Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Into The Dark


Book Description:

Paulette Fox refuses to let her blindness stop her from living a full life. But one thing she's never done is fall in love--until now. Paulette knows Brad Jones is the only guy for her. Even when her friends see Brad commit a horrible crime, Paulette is sure that he's innocent. Her friends tell her he's out of control. That she will be his next vicim. But Paulette knows he would never hurt her. Is Paulette right about Brad? Or has her love put her in terrible danger?

My Description:

* Just from reading the description, many of my brain cells melted like candle wax. I dread this. Truly. *

Prologue

Some creep likes spying on the blind girl because he's totally hawt for her body and that somehow gives him license to stalk her. The end.

Paulette is in the car with her friend Jonathan Maddox who can't drive worth shit. Actually, Paulette (the BLIND one) could drive better. That's pretty sad, Jon. They manage to reach their destination (Shadyside Music Academy) in one piece. Apparently Paulette is a piano virtuoso. The caucasian female Ray Charles? Hell no. Jon drops her off and almost immediately after he leaves, some guy shoves her out of the path of an oncoming car. An oncoming car with no driver behind the wheel. "Someone forgot to set the emergency brake." Thanks, Jed. Jed's friend BRAD JONES is the hero here and Paulette is a smitten kitten, baby. Brad is a senior at Shadyside High who loves music but can't take lessons at the Music Academy because he's poor white trash so he works as assistant janitor there instead so he can scam on blind piano players. He says he also plays piano and thinks Paulette is better than him. How does he know? Because he listens to her play while he's hanging out in the janitor's closet on his lunch break eating sammichs. Anyway, Jonathan comes running up for some reason and Brad says he has to go so Jon walks Paulette to her lesson.

Later, Paulette and Jon are walking to Jon's car when Brad comes running up to get Paulette's number. Jon acts all weird about it and on the drive home, he tells Paulette that there are lots of rumors floating around about the magical Braaaaaad. Before Brad moved to Shadyside, he lived in Springfield where he got into plenty of trouble. Ooo! Since Paulette is an idiot, she doesn't believe it and says she'll ask him about it later. I'm sure he'll tell the truth and I'm sure your refusal to believe the "rumors" won't come back to bite you in the ass later. *sigh*

That night, Paulette's friend Cindy calls. BRAD gets brought up and Cindy carries on about how he looks like a movie star. She doesn't mention the fact that the movie star is Don Rickles. They talk about the rumors a bit, but Cindy doesn't seem to give a shit that her friend might soon be dating a criminal. Nice. They hang up and BRAD! calls a few minutes later. He acts like a damn freak telling Paulette that she's the one he's been looking for, breathing heavily into the phone like some perverted sex maniac and finally hanging up. If that shit isn't a warning sign, I don't know what is. He's got a neon sign that says LUNATIC: CRITICAL CONDITION blinking over his big fat head, but he's cute so Paulette will throw caution to the wind and...never mind. What a frigging moron.

The next day, Paulette finishes her self-defense course with Ms. Tillotson and heads to the cafeteria for stir fry. Wow. My high school didn't have private self-defense classes OR stir fry. We did, however, hold claim to a pervy band teacher and a salad bar. Shut up. Anyway, Paulette and Cindy sit together and Cindy gossips nonstop about people I don't know and don't want to know (even if they actually existed!) She mentions she saw Brad coming out of the library with a bunch of books. Why is that weird, genius? Paulette tells her about last night's creepy phone call and speak of the devil--Brad walks up. Cindy scurries off to tell Arline about Jeffrey Galway's sister (yeah, I dunno) and Paulette is left alone with Creepy McFreakshow. They joke about the food ("It isn't too bad. If you don't swallow!" HAR HAR HAR! Or something.) Paulette feels his face and Brad tells her the story of how he got the little scar over his eye. And they both avoid the big pink elephant in the room. Seriously, why isn't she asking him what his problem was the night before? Brad changes the subject to music, claiming he practices piano in an abandoned house on *gulp* Fear Street. Good Lord.

As Paulette is walking hom from school that afternoon (how does she know where to go?) she thinks about Brad and how weird he is. At home, she plays piano until about 6:00 pm when Cindy comes over to work on a project. They get snacks from the kitchen and head up to Paulette's room where Cindy totally flips her lid. Someone drew a skull and crossbones on Paulette's wall in red paint. Beneath it is written "You will be dead, blind girl." Very blunt. I appreciate a psycho who gets right to the point. Although they should have left a card with some braille or something. The message kind of loses impact if someone has to read it to you. Ok, where the hell am I? Oh yeah, Paulette freaks out, but won't let Cindy call the cops even though the lunatic could still be in the house. She wants Cindy to help her paint over the red paint before her parents come home because they might start treating her like a baby if they think someone is trying to kill her. *sigh* She should be thanking her lucky stars that she has the only set of parents in Shadyside that actually give a damn about their child.

