Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Dead Lifeguard or "No Ghosts, No Zombies, Just Disappointment."

So I have another Super Chiller for you guys! Only because I love you all so much! This one was totally messed up, lots of graphic murders and potential killers. Also, a zombie fake out!

“The Dead Lifeguard” unfortunately does NOT take place in Shadyside. I know, right? It takes place at a North Beach Country Club about 40 minutes away from our beloved Fear Street. My only problem with the book not taking place in Shadyside is the fact that it easily could have. Shadyside seems to have EVERYthing else (music academy, lake, island, superhuge mall owned by Reva’s family, etc.) that why couldn’t it have a country club? There’s no Fear Lake Country Club? Where do the rich kids go to exclude the poor?

The cover art is good, mostly thanks to the boy’s short swimsuit and the awesome old man in a speedo in the background. I call him “the boy” though, because there are SO many different lifeguards that I have no clue which two are on the cover. It totally doesn’t matter. I guess if it doesn’t matter I probably shouldn’t point out that the male lifeguard is just standing there, instead of saving the girls life. What is he staring at just above to my shoulder?

The book is cut into four separate parts for reasons that escape me, other than R.L. likes to pretend his books need separate sections. Part One is “A New Ghost” (spooooky!) and starts off with some Crazy. A character named “Mouse” is talking on the phone to a dead person, Terry. (FYI: Terry ain't talking back) Mouse knows Terry’s dead, and it going to avenge his death by killing the lifeguards! That was easy… Mouse kills the lifeguards! The end. Wait, we have to find out Mouse’s true identity? Frak! Well, let’s meet the potential murderers and victims…

*I should add that this book was written from the different perspectives of most of the lifeguards, a la Babysitters Super Specials. None were as painful as having to read effing Karen Brewster’s take on things though.

Alright, first up is Lindsay, a small, “mousy” blonde haired girl, who is kinda our main character and has severe memory issues that don’t seem to bother her as much as they would me. May-Ann is the resident kook, who collects “mouse” figurines and creeps everyone out with ghost stories. Then there is Artie, the small, “mousy” red haired kid who always tries to prove he’s stronger than everyone else (read: Rage issues!). We also have Danny, who is a perv; Pug, the hot guy; Cassie, the hot blonde girl; Deirdre, the hot brunette, and Pete their supervisor. See where I’m going with this?

Things start off rough for Lindsay because her name is not on the list of lifeguards, even though she’s worked there before. Neither she, nor Pete remember her interview. Everyone shrugs their shoulders and she’s added to the team. One more lifeguard arrives late, Spencer. He’s worked there before and recognizes Lindsay from two years ago.

Apparently they all live at the country club for the summer. The whole time reading this book, all I could think about were the Saved By The Bell episodes where they worked at a country club, and the most random shit happened. Didn’t they also live there? Anyhoo, May-Ann tells the other lifeguards that the club is haunted, by a boy who drowned the summer before, and a lifeguard that died two years ago. Instead of being creeped out like Fear Street kids normally would, they all make fun of May-Ann mercilessly, like regular kids would do.

A bunch of non-action happens for a while, including Cassie and Pug becoming Fear Street Boyfriend/Girlfriend and they all tease May-Ann about ghosts. There is also a lot of Lindsay not remembering anything about Spencer or working the summer before… it seems like she doesn’t remember ANYthing. But she’s not really bothered by it. Later that night, Lindsay can’t sleep because it’s too hot, so she decides to take a dip in the pool. She’s a little perturbed when she comes across a body floating in the pool. Which turns out to be have her own face. And the dead girl keeps murmuring “I’m Lindsay”. And then all her skin melts off! Lindsay doesn’t do much besides hold her until she’s left holding a gross skull, which seems like the opposite reaction most people would have. Of course it turns out to be a dream, but I still think dream-me (or dream-YOU) would have never even picked up the head of a dead girl as it disintegrated. To each their own, I guess!

However, when Lindsay wakes up from the dream, something grosser happens. She’s called into the common room by a voice (never follow disembodied voices people!) and she finds hot girl Cassie lying by the fire. Did I say by the fire? Oops, I meant lying with her face in fire! Yeah, gross, I know. That ends the first part!

