Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Final Grade


Sorry for the incredibly blurry photo. But it's just Lily and what I assume is Mr. Reiner. This scene doesn't actually happen in the book...it's all a dream. Unfortunately!


Book Description:


Everyone thinks she killed her teacher. Intense, competitive, Lily Bancroft had good reasons to hate him. She lives to win, and he was about to destroy her dreams. But murder? That was going too far, even for someone as driven as Lily. She's innocent. But that hasn't stopped the whispers behind her back. Or the weird phone calls late at night. Then someone else is brutally murdered and suddenly Lily is drawn into a nightmare she can't begin to control. Will her final grade be her last?


Main Characters:


Lily Bancroft - ANOTHER Bancroft! Lily has thick black hair, just like another Lily I know...



...and blue eyes and that's all we get as far as physical description goes. She is obsessed with being class valedictorian because her two sisters, Becky and Melinda, were the valedictorians of their respective graduating classes. She wants her mother and father to be as proud of her as they were of her sisters. In addition to studying like a mad-woman, Lily works at her uncle Bob's drugstore. Lily is the lead character in this book, but she is SO two-dimensional. We learn more about some of the secondary characters than we do about her.


Alex Crofts - Lily's boyfriend. Alex has dark, curly hair and blue eyes...which sounds a LOT like Lily. Perhaps these two were seperated at birth or something? This book would have been much more interesting if that had happened! Alex has a passive-aggressive personality and whines like a baby at times. Lily is so desperate to hang on to him and I really don't see why. Other than the fact that he makes her laugh occasionally, he has no merits.


Scott Morris - Is this our psycho? Why, yes, it is! And a fine looking psycho he is, according to Lily. Scott is the editor of The Forum, the school literary magazine and takes his job very seriously, meaning he's a bit of an ass sometimes. But I suppose trying to balance homicide and editing and school would make anyone into an ass.


Julie Prince - Lily's best friend. Julie is a brunette (have you noticed that there are NO blondes in this book?) with big brown eyes. Her brother was killed during a robbery a few years back and it's a very touchy subject for Julie (as it would be for anyone, I imagine). Julie's hobbies include reading mysteries which she apparently devours like they're "bags of popcorn." and playing detective. I like Julie a lot better than Lily...


My Description:


This book begins with Lily talking to her social sciences teacher, Mr. Reiner, over the B she got on a test in his class. She's seriously upset over this B because social sciences is an honors class. Plus, she has to make perfect grades in order to become valedictorian. Personally, I'd be pretty damn happy with a B in ANY class, but I'm not quite as neurotic as Lily. Anyway, Mr. Reiner is a young, arrogant teacher who refuses to allow Lily to retake the test. He basically just sits and smirks at her as she says "Please, Mr. Reiner. Can't you give me an A-? That would raise my average enough to get an A in the course." His reply? "I do not give grades. I award them--if they are earned." Ass. Lily asks him if that's his final answer and he grins at her and says "Sounds like it to me." Lily is furious because this guy obviously doesn't give two shits about her grade. I don't like Reiner any more than you do, Lily, but your grade actually isn't his responsibility. Anyway, Lily envisions herself lunging over the desk at him and choking him to death. Since this is Shadyside, the solution to ALL problems is murder, of course. She snaps back to reality as Reiner asks her if she needs anything else (like he cares). She shakes her head and runs out of the classroom. In the hall, she runs into Julie. Lil tells Julie that she'd like to murder Mr. Reiner for giving her a B. You're willing to take a human life over a stinking B? I could MAYBE understand if it were a D or an F...wait. What the hell am I saying? The insanity is starting to take over my mind!