The next morning, Paulette eats pancakes with her parentals and ends up getting pissed off at them because she thinks they're overprotective of her. AT LEAST THEY CARE! As she's walking to school she hears footsteps behid her. She stops at the curb and whoever is behind her, shoves her into traffic. A woman slams on her brakes and offers to take her home, but Brad "mysteriously" shows up out of nowhere. The woman leaves and Paulette asks Brad if he saw anyone behind her. He says no-one was behind her and she must've just tripped. Then he grabs her and gets all freaky. "I think about you all the time. You think about me, too, don't you, Paulette? Don't you?" No thank you, weirdo. He shoves Paulette's cane in her hand and runs off. What the hell is his problem? I mean, besides the obvious...

That afternoon in study hall, Paulette tries to concentrate but she can't stop thinking about what a psycho Brad is. I think it turns her on. Otherwise she'd tell him to back the hell up. Cindy and Jonathan are there and ask her what's up but she tells them nothing is wrong. Then Jon mentions lunch and Cindy tells him he's a beached whale. Damn, lady. If Cindy is mutilating the only nerve you have left, raise your hand. It's unanimous--you're a disease, Cindy. After Jon calls Cindy a 'sick guppy' (you can do better, Jonny) Paulette basically tells them to STFU. Then Brad enters. Dammit. He tells her he wants her to hear him play piano tonight because he hasn't seen her in a while. She's confused because she's pretty sure he saw her this morning after she nearly became roadkill. What the fudge is going on? Is he lying? Does he have an evil twin? Does R.L. Stine possess the ability to write a simple story without 57687677 plot twists that make no sense whatsoever and only serve to drag the story down to the lowest depths of literary hell? Guess we'll just have to read on...*sigh*

That evening, Paulette and Brad (or whoever the hell he is) go to Fear Street for Brad's private concert. Paulette thinks Fear Street smells like damp and rot. That's about right. Fears stink. They're too busy murdering and pillaging to think about bathing. When they arrive at the house, Brad explains the history behind this particular Fear Street manse. It's the same old story: "I heard that the house once belonged to a music teacher. The story is that someone murdered him and his family in here one night. I guess nobody cared what happened to the piano." I love how he cares more about the piano than the people who were brutally slaughtered. Paulette plays a little and Brad tries to stick his tongue down her throat (I never knew Beethoven was an aphrodisiac) but he's interrupted by a crashing noise upstairs. He goes to check it out like a good little boy scout. Paulette hears a scuffle and then nothing. She decides to go upstairs instead of leaving his ass and going home to her nice warm bedroom like I would have done. Suddenly someone grabs her...it's Jonathan. Why? He says he followed she and Brad to make sure she'd be ok. He's pretty sure something happened to Brad. Whatever made you think that, Sherlock? Jon goes to search for Brad and reports back: "There's no sign of him. Brad's gone." Oh well. In the car, Paulette gets totally pissed at Jon for following her. SHUT UP! Why does it bother her that she's surrounded by people who actually give a damn??? Would she rather be neglected and alone? Because if she doesn't shut her face that's exactly what's going to happen. She goes home and waits forever for Brad to call, finally going to bed when he doesn't.

She gets a chance to talk to Brad the next day at lunch. He says he's sorry for leaving her alone in a deserted house, but he had something else to do. And you couldn't have just TOLD her that, asshole? I hate this guy! Paulette says she was worried and he says he can't see her anymore. Um, you two have only known each other for like 3 days...I would hardly call that "seeing each other". Then he flips out for no apparent reason whatsoever: "No! No! It's no good! I can't let this happen again!" He runs off like a little bitch without explaining anything. Someone dump him into a bottomless pit...

On Friday night, Paulette, Cindy, and Jonathan gather at Cindy's place to watch (or listen, in Paulette's case) a horror movie about a teenage psycho killer. How fitting. After the movie, Paulette tells them that Brad doesn't wanna see her anymore and how weird he was acting. They tell her she's better off without him, but she still misses him. Once again, has she forgotten that she BARELY knows him? Shut up, Paulette.

Later, Paulette goes home where her parents inform her that Grandma has fallen and broken some ribs so they'll be heading off into the wild blue yonder for the next few nights to be with her. They're not actually sleeping over...they'll be driving back and forth. Ok then. Paulette goes to bed and just as she drifts off, she hears something scraping near the OPEN window. She goes to shut it, someone grabs her wrist, and she screams bloody murder. Her parents come running and the intruder flees. Her father finds a gold signet ring on the floor that's engraved with some unfortunate intitals--B.J. Paulette lies and says it's her friend Bobby's ring and he asked her to keep it for him. Why don't she just tell them that Brad is a creepy stalker? I don't care if she doesn't wanna be protected--the guy is fugging nuts!

