Friday, March 26, 2010

The Gift or "Digusting Vials of Hair Are Used For Good!"

Fear Street Seniors #6! That means… we’re halfway through the final series! Can you believe it? Sigh, time flies when all you do is work and read Fear Street novels. Really flies.

This seniors book centers around Jennifer FEAR. It’s pretty rare for an actual Fear to be the focus of a book, and usually when they are, they’re totally evil. Jen isn’t that bad tho! Her dad is mildly obsessed with their Fear heritage, although Jen hates it because all her classmates think she might be evil. The book starts off right after Christmas, and Jen is going over to see her best friend Trisha (of the psychic visions) to show off the necklace her dad bought her. Jen is super pumped about it, even though it’s a FEAR family heirloom. It was owned by Dominique Fear, who was apparently tried for murder and hung!

The girls find out that Dominique died that way because Trisha puts on the necklace and has one of her psychic flashes. She feels like she’s Dominique, full of rage, right before she’s hanged to death. Hmmm, why did the necklace do that to Trisha and not Jen? The girls try to forget about the creepy necklace vision, and focus on what all girls love to talk about: bad boys! Jen is dating Ty Sullivan, and no one can believe it because usually Ty dates like 8 girls at the same time. But Jen is even bringing Ty to her huge New Years Eve party! He must really like her then.

Well, turns out, not so much. Ty and her go out on a date that night, and he brings her to the cemetery. Really? Like, how cliché. But Jen makes the fatal mistake of asking him to hang out AGAIN, and he freaks out, tells her she’s too “serious” and dumps her. Meh, happens to all of us at one point. What DOESN’T usually happen though, is walking up in Ty’s backyard, after sleep walking over to his place in the middle of the night. Yewoza! Jen is very confused as to how she wandered over to Ty’s house but just kinda scurries home and tries to forget about it.

When Jen gets to school the next day, everyone is abuzz about Ty. And the fact he was attacked in his own backyard the night before! Jen is all “weird, I could have WITNESSED his attack!” and tells Trisha what happened. Trisha and I have the same reaction of, “Ummm, don’t you think YOU may have attacked Ty?” I guess Jen never thought of that scenario. Convenient…

Trisha is really upset that Ty dumped Jen though. To the point, that later that day, at Pete’s Pizza, Trisha gets up and starts screaming about how upset she is, in front of Ty and his new girlfriend Greta. Well, that must have been awkward for Jen. I mean, you want your friend on your side. But maybe not that PUBLICALLY crazy. Maybe. Jen’s night doesn’t get much better unfortunately, because on her way home, she nearly hits someone with her car! And best yet, it’s TY. He now thinks she’s nutters.

Jen has another dream where she slept walked to Ty’s house, but this time she brought some matches. Hmm, what could those be for? She walks up in the comfort of her own home though, much to her relief. Only problem is: Trisha comes by to tell her that someone lit Ty’s house on fire last night! Everyone’s okay, but there was some major damage. Jen doesn’t believe it, so they run over to Ty’s house to see for herself. While they’re inspecting the damage (of her fresh ex-bfs house? Not suspicious…) Jen finds one of her MITTENS there! Well that’s basically a smoking gun. She can’t believe that she could do anything this terrible.

Trisha has come up with a theory as to why Jen is going sleep-crazy. She tells Jen about how when she put on the necklace, she felt how powerfully ANGRY Dominique Fear was. Trisha thinks that Dominique is controlling Jen because Jen is a Fear, and they are therefore connected. Well… I’ve heard worse theories in my Fear Street days. Jen does what any teenaged girl does when she needs to get rid/hide something. She puts the necklace in a sweatsock and puts it in her drawer! Out of sight=out of mind, right?

Jen is busy getting excited for her big New Years Eve party, now that she’s sure the necklace can’t do any more damage. Unfortunately, she still has to deal with Ty thinking she’s crazy. He threatens her to keep away from him! Except…he shows up to her New Years Eve party. With his new girlfriend Greta. That just mean! Jen doesn’t want to make a big deal, or ruin anyone’s night, so she doesn’t throw them out. Jen = bigger person than I am. In the long run though, she probably should have thrown them out. A few hours before midnight, Jen hears Trisha scream from upstairs and runs to find her staring at Greta. Correction: Greta’s dead body. Her head had been smashed in with a heavy ceramic bowl, which I think is a first on Fear Street!

Since the party mood is kinda ruined at that point, everyone shuffles out the door while the police come. The ever-fantastic Shadyside police determined that the bowl just happened to fall off a high shelf, and Greta’s death was an unfortunate accident. Ty has been waiting around for the police to leave, so he can yell at Jen about how the accident was all her fault. Hmm, seems appropriate? I’m not even really sure. Jen might have actually done it.

