Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Lost Girl or "Someone Gets Stabbed Through the Eye With a Flaming Candle, No Joke."

Welcome back to Fear Street y’all!

Turns out that R.L. Stine is publishing the new Fear Street books pretty fast and furious. Nothing like he was in the 90s (approximately 400 per year) but he’s been publishing one every six months since 2014! We have some catching up to do, clearly.

I am back with The Lost Girl, and boy, what a return to form it was! Like all great Fear Street novels, this one starts with a prologue and jumps back and forth between 1950 and 2016. The prologue is actually pretty long (like 8 chapters!) and focuses on Beth and her Italian family.

Beth’s family is finally opening their own stable. Beth’s father, Angelo Palmieri, worked as a stable hand for a prominent Irish family, the Dooleys, basically his whole life. (My immediate thought was they are all in Italian/Irish gangs! I wasn’t that far off). He’s finally saved enough money to open his own stable, and today is the opening day.

The whole family is ridiculously happy, although there is some tension between Beth and her mom. Beth is mad because her mom grounded her from last Sunday’s sock hop since Beth failed geometry. Beth thinks “Everyone knows girls aren’t good at math. Why does mom expect me to be special?” This has nothing to do with the plot, I just loved that these types of lines were thrown in. Classic Fear Street.

Another Fear Street classic is coming up - Beth is being stalked by Aaron Dooley, of Dooley Stables fame. Well, he’s the nephew of the stable owners. He follows Beth around, trying to convince her to kiss him. This is on page 8: “I tried to squirm free, but his gloved hands were inside my open coat and he tightened them around my waist. ‘Aaron, get off’ I snapped. ‘Get your paws off me. I’m in a hurry.’. The icy blue eyes flashed with excitement. He tightened his grip and pulled me to the side of the apartment building. ‘I’m tired of playing games with you,’ he said.”


And yes, it only gets worse! Assaultist Aaron pins Beth down and covers her face with kisses (weird), until Beth reveals the trick up her sleeve - she’s telekinetic and is mentally choking Aaron out.  She says “Why Aaron, you seem to have swallowed your tongue”, which admittedly, is a pretty bad ass thing to say while you’re choking someone.  Beth doesn’t kill Aaron, but instead leaves him in the snow, feeling very satisfied that he is now afraid of her. She’s not any worse for wear for the horrifying assault, as she laughs at how scared Aaron is, so that seems about par of the course for Shadyside women. She continues on her way to her dad’s stable opening and has a fine afternoon. Could RL have picked a less awful way for Beth to demonstrate her skills?

Martin Dooley, proprietor of Dooley Stables, shows up after the stable opening. Beth obviously stands around to eavesdrop, like all good Shadyside characters do. Martin accuses Angelo of betrayal for opening a competing stable, although how could he not have noticed this earlier? Like, when Angelo quit and built the stable? Maybe he has a flair for drama.  

While threatening Angelo about the business, Martin brings up Beth and how she “thinks she’s too good to go out with a Dooley?” Uh, yeah Martin, even Beth, the math dunce, is too good for Aaron. Anyways, Angelo and Martin get into a fight about who’s junk is bigger (I can only assume) and Martin leaves after threatening Angelo. The chapter ends with a classic “Two days later, my life ended.” OOOOOOOOOOHH.

Two days later, Irish thugs come and kidnap Angelo from the stable, while Beth looks on in horror from the office. She goes after the cars with her father in it, in the most boring and slow car chase. It is literally during a traffic jam. The thugs take him to Dooley’s Stables, of course, where he’s tied up on the ground between two stakes. Beth tries to do some telekinesis magic spell, but it doesn’t work. Beth kinda sucks.

What follows here though is quite possibly the most INSANE Fear Street death. Martin Dooley comes out and covers Angelo in honey and oats (delish!) and then releases...the horses? Yes friends, Angelo is savagely ripped apart when the horses are let loose and they eat the honey and oats, and I guess just keep on eating and kill Angelo? What? Is this something that horses do - eat their food and then just keep eating whatever’s beneath it until they’ve tunneled through to the centre of the earth? I actually googled “horses eat human flesh?” (note the incredulous question mark there). All I found is Greek mythology and a list of 10 countries who eat horse flesh. Maybe it was a revenge murder then.

