Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wrong Number 2, or “Why Wearing a Catsuit Can Lead to Murder”

A sequel, good. Can Wrong Number 2 possibly be the equal of The Wrong Number? With the help of some catsuits and forced accents, I certainly hope so.

Things get off to a great start, because Jade is wearing a catsuit. Do people ever wear catsuits in real life? I feel I should wear one around town, just to see what kind of reaction I get. Anyways, it’s a year later from the last book. Deena has broken up with Rob and has gone back to being shy. Chuck is off at college and is still dating Jade, although Jade seems to be dating just about everyone else. The girls’ evening is interrupted by a prank call, which is vaguely threatening. Look at that, the pranksters get pranked!

Deena has a crush on the Aussie exchange student, Steve. There’s an Australian in Shadyside? I find that … random. But cool. How very international of R. L. Steve says things like ‘G’day’, to prove he is in fact from Australia. Deena is a flustered mess, and he doesn’t go for it. Jade is wearing yet another catsuit. Why? How? The girls realize they are being followed by a man in an orange hunting cap. It’s good to stalk people while wearing orange hunting caps, due to their natural camouflage. He follows them to Jade’s house and peeps through the window. Very creepy. It’s … Chuck! Wtf – that’s an awesome way to treat your girlfriend. Jade gets over it quick, though, and even though she just make out with someone else, like, five minutes ago and Chuck saw all this, she makes out with him too. Chuck is back after dropping out of college. His plan is to move to LA to become a filmmaker. He gets over Jade’s cheating ways awfully quick and heads home. The girls have an actual sleepover and are prank called again, this time by someone who knows what happened the night Mr. Farberson tried to kill them. The caller specifies they want revenge.

Next day, Jade is wearing yet ANOTHER gd catsuit. ONE catsuit is improbably. But to have 3 different catsuits, that’s just crazy talk. Anyways, the girls get a note this time, with a picture of a chainsaw splattered in blood. That’s so … juvenile. I can’t imagine Mr. Farberson drawing that. Their awesome plan is to drive by the Farberson’s to see if anyone is home, whether he was released. I would suggest calling the cops, but they likely are too incompetent to figure that out. When they see someone IS home, Chuck decides the best course of action would be to break in to see who it is. Always the thinker, aren’t you Chuck? He doesn’t get a chance to break in, because a car pulls out of the driveway and tries to run them over. They get into a car chase, and the other cars gets into an accident. I’m surprised Deena doesn’t crash, because she seems to mainly drive with her eyes shut. Although, she is able to tell that the other driver is a woman with long hair. They figure it’s Mr. Farberson’s girlfriend, Linda Morrison.

They decide to go pay a little visit to Linda, and of course they must do it in costume and wigs. Because her house is up for sale, Jade is going as a real estate agent, Deena her assistant. Apparently, Linda isn’t doing well, because she looks fat and old, and her house is messy. She’s leaving town the next day. The girls snoop around, and they find a key chain for the Farberson house. Linda finally recognizes them, but instead of getting pissed, she starts crying, saying she’s terrified Stanley (Mr. Farberson) is going to kill her when he gets out of prison, which he might in a few days. Mr. Farberson hid a stash of money in the house, and she’s trying to find it before he’s out.

Big surprise, the kids decide to find the money themselves. Well, Chuck does. To fund his filmmaking career. Only he takes two steps out of his house and is attacked … by one of Jade’s boyfriends on the side. Chuck is knocked out. Oops, all the trouble that comes with too many boyfriends. Maybe if you’d stayed away from the catsuits, Jade, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Chuck comes to in the hospital, and confesses to making the creepy revenge calls. Wtf? He was trying to scare Jade so much she’d leave town with him and go to LA. There’s a foolproof plan.

Deena’s life is doing a bit of a rollercoaster. The cute Aussie asks her out, but then Mr. Farberson is released from prison. The news calls him ‘the notorious Shadyside killer.’ Aren’t there, like, 18 of them? Or is he just the only one who was ever caught? At the same time, Chuck goes to Farberson’s house to look for buried treasure. So the girls go back to the house where they were once held hostage by a poncho, to rescue Chuck. They find him on the floor of a closet. He had found the money, then someone knocked him out and stole it. As they are trying to leave they see Mr. Farberson, and immediately run to the basement, where they’ll be “safe.”

Farberson corners them with a gun, and demands to know where the money is. Of course they don’t know, so he ties them up and gets out his trusty chain saw. Just before Deena loses an arm, Linda comes in with a gun on Farberson. He lunges at her, but trips and falls onto his own chain saw. They’re saved! Actually, not yet. Linda has the money and a plane ticket, but wants to take care of loose ends, so she sets the house on fire with the kids in it. In an unexpected moment of suspense, she douses the basement in gas, then leaves a small stub of a candle to burn down onto it. What’s going to happen?

Jade escapes by cutting her ropes on the chainsaw, and they make it out in the nick of time. The basement explodes behind them. In an extra special happy ending, Farberson’s insurance company gave Jade, Deena, and Chuck a reward at Linda Morrison’s trial. I had to think about that one for a long time … wtf? Does that happen, ever? Should I go almost get killed, just in case an insurance company decides I deserve a reward? Anyways, they use this money to go to college, and Chuck decides to stay at Madison (which may or may not be a college in Shadyside, am unsure) and promises once again to devote his life to puppies.

Wrong Number 2 was pretty good, but it was no The Wrong Number. I was unsure why there was this random Aussie making jokes about kangaroos interspersed in there, but there were an awful lot of catsuits, so it must be okay. I’d just like to point out that on the cover, that is Jade sitting there in a green catsuit. It’s not as flattering as she thinks it is, especially worn with white sweat socks. The tagline is nonsensical: ‘Call waiting … to kill!’, but it has everything I expect from a tagline, so I’ll let that slide as well. 5 catsuits out of 9.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Secret or "Stop Fingering That Damn Amulet!"

I’m back with more Fear Street Original SAGA to share! I have to apologize for not being as prolific of a writer as a certain Ms. L.K. Stine, however my only excuse is that going to my two classes and watching tons of TV takes a lot of time, okay? But getting on the terrifying second book of the series: The Secret! This is one of the books that I owned as a child. I actually owned the Collectors edition, which had all three books in one! Unfortunately, it was so thick that my copy broke into like 5 pieces. I remember being upset, I liked the series THAT much.

Cover is good. Most of it is again taken up by a pretty face, although this time I’m not sure exactly who this girl is supposed to be. I’m pretty certain it’s Elizabeth Fier, but there are so, SO many characters in these books, who knows? Some good fire and gravestone imagery in the foreground, but I don’t know what that weird flower holder thing-y is. Help here? Looks like it should attach to something. Needless to say, that is NOT important to the story. Why you gotta trick us, cover-artist?

Again these books are divvyed up with prologues, epilogues, and different time periods. Awesome! We start back in 1900…

Village of Shadyside, 1900

Nora Goode is still writing the history of the Fiers. She’s still stressed because she HAS to finish by sunup. Except she made that little rule up herself, so … she’s a little slow. Have I mentioned that? She stressed when someone walks past her room, because no one can see it before she’s done! Jeez, girl, relax a bit! No one has a gun to your head! Well, at least as far as I can tell.

Wickham Village, Massachusetts, 1737

So the Fier family is back! Ezra Fiers grandparents fled Wickham village many years before after killing innocents and stealing from everyone. And someone had the bad manners to put a curse on them! Anyways, Ezra has spent his whole life searching for the Goodes to get them back. He’s moved his entire family (Wife Jane, 12 year old John, 8 year old Abby, and 3 year old Rachel) like 4 times looking for the family. Question? Why would Ezra have looked ANYwhere besides the village that the Goodes were from? I hate Ezra. Who would marry this nutter?

So Wickham is now a ghost town. Except replace the word “ghost” with “rotting corpses” and you get the picture. Ezra still insists that they settle on the outskirts of (rotting) town, incase the Goodes left any ‘clues’. What, like a map? I love how Jane says she gets a “bad feeling” from the town. O RLY?! All the houses and hotels and common areas full of dead people gives you a “bad feeling”?! I see now why Jane married Ezra. She’s been lobotomized.

They find the Goodes house and realize that they were the only family to escape the ‘plague’. Ezra is PISSED and decides to settle in their house. Ezra displays some of that famous Fear Street macho charm: “From now on I expect obedience from all of you – obedience and nothing else!” Whatever, weirdo. Man, Jane must have had a hard time controlling herself in front of the kiddos. It’s mentioned that little red-haired Abby is the only one that Ezra really loves. Ooo BURN, blond haired Rachel!

Abby and John start going into the town every day to bury the bones of puppies they find. Which is heartbreakingly sad! (One of the best scenes: John goes to get a shovel from a house and when he opens a cupboard… a corpse falls out! Why the eff would a corpse be in a kitchen cupboard! It was a plague, not effing “Scream 4”). One day they find the bones of a little girl and Abby wants to bury her. When John is off finding a girl-sized box, Abby finds … a new friend! A little girl, her age has mysteriously appeared. I think you know where this is going…

Right, she’s a ghost. Unfortunately (for me!) not a zombie. Hester lures Abby to play at ‘her’ house and Abby never comes home. When Ezra and John go to look for her (in the graveyard, where else?) they find a gravestone for a Hester Goode. And beside it is … Abby Fier’s grave! They dig her up in a panic but unsurprisingly she didn’t make it through the afternoon in a grave.

Western Massachusetts, 1743

So it’s been a few years and the family has moved on. I mean literally, they’ve moved. Because from the sounds of things… Ezra has NOT moved on from his revenge fantasies. Every night before bed, Ezra tells Rachel the story of the family curse. WTF? That’s her bedtime story? “Well, we burned some witches, and then this dude got mad and murdered our family, and then your sister was buried alive when she was just about your age! Sleep tight!”

They’ve just moved into their new house and a neighbour comes to the door to welcome them. Well, what do you know? It’s a hot teenager the same age as John! Coincidence? Probably. Hot girl’s name is Delilah. She says her last name is Wilson but we know better. You KNOW she’s a Goode. John thinks about how poor she looks, but is okay with it because she’s super hot. Wow! She must be REALLY hot for someone to be overlooking her poverty.

Creepy things keep happening around the Fier homestead, like mysterious animal screams (do animals scream?) and their well bucket is full of blood in the morning! Ezra thinks that the curse must have caught up with them, and fingers his amulet. You know, the one that says “Power through evil”? Their family motto? Ever wonder if the bad things are related to that, EZRA? Throughout this time though, John is falling in love with Delilah as they take daily walks together. John confides in Delilah, telling her all about the curse and their recent bad luck. Probably a bad idea, John. Things take a turn for the TERRIBLE, when they can’t find their mother one morning. My guess was Jane had enough of crazy, verbally abusive Ezra and took off.

