Wren makes cupcakes and fancy sweets at a little shop and doesn't have many prospects for the world... until she's scouted to join the Confectioner's Guild. Not just as a regular guild member, either—it turns out Wren is one of the 'Gifted', or person who can imbue food with magic.
A lifetime before Katniss finds herself in the Hunger Games, Coriolanus Snow is the son of a once-wealthy family trying to recover from a devastating war. If he wants any sort of future for himself, he must shine in this next assignment: being a mentor in the 10th Hunger Games. His tribute is a singer, a pretty, small, colorful girl... from District 12. She has a chance to win, and as Snow gets to know her more, he finds himself wanting her to win not just for his grades, but for himself.
Almost every year I read this collection, and there are always a few stories I really like, a few more I enjoy, and the rest I can appreciate what about that story got it placed in the contest. This year, I've enjoyed almost every single story. Here's a list of my favorites and a tinsy bit about them.
Samantha has found that she can... accidentally... go 'invisible'. She doesn't know what causes it, but it can happen inconveniently, like when she's on a rafting trip with her track team and they think she's fallen in. Luckily, the only person who witnessed her disappearance knows exactly what happens—he is also a rippler, and can help Sam figure out how to control her ability, and give her insight into the history behind it. But it's not a superhero fun and games adventure. Someone has been killing people with the genetic condition that leads to Ripplers.
Aaron is in a coma and by all appearances and reports brain-dead. But really he can see and hear everything that's going on, but has no control over his body. One day an old man moves in to the same room at the long-term care facility. Solomon has dementia so people don't believe it when he says that Aaron is talking to him in his mind. Things start looking up for Aaron. He has someone to talk to. Solomon's granddaughter Sarah begins visiting and believes them that Aaron can understand her. And Aaron finds himself sharing memories with Solomon of turning points in his life.
Ben is always seeking his uncle's approval. So when Uncle Henry gives the boy a game and says if he can complete it in the next week he can go on a cool expedition with Henry and Ben's father... it's not like Ben can pass that up. Even when his mom takes the game away, or the computer away, you know, teenagers are resourceful, and Ben and his friends tackle the game through the night seeking artifacts. Until one day, it doesn't seem so much like a game anymore.
I always enjoy the Writers of the Future anthologies. The collection of stories is varied and new and usually not super long. I don't love all the stories or anything but I enjoy the collection as a whole. My favorite story in the collection is for sure "How to Steal the Plot Armor". I was thoroughly entertained and delighted the whole way through.
Cara is a traverser. She is sent to parallel worlds to mine data. Out of the 380 Earths they can access, she is dead in almost all of them, and that opens up a spot for her to access those worlds. Little by little, the other traversers become unnecessary as Cara can access all but a few worlds. The newest world that has opened up is another opportunity for her to see how 'she' has died, and how this world differs from her own. This time, though, the differences bring to light certain truths about her life and world that she probably rather would have never known.
Cora is a highborn lady, a daughter of a countess, who loves plants. Her mother doesn't care for this hobby of hers, and wants her instead to attend the London Season and find a good husband. Cora also wants to find a husband, so she can escape her mother's firm control, and not have to listen to anybody (except her husband). Although there are several men courting her that she hasn't crossed off the list, none of them are particularly enchanting and none of them place more than a condescending attention to her knowledge and affection of horticulture. Until, that is, the Black Duke.