Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Mind Reader or "That's not what a mind reader does!"

Well I’m back from vacation and now it’s back to real life. Which consists of reading a lot of Fear Street! 1994 was a pretty prolific year for good ol’ R.L. It’s the year that brought us the gem of The Mind Reader. Of course our fearless heroine Ellie can’t read minds at all, but that tiny detail is easily overlooked, right? Tagline? “Seeing too much is murder!” What?

This book is all about Ellie, the new girl in town, her friend Sarah and Sarah’s family basically. So Ellie explains to the reader (you know, thinks the answers to our questions in her head for our benefit) how she became a mind reader. Or not, since her special ability is NOT mind reading. She has “visions” of the future, present and past. However that works. She explains that she would sometimes know what Grandma was cooking for dinner before she made it. OMG. I do that too, sometimes, on occasions, when I see all the ingredients on the counter. Am I a mind reader too!?

So Ellie has a “vision” of a skeletal hand beckoning her from the Fear Woods and understandable freaks out a little. She gets the police involved, who are normally frightfully underused, and they uncover a body that had been buried for 2 years. How do they know it’s been that long? O because it’s the dead body of Sarah’s sister, who is conveniently there to witness the discovery. Not only that, but Sarah’s father is there because he’s the police chief on scene as well. Family reunion? Ellie feels kinda shitty since she didn’t even know Sarah had a sister who was missing. Yeah, she’s probably not gonna buy you that “Super Best Friends Foreva” necklace you’ve been dreaming about, Ellie.

So if that discovery wasn’t creepy enough for Ellie, she also starts running into this devastatingly handsome older guy who seems really into her. I know, right! Terrible! Well, according to Ellie it is, because she hates boys and personal happiness. And probably sunshine. Alright, she’s actually uncomfortable around this Brian Tanner because she keeps seeing “visions” of knives hanging around whenever he’s there. A little disconcerting I guess. But she of course is immediately attracted to him, because she assumes he’ll probably kill her and therefore is super turned on. These Fear Street girls? Got issues.

Ellie actually does start having a few issues as her Dad blurts out one night that her mother didn’t die of appendicitis like she always thought, but was actually murdered outside their front door and Ellie was the only witness. O and he won’t tell her why her mother was murdered. Wow. That’s some pretty heavy dinner table talk. I’d be concerned about mob connections.

Not Ellie though, as she makes a date with Brian to have a picnic on Fear Island. Now I know she knows all the scary legends about Fear Street since she was really freaked out about going into Fear Woods to find the body. So canoeing to a deserted island in the middle of said woods? With a boy you think might kill you with a disembodied knife? Of course she says yes! What other option is there? She actually thinks to herself: “If only she could get rid of her feeling of dread when she was with him.” HA! I think that ALL the time with my boyfriend!

Well they have a good time on they’re picnic date until Brian starts cutting up an apple with the same knife Ellie’s been having visions about! She excuses herself calmly (stuttering, running away) and when she collects herself and goes back, he’s gone! Duh duh duh! But he’s not, he’s just looking for her. Anyways, on the way back to shore, the boat capsizes, as they do, and Ellie gets dragged down underwater by a mysterious force. Turns out it was Brian trying to crawl his way back up to air. I have no idea how the force of a canoe tipping over sent both of them like 20 feet underwater. I have tipped canoes before. You just kinda … slip out. Anyways they’re both fine and it was totally a waste of a few chapters.

Ellie is hanging out down at the police station (?) when she has another “vision” about a knife. But this time it’s the knife that killed Sarah’s sister, Melinda! So of course when she tells the police chief, Lt. Wilkins that she had a “vision” about where his daughter’s murder weapon is hidden, he believes her. Riiight. They find the knife where Ellie “saw” it, and Sarah’s father, Lt. Wilkins, explains that the knife belonged to Melinda’s boyfriend Brett. So he obviously murdered her. Lt. Wilkins also shows Ellie a picture Melinda’s boyfriend Brett. GASP! It’s Brian Tanner! Well isn’t this a horrible shock. The guy that our heroine falls for is actually a murderer. SURPRISE!

