Sunday, March 15, 2009

Beach Party or "Kidnappings: The New Erotic Date?"

Here is another R.L. book that does NOT take place in Shadyside (awful, I know). But it does take place in L.A., land of plastic surgery and overpaid movies stars! Exciting! Except this book isn’t really that exciting. And I never figured out how I felt about any of the main characters… I’m kinda ambivalent towards all of them, and that’s probably not a good sign.

While the cover leaves something to be desired (no early 90s teens giving us their best “scared” faces??) the tagline is classic R.L.! “Some came to party. Some came to die.” YES! At every party I go to, at LEAST one person came there specifically to die! No, wait… that would be insane. I also like how the tagline has nothing to do with the actual plot. Points for randomness!

Our two main characters are Karen (brunette, pretty, from L.A.) and Ann-Marie (blond, pretty, from New York). Those are basically their personalities. Ann-Marie serves almost no real purpose throughout this book, so I guess she didn’t really need a personality? There’s no excuse about Karen though. Ann-Marie is out visiting Karen, and due to some quick trickery between divorced parents, they scored a beach-side condo without parents for the whole week! (subliminal implication: Divorced parent are baaaad. They don’t care about their childreeeen.) The first night Ann-Marie is there, Karen meets one of the two guys that are her love interests in the book. His name is Vince, he’s in a teenage street gang in Venice Beach and the two of them first meet when his gang surrounds the girls and THREATENS TO KIDNAP THEM. But of course! Who could resist?

Karen and Ann-Marie get rescued by her second suitor, the ever charming Jerry. He pulls the old “that’s my lil’ sis!” trick and gets the girls out of there ASAP. Karen thinks about how DISAPPOINTED she is that she didn’t get to see where it was going with Vince. Karen? That situation was going someplace verrrry different than you thought. Or not, depending what you’re into. Anyways, Jerry and his friend take the girls to grab some pizza with them, and they meet Jerry’s girlfriend Renee. Ooooo he did not mention her when he was playing knight in shining armor! After pizza, Renee does the thing most girls would do in that situation: Tells Karen to back the fuck down from Jerry, or else. Wait, do most girls do that? Or is that just me…?

The girls meet up with Jerry and his downer girlfriend Renee the next day on the beach. Renee has previously been lecturing Jerry about checking out other girls goods, and is not too impressed to be hanging out with Karen again. Karen mentions that she’s never been snorkeling before, and Renee perks up all of a sudden and offers to take her out! Hmmm jealous girlfriend taking you out to sea? Karen may want to re-think this one… Of course, Renee leads Karen over to some terrible rocks and horrible currents and then ignores Karen as she cries for help. Who’d thought?! Actually, that’s kinda REALLY crazy behaviour. Can you imagine killing someone just for talking to your loser high school boyfriend? That would become an even bigger regret as soon as Renee steps onto a college campus, and realizes what she wasted her time (and murderous ways) on.

Jerry notices that Karen is floundering at snorkeling and dives in to save her. Back at the beach, Renee seems horrified that she didn’t notice Karen’s plight and for some reason, everyone (but Karen) believes her. Karen also receives a threatening phone call that night, from someone telling her to stay away from Jerry. I completely enjoy how Karen is all “Could it be Renee!?” Hmmm, lets think…

The next day, Karen runs into Mike, her ex-boyfriend, on the boardwalk. Mike is pretty sweet and asks if they could hang out but Karen shoots him down mercilessly (“I hope we can stay friends. But no one ever really stays friends. That would be a little awkward don’t you think?” True, but harsh to say out loud!) To escape ex-boyfriend Mike, Karen jumps on the back of Vince’s motorcycle, who randomly showed up just as Karen was wishing for a tiny earthquake to make Mike disappear. Karen is all thrilled to be riding with Vince, until she realizes that he’s taking her out of town. Like kidnapping? Like what he threatened to do the FIRST TIME you guys met? I hope this story has a bad ending for Karen. When Vince finally stops in a different city, Karen demands to be taken home and Vince obliges. That’s it. What? Why was that included?

