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.


Deathycat said...

Wow that was boring. Glad I never read it. And Shadyside is in Massachusetts. It actually says it in Sign of Fear, one of the Sagas.

Deathycat said...

And I've been meaning to give you this link.

I scanned all my FS books so if you ever need a cover help yourself. I have most of them. ^_^

A. M. Stine said...

Hey you're right! I'm doing sign of Fear soon.... I wonder why they don't ever talk about Shadyside being in Massachusetts in any of the other books... Also, that tears apart my theory about why R.L. didn't make The Hitchhiker a Fear Street book. Makes. no. sense.

M.H Stine said...

i read this book so yea plz plz plz plz plz plz plz do "High Tide" 3 words best......Fear or is that 4? 5? well whatever its just really good!!!

Chad Walters said...

I was just about to comment that it was in Massachusetts, actually, so I'm glad I read the other comments before I post. But I always felt that Shadyside was unmistakeably in New England, I just could never figure out the exact state.

And this could;ve totally been a Fear Street book; just make Christina a Fear and Teri from Waynesbridge.

Anonymous said...

i used to love this book - mad piranah fun!
thanks for reviewing this and making me realise how awful it truly was...and the dry desert vagina line...awesomeness!
poppet x

Anonymous said...

Oh, I think I read this book, as I remembered the twist. Or maybe I'm just too used to YA horror twists.

And Point Horror was more popular in the U.K., right? But I never saw any Fear Street books in the U.K. I always assumed R.L. was just writing for a different market.

L. K. Stine said...

Thanks so much for the link, Deathycat ... much better quality then what I can usually come up with. I admire your FS collection.

I'm pretty sure I spit out my tea when I read the dry desert vagina comment ...

zanne said...

I didn't know Shadyside is in Massachusetts! I always thought it was in New England somewhere, but never really knew for sure.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, 'Point Horror' was a lot more popular in the uk. I remember when I first saw them in the bookshops. Teenage books about murder, but with such beautiful covers. HA HA.. That's what instantly attrached me to them. I was heartbroken when years later. They started to re-issue them with those horrible silver covers.

They did produce the 'Fear street' books in the uk. As I have some of the british editions which I got online. Obviously they were nowhere near as popular as point horror. As I had never heard about them until I found them online.

Anonymous said...

Now that I think about it, Point Horror probably asked Stine for contributions because of the success of Fear Street, which is similar in premise. And if Fear Street didn't take off in the U.K. in the same way Point Horror did, perhaps he was equally happy to oblige?

Anonymous said...

I actually really liked Stine's contributions to the 'Point horror' series. It is what first got me into his work. So, yeah.. The publicity from the point horror series was a good marketing ploy.

To the owner of this site. I look forward to reading your reviews of the 'Fear street nights' books. Are they coming up soon? Please tell me I haven't missed them. *looks away all embarrassed*

L. K. Stine said...

Anon - We are working on acquiring the "Fear Street Nights" series as we speak. I'm really excited to do them, because I didn't know they existed until I began to check Amazon for Fear Street books obsessively. Are they any good - they seem like they might be more "adult".

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the 'Fear street nights' books are a little bit more edgey.

I can't remember the exact plot, because it's been a while since I read them.

You guys are not going to believe what they did to our beloved 'Fear Street' in those books.

Ok, that's enough. I'm not going to give anything away. Lol

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm hyped.

Unknown said...

it may be boring but this happens to be one of my favorites ever.

i need to reread this book again though.

RecallerReminder said...

I liked this book even if the characters were so lame...Was cool the turn on the revenge part (the girls totally deserve it and James was just a jerk).