Nope, I got it wrong! They find her drowned in the well. They were able to pull her out using the formerly-filled-with-blood well-bucket. How big is that damn bucket? John visits Delilah to seek comfort but guess what she tells him. You’re never going to guess! She’s a GOODE! Whoa! To be honest, I bet that blew my 9 year old mind back in the day. But she didn’t do anything to his family, she just loves John. They decide to end the curse by marrying.

Ezra catches wind of these shenanigans and storms the church with a rifle! Stay classy, Ezra. John and Ezra fight which ends with John stumbling around with a rifle and it going off randomly. Who wants to bet Delilah kicks it? Yup, she goes down! The minister, who is conveniently her father, cowers in terror since Ezra is still trying to kill all the Goodes in town. The minister confesses that they aren’t Goodes (WHAT?) but were using that excuse so John would marry Delilah even though she’s poor. Aw, poor Delilah! Didn’t she realize that being super hot in Fear Street is almost as good as being super rich? Ezra runs from the church only to be trampled by a horse. Random. John decides that the curse ends HERE and buries that GD amulet in the garden, under the apple tree. At least someone in the whole book had a little bit of sense!

Village of Shadyside, 1900

Nora is STILL stressing about writing this book before dawn. Shut UP about your self inflicted deadlines! She does something useful for once and explains that the curse was dormant for 100 years from that point. My explanation? R.L. realized that if he had to think of stories to cover the years 1600-1900, it was going to take a shitload of time and books. I bet this whole “curse dormant for 100 years” was thought up mid-book, after 12 coffees, some writers block and a fast approaching deadline.

Western Massachusetts, 1843

We meet the new generation of Fiers. Simon (O we’ve heard that name before, haven’t we?), Kate and our stories ‘heroine’, Elizabeth. Liz is outside digging in her garden (right were the old apple tree used to be. Weird!) when she finds an old amulet. She doesn’t know what the saying means, but wears it anyways. When she puts it on, she feels immediately like she’s being consumed with fire. BUT DECIDES TO KEEP IT ON and forgets about the incident. WHAT?

Soon a drifter comes to the door asking for food in exchange for doing some work. These Fiers are kind-hearted and give him food, a bath and a bed for the night. His name is Frank and Liz is all titillated by him. She even saw his BACK in the bath! (peeping? Nice). This part of the book is a little different because we get to hear Frank’s perspective. And thank goodness, because Frank is a total psycho whose last name happens to be… Goode! Liz and Frank start going for walks every day, which in those days I guess meant dating? Or full on engaged? I have no clue, all these characters ever do is walk in the woods, then decide to get married. Here is some classic Fear Street courtship:
‘“Someday you might need a real protector. The world is full of danger, Elizabeth.” His eyes were shining as he said this, and Elizabeth’s heart swelled.’
BLECH! Who thinks that’s romantic? His eyes were shining thinking about killing you, then bathing in your blood! (well I don’t know this, but I can only assume!)

Anyways, Kate, Liz’s sister that we didn’t care about until now, comes rushing in a few days later announcing she’s engaged to Frank. Liz is all WTF, bitch!?!? and runs out into the woods. Kate rushes after her. Simon goes to get the girls after a few minutes and sees that Kate has been stabbed through the heart with a knitting needle! Simon is a little wary of Liz… Liz comes back home all crazy (“Kate was a liar. Frank loves Elizabeth") but still maintains she didn’t kill Kate. Simon flees the craziness while their parents discuss what to do with their nutter daughter.

Simon wanders through the woods and is accosted by an old woman who the townspeople think is a witch. This “Aggie” tells him that Liz is innocent and Franks is a GOODE who’s out to kill his family. She lets him in on a secret: Since their name “Fier” can also spell FIRE, that is how his family will be destroyed. Riiight. She also gives him a dagger that has poison on the very tip, so he only needs to scratch his opponent. Aggie isn’t so trusting of Simon’s killing Skillz, is she?

Simon runs home to discover Frank menacing Liz with an axe. “The axe he had used to murder Simon’s parents.” How did Simon know that automatically? Anyways, he scratches away at Frank (a plunge to the heart would have worked just as well Simon) but nothing happens at first. The poison, knowing all along what it was doing, waited until for the most dramatic second, right when Frank is about to kill poor Lizzy, to kick in! Breathe sigh of relief! Franks collapses, totally dead. Liz gives Simon her amulet to “protect” him, and Simon realizes that “Goodness is weakness.” …Yeah, that was the lesson to be learned here. He also decides to change their last name so the curse won’t affect them anymore. “Now and forever I will be known as Simon FEAR.”

Village of Shadyside, 1900

Nora cries into her book and wishes Simon FEAR had been right. But she does tell us that the tale of Simon FEAR is the most horrifying of all! Can’t wait!

Confession time. While reading this book, I TWICE had to put it down because it was creeping me out! Of course, I was reading it at night, but even still… it was shameful, okay? But it means it was good. How good? 15 poison daggers out of 17!

The Wrong Number, or “Rescuing Puppies Isn’t All It Cracked Up To Be”

Let’s start with the cover. There is a full moon shining over a creepy street (not Fear Street), and it looks like Deena and Jade are having a sleepover. Deena’s wearing a slouchy, almost-off-the-shoulder pink pajama top, which I’m sure I’ve owned at some point in my life. Jade is wearing some tiny little slip, which I’m sure I’ve never owned. Look at her legs, it’s like they’re starring in the book. This scene never happens, but they certainly look scared, good for you, cover artist! Tagline: It began as a prank … and ended in murder! Points for referencing murder, and using both an ellipsis and an exclamation mark.

This Fear Street begins with a prologue (and why shouldn’t it?) The main plot in the book is interspersed with the murderer (who is a he) talking about his foolproof plan, and how he was forced into it. Okay, crazy murderer guy. Then we begin the real story, with Jade and Deena putting green goop in Jade’s hair. This is to show that Jade is both beautiful, and vain, I think. Deena confesses that she’s distracted, since her half-brother Chuck is moving in with her family, after being expelled from his last school. Ooh, a bad boy. Jade, and me a little bit, are interested. Anyways, the girls get bored and start making prank calls. The most interesting is when shy flustered Deena calls her crush Rob and acts like a sex goddess. Awesome!

The next day Deena goes to pick up her brother from the airport. Chuck acts like a dick, then he rescues a puppy from a burning car. How conflicting. Chuck the badass is a real hero, with a soft spot for puppies. Did we all just melt? But other than his puppy-loving ways, he continues to be a dick. This continues until he catches the girls making prank calls again, and he threatens to tattle (because he’s a badass, I guess) unless he can join in. He calls a bomb threat to the bowling alley. So things have gone from harmless to criminal. Way to take it up a notch, Chuck. Deena freaks out, which I think is legit, but Jade threatens to tell Rob about his mystery caller if she doesn’t go along with them. Meanwhile Chuck and Jade are making out all the time.

Deena is held hostage by this, so she’s down with more calls. Badass Chuck is interested in Fear Street, and calls a number there, only he calls to interrupt a murder. A woman pleads for help, then a man comes on to tell them they have the wrong number. Eek! They go to investigate the house, and find the body of a woman, stabbed to death. Chuck goes over and picks up the murder weapon, because why not? That should be fun. Clearly this was written in the days before CSI, where we all learnt to NOT PICK UP THE MURDER WEAPON. The murderer surprises them and they take off. Unfortunately, the murderer follows them to their house and knows where they live. This is never good. They make an anonymous call to the police.

Only it’s not so anonymous, since the police come right away to Deena and Chuck’s house to arrest them. I love a Fear Street where the police are involved. Deena is released, but Chuck is held on 1st degree murder because his prints are all over the murder weapon. Stupid, Chuck, at least we have CSI now to help us know what NOT to do at a crime scene. Jade and Deena confess to everything (the prank calls, including the bomb threat, which is not so cool). I’m surprised they aren’t arrested. There’s an awesome line where Deena’s dad says: ‘Do you mean to say that this whole thing began with a prank phone call?’ and Jade replies in a whisper: ‘And it ended in murder.’ Way to repeat the tagline, Jade, a little overdramatic, non?

It becomes the girls’ mission to get Chuck out of jail, so they decide to do some investigating. Because the actual police are incompetent. They go to see the husband of the murdered woman, a Mr. Farberson, and recognize his voice as that of the murderer. So they full on stalk him. Their stalking involves, like, wigs and aliases. They really get into it. They find out that Mr. Farberson owns a failing Italian restaurant, is having an affair with his former office assistant, and has two one way tickets to Rio. Good circumstantial evidence, but hardly a smoking gun. The girls have to go deeper.

They decide to go back to the house on Fear Street, where the murder happened, to prove Mr. Farberson was the stabber. They break in and find a letter from Mrs. Farberson to her husband, saying she won’t give him any more of her inheritance to support his failing business. I love it when things are spelled out for us. Motive for murder: check. Unfortunately for our junior detectives, Mr. Farberson comes home and comes after them. They try to escape, but their plan is foiled by Deena’s poncho, when Mr. Farberson pulls it down over her arms, trapping her. Okay, A) How does this lead to Deena being totally trapped? Just pull the damn thing off, and B) Who wears a poncho to break into somebody’s house?

The girls are “trapped” and decide to escape by climbing down a tree out of the window. Only Mr. Farberson takes a chainsaw to the tree. Keep in mind this is in the middle of the night. Nothing says inconspicuous NON murderer like getting out your chainsaw in the middle of the night, Mr. Farberson. Apparently somebody picks up on this, and the cops are called. They say Mr. Farberson was their main suspect all along, and they were only keeping Chuck in jail so he wouldn’t get suspicious and run. Is that … constitutional? I’m fuzzy on American laws, I could be wrong, but can the police just do that? No mind, Chuck is now a better man after his stint in the big house, and vows to do nothing but rescue puppies and make out with Jade from now on. Things end when shy Deena is asked out by hunky Rob. He’s figured out that she’s the sex goddess of his inappropriate phone calls, and wants to get to first base with her. Isn’t high school romantic?

The Wrong Number was alright. There was a suggestive cover, an actual murder, incompetent police, and some PG action. And it ended up with near-death by CHAINSAW! That’s got to be worth something! I give it 4 chainsaws out of 5.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Surprise Party, or “Stop Giving These People Guns”

I hated The Surprise Party, so bear with me. I read it a long time ago and have been putting off recapping for ages, but now it’s time. The biggest problem with it isn’t the bad writing, or the improbable plot – I expect those from all Fear Streets. This book was boring, a sin I cannot forgive. I’ll try to make this as exciting as possible.