Karen’s in for another surprise when she gets home, because someone spray painted the words STAY AWAY FROM JERRY onto the hallway outside the condo. That’s certainly a way to get your message across. Could this also be Renee!? thinks Karen. Later that night, Karen leaves Ann-Marie at home (nice, I know) and goes to a BEACH party with Jerry and some other kids. (side note! Karen notes that Jerry is wearing: “tie-dyed jean cutoffs and a black and white striped crew neck pullover.” TIE-DYED JEAN CUTOFFS?!) They joke around about Karen dying, and how great Jerry is at saving people (this conversation becomes even MORE asshole-ish and terrible once we find out more about Jerry). Because who doesn’t love to joke about their near-death experience with strangers? At the party, Karen thanks Jerry for the life-saving, and they make with the smooches. When they go to rejoin the BEACH party, they see that Renee is standing there watching them! Dun dun duuuunnnn!

Renee pretends like she saw nothing, and Jerry plays along. Karen watches them walk off together all WTF?? which would probably be my reaction as well. Renee and Jerry have an … unstable relationship. Later that night, Renee confronts Karen and tells her that she saw the two of them together. She also lets Karen in on Jerry’s background story. Apparently the summer before, Jerry’s brother Todd drowned in the ocean because Jerry wasn’t able to save him in time. I told you his friends were ASSHOLES! Renee takes this heart wrenching tale and makes it all about her: because she and Jerry have been through a lot together, she’s not giving him up without a fight! Meow, rawr, hiss! Cat fight sounds!

Karen and Jerry have a date the next day and they stretch it well into the evening. What about Renee you ask? Jerry says to “not think about Renee”. Hmmm, convenient. When Karen crawls into bed after a long day of relationship wreaking, she finds herself covered in jellyfish! BLECH! Someone filled her bed with jellyfish, like some sort of coastal mob member. She can’t sleep for the rest of the night, and makes up her mind to go confront Renee the next morning to get her to stop all the craziness!

8am rolls around and Karen is on her way to tell Renee off once and for all. Only thing though… Renee is dead. And Karen is the one to discover her body. Yikes! Throughout all the police questioning, Karen keeps Renee’s creepy pranks to herself because she doesn’t want to look guilty. Well, I guess that’s reasonable… if you’re the MURDERER, Karen! The police always find out these things and then it makes you look worse… o wait. These are R.L.’s police officers. They’re not gonna figure anything out. Carry on, Karen. Karen and Ann-Marie are confronted outside by a girl claiming to be Jerry’s sister who warns Karen… to stay away from Jerry. Hmmm, maybe the crazy stalker wasn’t Renee? Karen is really confused by this new, random girl, especially after Jerry is all “But I don’t have a sister!”

Karen finally hangs out with Ann-Marie (who flew across the country to get ignored by her apparently) and they relax on the beach. Ann-Marie invites Karen for a walk but she refuses. Two minutes, dark and dangerous Vince asks her for a walk and Karen jumps at the chance! Actually, I’m starting to figure out Karen’s personality. …it’s not that great. Vince and Karen chat and walk along the beach, until they’re far away from all people. Karen gets nervous (since he did previously abduct her) but all he wants to do is tenderly kiss. She stutters that she’s confused and runs back to her blanket.

As she’s trying to clear her thoughts, she pulls out a typed messaged from her beach bag. STAY AWAY FROM JERRY is repeated over and over again. Do you think it was typewriter typed or computer typed?! Karen tries to shrug it off and put on more sunscreen. Only problem is that her sunscreen was replaced with ACID and it burns the skin off her hand and shoulder! Holy crap!

A few days after the skin-melting incident, Karen and Ann-Marie head down to the beach for some fun in the sun. Karen and Jerry decide to go snorkeling (Jerry’s moving on preeeeetty fast, don’t we think? For a non-Fear Street character that is) so Karen dons her wet suit, and away they go! Jerry leads her far out in the water, and Karen starts to have regrets, thinking she won’t be able to make it back to shore without help because of her shoulder. They stop, and Jerry asks about her arm. When Karen admits that it hurts and she’d like to go back now Jerry says: “I can’t help you. I’m not Jerry. I’m Todd.” Well. That was unexpected.

