Sunday, November 30, 2008

Secret Admirer or "Formerly Fat Girls Have A Lot To Answer For"

Secret Admirer was on of R.L.’s books that I really enjoyed as a kid. I think it had something to do with the fact I always dreamed my high school would have a big auditorium and I would be in plays ala Wakefields or even BSC. But alas, I considered myself lucky that my high school didn’t collapse on my head, let alone have a theater so my dreams of being in a big school play were never realized. And if Secret Admirer is any indication… Thank God!

The cover! I LOVE what our “star” Selena is wearing. I know for a FACT that L.K. Stine owned this top when she was a teenager, which included a snap crotch! God, I need to find that top. I also like that Selena looks like she still has a little bit of baby fat in her face, which makes her a believable teenager. And also, they mention on every page that Selena used to be fat. So that’s a little continuity. One thing that bothers me though, is how surprised she looks. She’s obviously been at the mirror for a little while, applying makeup. Did she just not look at the word’s scrawled in (what I can only assume is) blood on her mirror? Common now cover-artist! This scene also never happens, so points lost. Tagline is GREAT though! “Someone loves her to death.” Oooo, that’s a classic!

And now we get to meet Selena, who has blonde curly hair and used to be fat. Important characteristics! She’s the lead in the school play, along side her childhood friend Jake, and acting-friend Alison. Jake immediately calls her “Moon”, which is her childhood nickname. Selena’s ex-boyfriend Danny is also in the play and Selena hates him. The first chapter also introduces us to Selena’s best friend Katy, who is a stagehand and is still fat. Yikes! There is a lot of chubb hate going on in this book! I don’t write it, I just … tell you guys about it. Anyways, their director Mr. Riordan tells Selena and Katy that a talent scout from Northwestern University is going to be coming to their spring play “Romeo and Juliet”! Selena sees her chance to get into Northwestern, where she always wanted to go, but could never afford!

Wait. The States gives out scholarships for high school actors?! For REALS?! Man, getting into college in the States sounds fun! Scholarships for everything!

Back to Selena. She goes to her locker before she goes home and finds dead flowers complete with a note from a stalker, calling himself the Sun (get it? because Selena means moon? Don't worry, R.L. will mention it in every chapter in case you forget). Creep-o doesn’t actually call himself “the Sun” but puts a little sticker at the bottom of the page. Aww… stickers! Her and Katy go back to her house to decompress her gross gift. While their hanging out in her room, they see something outside… her second story window! They rush outside to see that a ladder has fallen down, but was previously stuck up to Selena’s window. And on that ladder? A sticker of the Sun!!

Just to mention it, when Selena and Katy were talking in her room, Katy was complaining how she has to be a stagehand because she's SO OBESE. Selena tells her to stop putting herself down and to try out for the part of … Juliet’s nurse. Yeah, that’s what you should tell your self-conscious friend!

This one night is long! After Selena and Katy find the stalker ladder, they go over to their director’s (and teacher) house for the cast afterparty. I don’t think kids are allowed to go over to their teacher’s house anymore. Nor would I have EVER wanted to. Mr. Riordan introduces them all to their new intern (?) Eddy, who is a student at Waynesbridge Junior College. Why on earth would they have an intern? At a high school play!? Maybe I just don’t understand how big of a deal these plays are? Selena is introduced to him and takes an immediate liking! He knows A LOT about her and tells her he’s seen all her plays. Weird? Stalkerish? Selena doesn’t make the connection.

When Selena is leaving, both Jake and Danny offer to take her home, even though she’s riding with Katy. Then they proceed to get into a fist fight about it. I assume this is to show how effing desirable Selena is. That night, she gets woken up by a phone call at 5 A.M. It’s the Sun telling her that he’s always watching her, and will be together forever. MWAHAHA! Well, he didn’t do the laugh, but I assume he did after they hung up.

Selena decides not to tell anyone about the phone calls and notes because she thinks they’re a sick joke and she’s worried about not getting cast in the play. Hell, if I was Mr. Riordan and I found out my star was being threatened, I would totally tell the press so they could do a story and therefore help sell more tickets! Morbid curiosity sells people. At the auditions for Romeo and Juliet, Selena goes to rehearse in her favorite spot, some random bench. Her friend Alison is already sitting there practicing, so instead of making a big stink, Selena goes somewhere else to practice. Which was probably a good thing, because Alison is soon crushed by a huge wardrobe falling on her! Selena does some quick math: Selena’s favorite spot + stalker + heavy wardrobe crushing action = this accident was no accident! And it was meant for her! Thankfully, I guess, Alison was only injured and not crushed to death.

There’s some random (read: boring) plot development where Selena fights with Danny, but it’s only redeeming quality is when Danny pulls out this zinger: “I think you were nicer when you were fat!” Awesome! Big girls are hella nice! Eddy also calls Selena to ask her out. But asks her to keep it a secret. You know, after reading all these Fear Street books, if anyone ever asks me on a “secret” date, I’m just gonna assume they’re going to kill me. This always happens! Selena doesn’t think of this possibility even though she has a stalker and Eddy knows stuff about her like how she used to wear her hair years ago. THAT’S WEIRD SELENA!

Anyways they make a secret date, because Eddy isn’t supposed to be dating high schoolers when he’s an intern. Isn’t it also illegal? Katy calls Selena to remind her about their sleepover, and Selena has to break it because of her awesome secret date! Which she told Katy about. You suck at keeping secrets Selena! Selena then finds a dead rat on her front porch from her stalker. This stalker is escalating. Rat killing? That’s getting extreme!

The parts for the play are posted the next day and Selena of course got cast as Juliet. It helps that she her only competition had been crushed. Literally. Her friend Jake is in a bad mood because he lost the part of Romeo to Danny. We also learn that Jake’s last name is Jaboby. Jake Jacoby. WHAT?!

Date night! Eddy takes Selena to a place in Waynesbridge so no one will see them together. Selena thinks its exciting, whereas I would be insulted. She sees Danny there (luckily while Eddy is outside) with a new girlfriend, so she shamefully admits to herself that he’s probably not her obsessed stalker. She seems a little disappointed (trollop!) While Eddy and Selena are walking back to his car, they pass through a narrow tunnel. A car without its lights on comes hurtling through the tunnel! Eddy shoves Selena in it’s path! She isn’t hit and is all “WTF EDDY?!” Eddy explains that he pushed her to the other side of the tunnel so she wouldn’t get hit. Like, pushed her across the path of the car and hoped the car wasn’t coming that fast? Even if he’s not the killer, he’s a dumbass. Hate!

The next day she finds another bouquet on her doorstep. She’s a little wary of them, but they’re beautiful, red, alive roses! She thinks they’re for Eddy and buries her face in them. And then her mom tells her the greenery around the flowers is poison ivy. Balls! Selena is allergic so it’s doubly bad! She decides that the Sun must be someone from the play and decides to snoop through everyone’s drama lockers to find clues. Which she does. She finds a whole batch of Sun stickers in … Jake Jacoby’s locker!

She rushes home to tell Katy what happened when she gets a call waiting (high tech!) beep from Jake. He tells her he has info about her stalker and needs to talk to her. In person. At the auditorium. Yikes! Selena tries to get Katy to come with her but she needs to stay home. Selena goes to hear Jake out at school, alone. Dum dum dummmm!

Well, he didn’t kill her. Mostly because Selena found his dead body at the bottom of the ladder that leads to the catwalk above the stage. Selena is heart broken that her friend is dead, but also relieved that her stalker is dead. Tough times! Her and Katy decide not to tell anyone about the stalking so his memory isn’t tainted.

Except she then gets another note from the Sun. Telling her she was DEAD WRONG about Jake! Whoops! Well that sucks for Selena. The note also says that he’ll be watching her during dress rehearsal the next day. Selena is determined to find this guy!

Let’s stop here. Because isn’t this the exact point where you would CALL THE POLICE? She knows Jake wasn’t the stalker. He was murdered. How is she just not telling anyone that her friend was murdered!?! Bah.

Dress rehearsal goes over fine, without any murders or horrible accidents. Selena is tired and almost forgets her bookbag! She runs back to get it after everyone else left. When she gets home, she finds that the Sun had slipped another note in her bag telling her that he’s killed again, the night of the dress rehearsal. Selena realizes that the killer wrote the note in advance and is probably killing someone right now! (Quite the advance planner) She knows that there might be time to save another person her SELFISH ACTIONS have put in jeopardy. She rushes to the auditorium at school. There, everything is quiet… except quiet moaning from the prop room above the stage where the catwalk is!

Selena, who is deathly afraid of heights, climbs the ladder to the prop room where she finds Danny tied to a chair and bleeding from the head. Hah, for a few seconds she considers leaving him there, “just in case” he actually is the Sun pretending. Pretending to bleed all over you? That’s some fine acting! Katy bursts into the prop room, and instead of being suspicious (aka, why is she there?) Selena is grateful. Until Katy tells her to leave Danny tied up, and smokes him in the head with a heavy flashlight.

Yes Friends. Obese Katy is now Homicidal Obese Katy. Man, R.L. HATES fat girls, doesn’t he? Katy tells Selena that she’s the Sun and Selena was just so conceited she assumed it had to be a boy who liked her that was stalking her. Um, Katy? You also convinced Selena is was a madly-in-love boy. Don’t be a dick. Katy accuses Selena of leaving her once she got thin and popular. Katy thought that if Selena dropped out of the play, they would go back to being best friends. Actually, since they still WERE best friends, I assume Katy meant that Selena would go back to being fat and lazy with her.

They get into a wrestling match on the cat walk. There are numerous instances where Selena almost falls, but manages to catch on to the railing at the last minute. All of a sudden, Eddy appears! Katy attacks him with the heavy flashlight of doom too. Finally, Eddy catches Katy by surprise and pulls her into the prop room. R.L. doesn't tell us what happens, but since Katy was conscious when she went in there, and unconscious by the time Selena steps in … it’s safe to assume that Eddy beat the sh*t outta her. The book ends there, with a lusty kiss between Eddy and his teenage girlfriend, above the two unconscious bodies of Katy and Danny. Just the way I like it!

Secret Admirer elicited no big complaints from me. I always loved reading about school plays when I was little… and apparently still do! Excuse me, I have to go read “Starring the Babysitter’s Club” now. Secret Admirer gets 7 dead bodies of Jake Jacoby out of 8!

The Secret Bedroom, or “Skeletons in the Closet … For Reals”

Lea is the new shy girl at Shadyside High. She encourages her shy status by doing really spastic things, like spilling chili all over the biggest bitch in school, Marci. Not a good way to start off your new school year, I hear. She is further handicapped by the fact that she has short hair, which is usually an invitation for death at Shadyside, and she is brunette, so obviously she’s not going to fit in. Not everything is bad for her, though. She has made friends with Deena Martinson (from Wrong Number!). She also attracted the attention of Don, a cute boy who tragically also is the boyfriend of Marci. Don asks her out – that’s clearly not going to go well!

