Friday, October 24, 2008

Night Games or "If You Want To Live, Get Better Friends!"

Night Games is my next choice for you all. I think R.L. was wracking his brain, trying to figure out what teenagers like to do. “… they like… sneaking out late at night! I’ll write a whole book about that!” For the first part of the book, I was disappointed. I figured it would be one of the books with a lame ending, where it all turns out to be a joke or something ridiculous like that. The ending WAS ridiculous but … well, you’ll see. It’s AWESOME.

Perfect tagline for this book. “Night time is the right time… for trouble.” Rhyming always gets a point in my book. The cover depicts Diane, our heroine, who is described as being uglier than her friend Cassie with scraggly blonde hair. On the cover, she looks pretty good though, so I’ll just assume Cassie is an international model. Her rage-a-holic boyfriend (yes, ANOTHER one) is on the cover too, checking her out. Over all the cover is good, EXCEPT: it shows them in a cemetery. These “Night Games” never took place in a cemetery. In fact, I don’t think the word “cemetery” was even mentioned in this book! Boo, hiss!
(PS: you’re just going to have to trust me about the cover art because I CANNOT find one online and my camera is dead. Sorry!)

The first chapter explains our main characters to us. We have Diane and Lenny, the aforementioned rage-addled boyfriend. They are hanging out (late at night!) with Cassie, the beautiful red-head, and her boyfriend Jordan. After dancing away their cares, they start walking the streets of Shadyside (late at night!) They end up outside their math teacher’s house, Mr. Crowell. He’s the typical teacher that everyone hates from high school. Then they run into their old buddy, Spencer, who they see sneaking out of a house. Spencer tells them that he dropped out of high school to become a cat burglar. The foursome is all “Ooo, mysterious, cool” and Spencer is all “I’m lying, obviously … fools”. Because who’s a cat burglar anymore?

Spencer tells them that he plays these Night Games (and yes, Night Games is always capitalized) after everyone in Shadyside goes to bed. He sneaks out after midnight and creates a rukus! You're telling me that no one in Shadyside stays up after midnight? What about when Saturday Night Live is on? Anyways, Lenny and Jordan think these games are the best. idea. ever. so Spencer takes them on one right away. The first Night Game consists of scaring a couple that’s making out in a car in a driveway. Spencer pretends to be the cops, and then they all run away giggling like school girls. GREAT! Even the girls are hooked now!

The next day at school, Mr. Crowell teases Lenny in front of the whole class, and basically calls him an idiot. Lenny isn’t gonna take that! He knocks over his desk and strides up to the front to knock him out! Luckily, Lenny is totally insane and decides last minute against punching a teacher in the face. He just runs out of the room and Mr. Crowell continues as if nothing happened. No detention?

That night, the gang meets up for another Night Game! Lenny wants to go to Mr. Crowell’s house and Spencer is up for a scare. Apparently Mr. Crowell is one of the sad teachers that doesn’t have a family so makes up for it by going all out during the holidays. He made the outside of his house into a Santa wonderland! The lights burn all the eyes of the teenagers, they’re so bright. Are these teenagers actually old people in disguise? Because they complain. A lot.

Anyways, they’re all just creeping outside their teachers house after midnight, being totally respectable, when all of a sudden, Spencer SMASHES a decoration. I KNOW. All the other kids freak out, and everyone takes off running while Mr. Crowell yells out the front door. Everyone is really upset that Spencer just destroyed a Christmas decoration, but I was wonder what the hell else they would do. They were basically just sitting there like Peeping Toms. Was that their master plan? Eventually Lenny and Jordan start laughing with Spencer and high-fiving. Way to go, Spencer! The girls are still disapproving. When Diane gets home, she gets a late night phone call from her ex-boyfriend, Bryan. He tells her he wants to get back together, and also threaten her if she doesn’t break up with Lenny. Nice. Diane is not having any of it. She already has a boyfriend with rage issues! They hang up and the phone rings again. Creepy whisper voice tells her that he knows about the Night Games. She thinks its Bryan and hangs up on the loser.

All of a sudden we travel back in time to “Last Winter”. The gang, including Spencer, is traveling to Spencer’s uncles ski cabin. Another one? Spencer is not happy because Diane brought along Lenny, even though he is totally into her! For someone who isn’t supposed to be “that” pretty, she sure gets a lot of boys. Could it be something else that’s attracting them? I bet Diane is the only girl in Shadyside that goes past first base! Riskay! Anyways, Lenny and Diane get into a fight and then Spencer tries to capitalize on this by kissing Diane. All he gets is a punch in the face when Lenny interrupts them. No punch in the face for Diane? Spencer hates Lenny.

Back to “This Winter”! Another night, another Night Game. They go back to Mr. Crowell’s house and this time, decide to break in. Diane emos that she didn’t REALLY want to go in, but was caught up in all the excitement. Sure you were Diane. They decide to just move stuff around so he’ll know they were in there, but can’t call the police. I’m pretty sure he could still call the police, geniuses. Mr. Crowell comes home while their all in there, so they beat it out the back door, unsure whether or not he saw them. Spencer also took a CD player, which scandalizes the rest of the group. Losers.

Diane is super nervous the next day, especially when Mr. Crowell asks her to stay for a few extra minutes. He just wanted to see how her midterm project was going though, because she chose a hard question. A midterm project in math? Like is she doing ONE math question? I don’t get it. Diane runs into her crazed ex, Bryan, later while walking home. She doesn’t want to talk to him, and he’s all upset because he waited outside for her for hours. Yeah, that’s a line every girl loves to hear! They argue and he denies making any prank calls to her house.

