Monday, June 25, 2007

Book Review: "Prom Nights from Hell" & Rant

This book is a compilation of 5 stories from various YA authors. They are tied together by two threads: 1. They're all about prom night. 2. They are all, in some way, paranormal or supernatural.

The 5 stories take up around 300 pages, so they are roughly 60 pages each. Not exactly a short story -- probably more like a novella. Actually, I don't know what a novella technically is. But I'm stickin' with it! The featured authors are Meg Cabot (author of the Princess Diaries series), Kim Harrison, Michele Jaffe, Stephenie Meyer (author of the Twilight series) and Lauren Myracle (sounds like a pen name to me!).

Overall, the book was fun. The variety in the stories was pleasant. And the continuity between stories was nice too. Despite the compilation's very foreboding title, none of the stories were scary enough to give me nightmares. As per an evaluation for the book overall, I'd probably say 3.5 stars. A fun read, but not monumental.

The paranormal/supernatural themes were as follows: Vampires (by Meg Cabot not Stephenie Meyer, in case you wondered), Mystical Objects (a new take on The Monkey's Paw), Grim Reapers (and the mystical objects they possess, and being alive after you've died), Super powers (strength, speed, future seeing etc.), and lastly Angels/Devils on earth (a twist on C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters, if you will). A nice variety, no?

Three of the five stories had female heroines (not surprising as the book is about Prom and written by 5 women), the other two were omniscient and included some refreshing male POV. All five stories had someone who was fairly boy-crazy in them. 4/5 had at least one kiss.

some spoiler-free bashing:
I personally found that while all of the stories were entertaining enough to keep me reading, some of them had little details that grated on me. I think that mainly it was just stereotyping. Teenagers can't have vocabularies? They have to rebel? True, the stories didn't really push these stereotypes, but some of them just took them for granted. I would have to say that the absolute worst part of the book (don't worry, I'll keep it spoiler free) is when someone says "Don't say it, [teen girl protagonist]!" and I'm thinking, "what?" and then she blurts out whatever it was that she wasn't supposed to say. If I was yelling at someone, and they yelled back "Don't say it!" I'd yell back "Don't say what?!" C'mon.

And also, why on earth would you feel the need to make two of your minor characters homosexual? Their orientation has no bearing on the story. It just totally distracts you. The story would have been much better served if the issue was left out of it. Some stories would not work or would not be the same without homosexuality, in which case, please, by all means, include it. Not the case, here. It just came off as the author of the story either trying to sound "up to date" or pushing a homosexual agenda. Keep your agenda out of the story!

One last thing: The whole "I'm in High School and I've only ever kissed three boys" thing. Why is that sad? Why is that to be pitied?? It's really not so abnormal for a girl to have only kissed three boys by the time she's a junior or senior. In fact, I venture to suggest that it is rather unhealthy to have kissed that many by that time. Sigh. But I guess not everyone waits until they're 16 to start dating. What can I say? They should. However I'm not so far from my teenage years and I know people my age, and older, who have never been kissed. Should they be ashamed? Wallow in self-pity? NO! no, no, and no. Do I wallow? Haha, no, and I've only ever kissed one boy -- my husband. The idea is absurd.

So I guess my message is, "YA authors! Break free of the shackles of stereotype! Do not perpetuate lies amongst your impressionable readers!"

Phew. Anyway, the book was alright, just don't take it too seriously.


Hilary said...

I love your ranting! Its true- and thank you for sticking up for the so-called late bloomers. Its sad that girls in high school now have such low standards for physical intimacy. Its just taken for granted that a girl (or boy) ought to have lots of kissing experience, and those who haven't are made to feel leporous and sub-standard. How sad! I think you have the ideal circumstance of having only ever kissed the man with who you will spend your life and eternity. Thats beautiful. That's still a possibility for me too, and honestly, I lamented it when I was younger, but now I'd be disappointed if I wasted any kisses on anyone but THE one.

I was almost disappointed to learn that "Prom Nights from Hell" was all paranormal... I was thinking that my bad date stories might qualify... Lol, there was a dead body in one of them!

Hilary said...

and there is a who in there that should be a whom

Anna said...

Thanks for the review and giving your HONEST opinion.

Micaella Lopez said...
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