What else is there to do, with all seven of them stuck in Dara Harker's luxury ski condo? There are three guys and four girls - some of them friends, some nearly strangers - all of them trapped. A blinding blizzard has stilled the lifts, blocked the roads, and killed the phones. A game, they think, will help them break the ice. Who will tell the truth? Who will take a dare? And how far will each of them go? But then the game turns deadly. One of them, it seems, would rather kill than tell the truth. And kill again.
We begin the book in a white limo with a bunch of teenagers. They're on their way to Dara Harker's big fancy ski condo and she hooked them up with this sweet ride. We get names: April Leeds, Ken Knight, Jenny Byrd, and Josh (I suppose Josh isn't good enough to get a last name since he isn't from Shadyside. Shocking!) Dara is riding with her parents...I dunno why she isn't with her friends but whatever. April is staring at Ken and Jenny with a disgusted look. Ken and Jenny are apparently one of those couples that are sickly sweet--finishing each other's sentences, kissing, cuddling...and it's all on display for the free world to see. Kenny + Jenny = 4-ever! *barf* While those two are making out, April struggles to make conversation with the very quiet Josh. When they finally reach the house, everyone is in awe: "Built of redwood panels, with enormous windows along the front, the house looked like a traditional ski lodge--a ski lodge that had been stretched out to cover the entire hilltop." Fancy. A jeep pulls up beside them and Dara hops out, but her parents are nowhere in sight and they aren't coming. She probably threw them out in a ditch on the way over. Dara tells the limo driver, Frank, to bring the bags around and leads her friends up to the mammoth house. They hear people creeping around inside and when Dara switches on the light, they spot a boy and girl. The guy's name is Tony Macedo and his family shares the house with Dara's family. Ok? The chick is Carly Rae, Tony's girlfriend. And yes, the two were making out like their lives depended on it, as evidenced by the purple lipstick marks covering Tony's face. Dara is pissed because this is supposed to be HER weekend dammit! Tony says he knows how they can settle it: share! Dara agrees because it's good for the plot and they all walk off to check out their rooms.
A little later, they sit around the fire and talk. Well, everyone talks except Tony and Carly who prefer to sloppily make out. *sigh* Anyway, Ken says they should play truth or dare to get to know one another better. I don't consider that game a good way to get to know someone, but whatever. Josh doesn't know how to play and when they explain, he still doesn't get it. If there is a simpler game to play than truth or dare, I don't know what it is. You, Josh, are an idiot. Ken goes first and takes truth. His question: "What is something you did that you're really ashamed of?" He says he was in a comic book store, saw a kid drop a ten dollar bill, picked it up, and bought comics instead of returning it. Dara is disappointed because she wanted a sexy story. Most 17 year old boys aren't too sexy, lady. April is next. Dara asks "What's the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you while you were making out with a boy?" April says she was chewing gum, it got transferred to his mouth, and he choked on it. Next, April asks Dara "Out of all the guys you've kissed, who was the worst kisser and why?" Dara grins and glances at Josh...and he completely freaks out: "Shut up, Dara! Shut up, I mean it!" He grabs the fireplace poker and charges at her, but throws it against the wall instead of dismembering her. Darn. Everyone stares in shock as Josh runs out of the room. But Dara has to be a bitch about it and drags him back into the room. Leave him alone! He's embarrassed and angry...let him cool off. At least she apologizes. Now Dara has another question for April: "What secret do you know about someone that you wish you didn't know? April replies "I wish I didn't know about the girl on Sumner Island." Hmm...what? April regrets mentioning it because she has to explain and she really doesn't wanna. Thankfully, Tony starts acting like a moron which distracts Dara enough to forget about Sumner Island girl and give Tony a dare. She dares him to climb up to the roof and get her Frisbee. There's no way in hell that this will end well. Everyone goes outside to watch Tony climb a rickety ladder up to the roof. Once up there, he slips and almost falls, but he grabs the gutter just in time and jumps to the ground. Well, guess I was wrong. Dara only cares about the fact that he didn't get the Frisbee. Tony couldn't care less: "Get it yourself. I'm out of the game." They all go play in the snow, but April isn't having much fun because she can't get Sumner Island out of her head. Prepare yourself for a flashback...
Last summer, April was working as a mother's helper on Sumner Island. One day, she spotted Ken making out with a girl that wasn't Jenny. Oooo. She wanted to call Jenny and tell her that Ken was cheating, but she never did and it still lies on her conscience. The end.
