Monday, October 24, 2011

Prom Dates from Hell

Maggie Quinn is the photographer for the yearbook, an aspiring journalist, and a high school senior, very much looking forward to exiting the high school scene and moving on.  She isn't among the most popular kids (nor does she have any interest to be), and she has some very good friends.  A bullying incident occurs, and she just happens to have her camera handy.  She uses the incriminating photo as a means of ending the incident, only to find that not only has she made enemies of the football players who were involved, but the victim is furious with her as well, for not allowing him to handle the situation himself.  Nothing worse than being rescued by a girl, after all.

The incident sparks a very strange situation.  Maggie begins to have dreams, the true kind of dreams, which she'd somehow been avoiding having for years.  Her grandmother, a woman with "the sight," has been urging Maggie to learn to use her talent for a long time, but Maggie has found it much more convenient to pretend it isn't there and try to live a normal life.  But when these dreams involve the very real odor of fire and brimstone, and horrible accidents begin happening to students at Maggie's school, she realizes she can't stand back and let these things happen.  Luckily her father, a university professor, introduces her to Justin, one of his students,who is studying the supernatural aspects of folklore, and Justin is willing to help her out.  It doesn't hurt matters that he is a total hottie.

After I read Texas Gothic and enjoyed it so much, I knew I had to read everything else I could find by Rosemary Clement-Moore.  Her sense of humor absolutely tickles me, and her writing is excellent.  Maggie's strong, snarky voice carries this story, and while the storyline isn't anything terribly out of the ordinary as far as YA fantasy/horror stories go, there are some fun and surprising elements.  The dialogue works beautifully, the pacing is excellent, and the characters are well developed and fun.  I knew I was going to love the book when I came to paragraphs like this one:
I should point out that on Halloween, my chemistry teacher dressed up like Professor Snape from the Harry Potter books, and he sometimes referred to his course as "Potions Class" even when it wasn't October.  He had a last name out of a Bronte novel and he looked like the mad scientist from Back to the Future.  I love Professor Blackthorne.

I also enjoyed the fact that the author avoided the stereotypical scenario in which the clueless parents go about their day-to-day lives completely oblivious to the supernatural woes besetting the heroine.  Maggie isn't completely on her own as far as her clairvoyance is concerned.  Her grandmother is there to support her (but is willing to stand back and allow Maggie to deal with things herself), and her father is, too.  Her mom is more of a pragmatist, who would clearly rather cover her ears with her hands and yell "La la la! I'm not listening" when Maggie has one of her terrifying prophetic dreams.  I enjoyed Maggie's relationship with her dad, and they way they conspired to avoid freaking out her mother as much as they could. The book is smart and funny, using the situation and the supernatural themes as an effective way of examining many of the issues that high school students deal with without being preachy or patronizing.

I am sorry to see there are only three books in this series, and I'm very much looking forward to continuing with Maggie's Girl vs. Evil adventures.  Fun, fun, fun!

Books in the Maggie Quinn: Girl vs. Evil series:
1. Prom Dates from Hell
2. Hell Week
3. Highway to Hell 
 
Prom Dates from Hell (#1 in the Maggie Quinn: Girl vs. Evil series) by Rosemary Clement-Moore (Delacorte Press, 2007)

Also reviewed at:
Book Dweeb"This story starts out good, but fizzles toward the end. The fantasy laws at work here are too contrived, and (unlike Buffy) it’s not funny enough to make up for the flaws in internal logic."
Reading Rants:  "I just loved this outrageous supernatural romp. Among  the sheer number of Buffy rip-offs and Twi-wannabes that crowd the book and DVD shelves these days, Rosemary C-M’s mystical offering manages to stand out, mainly because of Maggie’s snarly, sassy voice."
Teen Book Review" This fast-paced, well-written adventure had me hooked from the start, and kept me that way!"

4 comments:

  1. How much fun does this look? I'm glad you mention that it stands out from the field of YA fantasy/horror slightly despite its similar premise; particularly, hooray for involved adults!

    Might have to see if I can find this one...

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  2. Greetings from the Amish community of Lebanon,Pa.

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  3. Oh no, another YA book that sounds fantastic, where will it end?? Seriously, this one is right up my alley, I'll be exploring this author for sure!

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  4. Kiirstin - it is a lot of fun - I think you'd enjoy it. Definitely a funny and gripping read for a long trip. I'd love to know what you think!

    Amish Stories - Thank you! I've spent some time in Lebanon, and it is lovely.

    Joanna - Yeah, I feel your pain. But you'll have fun with this one!

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