Monday, April 21, 2008

The Dead Lifeguard (Super Chiller)

Book Description:

The lifeguards at North Beach Country Club know they're lucky. While other kids are flipping burgers they're sunning themselves by day and partying by night. So what if some people say the place is cursed, haunted? This is the life! And then, one by one, the lifeguards start to die horrible deaths. Someone -or something- evil is stalking them. They all know how to save other people's lives...but who will save theirs?

The Lifeguards of North Beach Country Club:

Lindsay Beck - Lindsay has short blonde hair, blue eyes, a nose that is too short, and a face that is too round. People always tell her she's cute, though, don't worry! Lindsay is a returning lifeguard, but no-one can find her on the list! And the ID she was sent is two years old! And we'll get back to this later!

Danny - (no last name) Danny is the red-haired head lifeguard who gets a kick out of referring to himself as "the big enchilada" (is he a CRAB enchilada? Or just a regular enchilada?) and "the big cheese". Lame! Danny is generally the most levelheaded member of the group.

Pug - (no last name) Yeah, this guy's nickname is PUG. We never learn what his real name is...and I'm not sure I really wanna know anyway. Pug is described as an "all-American dude. He's got curly blonde hair, dark eyes that crinkle at the sides (he's 17 years old and already has crow's feet?) and a big friendly smile. He looks as if he's never has a serious thought in his life." He's probably never had a thought period. Pug wears a red bandanna everywhere. 'Is he a pirate?' one might ask. Yes. A butt pirate with a beer fetish.

Cassie Harlow - The stereotypical dumb blonde with a hot bod and a voice that's described as "sexy and whispery". Marilyn Monroe wannabe!! Oh, and she's afraid of big scary thunderstorms. Don't worry, baby, Pug-daddy is here...

Arnie Wilts - With a name like that, he's just GOTTA be cool! Not. Arnie is a "little runty guy" who wears a dangly earring and enjoys making truly AWFUL jokes. An example: "Arnie said he liked to swim in lightning storms. He said he got a charge out of it." Horrible! All the other lifeguards are with me. Pug shoves Arnie into garbage cans a few times throughout the book...awesome.

Deirdre Webb - All we get is a detailed description of her hair: short, straight, sleek, shiny, and black. Phew. And she has "amazing pale blue eyes." According to Danny, she's totally hot. Her personality? WHAT personality?

May-Ann Delacroix - She has auburn hair, cold dark eyes (huh?), and is very tall. May-Ann is standoffish and quiet when she isn't waxing psychotic about all the ghosts that supposedly haunt the country club. May-Ann is totally into mice. Seriously. She brought her own mouse, Munchy, with her along with all her mousey figurines and stuffed toys. Uh, no comment.

Spencer Brown - Spence has straight, dark brown hair that he wears in a ponytail. He also sports dark and solemn eyes and a serious face. As exciting as dirty dishwater!

Pete Harris - Not technically a lifeguard, Pete is the "hotshot athletic director" who has tons of energy, a flattop, and is a total showoff. He interviewed all the lifeguards when they applied for the positions...and Pete obviously didn't do a good job of background checks because one of them has a case of mistaken identity and another is a murderer who STOLE someone's identity! Good work, Petey.

"Mouse" - 'Mouse' is the stupid nickname of one of the lifeguards listed above. There are short chapters in the book in which Mouse talks on the telephone to his/her dead friend, Terry. And by "talks on the telephone" I mean that Mouse listens to the dialtone while yapping on incessantly about death and who's going to die next and all these murders are for Terry and blah blah blah. That Mouse was always such a hoot! Mouse's identity is revealed at the end of the book, of course.

My Description:
Can I just begin by saying that I really liked this one, even if the ending WAS incredibly convoluted? Anyway, the first chapter of the book is from Mouse's point of view. The highlights? "What's up Terry? How's it going? I know you can't talk so just listen...Guess what? I passed the test. What test? The blood test. Ha ha! [Not funny! Lose the terrible jokes!] Just a joke, Terry. I passed the lifeguard test." And the rest is basically Mouse saying that he/she is going to kill the lifeguards one by one. A cheery opener!

The next chapter opens with Lindsay arriving at North Beach Country Club. It's pouring rain outside and Lindsay can't find her ID card to get into the gates. She can see the guest house where she'll be staying with the other lifeguards for the next few weeks and she can also see several of the lifeguards through the window. They're just sitting around talking and laughing. She glances over to the nearest pool and starts to scream and totally freak out. A girl's lifeless corpse is floating in the pool. Yeah, I suppose that's reason enough to freak out. Lindsay screams and shakes the gates hoping someone will look outside and see her. And they do just that: Danny and Arnie run outside to see what's up with the Lindsay. She tells them about the girl, but when they look at the pool, there's no corpse to be found. The guys drag Lindsay inside where May-Ann gets her a towel and everybody else grills her about why she was screaming and such. Give the girl some time to calm down, people! Lindsay answers their questions and then to break this serious mood, Pug cracks a shitty joke: "Hey, lifeguards aren't supposed to get wet! It's against union rules or something." Shut up, Pug. Please. We already have to listen to Arnie's crap. We don't need you adding to it! Anyway, Danny checks the list of lifeguards and Lindsay's name isn't there. When Lindsay shows Danny her ID card, he tells her that it's two years old, even though it was just sent to her a few weeks ago. Uh-oh. May-Ann, in an attempt to ease the tension, tells Lindsay to come to her room so she can put on some dry clothes. Lindsay goes with her after asking the crew if any of them were here last year. She gets two responses: "We're all new." and "Arnie is new to the PLANET!" *sigh*

In May-Ann's room, May-Ann feeds Munchy while Lindsay changes into jeans and a sweatshirt. They're pretty close already...I don't think I'd be changing with a stranger in the room. While these two are in this room, the others are laughing their asses off at Pug while he roars like an animal. Then the girls hear Deirdre make some comment about Lindsay, although they can't make out exactly what she said. Lindsay and May-Ann go back out into the common room and everybody shuts up quick. May-Ann uses this moment of silence to tell Lindsay that she knows who Lindsay saw floating in the swimming pool. "You saw one of the dead kids." Is anyone gonna cut Lindsay a break...or maybe cut May-Ann's tongue out of her head so we don't have to listen to this shit anymore? Guess not. A big burst of thunder and lightning break through the silence that followed May-Ann's comment. And then the lights go out. Oooo...spooky! But then they come back on. Darn. May-Ann tells everyone that the club is cursed with bad luck because people die mysterious deaths there every summer. I doubt they're so mysterious...I think that some lifeguards have been getting it on in the guest house rather than watching the hapless swimmers and when the swimmers drown and die, the lifeguards concoct stupid stories about curses and bad luck to cover their asses! No-one buys May-Ann's stories so they all start making stupid jokes ("Didn't know how to swim, only knew how to get a tan!") I hate lifeguards. As they're all laughing like a bunch of hyenas at a bunch of jokes that couldn't possibly be mistaken for funny, the front door opens and in walks...the creature from the dirty swimming pool! I mean, it's just Spencer Brown. Damn, I wish it was a monster because this Spencer is so boring. Lindsay gets excited because she recognizes him from years passed. Spencer just stands there and FINALLY says hey to her. Pete arrives shortly after. Danny gets so excited, he practically humps Pete's leg. Pete asks if everyone has found a roomate and yep, it looks like they have: Spencer with Arnie, Danny with Pug, Cassie with Dierdre, and May-Ann with Lindsay. Pete turns his attention back to Danny and Danny has to run to his room to rub one out QUICK! Just kidding--Danny simply explains that Lindsay wasn't on the list and such. Pete tells Lindsay that she's going to be an alternate in case one of the others falls ill (or dead.) Finally, Pete leaves...and the next chapter is a Mouse chapter. Thank God these are short. In this one, Mouse pretty much says the same as usual: Terry is dead, Mouse is a lifeguard, it's raining and someone has to die. Smiles all around. Anyway!

The next chapter opens with Lonnie the cook serving the lifeguards dinner: fried chicken, lumpy mashed potatoes, and steamed spinach. I'm hungry, but not THAT hungry. Cassie and Dierdre flirt with Pug throughout dinner which ruins everyone else's already waning appetites. May-Ann keeps quiet for a while, but she just can't resist some ghost talk. Well, I guess it's better than listening to Arnie crack those lame-ass jokes of his. Lindsay inadvertently gets the spectral convo rolling by asking Spencer (a veteran lifeguard) if he was on duty when a 14 year old boy drowned a few years back. Is she blaming him? Oh well. Spencer says he wasn't and May-Ann pipes up with "The ghosts are here." Cheer up, chipper monkey! It's not so bad! Everyone starts making fun of May-Ann as usual. She gets pissed, but really, what does she expect?! May-Ann and Arnie start arguing, but Cassie (she's over by the fireplace, stoking the fire. Yeah, a fucking fire in the summertime. Idiot.) screams and says "The ghost! There it is!" Everyone turns and nothing is there of course. Cassie laughs at her pathetic excuse for a joke. I'm surprised an airhead like her could fool anyone, but there ya go. May-Ann goes batshit crazy and screams "We'll see who's laughing at the end of the summer!" before running off to her room. Everyone is a little shocked, but they get over it quick. Pug and Spencer start arm-wrestling and Arnie screeches that he'll take the winner. I'll believe when I (don't) see it. The arm-wrestling gets pretty intense and sweaty and when Pug pushes Spencer's arm onto the table, everyone hears a "sickening crack". But don't worry! That was dumb shit Cassie breaking a piece of kindling! Har har har! NOT. I hate Cassie. Arnie says again that he wants to take the winner and Pug responds by shoving Arnie into the trash can. SCORE! Everyone cheers!

After dinner, Lindsay goes to her room to check on May-Ann, but May-Ann isn't there. Lindsay looks at the dresser and thinks it's crawling with mice, but it's just May-Ann's buttload of mice toys. Sick. And oh look! How appropriate--the next chapter is from Mouse! Lifeguards have feelings, too...Terry can't hear (apparently death does that to you)...Mouse is strong and he/she is going to kill all the lifeguards, he/she just has to decide which one goes first. End.

