Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bad Dreams, or "Princess Pink Death"

Bad Dreams is a tale of two sisters – this plot line seems to be used a lot, sibling rivalry = death. Oops! I gave it away. Maggie is the older Travers sister, and Andrea is the unfortunate younger. Maggie is beautiful, smart and athletic, while Andrea is … not. While both girls are redheads (but of course they are), Andrea is short and dumpy, with stringy short hair (and short hair = ugly).

They are moving with their mom to Fear Street from a richer neighbourhood, shortly after the death of their father. They have with them their old golden retriever, Gus. I immediately thought if something happens to Gus, I’m never reading another Fear Street book again. A page later, Gus is hit by a car … oh, wait, false alarm. That was the most suspenseful part of the book. Apparently cats and small dogs are okay to be killed and occasionally chopped up and put in bags, but not even R. L. can manage to kill off a retriever. I approve (not of animal killings, ever, obviously, but of saving goldens, but then, I’m biased.)

The family moved into the decrepit Fear Street house, and everyone is super unhappy about it. The only nice surprise is a beautiful pink canopy bed left in Maggie’s room (perfect for princesses). Andrea immediately has a tantrum because she wants the princess bed. Maggie, ever the princess, keeps it for herself. Big mistake! She has horrible nightmares about a girl being stabbed to death in the bed, and starts to unravel, particularly after she finds out the previous owner’s daughter had been actually stabbed to death in the bed. I’m pretty sure if I found out someone had recently been murdered in my mysteriously abandoned bed, I would start to sleep on the couch, but Maggie powers through.

The girls are both on the swim team and are competing for the top two positions, to compete at the all state swim meet. Andrea was made to seem short, dumpy and bad at athletics, but she’s one of the top swimmers in the high school. I guess she’s just ugly, then. Both of them are very competitive, but in the end Maggie gets first place, and Andrea comes in fourth. Only things keep on ‘happening’ to the other competitors. One girl is pushed down a flight of stairs, breaking her arm, and another ends up with a knife in the back (although she survives). Both girls blame Maggie, because she’s so competitive, but that doesn’t make any sense. Maggie already beat them, she won. Andrea, however, is all of a sudden in the top two positions. Hmmm…

Maggie is losing it more and more, not sleeping well because of her nightmares. One night, after waking up screaming, she is then attacked by the ghost of the girl in the dreams. Only the ‘ghost’ is wielding a knife and jumps out a window when Andrea comes into the room. Pretty low rent ghost. Nobody believes Maggie, and she has to see a shrink. It is suggested that the canopy bed is moved to the attic to help Maggie get over her unnatural obsession with it.

At this point, Maggie is in too deep, so she sneaks up to the bed to figure out who the killer is. On the bed she finds … the killer. That was easy. Her ‘ghost’ is a girl who used to live in the house. She candidly admits to killing her sister in the bed, in a jealous rage, then escaping from the mental institute she was locked up in. She had been living in the attic ever since. She identified with poor dumpy Andrea, and started maiming the swim team to help her out. Ghost killer girl is about to slit Maggie’s throat for Andrea, who enters the attic. Andrea’s heart grows three sizes too big, and she saves big sis. Whew!

Things immediately return to normal with the girls bitterly fighting with each other, basically over their near-killer. All is well in Shadyside again. I give this book 2 princess pink canopy beds out of 4, because it was only so-so, but at least no golden retrievers were hurt in the making of this book.

L. K. Stine

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lights Out, or “Do Not Date Someone Who Throws a Bucket of Leeches On You”

I decided in honour of the forthcoming long weekend, I would do some Fear Street books camping style. They’re like creepy Fear Street books, but not ACTUALLY at Fear Street … oh, that’s pretty much all of them. But there’s always somebody who LIVES at Fear Street, so that means they’re cursed no matter where they go. The cover is pretty good, that’s Holly, she’s so pretty. She’s screaming like that prolly because she saw a bug. “It all happens in the dark …” Sexy!

So, Lights Out is pretty cool because all the five page chapters are interspersed with creepy letters to somebody named “Chief”, written by somebody named “Me” (but not ME, actually – obviously to write down their real name would destroy the hard earned suspense built over this carefully crafted plot …) Anyhoo, they’re pretty insane, all about revenge and that. And you know, from the very beginning, that “Chief” is dead, and nothing is going to go well for anyone.

Holly is our pretty long-haired heroine of the book. Her Uncle Bill convinces her to help out at his camp, Camp Nightwing, as a junior counselor, because things keep on “happening” there and he’s about to go out of business. Things like lightning striking and causing fires, floods, measles outbreaks, accidental deaths … yikes! This place is as cursed as Fear Street – or is it?

Holly is suuuuuper whiny about it, because she hates all things creepy crawly, like bugs, snakes and bats. But she sucks one up for Uncle Bill. As soon as she gets there, though, it’s clear it’s going to be a bad summer. Her major arch-rival, Geri, is also a junior counselor there, and the senior counselor in charge of her, Debra, is a huge bitch to her. Actually, Debra is a huge bitch, everything Holly does she just yells at her and puts her down in front of everyone, counselors and campers alike. I just don’t think I would take it the way Holly does, which is to tremble her lower lip and run away. Grow up, Holly!

Her major fear is that everyone will find out Uncle Bill is actually her uncle, and treat her differently. Yes, he makes everyone call him Uncle Bill, especially the underage counselors. Yes, Uncle Bill is a pervert, I have nothing to back this up but I’m fairly sure he has a porn mustache. But everyone does find out he is her for reals uncle, and treats her like shit because of it … wtf? She’s helping out her uncle? Like, for free? Not exactly the kind of thing kids are usually ostracized for, but whatevs.

Things start poorly for Holly. One guy starts to like her, Mick. He’s really intense and thinks she likes him, because she had been looking at him all day. In fact, she was trying to figure out whether he was creating the accidents by undressing him with her eyes, but he took it the wrong way. He forces her to go for a walk with him at night, grabbing her arm in anger when she hesitates. I would say wtf, but this the Fear Street, where violence = sexy time, so of course she’s all over it. He tries to force himself on her, and even for Holly this is a little much, because she really hadn’t been eye-fucking him at all, so she pushed him into the lake. Awesome! Best scene of the book. As she walked away they, she felt her feelings conflicted – on the one hand, he had just assaulted her, but on the other hand, he was hot and she was flattered about the attention. Holly, honey, he just assaulted you! This is everything that is wrong with the message sent to teenage girls … you know what, I won’t get into it.

Also, these accidents keep on happening around the camp – a cabinet has it’s bolts loosened, and it almost crushes Uncle Bill, a bunk bed in a cabin collapses, all the canoes are sunk one morning. Each time, a red feather is placed at the scene of the crime, tipping them off that somebody’s been doing this on purpose. Only, nobody else thinks that a feather, TAPED, to an accident scene is suspicious – especially after it happens three times. Holly decides she must investigate, to save the campers or something.

Unfortunately, she’s also doing poorly with the other counselors. They all hate her, whether because she’s Uncle Bill’s niece, or because she’s whiny, or because she pushed them in a lake, or because they are friends with Geri, her ARCH-rival. This one time, a group of them, led by Geri and Mick, grab her, and push her into a muddy stream. As she’s lying there, they dump a bucket of leeches on her. They DUMP a BUCKET of LEECHES on her. They say it’s initiation, but it’s actually because they are psychotic and cruel. Holly laughs this off, like, no harm done! That would be enough to have me packing my bags. But she’s found a new love interest, Sandy, the generic Ken doll, who is actually nice and doesn’t throw gross things on her. Or does he? As her love interest, he is either a psychopathic killer, or about to be dead, so you never know. Any guesses for our Sandy?

Then, there is one of the grossest deaths I’ve read in a Fear Street book by now. Bitchy Debra is late for mess hall, and Holly goes to find her, and find nothing but death! Debra has been strangled on her pottery wheel, and the thing had been left on, rubbing her face off! There’s nothing left but pulp and yuckiness. R. L. has a huge thing about faces being torn or rubbed off – I actually think having your face RUBBED off would be worse, because that much slower. There should be a phobia for having one’s face removed, because I now have it. I mean, there’s a phobia for everyone else.

Holly is hunting for the killer, and as expected, everyone is acting suspicious. Everyone seems to be writing secret letters, but we don’t know if they are for “Chief”. Anyone who isn’t Holly forgets about the gruesome death IMMEDIATELY and they go on a wilderness trip to forget about it even more. All of Holly’s tormentors are going, but it’s okay because Sandy will be there – he’s so dreamy!

Sandy wakes her up in the early morning to go for a canoe ride. Once there in a canoe, he turns into a psychopath, and admits to killing Debra and causing accidents because his brother, affectionately called “Chief” was killed here last year, and they all have to pay! He actually liked Holly, and tried to scare her away by putting a garter snake in her bed (sadly, that almost worked.) But now she must die! He tries pushing her in the river, but she swims away, and climbs a cliff, where she comes across (gasp!) a snake nest. She overcomes her fear of snakes to throw one at Sandy, where he screams like a child, falls, and breaks his neck.

Then the best part ever happens. Mick runs up to Holly, asking her if she’s alright. Over the newly-dead body of Sandy, he tells her he thought a lot about everything, and thinks that throwing somebody in mud and covering them in a bucket of leeches is actually a kind of shitty thing to do. So … will you go out with me. Holly is charmed by this and says yes. Holly, he assaulted you, then covered you in leeches! This is not the man to go out … I’ll just stop myself here. I’m sure you both will have a happy life together.

I give this book 2 buckets of leeches out of 5, because I got pissed off again just thinking about the book.

L. K. Stine

Camp Out, or “Don’t Date the Guy Who Swings Axes At Your Head”

Another fabulous camping book. This is a New! Fear Street Book, written in 1998 – I thought these would maybe be different, but they’re not. The cover is more interesting though, it’s got a creepy ugly Blair Witch thing going on – only, it’s nothing like Blair Witch. Also, the tagline – ‘Camping can be murder.’ When? When is camping ever murder. This is too similar to Broken Hearts tagline: ‘Love can be murder.’ Also not true.

Three girlfriends are going on a camping/rock climbing trip. Maria, our heroine, is scared of the outdoors, so is not that enthused. Ellen is kinda butch, and is all over it. Beth, the slut (because she dates lots of guys) is kinda meh about the whole thing, but hopes to meet lots of boys. I must relay the best passage probably ever written (please remember, the girls at the time are shopping in a camp supply store):

Beth waltzed across the store holding up a colorful Lycra catsuit in front of her shapely body. ‘Isn’t this cute?’ she drawled.
Ellen rolled her eyes. ‘We’re going camping in the mountains, Beth,’ she muttered. ‘Not to the country club.’

