Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wicked or "Don't Trust The Guy You Tried To Murder Yesterday"

First of all, I would like to say a Happy Second Anniversary to our little Fear Street
blog! Two years ago, L.K. and I decided to indulge our secret love of terrible 90’s
horror fiction and share it with the world! Since then, we’ve read almost 150 (!!) Fear Streets and had almost 100 000 hits on Shadyside Snark. All thanks to you people who enjoy reading about Fear Street too! Is it too much if I bake a cake today?

Moving on… to Wicked. The 10th book in the Seniors series revolves around Marla Newman’s need to please her mother. Marla needs to be valedictorian to finally impress her mother! What someone should have told her long ago, is that if her mother doesn’t like her by now, at age 18, probably nothing Marla does is
going to change that. Just sayin’!

I actually didn’t remember the prologue until I was looking back through my notes, and it’s kinda surprising because the prologue is pretty creepy! Melanie Anderson (not a senior so we already know she doesn’t matter) is getting ready for the day when she sees two girls appear in the mirror. No, they aren’t in the room with her, just in the mirror. She seems to know them and is freaked the eff out! Melanie tries to escape her room, but runs into a magical silver wire… that slices her head off. “Sliced it off so neatly, so clean – her body ran another two or three steps before it even realized the head was gone.” Shudder! Also, can anyone verify that? I don’t think that can really happen… although I’ve heard of people’s faces moving after they’ve been decapitated. Blech. Not the way I wanted to start my morning.

Alright, enough with the disgusting decapitation. Marla is competing with Kenny Klein for the spot of Valedictorian. They’re sitting near each other in the cafeteria, right before they’re suppose to face off in a social studies debate. Clarissa Turner has the unfortunate luck to accidently spill some ice tea on Marla. And Marla FREAKS the fuck out. Like screams at Clarissa for being SO stupid and yada yada yada. I mean, we all think that when someone spills something on us, but we’re not crazy enough to yell about it in front of the whole school. As Clarissa walks away, Marla thinks about how sweet it would be if something terrible happened to Clarissa. Just then, Clarissa slips and falls in her food! Marla is pleased, like the psycho she is.

Two girls approach Marla after the cafeteria incident. Roxanne and Elena tell Marla that they saw what she did to Clarissa – she has the POWER to affect people with her mind! Since they are lowly juniors, and Marla thinks she’s totally awesome she blows them off as crazy girls and goes to the debate.

Reaming out Clarissa had some unfortunate side effects for Marla though, as now all of Clarissa’s friends hate her. Ahhhh girls in high school. We…pretty much never grow out of that. Josie Maxwell and Trisha Conrad are all up in Marla’s face too. Right before Marla and Kenny are set to debate, she notices that Roxanne and Elena have come into the auditorium and are going to be watching the debate. Kenny goes first and speaks eloquently and passionately, and basically owns it. Marla could have taken him down (she thinks) except when she tries to come up with a rebuttal… she can’t make any noise! Well that’s not true, she can burp, but she can’t talk or say anything! Marla’s day doesn’t get much better. After her disaterous, and gassy debate speech, she receives a lower mark on a French test (85%) and then Josie, Clarissa and Trisha play a recording of her debate (non) speech over the intercom system!

Marla is SO steamed about all this that she…makes a “People I Hate” list. Of course she does. #1 is Kenny, then it goes on until basically everyone at Shadyside High is named. Productive! She may as well named it “People I will shoot first when I finally snap!”

Later that day, Marla dreads telling her mom about her bad French test, but a funny thing happens. When she pulls it out to show her mom (she’s 18 and showing her mom her homework? Really?) the test says 98%. Marla decides she must be more out of it that she thought!

Just when things were turning around for Marla, she gets to school the next day and finds that someone found her “People I Hate” list and tacked it to the school bulletin board. Well, that’s the price you pay for being crazy! Marla is worried that people will start hating her. I think it would help her cause if she didn’t constantly think to herself “I’ll show them! I’ll show all of them!” because that’s what crazy villains think, right before they blow something up.

Marla knows that Josie Maxwell tacked it up, and decides to get some revenge by throwing her clothes (black leotard and baggy black jeans BTW) into the school dumpster while Josie is in gym class. Marla is predicatable shoved into the dumpster by a mysterious force. And if falling into a dumpster doesn’t sound like a fate worse than death, then I invite you to come over to my dumpster. Because just the thought of going near it makes me want to cry.

Marla is finally approached by the two girls, Roxanne and Elena again after she gets out of the dumpster. Apparently, they were SERIOUS about being witches and really want her to join them. They discuss how there needs to be three of them, since their last third “isn’t around anymore” (Melanie Anderson, anyone??) Marla agrees to meet them in the Fear Street woods that night.