That's all? I thought she had at least witnessed a freaking murder or something! The gang goes inside to warm themselves by the fire and drink hot chocolate. How pleasant. And by 'pleasant' I mean incredibly cliched. Dara wants to continue playing truth or dare, but everyone is tired and elects to go to bed instead. Time really flies when you're wandering around in snow. Dara decides to go out to the woodshed to get more fuel for the fire, but I somehow doubt that's all she's doing. For some reason.
The next morning, everyone is excited because Jack Frost took a dump on the hill: the snow is piled up high and they can go skiing. Yay! Is this false enthusiasm doing anything for you? Me neither. They all realize that Dara and Josh haven't come downstairs yet. Interesting. They make breakfast: pancakes and bacon. When they're finished, Jenny and April decide to go up and wake Dara, but her room is empty and the bed hasn't been slept in. Josh is also missing, his bed empty and such. They notice that the jeep is also gone. Guess they went into town to buy more plot devices. I don't know why they're so worried...Dara is bitchy and no-one even notices Josh most of the time so what's the big deal? April actually wants to call the cops! Give me a break. Maybe they just wanted to get away from your paranoid ass, April. A few hours pass, they eat lunch and play cards, and then they hear knocking at the door. Who's there? No-one. Ooo, it's a creepy boogeyman messing with their heads! He must have crawled up from Fear Street...which reminds me--where the hell are they? Definitely not in Shadyside anymore. Oh well. They go into the living room and the knocking starts again. No-one there. April looks out the window and spots the tapping culprit: "It's the ski locker. On the porch. See? The door has come loose. It's banging against the locker." Damn. I desperately wanted it to be some deranged murderer.
Ken and April go out into the swirling snow to shut the locker and they get quite the little surprise: Dara's frozen corpse is stuffed inside the locker. A hatchet is buried between her shoulder blades. As Ken is examining the body, April tosses her cookies over the porch railing. Yum. They go back inside to tell the others. Carly and Jenny freak out and Tony just says they can't call the police because the line is dead. Didn't see that coming from a mile away or anything. Thank you for writing something original, Stine. *sigh* Tony says the killer must be Josh, but he doesn't really have a reason for that theory so no-one buys it. They go into Josh's room, though, to search through his things. He didn't take anything with him so they automatically assume he's been murdered also. Back in the living room, April finds a ridiculous note:
I can't go on like this anymore. No matter how cruel you are to me, I always take it. You humiliated me tonight. How could you? I always thought you were someone worth caring about. But I guess I made a big mistake. But I have to talk to you one more time. I won't take no for an answer. Meet me at midnight. Alone!!!
Why the hell would he write a note when he could've just went up to her and started talking? They were in the same damn house. I'm a fool for logic. Jenny panics because she's sure Josh is gonna come back and slit her throat or something.
That night, April is lying awake in bed trying to drift off. She hears footsteps in the living room and thinks it's Josh even though there are four other people in the house and it could be one of them. She goes downstairs and grabs a ski pole to protect herself. But it really doesn't work because someone grabs her and drags her into a corner anyway. It's...Tony! He thought SHE was Josh. You people need to calm down. I know, I know--there's a probable psycho on the loose and you're a little jumpy. But still! April asks if he used to date Dara and he says yes, but not for long because Dara is horrible and hurt him just like she hurt Josh. Speaking of Dara, what did they do with her body? Did they throw it in the woodshed? Bury it? Left it in the locker? Guess we're just ignoring this. They go into the kitchen because April wants a glass of water. Suddenly Tony looks seriously freaked out. When April asks what's wrong, he points to the door. Josh is staring in at them! RUN! 911! MAYDAY MAYDAY! April screams and everyone else in the house comes running. Josh starts pounding on the door and Tony lets him in. I can't wait to hear his convoluted story, whatever it may be, and you know he has one. Tony immediately accuses him of killing Dara, but he just keeps saying he's cold and needs something hot to drink. Carly starts making coffee while Tony interrogates a confused Josh. Josh has no idea about Dara's murder and swears he didn't do anything. He says he's been walking in the snow all day. Where the hell did he go? He's also confused about the letter; he swears he didn't write it. Then who did? I'm beginning to hate this book. No matter how much Josh protests, everyone still believes he killed Dara. Finally he tells his side of the story.