The next day, it's cloudy, but Lindsay has a sunburn. Ouch. No-one is swimming, but the lifeguards are on duty anyway. Later that night, May-Ann and Lindsay have a good laugh about Lindsay thinking the toys were real mice. Then May-Ann leaves without telling anyone where she's going. Alrighty than. Even later that night, after everyone has gone to bed, May-Ann and Lindsay wake up to a strange noise; it's someone crying for help. May-Ann automatically thinks it's the voice of the dead girl, the one Lindsay saw floating in the pool at the beginning of the book. Dead people DO NOT talk, stupid! May-Ann opens the door and sees Cassie standing there with Pug. I'd take a dead girl over those two any day. Cassie bursts out laughing at her little prank. Such a comedienne! Such a fucking loser! May-Ann once again goes berserk and tells Cassie and Pug that they'll be sorry.

The next morning, it's sunshiney and hotter than hell. The club is crowded and everyone is way too busy to worry about ghosts and mice and Danny's gay tendencies. After some hours, Lindsay's shift is over and she starts walking back to the guest house. She runs into Spencer who tells her that some rich lady tipped him a quarter, telling him to put it in his college fund. Hello cheapskate! Spence tosses the quarter into the trashcan and takes off. He should have used that quarter to buy himself a quarter's worth of personality.

That night, Lindsay has a dream in which she goes outside and finds that dead chick in the pool. Lindsay pulls the girl up and realizes that she is staring at a mirror image of herself. The dead look-alike says "I'm Lindsay" Then real Lindsay wakes up drenched in sweat. She suddenly hears a voice softly calling her name. Here we go... Lindsay follows the sound until she's in the dining room. She glances at the fireplace and sees Cassie's lifeless body. Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, and introducing MOUSE. Cassie is lying face down in the fire. Lindsay pulls her out and is surprised to see that Cassie's face and hair have been burned off. Well, genius, you found with her fucking head pushed into a lit fireplace. Of course her skin and hair are gone!

The next chapter begins with the police sniffing around the place for clues. Officer Malone questions Lindsay. When Lindsay tells the officer that a voice led her to the dining room, it's obvious Malone isn't buying it. Lindsay gets defensive which doesn't help her case any. Malone asks her if she's been drinking and I laugh. But Lindsay is appalled! The police leave, saying they'll return tomorrow. Lindsay glances at May-Ann and sees that she's smiling. May-Ann is looking prrreeetttyy guilty right about now.

And now we bring you more thoughts from Mouse: "I killed one, Terry. It wasn't that hard. She didn't know what hit her. I did it for you, Terry. I remember how the lifeguards laughed at you." Shut up. Stop talking to dead guys and trying to justify the murder!

The next day, Lindsay thinks about the murder and the fact that she hasn't been receiving phone calls from her family. She runs to call them and gets this message: "We're sorry, but the number you have called is no longer in service." She dials a few more times, thinking she had the wrong number, but she gets the same recorded voice. She thinks that maybe the phone lines got messed up from the thunderstorm a few days ago. She calls the operator, operator connects her, and surprise! She gets the same freaking message. She calls long distance information, but there's no listing under "Mr and Mrs. Austin Beck" Lindsay flips out and runs to find Danny to ask if she can drive his little green Corolla to Shadyside (did I mention Lindsay lives on Fear Street?) He agrees and she drives for an hour before arriving. She parks and runs up to the front door of her home. When she opens it, she calls "Mom!" but the woman standing there is not mommy. Lindsay tells the woman her name, but the woman thinks that Lindsay is LOOKING for someone named Lindsay Beck. The woman says "I'm sorry to tell you, but she died." Lindsay doesn't get it so the woman tries again. "The Becks' daughter died. She died two years ago. Such a terrible trgedy. When I bought this house, the Becks were still shattered. They wanted to move away from here as fast as they could. They just went to pieces." Lindsay freaks out, claiming "I'm Lindsay Beck!" and runs back to the car. She drives around aimlessly for hours before finally going back to the club. It's late, but everybody else is still awake, piled in the dining room. Lindsay slips in through a side door so she won't have to talk to them. She goes to Pete's office and finds her file. She's shocked at what she finds: a newspaper clipping that states "A tragic accident at the North Beach Country Club...Lindsay Beck, 15, drowned...her first year as lifeguard..." Lindsay becomes practically catatonic, thinking "I am the dead lifeguard." Heavy shit right there, kids.

Mouse again. Stupid Mouse. Real busy being a lifeguard...wishing Terry wasn't dead (don't we all!), getting a good tan, ready to kill again, gonna kill everyone, dead is as cold as you can get. Yeah.

A few nights later, everyone is at dinner. Just more of the usual: bad jokes and Arnie pretending to be a bad ass. And some new things: Spencer doing impressions of the rich assholes who frequent the club and NO GHOST STORIES! May-Ann attempts to tell a few, but Pug bites her head off: "Just shut up! We're all sick of hearing about your drowned kids and stupid ghosts! We had a real murder here, remember?" Cha-ching! Everything gets a little heated so Arnie asks Lindsay if she wants to get some fresh air. Unfortunately, Lindsay does and Arnie leads her to a secluded area where he presses her against a tree in a sad attempt to kiss her. Spencer intervenes before Arnie can play any tonsil hockey with Lindsay. Arnie runs off into the woods like the wounded animal that he is. Then there's some weird exchange between Spencer and Lindsay in which Lindsay asks Spencer some questions about the time when she was a lifeguard (she can't remember anything) but Spencer refuses to tell her anything.

The next day, Arnie apologizes to Lindsay and she accepts. Some weird chick comes up to Lindsay and says "I remember you. Are you ok?" Lindsay just stares and the woman eventually walks away. Then Lindsay screams "I'm Lindsay Beck!" Ok! Shit, you don't have to tell me twice. Later that evening, Lindsay takes a walk and comes across May-Ann and Pug having a fight. So what else is new? While Lindsay is blatantly spying, Deirdre comes up beside her to join in. They eventually mind their own damn business and walk on. That night, Lindsay can't sleep so she listens to her Walkman (I miss the 90s) and reads a mystery...until she hears that mysterious voice again. And she follows it AGAIN. Idiot much? This time, the voice leads her all the way to the weight room where she finds Pug's corpse. A barbell is lying on his neck. Suffocated by that which he once loved. So tragic. Pete comes in almost immediately after Lindsay. Once again, the police arrive and once again, Lindsay is questioned by Officer Malone. While standing around waiting for everyone else to be questioned, Lindsay sees a spider crawl into Pug's nose and she promptly tosses her cookies. Why is his corpse still lying there anyway? Oh well.

What's that? You wanna hear from Mouse? Well, ok, if you insist. Score two, his name was Pug, it gets Mouse excited, Pug had a real weight problem (give me a fucking break!), Terry would've hated Pug, Mouse has already picked another victim. There. Happy? Ok.

The next evening, Lindsay takes Danny's Corolla for a drive. A few miles down the road, she looks in the rearview mirror and there sits Arnie in the back seat. She freaks out and pulls over. Arnie starts acting all creepy so Lindsay gets out, goes around to Arnie's side, and pulls him out of the car. And leaves him on the side of the road! Lindsay drives back to the club and finds everyone in the pool. She tells everybody about Arnie: "I dropped him off on the highway. He'll probably hitch a ride. He'll be here soon. I hadn't driven that far." I can't help but laugh at how non-chalant everyone is about this. A few minutes later, after getting into the pool, Lindsay starts sobbing. Everyone comes over to see what's up. And she drops the bomb: "I'm not Lindsay! Lindsay is dead! I'm Marissa Dunton and I killed Lindsay two years ago!" Holy shit. Didn't see that one coming! Supposedly her memory came flooding back to her as soon as she got into the pool...ok. Her story is so convoluted: "Lindsay and I were friends. We were roomates in the lifeguard dorm [two summers ago]. She was from Shadyside, too. One afternoon, soon after the club opened, we had a stupid argument. We were standing at the edge of the pool...we started wrestling, playfully as first, but it quickly got more intense. Lindsay was wearing a blue bikini. I shoved her. I didn't mean to hurt her (that's what they all say) or anything. I was so angry, but I never meant to hurt her. She fell. She hit her head on the concrete. Her head-it split open. She sank into the pool. The blue water filled with blood (very descriptive). It was an accident. A horrible accident." Afterward, this Marissa chick has to go to a mental hospital because she assumed Lindsay's identity out of guilt. She completely forgot she was Marissa. But after a few years of therapy, she was back to good. Until, of course, she ran away to North Beach Country Club to once again become Lindsay. She mentions that her parents are probably worried sick about her. I think that's the least of your worries, sweetheart. Spencer speaks up and says "Why did you kill Cassie and Pug?" Marissa's reply? "I don't know." Whoa! But wait, we've still got about 15-20 more pages to go, so no, the murderer isn't Marissa. She quickly says "I didn't kill them! At least, I don't remember." Oh good. That clears things right up.

Danny says he needs to tell Pete about this and races off to do so. Marissa goes to use the phone in Pete's office to call her parents. Spencer follows her inside and asks if she needs him to go with her to the office. Uh no? Marissa goes into the office, but before she can pick up the phone, it rings. Spencer comes in and asks who could be calling after midnight. Who indeed? Marissa picks up (speaker phone is on so Spence can hear) and a woman's voice says "This is Mrs. Brown. I must apologize for not calling sooner. You must be wondering why my son Spencer never showed up for his lifeguard job." HOLY SHIT, BATMAN! The woman explains that Spencer was murdered and she is just now getting over it enough to be able to call the club and explain. The woman breaks down and hangs up. Now who the hell has been pretending to be Mrs. Brown's son? You guessed it, baby--MOUSE! Marissa runs after him and when she finds him in "his" room, he tells her "I had to be a lifeguard for Terry. Spencer had to die so I could be a lifeguard." I didn't know that lifeguard positions were so coveted. Mouse then tells Marissa that he's going to have to kill her because she knows too much. She was next on his list anyway so it all works out! Marissa finally remembers who Mouse is--a guy named Jack Mouser (lame) who worked in the kitchen with the guy named Terry. Apparently, all the lifeguards (including Marissa) made fun of Terry and Jack (I hate calling him Mouse!!) They both wanted to be lifeguards and the REAL lifeguards tricked them both into thinking that they could by doing dives and holding their breath and running around the pool in their flip-flops. Ok, if those two were stupid enough to think that's all you have to do to become a lifeguard, then they deserved to be made fun of. Get this: when Terry realized that it was all a joke, he went home and killed himself. Are you fucking kidding me?! Look, I'm sure being a lifeguard rocks. But I don't think it rocks so hard that a person would KILL themselves over it!

