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.


Angelica Fear said...


The only link between the two stories was really crappy. It was ok till I realized there was nothing really paranormal about the story (Trisha's visions and Deirdre's lame floating ghost does not count).

What happened to RL?

Chad Walters said...

According to this link - - apparently earthquakes CAN happen in Arizona. Who knew?

And this seems like one of the lamest Fear Street books ever. Fear Street works just as well with regular crime as it does with supernatural stuff, so that didn't bother me, but the whole feeling-like-Nancy-Drew thing did.

And Josie's story felt like it was added after they realized they didn't meet the page quota, which didn't help any.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like either R.L. had one plotline which just wasn't long enough, and the second was just blatant filler, or he was trying to write two stories at once but only one actually caught even his own interest. Or it was all set-up to justify the ghost act at the end.

Anthony Williams said...

i felt bad for dana losing her sister. first time i actually read the book i was wondering how dana pulled off that ghost stunt but after josie got off the phone with dana she and jen realized it was dierdre saying goodbye.

Anonymous said...

I would say the backstroke comment was about her stroking his back while they are, um, occupied.

Broken1again said...

ya this was my least favorite of all the seniors...i found myself bored through out the book..i did like the goodbye ending..but that was about it. Idk maybe I just dont like the story lines that take place outside of shadyside.

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Jacob sykes said...

Wow, what a crazy book.
No offense, but this was not the best book in the series.

Jake sykes said...

Not the best book in the series.

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RecallerReminder said...

Totally sucked for a spring break plot...I just love the cover with the sexy boys ^^