Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Missing


What. The. Hell. I'm speechless.

Book Description:

What would YOU do if your parents didn't come home, didn't call, left no note? At first, Mark and Cara Burroughs aren't terribly alarmed. Their parents have stayed out late before. But other things start to go wrong. Mark's girlfriend Gena breaks up with him and suddenly disappears. The police don't seem at all interested in finding Mark and Cara's parents. And their mysterious cousin who boards with them seems to be spying on their every move! When murder strikes, Mark and Cara learn their terror is only beginning. Someone wants THEM to disappear too! But why? The answer lies deep in the Fear Street Woods. But will they live long enough to find it?

My Description:

Cara, our narrator through most of this tale of DOOM!, begins the story with the party she and Mark were having the first night their parents didn't come home. They're acting like their parents are mental incompetents who need help with everything and don't know their butt from a hole in the ground (judging by the ridiculous cover, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree). She and Mark are fairly new to Shadyside and don't understand why everyone acts so weird about the fact that they live on Fear Street. You'll find out soon enough, my friends. Mwahahahaha! *cough* Anyway, we get some descriptions of the siblings. Mark is a blond, dimpled cutie who I pray looks better than that jackass on the cover (no, I don't know when I'll shut up about the cover. The damn thing is so ridonkulous I can't take my eyes off it). He makes friends easily because Shadyside teens love a looker. In fact, that's really all it takes to be a success in this town. Blond hair + blue eyes + dimpled chin = world domination. Cara, on the other hand, is a little different. She has difficulty making friends and blames this on her twisted sense of humor and cynical world view. Folks, dare I say that we have a *gasp* INTERESTING main character that has more to talk about than psychotic teenage boys and the latest trip to Pete's Pizza? I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she doesn't take a turn for the worse about 50 pages in.

Cara rambles about her friends Lisa and Shannon and Mark's unhealthy obsession with his girlfriend Gena Rawlings. The fact that he spends nearly every waking moment with her or thinking about being with her *cough*possibly while touching himself*cough* is really pissing off his parents. Speaking of the parents, their job causes them to move a lot (six moves in the last eight years) which is why Cara doesn't bother to get close to anyone: "My mom puts me down a lot for being a loner, but what choice do I have? I mean, why get involved with people when you're only going to know them for a short while?" First of all, your mom sucks. Second, it will literally save your life if you stay away from everyone who even attempts to speak to you in this town. We get more useless info about the family and how sexy Gena is (she's a total slut). But back to the party. Things are getting a little nuts and Cara is trying to handle things alone because Mark is too busy exploring Gena's cavernous mouth with his tongue. The doorbell rings and Cara finds a police officer on the other side. She freaks out because she thinks something has happened to her sucky parents, but the cop just says there's been a burglary a few houses down and wonders if they've seen anything suspicious. She says no, he leaves his card and drives off. Cara informs the dirty degenerates that it's a school night and they need to go home. Everyone leaves and Cara and Mark take a look at all the crap they have to clean up. She wants to get it all clean before Ma and Pa get home, but Mark says they probably won't even show. Apparently, their parents are still young-ish and they can't seem to grow the hell up so they occsionally stay out all night partying. Like I said, SUCKY! The kids should not be sitting up all night wringing their hands in worry over whether their shitty, juvenile parents are coming home any time soon. They decide to call their parents' office, but the phone is dead. Typical. Then they hear someone walking around upstairs. It's R.L. Stine who has come to inform them they're trapped in his sticky Fear web and they're never getting out. Over his dead mole! Enough with that, though..you know I get deathly ill when speaking of The Growth. Anyway, it's not Mr. Stine at all. It's their creepy ass cousin Roger. He's very good looking, very shy, and slinks around the house like a lion stalking its prey. CHILLS! Roger lives in the attic or no apparent reason whatsoever. He goes to junior collefe and isn't the first boarder the family has taken in. "Other young guys have boarded with us in other towns we've lived in." I must admit I'm a little disturbed by that. Why is it always guys? Is Mom a cougar who sleeps with these poor souls before painting the walls with their entrails? Is THAT why they move so much? This book just got a lot more interesting. Yes, I know I'm sick. Roger has apparently been jacked up on something because he's completely unaware that a party was going on or that the defective parental units (purchased on the JCPenney layaway plan) are missing.