Lea’s family just moved into an old house on Fear Street, because her parents love to flip houses. That’s kind of cool, and what makes it even better is the real estate agent showing them the house, Mrs. Thomas, is Suki’s mother! Awesome, LOVE the continuity. Lea has a walk-in closet the size of a room, and she seems to be upset about this. She is SO not a girl. There’s also a trapdoor to the attic, which is empty except for a boarded up door. A hundred years ago, someone was murdered in the room and it’s been boarded up ever since. Lea’s parents think this is a charming story, but Lea is not so sure about the charm of these little murders.

That Saturday night, Lea is supposed to go out with Don, but he never shows. She shows a remarkable amount of courage and stupidity (by high school standards) by calling up Marci, his girlfriend, to ask where he is. Marci, Don, and several other people all laugh at her for believing that Don would want to go out with her. That really sucks, I hate high school people sometimes. Poor new girl. The Monday at school, Don cutely apologizes to Lea, explaining Marci is really jealous. Then don’t ask other girls out, Don. I think the point is he’s supposed to be cute and charming, but he’s not. He’s a douche. He runs away when his girlfriend beckons. Marci, meanwhile, continues to torment Lea. I guess she’s really mad about that chili incident.

Sad and lonely the next Saturday night, Lea can’t sleep because she hears footsteps above her in the attic. She goes to investigate, and the door gushes a waterfall of blood at her. She makes Deena come over, who complains she had a horrible experience at Fear Street the year before (haha, involving chainsaws?) Lea also calls the police, which I guess is smart, although what would they do about waterfalls of blood? As it turns out, though, the blood was only imagined, or a dream, because it’s gone by the time everyone gets there. The police are actually really nice about it, which is surprising. Maybe they didn’t have much to do that Saturday night, since apparently despite all the murders and assaults that occur in Shadyside, no one ever bothers to contact the police about them!

Lea gets even more lonely at school, as Marci is still being mean to her, meaning no one else wants to befriend her. Deena has a new boyfriend, and her friend Jade is too busy and popular to hand with little Lea. So, alone again on Saturday night, this time she hears voices upstairs from the attic. She’s getting pissed off, so she goes to investigate again. This time iron spikes shoot out from the door, nearly impaling her (very Indiana Jones.) Just as she’s freaking out about this, Don calls her, asking her to meet him at Pete’s Pizza. Lea gratefully accepts! I’d tell Don to fuck off, and apparently rightfully so. Don was at Pete’s Pizza, but with Marci, who makes fun of her. Don sits there embarrassed. Because he’s a douche.

Lea is furious, and goes back to the attic, ripping off the boards from the door. A girl is crying behind the door, begging for Lea to open it. Magically, a key is in the lock, so Lea is able to open it no problems. Inside is an old fashioned bedroom, with an old fashioned girl about Lea’s age. The ghost is lonely and wants to touch Lea. Creepy. Lea agrees with me and locks the door again, figuring it was all a bad dream.

Until the next night, when she goes to make sure nothing happened in the attic, and finds the boards from the door all piled up on the floor, meaning IT WASN’T A DREAM. Lea goes in to talk to the ghost, who is nice and chatty. The ghost is Catherine, an angelic looking girl from the 19th century with black ribbons in her hair. She lived and died in the little attic room, brought up as a prisoner because she was born out of wedlock and her parents wanted to keep her a dirty little secret. They killed her when she tried to escape. How romantic and Gothic. Lea freaks out and runs away screaming. She tries to calm down but finds it hard when her stuffed tiger’s eyes start to glow demonically at her.

Yikes. School is just as bad for Lea, as Marci is actively spreading evil rumours about her. Lea wants badly to get back at Marci, to scare her, and what better way than to use your own homegrown ghost? Lea loses her fear of the ghost in the attic, and goes and has a conversation with her. Lea wants Catherine to haunt Marci, to make her think she has special powers (she should have waited for Felicia to get into town).

Catherine is super excited to be able to haunt someone, and seems kind of sweet, for a ghost and all. Then, she possesses Lea, and Lea’s thinking this is not such a hot idea anymore. When they get to Marci’s house, Lea confronts her, telling her to stop spreading lies about her. Catherine starts picking shit up around the house, which is kinda frightening, but she goes too far when Marci is shoved over a balcony, falling and breaking on the floor. Marci doesn’t make it. Oops, that went a little far. Accident? Probably not.

Lea confronts Catherine about this whole murder of Marci thing, and Catherine becomes an evil old woman and tries to possess Lea again, this time for good. Lea is able to force Catherine out of her body and mind, and runs screaming to her parents. They think she’s suffering from traumatic shock after watching someone die in front of her. They all go inspect the bedroom in the attic, and it is all boarded up and locked. Lea never touched it. So once again, it was all just a dream.

Lea gets a fever, and everyone is thinking she’s suffering from hallucinations. Catherine comes to her and confesses she sent visions to Lea to make her think she’d been in the room upstairs, but in reality had never left her own bedroom. Catherine then possesses Lea for reals now, Lea is only watching from the inside.

Catherine decides it’s time to take care of Don, because he’s a ball-less douche. She kind of has a point, but when she grabs some twine to garrote him, I think she’s taking it a little far. They go visit Don together, and Catherine-in-Lea’s-body is just about to strangle him, when some of his buddies come over, making Catherine back off.

Catherine disappears out of Lea’s body for awhile, and Lea uses that time to take action. She checks out the boarded up room for real, prying the boards off once again. Catherine realizes what’s going on and tries to possess her again, but Lea’s too strong this time. She opens the door, revealing two rotting corpses in the bedroom. Lea stops in shock, and Catherine uses this time to slip into her body. The skeletal corpses jump up and start to throttle Lea, screaming ‘Evil child!’ Apparently, Catherine was the evil one all along, and locked her parents in the room until they died, but didn’t leave. Now Catherine’s spirit tries to get away, but her parents ‘grab’ her and they all kind of disappear in some smelly smoke.

Lea wakes up in the hospital – she’s been there for days with a fever of 106. So … it was all a dream? It was all a big hallucination? I’m so confused, because they don’t really say what parts she hallucinated. Don has been calling for her everyday, which tells me nothing, because he’d do that whether his girlfriend was dead or alive. Lea comes home and finds a black hair ribbon in her bedroom, so clearly it wasn’t all a hallucination. Then she reveals Marci was still dead, so all that did happen. Somehow, while she was in the hospital with a fever. This ending is crap. It didn’t even do the cute ‘it was all a dream … or was it?’ ending, it just doesn’t make any sense. And does she end up with Don, now that she knocked off the competition? He didn’t have the balls to date her before, but now that someone arranged the death of his bitchy girlfriend, he’ll gladly move on to the next willing body? Douche.

This book was cheesy and nonsensical. Skeletal corpses dancing around? Even the cover sucks, with the cheesy glowing door, and cheesy skeletal hand. This book belongs firmly in the ranks of Goosebumps, and I’m sorry to see it put in the category of Fear Street. 2 skeletal corpses out of 7.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Runaway, or “The Tragic Story of a Telekinetic Teen and her Cheating Heart”

Felicia stands in the middle of the road, staring up at the Welcome to Shadyside sign in the rain. She is nearly run over by a truck, largely due to the fact she’s standing in the middle of the road in the rain. The driver of the truck ungraciously offers her a ride, reveals his name is Homicide (probs a nickname?) then tries to stab her. I could see how hitchhiking in Shadyside would up the risk factor. The truck suddenly veers into a tree, crashing and trapping ‘Homicide’, while Felicia is able to run free. From this opener, I’ve already determined that Felicia is a little slow. I learnt not to stand in the middle of the road, or get into cars with strangers in, like, kindergarten. We also learn that Felicia is ‘special’, and not in the slow way.

There are constant flashbacks to Felicia being tested in some secret government lab, for her ‘abilities’. She is able to channel rage inside of her to move objects with her mind. Rage-based telekinesis? I saw that movie, and it didn’t end well. Now, she’s a runaway, because apparently something awful happened in her government lab-rat days, and she’s traveling with a terrible secret.

She runs back onto the road (having learnt nothing from her latest ‘Homicide’ incident) and is luckily picked up by Nick, a rather harmless and goofy high school student. You have to win some sometimes, right? Nick is cute and concerned for her, so she makes out with him before getting him to drop her off at the Donut Hole. Because why not, right? He’s earned it as the whole knight in shining armour thing.

Felicia may be slow when it comes to life-lessons-learnt-in-kindergarten, but she’s pretty good at survival. Having no money, she overhears some college guy complaining that he’s supposed to house-sit for a month, and has already been given $100 up front, but all he wants to do is go skiing. Felicia pretends she knows the owner of the house, and says she’ll housesit if the guy gives her $50. And the guy complains about giving it to her. What a crappy deal, I’d make him give me the entire $100, but I guess Felicia’s okay with that.

Set up in a fancy house on Fear Street, with the company of a cute little kitten name Miss Quiz, next step is to go to high school. She just walks in and signs herself up, and the first person she runs into is, of course, knight in shining armour Nick, who is SUPER excited to see her. He takes her to his job at the Burger Basket, where Felicia immediately gets a job. Things seem to be falling into place for this runaway pretty quickly. Then she meets Zan (short for Alexandria), who leaves her station chopping vegetables to threaten Felicia with the knife, telling her to stay away from Nick because she’s with him. While Felicia is all ‘wtf?’ and all the fuses blow out around her, because of her rage-based abilities, Zan starts giggling like it’s the best joke ever to threaten people with knives. She even reminds Felicia that JUST YESTERDAY some creep tried to stab her, then is like, Oops, sorry. So, Zan is crazy, and now I’ve started to wonder about Nick, with the random making out in cars.

Despite knife wielding threats, Felicia becomes awesome friends with Zan and Nick, and they spend all their time together at the Burger Basket or at school. Felicia is pretty stoked to have real friends again, and nobody seems to question that she has no family, except for Nick, who at least knows she’s a runaway. Then, the threats start coming. Felicia gets notes saying things like – I know all about you. When she finds one in her locker, her powers get out of control and make all the locker doors slam shut. Good thing no one was around, that would be embarrassing! Felicia confides in Nick, not about her powers but about having to run, and they get closer. Ooh, smutty!

Flashback to lab-rat days: Felicia is complaining about constantly being pushed to use her powers to her friend Debbie, who is powerless but still seems to be in this lab-rat program. Debbie tells Felicia to tear down a beach house with her mind, which Felicia does. Only, two of her friends, Andy and Krista, had been in the house, and they definitely didn’t survive the collapse. Oops! Now we know why Felicia is running.

She gets another threat, telling her to leave town, this time in the house she’s staying at. Once again she confides in Nick, telling him a little bit about the lab-rat stuff, but not that she has powers. This time, they get thisclose to kissing before they are interrupted. I know cheating is bad and everything, but I like this whole Nick-Felicia thing. Zan should go away. Better yet, Nick and Felicia should find themselves a good ferris wheel (see Goodnight Kiss for details). Felicia does overhear Zan threatening Nick to stay away from Felicia. Which is fair, I guess. Felicia then confronts Nick about that, and he tells her Zan has been through a really tough time, and they should be extra nice to her. Does that include running around behind her back, Nick?

