Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Call Waiting, or “Unbalanced Teenaged Stalkers Learn A Thing or Two About Life”

Karen and Micah are on a stakeout, stalking Karen’s boyfriend Ethan. Yup, she’s stalking her own boyfriend. She’s obsessed with him, convinced that he is out with someone else, because he told her he had to work the night shift. Micah is convinced her best friend is nutters. They are freezing in the winter night since they would run out of gas if they leave the car running. Oh, to be seventeen again. Ethan comes home a half hour before his work shift should have been, and Karen takes this as proof that he’s cheating. She drives like a lunatic on icy roads, and gets into a (minor) accident. I believe this chapter is to best capture how psycho our heroine of the story truly is.

Ethan comes over the next day. Karen questions (sneakily) where he was the night before, and he answers at work, but unfortunately for him, Ethan’s friend Jake pops in right behind him to hand him his wallet THAT HE LEFT AT HIS PLACE LAST NIGHT. Karen reels with the knowledge that Ethan is both cheating on her, and lying about it. Ethan wants to talk about something serious with Karen, and she knows he’s about to break up with her ... but they are interrupted by Karen’s prankster older brother, so they don’t have that talk, yet. Karen threatens to kill that bitch Wendy Talbot, who she thinks Ethan is seeing behind her back, further proving her mental stability to us all.

Karen’s cousin Adam recently moved to their town, so Karen shows up at school early to show him around. While wandering the school, Karen spies Ethan and Wendy talking together, and goes into a blind rage. She manages to wait until lunchtime, when she goes to confront Wendy. They have words at the top of a stairwell, and all of a sudden Wendy finds herself at the bottom of the stairwell, with head injuries. Karen does exactly what any innocent person would do, and runs away. She was so angry she can’t remember exactly what had happened at the stairwell. Interesting side note: Karen is wearing blue Doc Martens. These little details are not lost on me, R. L.

Karen leaves school for the day, and gets home to find her mother waiting for her. Micah had called her to let her know what went down at school, because she was really worried about her. What is this: a responsible friend? I’ve never seen anything like it before. Karen responds well, in that she feels completely betrayed and freaks out on Micah, telling her they’ll never be friends again. To make the day even better, Ethan shows up and breaks up with her. Karen LOSES IT. Ethan gets the hell away from her (reasonably, in this case), then calls her from a safe distance to see how she is doing a half hour into the break up. Karen is doing surprisingly much better, she’s calm and apologizes for her previous behaviour ... until the call comes.

A call comes in on call waiting, so she switches over to get it. When she comes back on the line, she’s all breathy and frightened – whoever was on the other line threatened to hurt her! Ya, right, typical teenage drama. While her story is so flimsy it should be wearing a bra, Ethan eats it up and comes rushing to her side to protect the poor damsel in distress. They decide it was probably a joke, and they shouldn’t get the police involved.

And so the Ethan-Karen romance continues. Every time he tries to distance himself from her, like clockwork a threatening call would come in. Ethan wanders around like he’s suffocating, clearly not enjoying his time with crazy. Meanwhile Micah is trying to restore their friendship, but Karen will have none of it. She actually runs away from her, because that is how mature people handle awkward situations. She promptly runs into Wendy, holding a gun! Karen assumes Wendy is going to kill her, until she’s reminded that Wendy’s the propmaster for the school’s production of Guys and Dolls. Wendy also has some timely advice for Karen – not everything is all about her. And also, although she knows she didn’t push her down the stairs, Karen was a bitch for running away and not helping her. I like Wendy.

Karen goes that night to see Ethan at his work, like the stalker that she is, only to be told he quit two weeks ago. Not only is Karen a stalker, she’s a shitty stalker. She calls Ethan to demand an explanation, and guess what? The call waiting stalker calls her at that very time. She pleads with him to come over, which he refuses, but he does agree to take her out on Saturday night.

Saturday rolls around, and Karen is primping for her date, not yet ready. Ethan comes over and is talking to her brother, mentions the threatening call waiting calls Karen has been getting. Big brother is all “But we don’t have call waiting.” Dun dun DUN! Karen’s shallow excuse for keeping her dying relationship going is exposed. She fesses up when confronted by Ethan, her mom, and her brother, admitting to making the calls up in order to keep Ethan with her. They all are pretty convinced she’s unstable, and her mom makes her see a shrink to talk about it, but Ethan STILL TAKES HER OUT THAT NIGHT. Being handed solid evidence your boyfriend/girlfriend is so wtf crazy they make up threatening calls to keep you with them is a fully legitimate reason to break a date, but Ethan is kind of okay with it. What does that say about Ethan?