Roger goes back to his dungeon and Mark creams his pants as he announces it's time for Star Trek. He owns all the Star Trek novels and is fond of giving the Vulcan salute. Yeah, he's one of THOSE. The two go upstairs to check out their parents' room in case they left a note or something. The door opens and Cara freaks out because NO-ONE MADE THE BED! NOOOOO!!! THE HUMANITY! WHY HAVE WE BEEN CURSED?!? I'm not even joking. She screams because the blankets and sheets are all rumpled up and "it looks like there's been a fight." Are you kidding me with this? It's just wrinkled bedclothes, not a murder scene! Then they spot something that is genuinely disturbing--someone is hiding behind the curtains, their shoes peeking out. It's...Roger? He says he came in to see if their parents left a note and then went to look out the window because he heard an odd noise. He claims he didn't hear them come in because the curtains are heavy and block out sound. Are the damn things made of metal? Your excuse pains me with its lies, Roger! He's holding a black box which he claims is his Walkman before shoving it into his pocket and heading for the attic. A few moments later, Cara finds a damn MONKEY SKULL wrapped in the sheets. It's not an actual skull, though--it's carved of ivory with yellow rhinestones for eyes. Eyes that "radiate evil" according to Mark. No comment.

Mark wakes up around 2 am and hears a weird noise. He goes over to the window and sees Roger running down the street. He's HOWLING like a dog. Yeah, let that one sink in. Then he runs over to a gray van where he's helped inside by two others. Ok then. Mark waits by the window for a few seconds before deciding to sneak up to the attic to search for anything that would explain why Roger is suddeny acting like a deranged wolf boy. Just as Mark sets foot on the stairs, Roger comes up behind him. "Hey, Mark, what are you doing up?" Oh shit. Mark comes up with some lame excuse and hurries back to his room.

The next morning, Cara and Mark find that their parents are still MIA. So they go to the kitchen for a healthy breakfast of cornflakes and Coke because SOMEONE forgot to buy any milk. Yuck. "Actually, it didn;t taste that bad." Shut up, Mark. You're an orphan. What do YOU know? Anyway, Mark tells Cara about Roger and the van. He now thinks it isn't a big deal; after all, Roger is entitled to a private life. But Cara thinks it's too big of a coincidence that as soon as their parents go missing, Roger starts acting like a maniac. Maybe Roger has never been without adult supervision and went wild, running through the streets and jumping into a van to toke with the local potheads. *sigh* We all know it's something more NEFARIOUS. Unfortunately. They decide to go upstairs and ask Roger why he's been acting so weird. He's already left for classes, though, so they take the opportunity to dig through his personal belongings (which are no longer so personal). The only "strange" thing they find is an unused notebook and brand new textbooks. Cara considers this weird because if Roger really is a student, shouldn't he actually be using these things? No you're just grasping at straws, my dear. Then Cara paws through Roger's underwear like a dog searching for a bone and finds a pistol. NOOOO! "Maybe he likes to shoot at cockroaches." Yeah, yeah, that must be it. *sigh*

Cara decides to jog down the street to their neighbor Mrs. Fisher's house to use the phone. She attempts to call her parents first, but no-one at the office answers. She comes to the conclusion that she and Mark will have to go to Cranford Industries and search for their brainless parents, school be damned. Before leaving, she calls the phone company about fixing their phone and a nice lady says they'll be right on it. Cara walks home and is shocked to see her parents' car is in the garage. Mark comes out and Cara informs him that they gotta get to their parents' office. Mark, however, is more concerned about a math test and seeing his slutty pet Gena. Cara convinces him that their parents are more important and goes to get the extra set of keys to the car. As they're driving, Mark spots a van that looks just like the one Roger hopped into the night he was running through the streets howling like the filthy mutt he is. They pull up to the van and ask the albino driver if he's waiting for Roger, but the guy denies knowing anyone named Roger. *cough*LIAR*cough*