Anyhoo, Beth has been watching this happen from behind a building. Since she kinda sucks, when she turns to run and get help, she runs the wrong way, and is quickly seen by the murderous irishmen and their band of flesh-eating horses (huh).  Oh, Aaron has shown up now too. They chase her into the woods and she crawls into a cave, hoping to hide from the absolute insanity she just saw. As she rushes deeper in the the cave she suddenly feels like she’s falling…

Present Day

We now meet Mike. Mike’s dad owns the snowmobile store and rental place in Fear Street which is pretty cool, and he has a girlfriend named Pepper who has fiery red hair - OF COURSE she does. We’ve discussed how Shadyside seems to have the highest proportion of redheads in the world, yes? I guess due to all the Irish gangs.

Anyways, he’s out grocery shopping for his mom when he spots the most beautiful girl - he describes her as looking like Emma Stone. Interesting. I think given our knowledge of RL’s love of redheads, we may have stumbled across his celebrity crush!  Mike is watching her so intently, he also watches her steal a bunch of food. Odd. They talk outside the store about Mike’s dog and two weird things happen: she knows his name without him telling her; and he apparently wandered out of the store without his groceries and has to go back in. She introduces herself as Mindy Barker. Get it together, Mike.

The next chapter introduces the rest of the characters: Gabe is Mike’s best friend, who loves video games. Diego is the big athlete, and Kathryn is the small artsy one. Pepper rounds them out. When Mike runs into Mindy in the hall and introduces Gabe, she laughs at Mike and tells him her real name is Lizzy Walker. Mike is embarrassed for some inexplicable reason - how would you know this random new girl would give you a fake name?? This had no impact on the plot. So weird!

Also, the name Lizzy? Are teens slower than they were in the 80s and 90s? Or does RL want people to catch on early? If you don’t understand my meaning, I’m sure you’ll catch up soon.

Mike runs into Lizzy again that afternoon - she tells him she’s LOST. Get it? He points her in the right direction and she attempts to hold his hand. Actually wait. She holds his hand, then pricks his finger with a thumbtack, pricks her own and pushes them together before Mike can react. WHAT?! She whispers “now we’re bloods.” Please tell me what your reaction would be if a person did that to you. Because holy crap, how Mike is not terrified for his life is beyond me.

He thinks very little of this extremely distressing incident and then goes to work on the yearbook with Pepper. Pepper saw him with Lizzy earlier in the day and is jealous (of course) but he tells her she has nothing to worry about. As he has Lizzy’s blood coursing through his veins! Scandalous!

That night, Lizzy wanders over to his house out of the blue claiming she got *lost* and also doesn’t explain how she knew where Mike lived. Super weird. His mom invites her in for dinner where she eats like a feral animal that’s been caught in a cage for weeks. She hears that Michael and his friends are going snowmobiling the next day and begs to come. When he says yes, she kisses him on the cheek out of happiness! Which is totally something new friends do... Of course Pepper comes over right then to see Lizzy eating at the dinner table with the family, also kinda kissing Mike. With Pepper super pissed off, Lizzy wanders off into the night again, in the wrong direction. Classic Lizzy!

The most surprising part of the snowmobile day is that the kids are drinking again! I mean, I’m not surprised teens are drinking, but it was very rare for Fear Street kids to drink in the original series, but it seems like they drink in every book now. It’s Mike, Pepper, Lizzy, and their three friends whose name I can’t bother looking up right now. Diego and so and so.

Anyways, after downing a few beers, they start snowmobiling. Everything is going well; Pepper even promised to try to be nice to Lizzy since she’s new in town - probably a bigger person than me.  Mike is snowmobiling down a path and … someone starts to cross in front of him. Mike feels like he can’t move his arms to swerve, or hands to brake! He runs over the guy, and then is able to get his body under control. Too late - he's dead.