Two weeks later, Ethan is uncomfortably over at Karen’s. Her mom thanks him for spending so much time with Karen, like he’s doing her a favour. As he heads up to Karen’s room, Karen gets a call: Karen, this is your imagination calling. I’m inside your brain. I’m going to kill you. I’m really going to kill you. I love how Karen’s imagination had to specify where it is, inside her brain, as opposed to somewhere else. Ethan obvs doesn’t believe her when she tells him, and she’s not even sure of herself that much.

At school, people are treating her differently, like she’s a crazy person. They clearly got the memo, then. Even Ethan’s friend Jake gives her the cold shoulder, but Ethan is still spending everysingleminute with her. A girl comes to get her at lunch, saying there’s a call for her in the principal’s office. The call is the same voice, same imagination-going-to-kill-you threat. Karen starts to freak out, until the secretary tells her not to use the phone she’s holding, since it is out of order. Karen really freaks out.

Her cousin Adam sees her in the hallway, and offers to take her home because she’s pretty incoherent. Karen is really worried about her head-state, and speaks with her psychologist, which is pretty responsible too, and not really the actions of a crazy person. Which we find out she may not be, when the next day the secretary at the office tells her that the phone actually had been working yesterday. Vindication! Karen’s happy she’s not for reals crazy, but it also means she’s getting for reals threatening phone calls.

Ethan still won’t believe her. As she gets clingier, he clearly can’t stand to be around her, ditching her as much as possible. He’s just blown her off another night when she gets another phone call. She starts to cry, because she’s so alone and such a victim, when she hears a noise in the background and stops. SHE KNOWS WHO IT IS.

She dashes out to confront the caller, and drives to ... Micah’s house. She runs in and babbles out an accusation. Karen knew it was Micah because she heard the weird cuckoo clock of her father’s in the background, while Micah was threatening her with imagination-death. Micah turns evil mean girl, and says she did it all for Ethan. Ethan was going to leave Karen not for Wendy, but for Micah, but then decided against it when Karen got all the poor-me threatening phone calls. Micah figured Karen was already mentally unstable, so what was the difference if a few phone calls pushed her over the edge? Ethan would be hers!

Karen lunges for Micah, who strikes back with a hot poker from the fire. Wow, that was an escalation. Hot poker = automatic fight to the death. Micah’s about to brain Karen, when Ethan rushes in to stop her. Both girls immediately burst that the other was trying to kill them, and Ethan sides with ...

Karen! That’s pretty surprising. He was on the phone with Micah when Karen burst in, and she never hung up, so he heard Micah’s evil confession. Note to evildoers – don’t ever tell us your whole plan. It will come back to bite you in the ass. Ethan hadn’t stayed with Karen because he felt sorry for her, but because he cared about her. Awww, that’s so sweet. So he wasn’t feeling suffocated by the crazy so that he had to blow her off all the time. Apparently Ethan is just a bad boyfriend. Ethan and Karen leave hand in hand and live happily ever after.

Worst ending ever! Actually, worst plot line ever. I wish that Karen really had been crazy, that would have been the actual twist for me. I feel certain that this is a normal occasion at high school these days. A bunch of teen drama queens who are way too into themselves and have way too much time on their hands make up a bunch of crap to keep their partners on a leash, and fence with hot fire pokers. This happens all the freakin’ time, give me something a little more creative! 11 imagination death threats out of 68.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fear Street Sagas: Children of Fear, or “By Nature Evil”


We begin with Luke Fier, hero of the novel, trapped in a dark cellar with a tangle of snakes, who are all intent at killing him as soon as the candle he has burns out. Why is it that snakes are afraid of a little fire, do you think? I’m remembering Indiana Jones here, how snakes don’t slither into the torchlight, but is that really accurate? As a rattlesnake, I’m not sure the weak flicker of one candle would get between me and my dinner, but as a rattlesnake, I’d probably be awesome, so I’m not sure if that means anything. Anyways, Luke here is protected by the candlelight, and decides that he is going to write his life story on the wall while he waits to die, because someone needs to know the truth! He uses a rusty nail and his own blood. Since he’s about to be eaten by snakes, he has no fear of tetanus.

Western Pennsylvania, 1876

Luke is tilling his farm, as he contemplates his parent’s tragic death 6 months ago. The horses pulling their carriage went mad as they were driving along a ravine, and the carriage rolled over, killing everyone inside. This leaves Luke as a 16 year old farmer and sole provider for his younger siblings, Leah and Corey. Unfortunately, farming is not Luke’s forte, and they are thisclose to losing the farm. Luke is also anxious about Corey, as the little guy has been mute since their parents died. He and Leah constantly try to get him to speak, but he stubbornly refuses. Being the responsible guardian that he is, Luke takes them all to the county fair, where Leah enters into a horse race with a winning of $50, enough to save the farm!