Another lovely surprise is that Brian/Brett is waiting for her, in the dark, in her home. What a caring boyfriend.  He attacks her and demands to know what she told him about “the knife”. He tells her he didn’t kill Melinda but the police burst in and kinda ruin their fist-fighty sexual tension thing that always seems to happen in these books. Brian/Brett manages to escape, much to Ellie’s raging hormones chagrin, I’m sure.

Ellie tells Sarah everything about her visions and how she discovered Melinda’s grave. She has another effing “vision” and realizes there is something else in the grave that needs to be found, so her and Sarah arm themselves with a gun and march down to Fear Street Woods. At night. To grave rob. With a gun. And a dying flashlight. Well, can’t see any problems with that plan!

The thing Ellie was supposed to find was: a button. Brian/Brett shows up and is really insistent on seeing the button. Sarah gets in on the button action too and wants to feel up the button. Ellie is confused with all the button love, as am I. Just then Lt. Wilkins shows up and shoots Brian/Brett. End Chapter. Chapter 24. He didn’t shoot Brian/Brett! Always yanking our chains R.L.

What actually happened is Sarah shot her own father. She explains the button love: the button is from Lt Wilkins uniform, which he lost the night Melinda disappeared. He fought with Melinda the night she died, she hit her head, so he REPEATED stabbed her and buried her in the woods to make it seem like a murder. That’s just effed up! Just to round out the “plot”, Brian/Brett explains that he came back to Shadyside because he had… a “vision”. Ugh.

“I’m kind of like a mind reader,” Brett explained, seeing Ellie’s shock. “I have visions. Dreams – only I’m wide awake.”

Someone needs to explain to these kids what a mind reader is. Because that is SO. NOT. IT. The book has a typical Fear Street ending. Brian/Brett and Ellie are standing over Lt. Wilkins dead/dying body while Sarah the hero is running to get help … and they start making out. Really? They need a class at Shadyside High: “How to Appropriately Deal with Stressful and Traumatizing Experiences”. They ALL need to take it.

Only one question really: Sarah is with Ellie with they first meet Brian Tanner. But Sarah also knew her sisters boyfriend Brett. She didn’t put two and two together…? I’ll admit, they said he dyed his hair. Because after people dye their hair, they become completely unrecognizable… right? Four fake mind readers out of seven!


Anonymous said...

Uh... maybe her visions were of things that the people around her were preoccupied with, so it is mind-reading? The reader shouldn't have to answer questions like this!

Also, I didn't realise before just how many "X can be MURDER" taglines and sado-masochistic relationships they really had in these books. Did R.L. Stine have issues of some kind? ...Actually, I'd prefer never to know.

L. K. Stine said...

I thought you were kidding when you said the tagline was "seeing too much is murder" hahahahaha

zanne said...

I agree, that is not mind reading. However, this book sounds pretty good and I'd like to read it!

LAK said...

Why are the cops never around Fear Street or the FBI? This seems like FBI territory actually. With the amount of deaths that occur and how they occur shouldn't they perhaps be called in? So, they finally come in during this book and still no one questions things.....like the full graveyard?
Oh RL........

Anonymous said...

So whatever happened to her mom?
RL Stine just mentions random crap sometimes hahah

A. M. Stine said...

whoops, sorry I forgot to mention. her mom had a "vision" (quite a common experience i guess) where she saw a murder, she went to the police who arrest the guy. They must have also told him who ratted him out, because when they released him because of no evidence, he came and killed the mom in front of their house. Heavy.

Broken1again said...

To your last question: Sara says in the book (pg 125) that she didn't recognize Brett because her dad hated him and so he only came around a couple times there for she never really saw him but only a few times. I guess if I saw a guy only a few times I prob wouldnt recognize him either after 2 years with a new look. I remember reading this one when I was younger..and I remember the button lol

RecallerReminder said...

Looks stine didnt know which is the term correct por this kind of psychic powers of visios. "Mind reader" is definetly something totally diferent.

Anonymous said...

"she also starts running into this devastatingly handsome older guy who seems really into her. I know, right! Terrible! Well, according to Ellie it is, because she hates boys and personal happiness. And probably sunshine." -> Or she could be just more into girls? I know, it's a story in a Fear Street book and all, but... we don't always have to assume, that all people are either heterosexual or boring/emo. You know the actual meaning of being gay, right? Otherwise: Entertaining review!