Monday, May 5, 2014

Red Rain, or "Zombies are Just So Obvious"

Hello faithful Shadyside Snark fans! Are you in for a treat, because I’ve finally gotten around to reading and recapping R. L. Stine’s more recent adult novel, Red Rain. This recap is really just to whet your appetite as we countdown to the new Fear Streets!

You are going to have to forgive me because it’s been SO LONG since I’ve recapped a book, I’m pretty sure I have no clue how to do it anymore. This ended up being super long, largely because the book was about three times the size of a Fear Street.

I actually read this a while ago and have put off writing the recap because in the meantime I moved overseas. Luckily I took some kick-ass notes, which may or may not make any sense to me now. I hope this knowledge adds to your experience here.

Prologue: We begin in the aftermath of a horrific hurricane, which devastated an island located somewhere off the East Coast of the US (my American geography is fuzzy – let’s say it’s somewhere off the coast of South Carolina. That makes sense, right?) Lea, an adventure traveler, is standing on the beach, in shock and horror at the calamity she is witnessing. The sky opens up, and bright red rain starts to pour down on her, like blood. She basically falls to her knees and starts screaming “oh, the humanity!” Two blond boys, twins, appear in front of her out of the blood rain.

That’s a pretty good beginning. Let’s go back in time a little bit to put this all into place. Lea is sitting down to write a blog post. I’m just going stop right there to say: Blog post! R. L. has totally entered this decade. This makes me even more excited as to what the new Fear Streets will offer.

Anyway, Lea is updating her travel blog. She is an adventurer extraordinaire, venturing where the faint of heart will never travel. At the moment, she is on Cape Le Chat Noir – a mysterious island that few people visit due to rumours that it is overrun with the living dead. Legend has it, since a horrific hurricane in 1935 destroyed most of the population, the dead got up and kept on going right next to the living. So … zombie island. Oh, A. M., I bet you wish you had read this one!

Lea goes on a guided tour to a Revenir ceremony. Even the living dead are into capitalizing on tourism. At this point she brings up Facebook, and that she was creeping on somebody’s page. R. L. is right with the times now! She meets up with Martha Swann, a woman she’s been in touch with who lives on the island. Together they watch the Revenir ceremony, although Martha warns her it’s tough to handle. In the ceremony, six men are brought up to the front and given a “Black Death” concoction to drink. They all vomit and die in front of a naturally horrified Lea. But then the priest comes in and revives them, so everything is good. The newly dead/living men chuckle like “whoa, what a trip.” K, willingly dying goes beyond what I’ll do for a travel experience. Come to think of it, vomiting is also on that list.

At that time, a giant hurricane that has been threatening the coast blows in. Hurricane Ernesto is huge. It reminds people of the horrible hurricane of ’35. Lea goes home with Martha to ride out the storm.

Over to Mark, Lea’s husband, a psychologist, who is near their home on Long Island in a town called Sag Harbor. He is in the midst of a book tour, promoting his very controversial bestseller non-fiction book, “Kids Will Be Kids,” where he apparently discusses how kids should be allowed to be free and do whatever they want. Ooh, foreshadowing here! This theory rubs people the wrong way, and lots of irate parents show up to yell at him, so he’s super stressed out. In the middle of a bookreading, he gets a call from Lea in the hurricane. She screams and is cut off.

The hurricane is horribly destructive. Lea and the Swann’s are all like: are we going to make it? Then the roof collapses.

After the storm, it is a horror show. There are corpses everywhere. Lea, while wandering the streets in a daze, is attacked by a man in distress.

Back to Long Island. Andy, a NY cop who has recently transferred to peaceful Sag Harbor, is there to give Mark the news that his wife is dead. Oh, oops! It was the wrong address. Classic R. L.

