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.

9 comments:

Chad Walters said...

I think a lifeguard's job is the OPPOSITE of murder, actually.


And a dead seagull in the bed? Apparently Sean is in the mob.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what an amazing ending. A climactic water scooter showdown. Not only that, but implausible and abusive therapy methods designed to drive people insane! I can see why this one's so popular.

A. M. Stine said...

You would think that after Adam told Sean that HE found the seagull in HIS bed, Sean would have realized he was traumatizing the wrong bed. Personally, I think Sean knew it was Adam's bed, and was just a huge douche. Good review!

Chad Walters said...

This is somewhat off topic, but I was at a Sarah Vowell lecture today and she mentioned that one of the people killed in the Salem Witch Trials was named Sarah Goode. I think it's obvious what that made me think of. At first, I was thinking that Sarah was actually the name of the character and R.L. sneaked an historical person into the Fear Street series, but alas, I was wrong.

zanne said...

Great recap! I really liked this one.

"A lifeguard's job can be murder"... that is hilarious. Maybe on Baywatch, though!

That is funny how the "water scooter" just rides off into the sunset. ha

Whitney G said...

And what ever happens to the rogue water scooter? I like to think it travels the seas, fighting injustice wherever it sees it.

Hee! I can't wait for High Tide 2: The Avenging Water Scooter.

Ali said...

When something "is murder", that means it's difficult. Like "this is murder on my legs" means "this is too hard and it's making my legs hurt".

A.M. Stine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RecallerReminder said...

Hohoho. I just love the cover with that hot guy :9