The next afternoon, Paulette, Cindy, and Jon gather at Pete's Pizza (because it wouldn't be a Fear Street book without Pete and his greasy pepperonis). As Cindy and Jon talk, Paulette totally zones out. They automatically know she's upset about Brad because it's just normal to be terminally depressed about a guy you've known for a week. Give. Me. A. Break. Jon informs Paulette that Brad dropped out of school because apparently being an assistant janitor for the rest of his life is his dream. Whatever floats your tugboat, Brad. A split second later, some thug in a mask bursts into the place with a gun, screaming that this is a hold-up. We got that when we saw the gun, dumbass. The guy ends up shooting Jon (he lives) and robbing everyone of any "valuables" they happen to have. Because all teenagers carry gold coins in their back pockets and priceless antiques in their backpacks. *sigh* Somehow someone gets the gun and rips off the guy's mask. It's the very last person in the world that anyone wanted to see--BRAD. He conveniently escapes just before the cops arrive. Chalk up another failure for the Shadyside police force. An ambulance arrives and hauls Jon away and an officer questions Cindy and Paulette. Paulette thinks about how the would-be robber couldn't have been Brad because she didn't recognize his voice or his scent (she was a bloodhound in another life). She mentions this to the cop, but he dismisses her because pretty much everyone else in the room says it was Brad and now Paulette is afraid for Brad's life.

That evening, Paulette and Cindy find themselves sitting on Cindy's bed waiting for Jon's mom to call. When she does, the girls find that the bullet missed anything vital and Jon will be ok. Instead of celebrating the fact that their friend dodged death, they argue about whether or not it was actually Brad. Paulette the village idiot wants to help Brad and demands that Cindy drive her to the Academy so she can...do something. It's pretty unclear as to what the plan is here. Anybody got any weed? Anything to dull the pain of this soul sucking black hole of a book would be good.

After much arm twisting, Cindy finally agrees to drive Paulette. When they arrive, Paulette asks one of the professors if he's seen Brad. Apparently Brad never showed up for work and never called in so the head janitor is pissed. Why a professor knows or cares about this is beyond me. Paulette refuses to leave right away and she and Cindy find the staff lockers and decide to break into Brad's. Cindy pulls out a bunch of newspaper clippings (OF COURSE) that prove Brad is a total klepto; he's robbed damn near everyone in a 20 mile radius. Paulette finally acknowledges that she was being an idiot and they leave. Later, as Paulette is trying to fall asleep, she receives a call from Brad who tells her he's innocent and she needs to be careful. Whatever, man.

The next evening, Paulette's parents leave for Grandma's place. Paulette attempts to do some homework, but her thoughts drift to...if you don't know what she's thinking about, you haven't been paying attention. She's sitting in the backyard and suddenly hears footsteps crunching over dead leaves. She starts walking to the house but falls down. She hears some freak breathing heavily nearby so she crawls to the house, locks the door, and calls Cindy, begging her to come over. When she arrives, she begs Paulette to call the police, but since the weirdo didn't actually DO anything, she refuses. The girls hear sirens in the distance so Cindy turns on the news to see if there are any reports about another robbery and there is (because this book is nothing but a series of convenient contrivances). Brad is on the loose (HOW?) and this time, he's hit Uncle Sandy's Convenience Store which is a few streets over.

As Cindy prepares to leave, she begs Paulette to come with her. Paulette predictably refuses and Cindy leaves because she has to babysit. Paulette locks up and a few minutes later, Brad calls and he's got surprising news that really isn't surprising at all. He has a twin brother named Ed who has been committing the crimes and getting Brad into so much trouble. I don't think any of us saw THAT coming. THE HORROR! THE SUPERCALIFRAGILISTIC SHOCK! THE MIND NUMBING PREDICTABILITY! Ed's reasoning behind this is another example of how this book is simply a mish mash of scenes from previous Fear Street books: he was always jealous of Brad because was the golden boy and Ed was defective. Brad says that Ed wanted Paulette all to himself and would rather see her dead than with Brad and that's why Brad had to break things off. Why is he calling Paulette with this bullshit? Why not call his PARENTS? See, Paulette? You could have Brad's shitty parents instead of your caring ones. Brad continues saying Ed has hurt him and he needs help. He's holed up in the dump on Fear Street and Paulette has to come and rescue him QUICK. Excuse me while I bash my skull against the wall.

