Love Is Hell

Love Is Hell - Scott Westerfeld;Melissa Marr;Gabrielle Zevin;Laurie Faria Stolarz;Justine Larbalestier "Love is Hell" follows a list of young adult paranormal romance short story anthologies (alongside "Vacations from Hell" and "Prom Nights from Hell", if I'm not mistaken), with a diverse array of authors and subjects approached within. I'll say that much like other books in this scheme of anthologies, certain works appealed to me much more than others, and I think it depends highly on personal interests as to what story most appeals to the reader.For me, Scott Westerfield had the best work in the anthology with both an intriguing universe, concept, and set of protagonists within the story "Stupid Perfect World". The story alternates between the voices of a boy and a girl who must learn to do without specific amenities in their lives, and end up learning lessons about life, love, and how technology can't always give you everything you want in life. I would easily give his work 4.5/5 stars for the resonating themes and voices. I wouldn't even mind a full length novel of this story. Granted, part of its ability to stand out may be that it's speculative fiction/sci-fi rather than urban fantasy, but the way its conceptually developed and executed was fascinating.The second best story in my eyes belonged to Justine Larbalestier with "Thinner than Water". The story revolves around a young woman who falls in love with an outsider of her controlling village and family. I felt for the character's struggles and hardships, and her determination to rise above them. Granted, part of me felt that after one of the major twists within the story, the ending didn't measure up quite as much as it began, but it was still an interesting read."Sleeping with the Spirit" by Laurie Faria Stolarz was a typical, but enjoyable ghost story about a young woman haunted in her dreams by a boy long deceased in her family's home. It does have a sweet yet eerie feel to it in places, and I liked the added touch of resolution where the protagonist tries to make amends so that the ghost can finally be at peace.The stories that didn't really work with me may surprise some or none. I've read Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely and found much to like in it, but her contribution "Love Struck" didn't quite hit me with as much potency. I think the short story format was part of the reason (might've made an interesting novella or novel with more time to develop the characters and situations), not to mention the familiar premise to me (which I've seen handled quite a few times in better context). I give her credit though, it started out with enough intrigue to keep me reading, but didn't quite deliver."Fan Fictions" by Gabrielle Zevin didn't live up to my expectations unfortunately. I think the twist on events would've been more effective if certain elements of the story hadn't felt so forced. I understood what the author was trying to do - establish the story of a girl so caught up in this mysterious boy who happens to come straight from a fictional story, but her mania isn't really justified and doesn't come across as much eerie as it does haphazard. Great premise, though could've had better execution.I did enjoy Love is Hell for what it offered, and I think the stories will intrigue those who love Paranormal Romance in a variety of different settings. I'd recommend it for a relaxing read.Overall score: 3/5