Tuesday, February 24, 2009

High Tide, or “Lone Water Scooter to the Rescue”

High Tide is among one of the most requested Fear Streets, so I’m pretty excited that I was able to get my hands on this. And I can see why there’s so much love behind this book. Can we please discuss this cover? The guy (presumably leading man Adam Malfitano) looks in fact like a leading man. Look at the artfully dishevelled hair and brooding sneer on him. He looks like an actor, but I can’t quite put my finger on who ... Christian Bale, maybe? Generic blonde girl behind him looks like Reese Witherspoon, at the age of twelve. I’m a bit worried about the pre-teen hanging all over the thirty year old pecs in front of her, what would her mother think? Random brunette in the background is clearly having the time of her life, waving to her friends while playing in the ocean. If this wasn't a Super Chiller, I might think this was going to be a fun beach romp. But wait: “A lifeguard’s job can be murder ...” What? If you are a lifeguard, and murder comes up often, or even at all, then I think you read the manual wrong. I have friends who are lifeguards, and unless they’ve been holding something back from me, at no point did they confess the dark underworld of sunning themselves on beaches. Maybe it’s just me. This cover got me totally pumped to read the book.

And right away, totally not disappointed. All the characters are in COLLEGE, living with roommates. Omg, this is totally a grown up book! Do you think someone’s going to get to second base? Well, no, R.L. doesn’t like to go there (in books, I mean. I don’t know R. L.’s actual proclivities)

(except his hot dry lip fetish)

(and he really seems to find catsuits sexy)

Anyways, it starts with Adam’s nightmare. He’s driving his girlfriend Mitzi (Mitzi?) around on his water scooter (water scooter?), and they’re having the time of their fresh young lives. Until Mitzi gets tossed off the back after flying over some exceptionally large waves, and Adam proceeds to run over her with his scooter. Then he tries to leap into the water for her, but the scooter has gone insane and keeps on trying to run him over again and again, slicing off all his limbs in the process.

Sounds like a terrible nightmare. But when Adam wakes up, we realize most of it actually happened, so that sucks. Adam killed his girlfriend last summer while working as a lifeguard at Logan Beach, and decided the next summer that he should come back and do the same job, despite the fact he clearly sucks at it. He’s even living with the same roommate, Ian. The only thing that didn’t happen is he didn’t lose his limbs. Only as he wakes up he looks down to see that his legs actually are gone. Adam starts screaming ...

Fade to Adam’s therapy session with Dr. Thall, talking about he keeps on thinking he’s losing his limbs. His legs are still attached. Dr. Thall a psychologist who is involved with some pretty controversial methods to help his patients be less crazy. Thall thinks Adam is repressing something about his memories of Mitzi’s death, and wants to get to the root of the problem. Adam’s all in, and is willing to try anything to stop the nightmares.

Next we meet Adam’s lifeguarding partner, Sean, who is a complete asshole. He is openly abusive and stalkerish, so an ideal man in Fear Street language. Oh, for those who were wondering the connection to Shadyside, Adam graduated from Shadyside High the year before. He survived but the Fear Street curse followed him to Logan Beach. Anyways, Sean is a douche, and super possessive of his sorta girlfriend Alyce, who also thinks he’s a douche. Sean greets Adam, them tells him a story about how he beat the shit out of some dude in high school who went out with his girl. Oh, swoon. Sean is warning Adam away from Alyce, and Adam thinks Sean might benefit from some psychotherapy of his own.

Adam’s girlfriend Leslie calls him that night, wanting to go out, but Adam blows her off because he has another date. He just tells her he’s not feeling that well. Sketchy, Adam. He goes off on his mystery date, but everyone is fairly certain the mystery date is Alyce. Adam surely is walking a fine line. Flash to Sean, going to pick Alyce up. Alyce isn’t there, and Sean loses it, determined to search all of Logan Beach to beat the crap out of whoever she’s with. Sean – chill. Stop dating ho-bags, and you’ll be fine. Sean goes to the movies and sees Alyce with – HIM! They never say who, but Sean feels betrayed by someone he thought was a friend, so it must be Adam, right? He loses the couple, but runs into Leslie, who’s sad because Adam isn’t where he’s supposed to be either. Sean is so overcome with rage he beats a boy to unconsciousness. Yikes.

Next day at the beach, Sean sees Adam chatting with two girls, and nearly goes apoplectic again. So, it must be Adam sneaking around with Alyce, right? We switch back to Adam’s viewpoint, and the two girls are Joy and Raina, two girls he went to Shadyside High with and graduated together. They now roommate together at Duke. They’re just stopping at the beach for a short vacay, then on to summer jobs. They’re all good friends, all decide to go out together that night.
Meanwhile, Adam’s hallucinations are getting worse. Dr. Thall decides to take things to the next level of craziness: experimental therapy, and Adam is on board. His personal life is falling apart to – Leslie sees him out with Raina and Joy, and they have a very public breakup.

So, things can’t get much worse for Adam, right? Well, they do. At the beach, Raina and Joy get pulled out by the current with frolicking in HIGH TIDE – shoulda read the warnings! Sean has mysteriously disappeared, so Adam must go in after both of them alone. Raina is unconscious, and Joy is panicking while drowning, keeps pulling them all under. Adam realizes he can only save one, and must make a horrifying decision. He tells Joy he’ll come back for her, and swims away with Raina as Joy screams and pleads for him to save her. Adam makes it to shore and turns back, but Joy doesn’t make it.

Pretty traumatizing, eh? How many young girls’ death is Adam going to feel responsible for? Adam is devastated, and to make things even worse, keeps getting obscene phone calls saying he’ll pay for what he did. I mean, the guy couldn’t feel any worse, alright? He goes for a run in the fog to exhaust body and mind, and runs across a misty-figured Joh. Adam has a moment of triumph where he realizes he’s hallucinating and is all: “I’m on to YOU, hallucination.” Until he sees hallucination-Joy left behind her footprints. Um ...

That night Adam once again dreams of Mitzi. This time, though, there’s something different about it, he just can’t put his finger on it. Brooding, he goes into town to see Leslie, I think hoping that her sympathy over his plight will overcome her angry breakup. Only, she’s not very sympathetic at all, since she hadn’t heard of Joy’s drowning. Nobody had. Adam’s wondering if he hallucinated the WHOLE thing, which is a new level of crazy for him, until he finds a seagull slaughtered on his bed. Ick. So something is going on, outside of his head. He’s just not sure what.

Adam runs into Raina the next day, who tells him she has to show him something tonight. Sean is also behaving odd. When Adam tells him about the seagull of the night before, Sean is all shifty-like: “A seagull, you say. Huh, how about that?” Not suspicious at all, Sean. Adam comes home to find Sean slashing him mattress. Wtf, Sean? That’s Adam’s reaction, and Sean is all “-shit, this is YOUR bed? Sorry, dude, I thought it was Ian’s.” So, yes, Ian is the guy sneaking around with Alyce – all the phone calls/dead gulls were meant for Adam’s roommate. And we all can agree that Sean needs therapy. Adam advises him to watch the Dodger’s game.