Somehow Marissa and Jack have found their way outside next to the pool because the next second, Jack is trying to drown Marissa. He grabs her and plunges her head into the water, holding her down. She thinks she's going to die and goes limp. Jack lets go and Marissa pops up and pulls him into the water with her. They struggle for a bit until everyone else comes running out of the guest house and helps Marissa out a little. Danny and Pete hold Mouse down and the sirens from the police cars are heard in the distance (someone already called the cops?) Marissa tells May-Ann that she has to go call her parents and tell them that she's ok. The end.

Wow. I honestly didn't see a lot of that coming.

Monday, April 14, 2008

College Weekend

Whew, this is gonna be a long one, kids...

Book Description:

Nothing can ruin Tina Rivers' big weekend at Patterson College with her boyfriend, Josh Martin. She's so excited, she doesn't even mind that her cousin, Holly, will be tagging along.But when Tina and Holly arrive, Josh is gone. His roomate, Christopher Roberts, says Josh is stuck in the mountains, delayed by car trouble. That's weird--Josh never mentioned he was going away.It gets even weirder when Holly suddenly disappears. But Christopher isn't worried--about Holly or Josh. Christopher seems to have the answer to everything. Tina is confused. But one thing is clear--she's about to learn more about love and murder than she ever wanted to know.

Main Characters:

Tina Rivers - That's supposed to be Tina on the cover, but cover Tina looks nothing like book Tina--long blond hair, blue eyes...the typical junk. R.L. Stines has the hots for blondes. Tina's dream is to one day become a famous super model. I don't think her skin is thick enough for the dog-eat-dog world of modeling (Tyra Banks told me so.) In addition to modeling, Tina wants to go to college for...something. We're never told what exactly.

Holly Phillips - Tina's cousin. She's a curly-haired brunette who likes to flirt and par-tay! Can anyone say 'jailbait'? Holly wants to be a theater major when she gets to college because you can't major in the art of the flirt. Holly serves no purpose in this book for me...

Josh Martin - Tina's boyfriend who happens to be majoring in geology at Patterson College. I probably shouldn't even list him as a main character because he never actually shows up at any point in this book. But I will anyway because Tina talks/thinks about him constantly.

Chris Roberts - Josh's roomate and Patterson College's very own...successful photgrapher! Oh, and psychotic nutjob. Chris is tall and has "piercing green eyes and dark hair tied in a short ponytail." Chris is the proud owner of his own studio, a Jeep Cherokee, and an incredibly diseased mind. This kid is going places...if he can keep his murderous urges in check...which he can't.

Carla Ryan - a friend of Chris and Josh. She has "short, dark hair and a round, serious face." Carla is a journalism major who exaggerates and makes a big deal out of everything. Needless to say, not my favorite character.

My Description:

This book begins with Tina and Holly sitting on a train, waiting for it to pull into Patterson Station where Josh is supposed to pick them up. May I ask why these two took a TRAIN? I didn't think anyone living in this decade or the last would ride a train for a trip that would be easier achieved in a car or bus. But whatever! Anyway, when the girls finally arrive at the station, it's dark out and Josh is nowhere to be found. They freak out a little and go searching for him in the ticket area. The place is cruddy, smelly, and deserted. They hear something rustling around and a black cat leaps out of nowhere. Ok? A symbol of ominous things to come? Or just useless information? Tina looks out a window and sees a shadowy figure that she assumes is Josh. Idiot. The girls go outside and the man Tina saw accosts them, saying "I need money. Whatever you got." Tina reaches for her purse when Chris comes to the rescue. The guy runs away and Chris is a hero. Not. Chris tells Tina that Josh went on a camping trip the day before with his friend, Steve, and won't be back until later. Chris also says that Josh called him earlier, saying that he and Steve are having car trouble and asked Chris to pick the girls up. Tina flips out because she wants Josh! Wahhhhhh! Oh well. Holly flirts with Chris, but he ignores her and keeps making eyes at Tina instead. They all get into Chris's jeep. While driving, Chris plays tourguide, pointing out Little Town Playhouse (Holly's loves her some drama), Club Cobalt, and a Mexican restaurant ("Have you ever had a crab enchilada?" Gross.) Chris brings up modeling and tells Tina that his uncle is the world famous photographer, Rob Roberts. AMAZING! Chris says he wants to take some head-shots of Tina sometime for his portfolio. Riiiiight. I think Chris MEANT to say that he'd like to take Tina's head sometime...

They finally arrive at Patterson's campus. Now, I've never lived in a dorm, but I don't think that something like this would be allowed: "The plan is for you to stay here in our dorm," Chris told them. "Josh and I got permission from the RA. We'll sleep at my studio." Girls sleeping in all-boy's dorm? I don't think so!

Holly and Tina are just making themselves comfortable in the room when they hear a knock on the door. Tina opens it and Carla is standing there. She freaks out when she sees Tina: "NO! I don't believe it!" Tina is confused and Carla is all non-chalant, saying "Sorry, I thought you you were someone else, but your hair is much lighter." Ok. Carla invites herself in and she and Tina talk a bit (it cracks me up how often people ignore Holly in this book!) The conversation somehow turns to Chris's dead girlfriend, Judy. Last summer, while sailing with Chris on his boat (he owns a boat?!) Judy "fell" overboard and drowned. Chris arrives a few minutes later, saying he forgot his chemistry notes. He invites Holly and Tina to a party that's happening off-campus a little later. Holly is like HELL YEAH! but Tina is afraid that Josh will show up while she's gone. Tina finally agrees, though. Chris asks Carla (took him long enough) and she also says yes. Holly changes into a pair of ripped jeans and a tight red sweater while Tina tries to pick something out. She goes to hang up some things in Josh's closet and spots Josh's hiking boots still in his closet. "If he's on a hike looking for rocks, she wondered, why did he leave them behind?" Because they're old and ugly and he wanted to wear his new Nikes, that's why! Or something.

Tina writes Josh a quick note just in case he comes back soon (I wish someone would tell her that he isn't coming, now or ever.) Holly, Tina, Carla, and Chris pile into the good old Jeep. Tina sits up front with Chris and asks about Josh's boots. Chris tells her that he got new ones that are "really cool with double padded ankle supports and soft leather." Chris used to work at Pay-Less. Anyway, Chris puts on Tina's favorite CD by her favorite band, Spoiled Rotten. That band name kinda sucks. They arrive at the party and Carla immediately starts flirting (that guy Steve, the one that's gone with Josh? Yeah, that's Carla's boyfriend...) and Holly giggles a lot. "This just what Holly loves, Tina thought. A party and guys to flirt with." Shallow with slutty tendencies, Holly is every college guy's wet dream. Carla drags Holly off to talk to some theater majors and Tina is left alone with Chris. She can't enjoy anything because she isn't with Josh. Shut up, Tina. Chris offers to get Tina drink (perhaps spiked with roofies?) and she accepts. They make awkward conversation about Mexican food (remember those crab enchiladas?) and Chris's awe-inspiring ability to eat 12 + jalepenos at one time ("My head nearly exploded!") And then they slow dance. Aw. Chris tells Tina that her hair smells good and she snuggles up to his muscle-y chest. Afterwards, they go outside and start kissing (Josh who?) until Carla interrupts. Tina is all embarrassed and such, but Carla doesn't think anything of it because it's college and people do that shit all the time! They all decide that it's time to go and set off to find Holly.

They don't see her anywhere...then Tina hears a girl scream and thinks that sounds like Holly. She runs out front and sees a curly-haired girl being hauled away on a motorcycle. THE HORROR! She turns back to tell Chris about it when she spots one of Holly's earrings lying on the ground. She freaks out and tells Carla and Chris that they HAVE to find Holly. Why? You don't even like her that much, Tina. You only brought her along because your parents made you. One would think that you'd be all too happy to pawn her off on some thugs riding Harley' least for a while. Carla tells Tina to chill out, that Holly is with a girl named Alyssa Pryor: "Yeah, she said she knew Alyssa from home. And Alyssa is in the drama department, so she took Holly to the drama department." After midnight? I doubt it. And Tina does, too (WOW!) but Carla just says "The drama kids at this school are so weird. Sometimes they hang out at the stage all night." Still doubt it!

They finally leave. Tina gets back to the dorm and worries more about JOSH! Let's just forget the fact that your cousin is also missing (no matter what Carla said). Chris calls and tells her that Josh left a message saying the car was still screwed up so he and Steve are gonna stay in a motel. Of course Tina practically shits her pants because this isn't how she imagine her college weekend! WAHHHHH! Dear God, Tina, shut the hell up already! Tina goes to bed and wakes up after a few minutes...she hears noises. Someone is in the room with her! Holly? No, that would be too logical. Josh? I think you know the answer to that one. She turns on the light and doesn't see anyone, but she DOES see the door hanging open. She locks it and figures since she's already awake, may as well snoop through Josh's things! Tina may miss Josh, but I'm betting the feeling wasn't mutual, even when the poor bastard was alive. While snooping, she finds Josh's keys. But instead of focusing on this, she goes back to bed. Yeah.

When she wakes up the next day, Tina realizes that Holly never came back to the dorm. And 2 seconds later, she starts thinking about Josh again. Must be one helluva guy, kids! She calls Chris and asks if Josh called (wouldn't he have called the dorm? He knows she's there!) She mentions that Holly never returned and Chris says she "probably crashed with that girl she knows." Tina mentions that she found Josh's keys the night before. Chris signs off quick after hearing that. Hmm...wonder why. Chris shows up a few minutes later (is his studio THAT close by?) with chocolate doughnuts. A psycho after my own heart. Tina mentions the keys AGAIN. Chris says Josh probably has a spare set. Tina doesn't seem to notice how weird Chris is acting, how he has an excuse for everything.