Leah has a special talent with animals, a gift one could say, inherited from her father, and feels confident she can win this. So do the mean bullying brothers Thomas and Earl Wade, who at first won’t let her enter the race, because “yer a gurl.” She does enter, and is ready to kick some ass, when the Wade brothers (I’m sorry, they just sound dumb, don’t they) try to take her down. They keep grabbing her horse’s bridle as she rides, nearly causing her to fall. Then, all of a sudden, Thomas’ horse attacks Earl’s horse, and they all come tumbling down, except for sure-footed Leah, who goes on to win the race. Only everyone in town says she’s evil, and the mayor won’t give her the prize money. That’s one way to save a buck, I guess. Try using that one tomorrow at Starbucks: “I’m not going to give you this money because I’m pretty sure you’re evil.”

Well, it works for the poor Fier kids, who go home in defeat. Just then, Luke’s neighbour Jack comes riding in to warn Luke about a strange sickness that is affecting all the cows in the village. Apparently green slime comes out of the noses, then they go crazy and have to be put down. Like, mad cow? Luke’s cows are fine, but as they are checking on them, Jack sees Leah feeding a wolf and freaks out. I guess that’s valid. Leah checks over the cows and is confident that they will be fine, and she’s right. But it becomes a little suspicious when they are the only cows in town that are spared the illness.

It also doesn’t help her case when they go to the general store, and a huge poisonous snake is found in there. As all the townspeople flee, Leah just wraps the snake around her, saying she’ll release it out in the wilderness where it belongs. So, it doesn’t take long for an angry group of men to show up there in the dead of night to kill Luke’s cows, leaving a head on the porch (ooooh, early-times mafia!) Attached is a note: Our cows die – your cows die. Stop your sister. Or we will.

That week Luke gives out the last of his money to keep the farm. That night, a mob of villagers burn down their house, demanding Leah. The Fier children come choking out of the burning building to see all their animals slaughtered, and the men prepared to hang them all. This is definitely the correct way to deal with mad cow, let me tell you. As they converge on the three of them, all of the men’s horses flip out and run away, leaving them alone. The Fiers flee, taking refuge in the forest. A wolf brings Leah food to feed them. That’s actually a pretty handy gift to have.

The next morning, the Fiers happen across the orphan train. Well isn’t that convenient. The orphan train is a train that keeps poor parent-less children on board, stopping in towns to see if anyone wants to buy cheap labour (ahem!) I mean adopt them. Dear god, was this early Child Services? Jesus it sounds a little too much like a slave train to me, but the Fiers have nowhere else to go, so they hop aboard. Luke promises Leah and Corey that they will not be separated, no matter what. Once on the train, they are bullied by a group of boys, one of whom holds Corey over the side of the train. They are all attacked by bees. Leah finds this endlessly amusing, saying they deserved it.

Luke ponders his situation at night, and spots a beautiful girl his age. He gets up the nerve to go talk to her – her name is Mary, and is sweet but shy. They fall in love. Luke is happier on the orphan train then he has in a long time. They stop the next morning at the next town, and everyone gets off to be inspected, weighed, and potentially “adopted.” Leah dislikes being shown off like a hog at a fair (her words, not mine), and I have to agree with her. One of the bullies from the other day looks like he might be bought, when all of a sudden a good-natured dog goes berserk and rips his cheek off. Leah thinks this is brilliant, while Luke begins to wonder if Leah is using her powers for evil.

Leah attacks Luke that night for thinking she’s evil, throttling him while he’s asleep. Um, probably not helping your cause there, Leah. Luke is more convinced that Leah is unhinged, and he should be on the lookout for bees or wild dogs and such. Another bully steals Luke’s porridge the next morning, but it turns out to be full of leeches. Yeech! Nightmares about porridge for days now. Luke thinks that Leah had something to do with the leeches, that they were in fact intended for him.

The matron of the train demands Corey speak, or he’ll be removed from the train – take that, Child Services! Next thing you know, she is murdered by a murder of crows. Hmmm, the evidence is mounting. Luke is certain that Leah is evil, but still loves his sister and doesn’t know what to do. He goes to talk to Mary about it, but at that moment she is unfortunately bit by a black widow spider. Luke climbs to the roof of the train and heroically jumps to the engine car to get the engineer to stop as someone needs medical attention. Alas, too late! Mary dies. Her last words are “I saw the evil, Luke. You must kill ...”

