*This cover is absolutely hilarious. "Night time is the right time...for trouble." Classic.*
Diane loves sneaking out in the middle of the night. Her friends do, too. They have the town all to themselves. Every night they come up with a new prank to play. But then Diane's boyfriend, Lenny, wants revenge on a teacher and the pranks turn to murder. Now Diane and her friends are in too deep. Much too deep...with no way out.
It's the middle of the night (WOW!) and Diane, Lenny, Cassie, and Jordan are standing on the sidewalk laughing at Mr. Crowell's hideous Christmas decorations. Mr. Crowell is their math teacher and everyone hates him because he doesn't allow calculators. Diane turns her attention to Lenny, her personal Adonis. Lenny is one tough bad ass and Diane is a dork so she doesn't know why he dates her. Shut up, Diane. Judging by the cover, you could probably kick Lenny's ass. After all, YOU'RE the one in the black leather jacket and everyone knows only cool bad asses wear black leather. Anyway, Lenny thinks they should smash the whole tacky display (he must be bad at math), but no-one else is into it so they walk off. A moment later, they see someone dart around the side of a house and automatically assume it's a burglar even though they're doing practically the same freaking thing (i.e. lurking around random houses). It turns out to be one of their stupid friends, Spencer. They tell him about their initial suspicions and he says all he does these days is rob houses and he's really rich because of it. They all believe it until he bursts out laughing and tells them they're all stupid. Yes. They are. The house Spencer was "burglarizing" is his own. He just moved back to Shadyside. After he tells the gang that he was just sneaking out to play Night Games (yes, that's what he calls it), Diane asks him where the hell he's been. Grandma got sick, Dad dragged Spencer and family to Washington, Grandma got better, and Dad decided to move the family back to Shadyside because "My dad thought it would be easier to find work here." Is your father completely DERANGED? Does he have some sort of brain fever? There's NOTHING in Shadyside! Once you leave, why would you ever come back?!? Spencer goes on to say that he goes to St. Ann's now instead of Shadyside High. What a loss. Then he asks them if they want to go on an adventure, a "Night Game". Is he five years old? What high schooler asks his friends if they want to go on an adventure? Diane isn't sure and Cassie wants to make sure he doesn't do anything illegal. "I have adventures. Some nights it's hard to sleep. My head feels so crowded. So I sneak out for some Night Games. Quiet little adventures...in the dark." I don't think it was Grandma who was sick. I think it's Spencer who has the sickness. In the head. 'My head feels so crowded' = the voices won't shut up. 'Quiet little adventures' = killing small animals, defecating in mailboxes, luring sailors to their death with his siren song, etc. Yet these idiots follow him like empty headed sheep. Nocturnal sheep.
They walk around, following Spencer until he stops beside a car with two unruly teens making out inside. Spencer decides to get his jollies by pounding on the window and telling the cupcakes inside that they're under arrest. They freak out until they open the door and realize it's not a cop, just some disturbed boy. The dude from the car appears ready to kick Spencer's ass, but before that can happen, Spence and the gang run away. They stop when they reach Spencer's front yard and he suggests they do this again: "Let's meet again. Okay? How about it? Monday after midnight? We'll all sneak out and have more adventures." Stop saying adventures!! ERROL FLYNN had adventures. All YOU'RE having is happy play time. You may as well be sitting in a sandbox! Anyway, Diane and Cassie don't really want to, but Lenny and Jordan do and since neither girl possesses a spine, they go along with it.
It's now Monday and the Night Riders are sitting in Mr. Crowell's math class fighting boredom. Cassie is sketching, Diane is examining a stain on her shirt, and Lenny and Jordan are acting like jackasses. When Lenny laughs at something Jordan says, Mr. Crowell spins around and demands to know what's so funny. He proceeds to rip Lenny a new one before turning back to the blackboard. Lenny stands and flips over his desk. When Crowell tells him to sit down, Lenny raises his fist and then bolts out of the classroom before he can solve the equation of how long it would take to rearrange Crowell's face. Mr. Crowell continues his lesson as if nothing ever happened because he is made of awesome sauce.
After class, Diane tries to find Lenny with no luck. He's probably in the janitor's closet crying his little heart out into a mop. Diane talks to Cassie who mentions that Crowell has a heart condition and someday Lenny is going to give him a heart attack (foreshadowing?). Then they talk about the ADVENTURE that's taking place tonight. Cassie doesn't wanna go, but she's a glutton for peer pressure and since everyone else is going, she will too. Diane is going so she can have the chance to talk to Lenny. Does he not have a phone? I seriously doubt she needs to go skipping around the streets of Shadyside in the middle of the night to talk to that moron.