They finally make their way to the office where a smug guard hassles them a little at the gate before finally letting them through. They go inside the building, crap themselves when they think they see their parents, realize they were mistaken, and are informed by the secretary that their parents, Lucy and Greg Burroughs, aren't even in the computer. She calls the CEO (Mark is confused and doesn't even know what that is. His brain is a damn sieve--he probably knows every time a cast member of Star Trek has a bowel movement, but he doesn't know what a CEo is?) The man comes down and when Cara explains that her parents install computers here, he says they aren't having new computers installed. At this point, I would be like "Fuck it" and go home to my Doritos, fuzzy wuzzy kitty, and sickeningly tall stack of Fear Street books (SOB!) But noooooo, these kids just aren't gonna throw in the towel. They wander off to Shadyside Park to think about what the big CEO told them and the fact that their parents are deadbeat liars who forget to buy milk and allow creepy zombies to live in their attic on a regular basis. And don't forget the monkey skull! Anyway, they go to school to use the pay phone to call Roger. He says their parents are still God knows where and he has to go so see ya suckas! Cara heads off to eat lunch with her friends and Mark searches for Gena, but can't find her so he decides she must've stayed home. He calls her and completely loses his shit because...

"Gena broke up with me." It's now 5 pm and Cara finds Mark slumped in the kitchen, crying over his long lost GEEEENNNAAA! Cara says she still has the card of the policeman who broke up their party the night before (that feels like an eternity ago) She calls the guy and he says he'll try to hunt them down. He even offers to kick their asses for abandoning their children. Yay! As Cara hangs up, she hears someone else hanging up and realizes that Roger must have been listening in. Oh well. The guy has absolutely no life...let him have his entertainment where he can get it. Speak of the devil--Roger comes downstairs and Cara immediately accuses him of eavesdropping. He denies it of course and Mark butts in, asking him about the van. Roger simply says Mark was hallucinating. THEN they bring up the fact that he has a gun in his room. The asshole tells them that they're crazy, but five seconds later, he says his father gave him that pistol for his 18th birthday. He gives a big sob story about his father's death and afterwards, says he has to leave. As soon as he's gone, Cara says she doesn't believe his bullshit for a second: "I don't believe his story about the gun. It was just too cornball for words. Also, if he just keeps it as a memento, why was the gun loaded?" Why don't they throw all his shit out on the lawn, tell him to beat it, and call the cops if he doesn't cooperate? It isn't his house, after all. He's just an attic squatter. Instead of listening to my worldly wisdom, they go downstairs to find something for supper. They end up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and after, Cara says she's going to trail Roger. What a genius idea. Or something. Mark decides to hang behind and Gena calls. All he hears is a struggle and her crying. Ruh roh, Shaggy.

Mark, on a quest to be a hero (or a complete dumbass) takes off toward Gena's house. Unfortunately, the quickest route is through the Fear Street Woods. Mark starts thinking about a story some kid told him about some teenagers who came upon a rat monster the size of a frigging elephant creeping through the woods. Did it have a greasy mole? Large glasses for its myopic eyes? A hangdog face that is so depressing, you'd rather jump off a 70 story building than stare at it for even one moment? If you answered no to any of the above, I don't believe your story, sir. Anyway, Mark gets himself lost and falls into some kind of trap, but we don't get details because the chapter ends there.

We return to Cara following Roger through the darkened streets of Shadyside. He goes to Alma's, a diner downtown. She enters the restaurant and sees Roger talking to the albino weirdo from the van. Just as she turns to leave, Roger grabs her shoulder and accuses her of spying. Then he calmly introduces her to his "faculty advisor" Dr. Murdoch. He claims they were discussing his schedule, but Cara knows he's a lying piece of crap and leaves as quickly as possible. "Dr. Murdoch" is skeeving me out. He's just sitting therer undressing her with his eyes. Or maybe that's just my imagination. But you don't just sit there grinning like a possum at someone you just met. As Cara walks home, a car begins following her...