Lily hangs around outside the school library waiting for Julie to return some books. While she's waiting, Alex comes up behind her and grabs the back of her neck because ending violence against women isn't a priority of his. Alex laughs, but shuts up quick when he realizes how sad and pathetic Lily looks. She tells him about Reiner and Alex pisses her off by saying that Reiner really isn't that bad. Julie comes out of the library holding a stack of books, disrupting the tension. Julie gives Alex a look, the kind of look you give a piece of dog shit stuck to the bottom of your shoe. Apparently, Julie and Alex "briefly dated last year" and things between them are kind of weird. If my best friend was dating my leftovers, I'd feel weird, too. Scott comes running up to them and asks them why they aren't in the office (they're all on the staff of The Forum. Actually, I think these 4 actually make up the entire staff. Which is kind of pathetic.) Lily tells him that she has to work. She runs outside and tries to catch the bus, but it pulls away without her. Tough. Julie's cousin, Graham, pulls up in his Porsche (I hate when high school kids have such fancy cars!) and asks her if she needs a ride. Lily hates Graham because he's her number one contender in the battle for valedictorian. She accepts the ride anyway. The entire ride consists of Graham bragging about having straight-A's. Blah. Shut up, Graham. Lily tries to ignore him, but her ears perk up when he mentions the upcoming Trivia Contest--whoever wins gets $500. Graham says he knows he'll win and Lily just rolls her eyes and thinks "What a jerk" instead of smashing his nuts with one of those heavy textbooks she's holding.


The next chapter begins with Lily working the cash register. A man "wearing a tattered denim jacket and a menacing expression" enters the store. He pulls a pistol out of his pocket and points it at Lily. He tells her to empty the cash register. She starts to, but her Uncle Bob intervenes. He pulls his own pistol out of a drawer behind the counter. Show down! Well, kind of. The would-be robber drops his gun and runs out of the store. Uncle Bob's delivery boy, Rick Campbell, chases the "robber" down the street, but loses him. Rick comes back to the store and acts all macho because he chased an unarmed guy down the street. Lily had called the police while Uncle Bob was holding up the robber. They arrive (how close were they?) and do nothing. They tell Uncle Bob that this is the third attempted robbery this week and then they leave. 'Shadyside's finest'...my ass! Uncle Bob goes in the back room to fill prescriptions and Rick starts chatting up Lily. Are none of them shaken by the fact that they were almost robbed at gunpoint? Guess not. Rick asks Lily where she goes to school and tells her that he dropped out of high school. He asks her out, but she declines because she already has one douchebag in her life (Alex) and doesn't really need another one. She starts looking over her calculus textbook and Rick asks her if she actually LIKES studying. She tells him that she doesn't mind it and then complains about Mr. Reiner a little more. Get over it, Lily, please. Rick has to leave to make a delivery and Lily's uncle tells her she can go on home. She catches a bus and uses the ride home to study even MORE. Meanwhile, I was busy trying to keep my eyelids open...


Lily gets off at her stop and starts the short walk home. She hears rustling in the bushes and jumps to the conclusion that someone must be following her. The robber? No, it's just Alex stalking his lady. He tells her that he didn't mean to scare her. Why the hell were you hiding in the bushes in the middle of the night then, Alex? Lily tells him about the robbery and starts crying. Alex comforts her a little, but it's obvious he only wants to talk about the fact that she made him wait for her--he wanted to study, dammit! He walks her home and tells her he wants to talk for a while, but she can't because...well, you know. He tells her he wishes she had more time for him...she says she's sorry...blah blah blah I don't care and you probably don't either. Alex finally takes a hike and Lily goes inside. Her dad comes into the living room and we're given a short description-thick salt-and-pepper hair, sparkling blue eyes, and a high forehead. Ok. Oh, and Lily thinks he's handsome. He asks her how she is; Uncle Bob called him and told him about the robber man. She's fine, everything is all good. She goes into the kitchen for a snack--a meatloaf sandwich and a glass of milk. Just reading that makes me feel sick. After she's done, she goes to her room to do her homework (calculus and Spanish). She's almost finished when the phone rings. She picks up and it's some weirdo who says "Lily, it's me. Someone who knows you, Lily. Someone who knows everything about you. Someone who watches you all the time." What happened to the old fashioned heavy breathers? Lily freaks out and asks who it is. They, of course, simply hang up.


