perfect for quick reads, and by reading and supporting this anthology you’re helping to support awesome marginalised creators and writers!
Please note that I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review, courtesy of Crown Books for Young Readers.
Publication Date: 08-December-2020
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult SFF, Anthology
Page Count: 416
Content Warnings: Death of parents and loved ones. Racism. Homophobia. Transphobia. Oppression. Grief.
GoodReads: A Universe of Wishes edited by Dhonielle Clayton