That night, the girls meet in front of Spencer's house and the boys show up shortly after. Diane tells Lenny that he needs to "cool it" in Crowell's class, but Lenny isn't planning on it. He blames it on Crowell: "I'm not a good enough student for him to leave alone. Every chance he gets, he finds a way to get on my case." You are such a turd, Lenny. If you actually paid attention and did your work instead of sitting there with your thumb up your butt, he'd probably get off your case, genius! A moment later, Spencer comes flopping out of his window like a crack addicted trout. "I knew you guys would come! Everyone needs some Night Games from time to time--right?" NO. Then we're treated to a visual of Spence: "Spencer had his hair tied back in a thick ponytail. He wore a black sweatshirt--inside out--and baggy black chinos that were ripped at both knees." Glad to hear he dressed up for the occasion.
After Lenny and Spencer share how much they hate Crowell (apparently he was Spencer's teacher a few years ago when Spence still attended Shadyside High) they all start walking down the street. Spencer is excited: "Late at night, Shadyside is ours!" You poor pathetic fool. Of course they end up at Crowell's house. They spy on him through the window. He's in the living room disemboweling a headless corpse. Just kidding--he's decorating his Christmas tree. Sadly, I don't think this book will have any guts or decapitated bodies. Our loss. Anyway, after putting the finishing touches on his tree, Crowell treats himself to a soda pop (I think an occasion like this calls for an orange Fanta. Screw Coke!) and sits back to admire his mad decorating skills. The Night Riders (I declare this their official name) get bored and all but Spencer turn to leave. He decides to destroy some of Crowell's outdoor decorations with his handy dandy flashlight. He smashes some twinkly red and green lights, breaks Santa's head, and throws an aluminum reindeer at the house. Crowell hears the MADNESS! and comes to the door: "I see you!" They all run, leaving Crowell alone to screech the night away. The boys think the entire thing was hilarious, but Cassie and Diane think it was pretty horrible...yet they agree to go out again the next night. Crowell should have shot them all when he had the chance.
When Diane gets home, her ex-boyfriend Bryan calls her. She broke with him a year ago to go out with Lenny, but he wants her back for some reason. Diane is pissed because it's almost 3 AM and the phone could have woken her parents. She tells him she doesn't want to talk now so Bryan keeps it short and tells her she'll be sorry for dating Lenny. I think she's already sorry. A few seconds after hanging up, the phone rings again. It's the obligatory raspy voiced caller. "Diane, I saw you tonight. I saw you tonight, Diane. I know about your Night Games." You've got to be kidding me.
Spencer is hanging out in his uncle's ski cabin waiting for the rest of the Scooby gang to show up. He's excited for everyone to see this AWESOME cabin and ski the AWESOME slopes. It's TOTALLY AWESOME! Or not. Anyway, the downside for Spencer is that he doesn't have a girlfriend and everyone else is part of a couple. "Spencer knew he could find someone to date. But he was picky about who he went out with. She had to be smart, pretty, and fun. Someone perfect. Someone like Diane." That one makes fun of itself. Spencer hates that Diane chose Lenny over him. Boo hoo. Everyone arrives in Jordan's new Jeep (FYI: Jordan is rich). Lenny hangs his head out the window and yell at Spencer: "Yo, Spence! We saw your car leaning too far to the left. Maybe you should cut down on the Snickers bars!" HAR HAR HAR. This ticks Spencer off and he thinks about what a creep Lenny is. The only reason Lenny is here is because Diane insists on dragging him everywhere, not because Spencer invited him.
They all go inside and admire the cabin. Spencer overhears Lenny and Diane arguing in another room. Lenny says he didn't want to come, but he did for Diane. She tells him he follows her everywhere, he says it's the other way around, and Jordan interrupts before they can get into a Dynasty-style slap fest. Everyone gathers in the living room to be near the fire and watch TV. Unfortunately, a howling wind somehow knocks the power out. Spencer lights a lantern and everyone sits in uncomfortable silence while Diane and Lenny fight. Lenny ends up storming outside to sit in the Jeep where he can be alone and cry like the little bitch he is. Cassie and Jordan start making out while Diane and Spencer go to fetch more firewood. Diane complains about Lenny and she and Spencer have a moment where they almost kiss, but Lenny nips that in the bud by grabbing Spencer and punching him in the face. "Stay away from Diane! Or you'll be sorry! You'll be sorry!" What is it about this chick that makes these guys so crazy? She's about as interesting as a dried leaf. Lenny drags her back to the cabin leaving Spencer alone with his raging fury.