This passage raises so many questions I don’t even know where to begin. What camping supply store sells Lycra catsuits? Who wears Lycra catsuits, even in 1998? And wtf kind of country clubs do they have in Shadyside?

As they are shopping, the quarterback of the football team, Bret, comes over and tries to hit on Maria. She calls him ‘The Freak’ because he has big muscles and she heard he drank a beer once. She’s all chilly to him, and it seems she has a point – as soon as he realizes she’s not into it, he takes an ice axe and swings it at her head, stopping an inch away then laughing like a psycho. Wow, inappropriate!

They take off on their trip later, and soon run into three really cute guys – how convenient! They are all going to be hiking up the same trail, so they start to go together. Only, Maria sees they brought with them 3 SIXPACKS OF BEER!!! and determines they’re obviously planning on getting trashed. I’m assuming this is American beer, so at best, they might get a light buzz. The girls leave the boys to their vices, and take off on their own.

Bad stuff keeps on happening to them. Some hunters get lost and shoot at them. Then Maria falls down a slippery hill and sprains her wrist. At this point, the girls are thinking they should turn back, but they run into the guys again who bully them to camp midway up the cliff on a ledge. Maria has already fallen for one of the boys, beer or no, and agrees. They hoist her up the cliff because she can’t get there on her own with her wrist.

Things go from bad to worse when two of the boys overnight get TOTALLY WASTED and beat the other one (Maria’s love interest) to death and throw him off the cliff. They admit to this right away, like no big deal, and don’t understand why the girls can’t chill. They decide to kill/take the girls hostage to get out of the situation. The plan they finally come up with is they will raft to the big falls, then push the girls over it in the raft, so it looks like an accident.

Maria is forced to go to the rafting rental place, where she rents one on pain of one of her friends having their throats slit. But on the credit card slip she writes out their whole situation and hopes someone will help them.

Ellen and Beth have meanwhile been beaten into submission, so it’s up to Maria. When they try to put her in the raft, she fights and gets away. She runs to the road and flags down a car, only its … the Freak! Bret the axe-wielding psycho! And he’s friends with the two guy killers, and agrees to help them, because, you know, every once and awhile you get into situations like this.

Maria is forced down to the raft again, and finally three large males are able to put her in. Bret is about to cut the rope with his axe, then swings around and hits one of the guys with it! He’s on the girls’ side, because he’s in love with Maria and the axe-swinging thing was all in good fun. They beat up the guys and put them in the raft, and push them over the waterfall. I know they were going to do this to them, but it seems kind of cold. Anyways, all is well, and Maria starts dating Bret, even though he once almost chopped her in the face with an axe. I was thinking about it, and it does kind of make sense. Everything is relative, even what is acceptable male behaviour. In a place where everyone behaves normally, swinging axes at faces, or, say, throwing a bucket of leeches on to people, is not acceptable. However, in Shadyside, where all your boyfriends are either dead or killers, this is actually kind of cute and charming. Forget what I said before, I accept her choice of Bret as a boyfriend. It makes sense to me now. I give this book 4 axes out of 5, because I finally get the attraction of Fear Street men.

L. K. Stine

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Perfect Date or "Stalkers Hate the Hideously Disfigured" or "Return of LOL Zombies!"

The Perfect date is one of the books I never read as a kid but totally captures everything I remember about Fear Street. There’s terribly gory accidents, rage-aholic behaviour by the men-folk, and the women all end up being absolutely nuts. I think the later books (this one was published in 1996) were gorier than the earlier ones. The ones written in the early 90s seem to focus more on mundane teenage problems (boyfriend/girlfriend issues), and hilarious superglue-in-the-toothpaste-tube episodes rather than traumatizing triple homicides. Therefore the later books = SUPERiour!

The cover is definitely misleading. At no time do Brady (our ‘hero’) and Rosha appear in the fog at night. And is that a letter opener of DOOM, I spot? The perfect weapon for a Fear Street murder! Brady has awesome hair and sideburns, although I think his 1996 rip off of Jason Priestly/Luke Perry would be more accurate if he had a small gold hoop earring. In the book, Rosha is described as being devastatingly beautiful, which… yeah okay, she’s pretty cute. But this is the object of Brady’s complete and total OBSESSION? … Meh. I think her hair is too frizzy. Probably just me though.

I knew this book was going to be good as soon as I opened it up and saw it had a prologue! Yes, this 147 page book is SO complex it needed a prologue and an epilogue! AND in the prologue, Brady’s girlfriend gets her face torn off! This is the kind of disgusting violence that the earlier books were missing. Ahhh so good. What happened was Brady took his GF, Sharon, tobogganing, she didn’t want to do it, he basically pushed her, she lost control, hit a tree and some thorn-y bushes and ripped her face off. “Nothing remained but a pulpy mass of skin and crushed bone. A bright red puddle of blood on the crisp white snow.” Deep.

We know that Brady is a total D-bag since he pushed his previous girlfriend to her untimely death and he doesn’t really get that much better. It’s a year later, and he has a new GF named Allie. He emos about how he likes her but she likes him more. O boo fucking hoo Brady, you should feel blessed that anyone is willing to risk their chances dating you after what happened to poor, faceless Sharon. We soon meet Rosha, the object of Brady’s unholy obsession. He goes to meet her at the diner him and his friend Jon are at, even though he has a GF. Rosha has a husky (is that supposed to be sexy? This what I think of) voice, and is super into Brady, but accidentally dumps scaling coffee all over his hands. So hot that it blisters! How the fudge was she drinking it?!

Brady of course forgives her and makes a date for the weekend. He avoids Allie all week because he doesn’t want to break up with her in case Rosha doesn’t work out. Claaaaaaassy. He also avoids Allie because he hilariously wants to be “alone to think about Rosha.” HAH! Is R.L. insinuating masturbation?? About time!

Cheater Brady and Rosha go to a movie for their date and they talk like they’ve “known each other forever.” Pay attention friends, that’s called ‘subtle’ foreshadowing. When they’re coming out of the movie, Brady spots a tragically disfigured woman standing in the shadows staring at him. His revulsion is immediate and shockingly intense. He intermittently stares at her and shudders. Nice Brady. Like this poor, scarred woman really wants to be the source of your nightmares. In case you’re interested, she’s described somewhat like this.

Rosha strongarms him into letting her drive home. However, after she gets them into a horrible car accident and confesses she doesn’t know how to drive, then DISAPPEARS when the cops show up, Brady thinks letting her drive might have been a mistake. MAYBE. Not that this does anything to dampen his love/lust/dark obsession with her though. He never got her number or anything so he emos about that, until that police from the crime scene stop by with her purse that was left in the car. Brady perks up because he can now violate her privacy by rifling through her purse! Oddly though, it’s empty. Brady clenches his fists in the air and screams “NOOOO!” Well, no, he doesn’t but you know he wants to. He also receives a threatening phone call telling him to stay away from Rosha. I probably would after that first car crash but I’m no Brady…

Brady takes his obsession to a new level and shows up at the private school Rosha attends to try and track her down. Stalking is illegal in most States, Brady! Or so I’m told. He can’t find her and when he describes Rosha to an unassuming boy in the parking lot, the boy hasn’t heard of her either. Well, he MUST be lying, thinks Brady! He just wants Rosha to himself! So Brady, being the epitome of calm, sane reasoning, starts to BEAT UP this poor kid! That’ll teach him to give the wrong answers!

Brady finally gets a grasp on reality and leaves the guy alone. He wanders behind the school and comes across *gasp* the horribly disfigured girl! Brady displays his humane side when looking at her: “Brady felt disgust. Pity. Horror. He didn’t know why but he couldn’t stand the idea of listening to her.” Dear lord Brady. She’s not even worth LISTENING to?! That’s extremely harsh, even for a teenage douchenozzle.

Anyways, he runs into Rosha in the field, and they make a date for Saturday. She even gives him her number AND home address. Unfortunately for Brady, when he gets to the point where he HAS to see her before their date, both number and address are fake. OUCH! Luckily for Brady, Rosha seems to have just as big of a problem keeping away and she shows up at his house. (Do teenagers normally exchange addresses? This seems weird…) The two crazed lovers talk and fight a little until Allie shows up! You remember, Allie, his GF from the beginning? Yeah he still hasn’t dumped her. Brady tries to hustle Rosha out the back door but in his haste, Rosha trips. And stabs him in the side with a letter opener. NICE! I don’t know about you all, but the letter openers I use? Are wooden with a nice loon on top. The letter opener from the cover of the book seems to be a large dagger. What are their envelopes made of?!

Brady gets home from the hospital and Allie comes over to dump his ass. Thank god! He gets a cryptic call from his BFF Jon telling him that the horribly scarred girl is at his house, and has convinced Jon that Rosha is trying to kill Brady. Got that? Brady gets a call on “call waiting” (how futuristic!) but when he gets back to Jon the line is dead. DEAD! He rushes over to his pal’s house where he finds Jon in the same condition as the phone line. DEAD! Well actually a neighbour found Jon dead, and called the police, who were already there by the time Brady pulls up. That awfully fast since Brady lives six blocks away…

He gets home and listens to a message from Rosha telling him to meet her for some tobogganing fun. At the same spot where his old GF Sharon was killed. Is your foreshadowing sense tingling? We get a classic chapter-ender from R.L.: ‘“Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten Brady,” Rosha interrupted. “I haven’t forgotten. After all, it was the day you killed me.”’ End chapter. Nice!

Rosha details that she’s actually dead Sharon back for revenge on Brady. She’s frustrated that Brady didn’t figure it out, as it was sooo obvious. Because Rosha Nelson and Sharon Noles’s names were anagrams of each other! No, seriously, that was the big clue.

Anyways Rosha kills him with her ‘inhuman’ strength (wtf?) when hideously scarred girls rolls up. She’s all “No way Sharon!” and Sharon/Rosha is all “Eff off!” Apparently, Sharon/Rosha stole this girls body to seduce and kill Brady. Wha? Scarred girl says Sharon/Rosha killed her and took her body. So how is she wandering around? And whose body is she in?? Unless… no. Not possible. It would be toooo good. Are these girls … ZOMBIES?!?!

The two girls fight. They rip out each others hair and eyes and yet still keep going. Are they? Are they not? Tell me they’re zombies! Just then, scarred girl rips off Sharon’s arm! YES!! THEY ARE TOTALLY ZOMBIES! That only EVER happens to zombies! Their fight ends when they both rip off each other’s heads and their bodies disappear. Were they vampire zombies?

The epilogue is just as good as the prologue in my opinion. Brady goes to Allie’s house to force her to take him back. She’s all “Well maybe” when she should really be like “Get the fuck off my property”. She notes how cold he is and he tells her about his one little problem. You see… HE’S A ZOMBIE!! “That’s why I’m so cold Allie. So cold. So cold. Because I’m dead.” He’s just a love struck zombie. All he wants from Allie is a date! And by date, he means BRAINS.