Todd/Jerry tells Karen that he has taken over Jerry’s body to warn people to stay away from Jerry. He says that Renee didn’t heed his warnings, so something bad happened to her. Ooo I feel a thrilling R.L. climax coming! (Ew.) Todd/Jerry yank off Karen’s snorkeling mask and throw it away! And then he/they swim back to shore! …Wait, what? That was the big dramatic end? Karen is like “Eff, now I need to get those glasses back” and then she swims back to shore! Like, really?!

Karen runs into Vince on the beach and she tells him all about crazy Jerry. They see Jerry on the beach and Vince rushes to tackle him. Only Jerry is back to normal, so he runs towards him and Vince ends up grabbing him around the chest in what was probably an awkward and unexpected man-hug. The girl claiming to be Jerry’s sister (who actually was his real sister) pops up and takes him away, hopefully to a mental institution, but we never really find out. Karen turns to Vince and asks if he’s someone she could lean on. Vince is all “Try me!”, scoops her up and runs away. Presumably, he’s just kidnapping her again.

So how anti-climatic was that? Renee died off-page, Todd/Jerry tried to kill Karen in the LEAST effective way possible, and then the final take-down scene ended in some sort of bro-mance. There weren’t even any lone water-scooters racing around! Also, did you notice how they went to ONE beach party and it had nothing to do with the plot? R.L. might as well have called it “Ann-Marie Enjoys Drinking Milk After Eating Ice Cream” because he also mentioned that fact at one point. You can sense my disappointment. I really don’t like these non-Fear Street books. From now on, I’m making L.K. do some. I give this book 4 erotic kidnappings out of 13.

*Pssst! In this book there’s kinda a side story where Karen thinks that Ann-Marie is playing the creepy pranks on Karen because she’s jealous. But since both of the characters are boring, I decided not to include it. Short version? Ann-Marie is conveniently out when the phone calls come in, and Karen finds spray paint in her room. The real reason for the mysterious behavior?? Ann-Marie is secretly dating ex-boyfriend Mike! …That’s kinda uncool, isn’t it? Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhh, nah Karen deserved it.


Sadako said...

I was totally hoping it would turn out that Anne Marie was secretly in love with Karen and was doing everything to sabotage her. But my MO with R.L. Stine is to think of the most unlikely thing it could be. Like that everyone's really a dog already or they're on the moon.

L. K. Stine said...

Hmm ... someone switched her lotion for acid? Now what does that remind me of, A.M.?

Anonymous said...

Ann-Marie seemed like the obvious choice for a killer, so it couldn't have been her (or was she only obvious after disregarding the obvious?). Still, though, you're right; this book does sound pretty lame.

Wait a minute... Ann-Marie... A.M. "Stine"... oh my gods!

LAK said...

Why were there no links to the wicked cool fashions? I would like to see some of this pair of tie-dyed cutoffs. How cool would those be?

A. M. Stine said...

LAK: I couldn't find any good links! I googled "tie-dyed cutoffs" and one of the pictures was like a sonogram of a fetus. Wha?
L.K.: I actually read this book months ago, pulled my devious prank against you, then blogged yesterday to throw you off the trail. Except it didn't work... both you and Anon caught on that I am actually Ann-Marie, boring-lame-boyfriend-stealing-friend extrodinaire!

Anonymous said...

This book reminds me so much of SUNBURN.

Devika said...

"Coastal mob members" made me laugh out loud for a good 10 minutes.

Amya said...

This book does suck (but the re-cap was hilarious). I don't understand the acid in the bottle thing. Why wouldn't Karen run into the ocean in an attempt to remove the acid? Wouldn't it start burning her hands before she started to spread it all over her body? Wouldn't the potency of the acid be compromised by the stuff it was mixed with to make it look like sunscreen??? AGH!

Elizabeth said...

At one point, when Karen and Jerry and other kids were in a van on the way to somewhere, didn't one of the kids make a joke about asking Karen if she is a virgin or not? I remember reading that and being surprised because references to sex are almost never mentioned in R.L. Stine's books (other than the word "sexy" being used sometimes).

RecallerReminder said...

Indeed this books gets boring too fast, the characters just dont give us anything to rely on. Even the twist about split personality which Stine rarely use didnt feel shocking enough...specially if thats his best idea to threat the main character (how stupid, she didnt need help at all to got save).