Love Is Hell is a collection of five short supernatural love stories (around 50 pages each, so on the long side of short) by five wonderful authors. I’ve loved the work of all of these authors individually, so I was excited about this book!
The first story, Sleeping With The Spirit, by Laurie Faria Stolarz, is about a girl who falls in love with a ghost, and it’s an enjoyable read, if not particularly compelling.
The second, Stupid Perfect World, by Scott Westerfeld, is set in a futuristic world where students take a class called Scarcity, about the hard parts of history before all the technology they have now that keeps their world “perfect.” The class involves a project in which students suffer one of the ills of the ancient world (our world) for two weeks. When two students choose hormones and sleep (things eliminated by their technology), there are unexpected consequences as they realize that imperfections can be beautiful things. I really loved this story. I loved the spirit of it, and of course I love Scott Westerfeld’s writing. He is able to create a completely captivating world and story in only 55 pages.
The third story is Justine Larbalestier’s. Thinner Than Water is about a girl in an odd sort of historical tourist village, only the people in the village actually live in old-timey ways, with varying degrees of belief and loyalty to their lifestyle and the odd ideas (like believing in fairies) that come with it. The heroine’s family is very strict in their ways, which include things like schooling only to age fifteen, keeping modern things out of the house, and marrying off their daughter at sixteen. She wants to go to school and be a doctor, which means running away to the city. Meeting a boy who’s not quite like the rest of the village (in more ways than one) will change her, though. I enjoyed this story. It was a little creepy and sad and different, and I really liked it. The setting is intriguing. The story and characters begged me to keep reading!
The fourth story is Gabrielle Zevin’s Fan Fictions. It’s about an ordinary girl who meets a boy and reads a book and meets a boy, and, well, it’s really difficult to say anything without giving away the story, but, my god, it is creepy. Eerie and kind of disturbing and shuddery. I wasn’t captivated by the main character, and I couldn’t get past the story’s creepiness. It also doesn’t tie together in a nice sense-making package at the end, and I feel like this is a story not entirely told, and I don’t like it. This was the low point of the book for me, which is sad because I’ve loved Gabrielle Zevin’s books. It wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t my cup of tea, either. I can’t really speak for its quality because it was so solidly not something that I enjoyed, but not because of anything that made it bad, just because it wasn’t for me. At all.
The fifth and last story, by Melissa Marr, is called Love Struck. In it, Alana is trapped by a selchie (rather than the other way around, which is how the stories she’s heard tell it). She has to untangle fact from fiction and decipher the motives and thoughts of those around her, as well as deciding what part of what she feels is magic and enchantment and what is real. Melissa Marr is amazing. In this story, she’s able to create a character and a story that I could have read entire books about. Alana, more than any of the others in this collection, really feels like a person at the end of the 44 pages (although this may have something to do with the fact that she reminds me a lot of Ash, another of Marr’s characters in her novels). And she is an awesome person at that! The story itself is interesting, too. I would have loved to read more. Melissa Marr rocks.
Overall, this collection is definitely worth reading. Though one wasn’t really my style (you may think it’s fantastic), I loved three of the stories and liked a fourth. Three of the stories would have been mind-blowing standouts in any other company, but when you put great writers together, it’s hard to pick a favorite! This is definitely worth reading.