They take a walk across campus to search for Holly. Chris says "Sometimes the drama majors sleep in the dressing rooms." Why? Would the school even allow that? Anyway, they check inside the auditorium, etc. No Holly...or any other drama majors for that matter. See?! All they find is a disgruntled janitor pushing a broom...or is it a drama major ACTING like a janitor? *sigh* Moving on. They also check in the cafeteria but find nothing. Chris suggests calling Alyssa Pryor. Why didn't you mention that back at the dorm, genius? Chris gets the number, Tina dials on a pay phone and gets an answering machine. But oh no! The voice on the machine says her name is Alyssa Pryor, but that isn't Alyssa's voice! Ok. At this point I really don't care. I'm more concerned about the fact that there are still over 100 pages left. Tina hangs up and explains to Chris. His lame-ass reply? "You know actresses. Always goofing around with fake voices and accents. Maybe she's rehearsing for a part." Rehearsals are for the stage, not the answering machine. Can we stop talking about the drama people now? Seriously. Tina partially buys this, but she can't help worrying about Holly...or rather the fact that Holly's parents (and her own) will tear her a new one if she loses Holly forever. She acts like Holly is five years old or mentally retarded or something.

They head back to the dorm and Carla comes over to tell them that Josh and Steve are still stuck so she's going to drive over and pick them up. Finally. Tina doesn't seem to grasp how weird it is that Josh conveniently "calls" when she isn't around and also that he still hasn't called HER. She wants to go with Carla, but Carla disses that idea, saying "There's no room. I only have a two-seater." Yet you're picking up 2 guys meaning there will be 3 people in your "two-seater". How will you all fit? Oh well! Carla leaves before Tina can freak out any further. Chris wants to take some outdoor shots of Tina so he rents a frigging motorscooter to drive around town to different locations. Why? He has a Jeep! Why waste money on renting a scooter of all things? Why am I still asking questions and searching for logic? Anyway, after he takes pics of Tina here and there, they go to the carnival. Yes, the carnival. Chris offers to win Tina a big, purple Barney because, in the excitement, he forgot that she is 17 years old. Tina sees a guy named Jack that she knows from school (he graduated a year before Josh) And get this: when Tina mentions Alyssa Pryor, Jack tells her that Alyssa transferred to a school in Seattle. Dun dun dun! Your lies have come back to bite you in the ass, Chris! Oh wait. Tina doesn't even suspect CHRIS! She automatically thinks 'Carla'! Come on, Tina! The liar is right in front of you! It's that scooter-riding, Barney-loving freak Chris! Do I seem frustrated? Well, that's because I'm a little frustrated. She tells Chris that they have to call the police because Holly is missing FOR REAL. Chris just says that a person has to be missing for 24 hours before a missing persons report can be filed and offers to buy Tina a frozen banana. Yes, I'm ripping my hair out. And since when are frozen bananas carnival fare? That's a new one to me. Tina is a sucker for a frozen banana! So Chris skips off to buy a few.

After eating, they go on the Ferris wheel. When they get stuck at the top, Chris tries to kiss Tina, but she refuses. He goes ballistic and asks her why she's playing games. No he starts swinging the car. Psycho! Tina freaks cause she thinks she's going to fall to her death. The wheel begins to move again and Chris, acting as if didn't just try to "kill" Tina, asks if he can take more photos. Yeah, that's right. Play it cool, slick. Tina runs away when the ride ends and Chris apologizes. They jump on the scooter and head for home...until Chris turns in another direction, announcing MORE PHOTOS. Tina sees some chick that looks exactly like Carla standing on the sidewalk. She flips out and Chris stops, but it isn't Carla so he fires the scooter back up and drives them to his studio.

Well, my friends, it took 93 pages of nothingness, but we've finally arrived! The freaky shit starts now! Tina is admiring all of Chris's expensive photography equipment. He tells her that there's make-up in the bathroom and she should put on lots of eyeshadow and lipstick for her photo shoot. When she gets inside the bathroom, she mistakes a mannequin for a human being. Why is there a freaking mannequin in the bathroom? Anyway, Tina proceeds to pile on a hideous combo of charcoal grey eyeliner, taupe shadow, mascara, coral blush, and bright red lipstick. Ouch. Chris chooses her outfit from a rack of clothes: red miniskirt, white crop top, and red heels. All the clothes are size 6, Tina's size...odd, but of course Tina doesn't notice. Chris starts taking photos and shouting demands: "Dreamy. Cross your legs. Look pouty. Give me an angry expression. Now show me you're in love. Did you hear me? More feeling. MORE!" Jesus Christ.

He finally takes a break and Tina tells him she'd like to buy the outfit she's wearing from him. He tells her they were Judy's clothes (the deceased girlfriend) She shuts up. Chris puts a wig on her and starts calling her Judy. "How about a kiss, Judy? It's so nice to have you back." I liked the Barney Chris better! Tina manages to convince Chris that she isn't Judy and Chris responds like he always does, pretending that nothing off-the-wall just happened. He tells Tina that he has something he wants her to wear: a dress from the 1890s that his great-grandmother wore. Dead granny's clothes instead of dead girlfriend's clothes...better, I guess? Tina loves it even though it turns out to be way too tight. While she's in the bathroom searching for a tube of lipstick (more?!) she opens a drawer and finds a photo. A photo of herself sleeping in the dorm...remember when she woke up because she heard noises and thought someone was in the room with her? Well, now we know who and why! She feels creeped out and decides it's time to haul ass NOW.

She comes out of the bathroom and asks Chris for a soda. He goes to get it and Tina runs to the door which is locked. She unlocks all the bolts and such and runs into a hallway where she cuts her foot on a giant shard of glass. She finds the outer door locked, too, and she needs a key. She goes back for it and Chris catches her, saying "Come back, Judy. I don't want to have to kill you again!" Or so he says. They wrestle a little (hot!) and Chris ends up shoving her into the darkroom and locking the door. She turns on the light and finds hundreds of pictures of herself. She opens a closet door...and Josh's stiff corpse falls out. "The skin had been eaten away, exposing his nose and cheekbones. The skin on his forehead flapped loose. Tina saw tiny red lines along his hairline. Most of his hair had been burned away. Had Chris used chemicals to kill Josh?" No, as it turns out Chris surprised Josh by throwing the chemicals in his face and then smashing him over the head--Tina figures this out just by looking at the deep gash on Josh's head.

Chris bursts in and Tina tells him he won't get away with any of this because people will eventually search for she and Josh. Chris politely replies "No-one will try to find you, Judy. They don't send out a search party for someone who is already dead." Makes sense...but what about JOSH? Tina ends up smashing Chris in the face with a tripod, breaking his nose. But that isn't enough so she bashes him in the back of the head, too, for good measure. She walks out of the room and hears a noise coming from a nearby closet. She opens the door and finds Holly tied up inside. She unties her and they start to leave, but Chris comes staggering out of the darkroom. He isn't going down THAT easily, Judy! He picks up a pair of scissors and prepares to stab Tina, but Carla and Steve (where the hell was HE?) burst in (I thought the door was locked?) Steve tackles Chris to the floor and someone calls the cops. The last line of the book? "Tina knew that no matter how hard she wished, she would never be able to erase this weekend from her memory." And why would she want to? Didn't the frozen bananas make everything worth it?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Final Grade

Sorry for the incredibly blurry photo. But it's just Lily and what I assume is Mr. Reiner. This scene doesn't actually happen in the's all a dream. Unfortunately!

Book Description:

Everyone thinks she killed her teacher. Intense, competitive, Lily Bancroft had good reasons to hate him. She lives to win, and he was about to destroy her dreams. But murder? That was going too far, even for someone as driven as Lily. She's innocent. But that hasn't stopped the whispers behind her back. Or the weird phone calls late at night. Then someone else is brutally murdered and suddenly Lily is drawn into a nightmare she can't begin to control. Will her final grade be her last?

Main Characters:

Lily Bancroft - ANOTHER Bancroft! Lily has thick black hair, just like another Lily I know...

...and blue eyes and that's all we get as far as physical description goes. She is obsessed with being class valedictorian because her two sisters, Becky and Melinda, were the valedictorians of their respective graduating classes. She wants her mother and father to be as proud of her as they were of her sisters. In addition to studying like a mad-woman, Lily works at her uncle Bob's drugstore. Lily is the lead character in this book, but she is SO two-dimensional. We learn more about some of the secondary characters than we do about her.

Alex Crofts - Lily's boyfriend. Alex has dark, curly hair and blue eyes...which sounds a LOT like Lily. Perhaps these two were seperated at birth or something? This book would have been much more interesting if that had happened! Alex has a passive-aggressive personality and whines like a baby at times. Lily is so desperate to hang on to him and I really don't see why. Other than the fact that he makes her laugh occasionally, he has no merits.

Scott Morris - Is this our psycho? Why, yes, it is! And a fine looking psycho he is, according to Lily. Scott is the editor of The Forum, the school literary magazine and takes his job very seriously, meaning he's a bit of an ass sometimes. But I suppose trying to balance homicide and editing and school would make anyone into an ass.

Julie Prince - Lily's best friend. Julie is a brunette (have you noticed that there are NO blondes in this book?) with big brown eyes. Her brother was killed during a robbery a few years back and it's a very touchy subject for Julie (as it would be for anyone, I imagine). Julie's hobbies include reading mysteries which she apparently devours like they're "bags of popcorn." and playing detective. I like Julie a lot better than Lily...

My Description:

This book begins with Lily talking to her social sciences teacher, Mr. Reiner, over the B she got on a test in his class. She's seriously upset over this B because social sciences is an honors class. Plus, she has to make perfect grades in order to become valedictorian. Personally, I'd be pretty damn happy with a B in ANY class, but I'm not quite as neurotic as Lily. Anyway, Mr. Reiner is a young, arrogant teacher who refuses to allow Lily to retake the test. He basically just sits and smirks at her as she says "Please, Mr. Reiner. Can't you give me an A-? That would raise my average enough to get an A in the course." His reply? "I do not give grades. I award them--if they are earned." Ass. Lily asks him if that's his final answer and he grins at her and says "Sounds like it to me." Lily is furious because this guy obviously doesn't give two shits about her grade. I don't like Reiner any more than you do, Lily, but your grade actually isn't his responsibility. Anyway, Lily envisions herself lunging over the desk at him and choking him to death. Since this is Shadyside, the solution to ALL problems is murder, of course. She snaps back to reality as Reiner asks her if she needs anything else (like he cares). She shakes her head and runs out of the classroom. In the hall, she runs into Julie. Lil tells Julie that she'd like to murder Mr. Reiner for giving her a B. You're willing to take a human life over a stinking B? I could MAYBE understand if it were a D or an F...wait. What the hell am I saying? The insanity is starting to take over my mind!