Zan decides that they should have a girly night, and Felicia can’t think of a reason why not. I can: She’s a knife wielding jealous bitch, and you’re cheating with her boyfriend. But Felicia goes, and while Zan is out of the room, she flips through an old Shadyside yearbook. There is a picture of Zan with some dude under the caption THE COUPLE MOST only you can’t see the guy because he’s been covered up by a sticky puddle of blood. Ick. So Felicia of course goes to find a clean yearbook the next day, and discovers that Zan used to be the couple most likely to last forever with Doug Gaynor. The very Doug Gaynor whose memorial bench stands in a hallway of Shadyside High. Wait, they give out memorial benches to students who have died? The hallways must look like stadium seating, I can’t even count how many students have died there. I guess the point is that Zan’s old boyfriend in dead.

Nick tells Felicia that Doug was actually killed by Zan. He seems okay with this – I’d be less inclined to date someone who killed her last forever boyfriend. Apparently they had an argument because Doug was seeing someone else behind her back, and she pushed him off a balcony, impaling him on the iron spikes of the fence below. Accidently, of course. Um, Nick? It sounds like you should be worried.

Zan interrupts Nick and Felicia in their little one on one to tell Felicia she needs to fix a light burned out in the storage closet. A metal ladder is already set up under the light, with a big puddle of water underneath, and the wire of the light is cut open. Hmm, a trap? Felicia thinks so and runs to shut off the circuit breakers, but her boss wanders into the closet and is electrocuted before she can stop him. The whole Burger Basket goes up in flames. Felicia drags an unconscious but alive boss out of the place, then goes back in to help the people who are trapped. She uses her powers to push back the fire, and to create an opening for everyone to get out. She’s all weak and passing out, when Zan tries to strangle her to death, telling her to stay away from Nick. Wow, bitch be crazy. Nick drags Zan away and tells her he loves only her, blah blah blah.

Felicia is really hurt by this, but has to run for it because TV crews have shown up, wanting to speak to the girl who could move things WITH HER MIND. She’s a little freaked that her cover has been blown, and makes plans to once again run for it. A flashback tells us that the police are after her after the fatal collapse of the beach house in her old town, and that her friend Debbie tried to facilitate her escape. Only Felicia blew her car up WITH HER MIND. Because she was upset or something. Her powers seem to be super inconvenient.

Felicia goes to school the next morning to pick up her things, where Nick grabs her and attacks her with him lips. He tells her he actually only loves her, and Zan has agreed to get some help in regards to her homicidal jealousy. Yah, right, I’ve heard that one before. Zan shows up and tries to stab Felicia. She confesses that Doug Gaynor’s accidental death was not so accidental. Felicia uses her mind to trap Zan until she was subdued, then ran away to Fear Street, because someone called her a freak.

While at the Fear Street house, Felicia is confronted by Debbie, who found her from the news talking about a girl with powers. Felicia’s happy to see her, until she realizes Debbie’s as crazy as Zan. She had actually planned the murder of the couple in the beach house, because she wanted the guy and couldn’t have him. Debbie’s powers are actually way bigger than Felicia’s, but she wanted Felicia to take the fall. Debbie also blew up her own car, in an attempt to kill Felicia – it was Felicia’s own powers that saved her. I hope this is making sense. There’s an awful lot of attempted murder and powers going on here. They get into a big telekinesis fight. Debbie is trying to beat Felicia with a maple tree, while Felicia is hitting her with a light pole. All I can say is: Awesome! Best girl fight ever. Felicia finally attacks not Debbie’s body, but her mind, and puts her into a coma. That was efficient.

Everything ends happily ever after. The police are not after Felicia, Debbie just made that up, so Felicia goes back to the secret government lab to study her powers further. Nick is her boyfriend and he will visit her every weekend. They kiss.

Most romantic book ever? No, the main characters were total cheaters, but they get away with it because everyone else is trying to kill them. Also, R. L., just fyi, ferris wheels are much more romantic places to cheat than the alley behind the Burger Basket. I give it 12 stolen kisses out of 16.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Sleepwalker, or “Fancy Pants Professional Magicians"

One of the first Fear Streets ever written, or ‘classic Fear Street’, as I like to call it. And it’s about witches, which is a topic I think not explored often enough by R. L. Witchcraft can be creepy … roll with it.

The cover is good. It’s exactly as I’d imagine Mayra, our lovely redheaded heroines, as she walks in her sleep into the water, surrounded by dreamlike fog – well done cover artist. Also, while the nightshirt is totally ugly and shapeless, it also looks really comfy and I may want it. Tagline: “She isn’t safe – even in her dreams!” Meh. I think a much better tagline would be: “Sleeping can be MURDER!” Or something that makes LESS sense, but has MORE death.

Mayra is starting her summer job looking after a Mrs. Cottler, an old lady who lives on Fear Street and likes to go for slow walks and be read to. Mayra’s mom, a nurse, treated Mrs. Cottler, and the old lady kept accusing her of trying to kill her. Sounds … not at all like a pleasant day job, but Mayra is poor, so she has to. Her other hobbies can be summed up as mooning over her boyfriend Walker, who is dreamy and has been gone for two whole weeks, which is approximately as long as any high school relationship normally lasts. Walker is very into magic and wants to be a professional magician and hypnotist. We all have to have goals, you know?

Life is a little more complicated for Mayra, because her old boyfriend Link still hangs around her all the time. She did only dump him a month ago, apparently for Walker. Actually, the more I think about it, Mayra’s a bit of a hussy – she’s constantly surrounded by guys who want her, and keeps on lamenting the fact that Walker is so shy when she wants to go much further than just kisses. Slow down there, Mayra, this isn’t Melrose Place! Anyways, Link still wants her, and she keeps on coldly blowing him off. Link is kinda grabby and needy, so you know Mayra probably secretly still wants him.

Things start to get creepy at Fear Street, as Mrs. Cottler turns out to be more than she seems. Do all kindly old ladies keep a stash of chicken feet and black candles around the house? Or have creepy black cats with intelligent eyes popping up all over the place? Mayra can’t get over how Mrs. C’s skin is so smooth and unlined – the blood of virgins, perhaps? Maybe Mayra should be all over Walker, it might be in her best interest. Also, Mrs. C’s neighbour yells at her, so she steals his handkerchief and goes into a trance with it. Next day, shouty neighbour breaks his hip. So ya, she’s a witch.

The creepiness doesn’t end there. Soon after her job with Mrs. C starts and dreamy Walker returns from holidays, Mayra starts sleepwalking. She dreams about a cold dark lake … and wakes up outside her house in the middle of the night in her (super comfy) nightgown. I would FREAK OUT if that happened to me. Sleepwalking should be comedic, not scary.

To up the creep factor in Mayra’s life, a giant blond man sees her on the street and chases her down, causing Mayra to escape to the mall. Where she sees Walker. Eating a pizza. With Suki Thomas! Oh man, this is my favorite storyline! Walker’s all, nothing’s going on, but the suspicion is there. Well, it is for me. Mayra believes him, but c’mon. Suki’s a big slut! I mean: “Her platinum hair was spiked punk-style with about a ton or two of gel. She wore a purple T-shirt and matching purple tights under jean cutoffs.” Good girls don’t dress like that, Suki.

The next day Mayra runs into Stephanie, Link’s sister, and Mayra’s friend, although they hadn’t spoken since the tragic dumping. They get into a fight and Stephanie steals Mayra’s scarf. That’ll learn her! I just need to recap how many people have issues with Mayra at this point: There’s Link, the jilted ex, and his sister who have both been really aggressive to her; her employer, a witch who may or may not hate her mother; a random scary blond man on the street; and a boyfriend who may or may not be cheating. We’ll leave Suki off the list because I know she’d remain neutral in this. It seems like not a lot of people are fans of Mayra.

That night, Mayra sleepwalks all the way to Fear Street, and is found by a cop. No jokes anymore, people are pretty freaked out. Walker rushes to her the next morning before she goes to work, and won’t let her leave. Mayra thinks she likes it when Walker is forceful, it doesn’t happen enough. Yup, she’s a Shadyside girl. Her theory is that Mrs. C put a sleepwalking spell on her to get back at her mother, but is too poor to quit the job. She is happy to hear Mrs. C is going away for a few days, so she’ll only have to housesit.

Mayra’s friend Donna comes by to borrow her car to go to the orthodontist. Things don’t go well for Donna as she’s run off the road by a maniac in a red pickup. Mayra realizes someone thought it was her in the car, that they tried to kill her. Small wonder, Mayra, you need way less frenemies in your life. Donna survives, but is in the hospital with broken bones for awhile.

Mayra and Walker snoop around Mrs. C’s house while she’s gone, under the disapproving eyes of her cat. Mayra discovers that Mrs. C is actually Link and Stephanie’s aunt. Uh-oh, they are definitely out to get her. She goes to confront Stephanie, and finds her chanting over some candles with Mayra’s scarf on her head. She’s definitely a witch too. Steph’s all: I needed to tie my hair back. And I told you she was my aunt. And, fyi, your boyfriend is screwing Suki Thomas. Poor Mayra runs out of the house and into Link, who’s just getting out of his RED PICKUP – without a scratch on it. Grabby he may be, but Link is no hit and run driver.

That night Mayra sleepwalks into the Fear Lake, and doesn’t wake until she’s fished out half drowned by a fisherman. How creepy would it be to be drowning and still not be able to wake up? Lock the girl up, Mayra makes an appointment with a psychiatrist. On her way there, she runs into the scary blond man who tries to chase her again. Coincidence? Dr. Sterne doesn’t think Mayra is crazy, but thinks she’s dealing with a trauma so large her conscious has forgotten it, and her subconscious struggles with it at night. She must figure out what this is. Mayra decides that since she’s drawn to Fear lake, she’ll go there at night while awake to see if she can retrieve any memories.

Mayra is just starting to get freaked out that she’s sitting in the middle of Fear Woods by herself at night when Link shows up. He saw her on the street and followed her to make sure she was okay. Instead of being appreciative, she acts like a total bitch. Link takes this as foreplay and tries to force himself on her. Mayra punches him in the face and jumps in the lake. Interesting tactic, but it has the desired effect she was after – she remembers.

Just after she and Walker started dating, Walker was being a jerk while driving and ran a car off the road into a lake. As the car sank, Mayra tried to get to them, to help them, but Walker forced her back into the car and hypnotized her so she wouldn’t remember. Since he got back into town, Mayra’s subconscious has been working overtime to tell her this.

