Thursday, March 24, 2022

Serendipity: Ten Romantic Tropes Transformed, ed by Marissa Meyer

A collection of short stories that promise to "transform" tropes suggests some exciting original storytelling.  Heaven knows that the romance genre could use some enlivening.  When you can recognize these basic plots from their simple generic names ("matchmaker," "best friend love epiphany," "grand romantic gesture," etc.) then you pretty much have summarized the state of the field.  So, I was excited by the premise of the collection.  However, the book is more hype than revelation.

In some of these stories, originality is achieved by having the protagonists be gender queer, but in this day and age, that's hardly novel.  There are some clever settings (like Eulberg's story set in a London Eye capsule).  There are a few funny pieces (Meyer's own tribute to the two-friends-and-one-bed set up).  However, mostly this is more of the same old same old.  If you really like the idea of romance stories, then these exercises may appeal to you, but for me the draw of a romance is not the tropes, but the characters.  And within a maximum length of thirty pages, it's really hard to build the emotional attachment to the characters that gives a romance its pull.

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