Lea is fine, although swiftly developing PTSD. She is pulled over to help a woman who is trapped. They end up ripping her leg off. What? Holy crap. She wanders away from that horror show to the boarding house where she was supposed to be staying that night. The house is destroyed and one of the owners has been impaled. So lucky she stayed with the Swann’s, I guess. That’s when the blood rain starts and she meets the twins, Daniel and Samuel. They say that everything they have is gone. Lea feels a connection to them and immediately adopts them, largely on the grounds that they “are adorable.” She mentions their blond hair and blue eyes a lot. Wtf, how easy is it to adopt children there? Where I come from, taking children with you because they are cute is labeled “kidnapping.”

Daniel and Samuel have a friend named Ikey. They discuss bringing him. Daniel puts forward that Ikey isn’t as pretty as them, so their new “Mum” wouldn’t want to have him around. Samuel really wants to bring him, though, so Daniel goes out and kills Ikey, I guess to avoid the argument. So already we know: mysterious twins appearing out of blood rain are evil. As if you needed a random murder to tell you that. Also, they talk in a weird accent, like part English, and call everyone “boyo.”

Long Island. Andy the cop is in a complicated relations with a chick named Sari. That is all. Oh, and he also breaks up a fight over an ice cream cone. Very important stuff. Actually, the bully who was trying to steal an ice cream cone will show up later.

Alright, now finally Lea and Mark are together. Lea brings home some brand new twins she has adopted overnight. The confused household is there to meet them: Mark, their two kids Ira and Elena, and Mark’s sister Roz who lives in their guest house with her toddler Axl. Everyone goes on and on about how pretty the twins are – even Mark, a grown man. This is all very weird and creepy.

The twins, who are about 10, decide they want to move into the guesthouse, which seems inappropriate, but nobody can say no to them. Roz and Axl are moved into the attic. Next, Daniel and Samuel go shopping for clothes since they have absolutely nothing of their own, where they have a run-in with the class bully and we discover that they are not only evil murderers, they are also shoplifters. *gasp!*

Lea becomes distant and completely obsessed with death rituals. It’s all she does; she basically doesn’t really come into the story for awhile.

In the meantime, while his wife is busy with her PTSD, Mark has taken to fucking his young assistant, Autumn. Ugh, these scenes are so awkward. It’s like a Fear Street book, and then all of a sudden we’re talking about her creamy white ass moving under him. Okay, there’s your requisite sex scene to make this book adult.

Daniel and Samuel have taken a toll of the world around them, and have come to these conclusions: the bully would have to be dealt with, and they need to take Mark out of the picture, because he’s not quite as accepting of them as their new Mum is, no matter how pretty they are.

Mark is denied a grant that he had been hoping would come in. The guy who came out to tell him the bad news ends up dead in his car in Mark’s driveway – with his throat torn out by a blowtorch. Like, his windpipe has been torn out and thrown onto the back seat, while the edges of the gaping hole are charred. Yes, creative Stine death!

The police are suspicious of Mark, because brutal murder is clearly how people respond when they are denied a grant. The medical examiner, Harrison, shows up and is a hilarious dick to everyone.

Now Samuel and Daniel are talking about how they want to “rule the school.” It’s like the next step in their evil plan: Step one: take out adversaries; Step two: rule the school. They say they’ll convince Elena, who is older, and Ira, who is their age, to help them. First, Daniel plays a game with Ira to see who can hold their breath the longest. Daniel nearly drowns Ira, then Samuel, the “quiet” one who seems nicer steps in and uses his laser eyes to hypnotize Ira to do whatever they want. No really, that’s what happens. Samuel has laser eyes that can be used to burn, hypnotize or kill. He thinks about how when they came back from hell, Daniel got all the rage, but Samuel got the superpower.

So, you guessed it already, but pretty early on in the book the twins are outted as being the evil undead with powers. The whole book was really obvious. There wasn’t any subtlety or suspense here. I really felt let down by this, because there could have at least been a little build up.