Everyone is freaking out. Lizzy says that she knows him - his name is Angel and he almost beat two kids to death! They all agree that he was bad news, and should probably just leave him there. Wha?  Luckily, Mike has a change of heart before they get back to his dad’s shop. He realizes that it clearly looks like Angel was run over by snowmobiles, so it probably won’t take too long for (even) the Shadyside police to put two and two together. So even though their change of heart was more based on logistics than morality, they troupe back to the scene of the crime to call for help.

Except.. The body is gone!

Part Two- 1950

It’s been a few days since Angelo was murdered by flesh-eating horses, and Beth is still missing. I guess the Irish gang dumped Angelo in the forest as the police tell her they think he was eaten by wolves. Nice police work there. Beth’s mom, Gina, decides to have a double funeral.  

During the funeral Martin Dooley comes to pay his respects, which does not sit well with ol’ Gina. She stabs him in the eye with a goddamn candle, which lights his face and head on fire. Gina does NOT eff around! This is how she reacts after she sees Martin Dooley go up in flames: “Gina crossed her arms in front of her chest and watched.” Bad ass.

Part Three - Present

Of course the Shadyside teachers take their students grave rubbing. Reminds me of the teacher in Hocus Pocus who is way to into the Sanderson sisters. Like, I get it, you live in a creepy town. You don’t need to drag children to cemetery on a dreary day.

Lizzy conveniently finds Beth and Angelo’s graves to do rubbings on. Weird.  Weirder still, when Michael is by himself, he sees Angel climbing out of a grave! His friends think that Angel must be alive then, that Michael didn’t kill him in  the snowmobile accident. So...the theory is that Angel is fine, but just hangs around in open graves…? I mean, it’s Shadyside, so this might be a valid theory.

Lizzy on the other hand thinks that Angel is dead (she claims he was real dead when she examined him at the accident) so it must be an evil ghost. I guess as equally likely a theory. Lizzy is very scared, so Michael gives her a hug. As he’s hugging her, this happens: “I held onto Lizzy. Her tears felt hot against my cheek. Am I becoming obsessed with her?”  Hahaha WTF. By the way, the italics were R.L.s, not mine! Classic Fear Street fear boner.

Anyways, Pepper sees this hug and dumps Michael, thank goodness. What a wang.  He gets a threatening phone call that night and the caller claims that Mike killed him. Mike refuses to go to the police, which is probably fair enough. I mean, this guy made a threatening phone call, but Mike had previously run him over.  

(Confession time: At this point in my recap, I put the book down and didn’t pick it up for 2 months. My recollection is hazy and my notes aren’t that good. Luckily, this recap is already super long so I don’t feel guilty with how poorly I will recap the rest of the book. This is only halfway!)

The next day, Lizzy gets knocked out at school and although she (unsurprisingly) doesn’t see her attacker, he whispers in her ear “one by one”. Much to Mike’s delight, Lizzy kisses him later that week at his house. Much to my disgust, she reminds him that they’re “bloods”, as in, remember that time I pricked your finger and gave you a blood-born illness? After she leaves his house, his mom is missing her special amethyst ring. Mike is flabbergasted by what could have happened to it!

Obviously, Lizzy is wearing the ring and telling everyone Mike gave it to her. He’s so mad he thinks about how he is actually seeing red! A little bit of a rage issue, like all good Fear Street men. Before he can confront Lizzy, he is given a paper bag full of red hair by a random student - Pepper’s hair! Mike doesn’t know what happened to Pepper, so he and Gabe rush to the hospital. On the way, their car is chased and rammed from behind.

Mike wakes up in hospital.  Gabe was crushed to death. My next notes says “Confesses all to cops. Asks about zombies?” I don’t remember that, but I really liked that note, so there you go. Even after all that has happened, Mike is still mostly thinking of Lizzy.  The police visit him a few days later to ask about Lizzy, since they’ve discovered there is no Lizzy Walker in school. Mike thinks about how he doesn’t know anything about her and “Maybe she’s poor…”. Worst case scenario for any Shadysider, I know.