Part Two: “The Old Ghost” begins soon after the other chapter ended, since the police are now on the scene. Unfortunately not the Shadyside police, but they do mention that one of the cops is from there! Oooo, I bet he’s evil and bad at his job. I think the best part is when Danny wonders if a burglar is to blame. Yeah, a robber snuck into the dorm rooms of a bunch of teenage lifeguards, and when Cassie interrupted him hauling out his HUGE sack of loot, he just held her face in the fire until she died. Seems reasonable (for a Fear Street burglar, at least)

Lindsay is very upset with discovering the body, and realizes that she hasn’t talked to her parents since she arrived. She goes to phone them but her home number is disconnected… She immediately thinks that something is wrong with her family and borrows Danny’s car to get herself to Fear Street ASAP! Yay! Only once she’s there… she finds the apple tree is missing… and her house is redecorated … and there is a STRANGER in her house! Lindsay introduces herself to the woman in her home as Lindsay Beck and the woman responds by saying that Lindsay Beck died two years ago in a tragedy. Ha! That conversation was crazy. I would never respond to someone introducing themselves by saying “O you? You’re dead. Have been for TWO years!” Haha both characters are nuts. Lindsay leaves her “parents” house without having found any answers. Like where the past two years of her life went!! *think about this until the end.

Lindsay gets back to the country club and looks up her employee file. She sees that, yes, Lindsay Beck did die two years ago … in fact, she drowned in the pool!! “It hit me. It hit me. It suddenly came so horrifyingly clear to me: I am the dead lifeguard” Zombie?

Part Three: “Two Ghosts” starts with “Mouse” talking to Terry again. Bragging about killing, and wanting to kill more.

Lindsay decides that she has to be alive, since well, she’s not a Zombie (damn!) She wants to know why the newspaper would write such lies about her! I guess that’s a semi-normal reaction? Since we know now that a girl named Lindsay died in the pool, I want to know who this Terry character is. I just assumed Terry was the dead lifeguard, because why else would someone be killing lifeguards as vengeance? This book just took a twist… and I like it! Even without zombies.

Lifeguards are starting to not get along. Among other incidents, Pug tosses Artie into a garbage can, Artie attempts to sexually assault Lindsay against a tree, May-Ann and Pug get into an argument and Deirdre says that she could “really kill” Pug for being a flirt. So which one could really kill?

Lindsay is woken up again in the middle of the night by the same voice calling her. And AGAIN she follows the disembodied voice (why?) She ends up in the weight room where she finds Pug on the floor, working out. Just kidding, he’s dead! His throat was crushed by some weights which is less gruesome than Cassie’s murder but still pretty unpleasant.

On to Part Four: “The Ghost Revealed (But Only After A Few Useless Chapters)” The same cop interviews Lindsay as last time and gains point in MY book by saying this:

“You don’t know why [you followed the voice]? You heard a whispered voice and you followed it – again – knowing that the first time it led you to a murdered girl?”

YES! Thank you! Someone outside Shadyside has pointed out how cracked out Shadyside kids are! Don’t follow effing voices!! In the next chapter Mouse brags to dead Terry about killing Pug.

Lindsay decides to get away from everyone by going for a drive. Her plan doesn’t work to well though because Artie hid in the backseat as a special surprise! The only surprise is that he doesn’t kill her, because the ONLY people that hide in the backseats of cars? Are crazed killers! He tells her she’ll regret kicking him out of the car on the side of the highway. Probably not, you pervy assaultist!

Lindsay comes back and joins the rest of the crew for a late night swim. Everything is going along swimmingly (heh heh), when all of a sudden Lindsay freaks out and screams: “I’m not Lindsay! Lindsay is dead! I’m Marissa Dunton. I killed Lindsay two years ago!” Deep! Everyone is really nice to Lindsay/Marissa as it’s clear that she’s having mental breakdown, so they listen to her story. Basically, Marissa and Lindsay were having a shove fight by the pool two summers ago, and Marissa won. Because she shoved Lindsay into the pool, where she cracked open her skull and died. A win by default, if nothing else. Okay, just kidding, tragic accident. Marissa couldn’t get over it, feeling so guilty that she actually thought she was Lindsay. For an entire year. She got better and they sent her home, where she spent another year as Marissa. But she suffered a break right before the club opened and ran away to join. All the lifeguards are really understanding, but Spencer has to ask the awkward question: Um, why did you kill Pug and Cassie? Marissa/Lindsay claims innocence, meaning the killer is still on the loose!

