Sunday, October 19, 2008

Switched



* I must say that this is my favorite Fear Street novel of all time so it might be hard to make fun of it. It's seriously THAT good. But I'll find something to say. Let's begin... *

Book Description:

There's a little cabin in the Fear Street woods where a girl can really lose her mind. In fact, she can change it into someone else's. That's what happened to Nicole and Lucy. Now Lucy is in Nicole's body and Nicole is in Lucy's. What a trip! But for Nicole, what a trap! Because Lucy is using Nicole's body to get away with murder!

My Description:

Part One - The Switch

Nicole Darwin is a self-described loser whose life is "the total pits". Depression meds, Nic. Make friends with 'em. This particular day is like all the others--a steaming pile of crap. She tore a fingernail earlier. Dear God! NO! In her defense, her nails are very long and prettily painted and a source of pride for her. Ok, never mind. Fingernails are no reason to sob like a baby. The next few pages give us a bit of background on her parents (WAY too strict) and her boyfriend David (WAY too distant) and her recent academic problems. Apparently Nic was supposed to write a report for biology, but she didn't and the teacher ripped into her right in front of everyone. As if that wasn't enough, he also made her stay after class for a little chat. I think we've all had our fair share of asshole teachers, unfortunately.

After school, Nicole meets up with David in the hall. They kiss, but he breaks away because he has something important to say: he wants to break up. Of course this would happen on Nicole's Worst Day Ever. His reason for ending the world's greatest romance? "It's just too much." That's it? That doesn't explain a damn thing and Nicole wants more of an explanation. But David totally bails, disappearing down the hall and around the corner. Bastard. Nicole gathers her things and slumps out of the building. She spots her friend, Lucy Kramer, heading toward her looking awfully cheerful. Nicole thinks Lucy is a cutie: "Lucy has straight blond hair. But hers is shorter than mine and she usually pulls it back into a ponytail. She has green eyes, a tiny upturned nose, and a sweet smile." Sound a lot like Barbie...or maybe Skipper. Nicole runs up to Lucy, hugs her, and starts to cry. Lucy doesn't really react so something tells me that Nicole does this often. Lucy simply says that she has also had a bad day, but she has a plan that will make them both feel better: "Let's switch bodies." On what planet?

A little later, Nicole follows Lucy to Fear Street and into the woods. As they're walking through the trees, Nicole thinks about how cool it would be to be Lucy. Lucy has a hot boyfriend named Kent Borden who is smart and funny in addition to being a sexy piece of work. Also, Lucy's parents don't put restrictions on her like Nicole's do. In fact, they barely pay attention to her at all. The boyfriend thing is ok, but I'd rather have overprotective parents than parents who couldn't give a shit less about me. The girls stop walking when they reach a stone wall. Lucy tells Nicole the story behind this ancient wall. It's called the Changing Wall (so very original) and over 100 years ago, evil people started using it to switch bodies with unwilling victims. Spooky. Lucy explains how it works: "We climb up on the wall. We hold hands. We jump off, down to the other side. When we land, we'll be switched." Simple enough. A little TOO simple, actually. The girls boost themselves to the top of the wall, hold hands, and jump. Nicole keeps her eyes closed the entire time and when she opens them, she's shocked to see that it actually worked. It's like a twisted Fear version of "Freaky Friday". The girls become momentarily hysterical, laughing and twirling around like deranged forest pixies. The wall must have switched their brains with mud. Finally the two get serious and head off to their homes.

