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.


Chad Walters said...

My favorite Fear Street ever. I haven't read all of them or even most of them, but I can't imagine any one topping this one. And if there IS one that's better than this one, I want to know what it is.

A. M. Stine said...

So true! This seems to be everyone's favorite Fear Street book. I am however particularly inclined to "The Face" (review upcoming!) but that's for ... personal reasons so I don't expect others to love it the way I do.

Anonymous said...

Simply awesome. The level of screwiness in here is perfect.

LAK said...

This seems to be everyone's favourite Fear Street, so I am a little upset I never read it myself when I was younger. It does sound really good, and I like that plot twists that aren't horribly silly.

Too bad the other Fear Streets aren't at this level :(

zanne said...

I have to agree, this book is awesome!

Broken1again said...

I agree too, this book was awesome!! I dont remember reading it when I was younger so I was def surprised at the ending!

Jude Deluca said...

I actually got a sketch of Nicole and Lucy at last year's New York Comic Convention. Submitted for your approval:

RecallerReminder said...

This is for me one of the weirdest of the series. Too far from the uusal style but still pretty good since was one of the craziest twists. Nice!