The main character, Meg Dalton, is super annoying, super cheerful, a glass-is-always-half-full kind of person that makes you want to slap her. She’s dating Tony, who does nothing but whine about everything. Actually, I want to slap him too. They’re best friends with Shannon, who is gorgeous with (you guessed it) red hair. She had a brother, Evan, but he was shot dead the year before in the Fear Street Woods.

A vaguely fun part is they are friends with Lisa Blume and Cory Brooks, who recently started dating! As this is the second book in the series after the New Girl, that shows a lot of continuity. I guess in the beginning there was more continuity between characters, but then they all started to die? Thoughts on that? I like seeing my favourite characters again, especially Suki. Anyways, Lisa and Cory give Shannon and Meg the news that their friend Ellen was coming back to town for a visit. Ellen used to be their best friend, and dated Evan, but moved away from Shadyside after her boyfriend was shot in the woods. Sensible move, Ellen, why’d you come back?

Major plot line – they decide to have a surprise party for Ellen, at a mansion in Fear Woods. Immediately someone begins to send vaguely threatening letters to them and sabotaging their plans (like cutting up the invitations they’re sending out, oooh, scary!). Meg decides to play Nancy Drew and tries to figure out the suspect of the vicious crime of invite manslaughter. Her suspect list goes like this: My cousin Brian … because he looked at me funny. Yup, she’s a regular Sherlock Holmes. This pisses Tony off (the investigation, not how stupid she is) and he breaks up with her. That’s a little drastic, so I’m thinking Tony has some deep seated issues.

Things go from bad to worse for Meg, now boyfriend-less. Someone fills her lunchbag with red paint (gasp!) and then tries to run her over. Okay, that’s a legitimate complaint. We flash to the driver of the car, who’s thinking he had almost run over Meg, but didn’t mean to, he just wanted to scare her a little. He does mention (in his head) that he has killed before. We flash to Tony’s perspective, who’s wandering around now on the streets, and has an altercation with Dwayne, some creepy dude on steroids who wants Shannon. This book is so gd all over the place, but I think the point is, Tony’s a spaz.

Then Tony disappears, with Meg’s weird cousin Brian of the funny looks. This is odd because Brian is into “Wizards and Dungeons” with Dwayne, and they don’t really run in the same circles. Apparently they ran off to the woods to play with their wizards, which is creepy enough without the Fear Street stuff. Meg runs on after them, gets lost like the annoying spaz that she is, and is pushed into a ditch. I was okay with that. She finds Brian’s body, but he’s fine, just a little roughed up. Tony shows up too, and does seem kind of worried about Meg, pushing her to drop the party. Maybe TOO hard.

Meg goes to visit her creepy cousin, and it seems he believes he is an actual wizard. He wants to bring Evan back. Hmm. Shannon and Meg go to a party, where Dwayne tries to sexually assault Shannon while drinking a beer. They are way more grossed out by the beer than anything, I think. He tells them he’s going to the surprise party with Suki Thomas. Yay, Suki! Getting losers into parties since 1989! Meg tells Tony that Brian talked to her, and he freaks out and suggests they take a drive up to the cliff so he can push her off. Well, that last part’s implied. Because he killed Evan last year, and Brian knows, as does Ellen, so he doesn’t want anyone speaking to each other. Hence, no surprise party, and no more Meg. Or Brian. Tony has been inexpertly trying to kill people all over the place. But he goes soft, and decides he’ll just shoot Meg at the party. Nice guy.

Night of the party, Meg is wearing her best turquoise sweater over purple pegged pants. For real. Ellen is horrified by the whole thing (the party, not the outfit, although she should be) so apparently the surprise party was a bad idea to begin with. Things take a drastic turn when Brian waltzes in, claiming he’s going to raise Evan from the dead, and then proceeds to do so. Tony FLIPS out and confesses to the murder. Turns out it isn’t even Evan, but his cousin Mike who looks like him. Too late for Tony. Unfortunately, Tony gets shot in the mob scene that results from one little person brought back from the dead. Only he didn’t shoot himself, like I’d expect from the little bastard, but by Dwayne. Dwayne then takes Ellen hostage and drags her from the party. Wtf, that’s all I have to say.

Meg goes after Dwayne and he takes her hostage too. Way to go, Meg, be an independent woman. Dwayne gets super creepy talking about his two girlfriends, and takes them to the basement. So, story is Ellen and Toney were sneaking around behind Evan and Meg’s backs. Evan found out, had a hunting rifle, and while scuffling with Tony is went off, killing him. Or so thought Tony, Ellen, and Brian who all saw it happen. Only, he wasn’t even shot, just hit his head on a rock, until Dwayne snuck up and shot him in the head. Because he wanted to screw his sister. Wtf, worst motive for murder ever. I hate this book.

The girls get away by playing the game “Eek, a mouse” where they shriek really loud. Not offensive to women in any way. The guy with the gun gets freaked out by girls screaming, allowing them to hit him with a frying pan. Can we please have a few more cartoony stereotypes in here? They get away, and the cops get Dwayne. Tony goes to a mental institution in NY, and Meg starts to date the Evan lookalike, Mike.

I give this book 0 whatevers out of 8, and I would like that hour of my life back. Sorry for the bitterness, did anyone hate this book as much as me? After reading this, I nearly had to take a break from Fear Street in general, because I couldn’t do that again. Happily, I powered through. Soon to come: The Wrong Number AND The Wrong Number 2.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Betrayal or "GOODE versus FIER!)

Oh lordy, are you guys in for a treat! Many of you (I think two) have begged for this, so here it is: The Betrayal, the first in the “FEAR STREET SAGA … where the terror began” trilogy! This 161 page monster has THREE separate parts and also includes a prologue, epilogue and numerous interludes! Not only that, but this books takes place over three different time periods! Prepare to have your mind BLOWN.

Let’s see. The cover isn’t actually that snarkable, mostly due to the pretty girls who is taking up most of the space. Now since most of the characters in this book either have luscious blond hair OR are killed without much fanfare, I’m left to assume this pretty young thing is Nora Goode. Nora is not so much a character (yet) but is the chronicler of the FEAR STREET SAGA. This will make sense soon. The amulet that is placed on her chest, even though she’s not actually wearing it, is actually a pretty important part of this book. Fire is also important (way to go cover artist!) but points taken away because I have no clue who that tip toeing woman is supposed to be… Also points lost? No tagline! How am I supposed to be suckered into buying this book when there is no tagline??

Shadyside Village 1900

So we start in 1900, in the village of Shadyside. Nora Goode is standing outside the burning FEAR mansion. She keeps hearing the screams of everyone that is trapped on the inside. Blech. I have to tell you, I can’t think of a worse way to die than to be burned alive. Thanks for the nightmares, Fear Street! Nora thinks that everyone she loves, including this guy Daniel she keeps yelling for, is in there and wondering when they’re going to escape. It’s already been an hour! Um, Nora? If someone hasn’t escaped a burning building in an hour? They’re not coming out. Well, at least we already know that Nora is slow. It will probably be important later. The villages surround the building and say incredibly dumb things. I think it’s supposed to show that people at the turn of the century were uneducated, but they seriously sound like three year olds. “The fire will burn forever!” (No, it won’t) and “It looks like the SKY is on fire!” (That is false).

Nora goes up to the window of the house (wtf, Nora?) and peers in. To the burning building. She sees that the ballroom is full of people who are burning but not dying. I repeat, BLECH. She sees a girl with lovely blond hair, tied to a stake in the middle of the fire, also burning (remember this, it’s important later. There will also be a test.). The window of the house bursts around Nora and she still stands there, silently staring. Again, Nora sounds slow, doesn’t she?

Wickham Village, Massachusetts Colony 1692

We meet our first young, impressionable main character, Susannah GOODE. (get it?) She lives with her mom, dad and infant brother George in a small hut, because they are poor. (A hut? Really?) She and her mom discuss the recent witch trials that have been going on in their small village. They’ve already burned two girls at the stake and there’s another fire tonight! We also know that a certain Benjamin FIER is in charge of these trials. Susannah thinks that since Benjamin is the most prosperous man in town, he must be the most pious. Bahaha! Can you imagine if we believed that nowadays? Actually, I call bullshit. I don’t think anyone, EVER was so deluded to think that wealth = piety. Susannah goes for a walk through the forest were she thinks “improper thoughts” about a certain Edward Fier, Benjamin’s son. Hmmm, improper thoughts, eh? What might they be? Anyways, someone grabs Susannah from behind and she shouts “The Evil One!”. Yeah, that’s Satan’s M.O. Sneaking up behind people in the woods. Is it him?!

No, it’s Edward and I guess he was having some improper thoughts himself since they proceed to kiss! Hot 1692 action! She must really be turned on since she bursts out with a “You are suffocating me!” We all know how much the Shadyside women love their first base intermingled with some violence. Once they separate Susannah tells the reader how na├»ve she is. Well, not in so many words. She tells the reader that even though Edward is the son of the richest man in town, and no one knows about their love affair, the two of them are going to get married! Umm… wow this is awkward. I have no clue how to break this to you Susannah… well, never mind, you’ll find out for yourself!

O and soon! Susannah’s father, William, sits her down after dinner and tells her that she’s been seen around town with this Edward boy. Susannah bursts out that they’re to be married! And her dad is all “Nope. He’s engaged to someone else. You fool.” Ouch. Susannah vows to never trust anyone, ever again. Meanwhile… Benjamin is telling his son Edward that he’s to marry some girls he’s never met before. Edward is mad because he loves Susannah! Aww, well that’s kinda cute. He actually did want to marry her. Ed stands up to his dad and vows to run away with her. Benjamin gets a “dark smile” on his face. That is never a good sign.

The next day, Susannah and her mother are accused of being witches. WEIRD! They have a shame trial (which I image most witchcraft trials consisted of) where Benjamin and his brother Matthew just hurl insults at Susannah then tell them their witches. Nice. The proof they use is the fact a bat flew into the courtroom and also, that after a door was opened, the torches flickered. MY GOD! How could they NOT burn them at the stake? Edward does his best to crush the remainder of Susannah’s spirit by visiting her in jail to tell her that he hates her and wants her to die for lying to him. “I revealed my feelings about you to my father. I told my father of my love for you. Do you think that knowing this, my father would put you on trial if you were innocent?” First of all Edward: you’re a total dipshit. Second? Shouldn’t your father not be putting innocent people on trial no matter what your feelings are?

Meanwhile, back at the GOODE hut. Matthew comes to William and tells him he can get Susannah and his wife back … for a price. William of course gives him everything he has. Unsurprisingly, William finds out the next day that Benjamin, Matthew and the Fier’s have stolen everything from the village and fled during the night. But his sentence about the witches still stands! Question: if Benjamin and Matthew were the witch-hunters because they were so “righteous” and “pious”, would it not give the villages pause when they found out they were totally immoral? Nope? Alright, villagers, burn away! William goes back to his hut, reveals that he is actually a dark art man-witch (hahaha) and curses the Fiers.