Meanwhile, out in the pit of hell that some call the Fear Street Woods, Mark is trying to think of a way to get out of the deep hole he has fallen into. He manages to crawl out and is promptly attacked by a huge dog. They wrestle and Mark ends up breaking its neck. NOOO! Another dead animal. Dammit, Stine, may PETA tar and feather your ass! Mark sees a monkey skull attached to the dog's collar. I wish I cared. Mark scampers off to Gena's house, decides not to ring the bell because he's afraid of the big bad wolf (i.e. Gena's father), climbs the trellis instead, and falls, effectively busting his lily white ass.

Ok, back to Cara. The freak who has been following her turns out to be Captain Farraday, the cop she called about her currently non-existant parents. He says he needs a photo of Mom and Dad and he'll give Cara a lift home so he can pick it up. On the way, she tells him about the monkey head and Roger's "Dr. Murdoch". Farraday doesn't really respond to either tidbit. They arrive and Cara fetches the picture. Once the cop leaves, she calls to Mark and realizes she's alone. OoOoOoOo. Someone pulls into the driveway, but OF COURSE the chapter ends there and we're pulled back to Mark's super happy fun time.

When we left Mark, he had just fallen from the trellis outside Gena's window because he's too much of a coward to knock on the front door. Even though he's bleeding everywhere, the idiot didn't learn his lesson because he's climbing the thing again. Just throw some rocks at her window or something! He miraculously makes it through the window, but Gena isn't there. He helps himself to one of her socks to staunch the blood and finds a white monkey head on her floor identical to the one he found in his parents' dirty sheets. Suddenly he hears footsteps. He stuffs the head in his pocket and searches for a place to hide. As we all know, Mark is too quick or bright and before he knows it, he's staring at Gena's scary daddy who happens to be holding a pistol. Unfortunately for us, there is no action. Dad apologizes for thinking Mark was a burglar and nearly blowing his head off and they chat about Gena. This guy doesn't seem at all phased by the fact that he just found a bloody, dirty boy sneaking around inhis daughter's room. Maybe because this happens a lot? I told you Gena was a slut. Anyway, turns out Gena was so upset about Mark, she went to stay with her cousin upstate. Upset about WHAT? Everyone keeps saying that, but it doesn't make any freaking sense! Yeah, they broke up, but was their feeble relationship THAT big of a deal? Mark takes this at face value, but I think he suspects Gena's sudden disappearance and his parents vanishing are somehow related due to these stupid monkey heads.

Back at home, Cara stops freaking out over the car in the driveway. It's just her friend Lisa, a Cher look-a-like who is a TOTAL BITCH. Seriously. As soon as she hits the door, every other word out of her ugly mouth is an insult to Cara. Cara mentions her missing parents and that shuts Cher up. Then Cara changes the subject, saying they should start on their history homework. Lisa makes small talk, mentioning that Gary Brandt likes Cara. "He's a fox." He's also a dirty whore. They talk for a while longer and finally Lisa leaves. Cara feels pretty good about the visit. "I'd made a real friend." You're an idiot. Cara sits for a moment before remembering she wanted to hide Roger's gun and think of a way to kick his ass to the curb. FINALLY! But the gun is gone. SHOCK! Not.

On Thursday, Cara and Mark make it to school. On the way home, they tell each other everything that happened the night before since they weren't together. Once home, Mark wants Cara to call Farraday, but the worthless phones are out again. I'm chalking that up to the fact that Fear Street is a hell hole that's pretty much forgotten by the rest of Shadyside which is why things keep breaking down--no-one cares! The two go to the mall for sushi. Just kidding--they go for PIZZA. Of fucking course they do. Just ONCE I would like to see someone in these books eat something else besides pizza. Just once! Anyway, on the way home, Cara remembers the name of one of their parents' friends, Wally Wilburn. That sounds totally made up. They decide to call him if the phone is working which of course it isn't. So they look up his address in the phone book, see that he lives on Plum Ridge and off they go.