Nicole walks into Lucy's house and can't stop screaming at the scene she finds. Blood is everywhere. Lucy's parents are lying dead on the living room floor, their bodies ripped and slashed. Nicole panics and runs outside intending to tell Lucy what she found. I guess calling 911 is out of the question? Once she reaches her own house, she pukes in the driveway before pounding on the door and peeking in all the windows. No-one home. She frantically thinks of someone to tell about the gruesome scene back at Lucy's. Uh, how about the fucking COPS? "How could I tell the police before I told Lucy? How could I tell them before we switched back into our own bodies?" That really doesn't matter now! The police aren't gonna know you switched, dear. Not even Shadyside cops are THAT good. Suddenly she thinks of Kent. He'll believe her! He'll have to! Yeah right. Keep telling yourself that, Nic. You might start to believe it. She runs down the street to Kent's house and knocks on the door. He answers and asks her what's wrong. She just asks if his parents are home and he says no. Now isn't the time for sexy moments, kids. Nicole can barely keep herself together as she walks into the house. As soon as she's inside, she blurts out "Lucy took me to Fear Street. Her grandfather told her about the Changing Wall. We switched bodies, Kent. We both wanted to and we did it." Smooth one. As if he's gonna believe it. Surprisingly, he seems to buy it, calling her Nicole even though she plainly looks like Lucy. She breaks down crying and tells him what she found at Lucy's house. He tells her he's going to get her a glass of water, but she overhears him talking on the phone in the kitchen: "That's right, Officer. I'm keeping her right here. But you better hurry. She might try to get away." So he thought she was nuts all along! Nicole freaks out and runs for the door with Kent hot on her heels in a pathetic attempt to stop her. She runs down the street and hides behind a tree, listening for police sirens. Finally she goes back to Lucy's house (corpses still intact) and goes to Lucy's room so she can change her filthy clothes. Except all of Lucy's clothes are gone. There is, however, a big bloody knife on the desk. It wouldn't be a Fear Street novel without a bloody knife!

Part Two - The Murderer

The knife is pinning a blood spattered note to the desk:

I had to kill them. I couldn't take it anymore.

Lucy K.

Nicole freaks out AGAIN as she realizes what Lucy's evil plan was: she killed her parents and switched bodies with Nicole so she could escape punishment. Clever little wench. As Nicole thinks about what she can do to get back into her own body, she hears someone knocking at the door. Uh-oh. In the living room, she peeks out the window and silently freaks out for the millionth time. Two police officers are standing on the porch. You're screwed, lady. Anger takes the place of fear; there's no way in hell Nicole is going down for something Lucy did. She flees out the back door, running across the backyard. Unfortunately, about halfway across, one of the officers spots her and screams for her to stop. She just keeps going...until she reaches a wooden fence. Crap. She thinks she's caught, but suddenly she remembers a trick board that she and Lucy used to play around with when they were little. Frantically, she searches for it, finds it, and dashes into someone else's backyard. She can hear the officers fumbling through the fence and knows she has to hide. Her hiding spot? A little kid's playhouse. As she crouches inside, she can hear the two officers yelling back and forth. Don't worry, Nicole--the Shadyside police force sucks and they'll never find you.

The officers eventually run off and Nicole climbs out of the tiny house. She remembers that she left her car at school. If she can make it to the school parking lot without getting caught, she's got a good chance of getting the hell out of dodge. Once she reaches the car, she finds the spare key and drives the streets searching for any sign of Lucy. She wracks her brain trying to think of a reason for Lucy doing this to her. There isn't a reason, Nicole. Some people are just bitches. After driving for several minutes, she finally spots Lucy in Pete's Pizza. OF COURSE. Everything worth mentioning goes down at Pete's. I hope Lucy gets bitch slapped. HARD. No-one has ever deserved it more! Lucy is sitting with two girls, Margie and Hannah, having an awesome time masquerading as Nicole. The REAL Nicole runs inside and heads toward the table. Margie and Hannah call her Nicole which instantly makes her suspicious. How could they possibly know she's Nicole? Unless Lucy spilled the beans. Nicole gets pissed off because Lucy promised to keep the switch a secret. She tells the girls that she really needs to talk to Lucy, but Margie says Lucy is gone. Great. Nicole freaks out when the girls tell her that Lucy was NEVER there. Nic insists that she saw her, but the girls just look at her like she's nuts. She runs out of the restaurant and into the rest of the mall, searching for Lucy. She realizes that it's totally useless--Lucy could be anywhere. She leaves the mall and finds Margie and Hannah waiting for her beside her car. This isn't gonna be good. The girls grab her and say they just wanna talk. Nicole does what she does best--freaks out and shoves them away. She dives into the car and almost runs over both girls as she speeds away.

