Review: Sangu Mandanna (ed.) – Color Outside the Lines

I was sent an eARC of this anthology through Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

As I read this ARC in February, the anthology wasn’t fully completed yet, so I wasn’t able to review all of the stories. I’m hoping to get a finished copy soon and finally read those stories.

Anna-Marie McLemore – Turn the Sky to Petals (3/5)

Just like in all of her books, Anna-Marie McLemore’s writing style is wonderful in this story. It’s lush and evocative, and has the same relaxed pace her books have: never too slow but always calm. The story, however, lacked some substance to me. It felt like an introduction or an epilogue rather than a story in itself.

Danielle Paige

This story was yet to be included when I read the eARC.

Lauren Gibaldi – What We Love (3/5)

What We Love follows a Jewish girl who falls in love with an Indian boy. And okay, I do suppose this isn’t the most original story, and the plot is very straightforward. But I did love the way it talked about interracial and intercultural issues without getting too heavy.

Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas – Giving Up The Ghost (4/5)

The concept of Ghost Mentors who are the ghosts of one of your ancestors is one I haven’t seen done before, and I really really loved it! It added a very original, interesting layer to the story and gave it more depth. It would honestly be really cool to read a full novel about this!

L.L. McKinney – Your Life Matters (5/5)

Your life has always mattered. I just want mine, and the lives of people like me, to matter too.

I hadn’t read anything by L.L. McKinney before, but I definitely will now! Even though this anthology centers interracial romance, and this story does too, it also adds so much more. It’s about the struggles a Black girl and her white girlfriend face as a result of her father’s racism. It’s also one of the most diverse superhero stories I’ve ever read.

Lori M. Lee – Starlight and Moondust (2/5)

Stories belong to everyone, not just the ones telling them.

I liked this story well enough in theory – the concept was promising and the writing style was pretty good. But I had a really hard time following the story, because the world building and characterization were quite vague.

Sangu Mandanna – Five Times Shiva Met Harry (5/5)

Starting off, I was afraid this story would be all too clichéd. But this quickly changed after the very first page, when the story picked up. It ended up being a really funny story about an Indian girl having a series of meet cutes with a white boy, and it had an important message as well. I’m amazed at how fleshed out the characters were, considering it’s a short story. I especially loved Shiva’s dad – I’m always here for supportive parents in YA.

Samira Ahmed – The Agony of a Heart’s Wish (5/5)

Wow. Thanks for making me cry, I guess? This story really packed a punch. It’s set in the 1910s in India, where an Indian girl meets an Irish soldier serving England. There was so much political depth to this story, as well as emotional depth, which made it a very interesting read. I can only wish for more historical YA novels!

Caroline Tung Richmond – The Coward’s Guide to Falling in Love (2/5)

I didn’t necessarily think this was a bad story, but there wasn’t much to it and it didn’t really do anything for me, unfortunately.

Tara Sim – Death and the Maiden (5/5)

I really can’t get over how well written this story is. I’ve been wanting to read Tara Sim’s books already, but now I really can’t wait to pick them up! The concept is quite original as well. When it comes to retellings, I feel like most authors pick the same few origin stories, like Beauty and the Beast for instance. The myth of Hades and Persephone, which this story is (loosely) based on, isn’t used very often, while I do think it has a lot of potential! It was amazing to see an f/f, interracial take on it.

Karuna Riazi – Faithfull (3/5)

I ended up enjoying this story about a girl trying to figure out where she belongs. But it took me quite a while to get into it, because the main character felt quite distant for the first half of the story.

Michelle Ruiz Keil – Gilman Street (3/5)

This was an okay story. It didn’t work for me personally, because I don’t understand crushes in the first place and there was a double case of instalove here. So the character’s motivation was beyond me, really. But the portrayal of how she dealt with being biracial and bisexual, feeling like she was too Mexican and/or queer in some situations and not Mexican and/or queer enough in other situations, was definitely interesting to read about.

Elsie Chapman – “The Boy Is” (3/5)

On the one hand, I really enjoyed this story. The main character knew her worth and took no shit. She stood up for herself and had the guts to go after what she wanted. There were two potential love interests, and they both seemed pretty great. But I felt like the story ended before it even really started, which was a real shame.

Eric Smith – Sandwiched in Between (2/5)

I have to admit, I kind of hated the start of this story. It felt like the girlfriend was just there to educate the main character. It deals with internalized racism, I guess, from Michael, a brown boy being adopted into a white family. And while that of course is a very important topic to discuss, I felt like it wasn’t quite dealt with in the story. It just kind of gets shrugged off and that was a shame to me. So essentially, I think this story had a lot of potential but it didn’t live up to it.

Lydia Kang – Yuna and the Wall (2/5)

Lies turn into truth when faced with silence.

Again, this story had quite a lot of potential. But the writing felt pretty forced and I couldn’t really follow the story a lot of the time.

Adam Silvera

This story was yet to be included when I read the eARC.


Overall, I really loved this anthology. It’s always hard to rate and review anthologies because you will likely love some stories and feel less enthusiastic about others, which is why I always try to write short reviews for all of the separate stories. Do you like this style of reviewing?

I do feel like I’ve come across some potential new favourite authors, so that’s quite exciting! I’m especially curious to read more of L.L. McKinney, Sangu Mandanna and Tara Sim’s books now.

Have you read anything by these authors?



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