After THAT little psychotic experience, Adam is hardly up to meeting with Raina, but he does go down to the docks as planned. There he meets Raina … with Joy! And not misty foggy Joy, but real life Joy. They shame-facedly admit that Dr. Thall convinced them to be apart of Adam’s experimental therapy, with the thought that a similar situation might shake up Adam’s memory about what happened to Mitzi. Nice to know that your therapist is willing to torture you in an attempt to bring back memories.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it works. Adam angrily jumps on a water scooter, and immediately remembers. Mitzi had been with Ian on the scooter. Ian killed Mitzi. Adam witnessed the whole thing, and was so devastated he convinced himself he was responsible. Ian, nice guy that he is, let Adam take all the blame. Ian shows up on a water scooter of his own, and the boys have a climatic showdown. Adam is knocked into the water first, and Ian tries to mow him down like a berserker. Adam summons all his strength and shoots out of the water, tackling Ian. In my head, it’s like Adam is pretending to be a shark, so this part makes me giggle. Things get all serious again, because Ian’s scooter FOR REALS goes crazy and runs over Ian, breaking his leg. The water gets all bloody and frothy, but Adam rescues Ian, saving him. The water scooter races off into the sunset. I did not make that up.

In the conclusion, Sean and Alyce make up, and Sean agrees to behave less like a caveman. Then Leslie comes and surprises Adam at his place. They kiss. No more mention is ever made of who Adam went out with that one night – potentially the child on the cover?

This Fear Street was supremely fulfilling. I think largely because how often do you have a showdown on a “water scooter.” And what ever happens to the rogue water scooter? I like to think it travels the seas, fighting injustice wherever it sees it. How beautiful. 16 illegal abusive therapy methods out of 17.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Dead Girlfriend, or “Who Isn’t An Electrical Engineer?”

With all the discussion about R.L.’s Point Horror forays, I felt the need to read one. One thing I’ve kind of noticed about these books, more so than Fear Street, is that they really have a wholesome, “all-American” feel to them. They focus a lot on having the typical high school experiences ... along with some murder. Maybe it’s just they lack edge, I don’t know. Ironic that they are so popular in the UK, or could that be the very reason why?

The beginning of this book starts off like a 12 year old’s idea of poetry. You know, short little sentences as paragraphs:
The total freedom of it.
Prettier than real life.
Danger here.
Danger and fear.
Annie has just moved to Shocklin Falls, and is exploring the small town on her beloved BMX. She rides up to the namesake falls and sees a boy about to jump off the edge. She screams for him to stop. He turns to smile and her and she falls in love with him. Like, that’s actually written in. The boy is Jonathan, he’s quite nice and asks her out immediately. Annie’s all squee! until she sees that someone’s slashed her bike tires while she was talking to Jonathan. And so it begins ...

Friday night she goes to a house party with him, to his friend’s Caleb’s place. It’s a crazy party where some kids are drinking BEER, Annie notices disapprovingly. Caleb is kinda crazy, and kinda gross, and is dating a gorgeous girl Dawn. Dawn is fashionable too, wearing “short, bright blue shorts over a gray Lycra catsuit. Very sexy.” Dawn and Annie become besties right away. Another girl she meets is Ruby, an ugly redhead who’s hot for Jonathan, and in NO way happy about his new squeeze (because after 10 minutes at a party, they are SO together – I love high school.) Dawn’s description of Ruby: “Some people do aerobics. Ruby does guys.” Snort.

The kids decide to take the party to the batting cages, where Jonathan drives like a maniac, and Caleb climbs to the top of the cage and pretends to fall off. Men. *eye roll* The night ends with no kiss for Annie, and she goes to bed disappointed, cuddling up with her kitty Goggles.

At Annie’s first day of school, Dawn keeps on trying to tell her something serious about Jonathan, but is constantly interrupted. Finally Dawn takes her to this glass display case filled with pictures of a girl. Louisa was Jonathan’s old girlfriend, and Dawn’s best friend, who died by falling off Shocklin Falls a few months ago. Which begs the question, what was Jonathan doing up there when he met Annie? Most people think Jonathan pushed her, although the official story was suicide. Annie is sorta freaked that her boyfriend may be a killer, but not enough to stop seeing him. He must be cute.

Annie becomes a lil obsessed with the shrine to Louisa, staring at it a lot. She’s surprised by a guy sneaking up behind her. The guy is Ryan, and he’s got a stalker intensity about him, asking her out immediately. Annie stammers out a no and he hurries away. “Strange dude” is Allie’s view of him.

The day gets worse for Annie, because after school she goes to work on her social paper that she’s totally behind on. It’s all on disk, before the days of backing up your work, and somebody has erased all her work, leaving only a threat to stay away from Jonathan. Annie is pissed, and thinks she sees Ruby in the school after hours. Suspicious ...

She calls Jonathan on Friday night, only to be told by his mom he’s out with Ruby. If that crushing news wasn’t enough, she gets an obscene phone call, telling her to stay away from Jonathan. Early the next morning, she calls Dawn to discuss these events, but Dawn can’t talk because she’s going to an electrical engineering class with Ruby. Wtf? is my reaction, as well as Annie’s. Kids these days, and their damn electrical engineering classes. Dawn agrees to get the dirt on Ruby, and Annie decides to go for a bike ride with maybe-killer Jonathan.

Caleb crashes their ride, and they all go up to the falls. Stop hanging out at the site of your dead girlfriend’s murder/suicide scene! Ruby and Dawn join them, and all of a sudden Jonathan rides off in what can only be described as a huff.

Jonathan wakes Annie up that night with a heartfelt apology. She wants to forgive him, but still doesn’t know if he killed his ex or not, which is giving her all these confusing feelings. The next morning she has to get out and goes for a ride. Bad idea. Someone comes barrelling after her, and Annie freaks, losing control of her bike and crashing.

Turns out her pursuer was only creepy Ryan, which shouldn’t make her feel any better. He tells her creepily that Louisa was his best friend, and now Annie can be his best friend, and forces a kiss on her. His lips are – you guessed it – hot and dry. Seriously, R. L., whattup with that? Ryan is being violent and needy, so Annie falls in love with him. Just kidding! This isn’t a Fear Street! Annie takes off.

Next day after school, Annie goes to work on her social paper again, but once again things go poorly. She touches her computer and is electrocuted. Annie is okay, just a little “buzzed”, and furious. She remembers Ruby is an electrical engineer (??) and goes to confront her. Ruby predictably responds with anger and confusion. Annie leaves her to go stare obsessively at Louisa’s photo.

And there standing looking at the photo is ... Louisa! No, it’s just her sister, Danielle, who looks like her. They go for a Coke together, where Danielle informs her that both Ruby and Jonathan were up at the falls when her sister died, and either could have done it. When Annie tells this to Dawn, Dawn is sure Ruby had nothing to do with it, and actually thinks it was Jonathan.

Next weekend Annie has a birthday party at her place. It’s a rager – Annie makes spaghetti. Despite her best friend confessing she thinks Jonathan killed his last girlfriend, Annie is cuddled up with him all night. Even hot lips Ryan makes an appearance. Everything goes wonderful until Annie does clean up in the kitchen and finds the pot of spaghetti bubbling merrily away. In the pot ... is Goggles the cat. Oh. That is gross. And sad.