Paulette takes the bus to Fear Street to rescue some lying asshole that she barely knows. She finds Brad in a room and he tells her that Ed whill be back any minute, but they can't call the police because Ed will just find a way to pin the blame on him for those crimes all over again. Am I even awake? Maybe this is all just a nightmare. *sigh* In my dreams. A few moments later, Ed enters the house and Brad demands that Paulette call to him. This guy really is a piece of work. He's hiding behind a blind girl and taking advantage of her trusting nature by putting her in danger. Kick him in the baby maker and RUN, Paulette, RUN! Of course she does no such thing, calling to Ed so Brad can tie him up. The plan works but now Paulette has yet another problem--Ed is claiming that he is actually Brad and she's been tricked. This is truly torture. If Stine had been around during the Inquisition, those people would've really had something to fear. Before I go completely insane in the brain, let's muddle through. Paulette doesn't know what to do, but suddenly she remembers the little scar above Brad's eye. She asks Ed if she can feel his face and lo and behold, he has no scar. She just helped him hog tie Brad. Yee haw!

Now it's time for a little game called Useless Confession. Ed tells Paulette that he was responsible for the message on her wall, pushing her into traffic, etc. A truly USELESS confession! He decides to tie Paulette up and roughs her up a little first. Manners much? Ed turns to leave the room and Paulette begs him to take her with him because she loves him after all. *groan* Just kill me now. She manages to sweet talk him and he unties everything but her hands because he doesn't trust the female species. He tells her they're going to the master bedroom to get all the crap he stole at Pete's Pizza. It's really dark so he gets Paulette to hold a flashlight and she smashes it against the fireplace: "Now we're even! Now you can't see either!" Good one...if you're five years old. Ed finds her in about 1.5 seconds, Paulette fights back, and they both go tumbling towards the staircase. She falls on the floor and he goes sailing over the bannister. Let us all mourn the death of the only remotely interesting character in this book. Paulette fetches Brad and they slowly make their way outside. The last line comes from Brad: "I feel as if I'm finally coming out of the dark. I really do." Shut up. Just SHUT UP.

Conclusion? This book was painfully dull, the characters were made of cardboard, and the recycled, convoluted plot makes me wantto bury myself. My kingdom for a SIMPLE horror story!

Next time: "Missing" I don't even care what the plot of this one is. I can tell by the crazy ass cover that it's gonna be cheesy good times. Plus, this is one of the earlier Fear Street books, written back in the Dark Ages when Stine still had some original ideas.

20 comments:

  1. Paulette recognizes people by scent? Ew.

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  2. Oh wow, an EVIL TWIN. I really wasn't expecting that one. RL Stine sure turned on the creativity machine for this one.

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  3. How the hell did she know which house to go to or did she sniff it out? And how the hell was she able to move around? Did she have her stick? Omg no wonder I never finished this book! She looks 30-ish on the cover and the last line of the book, what the hell? You necessarily have to try and FORCE the book's title in the story Stine! Shame on you! I'd rather toss this book into the dark.......

    Yay! Missing is up next! Now what the hell happened to those kids parents? You better had not screwed this book up Stine! *gives evil glare*

    Good job by the way as always!

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  4. In my above comment I meant Stine doesn't have to force the title in the book.....my bad.....dammit.......

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  5. Yes, Sadako, Paulette sniffs those people out like it's nothing but a thing.

    Anon, Stine is ALWAYS creative! Not.

    Mr. Green, "Missing" is proving to be *gasp* not too bad so far. I hope it stays that way.

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  6. Having a blind protagonist is pretty ambitious, but it was always going to just be used for cheap Stine tricks. Just have a few more power cuts or something and she wouldn't have to be blind at all.

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  7. Caucasian female Ray Charles! Don Rickles shout-out! Fantastic work, as always, milady.

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  8. Evil twin? Stine should have went all out and made Ed Brad's evil counterpart from a parallel universe.

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  9. That actually would've been really badass.

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  10. That would've been great, yeah. It would also have meant things were more complicated than just the lame ol' "evil twin" twist. I mean, that's so obvious a solution that you suspect it can't be true.

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  11. This sounds like the dumbest Fear Street ever and that's saying a lot. I never read this one and now I'm glad I never did.
    Missing is awesome. Not as awesome as Haunted, but still awesome. Monkey cult FTW!

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  12. Whitney, thank you very much.

    Karmyn, MONKEY CULT!!

    I have no idea when the next update will be...

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  13. P.S. You have an award.

    http://pencilcasebook.blogspot.com/2009/07/evil-pink-unicorn-award.html

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  14. She could drive, fight, and everything...she was like Daredevil.

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  15. "He's got a neon sign that says LUNATIC: CRITICAL CONDITION blinking over his big fat head"

    What good is that going to do for Paulette? She's blind.

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  16. R L Stine is one of my fav author...This book is not that horror or thrilling...still the way of writing makes us feel that..Fear street owe me........

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