So they really are witches. When Marla gets there, crazy magic happens, and they get Marla to sign an ancient pact (written in an ancient language) in blood. Let me tell you kids, that is NEVER a good idea. No good has ever come from using your blood as ink. Trust me. After numerous scary witch-y things, Marla wakes up in her bed.

Everything goes Marla’s way the next day. She looks better, does better on tests, and tells her new found witch friends that she feels up to doing something “outrageous”. They suggest she takes her energy out on someone on her hate list. She decides to make Trisha Conrad’s skirt rip and fall off (underlying issues?). Roxanne and Elena don’t think that’s good enough though. They want to punish the girls that were mean to Marla! So they use their power (and Marla’s somehow) to push Josie Maxwell through a glass door. Josie survives, but is really cut up.

Marla wants to leave the pact (already?!) but apparently, pacts signed in blood are pretty binding. Like forever binding. Marla is unhappy but realizes she has to go along with it. That is, until she finds out that she needs to kill someone within the month or else the “Dark Forces” will kill her. Marla freaks out even more, and tells the girls she won’t go through with it. Roxanne and Elena spend the next day freaking out Marla but having objects change into snakes, and people around her generally become possessed. Marla was pretty easy to convince, because she quickly decides she’d rather kill Kenny Klein that risk having a rope turn into a snake again! (Not all snakes kill you know, MARLA)

Marla goes over to Kenny’s house under the guise of studying for French. It’s pretty cute because Kenny obviously has a crush on Marla (who else would help their rival study). It becomes less cute when Marla attempts to strangle him to death with her power. She can’t go through with it, so Kenny is all “WTF did you just try to murder me!?” Marla break down and tells Kenny the whole truth about the girls and magic and how she needs to kill someone. He doesn’t seem as upset as I would be about the fact that Marla could kill ANYONE, but chose him. In fact, he decides to help her solve her little evil witchcraft problem.

Marla asks the two girls to Fear Street woods the next day, because Kenny (who can obviously read ancient languages) has discovered that these blood pacts never have a “need-to-murder” clause! The girls must be lying! Why would we trust Kenny? As it turns out, the girls are much more powerful than her, and Marla ends up being frozen into an ice cube before Kenny can even come out of his hiding spot!

The four of them end up having a pretty epic (by that I mean LONG, not cool) fight scene that is interspersed with Kenny and Marla making out. Elena dies first, by being thrown into a giant pit that opened up in the earth. Kenny eventually sets Roxanne on fire but since that STILL didn’t kill her, Marla shoves her into the pit again. Kenny and Marla are so happy they committed murder against two of their classmates and go home.

Question: Why does killing the other two matter? Doesn’t she still have a pact with the “Dark Forces?” Marla doesn’t seem to think so. Turns out she’s dead wrong! Kenny rushes up to her before school the next day, saying he did more research and found out something more…turns out if you kill someone who practices the Dark Arts, you DIE exactly 12 hours later. Which happened to be at that exact moment, and Marla is sucked into a pit that opened up in the earth. YEAH! That’s how it ends! Maybe Kenny actually knew about this, but didn’t tell Marla as punishment for trying to KILL him the day before? I like ending better.

Another question? Why didn’t that happen to Roxanne and Elena when they killed their former third partner, Melanie? Just asking R.L…. Okay, this book wasn’t the best. It was crazy, but not THAT crazy. I was kinda hoping that after Marla killed the two girls they would discover that it was all a practical joke that Marla took too seriously. I like that ending better too. So I give Wicked 32 fake-endings-I-like-better out of 57. I was looking for more out of the last few books of the series!

Just two more left! L.K. and I have decided that as a special treat for you guys, we’re both going to read the last Seniors book and post our own separate write ups. So we can compare exactly how much each of us leaves out, fudges over, and forgets. Oh yes, and also so we can compete about who is funnier. Vote for me!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fear Street Seniors: Spring Break, or “Nancy Drew Mystery of the Desert Coyote”

In this next thrilling episode of our intrepid Fear Street seniors, Josh and Josie Maxwell (who are step-brother and sister) go off on separate different spring break experiences. Josh’s seems really exciting, and Josie’s is so boring that I would have preferred to shoot myself then to experience it. BUT, that’s kinda a comment on their personalities, so I guess that’s what you get when you’re a whiny bitch, Josie.

The book is, as ever, broken into a million “parts” going back and forth between the two Maxwells. Neither story actually has anything to do with each other until the end, so it seems really disjointed. Don’t get all excited that the ending will tie it together in some awesome way, though – it doesn’t.