Cassie and Diane are sharing a vegetarian pizza at Pete's Pizza (I look forward to the day I come upon one of these books that does not mention this place) while Diane moans to Cassie about Bryan's phone call. She thinks he was the raspy caller, but we all know it's some other psycho. They change the subject to Spencer and his Night Games when suddenly Lenny bursts through the door with blood dripping from his hand. Mr. Crowell told Lenny's basketball coach that Lenny is failing algebra so Coach kicked Lenny off the team. Lenny was so mad he punched a locker and cut his hand. The stupid troll blames Crowell for his bleeding hand. He complains that Crowell is ruining his life and won't stop until Lenny is kicked out of school. SHUT UP. Jordan shows up a moment later and asks everyone if they're meeting Spencer tonight. Of course they are. And Lenny plans to get revenge on Mr. Crowell.
The next chapter begins with Diane wondering how she, such a sensible girl, got caught up in the wild world of Night Games. Because you're an idiot, Diane. That's all there is to it. Diane thinks it's the sense of freedom that the Night Games gives them. I'll agree to disagree. Then Diane thinks about how gorgeous Spencer is now that he's no longer kind of chubby. How kind.
That night, the Night Riders (Midnight Morons? Moon Goons?) gather in Spencer's yard. Spencer hasn't fallen out his window yet and they're beginning to wonder what he's doing. Probably better not to ask. They all start arguing because waiting for five minutes is sooooo stressful. Eventually Spencer appears and tells them he fell asleep studying. Right. Lenny tells him he wants to go to Crowell's house "to do some damage". Spencer says that the Night Games are about fun, not revenge, but Lenny is determined so off they go. When they arrive at Crowell's house, all the lights are out and his car isn't in the open garage. They decide the logical thing to do is break into the house. They crawl in through a window and debate about what to do. Lenny wants to completely trash the place, but Spencer says they should just move some things around so Crowell will be freaked out, but he won't have any real reason to call the police. They split up and Diane goes into the bathroom where she laughs at Crowell's Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck shower curtain. Then she goes into a room, leaves the light on, and shuts the door. "That would give him something to think about!" You are truly the devil, Diane. She makes her way to a bedroom where she spots a figure lying on the bed. Before she can make out who it is in the darkness, Spencer grabs her shoulders, effectively scaring her. She calms down and tells him about the figure...which turns out to be a pair of black pajamas. They leave the room and Spencer sees Crowell's car pulling into the driveway. Crowell enters the house and everyone leaves through the kitchen door before he knows they're there. Diane is scandalized because Spencer stole Crowell's CD player. *sigh*
At home, Diane calls Cassie and they talk about what happened and how weird Spencer is now. The girls hang up after a few minutes and Diane gets another call from the creaky smoker's voice. "I saw what you did tonight. I know about your Night Games, Diane. I know what you stole tonight. I know about your little revenge. You'll pay, Diane. You're going to pay for what you did." She wasn't the one who stole and she wasn't the one who wanted revenge, you slow witted squirrel. Go bother someone else (i.e. Lenny)!
During Mr. Crowell's class the next day, the gang is incredibly jumpy. Crowell seems to be paying more attention to them, particularly Diane. After class, he speaks with her alone. But all he does is ask about how her midterm project is going. She's relived and meets up with her goofy friends a few moments later. She tells them what Crowell said and says they should stop with the Night Games. No-one but Cassie wants to quit. Cassie and Diane are not being forced to do these things so why do they continue to act like they are? Diane mentions her creepy caller and Lenny demands to know who it is. As if she knows. After the mention of the calls, the group decides to tell Spencer that they're through with his shoddy Night Games. If only.
Spencer isn't home when they arrive after school so they decide to show up tomorrow. Later, Diane has dinner at Cassie's house and it's dark when she leaves for home. As she's walking, she feels like she's being watched and this is confirmed when Bryan jumps out of the bushes. He confesses he was following her and says he wants to talk. She refuses and he tells her she needs to stay away from Lenny because he'll only get her into trouble. She mentions the strange phone calls, but Bryan says he didn't do it. Diane tries to walk away, but he grabs her and only lets go when a car passes by. He scampers off into the night like a scared rabbit. I think it's safe to say Diane has very poor taste in men.