Wally is an actual human being and lets them in to use the phone. He looks up their parents' direct line in the Cranford Industries Directory (which means that asshole CEO lied to them) and they call, but no-one answers. They want to track down Farraday, but decide to go home first. Immediately, they spot that gray van parked about a block from their house. There are lights on in the house and they march up to Roger's room. The poor bastard has been shot in the back with an arrow. He's slumped over his desk in a pool of blood. Suddenly Farraday appears with an accusation for Mark: "This your weapon, son? Why'd you kill him?" It just gets better and better. Farraday leads them downstairs where "Dr. Murdoch" bursts in. He's holding a gun and flips out when he sees Farraday who puts three bullets in his chest. What the hell is happening? Where am I? I can't seeeeeee!!

Farraday is completely calm about the whole thing and calls for backup. When he leaves the room, Mark picks up the phone and finds it dead. So Farraday is a liar. What else is new? Farraday says he wants to ask them some questions and Mark responds by shoving him to the floor. You could have just said no, Mark. Farraday jumps to his feet, points the gun at them, and demands that they tell him where their parents are. They tell him they don't know, but he doesn't buy it. After all, he was a cop for 16 years, dammit. What kind of fool do they take him for?!? He says he killed Roger because he knew too much and now he's gonna have to kill them unless they cough up their parents' whereabouts. If you think this shizz is insane, what happens next is totally ridiculous. Gena, of all people, comes bursting in with a hunting rifle aimed at Farraday. What the hell kind of circus is this? She tells Mark and Cara to get out of the house and tells Farraday she'll kill him if she has to. And to think I thought she was nothing more than a braindead skank.

They lock Farraday in the garage and drive to Gena's house to put on some ceremonial robes. Yeah, I don't know what the fuck is going on either. They walk into the woods where they see flickering candles. Gena says the weirdos in the woods call themselves the Brotherhood. When they get closer, they see that these freaks are wearing "grinning white monkey masks." Suddenly two of the monkeys take their faces off...it's Mom and Dad! So THIS is what they abandoned their kids for? A group of psychos in monkey masks gathered around some candles in the middle of scenic nowhere? Glad to hear they have their priorities straight. *sigh* The CEO from Cranford is also there and he announces the White Monkey Brotherhood's mission; basically they wanna rule the nation. CEO man goes on to say that they must eliminate all traitors to the cause. Sadly, Mark and Cara's parents are traitors (among other things) and they're gonna kill them. Mark still has the monkey head that he picked up at Gena's and throws it at the CEO. Since he sucks at anything that doesn't involve Star Trek, he misses and the guy comes rushing over, screaming "Who threw that?" Smooth move, Captain Kirk. Their parents spring into action. Dad points a gun at CEO and screams "You're all under arrest! FBI." You have GOT to be kidding me. I mean, WHY? Why can nothing ever be simple in these damn books? *sigh*

To make this go a little faster:

--> Gena's dad is also an agent.
--> Murdoch was too.
--> Farraday was a "bent cop" who was put in jail by Mom and Dad on racketeering charges. He escaped prison and wanted revenge. Too bad.
--> Dad cries because he's sorry for lying to and neglecting his children. Tear don't cut it. Your nephew is dead and your kids are scarred for life because of you, asshole, so keep your boo-hoos to your damn self. P.S. Pardon my French.

The Burroughs family is now chilling out at home over hot chocolate. Farraday is in police custody and poor Roger has been taken away. Their parents give a big Hallmark story about how they only wanted to give them a normal childhood and blah blah blah. By Saturday, they're already packing their belongings in preperation to move again. Gena comes by to say farewell to her knight in white Vulcan ears, Mark. She gives him a small package before leaving. It's a damn white monkey head with a note that says "Can you keep a secret? I love you. Gena" No, I can't keep a secret. In fact, I just posted the whole sordid story on my blog! Nyah nyah nyah!

Conclusion? White monkeys? Fucking WHITE MONKEYS?!? The ending was so pitifully convoluted that my brain almost short circuited trying to make sense of it all. Once again, when did it become a crime to write a SIMPLE story without getting bogged down in 5674568 plot twists that only mutilate the book as a whole?

Next time: "The Babysitter" So much nostalgia for this one, baby. I loved it! But will I feel the same way this time around after being bombarded by books that make me want to end it all? We'll have to see...

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.