Part One

Let’s start off with Josh’s spring break. His kick-ass vacation begins by flying into Tuscon, as he’s going to spend the time at Trisha “I’m evil” Conrad’s Arizona ranch. With him is his buddy Mickey, Dierdre Palmer and Gary Fresno.

As a refresher, Gary is Trisha’s tough, wrong-side-of-the-tracks boyfriend, who she stole from sad Mary O’Connor. And Mickey is dating Dierdre’s identical twin sister, Dana. Dana was supposed to come, but came down with the flu, so sent Dierdre as her replacement. Dierdre is in love with Mickey, so she’ll be potentially replacing Dana in all aspects of Mickey’s trip.

Josh actually seems to be a nice guy. He’s happy to be away from all the troubles that plague the senior class in Shadyside, and hopes to relax in Arizona. Although with Gary around, and the Conrads in Australia, he thinks things could get a little crazy.

In the luggage area, Josh bumps into a big guy in a cowboy hat, who immediately starts a fight with him. Josh pulls a manly move and runs away. Gary wants to go back and fight, but everyone finally gets loaded up into the van with no violence.

Not for long. The dick in the cowboy hat follows them and starts to chase them off the road. A rather extreme reaction to being bumped by some guy, I think. Someone needs some anger management. Finally, after an almost run in with a truck, dude flies off the road and gets stuck in the sand. The teens are safe for now.

They find themselves at the Conrad’s luxurious sprawling ranch, complete with pools, chefs and of course “the help.” Josh sees a hot girl and drops his bag immediately, because he’s a bit of a dork. He picks everything up with a blush, but she seems kind of into him. Her name is Rose, and her father is the foreman of the ranch, Simon.

Once in his room, Josh realizes his bag doesn’t belong to him. It belongs to the red-neck crazy, Clay Hartley, and in it he finds a gun. Josh figures this Clay guy wouldn’t be to happy if the authorities find it. Rose agrees to take him to the address so he can do the bag switch face-to-face.

As he gets to the house, there’s an earthquake. That’s a random bit of scariness – are there earthquakes in Arizona? I actually want to know. Anyways, Josh runs away like a girly man, making Rose (probably) question her liking of him.

Part Two

Josie Maxwell is unspeakably dull. She spends her spring break whining about being bored to her equally boring friend Jennifer Fear (who became dull as soon as you find out she’s not a real Fear). They dress up like sluts and go to the bar with fake IDs to alleviate the boredom. How common of them.

They get kicked out immediately and Jen has a flat tire. Ooh, chills. This will be scary. They meet some vaguely cute college randoms who take them for a short drive. When they return to Jen’s car, someone has written “Wanna play” across the windshield.

Part Three

Back to the actual story. The teens are sitting around the campfire at night. They are joined by Roberto, a college student working the archeological site on the other side of the ranch. Roberto is flirting with Trisha, which is driving Gary crazy.

Rose and Simon tell the kids the ranch is built on the lands of the Hohokam Indians (not pc, I know. That’s what they call them in the book). Hohokam means “The Vanished Ones.” Apparently the tribe disappeared suddenly about 500 years ago. Roberto is digging up Hohokam artifacts. The kids want to visit the site, but Rose freaks.

There have been a lot of accidents and disappearances around the site. Rose thinks it’s more than just bad luck – she blames La Amadora. She is a ghostly protector of the Hohokam people. Although clearly she didn’t do a very good job if they all disappeared. She appears in the form of desert animals or a woman in a red cape. Sounds to me like a ghost story invented to keep people away from the dig site. This is totally like a Nancy Drew. I bet there’s a drug trafficking ring operating out of the site. Or something.

Josh catches Mickey sneaking off with Dierdre. His words are “Dana isn’t here. Dierdre is the next best thing.” I guess. Josh is skeptical about this too. Josh goes to his room alone. He hears a woman wailing outside, but he can’t see anything outside. Mickey gets back from his cheating, and they decide to go check out the dig there and then.

Dierdre comes running after them because she got scared. The three of them head into the desert. They find the site soon, and Josh immediately falls into a pit. Climbing out he smashes a piece of pottery. That’s probably a reason to not have dumbass teens at a dig site.

And yet Roberto still lets them come out the next day to the site. When they get there, Trisha has one of her visions. She sees a coyote with red stripes, then all of them fly into the air and vanish. They decide to get out of the site and check out the cactus forest. Josh is walking with Trisha when he hears a buzzing – kind of like a rattle. He turns in time to see a rattlesnake bite Trisha’s leg. Maybe it knew she’s evil. She’s taken to the hospital, but will be okay. Josh begins to wonder if the tribal spirit is real.

Part Four

Jen and Josie start dating the college randoms. Creepy things happen to them.

