Harper, $9.99, ISBN 978-0-06-125309-6
Now, I know I’m not even going to fool anyone into believing I’m part of the teenage demographic that Prom Nights from Hell is targeted at, especially given that the only urge I feel when I look at most of the teenage pin-ups of today is to tell these guys to eat some sandwich. Oh, and they should go get some testosterone jabs while they are at it. I’m sure the average charming young lady will look at this anthology and go, “Ooh! Robert Pattinson is, like, so hot, I wanna marry him, oh my god OMIGOD OH MY GOD!” before swooning away just from reading the names of the authors on the cover alone.
Meg Cabot kicks off the show with The Exterminator’s Daughter. Now, if you are among those folks who complained in the past that Buffy is too tough and Spike is like her little whipped puppy who only attempts to rape her on weekends, this one will make you happy because the gender stereotypes are in full play here as our vampire slayer, Mary, is on a hunt to destroy her best friend’s new vampire boyfriend only to keep getting rescued by a cute guy named Adam. What is really creepy about this otherwise very ordinary and occasionally clichéd tale is that the author has Mary and Adam sharing narration duties and these two end up coming off exactly like the same teenage girl.
Next up, Lauren Myracle’s The Corsage which is inspired by WW Jacobs’s The Monkey’s Paw. In this one, instead of an elderly couple using a magical talisman to bring back their dead son, a young lady uses a magical talisman to “convince” a cute guy to take her to the prom. The catch here is that the talisman will grant you three wishes, but there are always unexpected and even tragic consequences associated with the fulfillment of each wish. Ooh. This one isn’t a romantic Mary Sue story as much as it is a creepy story, but this story feels really choppy and rushed, as if the author was trying to finish this story as soon as possible so that she could finally have lunch or something. The original story is truly chilling, especially when the author factored in the very human aspect of grief that caused people to wish in desperation. Here, however, it’s just a silly young lady wanting to go to the prom. No big deal here – whatever, really.
Kim Harrison’s Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper is fun and amusing, but something is missing… ah yes, the “Please buy the upcoming book in the series” thing at the end of the story. What happens when an unhappy young lady bumps into a strange guy wearing a pirate outfit in the middle of nowhere? No, this is not some terrible Mary Sue fanfiction written by a Johnny Depp groupie, but a frustrating short story with so many loose ends designed to get you to buy the upcoming book in the young adult series by the author.
Michele Jaffe’s Kiss and Tell is easily the best story here. There is Miranda Kiss who, among what seems like a million jobs including part-time superhero and part-time chauffeur, finds herself having to protect a strange young lady named Shibby. For some reason, Shibby can’t stop getting into trouble. There are some loose ends, of course, because everyone wants to sell things to teenage girls nowadays, but this one is really fun because of the smooth but funny witty repartees as well as the adorable characters. This is a very busy but well-paced story with plenty of twists and turns, so I’m quite disappointed to see it end.
Especially when the next story is by Stephenie Meyer. This very short story, Hell on Earth, is absolutely annoying because it has a very abrupt ending that comes out of nowhere, making me feel as if I’ve been cheated. This one has a demon girl trying to corrupt a cute guy, yadda yadda yadda, only to end up being some kind of bizarre morality tale about how evil girls must suffer forever or something. Good girls, of course, go on to marry before they are twenty and have to have their sparkling husbands rip out their evil mutant baby from the amazingly fecund womb so that this baby can be passed off to the waiting werewolf who would proceed to take the baby to their wedding ceremony, right before the FBI show up and arrest everybody for being such disgusting perverts.
Reading Prom Nights from Hell is like sitting through the trailers in the movie theater while I am waiting for High School Musical 77: 50-Year Reunion to begin. Only Michele Jaffe seems to be trying among all the authors here, so excuse me if I’m not so enthusiastic in recommending this book even to the fourteen-year old daughter of my worst enemy.