Monday, September 29, 2014

The Vampire Club or "How Crazy Can R.L. get in 20 pages?"

I can't even tell you the mix of emotions I had reading an R.L. book for the first time in years. There was joy, nostalgia and a healthy dose of wtf-am-i-reading. Also, since I had never read "The Vampire Club" before, there wasn't too much nostalgia. So my reaction was pretty heavy on the WTF. 

"The Vampire Club" is a short story that was attached to the two Goodnight Kiss books and made into the compilation "Temptation". I can't for the life of me find out whether "The Vampire Club" was ever published before being attached to "Temptation" in 2012. So let's just say it may have been written in 2012, or maybe at some other point. Fact checking is not my forte. 

Since "The Vampire Club" didn't have its own tagline (or interesting cover), I checked out the tagline for the whole compilation. Sometimes evil is sealed with a kiss. ...Hmmm! That one almost made sense. Like evil can seduce you? I guess that's what the Goodnight Kiss books were about, so good on R.L. (or whoever actually makes up the taglines. It can't possibly be him).

The first line of "The Vampire Club" was seriously the best: "Starting at a new school can be a real pain in the neck". SEE WHAT HE DID THERE?! God, I've missed his writing. 

Anyhow, Pete is new to Forest Grove, after moving there from Shadyside just before his senior year started. The setting doesn't really make sense to me, since Pete could have easily just moved TO Shadyside, and nothing in the story would have changed. Whatever. Forest Grove sounds suspiciously like the Washington town that the Twilight series was set in, and yes, I am proud that I don't remember that name. (Forks. Dammit). Everything in Forest Groves is dark, shady, and covered in creepy ivy. Pete even remarks that is looks just like the Fear Street Woods! (Why are we in Forest Groves then?).        

Pete is trying to get through his first day at his new school, but is feeling pretty homesick. Once the home bell rings at 3pm, everyone starts running through the halls like they are trying to get to another class. Pete finally asks a girl from his home room about this fuckery. Nan (yes that's her name) answers that everyone is required to join a club after school that meets every day. Two things here: Pete thinks Nan is super hot. Like "On a scale from 1-10, she's definitely 150!" kind of hot (Pete is a total cock waffle, clearly), Second thing: Mandatory clubs? That's just another class, right? Pete doesn't think this is weird at all, and asks if there is a carpentry club since that's his hobby. Let's revisit that. As a 16 year old boy, his hobby is...carpentry. Pete definitely has to be a vampire, right? Because no one gets into carpentry as a hobby until they are at least 80.

Nan tells him she has a more exciting club for him to join. Since Pete is now in love with her after their 3-minute discussion, he follows her into the woods where he meets her boyfriend Lee and the rest of their club. They are called The Vampire Club.  It takes a while for Pete to suss out whether these weirdos think they are vampires but it turns out they are vampire hunters! Amazing. I think I was in a ghostbusting club at age 9, so I feel a connection to these people. Lee is all "we destroy vampires! They hunt in these woods but go to school with us in the daytime!". Pete is "unsure" whether or not they are fucking with him.  And honestly, since this is an R.L. novel, I have no idea either. Lee tells Pete that to be initiated into the club he has to kill a vampire. Pete is all "cool" and makes plans with them to meet up the next night for some huntin'. And at no point does he think it's weird that there are mandatory after-school clubs.

The next night, they all gather in the Forest Grove woods again, and walk in complete darkness for a little while. Finally, Lee sees something. A boy from their gym class, Jason, has just entered a clearing in the woods, dragging a dog along with him. As Pete watches, Jason lowers his head to the dogs neck! Lee is all gleeful: "He's drinking its blood!", and Pete turns away to be sick. Everyone laughs at Pete, and he runs home. He can't believe he was wimped out and blew his chance to be in the club with Nan! Hmm. Pete...

Pete decides that he's not going to chicken out. So he carefully files a log into a stake all night long. OMG what? Then just before daybreak (because vampires must return home to sleep during the day, Pete thinks. Clearly forgetting Jason is a boy from his gym class. In daylight.), he sneaks into Jason's house and slips into his bedroom. Pete thinks to himself that he can do it, he can kill the mighty vampire Jason, FOR NAN. And with that, he shoves the stake into Jason's heart and runs home. 

As soon as he gets home, he calls his obsession, Nan. Nan is really glad he called, because she feels bad about the prank that Lee pulled last night. Prank? What prank? Um, yeah, Pete, Jason is Lee's friend. Lee got him to pretend to be a vampire to freak out Pete. Oh. 

The book ends with "What did you call to tell me, Pete?", which I totally loved. The short story wasn't too bad! I actually wasn't sure what direction R.L. would take it. I kinda thought Pete would be a vampire and try to eat all the lame-o club kids. Or maybe Nan and Lee were the leader of some sort of cult that thought they were vampires. All of these situations would have been okay with me, but I liked that R.L. went with Pete being a total crazy person. Seven stakes carefully crafted out of logs over the course of an evening of insanity out of nine. 

But can we discuss the real thing that's bothering me about this book? How did no one care that there were mandatory clubs after school every day?!


Anonymous said...

I just discovered this blog and am so delighted. (And it's recently updated, no less!) It's been a hell of a trip down memory lane. I had forgotten about a lot of these - like the Cataluna Chronicles, holy crap.

This is making me wish I hadn't let my mom talk me into donating all my old Fear Street books... though now hopefully another generation of teens will get to enjoy their ridiculousness.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little late to the party, but I thought y'all might like to know that 'The Vampire Club' was originally published in '97 and I believe made available as some kind of small single paperback. It was added as a 'bonus story' in the Goodnight Kiss Collector's Edition -- my copy published in '02 -- with a weird purple cover that did not in any way match the rest of the Fear Street Collector's Editions, but was also not this horrible 'Temptations' compilation thing that's clearly banking on modern trends in minimalism rather than remaining true to the psychotic fever-dream murals of the 90s. (He says in a nasal voice, obviously wearing a monocle.)

RecallerReminder said...

The twist was totally unexpected. Stine can really surprise us sometimes.