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


Drew said...

killing the pet is such a cliche. "let's kill something that isn't actually a character, but will still die." unless it comes back to life to seek revenge, ala pet cemetary, im out

ps- FIRST POST! good one. a "trilogy" where the 2nd one sucks and the 1st was awesome? sounds suspiciously-unlike a trilogy to me ;)

LAK said...

I think our pal R.L must be the type to over-extend himself when it comes to writing. That is the only slightly realistic reason I can come up for his lack of research and lack of continuity. He wanted to churn those books out as fast as he could as though he knew the fame wouldn't last forever. So, he just wrote the books, figuring that pre-teens and teens didn't know ANY geography or facts about zombies or about rabies and crazed raccoons.

And really it's the poor knowledge of zombies that hurts the most.

the vegan otter said...

The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. Very informative, and way better than anything R.L. could have dreamed up. Oh, and it's hilarious, too.

Anonymous said...

I felt so cheated by this book. I wanted it to be about the house, not a zombie boyfriend.

RecallerReminder said...

This book was only to fill up the trilogy, like taking a break betweeen the beggining and the end.
Ugh, even zombie boys end up being jerks in this books...

Anonymous said...

To be honest. The first was much better. Although I always knew the dog and James were trapped in the walls. Where else would they be if you can hear them but can't see them.