Well, this book was mindblowing-ly AWESOME. It had the gruesome violence that I LOVED as a child, some great foreshadowing and THREE MOTHER EFFING ZOMBIES. Doesn’t get much better than that! Ten nameless, hideously scarred women out of ten!

A.M. Stine

The Stepsister 2 or "Angry Art Class!"

Alright, here is the continuation of The Stepsister, inventively called The Stepsister 2. However, we know from reading the last book that the dog-killer is actually Emily’s REAL sister. INTENSE! Anyways, the back of the book tells us that Emily wants to “forgive and forget” the fact that Nancy, her sister, attempted to kill her, but she’s having trouble with all the awful accidents that are happening around her! I wonder who could be causing them…

The cover: Pretty good. Emily looks pretty here but completely different from the first book. It’s kinda an improvement though, so I won’t complain. Nancy on the other hand… has glowing red eyes. Ummm. That’s unusual… especially since this isn’t a “super special” where magic happens. She also has terrible hair AND is wearing a horizontal striped turtleneck! Blech! No wonder Nancy hates Emily. She’s obviously envious of Emily’s long hair and normally pigmented eyes!

So in this book, Emily and her stepsister (of the non-evil variety) Jessie are super close since Nancy tried to kill Emily and put the blame on Jessie. Nancy has been in an institute for a year, but the book opens on her homecoming day. Emily is understandably nervous. The whole book tries to pin the accidents on Emily’s stepbrother Rich, since Emily got him into trouble (he was drinking beer at 14!) and he acts like a major creep the whole time. Or I could say he acts like a 14 year old boy. Although with more vows of revenge than usual.

So Emily and Jessie are waiting for their parents to come home with Nancy when they hear the doorbell ring. It MUST be her! Because who doesn’t arrive at their home and ring the doorbell. O wait, NO ONE does that! Especially since Nancy is with her parents who would obviously have keys to their own GD house. Ugh, whatever advances the plot I guess? It’s (obviously) not Nancy, but their friend Cora-Ann (crappy name).

So let’s get down to the scary, gory, crazy stuff that Fear Street books are full of. Except this one? Has nothing like that. The first “incident” is Emily’s expensive perfume is knocked over. OOOO. Also, we don’t get any more questions answered from the last book. As I’m sure you all remember, Nancy tried to get Emily’s boyfriend by making out with him in front of her. But they never explained if Josh was into it or pushed her away, or just accepted it… Anyhoo, Emily is still with sister-lover Josh. Why? We have no clue.

Other “scary” incidents: Emily trips on the stairs (happened last book), and her favorite dress is cut up. Also Nancy attempts to strangle her, but only in an effort to show Emily how scared she still is of Nancy. Which… okay yeah, I guess it worked. But it’s probably not gonna make her trust you anymore if you keep pretending to strangle her, Nancy!

But the best, BEST accident is when Emily gets her teeth SUPERGLUED together! WHAT?! In other books, people get their arms torn off. But the best the Stepsister gets is some teeth glued together?! Poor form R.L.!

After all these “crazy” accidents happen, their parents decided to leave the three teenaged girls alone in the house for a weekend. Because it’s always a perfect time to go on vacation when one of your daughters is accusing the other one of attempted murder. Emily and Jessie suddenly think the ‘criminal mastermind’ is Cora-Ann because Jessie accidentally killed her cousin a few years ago (don’t ask, it’s not worth explaining). In a surprise that shocks NO ONE, it’s not. It’s criminally insane Nancy! CRAZY!!

Emily runs around the house, trying not to get murdered by Nancy, and accidentally reveals a mural that Nancy painted that says “HATE HATE HATE” over and over again. I guess the lesson that needs to be learned is always check what your mentally unstable sister is doing during art class. I just thought I’d note that Emily avoids being stabbed by Nancy due solely to the fact that her sweatshirt is so oversized, the kitchen knife gets lost in it! Awesome! I knew my giant wolf sweatshirt had a purpose! Emily also stops Nancy from killing her by wrapping her in a bear hug and repeatedly saying “I forgive you!” Not to dump all over that nice sentiment, but she probably didn’t kill you because she didn’t have the use of her arms… just saying…

The book ends with Emily and Jessie discussing the divorce of Cora-Ann’s parents. Apparently they went to one session and the counselor told them to get a divorce. Really? Does that happen? That seems kinda … counter productive to just give up. Shadyside now has useless police officers, doctors AND marriage counselors. Just hope you don’t have any problems when you go to visit! Again the last page of the book is devoted to a horrible joke that makes light of the family’s situation of one of the daughters being totally nuts! They watch Family Feud and giggle. How appropriate!

This recap was super short because this book was totally boring. Sorry! But believe me… you didn’t miss anything. Zero crazed sisters out of ten!

A.M. Stine

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Stepsister or "The Erotic Tale of Two Sisters"

First off, let me apologize to my one fan for my absence from the blog lately. I decided to take the past few days to obsessively read all three of the Twilight books! I apparently no longer read books that are made for anyone over the age of 15. YIKES! Well, if I don’t post for a few days after August 2nd… you’ll know where I’ll be. On to my original YA love, Fear Street! The Stepsister!

The cover: fair to good, I’d say. While this scene never happens in the book, it pretty accurately represents the two girls. Emily, our heroine, has the ‘crazed’ red hair and is snooping in her stepsister’s diary. Nice. Evil Jessie looks… well she looks pretty hot actually. Mad yet almost… holy. O I get it! That’s why they kept referring to her as angelic! Smooth move cover artist!

We start with Emily and her older sister Nancy talking about how their new stepsiblings, Jessie and Rich are moving in that day. Ugh, Rich? Terrible name! I would probably call him Richard, even if I knew that wasn’t what Rich was short for. They talk about how they probably hurt their step-dad Hugh, by not taking his last name. Um, do any adult children ever take the last name of their mother’s new husband? Especially after their father died like a year ago? I already don’t like this whiny Hugh guy and he hasn’t even shown up yet!

So Jessie seems really nice and excited to be there, until Emily shows her to the room they will both be sharing. Shoving two 16 year old girls into one bedroom? I’m surprised that it takes so long for someone to die in this book! Anyways, Jessie rips the head off Emily’s prized teddy bear and kicks the dog, Tiger, so we know she’s a bitchasaurus! (By the way, if anyone one did either of these things to me? Yeah, I’d kill ‘em)

We find out that Emily is actually dating Nancy’s ex-boyfriend Josh. Nancy says she doesn’t care (laughing about Josh’s terrible hygiene) but we know she still wants to stick her face in the armpit of his dirty sweatshirt. The new family has an awkward dinner where Hugh picks on his own son Rich for being shy, then brags that he hasn’t read a book since high school. Emily emos about how dumb Hugh is. Which… yeah, I’ll give her credit, I can’t understand why people brag about never reading. Yay, illiteracy? She remembers how her dad died in a boating accident with her. It doesn’t say how recently it happened, but it sounds like it was the previous summer. In which case… Mrs. Illiterate Hugh? Moves kinda fast. All I’m sayin’!

Hugh also wins So-Awful-It’s-Awesome points for talking about how he never has to do the dishes anymore because he lives with four women! Nice. Emily calls him a sexist pig in her head, but that’s an actual rational thought. It REALLY should have been said outloud. Trouble starts between the two girls when Jessie borrows Emily’s sweater but says it’s hers and then Emily thinks she erased her big social paper from the computer on purpose. Apparently Emily has her own PC. This book was printed in 1990. Were there computers back then? I now kinda picture Emily sitting in front of a huge wall of computer (ala 1950s), slipping punch cards in and out, diligently writing her paper. Awesome!

Emily reacts rationally about her paper being destroyed by attacking Jessie and beating her to the ground! But I really do mean rationally. I probably would do that too. I once lost the editing work I’d done on a paper, and I cried so hard my nose bled. True story! Overshare? Yeah…

Best part of the story so far: Emily sees that Jessie is watching her and Josh make out in his car… so she decides to put on a show for her! “I hope the little Peeping Tom enjoys the show!” Haha! Methinks Emily might have a few unresolved feelings towards her new stepsisters…

Well the girls start to get along better and decide to make “icebox cake” (which sounds great! and I will be making it soon!) but get into a hilarious whipping cream fight! They spray each other down with cream, getting all over themselves, the floor, the walls, curtains, cabinets… this seems a little too messy for a fun game. Also, it’s continuing on the incestuous lesbian-erotic path that this book seems to be taking. Weird, R.L. After Emily takes a shower to get all the sticky cream off, she notices that her hair has been destroyed! Someone put peroxide in her shampoo, and her hair is all orangey/white! Oh noes! Actually that does sound terrible but I don’t think it deserves quite the reaction Emily gives:

“Then she screamed. And screamed again. She had the feeling that she might never stop screaming.”


Emily and Nancy’s solution to her problem was “trimming the sides so short”. HAH! You know Emily is rocking an orangey/red mullet now. Perfect! Emily and Josh go to a dance together that Friday night. But before the dance, there’s a basketball game. Wait, what? They crowd hundreds of kids into a gym, sweat it out at a game, then… dance in said gym? Not even the pretense of decorations so it maybe looks less like a gym? Ah, well, I’m sure the kids still grinded their pelvises together in a movement loosely called “dancing”. Wait did they do that in 1990?

Ick Emily comes home to find her dog stabbed to death. That’s all kinds of upsetting! Poor Tiger. Later, she finds him stuffed into her knapsack! Alongside her Trapper Keeper! However, this phenomena is never explained because the book cuts to 3 days later. Emily is just talking about how evil her stepsister is. Which… well yeah! If she stuffs the carcass of your freshly murdered pet into your backpack? Pretty damn evil! But she has no proof. I’d still give Jessie a wide berth there Emily…

Wide berth doesn’t really help Emily as she gets trapped in a school bathroom after someone sets fire to it!. She had just run into Jessie … and Nancy outside the bathroom! But no one knew she was in the bathroom expect Jessie right? It has to be Jessie right? That night, the three girls are at a concert, when ‘someone’ pushes Emily down the super steep steps! Has to be Jessie, because no one else could have done it right? O R.L. … your powers of suspense are mindblowing!

After this near life-ending disaster, Hugh decides to take the new family on a camping trip. To South Carolina? They’re flying in for the weekend apparently. Weird! Has anyone in Fear Street ever gone on a camping/ski trip and come back with no one being murdered? Hugh should really look into the stats on this, since camping + Fear Street? Usually equals maiming. Before they leave Emily catches Josh gettin’ it on with Jessie. She seems to be fairly distressed by this, but the next chapter opens with the family going camping. The whole caught-red-handed thing is never resolved and I can’t tell you how much that annoys me! Is Emily still with Josh? Did she break up with him? Is she biding her time so she can rip his eyes out at a later date? That is probably the most upsetting event to a 16 year old girl! Forget dog-icide, illicit make outs is where the real drama is!