Lily hangs around outside the school library waiting for Julie to return some books. While she's waiting, Alex comes up behind her and grabs the back of her neck because ending violence against women isn't a priority of his. Alex laughs, but shuts up quick when he realizes how sad and pathetic Lily looks. She tells him about Reiner and Alex pisses her off by saying that Reiner really isn't that bad. Julie comes out of the library holding a stack of books, disrupting the tension. Julie gives Alex a look, the kind of look you give a piece of dog shit stuck to the bottom of your shoe. Apparently, Julie and Alex "briefly dated last year" and things between them are kind of weird. If my best friend was dating my leftovers, I'd feel weird, too. Scott comes running up to them and asks them why they aren't in the office (they're all on the staff of The Forum. Actually, I think these 4 actually make up the entire staff. Which is kind of pathetic.) Lily tells him that she has to work. She runs outside and tries to catch the bus, but it pulls away without her. Tough. Julie's cousin, Graham, pulls up in his Porsche (I hate when high school kids have such fancy cars!) and asks her if she needs a ride. Lily hates Graham because he's her number one contender in the battle for valedictorian. She accepts the ride anyway. The entire ride consists of Graham bragging about having straight-A's. Blah. Shut up, Graham. Lily tries to ignore him, but her ears perk up when he mentions the upcoming Trivia Contest--whoever wins gets $500. Graham says he knows he'll win and Lily just rolls her eyes and thinks "What a jerk" instead of smashing his nuts with one of those heavy textbooks she's holding.

The next chapter begins with Lily working the cash register. A man "wearing a tattered denim jacket and a menacing expression" enters the store. He pulls a pistol out of his pocket and points it at Lily. He tells her to empty the cash register. She starts to, but her Uncle Bob intervenes. He pulls his own pistol out of a drawer behind the counter. Show down! Well, kind of. The would-be robber drops his gun and runs out of the store. Uncle Bob's delivery boy, Rick Campbell, chases the "robber" down the street, but loses him. Rick comes back to the store and acts all macho because he chased an unarmed guy down the street. Lily had called the police while Uncle Bob was holding up the robber. They arrive (how close were they?) and do nothing. They tell Uncle Bob that this is the third attempted robbery this week and then they leave. 'Shadyside's finest' ass! Uncle Bob goes in the back room to fill prescriptions and Rick starts chatting up Lily. Are none of them shaken by the fact that they were almost robbed at gunpoint? Guess not. Rick asks Lily where she goes to school and tells her that he dropped out of high school. He asks her out, but she declines because she already has one douchebag in her life (Alex) and doesn't really need another one. She starts looking over her calculus textbook and Rick asks her if she actually LIKES studying. She tells him that she doesn't mind it and then complains about Mr. Reiner a little more. Get over it, Lily, please. Rick has to leave to make a delivery and Lily's uncle tells her she can go on home. She catches a bus and uses the ride home to study even MORE. Meanwhile, I was busy trying to keep my eyelids open...

Lily gets off at her stop and starts the short walk home. She hears rustling in the bushes and jumps to the conclusion that someone must be following her. The robber? No, it's just Alex stalking his lady. He tells her that he didn't mean to scare her. Why the hell were you hiding in the bushes in the middle of the night then, Alex? Lily tells him about the robbery and starts crying. Alex comforts her a little, but it's obvious he only wants to talk about the fact that she made him wait for her--he wanted to study, dammit! He walks her home and tells her he wants to talk for a while, but she can't because...well, you know. He tells her he wishes she had more time for him...she says she's sorry...blah blah blah I don't care and you probably don't either. Alex finally takes a hike and Lily goes inside. Her dad comes into the living room and we're given a short description-thick salt-and-pepper hair, sparkling blue eyes, and a high forehead. Ok. Oh, and Lily thinks he's handsome. He asks her how she is; Uncle Bob called him and told him about the robber man. She's fine, everything is all good. She goes into the kitchen for a snack--a meatloaf sandwich and a glass of milk. Just reading that makes me feel sick. After she's done, she goes to her room to do her homework (calculus and Spanish). She's almost finished when the phone rings. She picks up and it's some weirdo who says "Lily, it's me. Someone who knows you, Lily. Someone who knows everything about you. Someone who watches you all the time." What happened to the old fashioned heavy breathers? Lily freaks out and asks who it is. They, of course, simply hang up.

The next morning, Lily is exhausted because she stayed up so late the night before doing homework and thinking about that freakshow who called her. On the bus ride to school, Alex asks Lily what her problem is. She tells him she couldn't sleep last night because she couldn't stop thinking about Mr. Reiner. Ooo la la. Alex tells her to forget about it because Reiner won't change her grade. She tells him that she'll ask Reiner about extra credit or something--if she doesn't get the grade, she won't be valedictorian and then she'll be doomed! Seriously. She actually says she'll be doomed. This girl needs to lighten the hell up. It isn't the end of the world! She should feel lucky that her grades are as good as they are. Anyway, as soon as she arrives at school, Lily takes off to Mr Reiner's room to have a little chat. She goes inside the room and finds it empty...or she thinks. She peeks over the side of the teacher's desk and GASP! Mr. Reiner is dead, lying in (what else?) a puddle of blood. Apparently, he was pushed off of the ladder he was using to change a lightbulb in the classroom (isn't that the janitor's job?). Since Lily so conveniently found his body, everyone grows suspicious of her. Shadyside paranoia at it's best. At school a few days after Mr. Reiner's funeral, Lily is all cheery and such because she thinks she has a better chance at valedictorian. *sigh* Oh Lily.
One evening, after copious amounts of homework, Lily receives another weird phone call. This time, the nut simply says "I know all about you, Lily [yeah, you pretty much said the same thing last need to repeat yourself] And I know you got what you wanted. Didn't you?" Lily asks who it is AGAIN and the caller hangs up. Does she really think this bastard is going to tell her who he is? Creepy telephone stalker types do not give away their identity that easily.
The next day, Lily has a meeting of The Forum. Scott compliments Lily on a bitchin' essay she wrote. Then they go over some photos that they're considering for the cover and Scott tells her that she should come down to the printing press later that night (his father owns the whole thing) when they print the issue...he tells her it's pretty awesome, but I somehow doubt that. Alex comes in and gets pissed off because they're so cozy. Alex is the whiniest little biotch I've come across in a long time. Scott totally ignores Alex (as he damn well should) and walks out of the room. Lily asks Alex what his problem is. And Alex tells her "I know [Scott] has the hots for you!" and then he mocks Scott. Lily soothes the curly headed beast with a kiss and suddenly everything is cool. WTF? Like two seconds ago they were both fairly pissed off and now...nothing? Yeah, they smile at each other and start looking at the cover photos. Whatever. Anyway, the "staff" (I have positively confirmed that the entire staff consists of Scott, Lily, Alex, and Julie. Once again, SAD.) meeting doesn't end until 6:30 that evening. Afterwards, Lily runs off to her Uncle's drugstore to shove in some work before the 5 billion hours of studying she'll be doing later at home. Lily does homework between customers (does she ever relax?!) and Rick comes over and interrupts her by asking what she's studying (Spanish). Rick tells her he read about her teacher (he calls him Mr. Meiner) in the newspaper and then ruins any chance he may have had of getting into Lily's pants--"So what did you do, Lily? Give the guy a little push for extra credit?" Lily freaks out and basically tells him to get the hell away from her. Unfortunately, hints are lost on Rick and he replies with "Hey, whoa. Don't get all sweaty [WTF?] I didn't mean anything." Lily ONCE AGAIN tells him to leave her alone. And ONCE AGAIN Rick doesn't listen--"You stuck up or something? I only want to get to know you better." He has quite the way with the ladies, that Rick.
Lily leaves work at 9 PM and goes straight to the printing plant. She goes inside and the place appears to be deserted. As she's standing there, waiting for someone, this tower of huge paper rolls starts to fall and she thinks she's going to be crushed to death. She dives out of the way just in time (darn), only getting clipped in the leg by one roll. A "bearded, middle-aged man" that Lily has never seen before comes out of nowhere and asks her is she is all right. And the Scooby gang immediately follows. Scott tells Lily that the beard-o is Mr. Jacobson, the night foreman. That doesn't seem right to me, but I know nothing about paper plants so I'll just shut up. Everyone makes a big fuss about Lily almost dying. The last couple of sentences on the page kind of crack me up. Scott says "Come on, guys. Let's go to Pete's Pizza. I'm starving." [What about printing? Oh, never mind that--Scott says the printing press is stuck. Oookkk.] And Lily is thinking about her homework...but THEN she thinks Hey, I was nearly killed tonight! "Good idea! Let's go get some pizza!" Wow.
She gets home at 11 PM and receives ANOTHER phone call. "I want what you want. And I'm going to help you, if you'll let me. Please, Lily, let me help."Lily doesn't bother asking who it is this time because really, what did that achieve the last time she asked? She just slams the phone down and goes to bed. What, no studying?
The next day is the "big" Trivia Contest. It comes down to Lily and Graham (like we didn't see that coming). The last questions are about Shadyside history (oddly enough, no mention of murder. Someone is in denial.) Lily gets extremely nervous and screws up which results in Graham winning the contest. He gloats and smirks as is his way and tells Lily "Better luck next time." Lily is pissed and storms off. As she's walking home, Rick appears out of nowhere and after a little mindless chit-chat ("I like working for your uncle. I don't make a lot of money, but your uncle Bob treats me real well." Is he Uncle Bob's mistress in addition to making deliveries?) Lily asks Rick if he's the one who has been calling her. He says yes. AHHH! Oh wait. Rick HAS called a few times, but he never said anything. He just sat there and was too chickenshit to say anything. I don't get that. He isn't afraid to talk to her in person, but he has a problem with the phone? Lily doesn't believe him and runs off toward her house. Is this book over yet?
The next night, Lily heads to the printing plant in the hopes of seeing the magazine get printed. She finds a note taped to the entrance that says "Be back at 9:30, M. Jacobson" I don't know what night foreman does at a paper plant, but I don't think leaving the place unattended is part of the duties. And he left the freaking door unlocked. This alone should tell Lily that Mr. Jacobson DID NOT WRITE THE NOTE, but she goes in anyway. And ohmyshit she sees a lamp lit in the corner and thinks that maybe she could get some homework done. WHATEVER! Lily suddenly hears the printing press come to life. She steps closer to it, hoping to see the magazine being printed (HOW? There's no-one there but you, genius!) and instead gets splattered with blood. She looks up and screams--Graham's lifeless body is crammed inside the press. Lily, being the idiot she is, tries to pulls his body out. She hears his bones crunching and such and finally she has him free. She looks at his corpse lying on the floor, blood seeping out everywhere, and she passes out. When she wakes up, she finds Alex holding onto her shoulders, Julie sobbing beside her dead cousin, and Scott running to call the police.
At Graham's funeral, Lily has a vision of his corpse rising out of the casket and telling everyone in the room that Lily killed him. I'm not even going to comment on that. She believes that Julie is giving her evil looks and that everyone in the room believes she killed him. Paranoid much? She runs home and when inside her bedroom, she discovers Graham's horn-rimmed glasses lying on her bed. Scott enters the room and this book has just taken a turn for the crazier. Scott tells her that HE put Graham's glasses on her bed. HE killed Graham. He claims that he did it for Lily. He killed Graham AND Mr. Reiner and it was allllll for Lily. Scott confesses that he loves Lily and wants her to love him back. When guys murder people in the name of love for me, I usually just give them a pat on the back and send them on their way. But Lily just tells Scott that she's thirsty and would he like to join her for a Coke downstairs? While he's getting ice or something, Lily goes in the next room and tries to dial 9-1-1, but Scott catches her and brings her back into the kitchen so he can keep an eye on her. He tells her that if she tells anyone about what he did, he'll just deny it and turn the tables on her. After all, she's the one who has a motive (I really don't think VALEDICTORIAN AT ALL COSTS! is a good motive for murder).
The next day, The Forum staff meets and Scott suggests dedicating the next issue to Graham. Lily thinks he's SICK and bails. She does that a lot. Julie catches up to her outside and apologizes for not being such a good friend lately. She also says she doesn't think Graham's death was an accident and she's going to get to the bottom of it. Julie is one of those people who thinks that she can solve murders and shit just because she reads a lot of mysteries. Leave the sleuthing to the professionals, sweetheart.
Scott calls that night and tells Lily that he wants her to end things with Alex. 6 months down the drain?!?! Oh NO! Scott tells her he'll tell everyone that she killed those guys unless she goes out with him. What choice does she have?
They go out Saturday night and Lily insists that they travel a few towns over to see the new Winona Ryder movie (this was 1995...which movie is he referring to?) Scott agrees and after the movie he tells Lily that she looks like Winona Ryder and really likes that in a woman. Or something. They eat at a shitty restaurant called Burger Buddy where Lily runs into Rick. Scott puts his arm around Lily and tells Rick that he's her boyfriend. Lily is pissed, but she goes along with it. Rick is freaked out by Scott's aggressiveness and leaves. Soon after, the happy couple also leaves. Scott tells Lily that someday they'll be married with children. Lily is like hell to the no! He takes her home and tries to kiss her, but she freaks out and runs inside.
At the next meeting of The Forum, Scott announces to Alex that he and Lily went on a date Saturday night. This whole thing makes me cringe because I can just imagine how totally awkward it would be. Alex gets incredibly pissed and walks out of the office. Lily tries to explain, but he isn't having it. Burn.
The next day, while Lily is working, Julie calls to tell Lily that she has found a clue in the Graham "investigation"--a message on the answering machine at the printing press for Graham! Why would Graham be receiving message at the plant? That makes so little sense that it almost makes sense. Scott comes into the store just as Lily is hanging up the phone. He has a yellow rose for her and he gets pissed when she tells him she doesn't want it. You claim to know everything about her, Scott, but you didn't know she likes red roses, not yellow! Lily asks him if he left a message for Graham and he says he did, but it doesn't matter end of conversation. Lily lets it slip that Julie told her about the message and Scott reacts by saying that he will now have to kill Julie. Good Lord.
Scott forces Lily to leave with him to go to the printing plant after forcing her to call Julie and tell her that she wants to meet her there so they can listen to the message together. Scott grabs Uncle Bob's pistol before they go, just in case Lily gets any funny ideas. When they arrive, Scott tells Lily that he's going to make Julie's death look like an accident. That's his specialty, after all. Julie comes inside and says Lily's name. Lily screams for her to run!!! But Julie is a little slow on the uptake and she just stands there.
Best line of the book--"You're not exactly Nancy Drew, are you?" That's Scott talking down to Julie. I'm glad someone called her out!
Anyway, Scott and Julie wrestle a little (hawt) and Scott ends up shooting Julie. Lily starts to cry and tries to get the gun from Scott so she can kill HIM. He grabs her and hugs her, saying it'll all be ok. Lily happens to glance over Scott's shoulder...and sees Julie standing up and walking slowly towards them. ZOMBIE! Julie picks up a metal bar that's lying on top of the printing press and smashes Scott in the head with it. He crumples to the floor and Lily runs over to Julie, asking how is she still alive? Turns out the gun was actually a starter pistol. Ok? The girls call the police and their parents. Scott sits up, makes a gurgling noise, and falls back to the floor dead. And Julie and Lily don't do anything but look at him like he's roadkill or something. I realize he's insane and he tried to kill one of you...but he's a human being, too! The cops and medics arrive and take Scott away.
The book ends with Julie telling Lily that there are more important things than being valedictorian to which Lily replies "No way! We've still got four more weeks of school left. I'm going to finish first, Julie. I know I am." Are you serious, Lily? The murders, the stalkings, the harrassment! And you STILL didn't learn your lesson? I hate you.
Conclusion? This book sucked. I never wanna see it again. Now, about next time...would you rather have The Boy Next Door, College Weekend, or Trapped?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Stepsister (A.K.A. I Love Stephen King!)