He says he got pissed off about Dara embarrassing him when they were playing truth or dare. How embarrassing could it have been? She didn't even say anything about him! Anyway, he says he took the jeep as revenge. His intention was to strand Dara, but I guess he forgot about the fact that there are OTHER PEOPLE there, too. The dumbass got himself stuck in a snow drift and kept the engine running because he needed to keep the heater on. Eventually the jeep ran out of gas and he was forced to start walking back. All that shit because someone looked at you the wrong way during a game of truth or dare? You are a gibbering idiot, Josh. Everyone believes him, but now they're more afraid because the murderer is still on the loose.
The next morning at breakfast, Ken tells April that he needs to talk to her about something. She assumes it's about the Sumner Island girl and she says they can talk later. She isn't in the mood to eat or socialize so she goes back to her room and finds Josh digging through her dresser. When she asks him what he's doing, he says he's looking for the red pen that was used to write the letter. He figures if he can find it, he'll know who wrote it and killed Dara. That's hardly enough evidence. She screams at him to get out and as soon as he leaves, she decides she has to get out of this house no matter what. She goes to the pile of coats beside the front door to search for her's, but can't find it. She remembers that Dara's corpse was wearing a blue coat...could it have been April's coat? Ooo...I think I know what happened. Dara was wearing April's coat for some reason and the killer thought she was April and murdered her ass. I bet it was Ken...he wanted to silence April so she can never tell anyone about Sumner Island girl! I can play detective, too. She runs out to the garage where Dara is currently being stored. Seriously. They propped her frozen body against the wall beside an old bicycle in case she takes a notion to ride off into the sunset. And Dara is indeed wearing April's blue coat. April realizes that the killer intended to kill her, not Dara. Exactly!
She runs back to the house and grabs someone's red coat. She takes off down the road thinking that she'll probably be able to get to the nearest ski lodge. Yeah right. As she walks, she thinks about how big the red coat is and how it must be Ken's because he's the biggest person in the house. She puts her hands into the pockets and finds a red ballpoint pen. Aha! April predictably flips out and proceeds to flip out some more when she see someone running towards her. Ken? The person tackles her to the ground and she sees that it IS Ken after all. He says he was worried about her because she'll never make it to town or a ski lodge. He also says he was yelling for her, but she ignored him. LIAR. She goes back to the house with him and brings up Sumner Island. He just says "Did you tell Jenny?" April says she didn't, but she wanted to. Then he asks if she's known the entire time which is an incredibly stupid question because she just said she knows! Of course she says yes and Ken grabs her arm and says "I'm so sorry, April. I'm so sorry." The expression on his face says he's anything BUT sorry. She breaks away from him and goes to toss his coat back on the pile. He still wants to talk, but she runs to find Jenny.
The two girls decide they will try to ski into town. April hasn't told Jenny anything about Ken so Jen is just following blindly. They manage to get to a ski lodge where they take the chairlift to the ski patrol station. About halfway up, Jenny looks at April and says "I'm sorry, April, but what choice do I have?" Then she lifts the safety bar and shoves April. But April manages to keep herself in the seat. They wrestle around and April asks Jenny why she's doing this. Jenny says "Because of the girl on Sumner Island. Because you know about her, April."
If Sumner Island girl knew she would cause such trouble, I think she would have stayed away from Ken. Then Jenny says that during the truth or dare game when April mentioned the girl, that was a sign that April knew what Jenny did. "Well, I didn't mean to kill the girl! I didn't mean to! It was an accident!" HUH?! Jenny goes on to say that the girl's name was Barbara and Ken wouldn't stop seeing her even after the summer was over. So one day Jenny went to talk to Barb, they fought, and Jenny shoved Barb. Barbara hit her head and died. Jen has felt overwhelming guilt and anxiety ever since. She says she wrote the letter and killed Dara (dammit, I really thought it was Ken! No more predictions from me.) and now she has to kill April because she knows too much. She shoves April again and this time it's effective: April goes sailing to the ground. Luckily, the lift has reached the top of the hill so April didn't fall very far. Jenny then tries to impale April on a ski pole, but that doesn't work. Jenny doesn't seem to understand that April is the main character and therefore cannot die. Ken shows up then with two ski patrolman. He says he realized it was Jenny when he looked more closely at the note and recognized her handwriting. April explains that truth or dare got Jenny riled up. "Next time, maybe we should stick to trivial pursuit." Get off the stage!
Conclusion? Not TOO terrible. The only thing that bothered me was the fact that this is a Fear Street novel with absolutely no mention of Fear Street. Then again, maybe that's a good thing...
Next time: "Fear Park #1 - The First Scream"