Tuesday, October 21, 2008

First Date or "Attack of Steve from Full House!"

Judging by the cover of “First Date”, we are in for a treat! It is pure 80s goodness. The back of the book tells us that Chelsea is dying for a date. I bet she didn’t mean that literally, although she comes off as so effing desperate and pathetic in the book, she may actually have rather died that not have a man to worship.

This cover is an immediate hit with me because the killer depicted on the cover (if you kinda squint) looks just like D.J. Tanner’s boyfriend Steve! Of Full House fame? Also the voice of Aladdin? Please tell me you know who I’m talking about. I had such a crush on him when I was little! And also, apparently now, because I cannot stop talking about him… Moving on. Our killer’s name is Lonnie Mayes/Murder-y Joe, and on the cover, Lonnie/Joe is about to strangle Chelsea. Except, Chelsea is obviously already dead. Like, for real guys, LOOK at those dead, vacant eyes. She looks pretty and thin though, something I mention only because someone (mom, friends) tells Chelsea to lose “a little weight” in like every chapter. GREAT. I also want to mention that the tagline is “That’s when he always kills them.” Unique for Fear Street, but I guess I’m more a traditional girl since I don’t love it. Should have been: “First Dates are KILLER.” Quick, to the point.

The opening chapter jumps right into the story. Joe is making out with his date Candy and has a lot of pent up emotions… serial killer emotions. He also feels like he’s suffocating really often in the steamy, makeout car. We find out right away that he’s our killer, because he decides to kill her after she asks one too many questions. Like she sees his driver’s license and notices his name on it is Lonnie Mayes not Joe. Joe should really be more careful. Anyways, he takes her on a little walk… off a cliff! Zoink! He decides on a new town to terrorize. Shadyside.

Okay, the back of the book tells us that Chelsea is a pathetic, fat, loser who can’t get a date. Then TWO mysterious guys show up and ask her out. One of them is obviously the killer, so let’s do a little tally every time one of them does something Murder-y Joe like.

- Feels like suffocating all the time
- Hates being asked questions
- Shouldn’t let girls see his driver’s license
- Has curly black hair
- Has some Mom issues since he thinks about how much he hates her, regularly
- Totally jacked from working out and killing teenage girls

Enough about Joe, lets meet terrible Chelsea! Her family just moved to Shadyside in September and she’s no good at being the new kid. She emos to her mom about not having a boyfriend and her mom tells her to lose some weight and wear lipstick. Yewouch. That’s cold, but maybe normal for a late 80s mom? Chelsea has only made one friend so far, Nina, but Chelsea doesn’t see to be that keen on her. Well, she’s mostly jealous because Nina has lots of friends, and a boyfriend Doug. When Chelsea drops by Nina’s house unexpectedly, she has to suffer the humiliation of watching her friend get in a car with a BOY. On a DATE. Chelsea thinks about how whipped Nina is:
“Doug blows the horn and Nina comes running.” But then Chelsea wishes she had her own boyfriend so badly! WTF Chelsea? Either be a pathetic, boyfriend wishing girl, or a judgmental boyfriend hater. You can’t be both.

Chelsea feels her luck is changing when she meets the New Boy in school. His name is Will and he has black curly hair. (+1 point towards being Murder-y Joe!) He also has big powerful arms. (+1) Chelsea really wants to talk to him, but can’t because she’s shy. There is a whole lot of emoing going on in her head. I kinda hate Chelsea.

She has an after school job at her fathers new restaurant, the “All-Star Café”. R.L. sucks at thinking up names doesn’t he? All his cool, teenage band names are like “Bad to the Bone” and “The Cool Dudes”. Just name the restaurant “Shadyside Grill” or something, don’t hurt your massive brain trying to be creative, R.L.! Anyhoo, Chelsea meets another new guy in town, Tim Sparks. But “everyone” calls him Sparks! (+1 for having an obviously fake name, and for also making people call him that lame nickname. You know he gave it to himself) He also has thick black hair, (+1) and big powerful arms (+1). Sparks asks Chelsea out on a date, kinda. I say kinda because he asks her to the movies, and then her dad comes up behind her, and he runs away. Smooth. (+1 for distaste of parents!)

I didn’t really like Chelsea’s dad because he was really hard on her, and spent most of his time glaring. But then the restaurant gets robbed, and Chelsea’s dad gets his head bashed in, so I softened up to the guy. Mr. Richards is put in the intensive care unit, and Chelsea goes home alone since her mom works all the time. She invites Nina over for company, but trampy Nina brings Doug over so they can make out. Chelsea thinks super bitter thoughts about her only friend.

We get a chapter from the point of view of Murderous Joe. He likes Shadyside, but still thinks some girls need to die. We find out he hates women because his mom left him alone with his abusive Dad. Apparently, his mom ran away and took his sister, but not him. Well… yeah, that’s pretty cold. Not saying that killing girls is the answer! But, I’d be kinda pissed too. He mentions that Shadyside has the Conononka River running though it. I looked this up, hoping that it would be a real river but no, its not. When you look it up on Google though, it leads you to Fear Street reviews! I thought that was cool. Joe then kills a kitten to get back at his mom. WTF, Joe?! A kitten!?