The next morning, Lily is exhausted because she stayed up so late the night before doing homework and thinking about that freakshow who called her. On the bus ride to school, Alex asks Lily what her problem is. She tells him she couldn't sleep last night because she couldn't stop thinking about Mr. Reiner. Ooo la la. Alex tells her to forget about it because Reiner won't change her grade. She tells him that she'll ask Reiner about extra credit or something--if she doesn't get the grade, she won't be valedictorian and then she'll be doomed! Seriously. She actually says she'll be doomed. This girl needs to lighten the hell up. It isn't the end of the world! She should feel lucky that her grades are as good as they are. Anyway, as soon as she arrives at school, Lily takes off to Mr Reiner's room to have a little chat. She goes inside the room and finds it empty...or she thinks. She peeks over the side of the teacher's desk and GASP! Mr. Reiner is dead, lying in (what else?) a puddle of blood. Apparently, he was pushed off of the ladder he was using to change a lightbulb in the classroom (isn't that the janitor's job?). Since Lily so conveniently found his body, everyone grows suspicious of her. Shadyside paranoia at it's best. At school a few days after Mr. Reiner's funeral, Lily is all cheery and such because she thinks she has a better chance at valedictorian. *sigh* Oh Lily.
One evening, after copious amounts of homework, Lily receives another weird phone call. This time, the nut simply says "I know all about you, Lily [yeah, you pretty much said the same thing last time...no need to repeat yourself] And I know you got what you wanted. Didn't you?" Lily asks who it is AGAIN and the caller hangs up. Does she really think this bastard is going to tell her who he is? Creepy telephone stalker types do not give away their identity that easily.
The next day, Lily has a meeting of The Forum. Scott compliments Lily on a bitchin' essay she wrote. Then they go over some photos that they're considering for the cover and Scott tells her that she should come down to the printing press later that night (his father owns the whole thing) when they print the issue...he tells her it's pretty awesome, but I somehow doubt that. Alex comes in and gets pissed off because they're so cozy. Alex is the whiniest little biotch I've come across in a long time. Scott totally ignores Alex (as he damn well should) and walks out of the room. Lily asks Alex what his problem is. And Alex tells her "I know [Scott] has the hots for you!" and then he mocks Scott. Lily soothes the curly headed beast with a kiss and suddenly everything is cool. WTF? Like two seconds ago they were both fairly pissed off and now...nothing? Yeah, they smile at each other and start looking at the cover photos. Whatever. Anyway, the "staff" (I have positively confirmed that the entire staff consists of Scott, Lily, Alex, and Julie. Once again, SAD.) meeting doesn't end until 6:30 that evening. Afterwards, Lily runs off to her Uncle's drugstore to shove in some work before the 5 billion hours of studying she'll be doing later at home. Lily does homework between customers (does she ever relax?!) and Rick comes over and interrupts her by asking what she's studying (Spanish). Rick tells her he read about her teacher (he calls him Mr. Meiner) in the newspaper and then ruins any chance he may have had of getting into Lily's pants--"So what did you do, Lily? Give the guy a little push for extra credit?" Lily freaks out and basically tells him to get the hell away from her. Unfortunately, hints are lost on Rick and he replies with "Hey, whoa. Don't get all sweaty [WTF?] I didn't mean anything." Lily ONCE AGAIN tells him to leave her alone. And ONCE AGAIN Rick doesn't listen--"You stuck up or something? I only want to get to know you better." He has quite the way with the ladies, that Rick.
Lily leaves work at 9 PM and goes straight to the printing plant. She goes inside and the place appears to be deserted. As she's standing there, waiting for someone, this tower of huge paper rolls starts to fall and she thinks she's going to be crushed to death. She dives out of the way just in time (darn), only getting clipped in the leg by one roll. A "bearded, middle-aged man" that Lily has never seen before comes out of nowhere and asks her is she is all right. And the Scooby gang immediately follows. Scott tells Lily that the beard-o is Mr. Jacobson, the night foreman. That doesn't seem right to me, but I know nothing about paper plants so I'll just shut up. Everyone makes a big fuss about Lily almost dying. The last couple of sentences on the page kind of crack me up. Scott says "Come on, guys. Let's go to Pete's Pizza. I'm starving." [What about printing? Oh, never mind that--Scott says the printing press is stuck. Oookkk.] And Lily is thinking about her homework...but THEN she thinks Hey, I was nearly killed tonight! "Good idea! Let's go get some pizza!" Wow.
She gets home at 11 PM and receives ANOTHER phone call. "I want what you want. And I'm going to help you, if you'll let me. Please, Lily, let me help."Lily doesn't bother asking who it is this time because really, what did that achieve the last time she asked? She just slams the phone down and goes to bed. What, no studying?
The next day is the "big" Trivia Contest. It comes down to Lily and Graham (like we didn't see that coming). The last questions are about Shadyside history (oddly enough, no mention of murder. Someone is in denial.) Lily gets extremely nervous and screws up which results in Graham winning the contest. He gloats and smirks as is his way and tells Lily "Better luck next time." Lily is pissed and storms off. As she's walking home, Rick appears out of nowhere and after a little mindless chit-chat ("I like working for your uncle. I don't make a lot of money, but your uncle Bob treats me real well." Is he Uncle Bob's mistress in addition to making deliveries?) Lily asks Rick if he's the one who has been calling her. He says yes. AHHH! Oh wait. Rick HAS called a few times, but he never said anything. He just sat there and was too chickenshit to say anything. I don't get that. He isn't afraid to talk to her in person, but he has a problem with the phone? Lily doesn't believe him and runs off toward her house. Is this book over yet?