Mayra sets a trap. She asks Walker to go over to Mrs. C’s house, to talk. They sit out by Fear Lake and she asks him to hypnotize her, to help her relax so she might not sleepwalk again. He does so, and adds in the part where she doesn’t remember he’s a hit and run killer. She’s all: aha! I knew it, murderer. And Walker’s all: aha! Now I have to kill you. And, fyi, I’m screwing Suki Thomas. As plans go, Mayra, this one is poor. Walker starts to drown her, but he is attacked by Mrs. C’s cat. Mayra leaves Walker to fend off the cat, and runs to the house. At the house, she finds the cat there already, calmly sitting there. Mayra has a moment of … weird, then calls 911. Walker busts in and tries to kill her with a meat cleaver.

Mayra’s imminent murder is interrupted by the random blond man who keeps turning up everywhere, who comes in and attacks Walker. He’s the man who survived Walker’s hit and run incident – his brother was killed. Blond guy recognized Mayra from the scene, but has since figured out Walker was the bad guy. Mayra is saved.

You guessed how this one ends. Mayra ends up back in Link’s grabby arms. She tells him he’s a creep, he calls her a jerk, and it’s love as it should be in Shadyside. And Mrs. C? She’s a professor of the occult. Her cat? Magic. Sweet – 8 magic black cats out of 11.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Goodnight Kiss, or “Even Vampires Need A Little Love”

So, apparently there’s some vampire movie coming out tomorrow? Not that I know anything about it, but in honour of Twilight’s movie release, I thought I’d recap R. L.’s answer to the classic vampire tale.

Once again this is a super chiller that does NOT take place in Shadyside. Instead, everyone from Shadyside apparently owns a beach house in Sandy Hollow. Because when you think beach, you think vampire, right? Jessica is a beautiful redhead, who’s getting ready for a blind date with a mysterious stranger. When they finally meet, she’s stoked because he’s tall dark and handsome … although a little on the pasty side. His name is Gabriel, but everyone calls him Gabri. Really? I think Gabri is the worst nickname ever. If someone asked me to call them Gabri, my response would be ‘… no thanks.’ Anyways, they cut out of the movie they were at early, to take a walk on the dark beach. They start making out, then Gabe goes a little bit further, bites her neck and starts drinking her blood.

Jessica pushes him away and is like ‘Dude! I’m a vampire too! Fool.’ Jessica and Gabri seriously don’t get along and get into an argument about being the Eternal Ones and the sweet ‘nectar’ they must drink. What I don’t get is that both Gabri and Jessica are supposed to be townies in this tiny beach town for several years. Have they never run into each other before? Discussed the pros and cons of being undead? Their argument escalates until they made a bet to see which of them can attract a human and turn them into a vampire first. What does the winner get? Nothing, they never get into it – worst bet ever.

Jessica’s victim chosen for her is Todd, a shy redhead who barely speaks. Gabri’s victim is April, a lovely blonde dating a guy named Matt. The three of them are all good friends and excited about spending the summer together. April wants Todd to start dating some, and wants her boyfriend to be less of a loser, since he’s kinda pudgy and is only interested in video games and horror movies. Uh-oh, a pudgy guy? The big girls are almost always killed off in Fear Street books, but what about the guys? K, if Matt survives, it’s sexist, but if he’s killed, it’s fattist. R. L. has written himself into a no win situation.

April gets her wish about Todd dating, anyways, because he meets beautiful Jessica. They are very into each other. Todd is super proud of this enormous hickey she’s given him. Matt is duly impressed. Is it normal for teenage guys to inspect each other’s hickeys and give low whistles? Is a hickey really something to be proud of? April has also met a mysterious stranger, who always seems to be around when her tubby boyfriend stands her up.

It takes three bites on three different nights to create a vampire. Jessica gets two bites in on Todd, who gets all pale and tired all the time. Gabri’s having a harder time with April because she doesn’t want to cheat on her boyfriend. Until Matt leaves her at night to watch some horror movies with his buddies, and Aprils like, whatever, I’ll go to the carnival with Gabri. They get on the ferris wheel and make out. Wanna know why? Because in Fear Street-land, the ferris wheel is the place to cheat. It happened in College Weekend, too. If you get on a ferris wheel, you will for sure cheat on your boyfriend.

April starts to get all pale and weak too, but Jess had too much of a head start. Despite Gabri’s attempts to stop them, Jessica gives Todd the third and final kiss … only she goes too far, gets carried away. Oopsies! Todd’s corpse is found floating in the ocean the next day, by Matt.

That would be traumatizing for anyone, but Matt starts obsessing about his friend’s untimely death, how it looks like the work of vampires. This has the effect of making April break up with him when he confronts her with the theory, leaving the way wide open for Gabri. Gabri and April go out a second time, when she shows him her cross she just got. He tries to control his freak out, and loosens the clasp, letting the cross slide away, so he can make his second move.

Matt quickly finds comfort in the arms of Jessica, who has decided she can still win the bet if she turns him. She’s all “broken up” about the death of Todd. She quickly gets over this by making out with Matt. Matt’s into this, because “her lips were so dry, hot and dry.’ I really must protest. What is UP with the hot dry lips? R. L. has used this one too many times, and I want to know if anyone actually finds this attractive? No, really, do you? Maybe R. L. does, has some kind of hot dry lip fetish or something.

So Matt starts to fall under the hot dry spell, and gets all tired and pale, until his friend Todd the corpse comes to visit him one night. Apparently Todd can’t sleep at night, although his body is still deteriorating. Ugh. That is so much worse than being a vampire!

Matt realizes Gabri and Jessica are both vampires, and tries to warn April. She doesn’t believe him, of course, so he gets this awesome idea to clandestinele take pictures of them, and develop the film to prove to April she’s dating a guy who can’t be photographed. Because perving on your ex and her new boyfriend with a camera is always going to be an awesome idea.

Only he’s too late. He catches up to April as she is rowing over to an island with Gabri, a mysterious dark island full of bats. Matt does the first thing he can think of and takes off after them in a stolen rowboat of his own. When he FINALLY gets to the island (because he doesn’t have vampire super strength, obviously) he finds April passed out on a chair next to a coffin. A chair next to a coffin? Because this is Gabri’s comfy place? I wonder if he uses the coffin was a coffee table during the night.

Gabri shows up, and he and Matt have the big showdown. It ends with Matt impaling Gabri with a boat oar. Now, I know, Matt’s supposed to be a big guy and everything, but I just don’t see him having the strength to push an oar through someone’s chest. Anyways, Gabri is dusted (like in Buffy!) Matt tries to wake up April, but just as she comes to, Jess shows up and tries to eat her. Matt sets Jess on fire and she melts. So, Matt’s the big hero in this one.

It ends with a chapter called ‘The Happy Ending,’ where Matt and April are walking home, and he’s like ‘there’s that cross you lost,’ and she’s like ‘cool, leave it there.’ When Matt’s all ‘that’s weird of you, why?’, April’s like ‘cause I’m a vampire!’ and eats him up. That’s my version of the last chapter, anyways. I guess that happy ending was sarcastic, unless you are a vampire. So pudgy Matt doesn’t survive the book. This proves R. L. is no sexist, but he shows definite signs of fattism.

This book was awesomely cheesy, the way a good vampire story should be. And extra points for having all of the main characters die. I give Goodnight Kiss 16 sweet, hot dry kisses out of 19.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Switched, or “Nothing Should Ever Come Crawling Out of a Well”

I LOVED this book when I was young. It was one of my favs, and the ending blew my mind, so I was super stoked when a friend found this one for me. I spent a happy morning riveted to this one.

I have mixed views about the cover. I don’t love this picture. It depicts the two girls in the book, a dark sultry Nicole, and a Lucy who looks like a soccer mom. Is that an enormous scrunchie? There are crazy lightning bolts between the girls, representing “the switch”, as well as some graffiti-like red bolts from their hands. I feel our cover artist dropped the ball on this one. But I think this is the best tagline: “A mind is a terrible thing to lose.” I think it’s sufficiently ominous to be a horror book.

Nicole is telling the story, and Nicole is in a bad state. She goes beyond normal teen-whiny – girl is depressed. She is reemed out by a teacher for not writing a paper. There was no reason she didn’t write it – she just didn’t. This is so genuinely high school, I kind of felt sympathetic for Nicole, despite the whining. Then her boyfriend very apologetically breaks up with her, telling her ‘it’s just too much.’ So this all has the crazy effect of creating suspense – what is wrong with Nicole? I know, suspense development in a horror, who would have thought it would work?

Nicole can barely deal with her shitty day, until she runs into her best best best friend from preschool, Lucy. Lucy has the best idea to cheer Nicole up – they should switch bodies! Nicole half thinks she’s kidding as Lucy drags her through the Fear Street Woods, until they get to the Changing Wall, which is a random wall in the middle of the forest. According to legend, criminals would bring unwilling body donors to the wall to change bodies, in order to escape punishment. Nicole should have been paying attention to this, but she was too busy being sad about her boyfriend.

They scramble over the wall and leap to the other side, holding hands. There’s lots of red lightning bolts and pain, but at the end they have transformed into each other. They are alternately freaked out and super excited, but eventually part ways gleefully. Nicole is thinking about how mean Lucy’s parents are to her, but then is distracted by the thought of Lucy’s cute boyfriend Kent, who is now hers. She got over her ex awful quick there.

But things don’t go according to plan. Nicole gets to Lucy’s house, to find Lucy’s parent brutally murdered. Dun dun DUN! Remember what Lucy said about escaping crime now? Nicole runs to Kent for help, and explains to him that she is Nicole in Lucy’s body. Kent’s all … right Nicole, you just stay here for a sec. And calls the police. Nicole is pretty pissed that Kent had just become her boyfriend, and betrayed her already. She is striking out on the boyfriend front all over the place today. Some grim police officers show up and she runs for it.

Nicole runs around Shadyside for awhile, which she does a lot in this book, but finally returns to the scene of the crime. Only on the second time does she notice the written confession that Lucy left with the murder weapon. Really, Nicole, you haven’t figured it out yet? You needed a bloody confession to realize you’ve been set up? Anyways, she’s not happy and goes of a rampage trying to find Lucy, that bitch.

She quickly finds her body sitting at Pete’s Pizza with some of Nicole’s friends. Nicole runs in to confront her, but she’s disappeared. Convinced her confused friends are trying to hide Lucy from her, Nicole freaks out and runs away. Her friends run after her, trying to stop her, telling her she needs to stay with them. Nicole’s thought is ‘Hmm, they sure want to keep me away from Lucy’ and tries to run them over.

Nicole is convinced that everyone knows about their body switch because Lucy told them all, so she decides to confront Kent, boyfriend number two, because he wasn’t really surprised about the body switch, so he must have been in on it. She grabs a knife for a little “chat” with Kent, but finds someone’s beaten her to the punch, because Kent has been decapitated. The police came in on her holding the knife over Kent’s body, so Nicole has to flee again. And once again she gets away – who are these incompetent police?