Lizzy comes to find Mike and begs for his help.  When he tells her to go to the police she is certain that Angel would kill her for doing that, and insists she needs the help of her “blood”, gross.  She makes out with Mike then asks him to kill Angel for her (specifically, tomorrow night). Mike agrees and Lizzy says she’ll get a gun. That was fast.

In an interesting way to spend their time, Mike and Diego decide to continue filming a class project. Macbeth, to be exact. Diego wants to film it in the boiler room of their school, for unknown reasons. Mike agrees but when he goes down, Diego has been tied to the boiler, and when Mike releases the ropes, all his skin slides off his back. Barf.

Diego is surprisingly alive, although probably wishes he wasn’t. Pepper (who is fine, just got knocked out and had her head shaved) and Mike try to work on the yearbook to take their minds off their dead and maimed friends. They make an interesting discovery - in an old 1950 yearbook, there is a Beth Palmieri that looks identical to Lizzy! Pepper also points out their names are the same.  Mike remembers he saw something like that in the cemetery and they go confirm that, yup, Beth Palmieri is buried there. They don’t know what to make of this. Pepper asks to hang out that night but Mike says no, thinking about how Lizzy is getting a gun.

He goes to meet Lizzy that night at the spot of the old Fear Mansion. He can’t find Lizzy so he just wanders around the Fear Street Woods (at night in winter) until Pepper comes up behind him. She followed him because he’s been such a weirdo.  Lizzy comes then and flies into a rage when she sees Pepper there. She uses her telekinesis (which I kinda forgot about) to freeze Pepper in place. Lizzy excitedly tells Mike that he’s here so she can kill him.  Angel steps out of the woods too. It is actually Aaron Dooley for some reason? They are working together?

So apparently Lizzy has been lusting for revenge on Mike because (surprise!) Mike is Martin Dooley’s grandson. Martin Dooley has been dead for years (probably because his face caught fire), but Lizzy doesn’t let that satisfy her. Lizzy and Aaron lead Mike to the cave that she used to escape in 1950 and explains it’s actually a time travelling tunnel back to that year.  She also explains that Aaron followed her through the time portal, (most likely, because he was/is a stalker who is obsessed with her).  Aaron claims he was disgusted by how his father killed Beth/Lizzy’s father and he was too scared to move when it happened.  That doesn’t explain the assault from the beginning of the book. Oh here it is: “We...had a bad time before...A bad moment a few days before. I actually hated him. But I was wrong about him. He loved me. He loved me so much, he followed me into the cave.” God dammit R.L.

Lizzy and Aaron go to shove Mike through the time travelling cave where they say he will cease to exist (although I should mention that if they travelled from 1950 to 2016 and stayed 16, Mike would travel to 1950 and also remain 16. If they didn’t age, he wouldn’t anti-age into non-existence. The physics is all wrong!). Luckily Pepper comes out of her frosty spell and screams. This moment of distraction allows Mike to shove Lizzy and Aaron into the cave where… they age 70 years very rapidly (I don’t think this is how time-travel works). Also, they age until they are an old pile of bones, which I think if very unfair to 86 year olds.

The books of course ends with Mike doing a grave rubbing of Beth Palmieri’s grave, because why the eff not.

Alright, this book was waaaaayyyy too long and also, didn’t make the best sense. Putting the issues with time-traveling caves aside, I don’t really get Lizzy and Aaron’s plan. Okay, they wanted to torture Mike for what his grandfather did. Did they have to kill and maim multiple innocent others? Also, why did they have to run Aaron/Angel over with the snowmobile?? Couldn’t they have just started stalking Mike out of the blue? Aaron seemed great at that!

Well, there you have it. The Lost Girl by R.L. Stine.  I can’t say that I loved it because it was a little crazy in a bad way. Seventeen flesh-eating-horses out of thirty-two.