Let's just hate on this cover for a moment, shall we?

Jessie is that freaky blonde chick wearing a PLAID POWER SUIT. Is that the ensemble of choice for murdering psychos? And Emily's outfit isn't much better--tight spandex with a really short shirt. Hideous? Indeed. On with it!

Book Description:

Emily wants to like her new stepsister. But Jessie doesn't make it easy for her. As soon as Jessie moves in, she takes over Emily's room, starts wearing Emily's clothes, makes secret late-night calls on Emily's phone--and that's just the beginning! Before long, Emily is living in total fear of her stepsister. Emily tries complaining to her parents. But Jessie is such a good liar, no-one will believe Emily. Emily's terror mounts when she picks up Jessie's diary and learns a horrifying secret from Jessie's past. Did Jessie really murder someone? Does she plan to murder again? Emily knows she must find out the rest of her stepsister's dark secret. Her own life depends on it!

Main Characters:

Emily Casey - our very insecure lead character. She's a brunette who compares her hair to shredded wheat and constantly rants about how "fat" she is. Her sister, Nancy, doesn't help matters when she tells Em that she's big boned. Good going, Nancy. That's sure to boost her self-esteem. NOT!

Nancy Casey - Emily's aforementioned sister. Nancy is, of course, perrrrrfect. Her copper colored hair is always perfectly in place (and NEVER resembles shredded wheat. Go figure.) and she's petite like her mom. To be honest, Nancy is a bit of a bitch.

Rich Wallner - the Casey sisters' new stepbrother. Rich is 13 years old with zits on his chin and big feet that are usually clad in white sneakers that make him resemble "a cartoon rabbit!" (Seriously, that's the comparison given.) *sigh* Puberty is such a bitch. He's quiet and likes to read Stephen King (sounds a lot like me right there...) Speaking of Stephen King, he is mentioned like 465758 times in this book.

Jessie Wallner - ah yes, our resident psycho. There's one in every house in Shadyside! Jessie has light blue eyes, long blond hair, and a perfect figure (kind of reminds me of Dawn from The Babysitter's Club). Emily thinks Jess reminds her of "old paintings of angels she had seen in a museum." and Jessie's voice apparently fits this image perfectly. Uh, ok?

Hugh Wallner - Jessie and Rich's dad. Hugh is the manager at a furniture factory and is described as "tall, muscular, and balding with a fringe of dark hair around his head. To Emily, he always seemed disgruntled, unhappy about something, about to get indigestion." About to get indigestion? Way to sell him, Stine. Hugh is a complete jerkoff when it comes to his children, especially Rich. He constantly berates the kid for liking to read and being so quiet (GO TO HELL, HUGH!)

Mama Casey - Emily and Nancy's mother. We never learn her name or anything else about her really other than the fact that she is a complete doormat and allows Hugh to walk all over her. She spends most of the book fretting and wringing her hands.

My Description:

Nancy and Emily's widowed mother (their father died when they were children) has recently gotten hitched to that douchebag, Hugh. The book begins with Hugh arriving home after picking up his kids from the airport. Jessie and Rich are now going to be living with Hugh, his wife, Emily, and Nancy. Apparently their deadbeat mother doesn't want them anymore or something. Hugh begins making fun of Rich right away, commenting that Rich reads too much (fuck off, Hugh!) Berating his son has made Hugh hungry and he and his wifey go off to the kitchen to make sandwiches while Nancy shows Rich to his room and Emily shows Jessie to her's. Jessie and Emily are going to be sharing a room. Upon entering the room, Jessie says "Kind of small." Then she asks Emily "How long have you lived in this dump?" Emily is too shocked to say anything. THEN Jessie proceeds to make offhand comments about Em's mom ("Is your mom always cheerful and enthusiastic like that?" She rolled her eyes. "I mean, wow.") and Nancy ("I never liked red hair.") Seriously, Jessie, shut the hell up already! "There isn't much closet space in here. Where am I supposed to put my stuff?" Close your mouth or so help me, I will cut you. "I'm sorry. Please forget everything I've said up here. I'm just so nervous." Emily is a lot more forgiving than I would be, assuring Jessie that she's nervous, too. Jessie tells Em that as soon as her (Jessie) mom found out her dad was remarrying, she and Rich were shoved off on daddy as quickly as possible. "It's not too cool to find out your own mother doesn't want you around." HAHAHA! You suck, Jessie! I feel sorry for Rich, though...his mother is a bitch, his sister is a bitch, and his father is a bitch. Rich definitely got the shitty deal.

