Friday, April 16, 2010

Fear Street Seniors: Fight, Team, Fight!, or “Just When You Thought Cheerleaders Couldn’t Get More Evil”

This book is all about evil cheerleaders. You think R. L. would have had enough of the whole evil cheerleader thing after the “Evil Cheerleader” series, but apparently there is no such thing as too much evil cheerleaders.

We follow around Phoebe Yamura, Shadyside’s token Asian. She’s pretty perfect. She’s cute, smart, captain of the cheerleading squad, and dating the cutest guy in school, Ty Sullivan. Although you may have noticed he dates everyone.

Soon we find out that Phoebe’s life isn’t entirely perfect. Her parents are super strict. They won’t let her do anything. She’s not allowed to date, and she’s barely allowed to be on the cheerleading squad. Also, both Jade Feldman and Dana Palmer had wanted to be captain, so they decide to make her life hell until she quits.

Evil pranks start happening to Phoebe. First her uniform is torn to shreds with a note – Give me a H-E-L-P. Ooh, clever. Because she’s a cheerleader, see, and they like to spell things out. Jade doesn’t deny doing it. Phoebe wants Jade off the team, and knows that she’s on academic probation. She figures she just has to wait for Jade to fail her upcoming chem exam and that will be it.

Except Jade, the sneaky bitch, switches their tests, and takes Phoebe’s A. The cheerleaders mean girl Phoebe into taking Jade’s failing grade in order to keep her on the squad. Jade, after all, can do a triple backflip. In thanks, Jade puts a rubber spider down Phoebe’s sweater. Because she’s both grateful and mature.

A new cheerleader has joined the squad, Gina, as an alternate. She just transferred from another school and is choked she only gets to be alternate. She reveals that she had a twin sister who died, who was also a cheerleader. That has definite potential to turn into something evil.

Phoebe finds a bloody cheerleader doll in her locker. The note this time reads Score: Me 2. You 0. It takes Phoebe a little while to figure that one out, which goes to show she might not have those “street smarts” everyone keeps talking about. That night at the game, Phoebe goes to take her pom-poms from Gina, and starts screaming in pain. The pom-poms are full of biting red ants. That is quite the difficult prank to arrange. Where does one find red ants, and how do you set them to attack? Phoebe is freaked out, because she doesn’t know how far Jade will go in this competition. Or Gina.

Phoebe’s parents don’t want her on the squad, and think it might be getting dangerous for her. But Phoebe will stay as cheerleading captain if it kills her. At night she starts getting obscene phone calls, someone playing a recording of her cheering. That would creep me out for sure. Phoebe is convinced Jade is stalking her now.

She tries to talk to Ty about it, but whenever she mentions talking he drives her to the Fear Street Cemetery to make out. Seriously?!! Is that what kids are into these days. Because if a guy tried to get busy with me among the headstones, I’m not sure how I would take that. Apparently it’s the cool place to go, as they find Jade with her boyfriend Kenny there, fooling around behind a crypt or something.

The next night, the cheerleaders decide to do the flaming baton routine. Okay, Phoebs, not a smart idea, okay? To the surprise of absolutely no one, Phoebe’s batons are rigged to burst into flames, and she wakes up at the hospital with second degree burns. In a stunning lack of priorities, her first concern is whether she can compete in the state championships this weekend. She can, so things are cool.

Phoebe and a friend look into Gina, who is growing is suspicion since as alternate she had prepared both Phoebe’s batons and pom-poms. They discover that she never went to the high school she said she did. They take this damning evidence to the cheer coach, who informs them that they were looking in the wrong state. Gina finds out and is powerfully pissed they were investigating her.

The morning of the competition, one of the girls gets a cold, so Gina has to take her place on the squad. And share a bunk with Phoebe. Phoebe is sure she’s going to do something crazy at the competition. At the hotel, Jade runs to their room, crying, saying Dana was hurt – that she’d cartwheeled into an empty pool. The girls go running out, only to find no Dana. Phoebe starts to get angry, and then all the girls, Gina, Dana, Jade and herself, are grabbed and handcuffed together by some guys who shove them in a van. Awesome.

They are taken to a cabin in the woods. The kidnappers immediately wander away from the girls, who make a break for it. They run down the road, then hide in the bushes when the van comes by. Dana falls into some mud and screams, tipping them off to where they are. Only the van searching for them isn’t the kidnappers, it’s Griffin, the school janitor who also drives the squad to their games in a school van. They’re saved!

Only Griffin drives them deeper into the woods. Phoebe realizes that Griffin is her stalker when he starts to chant some of her cheers. He was the one who had been playing all the evil pranks on her. Of course it was the janitor! How could I have missed that incredibly random bad guy?

Jade and Dana confess they arranged the kidnapping to scare Phoebe off the squad, but that they had nothing to do with Griffin. Griffin went insane because he had a sister on the cheerleading squad when she was in high school. She was only on the squad as kind of a joke, because she wasn’t very good. The other girls laughed at her. Then one day they got her to climb to the top of the mount. Only they didn’t catch her, they let her fall, and she broke her neck. So he hates all cheerleaders.

He takes them to an abandoned meatpacking plants. Of course, perfect horror book setting. Lots of chainsaws and old machinery around to maim and disfigure. He takes a chain saw and … cuts off their handcuffs. I wouldn’t want a psycho with a chain saw anywhere close to me

Griffin tells the girls they have to perform for him, do perfect cheers. He threatens them with a meat hook, very I Know What You Did Last Summer. If anyone messes up, they die. What an exciting game! They run through a few cheers, and Jade at one time uses the wrong foot. Phoebe ends her cheer by cartwheeling into him, knocking him down. She tells the girls to run.

They scatter through the factory. Gina immediately gets her foot caught in a conveyor belt. Griffin turns the belt on, carrying her towards a meat grinder. Phoebe manages to get her out, but they here a chain saw and a scream coming from somewhere else in the plant. The girls are almost free when Griffin catches up with them. He brings them back to finish their routine for him.

Phoebe sprints away. She finds Jade’s body, hanging on a meat hook in a freezer. Jade didn’t make it. Phoebe also finds a smoke detector. She takes a book of matches and burns them, trying to get enough smoke to set it off. Nothing happens, but points for effort there. Griffin is about to kill Gina with a butcher knife when she interrupts him. He goes after her and is interrupted by … the fire department! My, they got to the middle of the woods in a hurry.

The story ends with Gina being put on the squad to replace Jade, and Phoebe introduces Ty to her parents. And Jade was such a bitch that not too many people missed her. So, happy ending?

I thought this book was going to be ridiculous, but it was kinda okay. Point definitely for the classic horror ending at the meatpacking plant, and for killing off a main character. I give it 12 triple backflips out of 16.