Wednesday, July 30, 2008
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