Thursday, July 23

"Prom Nights From Hell" - Cabot, Meyer, Jaffe, Myracle, Harrison

"In this collection, bestselling authors including Stephenie Meyer and Meg Cabot take bad Prom nights to a whole new level - a paranormally bad level...
Wardrobe catastrophes and two left feet are nothing compared with discovering you're dancing with the Grim Reaper - and he isn't here to tell you how hot you look...
From vampire exterminations to angels fighting demons, these five stories will be more fun than any DJ in a bad dinner jacket. No corsage or limo rental necessary - just great, sexy, scary fun!"
(NB: it contains five short stories, each written by one of the listed authors. In case you didn't realise this.)

This was the book that reached up, tapped me gently on the shoulder, and said "Emma? You have well and truly outgrown teenage fiction. Move on."
Of course, I didn't really expect anything more than fairly stock-standard American teen chick-lit, with the usual formula of Unrealistic Depictions of Teenage Romance, a first-person narration by the Girl Who Doesn't Quite Fit In, and the Rather Disproportionate Importance of The Prom, with a dash of Attempted Dry Humour (my friend Jen refers to this as "soppy, cotton-candy crap"). In the case of the five short stories contained in this book, there was an added Paranormal Element thrown into the mix. However I was still hoping that maybe, just maybe, there might be at least a tiny bit of light entertainment value in there somewhere.
And there was. But it was indeed small, and depended heavily on the author. What follows is a story-by-story breakdown of the aforementioned book.

Meg Cabot's story - The first time I read Cabot, like almost any other teenage girl, I thought her books were refreshing, light-and-fluffy, and very amusing, if not hilarious at times. However, after reading quite a few, I started to feel like I was reading the same story, over and over again, with different characters (always whinging about boys) and a slightly different background scenario. Her short story in this volume, about a girl trying to kill a vampire, was just another delivery of formulaic, cookie-cutter Cabot. It was very disappointing, and also seemed to borrow a little too heavily from Meyer's Twilight series. I found it incredibly lacking in originality, to be honest, even for teen fluff.

Lauren Myracle's story - wasn't actually as horrendous as I thought it might have been. There were still one or two cringe-worthy elements, but considering the intended audience is indeed pre-teen and younger-teenage girls (as opposed to 19-year-old science degree students), I guess I won't judge those flaws too harshly.
I liked this story much better than Cabot's, and even though it was rather predictable, the writing was decent, with the ending even reminding me slightly of Stephen King.

Kim Harrison's story - This one actually started off quite well. To me, it seemed to be a tad more believable and even, perhaps, slightly more mature than the other stories, and towards the middle of the story, it became really intriguing. However, the second half of the story was a bit of a letdown. It suddenly turned into a straight-out supernatural fantasy tale, bogged down with details and raising more questions than it answered. It was also just pretty confusing, and the ending proved to be very anticlimatic. Kind of disappointing.

Michele Jaffe's story - Not bad, not bad. It's certainly not the best thing Jaffe has ever written, but I still found it fairly enjoyable, and some of the ideas were quite original. This particular story provided the sole 'laugh out loud' moment (for me) from the entire book, which I think deserves a round of applause. However I did think a lot of the protagonist's characterisation seemed very similar to Jaffe's Bad Kitty series, so I just hope she doesn't go down the same path as Meg Cabot - recycling the same characters under different names - in the future.

Stephenie Meyer's story - Oh dear.
This was by far the worst story of the lot. Unbelievably shallow, full of completely ridiculous fantasy, and containing the longest and dreariest passage of dialogue interspersed with descriptions that I have ever read. It wasn't so silly that it was fun - it was just plain stupid. I mean, consider the plot: there's a demon at the prom who likes causing misery and whose primary goal is to ruin the night, but don't worry, everything is saved by an ANGEL and the PROM ENDS HAPPILY FOR ALL.
*hits head on desk*
I'm not even going to apologise for putting a bit of a spoiler up there, because the story was so bad, it doesn't deserve to be read. Seriously. Avoid. It's crap.

RATING: I guess it's fair to say that younger readers might enjoy it more than I did, but on the whole, this book was pretty so-so. 2.5 STARS

(PS: Interestingly, I ended up reading Prom Nights from Hell when I had random moments to fill in while at home. However, on the train to and from uni, and in some of my break times there, I was immersed in Jane Eyre. Talk about from one extreme to the other.)

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