The next day Jonathan convinces Annie that going for a ride to the falls would be a good idea. Really? It doesn’t sound like a good idea. At the top of the cliff, Jonathan confesses he secretly hated Louisa and killed her. Um. There’s an awkward moment. But then he further clarifies that he didn’t push her, he was just feeling guilty because he’d been fooling around with Ruby behind Louisa’s back, and Ruby pushed her off. At that confession, Ruby jumps out from behind a rock.
Seriously? She was just ... hiding behind the rock? There’s no explanation why she’s there in the first place, it made me laugh though. Anyways, she leaps at Jonathan in a rage, saying HE pushed Louisa. They tussle at the cliff edge, then Ruby leaps at him and misses, going over the falls. Didn’t that exact same thing happen in The Hitchhiker?

So, traumatizing, right? Annie and Jonathan just stare at each other for awhile, when Dawn pulls up. Annie is relieved, until Dawn goes full-on psycho – she says she saw Annie push Ruby over the edge, then fall in along after her. Uh-oh! Jonathan has no idea what’s going on, until it clicks that Dawn killed Louisa all along. Dawn did it for the love of Jonathan, and will kill anyone else who gets in her way. Because who doesn’t want a murdering psycho at his bike-side? Dawn goes after Annie, but Jonathan tackles her to the ground. As she struggles, the police show up. Turns out, Ruby actually survived the fall, and walked away to a payphone to call the police. Dawn is lead away, and because the police are as inept in Shocklin Falls as they are in Shadyside, Annie and Jonathan are left alone up there. They kiss passionately. For reals! No word on what Jonathan’s lips are like, but I think we can make a solid guess.

Alright. This book at time made me laugh out loud, it was so contrived. And I loved the random characters thrown in to throw you off the trail of the real murderer. I mean, who the hell was Ryan, other than a random stalker/rapist? This is suspense for 9 year olds, which I suppose is technically the point. So who am I to judge. This is very well done, based on the audience. I’ll have to give this 5 teenaged electrical engineers out of 8.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Hitchhiker or "Dull, Suspicious Teenagers Take a Long Roadtrip"

Here comes another non-Fear Street R.L. Stine entry. (In case you guys were worried, we have a nice big shipment of real Fear Streets on the way in…!) I never really understood why R.L. would release a teen-horror book that wasn’t a Fear Street. The Hitchhiker was written in 1993, so that’s in the midst of the Fear Street era. So why release it separately? I suppose it could be because the book takes place in Florida as opposed to Shadyside, but there have been other Fear Streets that take place elsewhere! I just… don’t get the reasoning behind this! In every other sense, it’s identical to Fear Streets! Bah!

Anyways. The Hitchhiker. The cover reminds me of a Christopher Pike book for some reason… but R.L. is no Christopher Pike. The tagline is kinda crap: “Don’t stop now.” What does that mean? Why would now be underlined? WHYYYYY?

We meet James. James has flashbacks to a girl begging him not to hurt her. James is a bad, bad man. And he needs a ride! He’s heading outta Florida, and this nice old man in a Buick Skylark picks him up. James tells him a fake name, and we are reminded again that things probably won’t turn out well for nice-old-man.

We meet the other two main characters in the book, Christina and Terri. They’re heading back to Cleveland (Ohio!) after a Spring Break Weekend Extraordinaire! Christina is the hot, wild one while Terri is the quiet, fat one. You know. Because there has to be one of each! Christina is speeding down the highway, while Terri worries. They think they see a cop and freak out, but it turns out to be a tow-truck. Very suspicious reaction girls… anyways, Christina is distracted, swerves into oncoming traffic and causes a horrific car crash behind them. They flee, which is what all rational, non-fugitive teenagers would do!

The girls, of course, pick up James on the side of the highway. Christina and Terri’s crazy duet needed a third! They agree to take him to Tampa, which is where he has a cousin. James thinks that both girls are hot for him. (Pssst, only slutty Christina is). When they stop at a road side diner, things take a turn for the weird. James flips out on the server for hitting on the ladies, and beats him up. The trio flees the area, with Christina thinking about how hot that was. Yeah, random violence always turns my crank!

James is taking a turn driving that night when they see the flashing blue and red lights of the po! Terri and Christina immediately FREAK OUT demanding that James pull over and repeatedly scream “I KNEW it!”. Which is really weird of them. Anyways, the cop flies past them, obviously busy trying to get to a real crime. Something related to alligators, I can only assume. The car radio gives our trio a news update: an old man was dragged from his car off the highway and badly beaten. By a hitchhiker. James flicks off the radio and announces his detest for the news. I wonder why…

They finally get to James’ cousins house in Tampa, where they will all stay for the night, even though James gave his cousin absolutely no advanced warning. Paul and Paula are much more hospitable than I would be if my random cousin barged in on me with two dirty teenaged girls. While their all watching TV, a news report comes on again with an update about the beaten man. His name is Roger Eckridge and the police say that he used to pick up hitchhikers on road trips so he wouldn’t get lonely. That was probably a poor plan. While the news is on, the girls whisper and point at James. Not obvious at ALL there, girls.

Christina comes down to James’ room in the middle of the night. They make out, and yet AGAIN R.L. describes it in the weirdest ways possible. Christina’s lips are hot and dry. She smells lemony. James feels like he’s suffocating. Hot?

James decides that he’s going to ride with the girls the rest of the way to Cleveland. When his cousin Paul asks the obvious question of “Why the hell would you go to Cleveland” James has no real answer. That must have been some hot, dry kisses! Oooo maybe there was some off-scene dry desert vagina action! (Haha sorry, that was gross) Anyways, they start to leave Paul’s house on the way to Cleveland when Paul runs out and accuses James of stealing the 1000$ cash he had in his wallet. James claims innocence, Paul doesn’t believe him, yadda yadda yadda, James K.O.’s him and they split. I would NOT be okay with James coming along for my road trip if I was Terri. Especially since James and Christina make Terri drive while they continue their hot kisses in the back seat. And Tampa is a 17 hour drive from Cleveland according to Google maps!

The radio comes on again to update them that Roger Eckridge died of his injuries. Again they remind us that he was killed by a hitchhiker! Terri and Christina pull over to the side of the road to have a fight, which is obviously about James. Who I too would assume was a killer.

They eventually get back on the road and Terri is driving late at night. She realizes that they’re being followed. They think it’s because James most likely stole 1000$ from his cousin and try to lose the Taurus. They eventually crash the girls’ car because Terri has no experience in high speed chases (don’t go down deserted country roads! They could end without warning!) After they crash, a man gets out of the Taurus and comes towards them… but is interrupted by a tow-truck that just happens to be moseying by (what? Why!?) The man and the Taurus take off.

They stay in the little town nearby for the night, and they’ll have to get their car fixed the next day. James overhears the girls fighting in the next room and assumes it’s over him. Terri comes to James’ room and invites him for a walk. She says she wants to apologize for being mean to him, and then kisses him. (FYI, her lips were warm but WET. That’s probably the WORST in R.L.’s universe) She gets mad when he wants to kiss her though, saying that her kiss was a FRIENDSHIP kiss. Yeah. I dare any of you girls to try that out on your friend’s boyfriend. “Don’t worry blank, it was just a friendship French kiss. I’m so happy for you two!”

