Monday, October 12, 2009

Anthology Review: Vacations From Hell

Title: Vacations From Hell

Authors: Libbra Bray, Cassandra Clare, Claudia Gray, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Mlynowski

Pages: 280


Life's a beach . . . and then you're undead?

In this must-have collection, five of today's hottest writers—Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty), Cassandra Clare (City of Bones), Claudia Gray (Evernight), Maureen Johnson (13 Little Blue Envelopes), and Sarah Mlynowski (Bras & Broomsticks)—tell supernatural tales of vacations gone awry. Lost luggage is only mildly unpleasant compared to bunking with a witch who holds a grudge. And a sunburn might be embarrassing and painful, but it doesn't last as long as a curse. Of course, even in the most hellish of situations, love can thrive. . . .

From light and funny to dark and creepy, these stories have something for everyone. You definitely won't want to leave this collection at home!

I picked this one up on a whim from a Borders 20% off sale and, since it was my monthly Three Book Weekend, I thought I'd give it a shot.

"Cruisin'" by Sarah Mlynowski

Liz and Kristin are on a 4-day graduation cruise, with one goal in mind--lose Kristin's virginity. But things go awry once they learn of a series of vampire attacks on numerous cruise ships...

When I read anthology's such as these, I tend to notice the first story is always the worst. Vacations From Hell was no exception.

The writing was just so...shallow. I have never read anything by Sarah Mlynowski, though I do own her Bras a Broomsticks novel (never got around to it), so maybe this is just her style of writing. And, even though its a short story, I felt the characters were so one-demensional, and there were so many trite details it was like reading a fifth grader's English class assigment. It kind of has an Evernight like twist at the end--whoever's read that book knows what I mean--but it's so poorly executed I was left with more questions then answers. If you decide to read Vacations, you should probably skip this one.

Rating: 4/10

"I Don't Like Your Girlfriend" by Claudia Gray

Evernight author Claudia Gray delivers one of the lighter titles of the anthology, starring Cecily as a young witch going on her family's annual coven meeting at their beach house. Since witches are not allowed to tell any men about their existence, the coven must practice their magic while keeping their fathers, husbands, brothers and sons in the dark. These trips are never fun for Cecily--her archenemy, Kathleen, makes sure of that.

But when Kathleen brings her new boyfriend on the trip, Cecily notices something is amiss. But can she uncover Kathleen's secret while still mantaining the laws of witchcraft?

This one was just plain adorable. While Gray isn't exactly Jane Austen, she does have a sweet touch to her descriptions and dialogue.

Rating: 7/10

"The Law of Suspects" by Maureen Johnson

My love for Maureen Johnson knows no bounds.

Undoubtedly my favorite of the collection, Law of the Suspects features Charlotte and her psych student sister Marylou on a trip to Paris to visit their cousin Claude. Stranded in rural France with only a mysterious housekeep for company, the girls begin to grow suspicious of their cousin's whereabouts and their neighbor's unearthly behavior. Especially when Catherine is told by their zombie-like neighbor the story of "The Law of Suspects"--a time in the Reinessense when anyone even remotely suspected as a criminal were jailed and executed. But this story turns out to be more then a morbid conversations's a curse.

Holyfuckingshit, this one is so damn good. Aside from some really out-of-place, gratuitious make-out sessions, "The Law of Suspects" is absolutly perfect. One of the few stories I've read where I actually have no clue what's going to happen.

There's a lot of funny bits in "Suspects"--such as this little tidbit, when Charlotte is describing the lack of entertainment in their villa:

There were also some board games and a television with antennae and no cable that got only one station, which showed only American cartoons dubbed into French, mostly Bob l'eponge, who lived in a pineapple under the sea.

I don't know. I laughed.

Rating: 9/10

"The Mirror House" by Cassandra Clare

Another strong one, and Clare once again delivers beautiful scenery and a relatable heroine.

Violet and Evan are newly dubbed step-siblings with an awkard romantic tension, their parents newlyweds who seem more an like old bickering couple, Evan's father Phillip a controlling, short-tempered sleaze. Every night Viola is lulled to sleep by the sounds of her mother and Phillip arguing, and she struggles with her feelings for Evan.

On a trip to the beach, the two meet the beautiful Mrs. Palmer, who leads Evan away with a suspicious request to fix her car.

Evan comes back hours later, pale and somehow empty. Violet must uncover the truth behind Mrs. Palmer before it's too late.

Cassandra Clare is definetly a top-notch writer (top-notch, listen to me) and, though the ending was pretty obvious, it was a fun read.

"Nowhere is Safe" by Libba Bray

Nothing I can say would not spoil you, so I'll just get down to the basic.

It's kind of like a Blair Witch Project thing, a boy talking to the camera recounting the events that have occured, which basically is the story. Interesting and chilling, "Nowhere is Safe" is a wonderful conclusion to Vacations from Hell.


Sadako said...

Sounds cool--I can't wait to read it for myself.

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

I'm not ususally into these but this one sounds good!

ParaJunkee said...

Hi there Danielle. Just wanted to stop by and say hello,with a little reminder that the Covet review deadline is today for Blog with Bite. Stop by and let us know where you posted it, by clicking here. I'm really looking forward to your opinions on the book, and seeing who the Top Reviewers are for Covet! - XO ParaJunkee - your friendly neighborhood BWB Editor

PeaceLove&Pat said...

been staring at this book at Borders but still don't have the heart to buy it. Thanks for reviewing maybe now I'll get to it.

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