Nicole runs to the Changing Wall for an uncomfortable night’s sleep, and reflects on why Lucy is doing this to her. About how Nicole has always been a good friend to Lucy, even when she was in the horrible car accident and everyone gave up on her, even the doctors. But Nicole never gave up on Lucy, so why is it that everyone in Lucy’s life is being horribly murdered and Nicole is being blamed for it. Hmmm…

The next day Nicole goes to confront some of her friends who seem to know she is really Nicole in Lucy’s body. She hides all day in the girls’ locker room until she can get her friend Margie alone. Margie just stares at Nicole open mouthed, and tells her everything is going to be okay, until someone else comes in and Nicole has to dive back into the closet. It sounds like Margie tells whoever to call the police. Next thing you know, Margie’s been bludgeoned to death. Nicole is all – everyone I talk to is brutally murdered. The only logical explanation is that … Lucy is stalking me and killing these people when my back is turned. Yes, that’s it!

Nicole is must flee again, and this time she goes out into the country, way past Waynesbridge, to Lucy’s Grandma Carla’s farm, because that MUST be where Lucy is hiding, even though she just bludgeoned Margie to death. Grandma Carla greets Nicole as Nicole, which tips her off that even the grandma was in on the body switch. The inept policemen show up – although how? They are hours out of town. Whatever – and Nicole runs out back to hide. There she stumbles onto Lucy, who’s just hanging out back there. Nicole’s all – wtf Lucy, you big murderer. Lucy laughs at her and runs full tilt towards the old well out back. Nicole takes off after her, but is tackled by someone – Kent. His head has mysteriously returned.

Lucy jumps into the well, and my god, I’m having flashbacks to The Ring, the scariest movie I have ever seen. Lucy calls for Nicole to save her as she splashed in the water. Chills. Nicole tries to get to her, but Kent keeps her pinned. Nicole’s all – hey, that’s my body drowning in there, but Kent just keeps on telling her she has to let Lucy die.

Then Lucy climbs back out of the well, and I swear my skin is crawling. Drowned Lucy rips Kent’s head off like Velcro, and Nicole loses it.

Then a car pulls up, and out spill Lucy’s parents, Kent, and Nicole’s parents. Lucy and more recently beheaded Kent have vanished. Then the inept police guys show up, and it turns out they aren’t police at all, but inept mental hospital workers. For those who haven’t guessed it, Nicole has gone crazy, and occasionally believes that she is in fact her best friend she lost in a car accident three years ago. She also suffers from horribly violent hallucinations, such as Velcro beheadings. Her latest incident seems to have been started by her boyfriend breaking up with her, so sucks to be him.

Everything ends with Nicole safely in her treatment center, talking about how she’s doing so much better and doesn’t have any more hallucinations. The reason for this is all the support she’s getting from Lucy, who visits her everyday in the hospital …

I gotta say, give the ghostwriter a hand, because this book did creep me out, as you realize slowly how insane Nicole really is. And extra scary points to ANYTHING that reminds me of The Ring. 23 velcro beheadings out of 25.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sunburn or "Triple Threat Chase Sequence!!"

Sunburn in another one of R.L. Fear Street books that don’t actually take place anywhere near Fear Street. I don’t mind these ones too much, so I guess I read Fear Streets for their awesome stories and plotlines, not because of their location. That’s unsettling to know about myself…

Anyhoo, Sunburn. The cover actually depicts a scene from the book! Good job coverartist! Our main character Claudia is the unconscious body in the water (even though Claudia is described as having RED hair, not this dark-reddy brown) and her friend Marla is there, modeling the Red Speedo suit instead of helping her. Although you can't see it in the picture, I think Marla is also wearing a Qray bracelet? Random! The tagline? “The perfect tan…or the perfect murder.” Wait, what? What are they implying with that? Are these girls tanning themselves to DEATH? How are those two things related? So many questions…

So the gist is Claudia (KISHI?! Is what I thought to myself), Sophie and Joy have been invited to their old camp pal Marla’s summer home for a week to visit. Marla is super rich, Joy is trendy, Sophie is the follower, and Claudia is super dull and bland, therefore she is our main character. Great. The book opens with Claudia waking up disoriented and totally fried in the sun. (Too many tequilas? Hey, it happens!) Turns out her friends buried her in the sand and then Claudia fell asleep and they LEFT her in the fast-approaching tide. She can’t even get out by herself! Yikes! Claudia is conveniently rescued by a handsome boy named Daniel who is “deathly” cold. Hot guys with cold, clammy hands of death? Sign me up! He creepily knows the code to the electrified fence that runs around the house and refuses to tell her how he knows it. Then he mysteriously disappears.

Claudia is rightfully pissed at her friends when they offer her the bullshit excuse of “o we thought you were upstairs.” Shitty way to start off her trip since now Claudia has a disgustingly burnt face. At dinner Claudia tells them about the boy that rescued her, and Marla is all “OMG that’s Ghost Boy that I see around here!” Of course she’s totally pulling everyone's legs but from then on, Claudia refers to Daniel as “Ghost Boy” and wonders if he is real. Because she’s nuts? I’m not too sure on this one. Like Claudia sees a light and a face in the guest house and is like “Is that you Ghost Boy?” He told you his name is Daniel, Claudia, he is REAL. And you should really be concerned on whether or not that’s a prowler!

The next day the girls go down to the beach with a picnic lunch packed by Marla’s MAN SERVENT, Alfred, who by the way, is the only adult supervision these girls have. So the girls have to go through the electrified fence. Which SHOULD be turned off during the day, because well, that’s just good sense, but since this is a Fear Street novel, I bet you can guess what happens… Yeah, Sophie gets electrocuted. But not badly! As she’s up and about in like a minute. I always assumed you’d be down for the count for a little while… Two boys crash their picnic party on the beach even though Marla shouts at them that it’s a PRIVATE beach. Carl and Dean (the boys, duh) are like “Did you buy the ocean, gnuck gnuck gnuck!” Douches. Marla keeps trying to get them to leave, but Joy and Sophie are flirting so they keep making lame jokes. That’s the worst.

We find out that there was an “accident” the summer before hand. Well, they had been mentioning all over the first part of the book, but I just didn’t want to talk about it yet. Apparently Marla’s sister, Alison, died the previous summer at the camp they all went to. And the girls were somehow involved? It’s not explained yet, but Sophie and Joy are starting to suspect that Marla might be a little messed up since then. Maybe she even had alter motives for inviting them up to her deserted, isolated, parent and witness free summer mansion. Gee, you think!?

The girls decide to go to the boardwalk that night to go on some rides. Joy and Sophie run into Carl and Dean of picnic fame and they decided to ride the bumper cars with Marla tagging along to make sure they don’t get invited over to her parents house. Claudia runs into Daniel or as she calls him TO HIS FACE, “Ghost Boy”. He’s all “What did you call me??” They go on the ferris wheel together. He tries to “touch the moon” (lame!) and reaches out of the cart… and falls to his DEATH!

Just kidding, Claudia hallucinated. She actually saw ALISON fall, because that’s how she died. FLASHBACK! Marla, Claudia, Joy and Sophie are playing truth or dare at camp when insufferable Alison comes in, who they all hate, even though she’s Marla’s sister. To make Alison leave, they dare her to cross the camp’s gorge on a log, which they know she won’t do because she’s afraid of heights. She surprisingly says she’ll do it, tonight after lights out. Because that’s the safest time for extreme sports? Marla gets busted sneaking out of the cabin and can’t go watch, but the other three go to the gorge to try and convince Alison not to do it (or egg her on, whatever).

Anyways, Alison goes across but freaks out halfway through and thinks she’s going to fall. The girls are being encouraging, talking her back to safe ground, until they hear their counselor come looking for them. They split. Good choice girls! It’s much better to leave a scared teenager stranded on a log above a gorge than say, get into trouble at CAMP. They might make you do EXTRA DISHES! They’re all like “I swear I heard her right behind me!” which as we all know, is always bullshit. Alison's bloody shirt is found in the gorge but her body never was.

Claudia comes out of her flashback. She’s still on the ferris wheel with Daniel. She kisses him because she’s obviously traumatized by last summers events and what else is a Fear Street girl to do?

Claudia goes home with the girls and is woken up in the middle of the night by screams. Joy’s screams. The girls rush to her room and find that she has three leeches on her arm. Which, yes is gross AND creepy (how did they get there?) but in the grand scheme of things? Three leeches don’t seem that bad! Claudia goes for a drink of water in the kitchen when she sees Daniel standing in the dark. She calls to him, but he melts into the shadows and disappears. She continues to get her water. Wait, WHAT? She thinks her “Ghost Boy” is in her kitchen!? And is so blasé about it!? She mentions the INTRUDER to Alfred and he is also like, Meh, I’ll look into it. WHAT? Then she’s like “Is DANIEL the one that put leeches on Joy?!” No, two intruders broke in on the same night. What a coinky-dink!

Joy is over her terror of having leeches put on her in the night so the girls go waterskiing the next morning. Sophie volunteers to go first, and she is awesome at it! Of course she takes a tumble though, and apparently can’t swim? She flails around the water and keeps getting dunked (is she not wearing her life jacket?!) until the other girls realize she’s caught in the riptide. And wouldn’t you know it, the boat stalls! While Marla is trying to get the boat going so they can save Sophie from the rip tide, Claudia dives into the water without her life jacket on. Good one! Claudia also gets caught in the rip tide and drowns. The End!

Or not. Too bad! Carl and Dean actually show up and pull her out of the water. They’ve already rescued Sophie. They take the girls back to Marla’s dock where they meet with the other girls, whose boat mysteriously started working again… They also see that the water ski rope had been cut so it would snap under pressure. As far as murderous plots go, that seems pretty ineffective. The only reason Sophie was in trouble was because of the riptide, so unless the murderer planned that… ugh I don’t know, who cares.

Joy and Sophie pull Claudia aside to tell her they’re convinced that Marla brought them here to torture them. (Although so far, she’s only really tortured Sophie.) When Claudia asks why Marla would want to torture them, Joy reminds her, “Because Marla must know that Alison’s death wasn’t an accident.” Cue FLASHBACK: Yeah apparently, the girls totally knew that Alison wasn’t behind them when they ran away to safety from their counselor. Because they heard her scream, fall, hit the rocks, then be washed away by the river. Claudia says that they believed what they told Marla so much, that they started to believe it themselves. Okay, so that still makes it an accident. But a WAY more sinister accident! Them girls is bitches!! Claudia’s like “Yeah, Marla is probably going to kill us”

Here comes the most insane part of the book. It’s actually a pretty insane part of any Fear Street book I’ve read so far, so you’re warned. It’s the next day and Claudia is going for a run on the beach. She sees a tall girl that looks like Marla but Claudia doesn’t think too much about it (even though she thinks Marla is out to kill her). Just then, Claudia turns a corner and runs into Marla’s guard dog, an Irish Wolfhound (!!) that’s never allowed out except for at night. So this has turned him into a vicious killing machine! He chases after Claudia while she thinks about how deadly the dog is. He obviously catches up to her very quickly because he’s GIANT and DEADLY, so Claudia dives into the water thinking she can outswim him. Just so you know? You can’t outswim an Irish Wolfhound. They will kill you ANYWHERE.