Marissa goes to call her real parents, who are probably pretty worried, when she gets a phone call from Spencer’s mom. To tell them that Spencer was murdered before he came to the club. Marissa does to quick deducing to realize that Spencer is not who he says he is, and also evil! She confronts him outside (by the pool, of course) and suddenly realizes why she couldn’t remember Spencer from two years ago. It’s because he’s actually Jack Mouser, former club chef, and vengeance seeker extraordinaire! So Spencer = Mouse if you’re lost. Marissa just coincidentally also killed someone. Spencer/Mouse is avenging his chef pal, Terry, who committed suicide after the merciless teasing he got from the lifeguards two summers ago. Eek, that’s a deep subject to just toss in there! They battle it out, Marissa wins. The book ends with Marissa going to finally call her parents, so they can call off the Amber Alert.

As much as I liked this book, there were A LOT of plot holes. Like how Marissa knew so much about Lindsay's life. It says they were both from Shadyside but not close friends. How did Marissa know the inside of Lindsay’s home? Or that the apple tree was dug up? Also, it’s clear that Marissa/Lindsay couldn’t remember anything about the past two years, otherwise it would have tipped her off. So why is she only concerned that she can’t remember her interview with Pete, or anything about Spencer. Shouldn’t she be concerned where her LIFE went?!

Last but not least. May-Ann mentioned that the previous summer, a boy drowned in the pool. Was that just another coincidence? It was never mentioned again. Poor nameless boy! These lifeguards suck at their jobs GUARDING LIVES.

Well those are really the only bones that I had to pick… although they are kinda gaping plot holes. I still liked it because it had plot TWISTS that while didn’t make a lot of sense, were at least entertaining. Also because R.L. attempted to throw us off the trail with all the “mousy” references. Good show! 17 mouse figurines out of 22!


Fear Street said...

Ugh, I hated the Mouse chapters!!!

My favorite part of this one was when Lindsay left Artie on the side of the road. Hee :p

Anonymous said...

At least it threw you some twists and addressed deeper stuff than Fear Street usually does. This strikes me as a pretty okay book.

LAK said...

I love how you mentioned the Saved By the Bell summer episodes! Why when there are teenagers at a country club is that all I think of?

I like this book if only for the cop questioning why someone would do such stupid things when we all know what it will likely lead to!

Anonymous said...

Heh, maybe it was ghostwritten. If it were me, I'd question the clich├ęs and then keep using them anyway.

zanne said...

I saw this article on Fox News & thought of you and this blog!


Man Wielding Hammer Loses Duel to Man With Letter Opener in Florida

haha! Maybe he was reading some RL Stine books?!

A. M. Stine said...

Haha! So good! So letter openers really are used as weapons in the real world... That is both hilarious and terrifying

Chad Walters said...

Do you plan on reviewing "Switched" anytime soon? I'm only four chapters in at the moment, but it's already probably the most interesting premise for a Fear Street book I've seen so far.

Here's the full text in case you don't have the book already:


Anonymous said...

Hi Stine Sisters!!!! this book was kinda confuesing but the most confuesing one is..........
"Beach House"
you should review it I have read it (awesome very good) but it has like 7 parts and it goes from Summer of 1956 to This Summer (1978) its good

RecallerReminder said...

Danny was the most pointless character even if some chapters were on his point of view. He supose was the leader of lifeguard but never didnt anything relevant, not even made out or got any date in the whole book. We only got his frustration.
What a waste.
But the double twist was good.

Steve Avino said...

Ya there were a ton of plotholes in this and now that I think about it Shadyside did have North Hills Country Club (See the Cheater) so why didn't this take place there since there is no actual beach mentioned in this book to think it needed to be in a town with a beach. Fear Street could be really great if they actually had editors who cared about things like plot holes and continuity.