Shadyside Village, 1900

Nora Goode is writing the history of the Fiers. She doesn’t remember how she got home after the fire, but has been writing for hours. She’s worried because she has to finish the story before the night has ended. Why? Why put yourself under that kind of pressure?

Western Pennsylvania Frontier 1710

The Fier men settled their family in Western Pennsylvania (on the Frontier of course) and had families. Benjamin has no wife, but his son Edward married Rebecca and they had their ‘disturbed’ child, Ezra. Matthew married Constance and they had Mary, who is the primary, foolish character for this little ditty. (Aside note: Rebecca is described as having dark lips. Does that make anyone else think of Pamela Anderson and her black lipliner, pink lipstick lips?) We find out that William is still seeking revenge, as he’s creeping around the outside of the Fier house. He sees that Edward is a “sturdy young man” now. If Edward was 17 in 1692, that makes him 35 in 1710. Wouldn’t 35 be like middle-aged in that time? Methinks William is a little love-blind!

Edward goes to the roof to fix some shingles in the dark. He falls off and breaks his arm predictably. I think we’re supposed to assume William did it through black arts but it sounds like good ol’ Darwin to me. Don’t climb on roofs in the dark, kids!

The next day, a devilishly handsome boy named Jeremy Throne just shows up on the farm looking for work. Mary is immediately titillated, as she repeats his name over and over again in her head. Hot. It gets better though. The next day, she sees he’s hot and sweaty (not wearing a shirt either!) so she brings him some water. He drinks a little … then dumps the rest all over his body!! O my GAWD. This is the closest we’ve come to some real action I think! I’m surprised Mary holds it together!

After that hot piece of ass, Mary and Jeremy start to see each other on the sly. In the woods. Mary realizes that her uncle and father won’t let anything happen between the two of them because Jeremy is just a farm hand so she thinks bad thoughts. Her prayers are almost answered when Mary finds Uncle Benjamin dead on the floor. Except he’s not dead, he just had a stroke. He can’t feel his left leg anymore and reacts surprisingly well. He just kinda pokes it and comments on how strange it is. Yeah… okay.

Edward and Mary take a nice, cousinly walk through the woods. They suddenly see something burning in the forest! Except it’s not something… it’s someone. Edwards yells out “Susannah!” so he basically solved that mystery for us. Uncle Ben is still going downhill as he can’t use his left leg, arm and also now his right leg. That’s not so much a stroke now, is it…

So Mary decides to cheer Rebecca up (since she has that disturbed child and all) and brings her some sweet biscuits. Only Rebecca has already committed suicide. Ohhh, that sucks. Mary runs out to tell someone (and presumably find Ezra, said disturbed child) and runs into a scarecrow. Which used to be her uncle Ben! Bah! Someone killed him and strung him up like a scarecrow. Mary and the rest of the family are a little bit nervous after these discoveries. After the joint funeral, Jeremy tells Mary he knows who did it. He says it was: his FATHER!

O tell me more! Jeremy says his father’s name is William Goode, and he is his second son, Jeremy Goode. His father has been consumed with revenge against the Fiers for 18 years and told him not to tell anyone his last name. Jeremy says his older brother George left their small family because he couldn’t deal with William’s craziness. Mary and Jeremy decide to bring their families together through their LOVE. They will get married and end the creepy, blood fueled feud. Alright let’s just stop right there. I already spot a glaring discrepancy, and it just annoys me that no one seems to catch on. Jeremy even tells Mary that all this stuff happened before he was born. Like his MOTHER … DYING. He calls her his mother! Where exactly does Mary think he came from? Did anyone even read this book before it was printed? (Actually, I’m almost positive no one did, because there are a few names that are totally mixed up. I’m calling this the editor-less edition!)

Mary confronts her father, Matthew who confesses to all the things they did to their tiny town before they left. Edward is understandably upset that he basically killed his girlfriend, Susannah. Matthew insists they have Jeremy and William over for dinner to put aside their differences. Yeah, who can’t forgive four gruesome murders over some lima beans and pork?

Right, Jeremy comes over to dinner, but William is no where to be seen. Matthew whips out the amulet that we see on the front and yells “Dominatio per malum” which means “Power through evil”. Hah! Is that really their family motto? Jeremy’s head explodes, but its okay. William’s head grows back in place! Mary is super confused (not terrified?) and keeps demanding to see Jeremy. Ohhh Mary. Matthew kills William because his evil arts are more powerful (hence the slogan) and laughs uncontrollably. Edward takes Mary (now insane apparently) and his disturbed child Ezra, and heads for the hills!

Western Pennsylvania Wilderness 1725

Ezra Fier is now 21 and on his own. His father died of exhaustion early on, and his crazy aunt Mary drowned herself in a pond a few years back. Now he’s off to seek revenge on the Goode family for doing this to him. Seriously, if they would just cut back on this revenge stuff…

He goes to their old farmstead to get clues on where to find the Goode ancestors. He doesn’t find the Goodes, but he does find a bricked up wall with two skeletons behind it! That would be dear Matthew and Constance. Matthew bricked themselves up to “protect” themselves from the Goodes. And probably because he was nuts. Ezra finds out the Goodes are from Wickham and also takes this chance to steal the amulet from around his uncles dead neck. Ahhh grave robbin’. Satisfying, isn’t it, Ezra?

Shadyside Village 1900

Nora Goode is still writing. To be continued …

Alright. This trilogy was totally my favorite back when I was a kid, so reading it now and pointing out flaws… is kinda awesome! I already hate all the women characters. I didn’t include it but they all kept saying stuff like “A woman’s place is in the kitchen!” We get it R.L. It was a different time! You can stop now. The men aren’t much better, but at least they’re eviler. No zombies which is always a let down in my book, but lots of burning people and gore, so that’s a plus. I also realize this snark was SO long, so forgive me. I’ll try to cut down for the other two. I give this book a cool 7 non-existent editors out of 9.

The New Girl, or “Fear Street Classic”

The New Girl is the FIRST Fear Street book ever written, number one of the series. And since I’ve become quite the expert on Shadyside, I can see how this book began many precedents that last long and strong through the series.

First, there is the tagline on the cover: “He had to learn her secret – or die trying!” It both references death, and uses an exclamation mark. Also, the picture on the cover is a scene that never actually happens in the book. I have to say this is not the cover on my book - I have the original 1989 version, of a sweet innocent little blond. This version, I think they re-released these in 2006 with updated covers, are WAY sexier than the originals. You'd think they'd be up to something naughty in Shadyside, but ... they are not. This is Shadyside. Second base doesn't exist.

We also begin a 160 page book with a prologue. In this 2 page prologue, Anna Corwin dies, or rather, is murdered. Great hook. Then we start the book for reals, where the main character is Cory Brooks. It’s unusual to have the main character to be male in Fear Street, there’s very few. I wonder whether R. L. started off from a male perspective, then changed because it wasn’t working. Perhaps it was easier to make all the men either sexual assaulters or murderers?

Anyways, Cory is an all-state gymnast (sidenote: I don’t know what “all-state” means, but I am assuming it means very good.) His best friend is Lisa Blume, who is described as looking like Cher. This is classic Fear Street, because every girl who goes to Shadyside either has red hair, or looks like Cher. They only come in two models. Lisa is die-hard in love with Cory, and tries to play footsie with him at every turn. Cory is a moron and doesn’t notice, thinking she must be pressing her breasts up to him because she is cold.

Cory is actually obsessed with the new girl at school, Anna Corwin, who is hardly ever around, is so beautiful she seems to float on air, and always talks in a breathy sex voice. The obsession is a little much, like he stops eating and misses all his gymnastic practices because he’s thinking about her. Melodramatic, much? She’s into him too, but creepily, in that she keeps on calling him in the middle of the night telling him she’s in trouble, then making out with him so hard his lips bleed them running away. …hot? But every time he calls her or goes to her house, her creepy brother keeps insisting she’s dead. Cory consults Lisa, who always gets mad and throws things when he mentions Anna (why is she behaving like this? Oh, Cory, you’re so thick, in a genuine high school boy way), but Lisa does discover Anna’s obituary. Chills, that really ups the creepiness factor.

Cory gets more and more into Anna, and meanwhile Lisa is getting death threats and cat corpses in her locker. Things accumulate when Cory goes to the school dance with Lisa, and she is pushed down a flight of stairs, apparently by Anna’s brother. She only hurts her ankle, so they go in search of this guy and get locked in a classroom. Cory uses gymnastics to save them, vaulting down a floor, then rushing back up to get her. Not really sure how that worked. Cory takes Lisa home and they kiss, and he gets all these conflicted feelings because he likes her, but he luuurves Anna. What to do?

Cory decides to man up and goes to confront Anna’s brother. He comes in to find Anna and her brother fighting, and tackles the brother, knocking him out. This really turns Anna on. So, the beginning of Fear Street women and the sexualization of violence? She tries to basically have sex with Cory over the body of her brother. Cory, being male, is into it, until Anna tries to slit her brother’s throat with a letter opener. No way! The first Fear Street murder weapon ever is a letter opener! I love it. When Cory is anti-killing of the brother, Anna tries to stab him with it. Cory falls out a window, catches himself by his lets and swings back in (because he’s a gymnast, or course). He pins her down as the brother comes to.

Creepy brother explains everything. Anna Corwin is dead, and the girl Cory’s been seeing is … the evil sister who killed her and took over her identity! This is one of the two plot lines used in Fear Street – the switching of identities, or the murderous jealous boyfriend. Sometimes both are used (see College Weekend), but one or the other elements is always used. Anyways, Anna was perfect, the less-perfect sister Willa murdered her and took her place. Apparently seeing Anna/Willa in a murderous rage is enough to cure Cory from his obsessive high school blues, and he goes to Lisa, who’s pretty content to take him. It ends with a cheesy kiss, as all Fear Street books should.

The New Girl wasn’t awesome, but it felt nostalgic … where it all began, you know. I give it 3 murderous evil sisters out of 5.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Prom Queen, or "Sometimes Popularity Contests can be MURDER"

We start this one with my favorite main character ever in Fear Street, Lizzy, talking with her friends Rachel (the bitter poor one) and Dawn (the sexy one), about a serial killer who was stabbing young girls to death, them dumping them in the Fear Street Woods. Everyone is pretty anxious/nervous, although it’s probably because prom queen candidates are being chosen, rather than they could be stabbed to death. They go to the assembly, where the principal reminded all young girls to be careful and scared, because they were VICTIMS. Awesome, that always works.

