[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]
2.5 to 3 stars. This was a nice and fast read. Unfortunately, like a lot of short stories collections, the downfall of this collection of short stories is that, like a lot of anthologies, it is neither exceptional nor really bad, which makes it a little unremarkable; on the good side, it also means it provides the reader with totally acceptable pieces—hence my rating. A bit annoying is also the fact that some of those works were too short and felt like introductions to other, longer tales begging to be told; in this, I do prefer standalones.
Apart from what I mentioned above, what confused me was the very wide definition given to "war". Not merely "conflict", "war". It immediately evokes a specific kind of theme, which I agree can be slightly simplistic, in a way; nevertheless, when one does want to read about war in its "battles" or "military" meaning, some of the stories gathered here kind of miss the mark. Again, they're not bad—just not really to the point, in a way? (I admit I did want, and expected, to read war stories more than anything else. When it was about a definite conflict, like the story with Cal/Callie standing up to the bullies, it worked too; other stories, like the one with the maze of mirrors, felt like it fell too far off.)
The focus is in general on children and teens. While this made some stories a little too simple to my liking, it also dealt with universal themes that do not grow old (no pun intended): having to leave childhood behind to become an adult, embracing responsibilities while also discovering who we truly are, children confronted to a world of war and having to survive... I quite appreciate such themes.
I realise this sounds more like critique than praise, but, once again, this anthology wasn't bad—I guess I just have a harder time putting words on how exactly I still enjoyed it. Sometimes, some things just do not ask or need to be explained, I suppose?