Part Five

Mickey, Gary and Dierdre go see a drive-in movie, leaving Josh and Rose at the rand alone. They go for a walk in the desert and make out. Suddenly Rose dashes off into the cacti. Josh follows and finds only an angry coyote.

The coyote totally takes Josh. Are coyotes really that strong? I’ve come across a few and I don’t have the enduring fear that Josh seems to have of them. They’re like wild dogs, right? I mean, I’d be scared if I was a chihuahua, but I’m not.

Anyways, Simon shows up in the nick of time and shoots the evil coyote. Rose shows up again and blames La Amadora. Not the fact that she ran away in the desert.
Josh returns to his room to find it trashed. He’s angry, but he deals with it like a guy and goes to sleep. He wakes up later with a figure in a red cloak standing over him with a knife.

Part Six

Josie thinks creepy things are happening to them because of the stupid Doom Spell she cast. She confesses to Jen, who confesses she’s not a Fear. While on the phone with one of the college randos (who clearly never figure out call waiting), she overhears that they’ve been doing the creepy things to the high school girls to scare them so they’ll put out faster. Cute.

Part Seven

Josh chases off the hooded intruder. Then goes back to sleep.
Next morning the teens go for a horseback ride up a ridge. Trisha realizes the ridge is where she saw her vision happening, where they all fly over the edge. Everyone freaks and they turn around back to the ranch.

Mickey takes off to hang out with Dierdre. Cheesiest line of the book:

“I promised Dierdre I’d show her how to do the backstroke.”
Josh blinked. “Like you’re an Olympic swimmer?”
“Who’s talking about swimming?”

You stay classy, Mickey. You KNOW someone changed “breaststroke” to “backstroke” on this one. R.L., I’m not sure how I feel about this blatant censoring of my Fear Street novels. Backstroke doesn’t even make any sense.

That evening, the hooded figure trashes Rose’s room. Josh assumes it’s Roberto, the archeologist. NOT Clay Hartley, the red-neck probably looking for his gun. He doesn’t need a reason for this – let’s just blame the archeologist.

Gary and Josh go to beat him up. At the dig site. But he isn’t there and the vigilantes get distracted by a picnic Rose set up for them.

They follow her up to the ridge of death again. Who should be waiting there but one angry Clay Hartley. With a rifle. Guess he didn’t need his gun after all. They probs should have paid attention to Trisha’s vision.

Clay lines them up along the edge of the ridge and demands “it” from Josh. Every time Josh claims he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, he makes the kids take a step backwards.

Dierdre takes a step too far, and plunges over the edge. They hear her crack on the rocks below.
Josh attacks Clay and gets the gun away from him. Rose tries to soothe Josh and takes the gun. Once she has it she turns on the kids. Rose was in league with Clay all along. Clay jumps Josh and demands the coyote.

Mickey picks up on this and produces a clay figurine of a coyote from his pack. Rose and Clay were stealing artifacts from the Hohokam site and selling them to dealers. The La Amarada thing was just to scare nosy people away from the site. I knew it! Totally like a Nancy Drew. The coyote had come out of Clay’s bag when Josh dropped it, and Mickey picked up the statue later. He was going to give it to his girlfriend, Dana. Who is his girlfriend again, now that her twin sister he’d been fooling around with conveniently stepped off a cliff, I guess.

The coyote has red stripes – just like Trisha’s vision. Clay goes to shove them all off the cliff, but Rose stops him. They fight and in the skirmish Clay knocks the coyote over the cliff edge. He dives after it, and Josh grabs his legs just in time. Nice guy. I would have let him jump.

Roberto and Simon show up then to save the day. For most of them, anyways. Dierdre is dead. Rose and Clay are led away. As Josh leaves the desert, through waves of shimmering heat he sees a woman in a red cloak standing next to a coyote.

Part Eight

Josie comes up with a plan to get back at creepy college guys. She gets them to the Fear Street cemetery, and has her classmates dress up as ghosts to scare them. The ghosts work well. Instead of getting turned on, the way girls do when they’re scared, the guys run away screaming.
The best ghost is Dierdre Palmer. She looks really dead, and no one knows how she appeared to float, or walk through a gravestone.

Dana didn’t stick around for the after-party later, though. Josie called her to thank her, but a tearful Dana told her she had never showed. She had just gotten word of her sister’s death that night …
Oooh, okay that last part was a little creepy. I can’t believe R.L. killed Dierdre, she seemed nice other than the cheating with her twin’s boyfriend thing. I liked the ‘mystery of the desert’ thing going on here. I would give this full marks, if it weren’t for Josie’s whining. 84 striped coyotes out of 91.