Next, he announces the 5 nominees for prom queen – and all three of the friends are chosen. And, the prom queen will get a $3,000 scholarship. Um, really? This is a popularity contest, right? Should we really given money to someone just because they’re pretty and popular … never mind. I think the point of this is that Rachel, who is poor, remember? would be interested. Liz comments in her head that Rachel was shy because she was poor (aka not as good) as the rest of them. Um, ouch.

The other girls chosen are beautiful, delicate Elana, and dramatic, self-absorbed Simone. All the girls go out to celebrate at Pete’s Pizza. Simone is studying in the car, trying to learn her lines for Sound of Music as Maria von Trapp. Awesome cattiness: “She always was the star. Even though she didn’t make a very convincing nun.” Haha. They all got pretty bitchy together, pretending to be each other and cutting each other down. It’s actually very high school of them.

Soon after, Simone is late for rehearsal. Liz goes to look for her, and locks herself in the stairwell. Simone wasn’t in the stairwell, so she went to the tennis courts, where she found Dawn all scratched up and covered in blood. The reason? She’d run into the fence. Not finding Simone here, Liz continued on to her house, where she found Simone’s room ransacked and a dark pool of blood. Outside the window, she sees a dark figure running away carrying a person-sized sack.

The next day everyone is assembled at Simone’s to answer some questions from the police, because that’s how people are normally questioned. Everyone is pretty freaked out, thinking Simone was the latest victim of the Fear Street killer. Turns out, Simone’s boyfriend Justin was at Elana’s last night. He had also gone out with both Dawn and Rachel. Don’t these girls talk? I thought they were friends. The director of the school play, Robbie, is also considered a suspect because he didn’t like her diva attitude.

As Liz leaves the questioning party, some creepy guy, Lucas, runs up to her saying he killed Simone then laughing hysterically. Lucas is described as weird and depressed. He grabs Liz and demands they get a Coke together. Oddly enough, Liz is turned off by this. Normally in Shadyside, she’d be all over it. Liz seems to have a bit of common sense. Apparently, Simone used to date Lucas and broke his heart. Talking to Lucas triggers Liz to remember the figure running away from the murder scene was wearing a baseball team jacket, a team both Lucas and Justin play for.

Lucas then calls Liz to ask her to prom, which she politely refuses. The girls reminisce about how much they liked Simone before she died, except for Dawn, who rants about what a bitch Simone was. Wow, that’s a caring friend. They decide to deal with tragedy by trying on sexy dresses. That’s what I do whenever my friends are murdered.

Dawn turns into an uber-cow, talking about how she’s going to win and stealing the sexiest dress. That bitch! Then Suki Thomas shows up, being a slut with none other than Simone’s Justin. A word on Suki Thomas – she is in like EVERY Fear Street book being slutty. She’s clearly the town slut. But is she ever a main character? What’s her story? Anyways, she apparently is also screwing Justin. They all go into a movie. Dawn leaves to get a pop, and never comes back. They find her knocked out on the floor. The police determine it was “just some jerk” doing it “just for the fun of it.” Which is why no one ever calls them for anything, surely.

As soon as Liz goes home, she gets a panicked call from Rachel, who sounds like she’s in trouble. Liz speeds through a thunderstorm, and hits – a raccoon! No way! It really is a raccoon this time. Anyways, she gets over the raccoon and rushes to Rachel, only to find out that she freaked out because her boyfriend dumped her. I guess freaking out is okay when being dumped, but maybe try not to act so tragic when you’re being stalked by a serial killer, kay, Rachel? Except, her boyfriend broke up with her to be with Elana. Wow, things are getting catty amongst these prom queens, aren’t they?

Liz is relieved Rachel wasn’t being murdered, and even more so when they discover the serial killer has been caught. Everything will be fine, right? Nope. Liz is woken up in the middle of the night by the police, questioning her about Rachel’s death. She had been stabbed to death after Liz left. And then … very few people came to her funeral. That just sucks, there’s nothing else to say there.

Fast-forward a week where everyone has gotten over the deaths of Simone and Rachel. Dawn is now Maria in the school play, because clearly there wasn’t enough attention on her already. She claims she’s freaked out by taking Simone’s place, but Liz notices how much she seems to be enjoying herself. With the real serial killer behind bars, it’s clear there’s a new killer going after the prom queen potentials. Dawn thinks it’s an unpopular girl who wasn’t nominated, but Liz thinks it could be Dawn, because she’s so gd crazy about winning and being the best all the time. Or, Rachel told him he wouldn’t get any, so he moved on to the next girl and is getting rid of the competition. Meanwhile, Dawn is hit with a sandbag as she’s on stage, a prop accident. Or is it?

She is fine, but the list of suspects keeps growing. This is a classic whodunit, with all the sex and scandal one YA book can handle. I’m a total fan right now. Liz gets freaked out and leaves, only to have Lucas jump her in her car. Holy crap, SUCH a creepy rapist move, but apparently he’s just “kidding.” Liz continues to defy all my Fear Street prejudices by kicking him out of the car instead of finding it endearing.

She comes home to find the house empty, except for Justin. She’s the only prom queen he HASN’T gone out with yet, but he actually came over to ask her not to say anything about him and Suki. Apparently because she’s a slut. SO intrigued by Suki. And like you should talk, Justin you big man-whore. To prove my point, Justin puts the moves on Liz. Liz totally kicks ass by calling him a cheating scumbag and kicking him out of the house, but not before he threatens her to keep her mouth shut.

Elana confesses to Liz she feels terrible that Gideon broke up with Rachel to be with her, and she ended it with him anyways. Next thing you know, Elana ends up dead, having fallen from the catwalk of the school’s theater. She’s all crushed and bloody, and holding a piece of a baseball jacket in her hand. A clue! The police put them through another mass questioning because, I think, they’re incompetent.

Justin calls Liz late at night, asking to come over. Justin is such a man whore. Only he shows up and advances on her with a letter opener. A letter opener! Super classic Fear Street! We don’t get to find out if Justin’s going to get stabby on Liz, because her father interrupts them. Liz tries to avoid everyone that’s involved with the deaths, and is relieved and happy when her long term, long distance boyfriend is able to come for prom. Wait, they’re still having prom? Even after 3 prom queens were murdered? That seems insensitive, even for Shadyside.

They are running the dress rehearsal for the Sound of Music, which opens the day before the prom. That seems like a pretty busy weekend for Shadyside High. Everything goes poorly, and Liz is exhausted and wants to go home. Unfortunately, she is cornered in the prop room with Justin. Sexy! While she’s looking for a knife, he asks her to prom. He easily backs off when she tells him she’s going with her boyfriend, also uncharacteristic of Fear Street. Justin leaves, and Liz is about ready to go when she hears Dawn’s screaming. She comes out to see a man in a maroon baseball jacket plunge a knife into Dawn’s chest.

Liz finally sees the prom queen killer, it’s … Simone. The only victim who’s body never showed up. Simone went crazy and decided to kill every girl that Justin cheated on her with, which is a long list, the big slut. Also, why not just kill the slimebucket himself? While still overkill, I hate it when girls blame the other woman, as opposed to the GUY WHO CHEATED ON YOU.

Anyways, Simone has decided Liz is next, and backs her against the wall of the theatre. In another show of awesomeness, Liz grabs a prop rope and pulls it, causing a sandbag to fall on Simone’s foot, breaking it. Liz ran to Dawn, and is pulled off by Simone, who starts choking her. Dawn is conscious and stabs Simone in the leg. The Simone and Liz both lunge for the knife and get into a great chick fight. Liz wins and holds Simone down as the police come.

The school decided that the prom queen thing would be in bad taste. So it ends with Liz happily dancing with her boyfriend, and Dawn working in a bitchy comment about her dress. This book has everything. A long list of suspects, gruesome deaths, entirely too much whore-y behaviour, an action-filled chick fight that decides it all, and a flippant ending. Not to mention a letter opener, and a run-over raccoon. I am satisfied, and this should have been a Super Chiller. 7 crowns out of 7.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The New Year's Party (Part Two) or "Shadyside Kids Don't Care Enough About Their Friends"

On to Part Three! This part opens where we left off in Part One. In 1965, Jeremy and Beth just crashed their car into a ditch, and Beth peacefully pointed out on the way down that Jeremy killed them both. Thanks for the play by play Beth! Except she was wrong because both kids are miraculously unhurt! They climb out, and decide they should go back and look for that pesky boy they ran over. I thought it was a raccoon BETH? Anyways they can’t find the boy’s body so they assume he’s fine, even though they find a sick puddle of blood. Nice. Now they try to flag down cars and trucks but no one even slows down for them! Where is their New Years spirit? They even try banging on the windows of some houses but everyone continues to ignore them… I wonder what’s going on!

They decide to head back to the car to keep warm. They try to crawl back into their mangled car, but discover that two bodies are in there! A boy and a girl! Beth recognizes them! It’s … them! They’re dead! Took them long enough to catch on. Jeremy creepily tries to crawl back into his body, but to no avail. Jeremy fades from Beth’s view and then blackness surrounds her. End Scene. Well it can’t be a Super Chiller without some ghosts!

Part Four picks up exactly where Part Two ended. P.J. is lying dead in the middle of a party while people stare silently at him. Sean FINALLY gets around to suggesting someone perform CPR. Reenie and Sean do it while Greta and Artie force everyone to leave. P.J. does not pull through. However, Greta sees a car pull into Reenie’s driveway and assumes it’s her parents! Wait a minute. Weren’t her parents gone for a few days? Did she throw a party on the night they got home?? Or are the kids so dumb they forgot the parents were out of town? Well, they’re certainly not geniuses because they decided to HIDE P.J.’s body in the basement from Reenie’s parents. They force him, inch by inch, behind the furnace. BLECH! I don’t understand what their plan was. Didn’t he die in front of like 50 kids at a party? How were they planning on just playing that off?

Except it wasn’t Reenie’s parents, it was just someone turning around in their driveway. The gang decides to finally call the police (wasn’t someone supposed to call 911? Did they just not do that?) and go take the body from its hiding spot. BUT! It’s not there anymore! Everyone is super relieved, thinking that it was a practical joke played by P.J. and that he’s fine.

When the police get there, they tell them what happened: the joke on P.J., P.J. “pretending” to die, HIDING THE BODY, and then P.J. being gone. UM, if I was the police, I would be a little bit more suspicious when a bunch of teenagers told me they hid what they thought was a dead body. Like, really, that’s suspicious! But the police officer just checks behind the furnace and then leaves. Well done Shadyside Police Department!

