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.


A. M. Stine said...

you're right! Too scarily-bitter for anyone to post on...

I also read this book, and hated it. Thanks for recapping for me!

zanne said...

This book does sound pretty bad. I am excited for Wrong Number, though! I didn't even know there was a sequel!

Anonymous said...

That was pretty all over the place, yeah. I keep on mixing up the characters.

Sequels always have great potential for atrociousness, and I'm not sure how a Wrong Number 2 makes sense given the first.

LAK said...

I love how bitter you are about this one. It must have been the book; because your write up was AWESOME.

I completely agree with the whole concept that the continuity had to end because everyone just kept biting the dust too.

I give this book 8 bitter readers out of 8. Just for your beautiful snark of it.

Harper said...

Hands down, one of the worst Fear Street books. I'd rather dip my head in honey and roll around in a fire ant pile then read that one again. Ever. I might just burn it and pretend it was never written.

RecallerReminder said...

Dunno, for me whats pretty good. I like how that seemly poinless chat about the games the girls like to play when they were kids turns out to be something relevant on the right moment.
Was confusing with all the Tony s paranoia (but cant be more discret? even if the twist makes clear he didnt kill anyone, we were more than fooled by this meanwhile the main while killer was only a jerk with no personality...well neither Tony).