At home, Diane finds the house empty. But Lenny takes care of that by showing up to whine about his awful parents. Did I mention how much I hate Lenny? Because I do. A LOT. His parents are angry with him because of his horrible grades and, as usual, Lenny blames Crowell. He confesses that he fantasizes about beating up Crowell or running over him with his car. Diane simply replies that Lenny and Crowell really need to talk. Then she and Lenny make out until they hear a knocking at the door. It's Cassie who received a note from, presumably, the same pathetic weirdo that keeps calling Diane. The note reads "I know about your Night Games. You're going to be the loser." Lenny thinks it's Mr. Crowell who I'm almost certain has much better things to than stay up late making phone calls and writing notes to stupid, irrational teenagers. Diane thinks it's Bryan and Cassie thinks it's Spencer. Which means it's probably neither. A few minutes later, Spencer shows up with a note of his own. His says "Night Games can be dangerous. Sometimes people die." Except not. Ever.
Here we go again. It's early morning and Spencer is making a nice cup of hot cocoa. "If only I had someone to share it with, he thought. Someone like Diane." Shut up, Spencer. You're not in a Danielle Steele novel, damn you! Cassie and Diane come out onto the deck where Spencer is sitting and he fights the urge to kiss Diane. I wish he would. Then we'd have the pleasure of watching him and Lenny kill each other in the snow. Jordan and Lenny come outside and watch Diane, Cassie, and Spencer making snow angels. Lenny makes a joke at Spencer's expense and challenges the three to a snowball war. Spencer packs the snow tightly into his hand and allows it to melt to form ice (what?) and slams Lenny in the mouth with the iceball and beans Jordan in the side of the head. In return, they bury Spencer in the snow. He starts freaking out because they packed him in pretty tightly and he can't move or even speak. He overhears Diane and Lenny arguing about whether or not to leave him. Then Jordan's Jeep starts...and the chapter ends there.
The four fools who are currently the plague of my existence are sitting in the cafeteria discussing the notes. Blah blah blah. At the end of the day, Lenny goes to talk to Mr. Crowell while Diane waits outside the classroom. Lenny blows it and comes out furious. Crowell told him he was a loser who would never change (and THAT's why I love Crowell). Lenny wants one more Night Game, one more trip to Crowell's house. My will to live is fading...
Once again, they all meet at Spencer's and afterward head for Crowell's house. They find the lights out and the car missing so they let themselves in through the window like last time. Lenny has a can of spray paint (Diane somehow mistakes this for a gun. Further proof that she has defective brain cells.) and begins spraying everything in sight. Diane stumbles off to find Cassie and they get seperated from the boys only to find them a little later standing in a bedroom staring down at Crowell's lifeless body sprawled on the floor.
Predictably, these jerks only care about getting out of the house because they think someone will think they killed Crowell. WHO? WHY? Everyone is losing their minds. Except Lenny. Pretty sure he's high from paint fumes. They see headlights flash on the wall and Cassie screams "The police!" It isn't the police. How the hell would they know to come there? It's just a car pulling into the driveway next door. Instead of calling 911, they all search for the paint can that Lenny dropped. Jordan finds it and they all flee the house.
At 7 AM, Diane's phone rings. It's Cassie who heard on the radio that Crowell's housekeeper found him. He died of a heart attack. Because of the spray paint, the police think an intruder broke in and literally scared him to death. Excellent sleuthing. Diane stays home from school and that evening, her parents go out. Creepy McGee leaves a note on Diane's porch. It's a sheet of paper with the words "You Die Next" written in spray paint. UNBELIEVABLY clever. Cassie and Lenny show up with identical notes and they all decide to track down Jordan (Cassie called. He's not home.) to see if he also got a note. They find him at The Corner eating french fries with Bryan. Diane barges in and immediately accuses JORDAN of sending the notes because he was the one who found the spray can the night before. He tells her he gave the can to Spencer so they all leave to hunt down Spencer. They go into his house for the first time and find it empty and deserted. No heat. No furniture. Nothing to suggest anyone lives here. Then they spot Spencer lying facedown on the floor. They all think he's dead until he pops up to say "I'm dead." Thanks for letting us know. And it's true--Spencer is a ghost. Yes, folks, THIS is how it ends. He floats up off the floor and says they all killed him last winter when they left him to smother in the snow. He came back to get his revenge by making them play Night Games and watching them become frightened by his notes and phone calls. But now he's tired of games and just wants to kill them. They get rid of him by hugging him and telling him they love him. He needs hatred to thrive and their "kindness" causes him to melt to a dark puddle. The twist? He managed to kill Diane just before he died by choking her. Yet no-one notices because she's a "living ghost" just like Spencer was. I am in so much mental pain right now...
Conclusion? Unbearably boring and ridiculous. The characters were annoying and unlikable and I wanted to murder them all myself. And the entire Crowell thing was totally pointless! I'm not even going to comment on the ending. I just CANNOT.
Next time: "99 Fear Street - The Third Horror" Let's bury this sucker once and for all.