The next day at school. Wait. Reenie had a party on a school night, the night her parents get home from a trip?? Reenie is slow, isn’t she? No one even ASKS what happened with P.J. The gang all thinks he’s fine, but everyone saw P.J. die. How is it not a bigger deal?! These Shadyside kids are waaaay too relaxed about witnessing murders. Also, an officer shows up to school to interview the Reenie, Sean, Greta, Artie and Sandi and tells them P.J. is missing. They still think it’s a joke. These kids have zero sense of guilt too.

Greta decides that now is a perfect time to breakup with her boyfriend Artie. Because she thinks he’s too into Marc. Fair enough! But she brings Reenie along to break up with him… I think I smell a plot contrivance. Righto! They get to Artie’s house and Marc is there. Not for long! When the three of them go to check on Marc, he’s lying over the hood of the car, with his neck broken. Yikes! The three friends are finally freaked out! Good! Show some appropriate emotions for once!

All the friends are pretty scared, so Sandy and Reenie go to pick up Sean and Ty (remember Ty? He’s their friend that spends all his time with Liz, P.J.s sister) from their job. Only once Reenie comes out of the bathroom, she finds Sandi in the trashcan. With her neck broken. Ooooh, that sucks. All the remaining friends think that P.J. is not dead, and it killing people that pulled the prank on him. Well, that would be an extreme reaction, don’t you think?

Liz sends out invitation to a New Year’s party that she’s having. She says in that she knows P.J. is gone but wants to put the year behind her and celebrate. Okay, here are a few things: 1. P.J. disappeared at a Christmas party, so that would be like two weeks previous. Liz is either a sociopath who didn’t care about her brother, or wants revenge. Neither option is good! 2. Also, isn’t Reenie suspicious that Liz is only inviting the people that were involved in her brother’s death/disappearance? DON’T GO TO THE PARTY. BAD IDEA.

Well of course they go. Reenie thinks Liz looks great in her red velvet dress (from the cover!) The only guests invited are Reenie, Sean, Artie and Greta. Hmmm, weird! And the whole house is decorated in black. And there are no chairs (which struck me as the weirdest part) just punch and a yearbook from 1965. FLEE! Also, Ty also shows up as crazy Liz’s date. So Liz suddenly confesses to murdering Marc and Sandi, and tells the group that she got tired of picking them off one by one so got them all together here. That’s just some lazy serial killer work there, Liz! She should really take more pride in her killings.

Liz has a big knife and Sean and her wrestle around with it. P.J. suddenly bursts through the door and Reenie is super relieved, thinking that he came to rescue them. Um, why would you think that? Didn’t you think he was the murderer up until 3 minutes ago? Right, he’s not there to save them, but to SAVOUR their deaths. Nice! Sean and Liz wrestle again for the knife and Sean stabs Liz through the chest. But no blood comes out. Wait. NO EFFING WAY. Are they? Can it be?

Liz and P.J. are ZOMBIES!!! My absolute favourite!! Liz tells the gang of friends all that she and P.J. can’t be killed because they’re already dead!! This book just got 1000 times better. Liz shows them a year book picture of Jeremy and Beth from 1965 (good time for show and tell, I guess?) and its Liz and P.J.! I guess Jeremy and Beth were brother and sister. Their obsession with each other in 1965 is really gross now. Liz/Beth tells everyone that they died in 1965 because of the prank played on Jeremy and they were brought back for revenge! Everyone’s like “unfair! We didn’t kill you!” which is a fair argument. Liz/Beth goes back to trying to kill them until … Ty interrupts!

Ty tells her and P.J./Jeremy that they weren’t sent back for revenge, HE was! Because, you see, Ty is the “raccoon” they hit that night! And he’s back to kill them for good! Liz/Beth actually still maintains it was a raccoon.

“Don’t!” Liz snapped at her brother. “We didn’t kill him! We hit an animal. A raccoon!”

Liz/Beth is a cold-hearted bitch.

So here comes the big climax. The clock starts to “bong” out that it’s midnight (side note: they got there at about 9 o’clock. Did that really take 3 hours? I would have given it 30 minutes). Ty/Raccoon grabs a hold of Liz/Beth. P.J./Jeremy tries to throw him off. The three of them start to whirl around, faster and faster as the clock “bongs”. They’re a ghost whirlwind! thinks Reenie, the slow one. Then the ghosts fade dimmer and dimmer until they become smoke and disappear. Wait, what!? That was the big finish for these ghost/zombies? They just fade away? Effing LAME, R.L. The book ends with the obligatory, inappropriate “Happy New Years!” from Sean, but surprisingly no New Years kiss.

So, even though the climax was extremely anti-climatic, this book was awesome. Not only were there gruesome deaths, but there were ZOMBIES. And you can’t beat Zombies. Not in my book!

One question for thought though: P.J. played a convincing dead body at the party because he actually WAS a dead body. But did no one notice that he, Liz and Ty were always cold and clammy? That they didn’t have a pulse or every breathed? That they were just reanimated dead bodies?! I guess it just shows us how terrible Shadyside kids are. Their own friends are zombies and they don’t even notice. O well. 8 Zombie whirlwinds out of 9!

The New Year's Party (Part One) or "Events Actually Took Place at a Christmas Party!"

Alright kids, it’s time for another Super Chiller! “The New Years Party” had some actual murders in it, which makes it a TRUE Super Chiller. Honestly, the most disappointing Fear Street books are the ones where no one dies. You all know it. I know it. Don’t judge me for saying it! This book is actually divided into four parts (I know, overkill) so I’m going to recap in TWO separate posts. …Mostly because I want you all to come check back tomorrow for numero duo!

The cover. So the girl isn’t actually our protagonist Reenie, but instead her friend Liz. Liz looks… old. There’s no way around it, Liz has gray hair. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if I’m a 17 year old girl with gray hair? I’m buying some hair dye! (PS I realize the cover is so crappy you can't really tell what colour her hair is... but trust me, that light hair? It's gray!) Can I make a confession? I would LOVE to have the job of making up taglines for Fear Street books (that is, if I could travel back in time to 1991). Seems like such an easy job: you get to be creative with puns about death, and in the end it doesn’t really matter because there all so similar anyways. “When midnight strikes…they all die.” Ooo someone should tell Liz to include that on her party invitation!

We open in 1965 (historical Fear Street? The best kind!). It’s New Years Eve and Beth and Karen are discussing their fantasies about the Beatles asking them out and dating two at once. So… a Beatles orgy basically. Yay? Anyways, it’s almost New Years, and Beth is worried about this boy Jeremy, who doesn’t seem to be having much fun. Her hunky date isn’t pleased that she’s all about Jeremy instead of him (he should hear her thoughts about Paul and John!) so he kinda ditches her. All of a sudden, masked robbers burst in and take Jeremy hostage! He’s super scared (rightfully) and everyone starts handing over their money and jewelry, until the robbers take off their masks and everyone realizes it’s a prank. And all the cruel 60s teens make fun of Jeremy for being scared, even though someone was holding a gun to his head! I would be scared too, assholes!

Jeremy storms out, with Beth hot on his tail. Are they brother and sister? Just friends? Because Beth is like MAJORLY involved with this kid. I’m kinda expecting them to inappropriately make out now. They race down the icy roads of Shadyside because Jeremy is upset. Well he’s about to get more upset because he hits a person and then runs him over. YEAH. Beth convinces him it was just a raccoon (harsh) but it doesn’t improve his driving because soon they drive off a cliff. Beth says (while they are mid-air mind you): “Jeremy! You’ve killed us. You’ve killed us both.” How nice of her to calmly point that out, while in the midst of dying!

Cut to Part Two labeled “This Year” which is: 1995. So our main character for the rest of the book is Reenie. Her boyfriend is Sean, who is pale and dark haired and plays for the chess club although that aspect of his character is never properly explored. Greta and Artie are the couple that has been dating forever and Ty is their non-coupled up friend. And they continuously mention how he’s single and never asks anyone out. Give the guy a break! So they play this messed up game where they try and trick each other into thinking one of them has died. Like in the first chapter where we meet the group of friends, Sean hides in the closet for Reenie to find him, covered in fake blood. That’s some dedication right there.

There are some new siblings in town: Liz and P.J. While everyone thinks Liz is pretty awesome (Ty especially. WoOoOo!), no one likes P.J. because he is totally creepy. Well, fair enough! I don’t like creepy people either (although I think I might be one). One of my favourite things about this book is that they mention other characters that I’ve heard of! Like Corky Corcoran of Evil Cheerleader fame! And Bobby Newkirk, the guy who got “shamed” in front of the girls! Best part? When someone later suggests inviting Bobby to a party, all the girls moan “Noooo!”. What continuity!

We meet a new character, Marc, who Artie is apparently obsessed with and drives a “shiny red car”. They couldn’t have even bothered to pick out a make/model? Pfff, R.L. So Marc and Artie take Greta, Reenie and Sean up to a cliff to “show them something”. Oddly, no one clues in that it’s totally a prank. Anyways, Marc pretends to fall off the cliff, then Reenie actually does. It’s apparently kinda like a slide (FYI: cliffs are not like slides. Do not try this at home) but she gets spun out onto the ice and falls through! Talk about a joke gone bad… Sean rescues Reenie and they all get over the incident way too fast.

There’s a bunch of scenes where Artie is jealous of P.J. for talking to Greta. Greta is kind of a flirt, but Artie just really comes off as insane. Liz, tells Reenie in confidence that P.J. has a heart condition that makes him unable to do anything active. Right afterwards, Artie forces P.J. to spot him while he’s weightlifting. Do you see where this is going? Artie tries too much and P.J. can’t help him so all the weights fall on Artie. Um Artie? If this was your plan to make P.J. look bad? You’re doing a shitty job. Because all that happened was that you broke some ribs and are now even more pissed off. Artie is a total tool.

Later at Reenie’s, they talk about who to invite to her Christmas party while her parents are away for a few days! Artie also tells the gang about his plan to get back at P.J. In advance… it’s super lame. Artie and Marc bribed the hottest girl in school, Sandi, to ask P.J. to Reenie’s party. When they get there, Sandi is going to kiss P.J., then pretend to die. YEAH. That’s the whole plan. They all get into it and laugh manically while saying “The kiss of death!” WTF? How old are these kids?

So anyways, the party happens and Reenie is having reservations. She knows about P.J.’s heart and thinks the prank might be a bad idea. Seriously though? It’s not even a prank. It’s the lamest idea I’ve ever heard be called a prank!

P.J. and Sandi arrive. Just in case you’re wondering, Sandi is wearing a short black dress with a sparkly red vest, sheer black stockings and heels. Niiiice. Sandi dances up all close with P.J. and he’s super embarrassed by her attention. Then she stuffs her tongue down his throat! Amazing what she’ll do for money, that one. After the kiss, she goes through with the plan, convulsing on the floor and faking her death. Then P.J. crumples to the ground and starts convulsing too! Sandi’s all “Not cool guys!” (way to get a conscience now) and Artie kinda freaks out over his body. Reenie rushes over and pronounces him dead, saying “We killed P.J.” Shhhh, shut up Reenie! Don’t admit guilt! Someone goes to call 911. Question? Was this in the days before CPR? I don’t think so. These kids are assholes! Try to help him!