Ira starts acting weird and moves out into the guesthouse with the twins. They all paint blue arrows on their faces. Then Ira’s friend Ethan moves in and paints an arrow on his face. Then they paint an arrow on toddler Axl’s face and the adults start freaking out.

At school, they get in trouble for the face paint, but Samuel hypnotizes the principal, who then says all the kids have to get blue arrows painted on their cheek. That afternoon, Samuel and Daniel go to the bully’s house …

Andy the cop fucks his ex, Sari, then she tells him she just got married and that was like a goodbye handshake with his penis. I forget what any of this has to do with the plotline now. I actually don’t think it does. You are welcome to forget that bit, if you can.

The cops are called in for a new murder. The bully is found in his house, beheaded and burnt.

That evening, Daniel and Samuel have lots of kids over to the guesthouse, all of them with arrows on their cheeks. They’ve “convinced” a lot of older kids to join their little club, including Elena, the teenager, which is worrying a lot of the adults. Despite all their worry, Mark and Lea go out that night, trying to reconnect after his affair she doesn’t know about and her blatant obsession with death. When they return, the guest house is empty and all the kids are gone. Like 80 kids disappeared that night. Pretty creepy.

Early the next morning, Daniel and Samuel are back and they decide to go find Autumn of the creamy ass, Mark’s assistant he’s been having on the side. They kill her in order to set up Mark. They’re all very polite about the whole thing. Autumn fights back and stabs Samuel with a heel (btw, I always think about using my stilettos as weapons when it comes right down to it.). Unfortunately, because he’s the evil undead, a heel stab wound doesn’t really slow him down. She’s a goner. The cops go to arrest Mark, so he behaves perfectly rationally, jumps out a window and runs into the woods.

Martha Swann, from the island where this all began, contacts Lea. She’s discovered some stuff about Daniel and Samuel, like a photo of them after the 1935 hurricane. They haven’t aged because they are zombies, as we already know. They survive by stealing and have a deep desire to control children. Lea’s all: wtf. Then Martha very portentiously tells Lea that there’s more …

Meanwhile, there’s a string of burglaries in Sag Harbor, committed by children. The missing kids all go to the middle school, where a “new order” has been started. No adults are allowed in, except for the kitchen staff to make them snacks. The kids are all going crazy, behaving like the wild animals that they are. Guess kids shouldn’t really be kids, now, should they Mark? Daniel can somehow control their mood through the blue painted arrow.

The principal manages to get in, and Samuel sets her on fire. There is a stand off between the kids inside and the cops of Sag Harbor outside. Daniel and Samuel come out and set fire to everything while chanting “Rule the School!” One cop goes in to be a hero and stops Samuel from killing Elena and Ira, and is almost killed himself.

Then Mark jumps in and knocks the twins out, ending their power over the kids – because stab wounds are nothing, but a knock over the head will take out a zombie anytime. All the kids run out and the twins disappear.

Mark finds Lea wandering around the school. She tells him that she’s dead, she died in the hurricane, and the Swann’s got the Revenir priest guy to bring her back. The twins then sneak up on them and try to kill Mark. Lea grabs them and they all catch fire, burning to ash.

R. L. always likes a neat wrap-up when it comes to his zombies – they usually disappear in a whirlwind or a blaze of fire. But wait … Axl, the little toddler, has been taught Samuel’s gift …

As terrifying as the thought of a toddler with killer laser eyes are, on a whole this book wasn’t so much scary as it was CRAZY. Things that were sort of scary: The blood rain with the twins appearing out of it. This started off with SO MUCH POTENTIAL. Also, having the kids disappear. I think it would have been way creepier if they had just … gone. Not ransacked the school to eat a lot of snacks in the cafeteria and boss grown ups around. And the zombies. I read somewhere that R. L. was over zombies? What does this mean for the new Fear Streets? A. M. will be so disappointed!

Alas, the book lacked nuance. But it’s been awhile since I’ve read anything new by R. L., so it was still fun and exciting. Am even more excited for the New Fear Streets, coming out this October!