Chelsea is back at work at the ALL-STAR CAFÉ. She’s about to close up when two young teenagers come in and start to kinda harass her. And by kinda, I mean they call her cute and ask what time she gets off work. Creepy, but these guys are like 14! Anyways, she thinks she’s going to be robbed again. Sparks comes into the restaurant just in time! The kids leave and Sparks is like “Were they robbin’ you?” like it’s the most normal question in the world. Like being held up is soooo natural, a day to day occurrence for most people. I guess maybe in Shadyside, it is! He doesn’t ask Chelsea out again much to her disappointment. However, when Sparks gets home, he is unimpressed with himself for not taking the opportunity to ask her out. So he rips his phone out of the wall and throws it through a window. (+1!)

Although this has nothing to do with the story, I needed to mention this because L.K. Stine will love it. Nina is super stressed because she saw Doug talking to Suki Thomas! Nina even calls her a tramp! Awesome. Will comes up to Chelsea and asks her to take a walk with him. Cute! Chelsea enjoys their walk but I thought some parts were weird. Like when Will finds a piece of cord on the ground and stretches it menacingly (+1). Or when he says he loves snow because its ‘pure’ (+1). Classic sign of a man with homicidal tendencies towards women! He also tells Chelsea that he moves around a lot. (+1) Will ends the walk when he asks her out on a “secret” date for the upcoming Saturday. Chelsea thinks this is really romantic, while I think this deserves another point. (+1) That’s four points from one conversation only!

Sparks comes into the ALL-STAR CAFÉ again and chats up Chelsea. Sparks tells Chelsea that he moves around a lot (+1) but gets pissed off when Chelsea asks more questions. (+1) He also tells her he had an interview at the Mill, and Chelsea is like “Uh… the mill shut down five years ago. Liar.” (+1) He asks her out again, but Chelsea has to say no because she already has a date. He gets super red and rushes out like a “bomb ready to explode” over her! Simmer down, Chelsea, you aren’t that hot. At least one of these dudes is trying to kill you.

Saturday is Date Night! Will picks up Chelsea and brings her to the next town for their date. Ouch. I hope that Will is at least the killer, and not just embarrassed to be seen with Chelsea. Will accidentally forgets his wallet in the car and Chelsea gives it to him. He is very snappish at this though… almost like he doesn’t like his wallet being touched. (+1!) He also demands to know if she told Nina about their date. Their SECRET date! (+1) After the movie, Will takes Chelsea to the parking spot of Shadyside. Then he ruins my point game early by attempting to kill her! Will is Murder-y Joe! He tries to push her off the cliff, but she won’t get close enough to the edge. Then he is about to strangle her with the cord found in the woods but another car comes to Make out Point interrupts his plan. He is super pissed off.

Chelsea suggests they get out of their and head back to her place. WHOA. And Suki Thomas is the tramp?? Just kidding, you go Chelsea. Will continues to try and strangle her back at her place. She reminds him of his sister that also abandoned him as a child (although it probably wasn’t her idea). While she’s busy making hot chocolate, he creeps up behind her and thinks about how she’s a slob. “He hated girls who didn’t tuck their tags in. His sister was a slob too. He read the tag: Size L.” Untucked tag? Size LARGE?! My god, man, put this hideous monster out of her misery!! Ugly girls don’t belong here in Sweet Valley … er… I mean, Shadyside. Nina shows up at Chelsea’s door unexpectedly and Will flees through the back door without telling Chelsea. You know Nina is thinking that Chelsea made him up.

So while Chelsea is about to leave her house the next day, there’s a creepy man lurking outside! Turns out he’s an FBI AGENT. Yes, Friends, the FBI makes an appearance in a Fear Street book! Maybe, finally, someone will solve a crime! Agent Martin is describe as having ice blue eye. Eyes that stared right through her. Zombie-rapist eyes. Stephen Harper eyes. (Sorry, Canadian joke) He seems trustworthy! He says that a man is on the loose, a killer with curly black hair and powerful arms. Chelsea accuses Tim Sparks! FBI asks if he’s registered in school, because this man can pass as a high schooler. HINT HINT Chelsea! Although, I think Sparks is guilty of something, at least. He does have some obvious rage issues.

Which we know get to see in action! After the agent gives Chelsea his card and tells her he’ll be in touch, she goes into work. Sparks shows up as Chelsea is closing and is falling down drunk. He tells her that he knows she likes him. He then tries to "embrace" her. Or in real life, attack her! Chelsea runs away, and Sparks stumbles around, eventually burning his hand horribly on the burner. Chelsea decides he needs help, (remember, she thinks he’s the murderer on the loose) so she stays and calls the FBI and the ambulance. For once, the cops show up before anyone can be murdered. They take away Sparks.