The three teenage girls go to gather wood in the forest when they get there. Even though it’s night. Now I’m not the most outdoorsy girl (read: one night in a tent with my boyfriend was just enough, thankyouverymuch) but I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to ‘set up camp’ before it’s dark out. Because the blackness makes building hard! Also makes wood scavengering creepy for Emily. She thinks Jessie is following her and in her haste to get away, she falls into an open grave in an old cemetery. Yeah. An open grave. Are there really open graves anywhere, at any time? Reeeeeally? Does this happen in your neighbourhood? Because in Fear Street… it seems to happen a lot. They should look into getting some new grave diggers if they’re just digging holes and leaving them unfilled all willy-nilly.

When Emily tries to climb out of the grave, the crazed murderer hits her arm with an axe and gives her a clean break! Emily looks up and… gasp! It’s not Jessie, it’s Nancy! CRAZY! Did you guys see that coming? Because I certainly didn’t! So Nancy has bent a little under the stress of being a senior and is pissed at Emily for stealing Josh and not rescuing their father when he drowned. Well, two out of three grievances are actually pretty reasonable. Maybe not so much the last one. Jessie shows up at the last second and saves the day by knocking Nancy out.

We ‘discover’ that Nancy was the one doing all the crazy stuff. Including making out with Josh! But we still don’t know how that effects Josh/Emily’s relationship! Grrargh! We also never get any closure on the sweater debacle from the first part of the book. Whose sweater was it really? And why the fudge did they go to South Carolina for an effing camping trip? The book ends with the step sisters bonding over their near death experience and pretty much shrugging it off. I think if L.K. Stine tried to kill me… I’d be a little traumatized. For a week at least. Rich comes in and isn’t as shy as he was in the beginning of the book. Jessie says “Wow! Things really are changing around here!” and the three of them share a big laugh. I guess at the expense of their sister, who now resides in a mental institution? Cold!

The Stepsister was… fair to pretty good. It left me with too many unanswered questions though. Should a Fear Street novel really have such a complicated plot that R.L. couldn’t wrap it all up in 165 pages? Answer: god no. Therefore: 6 dog carcasses in knapsacks out of 21!

A.M. Stine

Who Killed the Homecoming Queen? or “A Cautionary Tale About Playing Practical Jokes”

I am very open about hating practical jokes, because they are extremely unintelligent, and just plain mean. This book exemplifies how wrong things can go:

Tania is Eva’s best friend. Tania is perfect, beautiful, popular, adored by men, has the cute quarterback as a boyfriend, her mother just married a wonderful rich man and they moved into a mansion and she has a cute supportive stepbrother who matches her back. (Sidenote: after reading the exposition, my immediate reaction was – the stepbrother did it. It just seemed so likely. But that plot has already been played.) On top of being perfect, Tania is really nice and grateful for everything she has, and is a wonderful friend. Clearly she cannot live.

Evan, through whom the story is told, is the generic sidekick and the only thing to note about her is she has a huge crush on Tania’s stepbrother, Jeremy. Oh, and she’s “psychic” and gets feelings about stuff. Much more interesting is Leslie, Tania’s arch-rival and all around bitch. At least she goes for what she wants. The cast is rounded out with Sandy, Tania’s Ken-doll boyfriend, Keith, the creepy filmmaker obsessed with Tania, and Cherise, the slut.

It begins with Tania winning Homecoming Queen, to no one’s surprise. I’m not really sure what a homecoming queen is, I assume it’s something the Americans made up when they gave up royalty because they missed the titles and elitism. Anyways, it’s a big popularity thing, awesome to win. The only person missing from the crowning is Sandy, who is macking on Cherise under the bleachers. Classic. Could you have picked a better time, Sandy, then in fact during your girlfriend’s crowning? This is witnessed by Eva, who is horrified, and Leslie, who is delighted. Eva emotes about how she must tell her friend, without letting Leslie tell her first meanly. Many opportunities arise, but Eva keeps on bitching out.

Meanwhile, Keith is filming a movie called Who Killed the Homecoming Queen? about a quarterback, played by Sandy, who murders his homecoming queen girlfriend, played by Tania, after she discovers him cheating on her. There are numerous scenes where she tells him off for cheating, and he strangles her … and CUT! It was for the film! Cute R. L., but you do it, like, three times. Finally, life follows fiction, and Sandy’s a little too rough on Tania, and kills her … FOR REALS. They freak out and call the cops. Leslie is also there, watching spitefully from the sidelines. Unfortunately, the body disappears. This is all pretty suspect, as the police tell them skeptically. Except then Leslie makes a break for it, claiming she was afraid of the cops. Because all innocent white homecoming court girls are afraid of the cops, Leslie, good one.

Everyone seems shocked that she’s disappeared, but Eva’s spidey-senses are tingling, and she knows someone is lying. Sandy then admits it was all a practical joke he and Tania were playing on everyone else. She would act like she was dead, then pop up and say boo, or something. Hilarious! Only she wasn’t supposed to disappear. So it’s less ‘Who Killed the Homecoming Queen?’ and more ‘Who Stole the Homecoming Queen’s Fake-Dead Body?’

Tania stays disappeared for several days, causing mounting disquiet in Shadyside. Jeremy thinks it’s Sandy – because he overheard Sandy and Cherise plotting to murder Tania. Um, that’s a pretty big clue, Jeremy, glad that only came out now. Eva doesn’t want to tell the cops, because it would get Sandy and Cherise in trouble. Well, yes Eva, that’s kinda the point, in trouble for murder. Eva decides to talk to murderess Cherise, to accuse her of murder, but while she’s there a threatening call comes in, saying the caller killed Tania, and would kill you next – unsure if you means Eva or Cherise.

Meanwhile, Leslie is being her usual lovely self and wants Tania’s part in the film – and gets snotty when she’s turned down. Next thing you know, she’s covered in blood. Kind of makes you think … hmmmm? But she claims her mirror shattered and sprayed her with glass, cutting her face. A metaphor to remind us of the evils of vanity, or gratuitous blood scene? We’ll never know, because right aways Eva finds Sandy’s corpse in her locker, stabbed to death and covered with blood. Hmmm …

Everyone gathers at Eva’s house. Thing is, though, none of these people are actually friends. Cherise is just around because she was screwing Sandy, who is now dead. Keith is a random creepy film guy, and nobody likes Leslie. While they’re all there, another threatening message comes in for Eva: First Tania, then Sandy, now you! But if they’re all there, who could it be? Let’s see, who’s missing …?

Eva is almost killed by falling off the bleachers, and who should turn up right away after but Tania! They’re happy to see her, until she tells them it was a practical joke. Nobody laughs. Tania reveals she did it to get back at them because they all knew her boyfriend was a cheating bastard, but none of them told her. I think faking your death is a fair reaction. Jeremy was in on it the whole time. Only, Sandy wasn’t supposed to die. And Tania had made the threatening phone calls – even after Sandy died! That’s cold.

Eva gets a terrible feeling that Cherise is in trouble. Jeremy killed Sandy out of anger for hurting his stepsister, and now it’s Cherise’s turn! They rush to Cherise’s house, to find Cherise shrieking and clutching a knife. Only, apparently Eva’s feelings are a little off. Jeremy is actually trying to get away from her, and Cherise covers it up when she is caught. Cherise is the real murderess, and admits it in front of all of them. All because of another practical joke Sandy and Keith were playing on her. Sandy was only pretending to like Cherise, for the sake of another film, the plot of which Sandy pretends to like Cherise, screws her a lot, then tells her it was all a joke on camera. That’s … pretty appalling. I’m not saying murder is okay, per se, but there must be some situations where it is understandable. It’s not really clear who was in on that “joke”, but Cherise decided to kill them all to be thorough. I say, fair enough. Sometime practical jokes can kill.

A note on the cover – this happens never in the book, but did happen on an episode of Buffy. At first, I thought the homecoming queen was tied to the chair with crepe paper. And if you can’t get away from the evil mastermind who tied you up with crepe paper, you probably deserve what you get. But now I think it’s just high school dance decoration, so that’s okay.

L. K. Stine

Halloween Party or “Overcoming Disabilities and Prejudices in Society”

“There’s going to be an uninvited guest at this Halloween party on Fear Street …” and it’s a pumpkin skull! No, that never happened, although the pumpkin skull looks very cool. Well done, cover artist. Also, the house in the background looks cool too, exactly the way a haunted house in New England should look (I always think Shadyside is in New England, but I may have made this up.) The girl on the front is Niki, and she looks pretty accurate, except her cape was black, not white. Other than the fact this scene never happened, I say well done.

This is told from several people’s perspectives, I think because they are all separated so much it’s the only way to tell the story. It starts with a party invitation for a Halloween party put on by the mysterious transfer student, Justine who is model-pretty. She invites a very specific group of people, most of whom never hang out together. There’s Terry, our main protag, who seems to be an absent-minded nice guy, and Niki, his girlfriend, who is deaf. Terry describes her hilariously as not the prettiest girl in the world, but the most special. He means it in the nice way, though. Niki can read lips, so no one notices her handicap. Alex is Niki’s ex and Terry’s former best friend, now arch-rival. There’s Ricky the dweeb with hygiene issues, Murphy the generic jock, Tricia the overweight nice girl (watch out Tricia, fat = death!), David the less generic jock, Les the shy smart guy, and Angela the slut.

No one knows why these people are invited but they immediately pick sides for a weird contest as to which side will stay the whole night at the party, jocks vs. wimps, who can scare the other side the most. Terry leads Tricia, Les and Ricky on the wimp side, and Alex leads Murphy, David and Angela on the jock side. Niki abstains because she thinks they’re all super immature, and ‘fast’ Angela joins the jocks for obvious reasons. They play tricks on each other and it is boring until the Halloween party.