Also, I think the meanest part of the prank was the fact that this pretty girl pretended to like him. Wouldn't that be the worst part, realizing that she was with you for a prank? I hate Shadyside kids in this book. I hope they get their comeuppance!

Part Two ends there. What will happen in Part Three and Four? Will someone start to kill off the pranksters one by one? Well, yes, that’s exactly what the back of the book says. BUT WHO? Tune in tomorrow for the (mildly) exciting conclusion!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Dare, or "Peer Pressure Rears Its Ugly Head"

This cover is pretty sweet, and VERY eighties. Love the hair, Jo! The tagline is kinda provocative too - Some girls will do ANYTHING for a guy ... even kill. Sadly, this recaps the book excellently. What WON'T a girl do for the hunky high school jock?
I love it when a 150 page book has a prologue. This begins with our heroine, Johanna, wondering how on earth she got to the point where she was about to kill her teacher – then we go back to figure it out. Excellent hook, R. L.

It all began when Johanna went to 7-Eleven with her friend Margaret. Johanna is small and mousy, and Margaret is described as chunky and not very pretty. By her best friend. I already don’t love Johanna. You get the sense that Jo and Margie are not the most popular girls in school, because they’re plain and poor, but they find themselves in 7-Eleven at the EXACT same time as the most popular seniors in Shadyside High do a slurpee run. Jo is crushing on the hunkiest guy in school, Dennis. Although then he lets out a hyena laugh, um, not so sexy. The cool kids have a slurpee fight, because that’s what we cool kids did in the 90s. The store clerk threatens to call the cops and Dennis pulls a gun on him. Things have escalated awfully quick here. Dennis shoots … and it’s a water gun! Oh, those crazy kids, what will they think of next. There is much hyena laughing, and they throw some money at the clerk and take off. I’m pretty sure that chapter was solely there to demonstrate the rich kids of Shadyside are assholes.

The next day, Jo overhears a fight between Dennis and the history professor, Mr. Northwood. Northwood isn’t going to allow him to take a makeup exam if he goes to the Bahamas for a week, and if he fails the test he’ll lose his spot on the all-state track team, destroying his Olympic chances. That actually is pretty harsh. Dennis loses his ‘cool’ and runs out of the room, punches a locker, then starts to flirt with Jo. I think Dennis is a big dumb jock. Actually, and this might just be because I’ve been watching Arrested Development obsessively lately, but I think Dennis would look exactly like Steve Holt. I keep expecting him to pump his fists in the air and yell ‘Steve Holt!’, except, obviously, he’d yell ‘Dennis!’ I digress. They talk about ways they’d like to kill Northwood, which is foreplay in Shadyside, then he takes off with his rich girlfriend. Jo has a ridiculous violent fantasy about killing his girlfriend, confessing to us (the reader) she always has disturbingly violent fantasies. Um … kay?

The deal with the teacher, Mr. Northwood, is that he has been picking on all the rich kids, some might say for their entitled attitude. He tapes everything on little tape recorders, which he keeps in his breast pocket. He is also Jo’s next door neighbour on … you guessed it, Fear Street. So that night, when the brat pack shows up to break his windows, Jo hears and comes outside. They pour sand into his gas tank and carve D-E-N-N-I into the side of his car. These kids are not the criminal geniuses they think they are. When Northwood comes out, they scatter, letting Jo take the heat. Not that it really worked, though, since Northwood saw the whole thing and had the entire group suspended from school.

Jo’s life takes an interesting turn when Dennis calls her up and asks her to a party, despite the cute rich girlfriend. Jo admits she’ll do anything to be accepted by the group. Anything. Oh, Jo, honey, never tell anyone that!

The next day Dennis gives her a conch shell from the Bahamas. Jo gets all twitter-painted, until she sees Dennis pressing cute rich girlfriend up against the wall of the cafeteria, kissing her. That’s like sex in Shadyside, so scandalous! Jo gets all clingy and follows Dennis around, going to the party with him. It’s full of rich kids, like Reva Dalby (of Silent Night fame). Dennis ignores her all night, then makes out with her for awhile in the car. He’s using you, Johanna! They are interrupted by Northwood creeping on them. Jo is so furious she gets a gun and aims it at Northwood – but the gun wasn’t loaded. I’ll admit he’s kind of pervy, but should creeping = death? I call that an overreaction.

The next night Dennis asks to come over to study with Jo, but brings his entire pack of friends with him, including his girlfriend. So this was either much kinkier than anyone imagine, or this isn’t going to be the date she thought it was. They bash Northwood for awhile, then one of the guys claims he’s going to do something about him. His revenge … putting skunk juice on his front step. I don’t know, there is just something so juvenile, so HIGH SCHOOL about that, it made me laugh. Jo volunteers to do the pouring, in an attempt to get in with the in crowd. She is totally about to orgasm, thinking they’re all best buds. I actually really feel sorry for Jo, and sympathy is not a common feeling to have for any Fear Street characters.

They all hang out for a few weeks, they even drink BEER while studying one night. Johanna really has joined the bad crowd! Well, obviously this isn’t going to go well, when Dennis finds the gun Jo’s dead beat dad left for protection years ago. He plays around with it, and like the asshole that he is, shoots his friend in the shoulder. At first I think this is another one of Jo’s effed up ‘fantasies’ but nope, he really shot him. So while everyone freaks out and calls the ambulance, Dennis puts the gun on Northwoods doorstep. The teacher comes out when the cops show up and picks up the gun in confusion (word of caution: you should never touch random weapons just because they’re there), and Dennis tells the cops Northwood shot his friend.

So, this little ruse didn’t exactly work, but now Jo was a full fledged member of the group, and I guess that means she also gets to pleasure Dennis on the side, because they see each other secretly, mainly going to park on top of the cliff. Also, the friend is okay, because miraculously the bullet didn’t hit anything vital in the shoulder. Is there anything vital in the shoulder? Do we have some organ I don’t know about, floating around about the shoulder area? Cause I’m thinking no, but whatever, I’ve never been shot.

Anyways, for the pleasure of spending time in Dennis’ pants, Jo tells him she’ll kill Northwood. This is quickly spread around school, and Jo is pleased that she’s becoming famous. Because no one will mention that to the police, right? They’re even collecting bets from students, which will in no way lead anyone back to her, right? Figure this out, Jo, you’re being set up!

She’s freaking out, and is hating the pressure she’s getting from the entire school. Dennis comes over before she goes to kill Northwood, for ‘moral support’. Jo goes out to do it, then comes to her senses and realizes she can’t shoot anyone to death. Unfortunately, Northwood has already been shot to death. Hmmmm, who saw that one coming? Dennis had killed him with her gun, but nobody was going to believe that. Dennis and the cute rich girlfriend call the cops and put on a good show for them. Jo’s about to be hauled off for first degree murder, when the cops find a pulse. And what’s that in his chest pocket, but a tape recorder which recorded not only the shooting, but the confession that came after, about Dennis shooting then setting Jo up. Oops. Dennis is led away for assault with intent to kill.

Okay, I actually enjoyed this. Jo was a realistically pathetic high school girl who just wants to fit in. She wasn’t likeable, but she was a sympathetic figure. The cool kids were realistically cruel and abusive. And everyone gets theirs in the end. Call me crazy, or maybe I’ve just read TOO many of these, but Fear Street is starting to read off on me. I’ll give it 4 abusive rich kids out of 5. And, I need to read a grown up book for a change.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Babysitter or "Sting Stalks Drew Barrymore"

While “The Babysitter” isn’t a true Fear Street novel, it is 100% awesome. Don’t believe me? Have a peek at that cover. Is the character Jenny not the doppelganger of Drew Barrymore!? Since this book was written in 1989, Drew would have been around 14-15: perfect babysitter age. Did the cover artists have a fascination with Drew? That would be … unsettling. So those photos were taken by me of my own copy. I felt the ones online did not adequately showcase the Drew Barrymore-ness of the cover. I hope you all appreciate the time and effort that just took me. (Whew, 3 minutes?!)

Also, the tagline? GOLD. “Every step she takes, he’ll be watching.” So good! Police lyrics are not used nearly enough in R.L. Stine books. You know who else isn’t used enough? Frank Sinatra. The back cover tells us about “A Stranger in the Night”. Man, this book is like a treasure trove of pop culture references! …from previous decades…

Alright, truthfully? This book IS a Fear Street book, except the creepy house were Jenny babysits is on Millertown Road instead of Fear Street. That is the sole different between Fear Street books and pre-Fear Street books. So Jenny, our “heroine” took on a babysitting job for the Hagen’s to look after their precious little Donny every Thursday and Saturday. Mr. Hagen is totally paranoid and frantic at all times, while Mrs. Hagen is calm and reasonable. I like Mrs. Hagen.

Jenny is totally creeped out by the old Victorian style house and all the creeks and moans. O yeah, she’s also creeped out because there is an attacker on the loose who preys on babysitters! Well I think that would end my babysitting career! It doesn’t help Jenny’s nerves when the Hagen’s neighbour “Willers” comes over and tells her there’s been a prowler stalking their neighbourhood. Jeez Jenny, is the 5$ an hour really worth it??

So Jenny has this sort-of thing with the new boy (must the boy always be new??) at school, Chuck. Jenny kinda likes him, but kinda doesn’t because he can never be serious with her. And he’s totally obnoxious and rude. Well, that’s my opinion of him, but I’m sure his rudeness sexually excites Jenny. You know how the Shadyside girls are. Anyways he basically tells her he’s going to come over to her next babysitting gig even after she begs him not to. What a prince!

So Saturday rolls around and Jenny is hanging out with Donny, whose hair feels as “soft as feathers”. Ummm… Okay. First Laurie and her hospital boy and now Jenny? These girls seem to get a little too attached to young boys. She also gets a kinda-obscene phone call. Someone calls the house but just breathes into the phone. Ugh, obscene phone calls seem so gross, even if you know it’s probably just your 10 year old neighbour having a sleepover party. Thank goodness for *69 and caller ID!

Jenny gets another call, and this one is wildly more scary/kinda ridiculous. The Man/Boy (she can’t tell which) calls her Babes and asks if she’s alone because “company’s coming”. Ick! So Jenny decides not to call the police because she thinks they won’t believe her (wtf? Why not?) or tell the Hagen’s because she doesn’t want to make Mr. Hagen worry more so then he already does. Okay… those are crap reasons. Call your local police when threatened, girls!

