Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ski Weekend

We begin with four teenagers returning home after a ski weekend, driving too fast on an icy mountain road. The driver, Doug, is laughing, while our protag, Arial, is annoyed by his cockiness. (sidenote: are any Fear Street books written from the perspective of a male? Are Fear Street books just for girls? I don’t know). Arial’s best friend and Doug’s girlfriend, Shannon, is pouting in the passenger seat and keeps grabbing Doug’s arm with no thought to self preservation. The final member of the carload, Red, is a mysterious stranger, and keeps on offering practical advice that no one wants. So we know already that Doug is an asshole, Shannon’s a whiner, and Red is cute … so he will probably be a murderer or end up dead, one or the other. Arial has a boyfriend, Randy, but he left early from the ski trip, so she pouts about that the entire book and cuddles up to Red. Skank. Or independent heroine?

Everyone is scared because Doug is a careless driver, and the storm is building. To diffuse the tension, Arial spouts off a useless random trivia fact: “Did you know that snow has ten times the volume of rain? That means that every inch of rain is equal to ten inches of snow.” Why the random factoid? Because Ariel is a scientist. That’s right, she’s in high school but she’s going to be a great doctor, obviously.

Our intrepid group head off the main highway down a country road in a blizzard. Seemed like a good idea at the time, I guess. The car predictably dies, and there is a convenient house in the woods and decide to see if they can shelter there. A big bear like guy, Lou, answers the door and welcomes them, lets them stay the night. He immediately hits on Shannon, the pretty redhead, proving he is a total perv. His wife, Eva, is meek and subservient, and Lou is clearly abusive to her.

Lou and Doug start talking about macho things like hunting, and their guns, and basically whip out their dicks for measurement, because this macho contest goes a bit overboard. Lou is telling stories about friends of his who have been shot and killed, then laughs hysterically, so we know that Lou is insane.

Ariel goes to the kitchen with Eva and asks for a cup of tea. She gets suspicious when Eva doesn’t know where the tea is (dun dun dun!). Ariel’s scientist mind goes into overdrive. Then there’s this god awful part where Ariel jokes about being named after a Shakespearean sprite, and it goes on and on forever. I may be a snob on this, but I like my Fear Street Shakespeare reference-free, thank you very much. Everyone goes to bed tired and tense.

Ariel wakes up in the middle of the night to hear someone slowly creaking up the steps. Turns out it’s just Red, who had clearly been outside. He creeps into her room. (scandalous!) Red tells her he heard Lou hit Eva, and it sounded like he killed her. Then they start making out. I think R. L. may believe violence is a huge turn on for women, because a standard formula used is violence/weapons = making out. Ariel you hussy, you have a boyfriend. She remembers this after awhile, and tells him no all dramatically. He kind of shrugs and leaves – maybe he wasn’t that into her.

They get up the next morning and everyone seems refreshed, except for Eva, who is ‘sleeping in’. Doug, Ariel and Red go out to start the car, only to discover – it’s gone! Well, it had been pushed over the edge of a ravine and was buried in the snow at the bottom. Who could have done this? Then all the phone lines go out. Lou has a girly hissy fit about it. Ariel realizes at that moment she has no reason to be suspicious of him (wife-killing aside).

The whole gang decides to take Lou’s Jeep into town, but first: SNOWBALL FIGHT! Ariel sucks at throwing, but it’s okay, because she reminds us she’s a scientist. Unfortunately, the engine of the Jeep is dead and they are totally trapped. All snowball enthusiasm is sucked right out of them. Red says he is good with cars, and stays out in the barn to try to fix it, while the rest of them go back in to drink beer (especially Lou).

Since Eva still hasn’t gotten up, Ariel decides to check on her. She walks into the room to find her awkwardly sprawled across the bed with her eyes wide and staring. Much screaming ensues, but it turns out Eva just sleeps that way. She has been smacked around, though, and she frantically whispers that they should get out of there.

Ignoring this advice, Ariel and the rest of them sit around all afternoon, until Ariel sees a creepy guy in a ski mask staring at them through the window – that’s never good! They all freak out, and the guy disappears. Lou and Red appear asking what’s wrong.

Then, bizarrely, Lou starts checking Doug out and feeling his biceps. Manly? Or homoerotic? He challenges him to a wrestling match. They “seemed to be having fun, rolling around on the white rug, putting different holds on each other, groaning and grunting …” (… um …) Doug eventually wins, and Lou loses it. He attacks Doug and hurts his knee.