Diane goes home and Lenny shows up at her door. He’s upset because Mr. Crowell got him kicked off the basketball team (correction: Lenny’s poor grades in Mr. Crowell’s class got him kicked off. Shoulder some responsibility, Lenny.) But now he’s having violent fantasies about murdering Mr. Crowell. Diane comforts him instead of filing a restraining order like she should. Cassie shows up to Diane’s with a threatening note. Then Spencer shows up, also with a note. They are mildly suspicious of Jordan, who is note-less.

Cut to “Last Winter”. Lenny and Spencer still hate each other. The five of them are having a snowball fight, Lenny and Jordan vs. the girls and Spencer. Spencer decides to use ICE-balls and makes both Lenny and Jordan bleed. Uncool man! Lenny and Jordan decide to bury Spencer in the snow face first. Everyone is laughing at this, except Spencer, who is suffocating. The boys stop, but Spencer can’t get out and no one helps. They think he’s just embarrassed, so they decide to LEAVE. As in, pack up their bags and go back to Shadyside. Spencer thinks “You’re not going to leave me here to die? ARE YOU?” Answer: of course. Methinks Spencer might be out for revenge.

"This Winter". They decided once again to go back to Mr. Crowell’s. They break in AGAIN but this time Diane sees that Lenny brought a GUN! Oops, no, it’s just a spray paint can. WTF Diane, are you actually blind? Lenny starts spray painting the room while the other kids explore. And find Mr. Crowell dead on the floor. Uh oh! They make a break for it after Jordan finds the spray paint can that Lenny tossed under the Christmas tree.

Diane is super freaked out the next day about getting caught. They hear on the news that Mr. Crowell had a heart attack. The Shadyside Police’s theory is that someone broke in and SCARED him to death. Is that really a legitimate theory? Would that hold up in court? Diane gets a threatening note, done in the spray paint from last night. Lenny and Diane j’accuse Jordan, since he had the spray paint can! Jordan is all “Eff you guys, I gave it to Spencer”. They all decide to go pay Spencer a visit. I bet Jordan is still nursing his wounds that his only friends would j’accuse him so readily. They get to the house that Spencer lives in and notice that during the day, it’s kinda shitty. They peek in and see that it’s completely empty, and the heat/electricity isn’t working. Spencer is a high school squatter? That’s kinda rad. They go in to investigate and see that Spencer is lying dead on the floor. Yikes!

The friends are all upset but decide not to call the police because then they’d have to tell them about Night Games! I assume they’re worried about getting in trouble for sneaking out. Assholes. Anyways, they're standing around Spencer’s corpse, deciding what to do, when something magical happens. Spencer rolls over and sits up. He agrees with Diane that he’s really and truly dead. “I’m dead. I’m really dead.” At this point I’m thinking: No way. No way am I this lucky. I mean I’ve gotten some zombie books before, but this zombie would be coming out of nowhere! It has to be a joke. I can’t be THIS lucky.

Spencer floats off the floor and spins in the air. YES! YES! Mother effing Zombie! With special flying powers!! He did die that day in the snow! He tells his former friends that they murdered him and didn’t even notice. (They are huge assholes) His hatred for them turned him into a zombie! He’s especially mad at Diane for this because he liked her best. That’s why he decides to kill her first! He puts his hands around her neck and starts to strangle her while her friends look on. Nice. Diane fights back the only way she knows how. With hugs! She tells Spencer that they’re friends and she loves him. Cassie joins in on the hugging circle while Spencer screams that he needs his hatred. He can’t have this “love” and “friendship” and “HUGS”. The boys join in and they all hug zombie Spencer until he feels loved and melts into a puddle. I’m confused. Did they really love him, or do that to kill him? It was never explained.

Diane is relieved their horror is over but can’t seem to warm up. She tries to take a breath but can’t. She realizes right then that Spencer killed her, and she is also a re-animated corpse! Diane-Zombie! She’s a little pissed at her friends since she was MURDERED in front of them and no one did a damn thing. She wonders whether to tell her friends or have some Night Games of her own… END.

Thank god it didn’t end with a little joke and a kiss with her rage-a-holic boyfriend. This book started off super lame and ended spectacularly. You know how I feel about zombie books. 70 out of 77 spray paint cans that look like guns!


LAK said...

ask and ye shall receive...

there is the picture!

A. M. Stine said...


Chad Walters said...

I feel like the tagline may be a Ray Charles reference, and if so, I think it deserves another point.

L. K. Stine said...

A.M., there is NO way you are lucky enough to get yet another zombie book! I have NEVER gotten a zombie book ... I am starting to think you are making up cooler endings then there actually are!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, what a book! Diane becoming a zombie too just makes it. I always feel the fantasy elements are just silly, so I'm glad to see this book goes so far over the top.

Anonymous said...

You cannot go wrong with something that is 70 out of 77 spray paint cans that look like guns!!

LAK said...

Zombie books are just a wonderful thing aren't they?
I do feel sorry for Mr Crowell though. Why couldn't he be a better prepared teacher?

Anonymous said...

Where've you been, Stines? Seems like a while since you read a terrible Fear Street book.

A. M. Stine said...

I'm so ashamed! I was put in charge of Shadyside for the month of October, and I failed you in the last week! Yikes!

The good news is: I picked up L.K. Stine from the airport last night and am FORCING her to quickly read and recap Fear Street books! No rest and relaxation found here. So we'll be back to blogging very shortly. Don't you worry your heads friends!

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to the next!

RecallerReminder said...

This one has the kind of twist that make me think Stine got confused since he was writing a Fear Street book, not a Goosebumps book. Gee...

Anonymous said...

Oh my god. I love Night Games. R.L. Stine should make a book where Lenny and Cassie are killed and Diane is the killer. He should call it Night Games 2.