She decides to go talk to Kent again. You must be joking. Kent thinks you're batshit crazy! He isn't any help! But Nicole thinks that if Lucy left Shadyside, she would've told Kent where she was going. *sigh* Ok then. At his house, Nicole doesn't bother knocking on the door. She lets herself in and heads toward the den where she hears loud music playing. She picks up a large knife from the kitchen just in case she has to scare the information out of Kent. Good one. Sort of. But Nicole never gets to talk to Kent at all: "Kent's body lay on it's back on the tile floor, arms and legs outstretched. His head had been sliced off. Puddles of bright red blood had streamed from the neck. The head stood upright a few feet from the body, propped against the leather couch. The mouth was frozen open in a wide O of horror. The blue eyes stared lifelessly up at me." Holy. Shit. Nicole sinks to the floor, crying over Kent's lifeless body. She glances up and gets a shock when she notices those two officers that chased her earlier looking in a sliding glass door at her. Did I mention she's still holding that knife? She drops the knife and the officers burst in the front door. She manages to escape to the basement and into a coal room where she crawls into a coal chute and finally gets outside. She runs until she gets to Fear Street. Like that's so much better. She finds herself back at the Changing Wall and after finding a photo of Lucy in her pocket, develops a hairbrained plan: if she holds the photo and jumps over the wall, maybe she'll get her old body back. That makes no sense whatsoever. Of course it doesn't work and Nicole is tired of worrying about it so she curls under a tree and falls asleep.

The next morning, Nicole wakes up covered in dirt and finds a giant bug in her hair. Pleasant. She realizes she really needs a shower and thinks she can probably sneak into her parent's house because her parents have already left for work. Yeah...we'll see if this actually works. She hides behind a tree and watches her parents pull out of the driveway. Then she creeps inside and takes a shower and such. In the kitchen, as she's eating a Pop Tart, she decides she'll go to school and force Margie and Hannah to tell her where Lucy is. As soon as she reaches the high school, she spots those damned officers standing by the door. Crap. She turns and runs until she spots a bus. She leaps on, realizes she doesn't have any change, and tells the driver she's sick so he'll let her off. How far did she get from the school? Oh, about a block. Your plan sucks, Nicole. She goes back to the school and hides until the officers go away. She dashes into the school and wanders the empty halls before going to the empty gym. She heads for the girl's locker room because she knows Marcie has gym class fourth period. She hides in a dusty closet and listens to the girls talking. How is she going to wait in that hot little closet until fourth period? The hours pass and FINALLY fourth rolls around. Nicole hears Margie's voice among the other girls' chatter. And then there's a loud thump. Nic gets curious and opens the door a crack to see what happened. Margie is lying on the floor and Nic pushes through the circle of girls surrounding her just in time to see Margie sit up and say "Those leg cramps are the worst!" Give me a break, Stine. Somehow no-one even noticed Nicole so she simply slips back into the closet.

After a bit, the other girls leave, but Margie stays a little longer. Nicole uses this opportunity to exit the closet and have a little chat with Margie. Nicole blurts out that she needs to find Lucy because Lucy is an evil bitch who used Nicole's body to commit horrible crimes. Wow. Margie says she knows where Lucy is, but before she can say more, some girls enter the locker room and Nicole has to dash back inside the closet again. Nic hears voices and then there's total silence so she opens the closet door. Margie has met her unfortunate end--someone bashed her skull in with a shot-put. Wouldn't Nicole have heard that? Guess not. She assumes Lucy has struck again which is odd because I thought Lucy had fled Shadyside. Nicole runs out of the school and keeps running until she reaches an empty lot two blocks away. As she's catching her breath, she thinks about how Lucy must be following her because everywhere she goes, someone dies. She wanders aimlessly around Shadyside for the rest of the day. At dark, she makes her way back to the Changing Wall and falls asleep there.

The next day, Nicole decides that she'll go visit Lucy's Grandma Carla in the small town of Conklin. Lucy was close to her granny and if anyone knows where Lucy is, it would be Carla. The day before when Nicole was at her own house taking a shower and such, she snagged $40 from her room so she has enough money to get breakfast and a bus ticket to Conklin. The bus takes her to the end of Grandma Carla's road and Nicole walks the rest of the way to Carla's farm.