The dog predictably catches up with Claudia and tries to bite off her foot. She manages to shake him free, only to see … wait for it… wait for it… A SHARK. YES, a Fear Street character is finally getting attacked by a shark! She realizes that it’s probably attracted to her bloody foot and tries to swim with as little movement so to not attract it further. Um, doesn’t this slow her down and let the dog catch up and eat her? No? Okay. Well Claudia doesn’t have to worry about the dog for long, since it’s soon eaten by the shark! Yikes! Claudia thinks a lot about the deadly efficiency of sharks and how she will soon be eaten. But she’s not because …

She gets caught in the rip current! It swooshes her away from the shark and the half-eaten hunks of dog to safety. Until Claudia realizes that she can’t see the shore, doesn’t know where to swim and can’t swim anymore. She passes out. In the water? How does she not drown!? Arrrgh, this book is so stupid!

Claudia wakes up on the beach with Killer Marla shaking her awake. Luckily Claudia just drifted to shore while she was passed out. Sure, that happens. They go up to the house where Claudia tries to get the other girls to leave right away. Their awesome plan? Ask Marla for a ride to the bus. YEAH. I know. Marla told them to meet in the gazebo for dinner, so the three girls go outside in the pouring rain to get to the gazebo. They pass by a shed, which apparently smells like rotting eggs and decaying meat, so they decide to investigate. (I never do this. If something smells bad, I NEVER investigate further!) Anyways, they open the shed… and out falls Marla’s dead body! So who’s the killer?

Well, it’s still Marla. Kinda. The girl they’ve been hanging out with for the past week is actually Alison, not Marla. When she fell into the gorge last summer, Alison apparently saw Marla peek her head out the woods and smile. So when she survived her fall, she took the opportunity to escape her family by faking amnesia and living with the family that pulled her out of the river (sidenote: was there no news story about Alison? Did no one look for her body? Did she really float that far away then? And: who is this family in the woods that adopts girls they find in the river with amnesia without taking them to the hospital?! There are a lot of unanswered questions here.) Okay so Alison confesses to killing Marla a week ago and pulls out a gun to kill the other girls. Duh duh duuuuuuh!

Alison somehow is taken down by Daniel, doing the slow walk of confidence towards her. Like he just walks silently towards her. I guess it made her really jittery? Even though she had a gun and could have SHOT him. He tackles her, but she gets away. The power goes off, so Alison thinks she can escape the electrified fence of DEATH, but it goes on right as she grabs the handle. Zoinks! She’s electrocuted to death, even though the shock didn’t even hurt Sophie before. O well! The book ends with Daniel telling Claudia that he’s Alfred’s son who staying in the guest house secretly over the summer, so that’s why he’s been so sneaky (and also creeping around the house at night). They share a kiss over top the smoking dead body of Alison. Of course they do.

This book made more sense than those damn Cataluna chronicles, but not by much. It was infinitely more awesome however due to the Triple Threat Chases Scene of Dog-Shark-Rip-Current Extreme Madness though!! Am I too excited about that? 7 Irish Wolfhounds out of 10 Man Eating Sharks. Success!

The Cataluna Chronicles: The Deadly Fire, or “Back to the Past”

There have been some posts that the Cataluna series is so weird, it’s wonderful. I’m really trying to look at the final book from that perspective. But then R. L. did something awful. He made it about CAR RACING. I am not a fan of car racing, or cars really. But … since it is a book about a possessed time traveling car, it was only a matter of time before car speak got involved.

We begin the final book in the series knowing that the spirit of Catherine possesses the beautiful Cataluna car, and the spirit of William possesses … something else, we don’t know yet. And each of their’s favourite desire is to destroy one another. One great thing about this book (from the blogger’s perspective, anyways) is it does not swing back and forth between the past and the present. Way less confusing. It’s all present, baby! But does it contain a prologue where the car kills/maims some naughty teens? Yes it does – in this case, some joyriders are forced to listen to loud until their eardrums shatter and their heads spurt blood. Now, I’m no doctor, and I don’t think that’s what happens … you know what? I like the graphic, so never mind.

Buddy is our hero of the piece. He is a McCloy – a family of race car drivers. They are all men, and they are all tough. The big news of the day is that Buddy’s older brother Stan was going to race the Doom Car – a beautiful car with a bad reputation. You guessed it, the Cataluna. They talk about cars way too long, stuff like ‘dog-blunting’ the engine (although even the book admits this is a made up word). Kinda boring, so I’ll talk about Buddy’s girlfriend Sara. Buddy lo-o-ves Sara, and Sara lo-o-ves cars, a passion you might notice I don’t share with her. They really turn her on. While she gets wet over the Cataluna, Buddy is worried about his brother racing it – it gives him the heebie-jeebies. As it should. Stan’s racing fine until the steering wheel locks up and, to the sound of a woman’s laughter, he crashes through the barriers, the bleachers filled with people, and into a power station. Stan doesn’t make it.

Buddy gets all depressed by his brother dying, like, less than a week ago, and Sara gets bored of him and starts to move on. Aww, teen love is so sweet. Buddy starts to get obsessed with the evil car, and his new beautiful neighbour, Marisol. Marisol also really likes the car and wants to go for a spin, and even though the car killed his brother A WEEK AGO, Buddy’s into it. Then his friend show up and shove him into their car, so his date plans are out.

They go to a party at Gary’s house. It’s ‘supercool’ because Gary had put TVs all over his basement, each of them playing a different movie on mute. I guess that would be avant garde if I was a teen 15 years ago … oh wait.

So Sara is there, all over a pale guy with a ponytail and a long black jacket. Even though he is supposedly blond, I just picture him as Christian Slater from the nineties. I’m in a nostalgic sort of mood, I guess. The new guy’s name is “Will”. As in William Parker? Tricky, R. L., but I think I’ve broken your clever code. This book flashes to what the Cataluna is thinking, and she is thinking the same thing. “Will, hey? Bet that’s short for William. We’ll see how this race goes.” If she had a mustache, she’d twirl it. But she doesn’t – she’s a car.

Upon meeting each other, Will and Buddy immediately whip out their dicks and decide to race cars. Sara is SO into this – whoever wins the race wins HER! Thanks for setting feminism back 40 years, Sara, you big whore. The next night is the night of the big race, and Buddy sneaks out of the house, stealing the Cataluna. They’re going to race “Racer’s Lane”, where all the “jammers” test on another. I don’t even know what that means. It’s by the old mill, where police never patrol, because there’s only an old mill around. As an aside, don’t an AWFUL lot of murders happen at the old mill in Shadyside? Just saying, police …

They start racing and Buddy is almost goaded into killing Will by the talking car. But then the police show up. Oh noes! Maybe they heard my comment about patrolling areas with high murder rates. Buddy gets caught, but the police are cool with the McCloys and let him go with a warning because his brother died a week ago. The race is postponed, and Buddy starts dating Marisol. They go on a donut date (yummm … the things we could do when we were 16), when Buddy catches Sara eating pizza with Will, popping pepperoni into his mouth. The harlot. Buddy loses it and puts his hand through the window. You can never go wrong with a girl when you do this, by the way. Marisol takes off, and Sara is mad he was with another girl. You know, I’m always going on about the crappy boyfriends in Shadyside, but the girls are just as bad.

Buddy tries to leave the next night, but his other brother Sean tries to stop him. Until Buddy beats him to a bloody pulp, that is. Then the Cataluna is all his. The car makes him even more crazy, and he heads to the big race. First person he runs into is, unexpectedly, Marisol. She is REALLY worried about Buddy and doesn’t want him in the car. He blows her off. Will then gets this awesome idea that they should flip a coin to see who gets to drive who’s car. Is this normal in car racing? Anyways, surprise surprise, “Will” gets to drive the Cataluna. The car is super pumped she has the chance to kill Will.

Now for the totally unexpected twist – “Will” is not a clever alias for William Parker, but rather just another asshole boy wanting to go real fast. Too bad for him, the car doesn’t know this. Or believe his protests of innocence. The Cataluna crashes on purpose, and the car Buddy is driving flips and explodes. Buddy is thrown before the explosion so he gets away. The unfortunately named Will does not make it. Buddy’s all “I won cause you’re dead!” Sick. Sara starts making out with him because she’s a PERVERT, and they make up over Will’s dead body. Young love.

Marisol comes running at them, and Buddy’s all ‘sorry honey’ but she never wanted him to begin with. She wanted the Cataluna all along because MARISOL IS WILLIAM. No jokes. Going to the future and dying in a car crash turned William into a girl. Even for Fear Street, that’s implausible. I mean, there’s some kind of sense in possessing the car in which you died, am I right? But just … transforming into a girl, I don’t buy it. Anyways, William and Catherine go for the final showdown. She speeds up to crash him, which works just fine for him/her. William knows the secrets of the Cataluna that Catherine doesn’t. The night he skinned her mother, he took the note left to her that explained it all.

They speed up to 100 mph, then William throws it into reverse. They disappear. And I just had a flashback to Back to the Future! No, this book is nothing like it, but with the car, and the time travel, it must be my nostalgia talking. I really want to watch Michael J. Fox right now. Anyways, they go BACK to the PAST, where William is William again, and Catherine is a girl.

They once again battle. Catherine turns herself into a fierce rat, and is immediately caught by William and put in a cage. William takes an axe to the Cataluna and destroys it. K, here comes the trippy part. By destroying the car from the future in the past, Catherine’s mother from the future was never able to use the time traveling to come to the past, and therefore neither Catherine nor her mother existed in 1698. Make sense yet? Sigh. Christopher Pike does trippy existentialism so much better.

Catherine disagrees with William’s philosophy, so she escapes from her cage and turns into a fearsome … bat and bites William’s neck. Very vampiric Catherine, but you know what else would work? A bear. Be a bear and hit him really hard, okay? William tried to ignore the horrific pain from his little bite and slices the axles of the car into two. Then he dramatically dies from a bat bite, the big baby.

Apparently, the axle of the car is like it’s ‘heart’ or something, because stuff starts pouring out of the car like it’s dying. It’s the ghosts of all the people Catherine killed. They tear her apart.

AND … William wakes up to find his brother and father looking for him. Mother just had her baby. It was all a dream. Or was it? Will’s new baby sister has a mark on her forehead – a crescent moon!

Okay, I’ll admit that some of the weirdness in this book did make it wonderful. And points for reminding me of Back to the Future. But points OFF for shameless Sara’s trampy behaviour, and for the use of unexplained time traveling existentialism when we all know Fear Street isn’t up to the challenge. I give it 9 axle hearts out of 15. What do you think – so bad it’s good? Or just plain bad?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's all thanks to you guys!