So she runs into Chuck at the mall and he kinda charms her a little bit. They end up seeing a movie together and Jenny thinks about how shy and cute Chuck is. O and also wonders if he’s the one who made the terrifying call the night before. Dear LORD, what is up with these girls!? If you think the boy you like may be: a murderer, an obscene phone caller, your attacker, your poisoner, the person who pushed you into traffic, the person who killed your dog, cut your losses and RUN.

Next time she babysits, Jenny continues to creep ME out by thinking weird thoughts about Donny. “… it was so hard to get angry at someone that cute. Girls had better watch out for him in a few years!” Ummm, I think Donny needs to watch out for Jenny, right now. So Jenny gets another scary phone call from the “Babes” guy and finally does the right thing and calls the cops. And unsurprisingly, they believe her! Considering there is a babysitter attacker on the loose, and she’s babysitting I don’t know why she ever thought the police wouldn’t believe her.

So Chuck predictably shows up at the door, wearing a messed-up mask to scare the living bejeezus out of Jenny. Which he does, and she’s reasonably pissed. He comes in for a little while and Jenny finally grows enough lady-balls to ask Chuck if he’s the one that’s been calling her. And he was! They make out because knowing Chuck is a total creep really turned Jenny’s crank. The End.

Okay, not really. He does admit to calling, but only the heavy-breathing-obscene call, not the scary-threatening-Babes calls. He claims innocence to all the rest of the calls, but Jenny isn’t sure she believes him… Well yah, that would be a turn off if Chuck wasn’t trying to kill her, wouldn’t it? But she’s still getting threatened as she finds out the next day, only this time in the form of a note! In her gym bag? And Chuck was the only person to have access to her bag! Jenny has to sit down she’s so dizzy. From lust?

When Chuck calls her, she’s still all in a tizzy. He asks if he can come over to the Hagen’s on Thursday night to study and claims innocence about the note. Jenny thinks: “She wanted to trust him. She wanted to be with him. But she just couldn’t get rid of her suspicions.” UGH!

So Chuck comes over on Thursday as well as Jenny’s friend Laura and her boy toy. Of course Jenny gets scared over something, but Chuck calms her down by sticking his tongue down her throat. Mmmm high school. Unfortunately, Mr. Hagen comes home early and finds the teenage make-out fest! He’s pissed and tells her he’s going to take her home now. When she goes to get her jacket, she finds a box of newspaper clippings all about the babysitter attacks. That is NOT a good sign. Jenny realizes this and tries to go home with her friends (good Jenny) but can’t weasel her way out of getting driven home by Mr. Hagen (baaaaaad Jenny). This is an elementary school lesson Jenny. Don’t get into a car if you don’t feel comfortable with the driver. Like say, you think he might murder you.

Which Mr. Hagen tries to do. Of course. Although it takes Jenny a while to catch on. Mr. Hagen locks all the doors once they get in and Jenny thinks “Funny, he’s never done that before.” O my GOD, Jenny, how dense are you? Mr. Hagen finally puts Jenny out of her dumbass misery by confessing to the phone calls and the attacks on the other babysitters. You see, he had a baby girl that a babysitter either killer or let die by accident. He actually doesn’t specify. But he’s still pissed off at babysitters in general! Mr. Hagen has taken Jenny out to the old rock quarry and pushes her to the edge. Mr. Willers (the weirdo neighbour?) shows up with a gun and tries to reason with Mr. Hagen, but he’s just not having it. Then something happens that ONLY could ever work in a book or movie. Mr. Hagen tries to push Jenny over the cliff but she moves and so he just runs off the cliff himself. REALLY? That doesn’t happen in real life! Why didn’t Mr. Willers just shoot him? That would actually make more sense than Mr. Hagen running off the cliff all cartoon-y style. Did he also run onto thin air, stay there for a little while until his eyes bulged out of his head and he started to fall?

Mr. Willers was apparently an undercover cop who had suspicions that Mr. Hagen was the babysitter attacker. So he just kinda watched Jenny get obscene phone calls and messages. That’s … kinda lame police work there, Willers! Chuck is waiting for Jenny when she gets back to her house, to tell her some inappropriately timed jokes. Who wouldn’t want to hear some babysitting jokes after her night? Jenny leads him to the door to say goodnight and hopefully goodbye forever. What an asshole.

Alright, for how creepy this book was, it could have used so more gore. I’m always disappointed when no one dies in these books. The Hagen’s had a cat, it could have been a victim! Or Chuck, I probably wouldn’t have minded his death. I enjoyed learning that even before the Fear Street series, R.L. Stine’s girls had messed up outlooks on boyfriends and reactions to trauma. It’s … somewhat comforting. In a strange way, I’ll admit. 14 feather-haired angel children out of 19!

The Rich Girl, or “For Once it Wasn’t the Rich Girl’s Fault”

The Rich Girl begins with two friends, Emma and Sydney, who work at the movie theatre together. Sydney is rich, but Emma is poooor. Her mother is a waitress. It doesn’t get much worse than that. Despite these socio-economic discrepancies, they still like each other.

When leaving for the night, they throw the trash in the dumpster out back, and Sydney loses her antique charm bracelet. They go in after it, and come up with a bag full of cash. There’s over $100,000 in $50 bills. Emma dreams of paying for her mother’s knee operation, which they can’t afford because they don’t have insurance. Sydney wants to give the money to the police. When Emma argues that Sydney doesn’t know what it was like to really be in need, Sydney puts her in her place by informing her that even though her parents bought her a brand new Miata for her birthday, she has to pay for her own insurance. Take THAT, whiny Emma.

The devil on Sydney’s shoulder finally wins, and she agrees to take the money, but only if they hide it for two weeks to see if anyone is looking to reclaim a bag of cash, which happens all the time. A truly conscientious friend might have just offered the whole thing to her destitute friend, but oddly enough that never comes up in Sydney’s moralizing. Hmmm, just a thought. They bury the bag of cash in the Fear Street woods, and Sydney immediately tells the secret to her extremely jealous boyfriend, Jason.

Next day, Jason ‘accidentally’ pushes Emma down the stairs at school, and then grins like an idiot. Not the best way to play the whole murderous thing cool, though. Unfortunately for him, Emma is alright. Sydney and Emma go back to Emma’s, where Sydney looks around and comments to herself how crappy the place is. Because she is a caring friend.

Emma talks to Sydney about how greedy Jason is, and how he wants the money for himself. Her example of this is the time he made Sydney buy him a beeper. Oh, boy, a beeper! Haha, 90s reference. Sydney believes her boyfriend, of course. He plays the sweetie and goes over to Emma’s, fixing up her crappy old car to show he’s a good guy and to apologize for the ‘accident’. When Emma and Sydney decide to go shopping in Emma’s car for once, Jason gets all suspect and tells Sydney not to drive with Emma. Hmmm …

We find out very soon that the brakes in Emma’s old clunker are not working as well as they used to. They avoid death by inches, then discover the brake lines have been cut through. Sydney finally believes Jason is trying to kill Emma for the money. Emma’s solution? Kill Jason. She said she was kidding but she so was not. Then she says they’ll cut Jason in on the deal, split it in thirds. It’s always a good idea to deal with your potential killer. And make out with him a bit. Jason is SUPER excited, and demands to see the money.

They go to dig up the cash, and Sydney decides to wander off to get a sweater at the last integral minute before they unearth the money. How convenient for everyone, because as soon as she leaves, she hears a scream. Running back, she sees Emma and Jason struggling, and Emma hitting Jason in the back of the head with the shovel. The things people will do for a bag of cash. Jason is lying dead on the ground, and Emma is pleading with Sydney not to call the cops, because this would ruin her life. Sydney isn’t even really that sad that it was her boyfriend that was killed, more upset that they had become murderers. Even though she hadn’t killed anyone, just the destitute friend.

Emma goes tot sink Jason’s body in the lake, but he just won’t sink, dammit. Her solution? She asks Sydney for her belt, to tie a rock around Jason to sink him. Or to PLANT EVIDENCE. Think this one through, Sydney. But she is too busy freaking out to think, period. She hears two people talking in the woods, but only Emma returns, looking flushed. Hmmm…

That night, Sydney has a nightmare of Jason standing at the foot of her bed, muddy and blood-soaked, staring at her accusingly. The next morning, there are two very realistic mud footprints in the carpet. Perhaps Jason is not as dead as he should be? She finds his school ring in her locker the next day, then the bloody shovel in the back seat of her Miata. Sydney wants to bury the shovel. I found that ironic, but a murder weapon is a murder weapon, I guess. Sydney finally picks up on the fact that anyone finding her belt weighing the body of her boyfriend down would link her to the murder. Ya think? At this point she thinks Jason is dead, and someone else is randomly putting props around to threaten her. Sydney and Emma head off to find the body.

Predictably, his body is not where it should be. Le shock! Sydney goes home to have a nervous breakdown, and finds the belt used to weigh Jason down tied around her teddy bear, with a note saying MURDERER in Jason’s writing. I find it funny that in most Fear Street books, people are gruesomely murdered, but in this one, R.L. won’t even damage the poor innocent teddy bear. I thought for sure she’d find stuffing spread across the room or something, but no. She finally gets that Jason isn’t really dead, and is probably pretty pissed about the whole trying to kill him thing. She calls Emma, who tries to convince her that Jason was for sure, 100% dead, but Sydney is terrified. There’s no moment of relief, like, thank god my boyfriend is still alive and I’m not an accessory to murder. I’m starting to think Sydney is in fact pretty cold. Jason can be dead and stay that way.

Emma comes over, and when Sydney goes to show her the belt and note, they’ve disappeared. No traces of them anywhere. Emma convinces Sydney she just needs more sleep. Not long after Sydney is completely alone, the rotting corpse of Jason pays her a visit. She clutches her bear to her and curls up into the fetal position, an approved self defence technique.

Next scene, Emma and very not-dead Jason are standing in a mental hospital. Sydney was admitted, having been driven mad by her boyfriend and best friend, who were already seeing each other on the sly, They had planned the whole thing, including cutting the brake line and being hit in the head with a shovel. That was … risky. And calculating. But I guess it pays off in the end, because Jason and Emma end up with all the money – and each other. That’s pretty much the worst betrayal ever.

Jason and Emma go on a shopping spree with their riches bought at the prices of a friend’s sanity. Emma goes to pay for a $600 Italian leather coat, and the salesclerk starts laughing at her. All the money in the bag is fake.

Best Fear Street ending ever, because it’s horrible, and karmic, something that hardly ever comes up in these books. The traitorous boyfriend and best friend end up with nothing, and realized they ruined a girl’s life in order to get said nothing. How truly awful. 5 faked 50s out of 5 for this one.