The next morning, Jen’s parents are trying to make her feel better about the horrible death that happened there the night before. I can certainly tell you, my parents would not have been this cool if someone had DIED at my party. Jen finally confessed everything that’s been going on, including the theory that she’s possessed by Dominique Fear. Her dad awkwardly clears his throat and makes his own confession: they’re not really Fears. It seems that when HIS dad moved to town, the Fears were a well respected family, so he just changed his name to it. Jen’s dad cites “easy access to country clubs” as a legit reason for changing the family name. Allllllright. Jen is so relieved that she’s not a Fear! But also furious at her father for not telling her and cursing her with a terrible name for her whole life.

Jen decides to take apart the necklace now that it has no emotional value to her. After she takes out the stone, she notices a hidden compartment. And it’s full of HAIR. (Note: I love lockets. And I also love long hair. But the two together? DISGUSTING.) Jen also just happens to find a spell for casting out evil spirits, that includes throwing the HAIR of the person who is doing the possessing onto the possessee. Does that make sense? She needs to throw Dominique’s hair on whoever Dominique possesses. Convenient.

While she’s also looking through the Fear’s books, she sees a picture of a house that looks familiar. It’s a drawing of Trisha Conrad’s house! When Jen investigates a little bit further, she finds that Dominique Fear married a one Henry Conrad before she was hanged! Jen rushes over to Trisha’s house to warn her and also stop Dominique from killing anyone! Unfortunately, Trisha is out when Jen gets there. She’s out with Ty Sullivan! Jen has a moment of “WTF SKANK” but then realizes that Trisha would never do that to her, and it’s probably Dominique possessing her. Sure.

Jen does her best investigating skillz, and figures out that Ty probably took Trisha to his fave makeout place, the cemetery! Classy. Jen gets there just in time to see Ty’s body on the ground, and Trisha poised over him with a pair of huge scissors. Really? Scissors? Why on earth would that be the weapon of choice in a cemetery? Trisha is obviously possessed by Dominique, and the two of them tussle for a while. Jen pulls out her jar of hair and Trisha/Dominique rightfully mocks her. Jen knows that she only has one shot to get her with the hair and takes a chance! Poof! O, I guess at some point Jen burnt all the hair into ash, because she throws ash on Trisha instead of just hair. Probably a good idea for projection. Anyways, it gets Trisha out of the daze. The girls hug, and take Ty home while he’s still passed out cold.

We learn two things in the final chapter: Ty is guillible and Trisha is a BITCH. The next day, at Pete’s Pizza, the girls run into Ty. Apparently the girls told Ty that he got SO drunk at the cemetery the night before, he passed out. He doesn’t even remember buying/drinking the beer! Maybe he was mourning his GF that no one seems to remember who died TWO DAYS AGO. Jen goes to the bathroom and the rest of the book is from Trisha’s POV. Trisha’s known she’s a Fear for a while, but she also knows that Jen won’t tell her secret. Jen is too nice! So nice, she never suspected that Trisha had been dating Ty the whole time she was dating Ty too! BITCH. She thinks about being confused but also about the overwhelming rage that she felt. And the ease of which being Evil came to her. Well. That’s it folks! Trisha is evil! That ends another Fear Street where no one important dies. It was pretty standard, and I think mostly filler to introduce the idea that Trisha is an evil Fear. Maybe she’ll be the villain for the rest of the series? Let’s hope so! I give The Gift 12 necklaces of HAIR out of 23. Just passing.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Last Chance, or "Do Not Do What the Bad Man Says"

Last Chance is a book that highlights why I love/loathe Fear Street books. I spent most of my time reading this book screaming “What the f-!” at it, then settling down and shaking my head at it. Seriously.
The teaser is: Mr. Morley is so nice when he catches Mary O’Connor stealing a test. He doesn’t tell. He doesn’t fail her. She just has to do him a favor …

Don’t do it Mary! Do not touch the bad man, just call the police, and everything will be okay.

Except that Fear Street is not an after-school special. The messages that come out of these books are both awful and awesome at the same time. Let’s see how Mary deals with her little “predicament.”
As you might remember, Mary O’Connor is the poor white trash girl who’s father walked out on her family, and then her boyfriend, Gary Fresno, dumped her for rich Trisha Conrad. You think that Mary might deserve a break about now, but instead she gets busted for shoplifting. Now she has to see a counselor every week, and all of her teachers have been told about her incident, and discriminate against her because of it.