Luke is certain Leah is the killer, but he doesn’t want to kill her. They get off the orphan train at the next town, ominously named “Last Chance.” They bury Mary, then go find work. They meet the Greens, a lovely child-less couple, who immediately take them in. Because it’s always that easy. They are mainly happy with the Greens, although Mrs. Green wants Leah to be a lady, and Leah isn’t very lady-like. She does play with wolves, after all. Mrs. Green gets fed up and threatens to send Leah away for being wilful. Leah runs to the barn, and because she is so upset, all the animals in the barn start to act strange, being so affected by her mood. Luke worries. He does this a lot, actually. Not a take-action kind of man.

Next morning, Luke and Corey go to feed the hogs, but they go insane. They break out of their pen and chase down Mrs. Green, trampling her to death. One can only assume they eat her body afterwards (I have a small fear of enormous hogs. Poll: What’s scarier: cats or pigs?) Luke can’t handle the guilt of what he knows, and tells Mr. Green everything, including his suspicions that Leah is behind his wife’s death. They decide to take Leah to the insane asylum, conveniently located down the street. Of course, Luke waits until they are in a horse-drawn carriage to tell Leah he’s locking her up, because he’s a moron. The horses go crazy and plunge through the plate glass of the general store. The store somehow catches fire (??). Luke manages to get himself and Corey out before the kerosene in the store explodes, but Leah is nowhere to be seen ... because she’s being hauled away into the insane asylum.

Luke tucks Corey into bed that night, promising him a better life, starting now. Well, maybe not now. Luke is awoken to Mr. Green’s scream, coming from the cellar. He creeps down there to find Mr. Green’s body, and innocent mute little Corey kissing and talking to a group of rattlesnakes.

I so knew that! I’m pretty sure I read this a long time ago, and pretty much the whole book my thought was, “It’s the kid, right? I’m sure it’s the kid.” Called it. Well, I guess it’s not really “calling it” so much as “read the book before and remembered how it ended.” Anyways, I should have known anyways, because mutes are kind of like mimes, and mimes are creepy.

So, apparently Corey also inherited a gift with animals, and would use it whenever people were mean to him, or to his beloved sister. And Luke had just been really mean to Leah. Corey locks Luke in the cellar with the rattlers, which is where we find him at the beginning of the book. The candle finally wears out, and the snakes are free to descend on Luke. Just then, Leah bursts into the cellar. Corey and Leah have an animal-off, as she tries to convince them to stop, and he tries to convince them to kill. Leah gets through to the snakes at the last second, reminding them they are creatures of nature, not of evil, and should not be used this way. Aw, that sounds like a nice message.

Corey screams that he hates them, and runs away. Luke and Leah are reunited. He’s wondering whether she got a bear or something to break her out, but apparently Leah just calmly explained to the doctors that she wasn’t crazy, she just had a gift with animals, so they let her go. Because that’s how it works in 19th century insane asylums. They decide to live in the Green’s house and take over the farm (despite never actually being adopted) and live pretty happily, despite Luke’s tragic tetanus (no, I made that up). But always waiting, wondering what will happen when Corey comes back ...

I remember liking this book when I was younger, and then secretly kind of liking it again now. Largely because I think being able to command animals is cool. However, I found the whole concept of the orphan train really disturbing. Did this really happen? And how is it that they can sell orphans like livestock, but a 13 year old girl can still talk her way out of a mental institute. It’s like no one was paying attention. Did you even try, ghost writer? An orphan train seems kind of gimmicky. I like that the creepy mute toddler was the bad guy, though. 13 candle-fearing rattlers out of 17.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cat or "C-A-T Never Spells Murder. That's Just Silly."

I think the tagline of this Fear Street book really sums up the entirely of the book:

“C-A-T spells murder.”

Um, no. That makes no sense. But as you’ll see, this book is basically about cats, murder and nonsense. So, I guess we can give the tagline author a pat on the back?

My first reaction to the cover of Cat was that the girl was hot but also kinda old. Those cat eyes are giving her some major face-lift face. I also assumed by the cover that at some point, this covergirl (Kit) and the cat would change places/morph/body snatch. Swear to goodness! My first note about the book says “Hot  switch places?”

Cat is a unique Fear Street in that its main character is boy. Marty is a hotshot on the basketball team and has two best friends: Barry who is tall, with anger issues and Dwayne who is funny but chubby and always wearing Hawaiian shirts. How… unfortunate. Other important characters are Kit, the new hawt-ie that everyone is intimidated by, Gayle the bleeding-heart animal rights activist, and Riki, Gayle’s friend who is now stalking Marty after been dumped.