The party takes place at an old abandoned mansion on (dun dun DUN!) Fear Street that Justine is mysteriously renovating. They have to walk through the Fear Street cemetery to get there, and chills abound. The mansion itself has been totally decked out Halloween-wise, with each room fully decorated. This would be a fantastic Halloween party, and I would love to go to one like it. Except, obviously, without being murdered or set on fire. Anyways everyone is having a great time, thinking they’ve totally lucked out, and continuing to play tricks on each other. They went all out with the costumes, too. Terry is a greaser, Niki made a Venetian carnavale costume. Tricia comes as a cheerleader (allowing R. L. to make some more comments on her weight), Ricky a frog, Les a skeleton, Murphy a zombie, Angela a biker chick, and David wearing his basketball uniform, but with a skull for a ball (lame!). Justine is dressed up as a ghoulish Elvira, and Alex comes late in a silver body suit to show off his muscles and calls himself the Silver Prince. I know this is supposed to make him seem macho and swoon-worthy, but when I think sparkly unitards, I’m not thinking swoon …

Anyways, they all have to go on a treasure hunt throughout the house by themselves, to find creepy items hidden like mummy hands, shrunken heads, and dried tarantulas. Awesome! I maintain this would be the coolest Halloween party ever. However, the tricks get meaner, like when Terry finds Alex’s body stabbed and hung in a bedroom. Just kidding! Oh, R. L., you’ve used the hanging practical joke before. Or when Justine plunges off a balcony onto the dance floor – nope, that was planned too. Or when Les’ body turns up slashed … oh wait, that one was for reals. But nobody believes David and Terry when they tell everyone. Cry wolf much? David runs to get help, slips in the Fear Street cemetery and knocks himself out. Oops!

Meanwhile, Niki used the treasure hunt time to search the mansion for clues because she doesn’t trust Justine. She has lip-read her a few times saying disturbing things, like ‘they’ll all pay,’ and so on. She finds weird things in Justine’s room: prescription meds for an Enid Cameron, a secret closet containing a woman’s wardrobe from the 60s, and a newspaper clipping about the couple who used to live in the mansion, the Camerons. They were killed in a car accident caused by a group of teens drag racing, 28 years ago. They left behind a baby girl, Enid. Oh, and every person invited to the party had a parent involved in the accident. How convenient! Niki is knocked out and taken to the basement in a dumbwaiter (houses with dumbwaiters are cool!)

Terry goes searching for his girlfriend and finds her in the basement. They try to warn everyone that Justine is a lunatic thirty year old murderess, but everyone thinks it’s a joke. Besides Justine is hot, she can’t be named Enid.

Well, joke’s on them, when Justine locks them in the dining room, sets the house on fire and puts into the stereo system the deafening sounds of a car crash and people screaming, which admittedly would be terrifying. Everyone loses their heads with the noise, except for Niki, because she’s deaf. Turns out her ‘handicap’ is really a strength after all! She escapes through the dumbwaiter and rescues everyone. Justine runs into the fire, and Terry follows her to save her. He catches fire, but Alex saves him, and throws him in the mud, covering his body, slathering it on … I think Alex has a secret.

Justine is carted off to get the help she needs, Terry and Alex decide to no longer the arch-rivals and instead be ‘very good friends’, and everyone is happy, except Les who is dead for reals. I learnt that friendship should be valued above all else, sometimes our supposed weaknesses are our greatest strengths, and someone should have a wicked Halloween party and invite me to it. But not, obviously, to murder me and/or set me on fire.

L. K. Stine

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Haunted, or "Boob Touching Galore"

Haunted is a book full of awesome. Let's start with the cover - good artwork, accurate, this scene actually does happen. And look how handsome our ghost is, with the floppy hair and the puppy dog eyes. Also, the jean tuxedo, very typical for 1990 - I like it! The tagline has got to be the best ever - 'There's a prowler in Melissa's bedroom - but is he dead or alive!' Fantastic! I'm hooked already.

Melissa, our intrepid heroine, is pretty but not THAT pretty. Fear Street protags are only really pretty when they're really bitchy, and Melissa is not a bitch. Somewhat dim and occassionally prudish, but well intentioned. She wakes up screaming in bed with someone trying to break into her room - lead to exposition that someone has been breaking into Fear Street mansions and robbing them. And Melissa lives in a Fear Street mansion. No one seems able to stop the Fear Street Prowler. In Melissa's case, it was a tree branch, but a sneaky tree branch.

Her dad, though, is nice enough to keep a loaded gun in his bedside table, and let's Melissa know it's always ready to use. He bought it as soon as he heard about the Fear Street Prowler. Overkill much. Since when does a B and E = automatic gun death? But this is important later.

There is then an awesome flashback scene, where Melissa remembers a fight she had with her boyfriend, Buddy, earlier that night. She hadn't seen him in 2 weeks because he was on summer vacation, and she was soooo excited to see him. To talk about everything that happened over the past 2 weeks. They drive up to the make out point. Buddy then has the nerve to kiss her! Melissa of course chastised him for this, but he kissed her again! And put a hand under her shirt! Melissa responded with fury and horror, and couldn't believe how selfish he was, making him drive her home in a snit.

To recap, her long term boyfriend just got back from a 2 week vacation, they drive up to a makeout point, and she's furious he tried to get to second base. This is everything that is wrong with Shadyside. If the kids would just loosen up a bit, there wouldn't be so many gd murders. I'm surprised nobody fall/jumps off a cliff at this point.

The next day is Melissa's birthday, and she gets a brand new shiny Pontiac Firebird! I think to reiterate how rich she is. But creepy things start happening to her. Her car starts to steer itself, nearly colliding with an oncoming semi. And somebody slashed open all her birthday presents. She's pretty sure somebody tired to shove her out of her open window, but when she turns around no one is there. And she actually gets into a fender bender when she thinks she sees a boy appear in the car next to her. Is there really a ghost haunting her, or is Melissa going crazy?

Nope, it's a ghost. He appears to her one night while she's in bed (as depicted by cover artist). She definitely clutches the covers to her chest - what if he tries to touch her boob too? But apparently all he wants to do is kill her, in revenge for killing him. Melissa is quite sure she never killed him, because she'd remember a thing like that. She says she'll help find out who did murder him.

Melissa begins her investigation. All she knows is his name is Paul, and she apparently killed him. And he is angry. And poor. Even in death, ghost-Paul is characterized as poor. Unfortunately for Melissa, there have been no teen deaths in Shadyside for the past 6 months. Really? I find that suspect. Teens seem to be murdered approx every week around Fear Street. They should be holding monthly memorials, but apparently they're going through a dry spell.

To ease her confusion, Melissa goes dancing with Boob-Touching Buddy. Things don't go well though, because she tells him she's trying to figure out the murderer of the ghost that's haunting her before he kills her. Buddy thinks maybe she's bit over-tired. Or drunk. Melissa responds rationally by throwing a hissy-fit, crying and running away. This turns out to be a big mistake because she runs into a group of boys. And they're poor! So obviously they are drinking cheap beer and threaten Melissa, because that's what poor boys do to rich girls. To add to the confusion, she recognizes one of them as Paul. She's all - what are you doing here? and he's all - can I touch your boob? until Melissa finally runs away.

It takes her awhile, but she figures out that Paul isn't actually dead yet, and she must prevent his murder by not killing him. Ghost Paul gets all warm and fuzzy about this and starts crushing on Melissa. Melissa is now being stalked by human-Paul, and haunted by emo ghost-Paul, and finds herself falling in love with the ghost. Not human-Paul, though, because he's icky and poor.

Melissa keeps on trying to warn human-Paul to stay away from her, so she won't kill him, but he thinks she's coming on to him. Finally one night, while her parents are conveniently in Vegas on a lawyer's retreat (this is actually very realistic), human-Paul breaks into Melissa's house. He is the Fear Street Prowler! Although he doesn't really seem like an evil mastermind, since he's drunk and banging into stuff. He corners Melissa, and ... well, the implication is that he wants to touch her boob. Melissa is so horrified that she grabs the loaded weapon. She doesn't care if she does kill human-Paul despite the fact that she's in love with his ghost and promised she wouldn't. No one will touch her boob!

There's a fight for the gun, and ghost-Paul doesn't want Melissa to be hurt, so he hits the gun out of Paul's hand. Melissa catches it and it fires, predictably killing Paul. Ghost-Paul emotes about how he cares for Melissa, he's not angry anymore, the usual stuff. They share a passionate kiss, and Melissa can really feel him, and his heat. Sexy! He fades away, totally content with his death closure. As a 10 year old, I totally swooned over this and wanted a ghost boyfriend to haunt me. I give this book 4 boob-touching incidents out of 4, for sheer awesome-ness.

L. K. Stine

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Third Horror or "The Ghost of Little Red Riding Hood"

The last book in this trilogy “99 Fear Street: The House of Evil” is … well, it’s better than the second one. So that’s something right? Unfortunately there are no more random zombies which really was the saving grace of The Second Horror. However, the cover depicts the Ghost of Little Red Riding Hood! Awesome! Let’s read the book and find out how that fits in!

Oh, it’s just a tricky lie by the cover artist. Little Red Riding Hood does NOT appear once in this book! Talk about disappointment. Once again the dark, spooky, mysterious house where light never seems to shine is lit up like a ritzy mansion at Christmastime. Frankly, it looks nicer than my house, and so far I know two people and a dog have died there. It’s hard to tell from the picture I posted but the creepy window you can see in the Little Red Riding Hood’s stomach? Yeah it doesn’t belong to the house. She just has a floating window in her mid-section. WTF cover-artist? Hmm I just looked him up (Bill Schmidt) and he appears to be a landscape artist that paints delightful (read: bland) seaside towns. Well… I guess anything is better than painting ridiculous ghost scenes, right Bill?

Anyhoodle, on to the final book, “The Third Horror”. You all remember Cally and Kody Frasier from the first book? Cally died (her ghost is evil) and Kody escaped unharmed? Well Kody is back to rub it in Cally’s face, and she brought a film production crew with her! It’s two years in the future and Kody is playing Cally in the film version of their experiences at 99 Fear Street. Two years eh? That seems … soon. Like psychotically soon for Kody to relieve all the traumatizing events that killed both her siblings, her dog and blinded her father. I guess Kody just didn’t care that much! We meet the other important characters: Persia, the spoiled (read: bitch) actress who plays Kody in the movie; Rob, the dreamy lead male character who plays missing-fingers-Anthony, and their director Bo. Bo basically admits to casting Kody for publicity and because they couldn’t afford a real actress. Hah! Everyone still hates Kody.

Of course crazy stuff starts happening again, and the reader gets insight into what Cally is thinking. It’s a lot of “Muhahah, REVENGE!” Cally is a pretty dull ghost if you ask me. ESPECIALLY since the first accident is a guy getting his hand mangled in the garburator! Didn’t we already see this? Two books ago!? For shame R.L.! Were there really no other tricks up your sleeve? There’s also a lot of stuff about the creepy rats in the basement just like the other two books. Even though in every book, they’ve hired the same man (Mr. Hankers) to get rid of them. Methinks this may be important…

There’s also a lot of Kody wandering around the house calling for her dead sister. That’s not creepy at all Kody! But this makes her look suspicious since accidents keep happening around the set. Like a camera slides down a pole and get impaled on a stunt double’s FACE. BLECH!! Well, at least that’s a new accident. Inventive!