Part Three - The Reunion

Grandma Carla is so happy to see her and let's her right in. When Nicole says "Is Nicole here?" Grandma starts acting a little funny. She tells Nicole to sit down at the kitchen table and she'll bring her some soup. But first she has to make a phone call in the next room. I think we all know where this is going. Nicole hears Grandma calling the police so she runs into the living room and demands to know why. Grandma just says "It will be ok. I called for help." Nicole gets really upset and runs outside where she hears a car door slam. Those cops travel fast. She runs to the barn and decides to hide in a stack of straw. SURPRISE! Lucy is already hiding in there! WTF? Nicole hugs her and asks her why she did all those horrible things. Lucy says she can't explain and then things get incredibly weird.

Nicole says that they have to switch back right now. Lucy's reply? "We can't switch back. I'm not Lucy. Lucy switched bodies with me this afternoon. My name is Nancy." And my head just exploded. Nicole refuses to believe it, but Lucy or Nancy or whoever the hell she is insists that it's true: "Lucy forced me to switch. She forced me. Then she took my body and ran away." Suddenly the girls hear footsteps outside the barn and Nicole says they really need to hide. But "Nancy" starts laughing and says "Nicole, you really are an idiot! You really believed that dumb story!" Dear God, make up your mind, woman! Lucy runs out the back of the barn and Nicole follows. Unfortunately, someone tackles Nicole to the ground. It's Kent! He tells her that he's come for her. No shit. She protests that she saw his corpse, but he just keeps telling her that everything is going to be ok. Suddenly Nicole hears Lucy crying for help. She's about to fall down the well! She's barely clinging to the edge! Hurry, Lassie! Nicole tries to break away from Kent, but he won't let her go. All he has to say about Lucy is "Let her drown." Death has really changed you, Kent. Keep that attitude up and you won't have any friends at all!

Nicole finally gets away from him, but it's too late. Lucy has already fallen in the filthy water below. Nicole can hear her splashing around and begging for help. This is a very sad scene, Stine. How dare you make me feel the pain! Kent comes over and hold Nicole while she sobs: "I couldn't help her. I couldn't save her. I couldn't do anything for her. Nothing at all." Kent guides her toward the house and about halfway across the yard, fucking LUCY steps out from behind a tree. Are you serious?! She's soaking wet and covered in mud and leaves. She completely ignores Nicole, focusing her attention on Kent. "Let's switch, Kent. Let's switch, ok?" She reaches out and PULLS HIS HEAD OFF. Then she starts dancing around screaming "Come on, Nicole! You switch heads with Kent and then I'll switch with you!" Nicole has no time to think about this crazy shit because those two officers come up and grab her. She looks back and Kent and Lucy are gone. A car pulls up and Kent and Lucy's parents climb out along with Nicole's parents. Nicole's mother comes up and hugs her, crying and saying "Nicole" over and over. Then we get the following: "Nicole has been ok for nearly a year. No wild nightmares. No hallucinations. No identity problems." Nicole's father then says to Kent "That was so good of you to tell us that Nicole had slipped again. And so decent of you to follow her here. We've had these two doctors from the hospital on her trail. But we never would have found Nicole without you." What the hell, man?!? This only gets crazier: "Poor Lucy has been dead for three years. That horrible, horrible car accident... Nicole started having the hallucinations right after Lucy died. She started seeing horrible deaths. They were all in her mind. They were so real to her. After Lucy died, Nicole started talking to her, imagining that Lucy was still with her. Sometimes Nicole even imagines she IS Lucy." So basically this entire book consists of the paranoid delusions of a madwoman. Normally I'd be pissed, but this thing was too crazy/good for me to be too angry at it.

6 months later, Nicole's fuzzy brain is doing much better. Mostly. She still sees Lucy. "I think the doctors will let me out soon. Won't that be great, Lucy? Maybe they'll let me go back to school in time for graduation. And you and I will graduate together. That will be just perfect--won't it, Lucy? That will be just perfect. Don't you agree?" Indeed I do, you sweet little psycho.

Conclusion? This review does this book no justice because the book is AWESOME. Seriously. Which is why I sincerely doubt Stine wrote it.

Next time: "The Sleepwalker"