The book starts at basketball practice, where Gayle and Riki come to interview Marty for the school paper. They discuss the stray cat who recently began squatting under the bleachers and has been a menace to the basketball team ever since. Even though Marty is an All. Star. Athlete. he can never seem to catch the cat, who keeps running across the court during practices and games.

Pretty much just to prove his point, the cat gets tangled in Marty’s feet while he’s trying to do some basketball move, and Marty bangs up his knee. He’s super stressed about this because he’s in the running for a scholarship and can’t afford to miss any games. So obviously, he vows revenge on the cat.

Later that afternoon, he successfully gets it! The boys (who call themselves the Three Musketeers, by the way. UGH) are in the gym with Gayle and Riki when the cat scampers by and leads them on a chase. Marty actually catches it for once (with a bum knee? That cat wanted to be caught) but then loses his balance and has to drop the cat to save himself. “I thought cats always landed on their feet.” Except when their thrown from great heights, I guess. Anyways, the cat is dead, Dwayne and Barry are insensitive about it and Gayle freaks the fudge out and accuses Marty of killing it on purpose.

Gayle actually goes ape-shit about this cat killing business, although it seems pretty obvious that Marty dropped the cat to save himself, like a normal person would do. Gayle however tells the school that Marty is a cat killer and everyone is all judge-y. They end up taking Marty to Student Court! Which is totally awesome. Both Gayle and Marty tell their stories and the jury decides that while Marty did not kill the cat on purpose, he is guilty of animal cruelty and being a total jerk. Ha. Marty has to do 30 hours of community service at the animal shelter (cause I’m sure they’d want him). Can Student Courts do that? Impose punishments? Anyone have a Student Court at their high school?

Right after the “sentence” is read, Marty sees a cat under a chair in the room. It’s the same silver cat with diamond shaped black sploch on its face that Marty killed just the day before! Everyone kinda looks at Marty like he’s nuts and ignores him.

Everything seems to be going back to normal for Marty. Until he starts hearing cat noises… mewing and hissing. He even gets an obscene phone call! I was kinda hoping the person would meow at him. But it ends up being Riki, whose pissed off because she saw Marty talking to another girl. Marty reminds her that they only went on a few dates, and he is therefore NOT HER BOYFRIEND. She says some crazy things and Marty ends up telling her to get a life. Which she needed to hear, I think.

Marty has to start his community service the next night. His boss Carolyn is surprisingly nice to him, considering he’s there because he was cruel to animals. And of course she just leaves him alone there! As soon as Carolyn leaves the building, all the dogs and cats start to go nuts. Barking, hissing, heaving, drooling, the works. Marty gets Carolyn to come straight back, but of course when she gets there… they all mysteriously stop freaking out. Carolyn thinks Marty is crazy.

Things look up for Marty romantically though, as he and Kit flirt a little bit in the cafeteria and decide to go for ice cream later that day. When Marty walks her home though, he’s dismayed to find out she owns like a bizillion cats. Who all freak out when Marty comes inside the house. He makes a quick exit, which is probably exactly what I would do too. (Confession: I am totally terrified of cats. This book gave me the extreme heebie jeebies)

Marty’s walking home a little later, when he hears a little “mew”. He turns around to see a cat following him. Creepy. It gets even more terrifying when a bunch of the cat’s friends join up. Marty looks behind and see about 10 cats closing in on him. He decides to make a break for it and outrun the cats. “’They’re only cats’, I told myself. OR WERE THEY?” Subtle, R.L. Marty makes it to his front door, with cats scratching up his pants/shirt, but when he turns to face them, he sees that they’re… gone. OR WERE THEY EVER THERE??

The big game is the next night, and Marty has been given the OK to play! With his help, they win the game and have a “wild celebration in the locker room.” Hmmm. Marty has to go back to school after the game though, because he forgot his knapsack. He sees Gayle run out of the gym and wonders what she was doing there that late. Things take a turn for the worse when he stumbles across a body. A body wearing… a Hawaiian shirt! It’s Dwayne! He’s so slashed to hell, Marty can barely recognize him. A cat meows in the distance. (For real.)

Marty has the least intense confrontation with Gayle the next day. He doesn’t tell the police about seeing Gayle run out but needs to make sure she wasn’t involved. He goes to Gayle and asks her if she did it. She says no. He believes her. Case closed, Detective Marty!