James wakes up to Christina pounding on his door the next morning. Terri is missing! All her stuff is there, but she’s gone! Also, the car is gone. That sucks! They decide to hitchhike. Because they can’t decide what else to do while their friend is missing and they have no car. I guess abandoning her to her doom is ONE option… While they’re waiting for a ride, James lets it slip that he was with Terri the night before, Christina freaks out at him and demands to know what he did to her! Just then, a ride appears and they both get in. I think Christina has some issues since she can’t seem to decide if James is a killer or someone she desperately wants hot make out with.

The driver, Art, actually turns out to be the driver of the Taurus from the chase scene the night before. Art produces a gun, but Christina seems to be more upset that they’re never going to get out of Florida. Yes, most likely because Art is going to kill you. Be upset about THAT, Christina! He takes them to an isolated swamp cabin which is quite possible the scariest place on earth. James tries to tackle him, but only gets knocked out by Art. He wakes up tied to a chair inside the cabin. Christina tries to bribe him to let her go. She says she has money in her wallet, and wouldn’t you know it? She has 1000$ cash in her purse. Bitch stole Paul’s money and let James take the fall! James is kinda pissed. Art just takes the money and doesn’t let them go, because he is a CRIMINAL, and that’s what they do.

Art finally gets around to telling them why he’s gone crazy on their asses. His name is Art Eckridge… Roger Eckridge’s son! And they killed Roger! Actually, to be more precise… Christina and Terri killed Roger! Christina tries to throw James under the bus by claiming that James told the girls that HE killed Roger but since Art actually SAW the girls kill Roger… her excuse doesn’t really fly with him. Christina finally confesses that she and Terri were so tired from hitchhiking they just decided to steal a car, but accidentally killed Roger. Well, the good thing about vigilante sons avenging their father? They don’t care if you killed him by accident. They’re gonna kill you on purpose.

Art leads Christina and James to a freshwater pond, which is apparently infested with piranhas. Which is insane. But Art just calmly tells them that they’re starving… even after their big breakfast of Terri-os! I guess Terri’s dead! Art asks Christina is she wants to jump or be pushed. She makes no choice (which means pushed!) and then Art makes a pretty rookie mistake. He goes to push Christina… but she ducks… and he just runs off the small cliff. REALLY? Who pushes people like that?! This also happened in the Babysitter, FYI. So Art is eaten by piranhas. Problem solved!

Except Christina doesn’t want any witnesses to her murdering ways, and proceeds to pick up Art’s gun and threaten James. She gives him three seconds to jump in the piranha infested water or else she shoots him. He goes “I guess you’re gonna have to shoot me”, which would probably be my choice too. Just then… Terri pops up! She somehow escaped the piranhas? Terri tries to take down Christina but she is immediately swung back over the edge of the cliff by Christina. Hmmm, that was pointless. James kicks the gun out of her hand, but can’t seem to wrestle her over the edge. Until… Terri’s hand shots up from the cliff and drags Christina into the water. James looks over, and sees Terri hanging onto the cliff face to a tree root. Christina is meanwhile getting eaten by piranhas. Terri does not try to kill James to protect her murdering ways, so James takes her to the hospital.

The book ends with Terri telling her story to the police and James. Apparently, after Terri and James took their kissing walk, Christina took Terri for a walk and tried to beat her to death. Cold! So the whole time Christina thought Terri really was dead, not kidnapped by Art! Art found her badly beaten body in the morning and took her to the swamp. He tossed her in, but apparently didn’t wait to see what happened because Terri swam away and passed out on a beach, coming to just in time to save James from Christina! James tells Terri he’s going back to Key West to make up with his ex-girlfriend, who he “hurt real bad”. By breaking up with her. In a non-violent way. Terri calls James a conceited pig, which I agree with. He tells her he’s getting there by… hitchin’!

Blerg. This book was pretty boring. Now, reading it over, maybe R.L. didn’t make this a Fear Street book because then they couldn’t discuss the destination of Shadyside. Like, “Yeah we’re going back to Shadyside! It’s…in the mid-west somewhere! Or… possible the east coast!” Anyways, I’m sorry if this post was boring, but I really didn’t like this book. I can’t wait for our new shipment to get in! It will be back to the classics. Until then, I give the Hitchhiker four fresh water piranhas out of 378. Yeah, you heard me.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Chamber of Fear or “There Must Always Be An Evil Twin”

Another saga, near the end of the Fear Street run. This historical horror is OPENLY written by Brandon Alexander – as in, it says so on the copyright page if you look carefully. What does Fear Street look like with no input from R.L.?

It looks like an evil magician and his “chamber” of “fear.” Based on the front cover, I believe an owl may be involved as well. All of this sounds very promising ...

Carolyn ponders her beautiful mother’s mysterious demise while lying awake at night in the orphanage. She was killed while working as a magician’s assistant when Carolyn was two. Her father, who died before she was born, was a carpenter who built coffins. The year is 1842. Before you go thinking this is all too Dickensien for this book’s own good, this is a “good” orphanage. The woman in charge is elderly and kind, and Carolyn is happy here. She wants to stay forever to teach the lovely little children. Gag. Carolyn sounds like a nun – a classic romance novel heroine.

She discovers the next morning she is being sent into the employ of the man who her mother used to work for, a Mr. Fier, magician extraordinaire. Fier has always blamed himself for her mother’s fatal “accident” and took an interest in Carolyn’s upbringing at the orphanage. Now he wants to employ her as his servant – how deliciously generous of him. She has to go live with Fier at his estate of Owlhurst. The brave Carolyn has no choice but to leave her beloved orphanage. There are tearful goodbyes all around, except from Carolyn’s tarty best friend Liza, who tells her Fier is a murderer, and she should run away. Super supportive friendship behaviour.

Owlhurst is predictably covered with statues of evil owls (perhaps representing both wisdom, and evil). You can tell these aren’t Harry Potter owls. No one answers Carolyn’s knocks, so she wanders out back, and sees an old man forcing a boy her age into a black trunk. Okay, pretty fucked up, I wouldn’t want to know what kind of games they’re playing ... Fier sets the trunk on fire. Oh. It’s that kind of game. Carolyn freaks out, until the boy pops up behind her smiling. Just a trick! Wait ... no. They douse the trunk and the first boy gets out all sweaty and angry. I would be too if I’d drawn the short straw in that trick. They boys are the Fier twins, both devastatingly handsome. Not one, but two men for our nun? The real question is: which one of these twins is evil?

The Fier troupe calls themselves the Fearsome Fiers, and put on magic shows involving fire. Oh, Fiers, will you never learn? Carolyn first falls for David, because he’s all intense. This lasts a few minutes, until he shows her his room, which is full of nooses, coffins, and a working guillotine. Her love is fading fast. She’s probs just reacting to being around men for the first ime in her life. David wants to uncover the secret of death. Creep.