The next night, Lily heads to the printing plant in the hopes of seeing the magazine get printed. She finds a note taped to the entrance that says "Be back at 9:30, M. Jacobson" I don't know what night foreman does at a paper plant, but I don't think leaving the place unattended is part of the duties. And he left the freaking door unlocked. This alone should tell Lily that Mr. Jacobson DID NOT WRITE THE NOTE, but she goes in anyway. And ohmyshit she sees a lamp lit in the corner and thinks that maybe she could get some homework done. WHATEVER! Lily suddenly hears the printing press come to life. She steps closer to it, hoping to see the magazine being printed (HOW? There's no-one there but you, genius!) and instead gets splattered with blood. She looks up and screams--Graham's lifeless body is crammed inside the press. Lily, being the idiot she is, tries to pulls his body out. She hears his bones crunching and such and finally she has him free. She looks at his corpse lying on the floor, blood seeping out everywhere, and she passes out. When she wakes up, she finds Alex holding onto her shoulders, Julie sobbing beside her dead cousin, and Scott running to call the police.
At Graham's funeral, Lily has a vision of his corpse rising out of the casket and telling everyone in the room that Lily killed him. I'm not even going to comment on that. She believes that Julie is giving her evil looks and that everyone in the room believes she killed him. Paranoid much? She runs home and when inside her bedroom, she discovers Graham's horn-rimmed glasses lying on her bed. Scott enters the room and this book has just taken a turn for the crazier. Scott tells her that HE put Graham's glasses on her bed. HE killed Graham. He claims that he did it for Lily. He killed Graham AND Mr. Reiner and it was allllll for Lily. Scott confesses that he loves Lily and wants her to love him back. When guys murder people in the name of love for me, I usually just give them a pat on the back and send them on their way. But Lily just tells Scott that she's thirsty and would he like to join her for a Coke downstairs? While he's getting ice or something, Lily goes in the next room and tries to dial 9-1-1, but Scott catches her and brings her back into the kitchen so he can keep an eye on her. He tells her that if she tells anyone about what he did, he'll just deny it and turn the tables on her. After all, she's the one who has a motive (I really don't think VALEDICTORIAN AT ALL COSTS! is a good motive for murder).
The next day, The Forum staff meets and Scott suggests dedicating the next issue to Graham. Lily thinks he's SICK and bails. She does that a lot. Julie catches up to her outside and apologizes for not being such a good friend lately. She also says she doesn't think Graham's death was an accident and she's going to get to the bottom of it. Julie is one of those people who thinks that she can solve murders and shit just because she reads a lot of mysteries. Leave the sleuthing to the professionals, sweetheart.
Scott calls that night and tells Lily that he wants her to end things with Alex. 6 months down the drain?!?! Oh NO! Scott tells her he'll tell everyone that she killed those guys unless she goes out with him. What choice does she have?
They go out Saturday night and Lily insists that they travel a few towns over to see the new Winona Ryder movie (this was 1995...which movie is he referring to?) Scott agrees and after the movie he tells Lily that she looks like Winona Ryder and really likes that in a woman. Or something. They eat at a shitty restaurant called Burger Buddy where Lily runs into Rick. Scott puts his arm around Lily and tells Rick that he's her boyfriend. Lily is pissed, but she goes along with it. Rick is freaked out by Scott's aggressiveness and leaves. Soon after, the happy couple also leaves. Scott tells Lily that someday they'll be married with children. Lily is like hell to the no! He takes her home and tries to kiss her, but she freaks out and runs inside.
At the next meeting of The Forum, Scott announces to Alex that he and Lily went on a date Saturday night. This whole thing makes me cringe because I can just imagine how totally awkward it would be. Alex gets incredibly pissed and walks out of the office. Lily tries to explain, but he isn't having it. Burn.
The next day, while Lily is working, Julie calls to tell Lily that she has found a clue in the Graham "investigation"--a message on the answering machine at the printing press for Graham! Why would Graham be receiving message at the plant? That makes so little sense that it almost makes sense. Scott comes into the store just as Lily is hanging up the phone. He has a yellow rose for her and he gets pissed when she tells him she doesn't want it. You claim to know everything about her, Scott, but you didn't know she likes red roses, not yellow! Lily asks him if he left a message for Graham and he says he did, but it doesn't matter end of conversation. Lily lets it slip that Julie told her about the message and Scott reacts by saying that he will now have to kill Julie. Good Lord.
Scott forces Lily to leave with him to go to the printing plant after forcing her to call Julie and tell her that she wants to meet her there so they can listen to the message together. Scott grabs Uncle Bob's pistol before they go, just in case Lily gets any funny ideas. When they arrive, Scott tells Lily that he's going to make Julie's death look like an accident. That's his specialty, after all. Julie comes inside and says Lily's name. Lily screams for her to run!!! But Julie is a little slow on the uptake and she just stands there.
Best line of the book--"You're not exactly Nancy Drew, are you?" That's Scott talking down to Julie. I'm glad someone called her out!
Anyway, Scott and Julie wrestle a little (hawt) and Scott ends up shooting Julie. Lily starts to cry and tries to get the gun from Scott so she can kill HIM. He grabs her and hugs her, saying it'll all be ok. Lily happens to glance over Scott's shoulder...and sees Julie standing up and walking slowly towards them. ZOMBIE! Julie picks up a metal bar that's lying on top of the printing press and smashes Scott in the head with it. He crumples to the floor and Lily runs over to Julie, asking how is she still alive? Turns out the gun was actually a starter pistol. Ok? The girls call the police and their parents. Scott sits up, makes a gurgling noise, and falls back to the floor dead. And Julie and Lily don't do anything but look at him like he's roadkill or something. I realize he's insane and he tried to kill one of you...but he's a human being, too! The cops and medics arrive and take Scott away.
The book ends with Julie telling Lily that there are more important things than being valedictorian to which Lily replies "No way! We've still got four more weeks of school left. I'm going to finish first, Julie. I know I am." Are you serious, Lily? The murders, the stalkings, the harrassment! And you STILL didn't learn your lesson? I hate you.
Conclusion? This book sucked. I never wanna see it again. Now, about next time...would you rather have The Boy Next Door, College Weekend, or Trapped?