At basketball practice, Marty and Barry make the decision with the team to continue to chase the championships without Dwayne. “In his honor!” Or so you can get your scholarship, Marty. After practice Marty walks in on Barry making out with Riki in the hallways. Two things about this: Obviously Riki is doing this to make Marty jealous. And further more, Barry’s friend was JUST MURDERED. COOL YOUR HORMONES. Jeez!

Marty has some more community service hours at the animal shelter. Carolyn again leaves him alone. Only this time, instead of the animals freaking out on Marty, someone (or something) mysterious, lets all the cats out of their cages! They start to slowly creep up and surround Marty. Marty does what any man would do: grabs a broom and swats ‘em!

Luckily, Carolyn comes in to find Marty batting the cats around. Whoops, did I say luckily? I meant unfortunately. That’s got to look bad! After being let off community service early, Marty goes to Barry’s house and walks in on Barry and Riki making out. Really, guys? Common, now!

Early the next morning, the police come to Marty’s house to tell them the bad news: Barry’s been murdered. All slashed up apparently. Actually, their words were “He was clawed to pieces.” Is that really appropriate to tell a loved one?? The officers ask Marty some questions, since you know, he was one of the last people to see Barry alive, AND he found Dwayne’s body. And killed that cat (what does the have to do with anything, copper?). Anyways, Marty’s all like “I didn’t kill anyone, I swear!” And the cops tell him that they know he’s innocent, they just have to ask. WHAT? How do they “know”? Did THEY kill his best friends?

Marty goes back to work at the animal shelter a few days later. Which I think is weird because he was busted ABUSING the animals, after been sent there for that SAME reason. Carolyn has no sense. Anyways, he’s sweeping up when the cats all start hissing. They know something’s up. And that something is… Kit! Yes, the girl that made an appearance for all of 2 chapters.

She tells him that it’s his turn to be punished. See, she’s … well, why don’t I let her explain it to you:

“I’m the cat, Marty,” she repeated. “You met my family – remember? The other cats in the house? Those are my brothers and sisters.” She raised a hand and clawed the air. “I’m a shape-shifter. I’m one of the last shape-shifters on earth. I shift between a girl and a cat. It’s so easy for me.” She took a step closer. “Why did you kill me, Marty?”

Right. So she’s the cat from under the bleachers… of course. I also don’t know why she’s so mad. She tells him that she has nine lives. So yeah, like one was wasted, that sucks. But is it really worth the murder of three boys? … Maybe.

The final fight scene is hilarious, though. Kit shrinks down into the cat, and then attacks Marty. And as far as I can tell, this cat has no special powers. So Marty is fighting… a regular house cat. She slashes his face and he drops to his knees and stares at her. Okayyy, not exactly the best plan.

Since Marty is so obviously out of his league in this fight, he does the only rational thing. He releases the disturbed dog that likes to kill everything, and I guess just hopes it kills the cat instead of him. Which is does. Marty’s lucky night!

The book ends with Marty playing in the basketball championships, and winning the game! But his moment of happiness is ruined when he looks under the bleachers and sees… Kit the Cat! She raises her blood smeared claws! Marty screams like a girl and wets his pants. Well, one of those things happens.

This book probably wasn’t scary for anyone else to read, but I hate cats so it was a little nervewracking for me. It was also strange how Kit was only in the book for a few pages. There were some other girls in the book as well, but I didnt’ mention them because after getting to the end of the book, I realized they had zero impact on the plot. So it was a weird book. Enjoyable, with possibly the worst (read: best) taglines ever. I give Cat 16 wrestling matches with house cats out of 23!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cheerleaders: The Evil Lives!, or “It Just Won't Die”

Ready? Okay!

Roll Call!
Amanda: Captain of Shadyside cheer squad
Janine: Kinda chunky
Keesha: tiny, funny
Natalie: stuck up bitch
Victoria: energetic, boyfriend-less

Brandon: funny guy, goes with Janine
Andrew: personality-less, goes with Keesha
Luke: stuck up dick, goes with Natalie
Dustin: overly intense, goes with Amanda
Judd: adorable, Amanda wishes she went with him

There’s a new cheer squad at Shadyside, presumably because time has actually passed, and Corky Corcoran has moved on to become a coed at a state college somewhere. (To get caught up on the entire Cheerleaders saga, see The First Evil, The Second Evil, The Third Evil, The New Evil, and The Awakening Evil). The cheer girls all conveniently have boyfriends on the basketball team. Or maybe not so conveniently – Brandon and Luke are rivals on the team, which makes Natalie and Janine hate each other. Amanda contemplates how HARD it is to be captain, while contemplating Judd’s form and thinks how she needs to switch things up boy-wise for the New Year.