On her way downstairs, Carolyn sees an emerald door and goes to open it, but death-loving David tells her she’ll die if she goes in there. So they go find Marcus, the other twin, and Carolyn immediately falls in love with him, as he is the charming, fun-loving one. David is written off as a creep, and potentially the evil twin. She’s also introduced to Tess, the magician’s dramatic assistant, and Mrs. McGregor, the no-nonsense cook and housekeeper.

Her first night at Owlhurst, Carolyn’s mother’s ghost visits her, and takes her inside the emerald room. There is an evil looking coffin standing upright in the middle of the room, and her mother is sucked inside. Carolyn wakes up – only a nightmare. Or was it? She goes to see the room for herself, and sure enough, the evil box is standing there. She’s about to touch it, when David comes in, surprising her. She rushes back to her room, afraid she’s angered him. In her room, she finds a nice surprise – a redheaded woman in her bed. Carolyn figured Tess joined her that night so they could ... gossip. I don’t know, she’s pretty excited about a woman showing up unannounced in her bed ... the plot thickens on our nun.

Only it isn’t Tess ... it’s a life-sized doll that she had seen in David’s room ... yes, he has life-sized dolls ... This one’s head has been chopped off by a guillotine. So is this a macabre warning, or a fucked up come on? Not too sure about the crew at Owlhurst.

The next day, Carolyn tries to pretend everything is fine, starts her cleaning duties. Marcus shows up to distract her. Clearly he’s the good twin ... he shows her some magic tricks, and makes a rose appear for her. Swoon! He tells Carolyn there’s nothing to fear from the Chamber of Fear (evil coffin box), and takes her to see it. There is a legend that anyone who enters the Chamber goes insane or dies, and their spirit is trapped within forever. If you so much as touch it, you experience your greatest fear. Carolyn wants to prove how brave she is and grabs the handle. Suddenly water starts pouring in from the ceiling, slowly drowning her ... she wakes up dry on the floor, but wants nothing more to do with the Chamber.

Daily life starts to take shape in the Fier household, with Marcus flirting and David scowling, and Carolyn trying not to go near the Chamber. Until ... Tess has to leave the house, to visit a sick grandmother. Fier decides Carolyn will be an excellent assistant, and she unwillingly begins to help him and David with their tricks. Another assistant of the Fiers had been accidentally killed during one of David’s tricks. She’s afraid that David is going to kill her “by accident” when he does his crazy tricks – like that one with the girl in the box impaled by swords. But it turns out that David is actually quite nice, and has a sense of humour, he’s just very serious about his illusions. Carolyn starts to get closer to him ... I’m so confused as to who the evil twin is! David tells her that the accidental death wasn’t an accident – Marcus had done it on purpose. They were using a guillotine, and instead of bringing up the trick silk blade, he brought up the real blade, very effectively decapitating their assistant. Carolyn doesn’t know who to trust.

Marcus proves to be quite the creep by attacking Carolyn in her bed at night. Oh, no, he just wants her help, that makes it plenty okay to jump people while they’re asleep. He wants Carolyn to read his Latin books on the Dark Arts to find the secret to the Chamber, because apparently our little nun/orphan is proficient at Latin. They read all night until Carolyn finds the secret ... they must splash the blood of a murder victim over the box, in order to make it safe to enter and discover the secret of all magic. Marcus half-heartedly promises not to murder anyone, and Carolyn goes back to her room, only to find Tess’ body actually in her bed. She runs to the Chamber to find her mother (???) then passes out. Marcus wakes her up and tells her Tess isn’t dead, she just had a vision of it. Yah, right, I’ve heard that one before.

So has Carolyn, apparently. She just wants the hell out of Owlhurst, thinking she’d rather work at a textile mill then with the Fiers. Unfortunately, Marcus has started guarding her 24 hours a day, so she can’t get away. She must find another way ... which comes up when the Fiers decide to take her as their assistant to one of their shows. Carolyn thinks it’s her only way of getting away from them ... but that she might die in the process. Sad little orphan, what will you do?

They go to the performance, and Carolyn fakes passing out, saying she can’t go on. David flips out, saying she has to do it, but they decide they’ll have to get a girl from the audience. Carolyn sits in the house, waiting for her moment to get away, as a girl from the audience is chosen. The girl giggles and laughs all the up to the box she needs to get in. She stops laughing when David spears her with real swords, and her blood starts splashing out of the box. Carolyn is sure she was meant to die tonight, and runs ... all the way back to the orphanage. She gets away from Marcus, and thinks she’s safe back in her cozy little orphan bed.

Until the next morning Fier comes to get her, and her kindly guardian makes her go with him, because he’s a gentleman or some shit like that. The girl murdered the night before was deemed to be an accident – David was nervous and grabbed the wrong sword. So – kids will be kids? In 1842 you could shove a sword through someone because you were nervous, and that’s all good? Anyways, all the stuff Carolyn is saying about murdered assistants and rooms that trap spirits does sound like a lot of nonsense. So, back to Owlhurst she goes.

That very night, Marcus creepily wakes her up once again, telling her he needs to show her something in the Chamber room. She blearily follow him, but is revolted to find he’s brought a bucket of blood with him. It’s the girl who was murdered at the show the night before, he collected her blood afterwards, and since David technically murdered her, he hasn’t broken any promises! What a sweet guy!

The blood is splashed over the Chamber, and slowly the door opens, allowing Marcus to step inside. Then it flashes blindingly, and Marcus starts screaming. Oops, guess it wasn’t easy as all that. Fier comes running in, and is horrified to see Marcus step out of the Chamber, hair bright white and eyes blinded over, screaming (ooh, this reminds me of the Stephen King short story The Jaunt – it freaked me out so bad!). Skeletons grab him to pull him back in. Fier goes after Carolyn, saying that it wasn’t just anyone’s blood the Chamber needed, it was HER blood. Her father, the coffin carpenter, was a descendant of the people who made the Chamber, and so was she. He goes to kill her, but David steps in between them.

Creepy disturbed David was the good twin all along! Fier and Marcus had been working together to somehow murder Carolyn ... you think they could have just done it one night, who’s going to miss a little orphan? The whole charade of bringing her to an outside performance to “accidentally” stab her seems a little contrived. Anyways, David gets knocked out in the fight, and Fiers about to stab ... when Carolyn’s mother comes out of the Chamber, turns into a gross skeleton, and grabs him. He’s pulled into the Chamber and the whole thing bursts into flames.

Carolyn grabs David and they run out of the estate, as the whole thing comes down in a fiery mess. The Fier curse strikes again! All the spirits who were trapped in the Chamber float up in the smoke, and her mother’s smoke/ghost comes over to talk to her. She says that Carolyn’s ancestors made the Chamber, so it was good she destroyed it. And that there were more ...

I don’t know how I feel about this saga. On the one hand – historical horror/romance = awesome. And a chamber involving the secret of magic that makes you go insane – pretty intense idea. In execution, though, I didn’t believe. The Fiers were so effing dumb, and all of them were very creepy, even the good twin, it just didn’t do it for me. Do you know what this book needed? It needed R. L. Sorry Brandon Alexander. I give this 35 soul-trapping coffins out of 64.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Best Friend 2, or “Karma’s a Bitch”

Okay, I didn’t love The Best Friend. It wasn’t my favourite, and I was not looking forward to reading the sequel, expecting more of the bland whiny characters I had grown to dislike. But The Best Friend has a following, and with so many people telling me they really enjoyed the psychological aspects of it, I was determined to keep an open mind about the whole thing. I was pleasantly surprised.