But everything is okay! Conveniently, scientist Ariel studied a little bit about knees for a science project last term, and is able to determine it’s not a break, just a sprain. That’s right, doctors and physios out there. All it takes to know about knees is a high school science project. Doug is cured!

The kids decide to make a break for it, since Lou is dangerous and has a thing for both Shannon and Doug, and Red overheard him say he would rob them and abandon them there. They wait for Lou to get drunk and pass out, then sneak out, taking one of his guns while they were passing by. They get out to the barn where they see a guy with a gun, and all hell breaks loose. Everyone yells Lou! and Gun! and Doug shoots the guy.

So, turns out is wasn’t Lou, it was some other guy (ski mask guy?) and he is dead. Doug mans up and wants to turn himself over to the cops. Lou enters and tells him HE will turn them over to the cops, but they all have to wait until the morning.

Meanwhile, the wheels are turning in scientist Ariel’s head, and she wants to inspect the body. So she sneaks into the cellar where they put the corpse, and finds out that he was dead, like, way before. The gunshot wound didn’t bleed at all, and the body was stiff and frozen. She figures the body had been propped up against a pole in the barn with a gun in its hand, and all this means is Doug is in the clear. Science wins again!

She tells everyone that Lou had murdered someone, and was trying to set them up to take the fall for him. They try to run away, again, but are foiled when Red shockingly pulls out a gun and turns it on them. Turns out, Red was in on it the whole time. He was the guy in the ski mask, trying to either scare them, or to make them think there was someone else at the house, it’s never really explained. He is brother to Eva, and the dead guy. Dead guy stole their inheritance, so they decided to create their own justice.

So, just to go over their foolproof plan, Lou and Red decide to kill a man in his own home. Then Red goes to a nearby ski chalet, in the hopes that he would find some naïve people who will drive him home in a blizzard and have their car die JUST outside of the house. The plan also includes the assumption that the group of naïve but kindhearted people would randomly fire shots at a person. I mean, they were dead on in the end, but isn’t that leading an awful lot to chance?

They couldn’t plan everything, though. Eva comes out of the house to tell them she’s had a change of heart and has called the police. Ariel then saves the day at this point by throwing iced over snowballs at Lou, who is now holding the gun. While she sucks at throwing, she does manage to knock Lou out. They run for the Jeep, and then realize that Red still has the keys for it. All seems lost, until Ariel spots a snowmobile, hops on it, and drives away. Apparently, the plan is to distract the men with guns while the others escape, but it seems just as likely that she would just call to them: “Later!”

But, the men with guns do fall for it, and run after the snowmobile. Ariel the scientist drives that thing right onto a partially frozen lake. She bails from the snowmobile, and keeps on running and slipping away from Red and Lou. They catch up with her just as the police arrive, and attempt to use her as a hostage, until the ice starts cracking and Red is sucked into the lake. He dies a horrible death.

Ariel just needs to make it to the shore. I’m surprised she doesn’t have a life-long fear of ice-drowning, that arose from watching her best friend twin drown in front of her when she was eight. Or something. That seems very Fear Street. Anyways, she runs over the dissolving ice and makes it in the end. Everything works out and they all make bad jokes.

This was really badly done, even for a Fear Street book. Even the supposed suspenseful moments weren’t really that suspenseful. And the thing I cannot get over is the cover art. Red is the guy in the ski mask, and yet there he is, inside, with Ariel and his wavy handsome hair, being scared by the guy in the ski mask. I hate that. Nice sweaters, all of you. I give it a 3 on the suspense scale, and that’s only because I do think a winter chalet is the perfect setting for murder.

L. K. Stine


Drew said...

this post makes me glad i never read any fear street books. terrrrrible.

know what would have been scary? if lou had, i dont know, tried to kill them in the first place, instead of all the homoerotic man-grabbing and framing of the kids.

so bad, but so good. i give you snark 9 out of 10. it could have been snarkier!

LongWinter said...

This blog is primo. Ski Weekend is my most favourite Fear Street - even to the extreme extent that, as a youth, I forced my friends and relatives to do a radio play of it.

I actually forgot that Red was supposed to be a stud or something, because in my version he sounded like that pimply teenager on the Simpsons.

I google "fear street" constantly, so I don't know how you've been under my radar for so long! I'm glad I found this now! YAY!

RecallerReminder said...

I liked this book even if is one of those where Fear Street is not even mentioned ever i nthe whole story (just because its says they were from Shadyside I would think is one other those Stine s books of point one series).