Anyway, Emily's dog, Tiger, chooses this moment to run into the room and jump on Jessie. She freaks out and shoved the poor dog to the floor, saying he'll mess up her sweater. Doubt it. And soon after this, Jessie "accidentally" rips the head off Emily's treasured teddy bear, the one she's had since she was a baby. What the hell? This girl is certifiable. She complains about everything, hurts the dog, and dismembers teddy bears. Emily is shocked as Jessie lets out a "high pitched giggle." Nancy enters the room a few minutes later, tells Em that the head can be sewed back on, and rags on Stephen King (R.L. Stine is obviously threatened by Mr. King, as he well should be.) If you read the last entry in this blog ("The Cheater") then you will be amused by what Emily asks Nancy: "Don't you have a date with Gary Brandt [tonight]?" Remember him? Jill Bancroft dated him! Anyway, Gary cancelled on Nancy (cause Jill is finally ready to go all the way?) Nancy brings up the fact that Emily is dating Nancy's ex, Josh. DRAMA! How could Emily have thought that was a good idea? That's got 'Jerry Springer' written all over it.

The girls go downstairs for cake and ice cream (It's your birthday...we're gonna sip Bacardi like it's your birthday...) I'll sum up the events: they have a Coke toast (Jessie bitches about the fact that it isn't DIET Coke), Hugh makes fun of Rich ("You sound like a boy soprano!"), Rich runs away with his Stephen King book, MORE Stephen King comments (I can't get over how many times Stephen King and Pet Sematary are mentioned in this freaking book!), Hugh brags that he hasn't picked up a book since high school, Emily thinks about how that isn't anything to brag about (EXACTLY) and silently reminisces about the death of her father. And finally it's over. Thank you, God.

Unfortunately, the next chapter begins with the family eating dinner. Pleasepleaseplease don't make fun of Rich and leave Stephen King OUT of the conversation! I never get what I want--Hugh tells Rich he looks like macaroni noodle. When Rich gets pissed, Hugh says it's a compliment. How is that COMPLIMENT? Rich tells Hugh he can shove his compliments. Hell yeah! Rich ruins the moment, thought, by running off to his room like a girl. With Rich gone, who should the fam make fun of? Emily looks like a good target. Her mother makes a face at her and asks "Did you brush your hair today?" Emily tells her she'll wash it later. Ok? Jessie comes to the table wearing one of Emily's sweaters and Emily flips her shit. Jessie denies that it's Emily's and everyone sides with Jessie. Everyone eats in silence. After they're all finished, Mama Casey asks who wants to help clean up? And Hugh says "Not me. That's what I like about living with 4 women--there's always someone to clean up." Oh no you didn't, you fat ugly pig!!! Of course everyone pretends like he didn't say anything at all and everything is dandy. Only Rich sticks up to this jerk!

Emily goes upstairs to work on her report for school. She's been working hard on it for weeks, apparently, and she's almost finished. She types for about an hour and then goes downstairs for a snack (you just had dinner, lady...) Ew, she catches her mom and Hugh making out in the living room. One would think that would ruin her appetite completely, but she fetches herself an apple anyway and goes back upstairs. When she goes into her room, she finds Jessie sitting at the computer. Emily explains that she needs to work on her report and Jessie gets up and walks out. Emily sits down at the comp and tries to bring up the file holding her's gone. Emily freaks out (so would I!) and starts screaming for Jessie. Jessie denies that she did anything (of course) and Emily loses it, lunging at Jessie. Mom and Hugh come in and pull Emily off of Jessie. Emily is crying and tells them that Jessie erased all her hard work. Jessie tells them that she didn't do anything and they believe her. They make Em apologize to Jessie and she does, reluctantly. After the parental figures leave, Jessie tells Emily that she should never do that again. "Don't embarrass me in front of my father," she says. Tiger runs in and Jessie kicks at him. Emily tells her not to touch the damn dog!!! Emily picks the dog up and runs to Nancy's room. Nancy tells Emily that Jessie has emotional problems and sees a shrink twice a week (which obviously isn't working so well.) "Try to keep out of her way, Em. She's a troubled girl." Understatement of the century.

Josh comes over to "study" which results in he and Em making out in the exact spot that she saw her mom and Hugh macking! Like mother like daughter. Emily pulls away from Josh and sees Jessie spying on them. But Emily is an exhibitionist so she doesn't mind that someone is watching and continues to kiss Josh with "renewed passion". Later that night, after everyone is in bed sleeping, Em wakes up and hears Jessie talking on the phone--"I really could kill her." Dun dun dun!

A few nights later, Emily and Jessie are in the kitchen searching for ingredients to make an ice box cake. Never heard of it. And why are they suddenly so chummy? This results in a whipped cream fight, with the girls spraying each other with whipped cream until they're both on the floor laughing. Nancy comes in and they spray her, too. Afterwards, Jessie offers to clean up the kitchen so Emily can go take a shower. When Emily gets out of the shower, she looks in the mirror and starts screaming. "The left side [of her hair] was almost entirely orange. The front was streaked with uneven lines of greenish yellow. The rest of her hair was dotted with blotches of orange and yellow." You think that's crazy? Get this--Nancy thinks it can be fixed with a quick haircut. Nancy is described as being extremely intelligent, but I think she's actually a complete moron. Hugh and Mom come in and Hugh finds an empty bottle of peroxide in the trash can. Someone spiked Emily's shampoo with an entire bottle of peroxide. Once again, Emily points the finger at Jessie and once again, Jessie denies it. But for once, no-one believes Jessie! Nancy mentions that Jessie spent a long time in the bathroom earlier so she must be guilty. Did I mention I think Nancy is an idiot? That really isn't good evidence to accuse someone with. Jessie runs off to her room, crying because everyone thinks she's a little liar. Nancy takes Emily into her room and apparently CUTS EMILY'S HAIR. And it's described as looking all cool and such. What the hell?! That was one fugly mess! I seriously doubt that a few snips with the scissors would have made it so gorgeous! Emily even says at one point that it looks like she got blond highlights. You've got to be joking. Whatever, man.

A few nights later, there is a knock at the door. A policeman is standing there with Rich who shoplifted a cassette tape at the mall. Oh Rich *sigh* Hugh goes apeshit, as is expected, and Rich seems completely nonchalant about it. He just says he's sorry and goes to his room, presumably to read some more Stephen King.

That Friday night is the Homecoming dance. This dance is lame and has the gayest song ever being played over and over--"Pump it! Come on, pump it! Pump it up!" Whoever wrote that song should be shot by firing squad. Emily and Josh only stay for a bit and then he takes her home where they make out in the car. Emily goes inside the house and wonders where Tiger is because he usually runs to greet her when she comes home. She goes into the kitchen and finds Tiger dead, lying a pool of mostly dried blood. He has a deep cut in the center of his chest and with her expert sleuthing skills, Emily comes to the conclusion that Tiger was stabbed. Emily screams and everyone comes running to the kitchen. And we get the usual: Emily accuses Jessie of the act because Jessie never liked Tiger...Jessie denies it...somethingsomethingStephenKingsomethingsomething. Nancy brings up the plot of Pet Sematary (pets being buried and coming back to life) and that's what they use to accuse RICH of murdering the dog! They fear he may have gotten some bad ideas from that book. Once more: SHUT THE HELL UP ABOUT STEPHEN KING! Rich, of course, did not do this. And Rich, of course, runs away to his room.

Jessie offers to run Emily a hot bath so she can relax. While Jessie is in the bathroom, Emily picks up Jessie's open diary and begins to read. That's crappy...even nutjobs are entitled to privacy! Nothing too interesting...until she reaches the part where Jessie wrote about people in her old town accusing her of murder. Uh-oh. Emily hears Jessie coming and in an incredibly STUPID move, hides Jessie's diary under her (Emily's) pillow. She's gonna wonder where it's gone, Em, and she'll know you took it! Anyway, Emily goes into the bathroom, looks into the tub, and decides that she can't take a bath in that. What if Jessie poured acid into the water?! Emily goes back into the bedroom and tells Jess she can't do it because she's too tired. Jess takes the bath so as not to let that water go to waste!

Later that night, Emily wakes up after a horrifying dream about being murdered by Jessie. She notices the window is open and sees that Jessie's bed is empty and tapping into her detective skills again, she puts two and two together. She decides to use this prime opportunity to read Jessie's diary. She's horrified at what she reads. Basically, one of Jessie's friends from her old town was in a terrible accident and Jessie just happened to find the girl's corpse so everyone accused Jessie of murdering her. Which is idiotic because no-one had any evidence or anything of this, they just ASSUMED.

The next day is Saturday and Emily tells her family that there is some special "computer lab" lesson going on at school and she and her friend, Kathy, are going. Who goes to school on a freaking Saturday? Emily gets to school, unzips her backpack, and holy shit! Tiger's corpse is stuffed inside Em's backpack! And then the chapter ends so we don't know how badly Em freaked out.

At school the following week, Emily runs into Jessie in the girl's bathroom. She tells Jessie that she's ruining her life and she wants her to leave her alone for good. Emily goes into a stall and Jessie walks out. While Em's trying to have a b.m. she smells smoke. Here we go... She runs out (without flushing or washing her hands?!?!) and finds she can't get out the door--it's been jammed shut somehow. She goes over to the window, but it's been painted shut. She can't get out! The room is filling with smoke from the fire someone started in the wastebasket! She screams for help. Eventually one of her teachers bursts inside and pulls Emily out. The teacher pulls the fire alarm and everyone in the school evacuates. When Emily gets outside, she spots Nancy. Emily tells her that she think Jessie started the fire. Nancy believes her and tells her that she's going to keep her eye on Jessie from now on. They get permission from the teacher to go home. Later, Jessie arrives and runs up to Emily, hugging her and begging for them to be friends. Emily just shrugs her off.

That weekend, Nancy, Emily, and Jessie go to a concert in nearby Waynesbridge. Emily had three tickets and originally invited Josh, but he backed out at the last minute and Jessie begged to go in his place. And Emily's mom forced Emily to give up the ticket to Jess. Moms really suck sometimes. Anyway, they get inside the auditorium and the opening band, The Deltoids (WTF?), are still warming up. They're glad they haven't missed anything. Unfortunately, they have nosebleed seats so it looks like they'll be missing everything anyway. Nancy sees some chick she knows from school and runs off to talk to her. Emily tells Jessie she's going to go grab a drink. As Em stands from her seat, the lights shut off. She stumbles around a bit and then feels someone push her HARD down the stairs. Jessie and Nancy rush down the stairs to help a sister out and Jessie says "It must have been an accident. No-one would do that on purpose. You could have been killed." No shit, Sherlock. And P.S. you don't sound convincing AT ALL!