The Best Friend 2 is “the story YOU demanded.” Apparently there was a great fan uproar back in the mid-nineties at the ending of the first book, where the bad girl gets away with it, which was the only part I really liked about it. However, the people demanded justice! So a notice was sent out to all Fear Street fans: send in your idea how Honey’s story will end. Cute way to involve your fans, or cheap way of getting out of “thinking up story ideas?” Discuss.

Ooh, I also really like this cover. I love the way Honey is looking all sneakily suspicious at Becka, like she’s going to cut a bitch. Also: The only good friend is a dead friend? Like, that’s got to be the BEST tagline ever. I defy you to find a better one.

Anyhow, this is the winning entry, sent in by Sara Bilkman from Grafton, Wisconsin. Sara, you made these characters SO MUCH MORE dislikable that I quite started to like the book. Well on you!

Part One (oh, no)

Becka wakes up nervous for her first day of school at Waynesbridge High. Apparently staying in Shadyside after all the shit that went down was too stressful on poor fragile Becka’s nerves, so she decided to start over one town over. Waynesbridge, as a point of interest, is well known for its biker bars. Actually, I just made that up, but I always got the sense that Waynesbridge was on the “wrong side of the tracks” from Shadyside. This section is told in Becka’s pov, which allows us greater insight into her little mind. As you’ll see, this becomes very entertaining.

Becka grew out her auburn hair and lost some weight, so instantly becomes way more attractive. I had to stop here, because didn’t Becka have blonde hair? Shrug. She’d been seeing a million shrinks since the “incident” where Honey killed Billy, and is starting to feel okay about the whole thing. Until she sees some guy in the hallway, and tackles him in joy, screaming “Billy!” Only he’s not Billy, or looks anything like him. Seems like starting the year off sane is out of the question.

Things perk up a bit in her first class, when a gorgeous girl takes interest in her, telling her to take really good notes in the class. Becka scrawls Billy over and over again in her notebook, without meaning too. So, not going to be a stellar academic year? The really pretty girl, Glynis (Glynis?) is really nice to Becka and helps her find her way around. Becka has a pretty serious girl crush on Glynis, starting at her all the time thinking how awesome she looks. They go out for pizza with Glynis’ friend Frankie, and Becka starts crushing hard on Frankie, too. So, Becka’s behaving pretty unstable, right? It gets better. She sees Eric in the pizza parlour, the cool guy who dated both Becka and Honey in the last book. Becka trips over to him and asks him how he’s been. He’s all “since you dumped me?” and in reply she forces her tongue down his throat.

So, if you’re anything like me, you’re pretty certain at this point that Becka is actually Honey. I mean, the not blonde hair? The totally unbalanced behaviour? The creepy girlcrushing? It has to be Honey, right?

Eric doesn’t care who it is, he enjoys being attacked. Becka is thinking about Frankie the whole time, wondering if he would like her better if she looked exactly like Glynis and BECKA IS TOTALLY HONEY! No doubt in my mind by now.

The Becka facade starts to break apart. Honey gets a call from Frankie, confessing his eternal love to her. Except, it’s actually only in her head, and she chides herself for hallucinating. As she’s doing so, she scrawls the word BILL all over her face in nailpolish. Effed up! The next day she goes to Glynis’ house and tries on all her clothes, thinking Glynis wouldn’t mind because they are totally best friends forever.

Glynis starts to get weirded out by Honey’s behaviour. They go to the mall with Frankie, and she awkwardly asks Honey if she took her clothes. Honey’s like: “yes! Of course I did!” Exchange of glances as they realize their new friend is a nutbar. At the mall, Honey runs into Eric, working at one of the stores. He asks her: “Why do people keep on calling you Becka, HONEY? Are you pretending to be her again?” Haha! I know it was obvious, but I love being right. Honey does not appreciate being called out, and responds to Eric by strangling him with a string of beads. And who should witness this event (besides the mall and countless security cameras?) The real live Becka, who was just starting to get over Honey when she sees her murdering one of her exes. Honey jumps up, blames the murder on Becka, then runs away. Um ... mall security? Anyone? Is it just that easy to strangle someone with beads in the middle of a crowded mall?

Part 2

Eric’s funeral. Becka, Trish and Lilah are all sitting together, discussing how Honey escaped from the mental institution she was in over the summer. So – everyone discovered that Honey actually stabbed Bill, I’m assuming. Becka is really freaked out, and her friends are worried about her, because she keeps on seeing Honey everywhere she goes. While Becka is annoying, a little healthy post traumatic stress from witnessing all your boyfriends being murdered in front of you has got to be allowed. As they leave the church, Billy shows up! He survived the stabbing, but lost a lung. Bill wants to talk to Becka, but Becka can’t be around him. She has too much guilt over him losing a lung, and freaks every time she hears him wheeze, and so their love died awhile ago. After Bill leaves, she goes on and on about she hasn’t been a good friend, how she wasn’t there for them as they were recovering from their respective accidents, but she’ll try to BORING! Whatever.

That night, Becka’s new boyfriend Larry shows up at her coffee shop she works in, and Becka treats him like shit and makes him leave. I am so not a Becka fan, what a bitch. As she leaves the coffee shop, Bill approaches her and she freaks out. Her car has been all slashed up, and there is a rat disembowelled on the seat. Gross. She has a nervous breakdown, again. Becka ends up back on her tranquilizers. That night, as she’s recovering, Trish calls Becka on Bill’s behalf, going on about how he wants her back and she’s being so mean. Really? I don’t like Becka, but I can see her point. She’s just not that into him anymore, and he really shouldn’t be pushing the issue I think. Neither should her friends. Becka agrees with me, and hangs up on Trish.

Apparently tired of inaction, Becka decides the best plan EVER is to sneak over to the next door neighbour’s house, where Honey’s dad lives, to see if she is hiding there. While completely doped up on tranquilizers. Actually, it probably seems like a great idea at the time, like a ride. She goes next door, and trips over a dead body! No, just kidding, it’s a bag of lawn fertilizer. The amount of things people mistake for bodies in Fear Street: brooms, mops, now fertilizer? Becka’s just peeping on Honey’s passed out, beer-holding, wife-beater wearing father, when Lilah grabs her from behind, making her scream. Those tranqs aren’t working the way they should. The dad comes out to yell at them, and shake his fist for good measure. The girls think this is hilarious.

Lilah brings news. She found an article about a murder-suicide that occurred several years ago in Shadyside. A man killed his wife and son, then himself, leaving only the daughter (and twin of her dead brother) as a witness to the whole thing. Daughter’s name was Hannah. Becka has a huge flashback of Hannah, who she went to elementary with. Hannah was a clingy, unpopular girl in grade 4 that everyone hated, Becka included. The cool kids came up with a plan: they told Hannah to get onstage during school assembly, get down on her hands and knees and bark like a dog, and they would all be friends forever. Hannah predictably follows through, and everyone laughs at her. Then Becka goes up to Hannah and tells her it was a joke, and to stop following them around. A week later, Hannah witnesses the destruction of her family.