I’m sorry, does this seem a little unprofessional? Perhaps even … unethical. Are teachers allowed to gossip about student’s sticky fingers, and openly judge her based on this. Considering the amount of teenage murderers in Shadyside, you think they’d let one incident of shoplifting slide.

Even Mary feels like she’s a criminal and should be treated as such. Her friend Stacey tries to get her to lighten up, takes her out shopping so that she gets over this stigma. Mary immediately almost steals a shirt. But it’s not because she’s dumb, it’s because she saw a cute boy! Okay, and because she is over the top stupid.

Mary has been spending a lot of time with Mr. Morley, her social studies teacher. He is just so understanding, and they talk about all kinds of things, not just school! Like, boys and stuff. Dear god, man, set some boundaries you pervert. Anyways, Mary is stressed about her upcoming social exam – she needs to pass it to stay on the track team, pretty much the only thing that she’s good at in life.
Mr. Morley is so understanding that he tells Mary that the social exams are all in this brown envelope on top of the desk, then he leaves her alone in the classroom to go get coffee. Mary can’t believe her luck! I can’t believe she wouldn’t think that she’d be set up. Morley comes back in, and Mary thinks he might have seen her, but he acts all friendly normal, so it must be okay. Now, maybe Mary does need to be treated for her property-taking issues, not only does she do it a lot, but she’s really bad at it.

Mary believes she aces the social exam, but instead of that A, Morley asks to see her after class. Oops! He tells her he knows she stole the exam, but she’s also under a lot of pressure, so he might be able to overlook it. If she does something for him …

It’s not as bad as you think. He wants her to take another teacher’s jacket, as he says it’s his anyways. So, he’s encouraging her thieving ways? Maybe he’s just trying to help her get better at it. To no avail, though. The teacher who’s jacket she’s stealing, Mr. Wise, catches her red-handed, and throws her shoplifting experience into her face. He says first thing Monday morning, the principal will hear of this. Oh, no, not the principal! Mary should probably chill out more.

Instead, she goes to Morley’s house on Fear Street over the weekend, sure that he’ll help her out of her situation. At his house she sees the cute guy from the mall, Rob. He’s helping Morley out with stuff around the house. He asks Mary out, then tries to warn her about Morley, when the man himself comes in. Morley is insanely mad at Rob, asking him to leave.

Then Morley turns to Mary, all concern and understanding again. Of course he’ll discuss the situation with Mr. Wise, making everything okay for Mary, but he tells her he’ll probably be fired for it. Mary is horrified. Morley also tells her that another teacher, Mrs. Wilson, is trying to get him fired. She’s written a letter about him to the Board of Education, but he can’t answer the charges if he doesn’t know what they are. If only someone could break into her desk to get that letter … But no, he couldn’t let Mary do that! He’ll just figure something out for himself.

Mary goes out with Rob that weekend. They have a great time, until he tells them they’re taking the “walking discount.” They dine and dash, and Mary kind of goes along with it, although it upsets her. Mary is so very easily manipulated. Rob then tells her it was a joke, and gives her a soft, melting kiss.
Monday morning Mary goes to see Morley to make sure everything’s been straightened up for her. Morley sighs and tells her she’s okay, but he’s screwed if he doesn’t get that letter. Then he gives her some puppy dog eyes and tells her he could never ask her to steal that letter for him.

Mary, being unspeakably dumb, breaks into Mrs. Wilson’s classroom and steals the letter for him. Whatever is written in those letters makes Morley hugely angry. He tells Mary there’s more letters, probably hidden in Mrs. Wilson’s house. Mary has to steal those letters too. When Mary balks, he tells her he’ll sell her out for stealing the jacket, and cheating on her exam. Not so nice Morley any more. He uses the phrase: “Jail is an ugly place.” How charming. Threaten an impressionable young girl with jail, I like it.

That night Mary goes to Mrs. Wilson’s house, having been given her address and the time she would be at a conference from Morley. How thoughtful of him. Rob shows up to stop her, and when he can’t, he goes in with her.

They find the letters, and Mary skims them. Essentially, Mrs. Wilson has proof that Morley murdered two of his students at his last job. And she’s sitting on this information why?

Mrs. Wilson comes home early. As they dash out the second floor window, they split up. Rob tells Mary to meet him at a park, so she runs there and waits. But the only person who shows up is Morley. Rob was nabbed by the cops, and had called Morley to bail him out.

But Morley won’t do that until Mary does something else for him. Mary didn’t keep the letters, so he’s pissed, and grabs her arm painfully. He tells her that Rob will stay in jail unless she comes to his office at lunch tomorrow. He also threatens to kill her like the other two students.