Here’s a scene that I personally love. Kody opens up the fridge and sees … the head of her dead sister Cally! She freaks out (natural reaction, I’d say) and then she finds out the head is a fake that was ‘cooling’ in the fridge. But everyone treats her like a weirdo for being startled! Like:

“What is her problem?” Kody heard someone whisper near the door.
“Did she think it was a real head?” someone else asked in a hushed voice.

Well, excuuuuuse her! Even if she full on knew it was a fake from the start, can you really blame her for being upset?! It’s a disembodied HEAD of her DEAD sister! I think this scene was supposed to display how jumpy Kody is, but it comes off showing how everyone else involved in this movie is a terrible, terrible person!

There’s more “creepy” scenes that I can’t really be bothered with. They end with Kody discovering Bo in the basement with cases of dynamite! But he’s just using them to blow up the house at the end of the film without telling anyone before hand. …Okaaaay, I can think of a few things wrong with that plan, but whatevs, he’s the big Hollywood player right? He MUST know what’s best. Well, that’s what Kody thinks anyways.

Next chapter. Kody and Rob are supposed to be shooting a scene in the attic with a green goo machine. Everyone leaves so they can “practice” (Read: make out) when the green goo machine turns on! And the goo is burning hot! And smells like vomit! And tries to suck them under! And doesn’t stop! And feels like oatmeal! And the attic door is locked so there is no escape! And then it’s high enough to have waves in it! Actually that sounds pretty awful. Killer vomit?

Best part by far: Rob says “Ohhh, the putrid smell!” HAH! I don’t think R.L. has EVER spent time with any teenagers (or HUMANS) if this is what he thinks people would exclaim in a boiling green vomit situation. Kody ends up busting out an attic window to freedom when she looks behind her and sees that Rob is now floating facedown in the vomit. Ick. Also, probably pretty embarrassing for Rob that his newest GF had to rescue him from the killer vomit. No iron-stomach for Rob I see!

Well the film must go on! I guess. Seems like a pretty poor idea to me though. So evil Ghost of Cally lures Kody into the basement on the pretense of awesome Ghost/Corporeal Sister Reunion! However, Cally is still evil and instead takes Kody’s body. But Kody still has her body? I don’t know, there’s a doppelganger involved somehow… Anyhoo, while Cally is pretending to be Kody, she awesomely stabs Persia in the hand! And I know this was supposed to be evil and scary… it was way more funny and great! Persia is a bitch = gets what she deserves, right? Right! Cally as Kody also slams Bo in the face (kinda deserved for being such a douche nozzle) and then burns his face with the lightbulb. Hmmm that went too far.

Okay so the ending kinda comes out of nowhere. Remember the guy that was hired to kill the rats? Mr. Hankers? Well it turns out he, the housekeeper, and the real estate agent (who we knew from book one was a ghost) are actually evil rats that control the evil in the house. Um, yeah. Evil rats. They change into rats in front of Kody, but they never say if they shrink or not. So are they huge scary rats? Or regularly sized evil rats? Who knows! More importantly: does anyone care anymore? Nope! This book took a terrible turn! Kody convinces Cally that she’s being evilly controlled by these rat people (and forces her GHOST sister to peek through a crack in a wall…doesn’t that seem wrong?) so of course Cally immediately becomes un-evil. She lets Kody escape then somehow (?) someone detonates all the dynamite that’s hidden in the basement. Surprise.

The book ends with Kody and Rob snuggling on a couch discussing their ‘acting’ careers.

“I auditioned for a commercial this afternoon” he told her.
“That’s great!” Kody replied enthusiastically.
“It’s for another dog food. But this time I don’t have to bark” he told her.

So the whole book they make Rob sound like a huge movie star… when he really scrapes by with dog food commercials? Lack of continuity R.L.! Anyways they get a videotape delivered to them, and it’s a video of the house exploding. Kody thinks she sees Cally’s spirit in the flames going to heaven. Then Rob turns into a DOG! Well no, but that totally could have happened considering all the fucked up stuff that went on in these three books.

I’d say this book was the second best. First place obviously goes to The First Horror, because it was actually scary. Second place to The Third Horror because it had some good gory scenes, and there was an unexplained doppelganger (cool). And of course LAST place goes to The Second Horror, because ZOMBIES aside… it was so lame. And did not fit into the trilogy. But that’s how trilogies always work right? First = best, Second = worst! Well I give The Third Horror 6 fake disembodied heads of your sister out of 10. Because why not?

A.M. Stine

Friday, July 11, 2008

I Saw You That Night!

This whole story revolves around Lee. Lee is a total ladies man, and is self described as “a real mean dude.” But he wears a baseball hat ALL THE TIME so I automatically think douchy high school kid. Not the point, because both Roxie and Ursula fall for him, and they make a bet for $50 that one of them will go out with Lee, and get him to give them his hat. This is even though Roxie already has a boyfriend (what he doesn’t know won’t kill him … or will it?)

Roxie is the short, boyish girl, so Ursula clearly has the upper hand since she is a tall, leggy, Norwegian goddess. Lee and Ursula start spending a lot of time together, ignoring little spazzy Roxie. But instead of giving in, Rox decides to cheat at Ursula’s game. She sneaks into Lee’s house one night to steal his hat, with the intention of wearing it and lying to Ursula. Cause nothing will go wrong with this plan.

The house is all dark when she breaks in, and she immediately finds a cold, wet body. Only … it’s a mop! I’ve read that one before, R. L. Is it really that hard to get a mop and a corpse confused? Will investigate. Anyways, she takes a bunch of pictures of his room to prove she was there. Because if you’re going to make out with some guy in his room, the first thing you’re going to want to do is photograph his room, obvs.

Lee comes home with a girl and starts slapping her around. Rox freaks and tried to flee, but flashes a picture of them on the way out. The next day, she finds out that Ursula … has sprained her back windsurfing! And some other random girl is found dead and beaten on the beach.

Roxie goes to get her film developed, but unfortunately it was only a shot of the ceiling. She tells her lawyer dad everything and they go to the police. I am so impressed. I think this is the first time in any book I’ve read that the police have been used for their actual purpose. Good on you, Roxie.

Lee then starts appearing everywhere, giving Roxie this crazed sick grin. Apparently, that’s his ‘sexy’ look. No wonder he picks up so many chicks. He follows Roxie around, saying things like ‘I saw you … walking this morning.’ Roxie is paranoid and thinks he’s tormenting her because she narc’ed on him to the cops. He’s not actually doing anything wrong, but Rox has this bad feeling about him. Things get nasty and an innocent turtle is killed.

Then, one day, walking home alone Lee comes upon her again and demands to walk her home, at least until his place which is on the way. She starts freaking out, until they pass by the house she B and E’d and saw the murder, to a house a few doors down. She had broken into the wrong house! When asked who lives at the murderer’s house, Lee said it was Terry’s best friend. Roxie immediately realizes that Lee wasn’t the murderer, but Terry.

Her immediate reaction is to start dating Lee, obviously. Terry gets really jealous and angry, also obviously. Terry seems to be leaving threatening messages on her phone. Everything comes to a head one day when Roxie is going out on Lee’s boat, for a relaxing day on the ocean. He opens her glove compartment and the pictures she took of the night of the murder fall out. His first reaction is “Hey, my room!” *Gasp* Lee is the for reals murderer.

Lee goes all squinty eyed and evil and says he has to kill her, since he fucked up. I’ll say. Anyways, he gets her on his boat, then stabs Terry in the throat with a screwdriver when he tries to save her. Ouch! Poor maligned Terry – being cheated on, accused of murder, then stabbed in the throat – this is not your week! Roxie manages to dive out of the boat, and Lee tries to run her over with his motor. I’m ashamed to admit I got a little bit into this part, and realized I was holding my breath while Roxie was underwater, trying to dodge the blades. What’s going to happen?

The police show up and make Lee surrender. Ursula had called them because she had realized that Terry’s best friend didn’t live in the murderer’s house, and if Lee had lied about that, there’s no telling what he’s capable of! Terry’s alright, just a little hole in the neck. Everything worked out in the end, unless you’re a turtle. Ursula finds Lee’s baseball cap in the sand and puts it on, claiming she won the bet. If I was Rox, I might punch her in the face at that point, except she was pretty happy to not have been chopped to bits by a motor blade. All in all, a satisfying ending.

This cover. I don’t know … for some reason it vaguely reminds me of Weekend at Bernie’s. The jovial expression, the rad eighties sunglasses. That’s what Bernie would look like as a skeleton I think.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Boyfriend, or “Bitch Just Never Learns Her Lesson”

Joanna, the protag here, is pretty much summed up as an evil bitch who plays with boys’ hearts and then tramples on them. She is very beautiful, and, hang on, she actually has short hair? R. L. gave one of his beautiful heroines short hair? Oh, wait, there’s a qualifier: “her hair so smooth and straight that it looked beautiful even cut so stylishly short.” For those of you who missed that jab at short hair on girls, it can only look okay if you already are beautiful.

She is a rich snob and thinks everything is tacky: plastic cowboy boots, fake hair, the suburbs … actually, I might actually have a lot in common with Joanna here. Is it snobbery, or is it taste? It’s a mystery …

The first scene of the book, she stands up her boyfriend, Dex, and then hides and watches him. K, that is sociopathic behaviour. I mean, I am not condoning standing people up, that’s a shitty thing to do to anyone. But at least have a reason for doing it – another date, a late meeting, or you really do just want to wash your hair that night. Standing around watching someone wait for you is actually kinda sad – you had nothing better to do?

Her boyfriend du jour, Dex, is a messy poor actor. We know it’s never going to go anywhere because he’s POOR. Jo dumps him for a rich private school type with a jag and a name like Shep. Shep is sooo handsome at the country club!

Dex doesn’t take this well. He breaks into Jo’s room at night, and they start making out (why not?) He then makes her take him for a drive up to the makeout cliff. Oh, and Dex brought his friend Pete. Why wouldn’t a girl want to take her bf AND his friend up to a makeout cliff? Dex tries to show off for her by pretending to fall off the cliff, but then he falls off for reals. Oops! Jo freaks out and runs away, although later she claimed she was going for help. Everyone judges her for this, but in the day without cell phones, isn’t that exactly what you would have to do to get help? Otherwise you’re just not doing anything. The more I write about Jo, the more I like her. At least she’s proactive. Whatever her intention, it doesn’t work out cause she gets into a big car accident. Jo is hospitalized for weeks, and Dex dies.

Jo gets over this immediately in the generic arms of Shep. Soon after, though, Dex starts to contact her, and asking her out. While she is displeased that he is still alive, she agrees to go out with him. She figures he didn’t really die, she never really looked into that. Taking on two boyfriends though becomes too difficult for her, when Dex starts to decay day by day. Like smelling rotten, losing teeth and skin, and turning green. Her friend Mary, and Dex’s friend Pete start to get worried when they see Dex too, and then it all climaxes with Dex coming to kill Jo as a zombie. He is carrying a large kitchen knife, his eyes are glowing red, and you can see his skull. He goes to stab her, but Joanna gets the knife and stabs him instead, killing him. Go, proactive Joanna!