Oh, that is so mean. I knew I was right to hate Becka! I love this little twist, that Becka might actually deserve a little crap in her life, based on how she uses the people around her. Think of everyone she’s hurt: Hannah, Eric, Billy, even Honey to a point. I think Becka had forgotten about Hannah, and gets a bit of this karmic realization as well. Pretty certain little Hannah grew up to become Honey, with mental issues from a lifetime of bad experiences and mistreatmen. She lived with her uncle until sent to a mental institution.

Becka goes to visit her therapist to get more pills (but not, oddly enough, to talk about her newfound memories of Hannah/Honey). On her way out, she’s attacked from behind. Someone beats her face into the gravel until she passes out. Alright ... Becka’s mean, but she probably didn’t deserve that. She wakes up alone in the parking lot, and other than needing some stitches and her new gross mangled face, she’s alright. Her ever-suffering boyfriend takes her out, although even Becka’s aware that he probably wasn’t totally turned on by her face looking like dog food. She sees Honey everywhere she goes, until she completely loses it in a screaming fit. Larry drops her off quickly, probs thinking the hysterical girlfriend thing is getting pretty old since she started looking like dog food.

Things go from bad to worse. Becka just wants to crawl into her warm bed, which she does. Only it’s warm from being soaked in blood ... sick. She flips on the lights to see bloody handprints everywhere. A phone call comes in, that her best friend was coming for her. Honey’s doing an awesome job at destroying this girl completely, because Becka’s flipping out in a big way. Just as she’s running out the door (because she’s always left entirely alone, despite the constant violent attacks and death threats), Billy shows up at her door. Becka decides now is a good time to get back together with him, since it’s convenient to what she wants right now. The big user. She demands he take her somewhere.

Bill takes her to his uncle’s cabin in Fear Woods. Because when your life’s in danger, you should def go to an isolated cabin in Fear Woods. HUGE tipoff that Billy did it, right? She calls Lilah up to let her know what’s going on, and Lilah tells her there’s breaking news everywhere – Honey was captured by police 2 days ago. K, wouldn’t that have been breaking news two days ago then? Whatever, point is, Honey is not behind the recent attacks. Another big point towards Bill, right? He walks menacingly into the room.

Only it wasn’t Billy doing all the violent things – it was TRISH, Becka’s best friend! Trish hated Becka since she didn’t come to visit her in the hospital after she broke her neck. Her and Bill got together, and decided to plan to make Becka pay. Okay, it’s totally true that Becka is a self-absorbed narcissist, who uses friends and loved ones as she pleases, but was that really a reason to go all psycho-killer? It seems that by turning into a psycho killer because Becka was a crappy friend is kind of enabling her self absorption. Just ditch the bitch and enjoy your life together.

Trish lunges to stab Becka with a kitchen knife, but Billy only wanted to scare Becka, not kill her. He blocks the blade ... with his only lung. Oops, you probably needed that one, Billy! Becka has a moment where she needs to be her own best friend, and fights Trish off. Oh, fuck off. This is about empowerment now? Becka needs to learn to STOP being all about herself, not being more all about herself. Actually, I hope her and herself are happy together, and leave everyone else alone. As the police are on their way, Becka cradles Bill’s head and tells him she’ll be a good friend to him from now on. Bill is doomed.

The Best Friend 2 was much better than the first one, but I found it disjointed. The two separate parts are really two separate stories, either of which I would want to read. The first, following Honey around as she pretends to be Becka, follows on the bad guy getting away theme, and would have been great on its own. The second part, the karma comes after Becka theme, is interesting, because you find out there’s less good-guys, bad-guys, and things are more in shades of grey. Sympathizing with the bad guy? That almost NEVER comes up in Fear Street, and I like that it did. I still fucking hate Becka as a character, but since everyone else in the book did too, I’ll give it 48 terrible friends out of 56.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Scream, Jennifer, Scream or "Worst Friends in the Entire World. Seriously."

Since we’re running low on “original” Fear Streets here at Shadyside Headquarters, I thought I’d snark on one of the “New! Fear Street” books. They basically re-vamped the series by adding new, hipper covers and using different font. I haven’t read too many of this series, but so far, those are the only differences I noticed. Many things stayed the same. Take the tagline for example. “Getting into college can be murder…” Classic! (I feel like I should point out that I got into university, and there was little to no murder involved.)

Like I said, the cover is “cooler” or what I imagine R.L. imagined cool was back in 1998. I assume the screaming face is Jennifer, and the gang of thugs at the bottom are her murderous friends. There’s not much to discuss about this particular cover, since their clothes aren’t in focus so we can’t even discuss fashion choices. I really don’t like these covers as much as the old ones. What can I say? I’m a purist. Where is the terrible artwork?!

I know L.K.'s recap of The Stepbrother (another New! Fear Street) was overrun with new characters and time warps, but this book is much more mundane. The book is told by Shelli, and the only other characters are her friends, Jennifer, Mayra, Del, Danny and Liam. So pretty easy to keep track of.

Shelli arrives at Liam’s house for a party the night after their college prep test. (What is that, the SATs? Or is this a different test? Seems like a lot of tests to give high schoolers) Anyhoo, Shelli was the last of the friends to arrive, so the gang breaks out the pop and chips! Like, for real. They’re excited about that stuff like it’s beer and crack. Aren’t they supposed to be high school seniors? Where is the beer and crack? Anyways, their 6 person party gets underway.

And soon is ruined by little Ms. Guilt, Jennifer. See, all the friends were worried about doing well on the test, so they bought the test over the internet. And this is not sitting so well with Jen, although everyone else seems fine. Jennifer tells them that she can’t live with the guilt (after trying SO hard for 12 hours) and is going to tell the principal when they get back from winter break. (Forgot to mention: This “party” is also to celebrate the beginning of Spring Break! And Liam’s parents are gone! Seriously, where is the weed?)

All the friends start freaking out, because Jennifer is going to ruin their chances at college! They ask her just to confess to HER cheating, and not to bring them into it (which I think is fair) and she refuses because she MUST TELL THE WHOLE TRUTH. Here’s the thing. How did she go through with buying the test, memorizing it and using said knowledge on the actual test if her conscience was so heavy? She decides to turn them all in after like 8 hours. I don’t believe that she would have done it in the first place. I think she would have been the girl that listened to her friends plan the cheat, tell the principal on them, then self-righteously pat herself on the back while screwing over her friends. I really don’t like Jennifer.

Anyways, Shelli is really hurt that her best friend would sell her out like this. Jennifer tells them smarmily, that SHE has a conscience and can’t live with this. UGH. Danny threatens her as she turns to leave, and she shoots back with a “What are you going to do? Kill me?” Ooooo Jennifer. That is never a good challenge to issue in Shadyside.

Because they almost immediately take her up on the offer. Well, first the five friends try to think of other ways to get out of their predicament, but Jennifer has screwed them over real good. So they settle on killing her. Liam says that Jennifer is trying to KILL THEM, so they should off her first. When someone points out that, No, Jennifer is not trying to murder them, she's just ruining their chances at Ivy League college, Liam is all “SAME THING!” Wow. Someone is wound tight! They decide pull numbers to see who will kill Jennifer. This murder plot progressed really fast!

