Book Review: 21 Proms by 21 Authors

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Info: Paperback, 289 pages, YA, short-story anthology, published December 20, 2014 (original pub date March 1, 2007)

Synopsis: From many mega-bestselling authors, including John Green, Libba Bray, Holly Black, and David Levithan, 21 prom stories you’ll never forget.

From an amazing array of authors including John Green, David Levithan, E. Lockhart, Libba Bray, Ned Vizzini, and Holly Black…  Prom. It’s supposed to be one of the best nights of your life. Or, at least, you’re supposed to have a good time. But what if you’d rather be going with your best friend’s date than your own? What if a sinister underground society of students has spiked the punch? What if your date turns out to be more of a frog than a prince? Or what if he’s (literally) an ape?

There are ways you can fight it. You can protest the silliness of the regular prom by hosting a backwards prom – also known as a morp. You can throw a prom for fat girls. You can stay at home to watch old teen movies and get your cute neighbor and his cuter brother to join you. You can dance to your own music.

First Impressions: I really love this cover. Every outfit on it corresponds to one of the stories, which is an awesome way to connect the content to the cover. I hate when a book has a great cover that doesn’t match the content (I’m looking at you,  Say What You Will!).

Story by Story Breakdown: 

You Are a Prom Queen, Dance Dance Dance by Elizabeth Craft
– 1/5 stars
– I hated this narrator. I have never been able to understand people that hate on everyone just for the sake of being negative and different and cool. When you’re doing something to be different for the sake of being different and not being yourself, I do not want to be around you or hear a word you have to say. It’s boring and fake. This narrator ruins everyone’s night until the end when she FINALLY does something to make herself happy instead of trying to act like she doesn’t care. I know this is super common in high school, but it was not the right tone to start this book off. From the second I started reading it, I was put off and irritated.

All She Wants by Cecily von Ziegesar
– 3/5 stars
– I liked this one, but the list format threw me off. It’s never explained, and it really interrupts the flow of the story. I shook my head at the narrator when she invites guys over and answers the door in a ball gown. But honestly, if I had a closet full of fabulous ball gowns at my disposal, I’d wear them whenever I could.

In Vodka Veritas by Holly Black
– 4/5 stars
– So odd. I was left wondering if that really just happened, or if it was a metaphor or something. But after the initial shock wore off, I really liked it.

Your Big Night by Sarah Mlynowski
– 4/5 stars
– Oh, the honesty of this story. While I was initially irked by the second-person narrative, after a few paragraphs I didn’t notice it anymore. This girl does everything to try to get her ex back, and doesn’t realize until she’s in a limo on her way to the prom with a date she that she HATES that she is becoming someone she doesn’t want to be. So many girls go through this. So good. I really enjoyed this one.

Off Like a Prom Dress by Billy Merrell
– 3/5 stars
– This one was written in verse, and I think it paid off. Another story about a girl realizing she wants to do something for herself, rather than for a boy. I can always get behind that.

“Mom Called, She Said You Have to Go to the Prom” by Adrienne Maria Vrettos
– 3/5 stars
– This one was so cute!! The girl just has fun and doesn’t care what others think about her, and everyone is used to it from her so there’s no bullying or teasing, just laughing with her. Wonderful. Also, she was so sweet to her precious brother, and I love the way their relationship was handled.

Better Be Good to Me by Daniel Ehrenhaft
– 2/5 stars
– Ugh. Weird. SO WEIRD. This guy is supposedly telling his daughter about how he and her mom got together at their prom equivalent. But he talks about LSD all the time and how he wanted to jump her bones and how he was awful to her bestie and just…I would probably wear crocs before I let my dad tell me a story like this. And I loathe crocs.

Three Fates by Aimee Friedman
– 4/5 stars
– Cute story. Kind of reminded me of Crazy Stupid Love in that everything just connects and goes deliciously wrong but ends up well.

The Question: A Play in One Act by Brent Hartinger
– 5/5 stars
– THIS WAS THE CUTEST THING. I actually read almost the entire thing to my bestie over skype because it was just SO ADORABLE. I recommend picking this up from the library for this entry alone. Don’t read anything else, just this.

Shutter by Will Leitch
– no rating
– Honestly, I couldn’t focus on this story after the adorability of the last one. I didn’t read it.

Geechee Girls Dancin’, 1955 by Jacqueline Woodson
– 1/5 stars
– This was written in some dialect that was evidently supposed to be based on how slaves talked, but it’s set in 1955? It was incredibly hard to read and I’m still unsure of what actually happened.

How I Wrote to Toby by E. Lockhart
– 5/5 stars
– This was so good. If I was ever unsure about reading We Were Liars, I’m definitely not now. Lockhart’s writing style was perfect, the characters had depth and I would have read an entire book of this. So good.

A Six-pack of Bud, a Fifth of Whiskey, and Me by Melissa de la Cruz
– 4/5 stars
– Oh, Melissa. This was a true story of her prom story, and it was just so laughably bad. It showed how kids can overlook so much just because they’re excited about something happening. I want her to write a book of her bad experiences so I can cringe with her.

Primate the Prom by Libba Bray
– 1/5 stars
– HONESTLY, WTF WAS THIS?!?! I can’t tell if Libba Bray is supporting or condemning homosexuality with this?! I just…I have no words. Reading this story was how I imagine a bad trip feels. I’m wondering if I should keep her books on my TBR list.

Apology #1 by Ned Vizzini
– 3/5
– This was good, but forgettable. I expected more.

See Me by Lisa Ann Sandell
– 3/5 stars
– Again, good but forgettable. Cute, though. And I liked that she did what she wanted and found that the guy was a good match because of that. If that makes sense.

Prom for Fat Girls by Rachel Cohn
– 4/5 stars
– SO CUTE. I love Rachel Cohn and I was not let down. This made me so happy that I need to reread Dash and Lily for my reading challenge (Author with same first name, holla).

Chicken by Jodi Lynn Anderson
– 2/5 stars
– I totally understand how it feels to enjoy a friendship until someone reveals romantic feelings, and then feel awkward around them. It sucks. But this girl makes a conscious effort to get the friendship back, and I love that. Doesn’t mean this story wasn’t weird and hard to get through.

The Backup Date by Leslie Margolis
– 1/5 stars
– This girl. If I was friends with this girl, I would not have encouraged this ridiculous ‘charade’ of being drunk just to hook up with her secret boyfriend. Seriously, this girl has terrible ideas and she needs a cold dose of reality.

Lost Sometimes by David Levithan
– 4/5 stars
– Such a relatable story. You don’t have to have sex in crazy locations to relate to this. You just have to have wondered if what you’re doing is worth missing out on other things.

The Great American Morp by John Green
– 5/5 stars
– Maybe my second favorite, after the play story. So sweet. I really expected this to be an anti-prom story, but it was a backwards prom: crazy costumes, no dates, just fun. Also, it didn’t end with the parents coming home early and the kids getting in trouble!

Ratings and Recommendations: Average rating was three stars, but overall . I do not recommend this book unless you just…I don’t know. Don’t read this book please.

7. Never Reading This Again

Final Thoughts: Ugh.

Sound off in the comments: Have you read this? What were your thoughts? What was your reaction to Primate the Prom?!

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