Friday, July 23, 2010

Vacations from HellVacations from Hell by Libba Bray

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Lessons learned from reading this book:

1)Do not go on a cruise for your vacation...There might be vampires aboard.
2)Be aware of childhood rivals that you go on family vacations with...They might be evil witches.
3)Never spend your vacation in the French countryside, and by all means, avoid striking up a conversation with a garrulous Frenchman...It could very well be deadly to you and yours.
4)If you go to Jamaica, avoid the strange house with mirrors on it...Just take my word for it.
5)Never, ever take a backpacking trip through strange European countries with even stranger names like Necratul. Trust me on that!

This turned out to be a very good short story collection. I was kind of worried at how the first story, "Cruisin'", by Sarah Mlynowski, started. I thought, "Crap. This is like the CW teenie-bopper shows I avoid like the plague. Young girls out to get laid, 17 going on 35." I'm glad I kept reading. Just when I was about to give up, it got interesting. I have to admit that she threw me for a loop with the unexpected twist. Nicely played, Ms. Mlynowski. 4 stars.

"I Don't Like Your Girlfriend" by Claudia Gray took an interesting look at childhood rivalries between two girls whose mothers are both initiating them into their lives as witches. Cecily is a by-the-book girl, following all the rules of the Craft faithfully. Kathleen, her nemesis, has no problem breaking one of the first rules of witchcraft, not using your power to influence others. And to make it even worse, she's using it over her sweet boyfriend, Scott, who Cecily has a crush on. Cecily is out to see justice done. This was a pretty good story. Not really a subject I'm that interested in, but it kept my interest. 4 stars.

"The Law of Suspects" by Maureen Johnson struck me as such a well-done story. It starts out so funny in a completely sarcastic way. I was laughing out loud at Charlie's observations of her trip to France. And then, suddenly this story became as creepy as heck! Imagine being stranded in a country where you barely speak the language, and there is a weird French guy telling you an incredibly unsettling story. You know something is Just Not Right about this guy. Then, there's a very cute French guy who shows up. He tells you that you and your sister's lives are in danger. What do you do? What do you do? Man, this was a suspenseful story. I had no idea how it was going to end. Was Gerard telling Charlie the truth? Argh! I was holding my breath! When it ends, there's still this lingering fear. Is it over? What a good story. 5 stars.

"The Mirror House" by Cassandra Clare unnerved me, enthralled and riveted me. Ms. Clare used her prose very skillfully, creating a story that was beautiful and sinister. Despite the sunbleached brightness of the Jamaican beach, there was a dark undertone to everything. Along with Violet, I feared for young Evan. I had no clue initially what the threat was, but when I found out, I really liked the direction that Ms. Clare took. Brimming with atmosphere and intensity, this was a 5 star story for me.

"Nowhere is Safe" by Libba Bray. Man, oh, man. I'd rather have the most boring summer on earth than have the vacation from you know where that this group of friends had. I couldn't believe how scary this story got. Imagine going to a town where the townspeople had a pact with the Devil, sacrificing their children for prosperity for many years. They haven't done that in over one hundred and fifty years. But, some traditions aren't easily forgotten. I loved that the main character was half-Asian. He was subjected to prejudice because of his heritage, but he is heir to a special ability that may very well be the saving of his friends. He's sweet on his best friend, Izzy, whose parents were Haitian refugees, and who understands very well being a stranger in one's own land. Can he and his friends survive the nefarious plans of the villagers on their last Feast before their village is uprooted to build a power plant? Boy, this was not an ideal story to read before bedtime. Although the ending was a bit rushed, I still give it 5 stars for really scaring me, and for the hidden themes of prejudice and identity that I think it handled very well.

I was very happily surprised with this story collection. It was a quick but fulfilling read. I didn't expect these stories to be quite so scary, but it was, and in the best ways! Although this is a young adult collection, I think a lot of older readers would enjoy it too.

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5.0 stars.

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Lea (YA Book Queen) said...

Maureen's and Cassandra's stories sound awesome! I'll definitely have to check this one out now, thanks for the great review! :)

Tea said...

Hi Danielle,

I love this navy blue look. It's so pretty. I like the review too. I miss sharing with you on Good reads.

Danielle said...

Do check out this one, Lea.

Thanks, Tea. I was thinking about you!