Shelli is freaking out on the inside, because she can’t imagine having to kill her best friend. But she seems to be kinda okay with letting someone else kill her best friends since the first grade! She goes along with it because she’s afraid the boys will kill HER if she doesn’t but I think Shelli just wants Jennifer dead as much as the rest of them. Their parents must have put some HELLA pressure on these kids. You know what I would do? Not kill my best friend. I’d go to community college, and then transfer over after a few years. PROBLEM SOLVED. This group of awful friends certainly did not review their options carefully before deciding on murder.

Anyways, Danny gets the high number and has to kill Jennifer. Which is okay by him since she dumped him a few months ago and he’s still not over it. Well, this will definitely provide some closure. He decides to run her over after work in the deserted parking lot, the NEXT NIGHT. You think they could have thought this over for more than 24 hours? Jesus, I’m a little bit worried about what my friends discuss when I’m not around now! Shelli keeps thinking that she doesn’t want Jennifer DEAD, but continues to help plan the murder, giving Danny detailed times and dates that Jennifer works. Niiiice.

The foursome of Shelli, Mayra, Del and Liam wait for Danny to come over at Shelli’s house. He’s supposed to kill Jen at 9pm then come over. At 10:30, they know something isn’t right, so they hoop into Liam’s Jeep and go over to investigate at the mall where Jen works. They see the police lights and sirens so they know something happened… but they spot Jen talking to the police! Danny must have missed and gotten busted! All the kids start thinking: Hmm attempted murder is WAY worse than cheating, isn’t it? Or at least they should. But they don’t have the chance to since they spot Danny’s car, wrapped around a light pole, with Danny’s mangled body inside. It’s pretty graphic, including a piece of windshield sticking out of Danny’s eye like a knife. Blerg. Jen spots them and gives them a blank stare… Shelli notices she’s covered in blood. I wonder if the police noticed that fact? Probably not.

The gang of awful friends, minus Danny, discuss what to do next. (We find out that Danny’s car hit a patch of ice in the parking lot, and slammed into the light pole. So the police ruled it an unfortunate accident. Since this is the Shadyside police though, we should know that Danny’s death was definitely not an accident.) The friends decide that someone should talk to Jen one on one. How is it possible that MURDER came before “talking to Jen” on their list of things to do? Seriously guys! Del says that he’ll talk to her because their working on the school play sets tomorrow together and can grab her alone. Also, how are they still so concerned about this test thing? Shouldn’t they have an epiphany about how their lives are precious, and some things are more important than getting into Harvard? No? I blame the parents.

The next day, Liam, Mayra and Shelli wait for Del outside the school so they can hear verdict on whether or not their still screwed. After a little while, they witness a body being flung from the second story window of the school. Yeah. It’s Del. But’s he’s not dead, just in a coma! Which *SPOILER* is actually pretty lucky by the end of things. Liam, Mayra and Shelli are at Shelli’s house again, discussing this new development. Shelli thinks they’re being punished with horrific accidents for having murderous thoughts. Jennifer walks into Shelli’s living room to shake things up a bit. She tells them horrifyingly graphic details about Danny’s death even when they beg her to stop. It gets better though! She knows that Danny was trying to kill her and that all of her friends sent him to do it. Jen: “So, friends, you leave me no choice. Now I have to kill the rest of you – one by one.” WTF. What kind of reaction is that to finding out your friends want you dead? Is there one kid in Shadyside that doesn’t immediately jump to the “murder” conclusion when faced with a problem?

Liam, Shelli and Mayra decided that they REALLY need to kill her now and come up with a new plan. They’ll get mousy Mayra to ask Jen to meet her on a rickety bridge, over the gorge north of town. When Jen gets there, Mayra will just push her off the bridge. What?! How is that their plan? Do they think that Jen is slow? She already killed one person and maimed another one. Liam and Shelli will be hiding in the woods to help push Jen off the bridge.

Liam and Shelli get to the gorge about 15 minutes early, and see that police are already there! They think that Mayra did the deed by herself and get ready to hightail it outta there. They stop a man walking his dog nearby and ask him what happened. They’re in luck because this man happens to be the sole witness! (how often does that happen?!) He tells them that he was walking his dog in the gorge when a body flew over him from the bridge. He tells them the name of the deceased: Mayra.

Well who didn’t see that one coming. Jen killed yet another one of their friends. Later, while watching the news, there’s another new development. Apparently, Mayra left a suicide note on her computer saying “I’M SORRY I CHEATED ON THE EXAM. I CAN’T LIVE WITH MYSELF ANYMORE.” Wouldn’t it be more likely that she’d kill herself due to one of her friends dying? That message couldn’t have been MORE fake, but Shelli is all, Maybe Jen didn’t kill her! Psssst, Shelli. She still killed Danny and threw Del out a window.

Liam tells Sherri that he’s going to finally take care of Jen for real. Shelli begs him not to, for reasons unbeknownst to me. She figures out that Jen is working on the school play sets and heads over there to stop Liam. She’s a little bit too late, as she sees Liam’s dead body hanging from the rafters of the auditorium. She tries to get him down before thinking that Jen might still be around, waiting to kill her too. (*Interesting sidenote. This book took place in the age of cellphones and car phones so to get around these pesky inconveniences, there was a lot of “Liam didn’t pick up!” and “Shelli realized her phone was dead!”)

Of course Jen is there. She greets Shelli with a “Hi, friend.” which I like to imagine wasn’t sarcastic at ALL. Shelli asks Jen how she killed all her friends and Jen drops the bombshell. “It’s not hard to kill the ones that killed you.” BAM! Although I’m not that excited because even though Jen IS dead, she’s no zombie. She’s actually a corporeal ghost. Lame! That’s why she has supernatural killing powers.

Jen tells her how dumb their decision to kill her was, since they probably could have retaken the exam the next year. Then she pounces on Shelli! Shelli manages to get free, and turns off the lights in the auditorium. Smart? Well not really, since this gives Shelli almost no advantage over Jen. Shelli trips, makes tons of noise, and then Jen turns the lights back on. Jen throws Shelli on the stage with inhumane strength and proceeds to strangler her. Only… Jen can’t. Why you ask? Because Shelli is still wearing the stupid necklace that Jen made for her in the first grade.

Yeah. This is another dead person, defeated by love. Shelli tells Jen she never WANTED to kill her (it was an accident! … not really) and Jen still tries to strangle Shelli but she has no strength left. Jen whispers that she can’t kill Shelli, and hugs her then disappears. Huh. I bet Jen wished the SHELLI felt the same way before planning her murder! UGH. That was so bad. SOOO bad.

I’m kinda sorry that there was no romance in this book, so the end could be shit on some more by a post-traumatic stress induced make out session. Instead the book ends with Shelli’s parents telling her that because Mayra cheated on the college prep exam, everyone in the state has to take another test. BURN!

This was awful. I guess I got to used to the awesome madness of Fear Park that I forgot how truly shitatious some Fear Streets can be. 4 first-grade-necklaces-that-save-lives out of 67.