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.


M.H Stine said...

im sry but i liked this book ok? i thought it was really good...... i never knew Jen was a ghost big shock! lol really. iwould give it 15 shocking ghost secrets out of 20 yep ok... cya later guys!

Chad Walters said...

RE: the fashion on the cover.
The guys all seems to be wearing polos, which is a sure sign of being a d-bag.

"...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!"

So wait...is it winter break or spring break? (I assume spring since they're taking college tests, but I've taken one in December before, so that's not definitive.)

"Is there one kid in Shadyside that doesn’t immediately jump to the 'murder' conclusion when faced with a problem?"

There used to be, but they all got killed.

And I'm confused. When did they actually kill Jen? I imagine it'd have to be before Danny tries to run her over, since she kills him, but why would they try to kill someone they already killed? And, perhaps more importantly, why would they hang out with a person they already killed?

L. K. Stine said...

Hmm ... a "corporeal" ghost? Pretty convenient plot twist.

I actually think their murder plans are hilarious, in that they are what a fifteen year old might actually come up with. Like in Cheerleaders 3, when the all-powerful evil kept on trying to run over people with cars. What?

A. M. Stine said...

Hmmm i suppose there were some confusing aspects to this book... First of all, I meant Spring Break which is typically taken around March but up here in my hood? We call it winter break because it's still winter.

Also, Jen is killed by Danny (that's why she's covered in blood) but it doesn't mention HOW she killed Danny after that. Since she's a corporeal ghost after this, no one knows she's dead until she tells Shelli.

Also M.H., I can see why you liked this one. I didn't really expect Jen to be a killer ghost either! But, my favorites are always crazy, historical zombie ones, so i was disapointed with it :)

L. K. Stine said...

ps. I murdered someone to get into college. Just saying ...

Anonymous said...

I once tried to batter someone with hockey sticks, but it wasn't to get into university, they were just being annoying. Also, I guess Jen is a ghost because it wasn't exactly a big twist that she was killing them all. Maybe it should have been the principal trying to prevent his school from being discredited or something. Also, Jen can't face the fact that she cheated on a test, but murder is fine?

A. M. Stine said...

I do enjoy Jen's moral compass. I'm guessing as a ghost, she realized that cheating wasn't so bad either.

I don't think we ever hear about the principal of Shadyside High! I assume he/she is hiding from the press considering a few of their students die on a weekly basis...

LAK said...

The police are likely those few who survived previous evils so they just look the other way so as not to get involved again.

This cover reminds me of those horrible tie-dyed pants from the 90's. I don't know why, I'm prolly just weird that way.

L. K. Stine said...

The vice principal of Shadyside High was totally devoured by a ball of rage mist in trapped.
I guess I'd hide if I was the principal too.

zanne said...

I actually kinda liked this one! I think it's a little ridiculous that they automatically think killing their friend is the only solution, but otherwise I liked it.

So how did Jennifer die? Danny did kill her, and then she killed him?

Deathycat said...

Maybe she killed him with her evil ghostly powers and made him run into that telephone pole.

L. K. Stine said...

Or she was the reason he had a shard of glass stabbed into his eye - ick!

Karmyn said...

There were only four of the "New" Fear Street books, plus the Fear Street Nights Trilogy and the 12 book Fear Street Seniors series. Fear Street Seniors rocks. The Fear Street Nights Trilogy was pretty cool. The Stepbrother was the best of the New Fear Street books.
Maybe Stine decided that the people that had grown up with Fear Street had gotten too old for them and the ones old enough for Fear Street were into other things.
I'd still rather read the worst Fear Street than Twilight anyday.

L. K. Stine said...

Karmyn, you are so wise. Fear Street > Twilight any day of the week.

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RecallerReminder said...

This plot was ridicoulous (not like something new in these books) and kinda incoherent, from the murdering plan to the ghost-zombie-whatever Jennifer was...Besides, the tittle is a complete lie, since Jennifer never screamed and was not even the main character.