L.K. and I are just at Shadyside Headquarters popping open some champagne in celebration of reaching 10 000 blog views! We just wanted to say thank you to all our loyal readers! When we started our blog wayyyy back in June, we were really just writing for each other, so it's really unexpected that people actually LIKE us! So yay for you guys! We love you! Even good old R.L. looks happy for us :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Babysitter III or "Return of Fashion Crimes!"

I think that since my one paragraph review of The Babysitter II went over well, I’ll just do the same thing for The Babysitter III. Because these books are so G-D boring! Can you believe there are four of them?? Thank GOD I only have one more to read. You guys owe me. (Just kidding, please continue to read. I love you!)

The cover for this book is at least a little bit titillating… a creepy hand reaching to turn off the light which is obviously already off. However, since this is the most interesting thing about the book, and that scene doesn’t even HAPPEN… then it’s safe to say I was a little bit disappointed. Except for the end. The end was satisfying. You’ll see…

Alright. Jenny and her mom decide its best for her to go to her cousin’s house for the summer since she still can’t get over almost being murdered by Mr. Hagen in the first book. (Side note: she apparently doesn’t care that she was almost killed by her shrink’s receptionist in the last book. She just glosses over that completely. WTF?) Her cousin Debra has a babysitting job and when she’s there alone, she starts getting the creepy Mr. Hagen calls that Jenny got two summers ago! At first she thinks it’s some guy that she had been prank calling, and then she thinks it’s her ex-boyfriend who dumped her after he found out about said prank calls, and then she thinks it’s Jenny’s boyfriend Cal who ran away from home. It all comes to a climax when the baby Debra is sitting for gets stolen, Cal shows up to see Jenny and Jenny is apparently abducted! I say apparently because it turns out that Jenny snapped, thinks she’s Mr. Hagen and took the baby in replacement of the baby that “he” lost many years ago. She’s quickly overtaken by the police because, well, she’s a teenage girl, holding a baby, on a horse, in the middle of a lightening storm. It was a weird final showdown. The book ends with Cal comforting Debra by telling her not to blame herself; he spent a lot of time with Jenny too and didn’t notice her descent into madness! Hmmm… you’re right Cal. It’s kinda… your fault!

So it was awesome that Jenny ended up being the baby-kidnapper/prank caller. That was pretty rad, and almost unexpected! Besides that, the book was so bad. Not AWE-some bad, just kinda shitty. I wonder if The Babysitter IV is about Jenny or Debra. Debra was at least more interesting, she was always prank callin’ boys. Ahhh, the days before *69 and caller ID. Twenty repressed memories of murderous receptionists out of forty one!

Now that THAT’S out of the way… lets talk 90s fashion. For some reason, these non-Fear Street books are filled with descriptive gems!

1. Jenny’s friend Rick wears faded jeans, torn at both knees, and a red and black t-shirt saying METAL MANIACS. I wonder if he also had long, permed hair?
2. Debra’s mom is apparently short, with a boyish body and a close cropped hair. So a pixie? She wears “a blue lycra tank top over black leggings”. Deee lighful! Who doesn’t love Mom camel-toe in the morning?
3. This description seems overly negative: "She was short and very fat. She wore an enormous, flower patterned wraparound skirt and a bright yellow sweater. Her face was heavily made up, with heavy black eyebrows painted above her dark eyes and thick, red lipstick smeared over her mouth." We get it. She's gross. BTW this character was homeless, which I think is a first for R.L. Glad to see he handled it so nicely.
4. This is a guy that Jenny has a crush on: "He had thick, golden eyebrows that looked like big caterpillars under his cowboy hat. His eyes were steely gray, narrow and close together. He had a great smile, with two front teeth that jutted out at odd angles." WTF Jenny? (For the Canadians: To get that picture of Harper, I typed in "inbred cowboy" into Google Images. Heh!)
5. Another mention of a Simpson's T-shirt! R.L. was so in touch with kids of the 90s!
6. There's talk of oversized men's shirts with black leggings. How could there not be?
7. Last but not least, Cal shows up to wear the HELL outta some denim. Black denim jacket over ripped blue jeans? Bad to the bone.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Cataluna Chronicles: The Dark Secret, or “Why Not a Time Traveling Car?”

So, the second book in the Cataluna series, and happily, we get all the answers we are looking for re: time traveling car. Right? Just kidding. This book is SO effed up, I put it down when I was done and just stared at it suspiciously for awhile, eyes narrowed, wondering what the fuck just happened. So I’m writing this for you, but please keep in mind I remain as confused as you.

Once again, this book is divided between the past, and the much more recent past (1995). This time we follow William through the early Americas, on his journey of revenge against Bad Luck Catherine. Once again, a prologue where some teenager is having a wet dream over this car. His parents bought him a Cataluna for his birthday, and this kid just wants to fix an oil leak. When he tried to do so, the car spurts boiling oil, melting his face off. Whatever the fuck this car is, that was unnecessary.

West Hampshire Colony, 1698

William is tracking Catherine along her trail of destruction, because apparently wherever she goes, fields are struck by famine, livestock mysteriously die, and people end up as piles of corpses. I don’t know why, that’s just how it is. William is attacked by a black snake and he tries to throttle it to death (the most effective way to kill a snake?) The snake bites him and turns into Catherine, and she runs away laughing. William overcomes his fatal bite wounds by the power of his vengeance, and vows to destroy Catherine even more. In case you were wondering: yes, that entire part had zero point.

Shadyside ‘95

We go to our ‘modern’ day story, about two stepsisters – Lauren and Regina. Uh-oh, I’ve read about stepsisters before, I bet this doesn’t end well. Regina is pretty, popular, and has a badass boyfriend Justin – who looks like Christian Slater! Sadly, I remember a time when I wanted a boyfriend who looked like Christian Slater, I feel pretty aged right now. Justin is mean to their dog, so I think he’s a douche, and a good potential victim for car evil-ry. Lauren is the ‘ordinary’ looking one, probably because her hair isn’t red. Or, would being brunette actually make you a minority in Shadyside? Anyways, Laur doesn’t care about her appearance, doesn’t wear makeup, and is probably dumpy as well. No doubt she will be killed off, we can’t have ordinary girls running around, can we?

The girls are given a car for their birthday, a sporty white car that no one has ever heard about it. Every time Regina gets behind the wheel, she goes nuts and almost runs over children and stuff on purpose. The Regina gets all surly and bitchy and Lauren has no clue what’s going on with her. It’s like she’s been possessed … by a teenage girl with PMS. Let’s not overreact, Lauren.

West Hampshire Colony, 1698

William is found starving and dying from snake venom by a beautiful girl, Evie. Evie takes him home and nurses him back to health. Will is accepted by her father, who wants him to stay on and help him with his farm. But things aren’t quite that easy for William – despite his love for Evie and the happiness he’s found at the homestead, dangers abound: recently, all of the crops and livestock have died, for no apparent reason. Evie’s cousin Jessica is a quiet mysterious girl who always wears a floppy bonnet and glares a lot, and their black cat has weird human eyes and keeps on trying to suffocate William when he sleeps. Hmm … Evie keeps on forgiving Will when he periodically tries to kill her cat, but her forgiveness runs out when he “accidentally” chops off her father’s hand while cutting wood. According to Will, he is possessed by some power that takes over his actions. Oops! Now Will is on the run from some angry townspeople who appear out of nowhere and try to hand him. How does it feel, William?

Shadyside ‘95

Regina has become even more surly since she was grounded for sneaking out with her boyfriend. She’s locked herself in her room and appears alternately angry or haunted. So she’s really boring, let’s look at Lauren. Lauren is behaving much less boring. Like when Justin hides in her car and then jumps her (like a creepy RAPIST), she makes out with him. Because who can resist that? Very naughty, Lauren. But then Lauren starts to find blood on the fender of the Cataluna, and there is a spree of pedestrian fatalities caused by hit-and-runs. Lauren realizes Regina is the hit-and-run driver because she’s all spookily possessed by the car, and Lauren tries to be a good stepsister and hides the evidence. She gets the creepy feeling she’s being followed, though. By creepy rapists, maybe? It’s likely.

Finally, enough is enough, Lauren confronts Regina, demands they go for a drive to talk. Lauren lets Regina drive, which is pretty risky considering she thinks Regina is possessed and killing people with her car. Regina drives crazy through the woods, then they jump out of the car. Lauren accuses her of being the hit-and-run driver. Regina’s all: no, psycho bitch, you’re the hit and run driver.

West Hampshire Colony, 1698

William is fleeing from angry townspeople, when he’s found by a musket-wielding Evie. She forgives him for chopping off her father’s hand, and just wants him to come home and kill her cousin Jessica. All their bad luck started when Jess showed up, and she has a mysterious crescent-shaped red birthmark on her forehead. William rushes off to kill Jessica, after making out with Evie a little bit. We leave him standing in the moonlight, knife raised over Jessica’s sleeping figure. Oh, the drama!

Shadyside ‘95

Lauren conveniently “remembers” that she is in fact the hit and run driver, and has been suffering psychotic blackouts. Lauren jumps behind the wheel and tries to mow down Regina, who is right in front of the car, and yet somehow magically misses her. Then the car drives into Fear Lake, and Lauren is stuck to drown.

But Regina dives in after her and saves her, then the car is pulled out of the lake without a scratch on it. Lauren’s all: no, bitches, leave it in, but it’s clear from their shushing noises she’s about to be put away. One more victim of the Cataluna.

West Hampshire Colony, 1698

William stabs Jessica in the heart while she’s sleeping, and he starts laughing crazy that he defeated Catherine. But then, he couldn’t find the moon birthmark. Oops. Turns out Evie is actually Catherine, and she goaded William into killing an innocent girl. She had been covering her birthmark with flour and water. Did he not notice the lumpy clump of white on her face while making out with her.

William and Catherine get into a chase, and hold on to your seats, because this is where it starts to get weird. They stumble across the random white car in the 17th century. Has it been following them? The car talks to Catherine with her mother’s voice, telling her it is a machine from the future. Dear lord, it is a time traveling car! Apparently the witch went back in time when she discovered she was pregnant, because she felt it would be better to raise a child in the 17th century. Apparently there was a man who would hurt her. She could think of no better place to hide that early colonial America? Whatever. The car tells Catherine to get in, and William jumps in through an open window of the “metal dragon”. They travel into the future, and immediately get into a car accident, killing them both instantly. Good plan. William reveals in the epilogue that both their spirits survived. Catherine became the car (haha – I was right!) and Will’s still kicking around, although his identity remains a secret. I imagine that will be the big reveal in the last book!

Whatever. This book was fucked, with no redeeming qualities or scariness. And yet – I still really want to know how it ends. I hate it when crappy books pull you in so you HAVE to know the ending, no matter how poorly written. I give this 1 flour covered birthmark out of 12.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Boy Next Door or "Watch out girls! If you wear mini-skirts, someone just might kill you!"

The Boy Next Door. This is my next pick now that I’ve found time to fit in some Fear Street! The Boy Next Door is all about a new boy that comes to town, and turns out to be a psychotic killer, punishing “bad” girls who dress sexy and so on. Wait a minute… haven’t I read this before? O YEAH, it’s the EXACT same premise as First Date! WTF?

