Kelly Link’s short story collection, Get In Trouble, is a bit of a mixed bag of interesting, strange, amazing, not-so-amazing, and whimsical stories that I both liked and didn’t like.
Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.
NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Random House for letting me read this!
Before reading Get In Trouble, the only other experience I’d had with Kelly Link was her short story, The Lady and the Fox, from My True Love Gave to Me (which, you might remember, wasn’t my favorite because of the writing style). You might be wondering why I’d want to read an entire book of her short stories then. Well, she was being blurbed by all kind of amazing authors and Neil Gaiman said she was a “national treasure” and I just wanted to try again. Overall, I’m glad I did. This was a weird collection though, you guys. If you check out my status updates while reading, I basically loved every other story and didn’t like every other story. It was so weird. Let’s do a story by story, okay?
The Summer People – This was a fantastic introduction to the book. It’s an amazing mixture of modernity and classic fairy tales, and I raced through it in no time. There are wonderful descriptions, like, “You could hardly see the house itself, hidden like a bride behind her veil of climbing vines (Page 11).” It was dark and strange, mysterious and almost too weird, but I liked that. I was so excited to read more of the book!
I Can See Right Through You – I honestly didn’t even like this one until the end. It’s about a pair of celebrities who’ve got this abnormal relationship going on that stemmed from the two of them starring in a movie together many years ago. They’ve been together and broken up several times and right now they’re off. Maybe I didn’t understand this one but it was just strange, and not in a good way this time. But that ending was pretty cool.
Secret Identity – This is about a 15-year-old girl from the middle of nowhere showing up in NYC to meet a man she’s only spoken to online (note that she was pretending to be her much older sister). At the hotel where she’s meant to meet him, two conventions are happening – one for dentists and one for superheroes. The story is all about who we are essentially, as people. It was one of my favorites. So very weird but also really great.
Valley of the Girls – Not 100% sure what this even was. It’s a story about these rich families who hire “Faces” to pretend to be their kids while growing up and implant their real children with something that makes them invisible to cameras. It’s a whole exploration about what it means to be a celebrity and the consequences of that status. But this one just wasn’t for me.
Origin Story – This one takes place in a world (maybe the same one as “Secret Identity”) in which superheroes are just a part of our society. I loved that we got no explanation for this and were just thrown into this world. The whole story is a description of one night between two people – who turn out to be more than normal but still rather ordinary. The ending was somewhat unexpected, but this one was a little too boring, I think, even though I still loved the world.
The New Boyfriend – Unlike her friends, Ainslie gets whatever she wants, including all THREE models (vampire, werewolf, and now even the cancelled ghost) of the new toy everyone is raving about – realistic robot “Boyfriends”. Immy has wanted a Boyfriend for even longer than Ainslie, and she’s super jealous. So Immy changes his programming a bit and things get really weird when it seems that the ghost Boyfriend might actually be a real ghost. This one was super creepy and weird and made me feel kind creepy-crawly. *shudders*
Two Houses – Basically ghost stories in space in a spaceship that can make them seem real. I thought this one was actually pretty cool, especially in comparison to the other “ghost stories” in the book. And what better ending than “She could no longer tell the one from the other (Page 286)”?? That’s the best.
Light – Sometime in the future, we’ve got pocket universes, invasive iguanas, and all kinds of new and crazy things, one of which is that some people have two shadows – one of the shadows can end up becoming a seemingly real person, a “twin”. Lindsey is one of those people, so on top of managing a warehouse that is filled to capacity with “sleeping” bodies, she also has to deal with Alan, her challenging gay “twin”. This whole world was seriously cool and interesting. My only qualm was with the ending, which was a little lacking.
The bottom line: So as you can see, this one was a little wishy washy for me, but I ended up liking it way more than I originally thought I would. Several of the stories were really incredible, though several of them fell quite flat for me. I think this is one of those cases where some people will love it and some people won’t. I’ve somehow found myself right in the middle. I’m a fan of whimsical, so maybe that’s it.
Rating: 6 – Good, but not great