14 comments:

  1. Hmm I say either "The Boy Next Door" or "College Weekend"... I can't for the life of me remember anything about "Trapped."

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  2. Please, College Weekend!

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  3. I'm thinking The Boy Next Door, but for some reason I don't remember any of these. :(

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  4. "Trapped" is like a psycho Fear Street version of The Breakfast Club.

    I'll probably go with "College Weekend" Some truly awesome psychotic stuff happens in that one.

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  5. anonymous no moreApril 11, 2008 at 7:04 PM

    Dang, too late to vote on the next book! Oh, well, I hate deciding, anyway.

    I remember being very scandalized by the cover of this book: "Ohmygoodness she kills a TEACHER?! That's just not right!" Then I was very disappointed when that didn't actually happen.

    "You stuck up or something?" Haha, what a loser.

    Nice snark! You're making me torn between embarrassment over once loving these books and embarrassment for wanting to collect them again...

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  7. Here is my review on Final Grade:

    http://www.rlstinefans.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=414


    Is really no one here interested to join the R.L. Stine Forum to chat and talk abot his books? =)

    http://www.rlstinefans.com/forum/


    Kerry

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  8. i loved the novel i would much want to see a drama type a clip of sort based on this good book

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  9. i loved this one. it was the only stine book ot scare me.
    this was last year, at 15.

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  10. who killed Mr. Reiner???

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    Replies
    1. he fell of the latter and hit his head and died

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    2. he fell of the latter and hit his head and died

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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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