The cover is good, if only for the awesome five o’clock shadow that Scott, our murderous villain is sporting. Like, he’s supposed to be 17? The whole time reading this, I thought the big surprise at the end would be that he’s actually an unemployed 35 year old. 17 year old Scott is watching Crystal through her window (one of HER “bad” behaviors he wants to punish might I add) and while Crystal is described as dressed “sexy” throughout the book… I can’t say that flannel shirt is doing anything for her. I guess that was sexy back in 1996? Wasn’t grunge over? It’s almost like the cover artist didn’t read the book… OR the person who wrote the summary on the back! Since they call Crystal’s best friend Lauren, when her name is Lynne in the book. That’s not even that close. FAIL! The tagline: They were flirting – with death! I like!

The book starts out with Scott at the funeral of his girlfriend. We think at first that he’s really broken up about her accident (diving headfirst into an empty pool) until he confesses that he’s sad that she MADE him kill her. By wearing make up and mini skirts. YEAH, it’s safe to assume Scott has some Mommy issues. We jump to Crystal’s view where she’s trying on RED lipstick (warning!) and watching her new smokin’ hot neighbour move in. Guess who!

Scott has become a big deal around their school, with all the girls falling in love with him. Crystal and her best friend LYNNE are first in line! Crystal’s shy, dorky sister Mel also likes Scott. Crystal gives Mel a hard time about not caring about her appearance by telling her to at least trim her nails. Mel is all defensive. Okay, I’m all for girls not needing to wear makeup or dressing in things that make them uncomfortable… but seriously? Nail trimming is just hygenic. And necessary. Bleeeeeech. The girls decide that no matter who goes out with Scott first, the other two will be happy about it. Yeah, that’s not gonna work.

Crystal sees that a magazine was mistakenly delivered to her house instead of Scotts. She nearly pees herself out of excitement. She can go visit Scott now!

Cut to Scott’s viewpoint. He’s dreaming that he’s trimming the hedges. Yawn! But now… he’s dreaming that he’s taking the hedge trimmers and cutting off the head of the dog that belongs to the girl down the street the made kissy faces at him. Wow, that’s pretty extreme. Scott wakes up from his dream and realizes… yeah, it wasn’t a dream. He just murdered this dog in his backyard. He’s all “O well! I should really bury this right now so I have time to finish the hedges for Mom and Pop!” I guess… good on his commitment to yardwork? At least we didn’t get attached to this dog before it’s inevitable murder.

Crystal goes over to Scotts house but her fat friend Jake is already there hanging out. Seriously, all they talk about with this guy is how much he likes to eat and how fat he is. Real nice, guys. Soon Lynne shows up to this little shindig, supposedly looking for Jake. Scott kicks them all out so he can do homework (or bury the murdered dog, whatever) and Jake carries Lynne out the door. Crystal almost kisses Scott, but chickens out. Which is AWESOME for her, since he wasn’t really into it. “If she’d kissed me, I’d have to do something to show her how bad she is.” Which I’m guessing includes maiming and murder.

A few days later the whole gang ends up at Scott’s house and he kicks them out AGAIN (take a hint, Shadyside kids). Lynne conveniently “forgets” her backpack inside and has to run back in alone to get it. I thought for sure she just wasn’t coming back out, and Scott would have to explain her disappearance. But no, she comes back out looking triumphant, and Crystal knows immediately that she kissed Scott. I’m guessing she wouldn’t look so triumphant if she knew what he was thinking: “I scrubbed my lips – hard. But I couldn’t wash away the taste of her. It’s like a fungus, I thought. Something slimy growing on me.” Scott decides to kill Lynne. Makes perfect sense to me!

He drives to her house later that night and breaks in. He calmly waits for her in the kitchen like the total psycho he is. Even though Scott BROKE IN to her home and creepy waited to be noticed by Lynne, she’s still all twitterpatted that Scott came over. She offers him milk (the drink of LOVE), but he wants to take her for a ride up to the big cliff over the river. Except he didn’t bring his car. Not weird, Scott. Lynne tells Scott that she’s been to the cliff a bunch of times but “not with anyone as cute as you!” Ohhh, Lynne, that is NOT going to help your case with Scott.

They take Lynne’s car at park at the cliff. After Lynne comes on to him a few more times, Scott decides its time to end it. He grabs a fistful of hair and gets ready to slam her head into the dashboard! (This seems like a pretty inefficient and messy way to kill someone. Just… think about it for next time, Scott) His terrible murder plot is interrupted though, by someone asking for directions. Really? Someone is on top of a cliff, by a river, asking for directions? You know that is a pervy old man, who gets his rocks off watching the teenagers make out in their cars! Scott knows that he can’t kill Lynne now, because the man might link him to it. Gosh darn it!

Lynne has apparently gone nuts waiting weeks for Scott to call. After their disastrous date on the cliff? I think I’d get over it pretty quick if some guy started to tear out my hair. Crystal tries to cheer up Lynne by prank calling Scott’s house! This will end poorly. And it totally does! Lynne tries to get in on the action, but Scott busts her by recognizing her voice. After Scott puts down the phone, we meet his mom. And now we know where he gets it from! She tells Scott that girl doesn’t know how to behave and yells at him for scratching her dinner wear with his fork. Scott is all “This is Lynne’s fault that Mommy Dearest is mad at me! Now she REALLY needs to die!” No over reaction in this house! I wonder if his mom knows that he kills his girlfriends and is all for it. I wouldn’t put it past her.

Crystal is worried about Lynne, so decides to visit her house late at night after Lynne won’t pick up the phone. She finds a suicide note including the words “no way to behave” and then finds Lynne in the garage with the car on. Hmmm I wonder if she really did commit suicide! No, that would be way too deep for R.L. to deal with. He must be putting it in as a convenient, murderous plot device. Nice!

After Lynne’s funeral, Crystal’s sister has stepped up to the plate and tries to help Crystal deal with it. Which I think it really cute! Sister love! Melinda tries to get Crystal to do stuff with her, or go see her old friends like Fat Jake. Crystal isn’t really feeling it. She gets a call from Scott and feels their “old connection”. Oooo Crystal, you REALLY don’t want to feel that. He surprises Crystal by asking to speak to Melinda and then asking Melinda to a party! Scott digs Melinda because she wears potato sacks for dresses or something like that. Crystal gets on board for Melinda and gets her to wear a mini skirt and put on makeup! This will end poorly.

Scott’s at the party and thinking about how disgusting all the teenagers are. Slow down there, Grandpa! Don’t want to get an ulcer. God I hate Scott. For once I hate the murderer more than I hate the victims! Bravo, R.L. Scott sees Melinda walk up in a risk-AY outfit with makeup on so he punches her in the face. I KNOW! Except that didn’t really happen. He thought she was wearing a “bad” outfit but she wasn’t and he thought he punched her in the face, but he punched through the screen door instead. Well, at least he didn’t just punch her when she was wearing her baggy, floor length khaki skirt. Now THAT would be embarrassing!

So Scott asked Melinda out on a date for the next Saturday night, and Crystal is chasing her around the house, trying to put makeup on her. Is she TRYING to get Melinda killed? Well, maybe. That would be a pretty good twist. Screw Sister Love! Scott is SUPER pissed when he sees blush on her face. He almost throws her out of a moving car as punishment, but decides to give her one more chance. Melinda notices the change is Scott but thinks it’s because of how dowdy she dresses. So she decides to let Crystal give her a make over. This is probably a mistake.

Melinda and Crystal now look almost identical after the makeover! Weird! I’m sure this won’t come up later in the book. Everyone is all over Melinda at school. Except for Scott, who weirdly keeps avoiding her… Then Crystal catches him punching the hell out of his locker. She gets a little weirded out by this. Especially since he’s muttering “No way to behave” while he’s doing it. This sounds a little familiar to Crystal, but she can’t place it…(Pssst… Lynne’s fake suicide note…)

Scott sticks to his word and gives Melinda one last chance. Unfortunately for her, she’s still on her new kick of dressing like Crystal, and Scott can hardly contain his disgust. I’m betting this was an awkward meal. On the way home, Melinda confesses that Crystal has been helping her dress differently to get Scott’s attention. Scott thinks: “Great! Now I can kill Crystal and keep Melinda in her ugly clothes. Success!” To Melinda he really just says that he liked Melinda the way she was before and she shouldn’t have changed. Awww. Psycho love is so cute.

Meanwhile, Crystal has figured out where “no way to behave” came from. Lynne’s note! Coupled with Scott’s violent behaviour, Crystal is convinced something is wrong with him. She needs to protect Melinda. However, Melinda took Scott’s words to heart, and thinks that Crystal has been sabotaging her! She and Crystal get into a big fight at when Melinda gets returned home, safe and sound from her psycho date. Crystal is trying to convince Melinda that something is wrong with Scott, and Melinda thinks Crystal is just trying to break them apart.

From her room, Crystal sees Scott cross his backyard towards her house with a giant knife in hand. She’s all “Don’t open the door!” but of course Melinda opens it. Scott pushes past Melinda (assuring her that he won’t hurt her) and rushes towards Crystal, knife raised. To protect her sister (awww) Melinda screams “That’s not Crystal, that’s Melinda!” Since they’re both in their bathrobes with wet hair, apparently they look even more identical! Sister Switch! Scott confusedly runs at Melinda and Crystal smashes a vase on his head. This only knocks him down for a second, so the girls take this chance to run UPSTAIRS and hide. NO! Wrong way! GOD! They hide in the attic, and Scott easily finds them, because it’s an ENCLOSED space with NO WHERE to go. UGH!

Luckily for the girls, Scott steps in a weak spot of the attic floor and falls through. Well, that was lucky, since these girls are totally useless. They go down to check on him. He’s laying face down, with an obviously broken arm. So they assume he’s dead. What? WHY? Do Shadyside kids die from broken arms? Predictably, he’s not dead and grabs Crystal’s ankle. It’s okay though, he just says “Good always triumphs. Evil never wins.” And then a wave of blood rushes out of his mouth and he goes still. Presumably dead from his broken arm.

The books ends with the girls being close friends. They discuss how Scott is in a mental insitution and his parents moved away. Wait, what about his fatal broken arm?! Melinda is still dressing cool like Crystal, but with a little bit less makeup. I’m glad about this change though. I was worried Melinda would be all “I was almost killed because I dressed provocatively. I enjoy victim blaming!” Well good for Melinda, dressing cool, but still being true to herself. Yeah! Except that’s kinda ruined when the girls see their new hot neighbour move in and immediately start fighting over him. That’s almost worse than when the heroine and her abusive boyfriend kiss over a dead body at the end of the book. The moral is: Boys are more important than family, or anything else for that matter.

This book was good, but SO similar to First Date. I guess they were written a few years apart? Nah, that doesn’t even excuse it. R.L. got lazy! I give this book: Four Sister Switches out of Seven. Passable.