After practice, Amanda goes to the new locker she was assigned. At the back she finds an old duffel bag. The tag on the duffel say “Corky Corcoran” – omg, this is totally her legacy. It is filled with an old Shadyside cheer uniform, not the new ones they wear in modern 1998 (think, pompoms and short striped skirts), along with a picture of some old cheerleaders. There is also a small wooden box as well, labelled: DO NOT OPEN. EVIL INSIDE.

Pfft. Like that’s going to stop anyone. My first reaction would be to immediately open it, saying “Evil? Cool!” Amanda waits at least until she’s sitting at The Corner, the new cool place to hang out in Shadyside. Victoria feels exactly like me and opens the box. If you were expecting evil mist (I was) you are going to be disappointed, because all that is in the box is an old letter and some papers. The letter is from Corky, explaining the Evil, using the word approximately 8 dozen times, and then says all contents of the box must be destroyed.

Just then Amanda’s boyfriend shows up, and she goes outside to break up with him. He takes it pretty well, actually, considering he’s a boy from Shadyside. When she comes back, her friends are gone – as is the evil box.

That night, Amanda gets a call from the Evil – but actually it’s just Keesha. Apparently the contents of the box include instructions to call up the Evil. Way to go, Corky. Why the hell you’d leave that hanging around? Instead of slapping a warning label on it, why didn’t you just burn it yourself? Irresponsible idiot. The girls decide to raise the Evil for shits and giggles.

Once Amanda talks to her older sister, though, she has her doubts. Older sister went to school with Corky, and remembers all the gruesome deaths that surrounded her. Although, as a Shadyside High student, how could you keep track of them all? Anyways, there def was SOMETHING up with Corky Corcoran, and her shit should not be disturbed.

Amanda goes to the cheer meeting determined to destroy the box. She is accosted along the way by Dustin, who tells her he doesn’t agree with them breaking up. Ummm ... I am not an expert, but I’m not sure that’s how relationships work. I don’t think you need to come to a mutually satisfying ending, but Dustin is looking for some satisfaction. Amanda runs away from her creepy ex.

She gets to the cheer meeting, to see candles everywhere, everything set up to invoke the spirit of evil. No wonder cheerleaders have such a bad reputation – they seem to embrace evil pretty easily. Amanda warns them all against it, but then agrees to do it. Sigh. Peer pressure raises its ugly head. Everyone lights candles and starts to chant.

At first nothing happens, then a bright flash of light, and all the lights go out. In walks Brandon and Judd, to everyone’s relief. Laughter all around about how they freaked themselves out, until Judd faints dead away. Oh, he’s fine. He’s just a bit of a fainter.

At the game on Friday night, cheerleaders are in top form. The only person who’s kind of off is Janine, because Luke was chosen over her boyfriend Brandon for a starting position. And by “off”, I mean crazy zombie-like, repeating Brandon will play over and over. Maybe something bad will happen? Like, Luke will go berserk, run into the bleachers, fall into them and have his scalp completely torn off. Because that’s exactly what happened.

Now, how the eff did that happen? How on earth can you crash into the bleachers with the force/torque to take off your scalp? Don’t think it’s possible. Luke tragically dies of his injuries. The girls start to question why this happened ... could it be Evil? Natalie is beside herself, and accuses Janine of being happy Luke’s gone – although Janine continues to be more “zombie” than “happy”. Amanda starts to wonder about Judd’s bizarre behaviour. He comes over to her place one night, and begins to kiss her passionately, but he just doesn’t feel RIGHT somehow. Lips weren’t hot and dry enough for you? Amanda assumes he’s possessed by evil.

Because this is Shadyside, they decide to hold a memorial basketball game a week after Luke’s death. Because it’s classy to do stuff like that. The cheer squad has a hell of a time getting the gloomy crowd into it, after the gruesome death that occurred in front of them just one week ago, but they manage to do it. Just as everyone’s getting into it, though, things take a turn for the worse. Natalie lands in the splits, then her arms fly up over her head and snap off at the elbows. Then her face splits apart as her skull cracks open. She, also, tragically dies of her injuries. Yikes, what a way to go. There’s no mention that this was a natural death, because come on. Everyone is convinced the Evil is back.

There is a general stampede out of the gymnasium, which I would be leading if I had witnessed that. Amanda notices that Janine continues to stare in a zombie-like trance, and wonders if she’s possessed. She gets pretty ancy when Janine shoves her into the locker room to confess ... that she’s terrified they really did raise some awful evil that’s killing them one by one. Sigh of relief from Amanda. They decide to visit Sarah Fear’s grave, to see if they can get any clues as to the Evil.

