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


Drew said...

i won't lie. i hate skiing and ski trips simply because i fear it will turn into a bad rl stine "novel"

Anonymous said...

So why was Dara killed?

L. K. Stine said...

I had to look into this one, but I'm pretty sure Dara was killed because she was wearing April's parka - the intended victim.

Broken1again said...

ya she admits to killing Dara because she mistaken her because of the jacket

RecallerReminder said...

I like the way Jenny totally break down in the end. My favorite ending are those when the killer end up to be the best friend of the protagonist.