Turns out, much to everyone’s shock and surprise, Dex had just been acting like a zombie. I mean, we all saw that coming, right? He’s an actor, big into stage makeup, put it all together. Except for apparently Jo, who now has a murder on her hands. Again, everyone judges her. Some guy pretending to be a zombie tried to stab her with a kitchen knife – I think I’d stab him even if I knew he was faking. She immediately wants to get rid of the body, and she cuts Shep’s hand to explain the enormous pool of blood she left for the maid to clean up. Shep finally realizes that Jo is a cold hearted bitch. Not because she killed her ex in front of him, mind you, but because she cut his hand. Shep runs home to mommy.

Dex then starts to contact Jo again, claiming to be dead. She may be tough, but she’s not super smart. She totally thinks zombie Dex is on the loose again. She runs to her friend Mary’s house, but he follows her and tackles her. Turns out, Dex was kidding around again … still not dead, still just acting. Again, he pulls a knife on her, saying he’s going to kill her, and again she takes the knife away from him and threatens to kill him again. I have read this plot line before! Before she can stab him, again, Mary runs out of the house, slaps Jo around a bit and calls her a bitch. Mary and Dex go off together, having planned the whole thing from the start. I don’t think it worked very well. To be clear, Dex staged his death twice, and Jo tried to kill him 3 times. She’s clearly still winning.

However, it did have the effect of making Jo examine her life, and she cries for the first time since her Daddy left her. She calls Shep, wanting to patch things up with him and make a new start. She says she’s “back from the grave.” What’s this? An R. L. Stine book with a moral? That’s how you can tell it’s not a Fear Street – if it were, Jo would have stabbed Dex again then cracked a joke. So it ends all sappy, but it turns out that after writing about her, Joanna is pretty much awesome, and I want to be just like her. Minus the creepy stand-up stalking fiasco. I give this book 2 staged deaths out of 3!
ps. Nice cover, it's classy! Much creepier than usual.

L. K. Stine

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

"The Second Horror" or LOL Zombies

The second book in this Fear Street trilogy “99 Fear Street: The House of Evil” is aptly named “The Second Horror”. It was… insane actually. Just… WOW. When I read “The First Horror”, I (shamefully) admitted that it scared the crap outta me. This one? … Not so much. It was more shaking my head in disbelief.

The Cover: Full of lies! First of all, they spend the whole trilogy talking about how rundown, dark, dank, and terrifying the house is, yet on the cover it’s a lovely, well-lit mansion. Did the artist even read the book? Obviously not since he did NOT include our hero’s (Brandt) necklace (which is hugely significant later), painted only one girl (Jinny) that was no more important than the other two girls in the book, and a ghost skull impaled on three spikes (which also didn’t happen). Minus ten for realism ghost-artist! P.S. Brandt’s hair is awful. AWFUL.

The book revolves around the new family that’s moved into the House of Evil. The two parents and their son, Brandt, just moved from Mapolo, which is described as “a tiny, remote island in the Pacific” but is actually a region in the Congo. Why all the lies R.L.? Anyhoo, we know right away that something is up with this family since they constantly refer to Brandt’s “condition” but never say what it is. I immediately assume epilepsy! I don’t know why… it seems like a “condition” that parents might tip-toe around? Well it’s a mystery for most of the book… a mystery that will BLOW. YOUR. MIND. But not in a good way!

We’re off to a quick start with death in this one! In the first chapter, the family cat is killed. (Sorry Grocery Crush!) It’s impaled by a spear. Harsh! That’s how you know it’s a Fear Street Trilogy: it doesn’t play around with tension fakeouts. And by the next page, the family is over it. Oh Fear Street, never taking the time to properly mourn. Other creepy stuff happens: Brandt is attacked by a crazed raccoon (Awesome, I know), his shoulder is bitten by the ghost of Cally Fraiser, he thinks his father is dead and his closet is full of green smog that tries to kill him (this is never actually explained…)

But enough about the gore, lets get to the whore(s)! Brandt is apparently the best looking guy to ever walk the Street Fear, since girls are just throwing themselves at him! Klutzy blond Abbie just shows up on his doorstep (ready to seduce) while he meet Jinny and Meg at school. And even though Jinny has a boyfriend, you know she wants to jump Brandt’s bones. They always do. I guess since the boyfriends in Shadyside always end up being serial killers, they try not to get too attached?

Jinny’s BF convinces Brandt to try out for the basketball team (because he’s over like 5’10) and Brandt does, even though he emo’s about his condition. His condition makes it hard for him to be active for very long. Dear lord, did R.L. give a main character cancer? That’s almost … too cruel for Fear Street! But then in the next chapter we get another “condition” clue: when Brandt hits his elbow on the floor, he immediately has a huge bruise. So Brandt … is a hemophiliac? Well maybe not, since in the next chapter, Brandt raises his arm and it falls out of the socket… sick. And also hilarious. Does this happen to people? What IS this condition?!

Well it doesn’t stop him from gettin’ around! He makes a study date with Jinny on Saturday, a real date with Meg on Sunday, already forgetting he had a date with Abbie on Saturday! What a slut. I hope his condition gives him occasional ED. I mean why not? Nothing else about this “condition” makes sense. Of course for that to happen, these kids would have to move past first base. Which never happens.

So accidents start happening to his dates (karma for playin’ around? Only R.L. knows). Jinny goes for some juice in the kitchen-of-garborater-horror and gets her wrists slashed. Ick! Funnily though, his parents are only pissed at him for having a girl over when they weren’t home. HA! Way to have your priorities in order Mr and Mrs McCloy! Don’t they know that Fear Street residents don’t actually have working genitalia?

Brandt gets harassed by a dark shadowy ghost a bunch of times in this book too. Including one time in the halls of his schools, which just seems so un-scary. Also, we’re never really told what he thinks these are. I mean, he’s freaked out by them, but does he think they’re ghosts? His subconscious? Does he think he’s going crazy? So many possibilities! Well, three at least.

Ick the next big part involves Brandt discovering the body of the former family’s youngest son, James Fraiser. So he really was in the walls! At least that’s where Brandt found him. His skeleton was propped up in a wall, clutching the skeleton of a puppy (L) Umm… that’s not really what happens when a body decomposes. Their shiny white bones aren’t left standing perfectly upright, holding other skeletons. I bet his teeth were chattering too, like a wind-up toy! Ah well, whatever makes the plotline easier for R.L.!

More stuff happens to Brandt’s groupies. Abbie nearly gets crushed to death by a suit of metal armour. From the South Pacific Island he used to live on. You know, those huge metal suits that the people from the South Pacific are known to wear… Anyways she’s okay, but the next day when Jinny and Meg come over (to seduce him), they accidentally shoot each other in the neck with poison arrow darts. Random! So basically, if Brandt’s dad didn’t keep all these incredibly dangerous weapons in the house, no one would get hurt? Maybe Brandt’s “condition” is that he keeps bumping into the potentially fatal weapons his parents keep lying around the house!

Well we’ve come to the part I’ve been eagerly anticipating: the big reveal of Brandt’s condition! And R.L. couldn’t have done it in a cheesier way. I mean, I honestly don’t think it would be possible to make the ending of this book any more absolutely insane than it is. Enjoy.

Abbie turns out to be the ghost of Cally Fraiser. Expect we already knew this since Abbie only ever turned up INSIDE Brandt’s house. Which he never questioned (dumbass). Anyways, she decides she wants Brandt to stay with her forever (as her undead boyfriend) and chops him in the head with a hatchet!! Which I’m guessing she also stole from Mr. McCloy’s box labeled “Dangerous Weapons to Hang on Wall Haphazardly”. But the hatchet isn’t the best part. Brandt doesn’t die! I’ll let R.L. do what he’s best at: butchering books and teenagers.

“Brandt’s arm reached up. He yanked the hatchet from his skull. And tossed it to the floor. It was his turn to smile.
As his smile widened, Cally’s face clouded in anger. ‘What’s going on here?’ she demanded. ‘Why didn’t you bleed? Why aren’t you dead?’
‘My condition –‘ Brand began
‘Condition? What condition?’ she demanded. (*PS How did she miss that? His parents talked about it in EVERY chapter!)
‘You can’t kill me,’ Brandt told her. ‘I’m already dead!’”


We learn that Brandt died on his South Pacific island and the medicine man took the life force of a hobo and put it into Brandt’s freshly dead corpse. He has to constantly wear a necklace with the toenail clippings (sick sick sick) of the hobo to retain said life force. Anyways, right after he finishes explaining his miraculous recovery to Abbie/Ghost of Cally Fraiser, the black shadowy ghost appears behind her. It’s the ghost of the hobo! He’s come to take his life back! WTF?! Was he just waiting for the most dramatic moment to do this? Stalking Brandt until a time where he thought “Ah, this will provide the most dramatic irony!”? Then the best thing happens. The hobo steals the necklace back and:

“ ‘My heart is beating!’ the drifter cried joyfully. ‘I’m alive!’
He vanished silently down the stairs.”

UMMM WHAT? He just walks out? Then what? Hops a plane back to the South Pacific? Starts a new life there? Sets up shop in Shadyside maybe?? He’s not pissed at Brandt and wants revenge?! I think out of all the possible endings to that story, this made absolutely the least sense. Just… w.t.f.

So the story ends with ZOMBIE Brandt shriveling up and poof-ing away (ala Buffy) and the Ghost of Cally Fraiser emo-ing about how lonely she is. All she wants is a boyfriend!

Okay. I can’t even offer any excuses for this book. It was flat out awful. Let’s talk about ZOMBIE Brandt’s ZOMBIE condition, shall we? Most importantly: why did he get a huge bruise when he fell down if he can’t bleed, as exposition-ed by Abbie/Ghost of Cally Fraiser. Why did his arm just fall out of its socket? And why can’t he run for more than five minutes? Are there zombie rules I don’t know about? I mean, he could RUN so he wasn’t a shuffling, drooling zombie. But apparently he could fall to pieces from a vigorous gust of wind? I guess I understand why his parents tip-toed around the issue and called it his ‘condition’. I certainly wouldn’t want to be reminded my son was a horrible freak of nature that I created.

I give the book two hatchets-embedded-in-zombie-skulls out of five. Because that scene was awesome, and the rest was a huge waste of my time. And now yours! Up next: The Third Horror!
A.M. Stine

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Curtains, or "Too Many Teen Drama Queens"

The original cover is kinda a silhouette of a girl stabbing a guy. The new cover is inaccurate, although I’m not exactly shocked. Tagline: “The play’s the thing … until the blood begins to run …" Meh.