And clues they get when they go up to visit the Shadyside Cemetery AT NIGHT. First, they get a scare when Dustin stumbles on them because he’s an inept stalker. Then, they discover that Sarah Fear’s grave has been dug up, and the coffin lies empty. Dustin accidentally shoves Amanda into the coffin, because he is an extremely inept stalker.

Amanda is wrapped up in warm air, and is taken back in time, to the point when Sarah Fear and Jane Hardy decide to switch identities. Okay, yes this is weird, but it kind of reminds me of Harry Potter, and the Pensieve that lets him eavesdrop on things that happened in the past. Nobody can see or hear her. Jane would go in Sarah’s place to marry Thomas Fear in Shadyside, and Sarah would go in Jane’s place across the Atlantic to party in London. Things fade to black, and Amanda wakes up on board a sinking ship. Sarah Fear is on deck, shaking with fury that she is dying in Jane Hardy’s place. She’s so angry that as she dies her last thoughts are of bitter unfairness. She’s so angry that even as she dies, her anger lives on, causing the ocean to boil, and putrid green slime pour out of her corpse’s mouth. Presumably the angry green slime makes its way back to Shadyside.

Amanda comes to inside the coffin – it was all a dream. Or was it? She starts babbling about how this is actually Jane’s grave, since Sarah died in the Atlantic. Dustin gets creeped out and takes off. As Amanda points out, that’s one way to get rid of a stalker. She goes home after her creepy coffin experience, still wondering why it was dug up and empty.

Only to find a nasty surprise waiting for her at her house. A set of grave-muddy footprints walking right up to her window. Who, or what, is waiting for her? It’s the corpse of Sarah Fear! Oh, no, that was just a hallucination. But there is a muddy letter on her dresser:

You and your friends have awakened a great Evil. The Evil takes pleasure in killing. You are next, Amanda.


The Evil

Okay, I made that last part up. It was signed by Sarah Fear, but don’t you think mine would be better? Just as Amanda starts to freak out, Judd comes to her door. He is also remarkably covered in what looks like graveyard mud. He wants to talk about Natalie’s death, but Amanda is certain he’s possessed and tries to slam the door on his face. Of course he does what any Shadyside man would do, and grabs Amanda, forcing her into his car to talk. I’m convinced he’s not possessed, just a jackass. Amanda convinces him to drive her to Janine’s, but when they get there, Brandon and Janine are driving away. So they follow them … to Shadyside Cemetery. She runs towards them, standing at Sarah Fear’s grave, pleading for help from Judd, who is possessed. Unfortunately, Brandon’s eyes are all glowy and green, which is the first sign that someone is actually possessed. Oops, shoulda stayed with Judd. Brandon tries to kill them all, and an epic fight ensues. Judd is knocked out, but so is Brandon. Amanda tries to shove Brandon into the coffin, but has trouble shutting the lid.

Just then, a newcomer shows up. It is the corpse of Sarah Fear – or rather, Jane Hardy. She goes after Brandon/the Evil. Another epic fight ensues, between rotting corpse and Brandon/the Evil, that involves the flesh on Brandon’s face being stripped away. As they fight closer to the grave’s edge, Amanda dives at them, pushing them all into the grave.

She wakes up once more on the capsizing ship, except this time Brandon and Jane Hardy are there as well. Jane and Sarah struggle at the edge of the boat, Jane effectively yelling “Why won’t you die, bitch!” They both are tossed into the ocean, and Jane holds Sarah down as they both drown. Things fade to black.

Amanda wakes up in the hospital. Janine is there in the waiting room. She said her and Brandon were found unconscious in the cemetery, soaking wet. Janine has no memory of anything that happened – in fact, Luke and Natalie were fine. There was no Sarah Fear’s grave. So … did going back in time stop the Evil from ever existing? Does this mean that Corky and Bobbi Corcoran live long and happy lives? Well, we never really find out. Amanda goes to visit Brandon. He remembers everything, saying they saw them drown. Sarah and Jane can rest peacefully for ever after.

But Brandon and Amanda can’t rest … as their eyes glow green at each other. Sarah and Jane may have drowned, but the Evil didn’t …

That ending made my day. I was afraid it would be a lovey-dovey happily ever after thing, like nothing bad every happened to anyone (ahem, Christopher Pike and The Last Vampire, anyone?) But R. L. doesn’t play that way, the Evil will go on and on. This was an excellent final Super Chiller – gruesome deaths, random timetraveling flashbacks, and an ending that can leave everyone feeling kind of uneasy. 14 eternal evils out of 15.