His new insane assignment for Mary involves his sister. His sister lives with her two children, but is always going on dates and leaving the youngsters alone. Morley wants to teach her a lesson by having Mary kidnap the kids, taking them to a house down the street until their mother comes home, freaking out. What a charming lesson!

Mary has heard enough. She goes to talk to her counselor, the one who can’t get over that one time she shoplifted, and tells her everything. The counselor sympathetically tells Mary she’s a terrible person for blaming her problems on Mr. Morley. Great support they have at Shadyside High, there. I guess since they usually deal with grief, loss and post traumatic stress, abducting children probably doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.

So Mary goes to steal the children. She feels really bad, and the kids are cute, so it’s just like she’s babysitting them in a strange house. It’s kinda all good until the seven year old boy tells her he doesn’t have an uncle, and had never heard of this Morley character. That’s when Mary hears the police sirens, and she cuts and runs.

She finally stops running, and who should appear but Rob, who starts kissing her. Apparently Morley made good on the bail, but that didn’t endear him to Rob. Rob is sure that Morley is going to kill them, now that they know his “being a murderer” secret. So they’ll have to kill him first!

Mary is skeptical about this killing idea, but Rob says there’s no other way, they’ll be under Morley’s control forever if they don’t. He gives her a vial of poison, odorless, tasteless and clear, that will kill him instantly if she gets just a few drops in his coffee. What a handy thing to be carrying around. Mary tells him she can’t do it, but he won’t hear any of it. He says he’ll meet her in Morley’s office tomorrow.

Morley calls Mary that night to threaten her, because she screwed up with the kidnapping kids thing. He tells her to meet him at his office at one tomorrow.

Poor little Mary. Whatever will she do?

The next morning she goes to track practice, something she’s been sucking at since all her problems started. Today, though, she kills it, and is starting to think she just might be able to deal with everything. She goes to Morley’s office, but earlier than he asks, because track was let out early. He’s not there, but his coffee is sitting temptingly on his desk. She didn’t bring the poison with her today. But then she sees Morley’s notebook on the desk, and reads it. It documents everything that has been done to Mary, how he enjoyed manipulating her life. Mary figures that Morley has to pay.

She runs home and back as quickly as possible. Morley still isn’t there. She empties the contents of the vial into his coffee, then goes to the girl’s restroom to be sick. Then goes back to face Morley.
He is in the classroom this time. Mary hesitates at the door, praying that he’ll drink the coffee. He does, downing the whole thing, then tells Mary that he’s going to brew some more coffee while she thinks about what she owes him. Then he gets all sweaty and woozy, and collapses to the floor.
Mary takes his notebook and stashes it in her bag, then waits for Rob to arrive. He comes in, all smiles. He’s all like – wasn’t this wild? Morley told you everything, hey? Mary grimly smiles and tells him she knows everything. Rob comes over and finishes off the rest of Morley’s coffee, which is, ew.

Rob explains that is was all a psychological experiment, to see how a student would respond under extreme pressure – whether they could get someone to kill someone else. It was all a part of Morley’s research, and everyone was in on it except Mary.

So, there are so many what the fuck things wrong with this. Morley is a social studies teacher at a shitty high school, not working in a phD department. What the fuck kind of research is this. There is no end to the unethical and illegal behaviours that Morley and Rob engaged in with this “research.” I mean, Rob is over 18, and fucking around with the subject. He should be in jail, or something.
Apparently, Mary agreed with me. Rob starts to sway on his feet, and he’s like – wait, I didn’t give you poison. It was water. Wtf? And Mary tells him she wasn’t going to kill them, until she came to the class early and read about the experiment in Morley’s notebook. And decided that both of them should die. So she ran home to grab some poison her mother keeps in the house. (Wtf, why does her mother have poison in the house?) She shows Rob Morley’s body, and tells him goodbye as he collapses.

Stacy comes in to the classroom, as her and Mary are going shopping, and screams when she sees the two bodies. Mary’s all smiles when she tells her that she just spiked their coffee with hard-core sleeping pills her mom uses. They’ll wake up in a little bit, but they’ll know not to fuck with her again.

Is that what we would call “street justice?” Not that I don’t think the boys deserved a little death scare, but I still think they should be in jail. Kudos to Mary for growing a pair, and not letting people fuck her around any more. She should also go over to skeezy ex Gary while she’s at him and kick him in the balls, just while she’s on this roll. No kudos to R. L. for giving me one of these “comedic” Fear Streets where not only did no one die, but no one was even crazy, stalked, or thought they were a ghost. Better try next time. 14 crazy-ass-strong sleeping pills out of 25.