This is an R. L. Stine book that is NOT a Fear Street book. The difference? There was no two line intro of how super creepy Fear Street is at night. But since I just did that for you, we can move on.

The setting is a drama summer camp, where theatre mixes with camping. Because we all know that theatre types are big into the outdoors, obvs. They are putting on a super-thriller play, Curtains, which hopefully is more spine-tingling then the usual super-chillers we find at Fear Street. There is one too many overdramatic types running around, which results in murder … well, actually no murder, but a swan is killed. Does that count?

The Cast:

Rena: Beautiful, Michelle Pfeiffer-esque (really), a troubled teen with no acting experience/ability who lands the lead in the play. All men love her; all women are homicidally jealous of her. She is haunted by a tragic past, where she accidentally killed her boyfriend playing Russian roulette. Oops!

Bax: Washed up Broadway director who plays cruel games with the campers to help them access their inner fear or inner rage. This includes making them all walk around in bathing suits in front of each other making mean comments about their bodies, and staging his own hanging. Based on the above, I’d say Bax is a little effed up.

Hedy: How do you pronounce Hedy? Is it like Heidi? I think head-y, but who would name their kid that? Anyways, this drama queen is easy to pick out because she has long red hair. She publicly vows to take the lead away from Rena no matter the cost, and is a total uber-bitch.

Chip: All around nice guy, until he is accidentally stabbed by Rena. Oops!

Julie: Best friend of Rena, although she kinda openly hates her because she always gets all the attention and boys. Julie is clearly a total slut because she wears a little bathing suit and runs off with boys at night (although all they want to do is talk about Rena). She is also described as looking like Cher. I can only imagine this is a good thing in 1990.

George: Good looking prop-master who’s a little intense. Maybe TOO intense.

The Plot (no, really): Creepy things happen to Rena, like finding a slaughtered swan in her bed, or slashing all her clothes. She gets more and more freaked out and blames everyone, or goes into a catatonic state, whichever is less helpful. When she finally decides to leave the camp, she is tricked into going to the old boathouse with George, who makes it seem as though they are locked in. With acting. The boathouse is old and completely submerged in water when the tide is in (at a lake, mind you.) George tells her he’s really her boyfriend’s younger brother, and will make her pay! Rena realizes the door wasn’t really locked and gets out. The boathouse collapses on George. Rena then realizes she didn’t actually kill her boy friend, he killed himself. She saves George and everyone is happy.

Except me. There was no suspense in this story at all. I mean, the worst thing that happens to Rena is she is in a boathouse filling with water, and then walks out. It was like Fear Street-lite.

My biggest problem was this boathouse thing. Why was it apparently built underwater? It clearly serves no functional purpose whatsoever, except to frustrate me. Surely that can’t be good for the boats? I give this book 3 stars for the 3 hunks Rena accidentally tries to kill.

L. K. Stine

Monday, July 7, 2008

Truth or Dare, or “The Other Ski Weekend Book”

Yet another book about a group of teenagers on a ski trip, abandoned in a ski chalet with no contact with the outside world. The perfect setting for romance, mysterious happenings and suspenseful murders, right? Well, no, but it’s at least an improvement.

This book does have the distinction of having my favourite Fear Street character so far. April, the main character, is a catty little bitch. I mean, she is a pretty normal girl, nice to her friends and all that, but she has the most random mean thoughts about everyone around her. I liked it, because, really, who doesn’t think mean things about people every once and awhile?

April, and her friends Jenny and Ken (dating), are traveling to Dara’s ski chalet. Ken is the most handsomest of all men: the best-looking guy, with thick wavy hair, and the best build in the school, tall and muscular without being too bulky. All I imagine is the Ken doll now, with the stiff arm wave, the pasted on toothy smile, and no real man-bits to speak of. I realize I call a lot of Fear Street characters Ken-like, so I’m a fan that they actually just went ahead and named him Ken.

They don’t know Dara that well at all, as she just moved to Shadyside. April’s thoughts on Dara: “She has a perky little nose. I don’t think it’s hers.” Me-ow! What they do know is that she is very rich. She sent a limo to pick them up. (wtf? – okay…) They call a friend in Shadyside to gloat about their scoring the limo ride. The person they call is Corky Corcoran, everybody’s favourite evil ghost battling cheerleader! I think it’s funny they try to develop some kind of consistency as to the characters who go to Shadyside High, but how would you keep track of who’s still alive? And even if Corky is alive now, there is no telling how long that’s going to last. They also stop to pick up Josh, a quiet shy guy they don’t know, but is a friend of Dara’s. April’s only thought on him is he’s good-looking in a nerdy way.

They arrive at the ski chalet/house/mansion, and it is ENORMOUS. It has wings. I would like a winter getaway that has wings. But as we find out, money doesn’t buy you everything, does it, Dara?

They enter the house and surprise a couple making out in the dark. The guy, Tony, knows Dara. There is a lot of tension between them and they explain their families share the ski lodge, although nobody really explains how that arrangement works or why it is there. April’s thoughts on Tony: ‘I hate guys with deep clefts in their chins. I don’t know why. I just don’t like it.’ It’s simple, prejudicial, and totally human. Love April! We can tell immediately that Tony is smarmy from the cleft in his chin, so he cannot be a good guy. His girlfriend, Carly, is a red head and apparently quite unattractive. Aprilism: ‘She wore a red sweater that really didn’t look good with her hair colour. Her gums showed when she smiled.’ I am shocked that there is a red-head who is NOT stunningly gorgeous and fashionable, but she is dating a guy with a cleft chin, so what can we expect? Carly comments nervously that the house is nice. Aprilism: ‘How could you see any of it in the dark?’ That’s right, Carly, you’re a big whore!

Despite the massive tension, they all decide to share the chalet. It does have a couple of wings, guys, I’m sure you can make it work. And then comes the most unrealistic scene of any Fear Street book I have ever read, forget ghosts or various serial killers. When it comes to make the room arrangements, everyone is literally horrified at the thought of a boy and girl sharing a room together. To recap, you have seven teenagers, two couples, no adult supervision, and they are too prim and proper to consider even sleeping in the same room as their boyfriend/girlfriend. They would like to stick with the hot dry lip action, thank you very much.

Also totally unrealistic, they are not one of them drinking booze. This is a teenage weekend party, not a church group. Maybe if anyone behaved like a normal teenager, there wouldn’t be so many gd murders in Shadyside! Go get some wine coolers, it will do you good.

They decide to play truth or dare, and it gets quite risqué because Dara is asked who her worst kiss has ever been, and she meanly starts to answer Josh. Josh freaks out about this. Like, threatening her with a fire poker freaks out. It must have been a really bad kiss. The only question that actually matters is a question to April: ‘who do you wish you didn’t know?’ April answers mysteriously – the girl from Sumner Island. She later reveals that the past summer she was at Sumner Island beach and saw Ken making out with a random chick, cheating on Jenny. She never told Jenny and it’s been haunting her ever since.

They get tuckered out from all the good clean fun they are having, so they go to bed (girls in one wing, boys in the other). April sees Dara heading out to get some more firewood.

The next morning, there is perfect ski condition, but they are missing Dara, Josh, and Dara’s Jeep. They continue to not drink for the rest of the day, getting more and more scared until they find … Dara’s frozen corpse in a locker outside. After much screaming, they go to call the police, only to find the phone is conveeeeeniently dead. From a storm. This happens all the time in Fear Street, and always right after someone is murdered. What on earth would happen if these kids got cell phones? I guess there would be a lot more instances of ghostly interference.

They obviously blame Josh for the death, since he’s gone with the Jeep. And then they find a note proving he did it – he confesses his obsessive feelings for Dara and asks her to meet him later at night. And it’s written in red ink – could it be blood? … no, it’s just red ink. So they are sure that Josh is the murderer. Therefore, when Josh comes to the door and knocks to be let in, obviously they politely let him in. It’s cold out there, alright? They politely allow the acknowledged murderer to tell his story. He denies everything, says he went for a drive in the storm, and they believe him. Why wouldn’t they? Look how cold he is!

April realizes that Dara is wearing her parka, and therefore the murderer is actually trying to kill her. Well, maybe. She decided to run away in the middle of the storm and steals a convenient, non-corpse filled parka, which turns out to be cheating Ken’s. As she’s running away, she reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out … a red pen! This is at least as damning as a letter opener.

She then spots Ken running after her. I still imagine a Ken doll, stiff armed wave and big smile, even if he is really Serial Killer Ken. He overtakes her really fast and tackles her. He is then confused why April is freaking out. He says he just went to find her, and he didn’t tackle her, he accidently fell into her. Yeah, right. April probably got turned on by this, since violence/weapons = making out. And Ken’s a big cheater anyways.

Only Ken and April don’t make out, although they should have. She instead follows him back to the chalet, thinking she could escape in the Jeep with Jenny. Screw everyone else! She gets back, tells Jenny they need to leave, and they ski away to the ski hill, since the chair lifts are finally going, I guess meaning the ski hill is open, although there is no one around. They decide to escape by taking a chair lift up the hill (???) Why? What would this help? They can get a few runs in before being murdered?

While on the chair lift, April finally figures out that Jenny was the real murderer when Jenny tries to push her off. Oh April, you are bitchily awesome, but suck when it comes to staying alive. They tussle on the bench for awhile, and Jenny tells April that she killed the girl from Sumner Island, and thought April knew and revealed this during truth or dare. The girl’s name was Barbara (Ken and Barbie! Awesome!) and Ken fell in love with her and wasn’t going to leave her after the summer. Jenny was prepared to look the other way, but that was unacceptable. So, Barbie had to go. It’s not really clear whether Ken knew about this and was okay with it, or whether he just thought: well, my favorite girlfriend was killed, I guess I’ll stick with the backup. Either way, Ken is looking like a jackass. Jenny finally pushes April off the chair lift …

But they had reached the top of the hill, no harm done. Jenny then tries to impale April with a ski pole (also awesome!). Then she gets hit in the head by the chair lift and falls over. Ken doll rushes in to save the day. He had recognized the handwriting on the note to be Jenny’s, and brought in the cavalry (ski patrolmen). As Jenny, their respective best friend and girlfriend, is lead away raving, April and Ken crack jokes: Next time, maybe we should stick to Trivial Pursuit! The end.

I give this book an 8 for providing the best names ever to the characters, as well as my new favourite Fear Street character. Also, points for attempting murder with a ski pole, very creative. I deducted points for the cover, as it is inaccurate, I think. It appears that there is a boy and girl on the cover (or Jenny is particularly handsome), and neither of them appear to be shoving the other off. Tagline: “It started as a game – and ended in death!” Meh.

L. K. Stine