After all the brouhaha is over, Will shows up to pick up Chelsea. They go back to her house again because her parents are never home. Talk about some left-home-alone guilt for the parents here! Chelsea confesses to Will that she told Nina all about him, even though he was supposed to be a secret. Will is all “Hmmm, I’ll just have to kill Nina. No big deal!” He gets Chelsea to invite Nina over right away. Meanwhile, the FBI agent calls Chelsea to tell her that Sparks is not the right guy. While she’s on the phone, she comes to the realization that WILL is the murderer, not Sparks! It also helps that she sees Will pacing around with his murder cord in his hand. Yikes! FBI tells her to get out of there right away, but Nina is on her way! Chelsea runs into the street to try to find her, but is stopped by Will. And then strangled to death. Good riddance Chels!

Will drags Chelsea’s body behind the house (the murder happened in the front yard? And no one noticed? I guess Fear Street really is an uncaring place) and waits inside for Nina. He needs to kill her quick before the FBI arrive! But for some reason, he sits around chatting with her for a few minutes before attempting to kill her. He’s also terrible at killing since he keeps dropping the damn cord! Anyways he’s interrupted by Chelsea. Who is not dead! But Will thinks she is? He’s very confused and keeps repeating “But I killed her.” Even when the FBI show up. Way to maintain innocence Will!

Before you ask: No, Chelsea was not a zombie, gosh darnit! She pretended to die and held her breath. She plays saxophone so she can hold her breath for a long time. She’s no good at it though, because she passes out. That’s why it took her so long to interrupt the attack of Nina. Although I think she probably held back for a few seconds, since she has such obvious problems with Nina. “I’ll just… see where this is going…”

The book ends with Chelsea visiting Sparks in the hospital, and asking for his forgiveness for thinking he was a murderer. Which is totally uncalled for since he looked JUST like the murderer and also ATTACKED her. Seriously, Chelsea? I hate you. Sparks is a runaway, and blames his attacker behaviour on having a few beers. He had never drank before, so it’s excusable right? Right?! For Chelsea, sure, why not! They make a date. “It’s bound to be better than my first date!” Get it? Because she was almost murdered the day before. God I hate Chelsea. 3 Stephen Harper lazar beam eyes out of 10, purely because I loved the cover art so much.


Chad Walters said...

But the twist is: Sparks really IS a killer! Just not the one the FBI were looking for.

At least, that's how I would have ended it.

A. M. Stine said...

No kidding hey? Sparks is going to murder Chelsea anyways, within the first three dates. Poor Chels.

Anonymous said...

"That’s when he always kills them." Was that a double-entendré once? Because it doesn't really work to me. It'd be like having a Fear Street tagline of "This guy likes MURDERING people!!"

And if Sparks is a runaway, how come he has a home with a phone? Anyway, I'd have preferred it if Chelsea was also a murderer.

LAK said...

"Either be a pathetic, boyfriend wishing girl, or a judgmental boyfriend hater. You can’t be both." I love how your mind works!

I want to know why the girls in Shadyside made such poor decisions. With men, fashion, friends, the whole works. And do they all have therapists? They should be seeing a shrink. Even though I am wondering if this is RL's lame attempt at a "Cinderella" story...uncool girl finds love and all of that.

A. M. Stine said...

Too bad uncool girl has to settle for rage-o-holic Sparks. Well, that's all she deserves until she loses a little weight and puts on some lipstick! Ugh, the 80s were cruel!

Also, the girl in the Babysitter II saw a shrink but then his secretary tried to kill her so that might have scared some people off...

zanne said...

I liked this book. I don't think he quite looks like Steve from Full House, but now that you mention it, I can kinda see it. I thought Steve was so cute!

My mom tells me I need to lose weight and put on some lipstick. I can't get a date, either. Maybe soon I will meet 2 mysterious men! Since I don't live in Shadyside, I should be safe.

Anonymous said...

I'm a guy. Must be why my parents tell me to eat more. And also not put on lipstick.

L. K. Stine said...

Hahaha, Steven Harper, lazer-rape eyes! Thank you for the Canadian joke when I was all the way in New Zealand.

Anonymous said...

A.M., you and L.K. are simply made of awesome. First, there's the entertaining snark which is, in itself, gold (I've spent the better part of the day reading through all your recaps). And then you throw in some Buffy and SVH references, and then I find out you're Canadian, and THEN I am treated to Steven Harper jokes? Awesome! =)

RecallerReminder said...

The killer really was serious issues to deal with...At least is most believable than that jerk of The Boy Next Door.
And I agree, Chelsea is one of the lamest main characters.

Unknown said...

I really did enjoy this review. I'm a librarian at a high school and I have kids asking me what I'm reading at various intervals and I've been trying to make my way through all of the Fear Street books for nostalgias sake. I usually end up giving a brief, concise summary of the events up to the point that I'm at during the conversation. At any rate, I've gotten a decent number interested in them. But this one made a lot of them roll their eyes. They felt Chelsea was basic and ridiculous. Which is accurate. But everyone saw Sparks not being the killer. WhatI was dismayed by was the fact that she didn't turn out to be Will's sister.