A few nights later, Emily is returning home from a visit at her friend Kathy's house. It's dark outside and she's kind of freaked out at having to walk alone. As she nears her house, she sees Josh's blue Toyota (fancy) parked outside the house. She gets excited because she thinks he's waiting there to surprise her. Riiiiiiiiiight. She does get a surprise, just not the one she was counting on. She peeks into the window and sees Josh making out with Jessie. They've steamed up the windows pretty good so it was kind of hard for Em to see, but she just KNOWS it's Jessie. She's understandably pissed and runs inside instead of dragging Jessie out and beating her ass like SOME girls would do. She goes into her bedroom and finds Rich sitting on her bed reading the newspaper. Just kidding--he's of course reading the newest novel by Dean Koontz. He gets embarrassed and tells her he heard some weird noises in his room and decided to crash in her room for a bit. He leaves and Emily goes to search through her drawers for a nightgown. She doesn't find one so she checks Jessie's drawers. Instead of a nightgown, she finds a big, bloody knife. Perhaps once used to kill an innocent animal? Yes, perhaps. But we'll never know because the chapter ends here! Mwahahaha!

Hugh announces a few days later that he is taking the entire family on a camping trip to South Carolina (so now we know for sure that Shadyside is NOT in South Carolina. I was losing sleep over that, I don't know about you...) Everyone except Jessie and Mom complain and whine. But Hugh is insistent, of course, and what the sexist pig says, goes!

So they arrive in S.C. and the forest they'll be sleeping in for the next few evenings. Hugh is all nature explorer man, pointing out trees and various bugs and blah blah everybody hates you, Hugh. They come across a cemetary in the middle of the it a PET cemetary? NO! They hike a little ways past the cemetary and set up camp. Everyone is all complainy and such and Hugh says "What's with all the glum pusses? Come on, gang. How can I get my harem into an up mood?" What the hell? No, seriously, what the HELL? Anyway, Rich, Mom, and Hugh are going to set up the tent while Nancy, Jessie, and Emily go collect fire wood. Emily quickly loses sight of Nancy and starts to feel really nervous being left alone with Jessie. Emily starts running through the woods after Jessie gives her a strange look. When she reaches the cemetary, she trips over a gravestone and FALLS INTO AN OPEN GRAVE. She tries to climb out and almost does until someone BREAKS HER ARM WITH A SHOVEL. Emily falls back into the grave, screaming in pain. When she looks up at the opening of the grave, she sees...NANCY!

Yes, kids. All along it has been NANCY, not JESSIE, doing those terrible things. It was Nancy who was making out with Josh in the car. It was Nancy who killed Tiger. It was Nancy who poured peroxide into Em's shampoo. Why, you ask? Because Nancy believes that Emily was responsible for their father's untimely death. And now she believes that Emily should pay for her sins by being beat to death in an unmarked grave. What a doll. Just as Nancy starts shoveling dirt into the grave while Emily screams, Jessie shows up and tackles Nancy to the ground. Somehow, Nancy ends up in the grave with Emily. Emily tries to climb out, but she can't because her arm is broken. Nancy grabs Emily and starts to pull her down. Then Jessie hits Nancy in the back of the head with the shovel. Girls gone wild!

The next chapter opens with Jessie and Emily sitting in their room having a heart to heart. They hug and it's warm fuzzies all around. Rich comes into the room to tell them that it's time for dinner. He has a book *cough* in his hand. Emily asks him what he's reading. R.L. Stine just HAD to shove Stephen King's name in ONE LAST TIME so Jessie says "Probably one of those Stephen King horror novels." This book has seriously ruined all the love I had for Stephen King. Well, not completely, but it's definitely tainted it! Rich tells them that it's actually a Hardy Boys novel. "Wow! Things really ARE changing around here!" says Jessie and the book ends with them all laughing.

Whew, that was rough. I didn't like this one that much the first time I read it. This time, I liked it slightly more...but I could have went without all the S.K. references! Seriously, what was UP with that? Anyway, a few of you requested this one and I delivered. So I hope you enjoyed it because in re-reading it, I nearly went as insane as Nancy.

Next time: "Final Grade"

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Cheater

Book Description:

Carter Phillips is under a lot of pressure to ace her math achievement exam--so much pressure that she gets Adam Messner to take the test for exchange for one date. But Adam wants more than a date--much more. Carter has no choice. She has to do whatever he asks. If not, he'll tell her secret and ruin her life.Adam's control over her gets more and more unbearable. Carter is desperate to get rid of him--but how? Is murder the only way?

Main Characters:

Carter Phillips - The story centers around this blond, rich girl whose father is an overbearing judge who she feels she has to impress constantly. Her mother forgets she even has a child most of the time. Carter thinks she has the perfect life what with the diamonds and the country club rendezvous and the all-American boyfriend. BARF! All good things can come to an end, though. And they do because this is a Fear Street book.

Dan Mason - The "sandy-haired" Adonis that dates our teen queen Carter. Dan basically allows Carter to walk all over him throughout the book. Dan? You listening? GROW A PAIR!

Jill Bancroft - Carter's, BEST FRIEND. Jill also allows Carter to manipulate her throughout this book. Even when Jill is put in a potentially dangerous situation because of Carter, she doesn't really get all that upset at Carter.

Adam Messner - Our resident psycho here is a bad boy from "the wrong side of the tracks". He also happens to be a math genius when he isn't drinking, harrassing rich girls, or banging his girlfriend, Sheila. That's supposed to be him on the cover, the guy in the window. You can't really see him very well, but he kind of looks like an anime character.

My Description:

Carter Phillips tries desperately to live up to her father's high academic standards, but sometimes it's just sooooooooo hard! Shut up, Carter! She needs to score at least 700 on the upcoming "math achievement test" or Princeton will never send her an acceptance letter. I don't get this math achievement thing. I thought you took the ACTs or SATs or both and were done with it. Oh well. We're talking about Shadyside here...half the population are murderers by profession so college really isn't that important.

Anyway! Carter is great at everything (of course) except math. She knows she'll never score a 700...and then daddio will beat her with his gavel...this whole situation is such a bitch! She brings up the subject to her straight-edge boyfriend, Dan while they're at The Corner (Shadyside's version of the Dairi Burger, for all you Sweet Valley fans out there.) She sheepishly asks him to take the test for her because math is Dan's strong suit. Dan the math whiz acts like Carter has just asked him to castrate himself with a rusty blade. She's surprised at his reaction and pretends that she was just joking. Dan leaves a few minutes later, presumably to do his math homework. Carter is sitting alone with her chocolate milkshake when she's approached by Adam, the rebel without a cause who apparently has a cause after all--flipping (and spitting on) burgers and mixing (and spitting in) milkshakes for rich assholes. He whispers that he'll take the test for her. She asks him why and he tells her that he has something she wants (math wizardry) and she has something he wants (Dan?) She asks him what he wants and he says one date. So she agrees even though she's already dating Dan the "man". Blah blah blah, moving on already!

Adam takes the test for her and scores a 730. Her daddy is oh-so-happy when she tells him that she scored so high and everything is all good. He even gives her a pair of diamond earrings as a gift. Carter goes out on a date with Adam Friday night as agreed. They kiss a little and she feels thrills and chills because he's so much more exciting than Dan. That isn't saying much considering that a fucking PAPERCLIP would be more exciting than Dan, but whatever. When Adam finally takes Carter home, he is asked to drop her off at the curb rather than in front of her house because she doesn't want anyone to see him. Ouch. Before she gets out of the car, he asks her what she's doing the next day (Saturday.) She tells him she's meeting Jill at the country club for a game of tennis (could she be any more cliched?) He tells her he'll be there and drives off before she can protest. But poor people aren't allowed at the club! Poverty is such a buzzkill!

She walks home and finds Adam's freaky ass girlfriend, Sheila, hiding in the bushes smoking a cigarette (only YOU can prevent bush fires...) Sheila is pissed because Carter was out with her boyfriend. Carter tells her that nothing happened. Sheila stomps off after carelessly tossing her cigarette. Dammit, Sheila!

The next day, Carter shows up at the country club and finds Adam standing outside the gates with a guard. The guard didn't believe Adam when Adam told him that he was waiting for someone who invited him. Carter thinks Adam looks totally wrong for someone about to play tennis--black T-shirt, black jeans, black high tops, black soul. Someone has gone a little emo...

They walk to the courts together after Carter assures the guard that everything is cool. They meet up with Jill and a rich, blonde douchebag named Richard Smith. They all play doubles and Adam ends up kicking some ass with his shoddy little wooden racket. After the game, Adam makes yet another date with Carter for next weekend. She doesn't wanna. After all, he only said ONE date. But Adam tells her she'll keep him happy if she knows what's good for her. Holy shit.

So the following Friday, Adam and Carter go see a horror movie that is anything but horror-ible (yeah, I said it) and then Adam drives her back to his "ramshackle" house on Fear Street. Are all houses on Fear Street ramshackle Victorians? Is that supposed to be creepy and forboding? Cause it isn't. Anyway, Adam gets a little aggressive, shoving Carter into a corner and trying to shove his tongue down her throat. Carter freaks out and tells him she wants to leave. But before she does, Adam has a favor (no, not a sexual favor.) Adam tells Carter that his friend, Ray Owens, has a crush on Jill. Adam wants Carter to call Jill and tell her that they're all gonna go out tomorrow (Saturday) night for some fun. Jill is a little upset when Carter calls. She was rounding the bases with some guy named Gary Brandt and Carter interrupted! But of course, since this is Carter we're talking about, she's easily forgiven. Blah. Jill doesn't wanna go out with Ray because he obviously isn't her type (he has 5 tattoos and 3 piercings! OMG!) and she's confused as to why Carter is even asking her to do such a thing. But she eventually consents because...well, you know.

Flash forward to the next night. Jill and Carter arrive at the club, Benny's, where Adam instructed them to meet him and Ray. The place is filled with sneering, greasy punks who are all kicking it under the strobe light. I somehow picture Benny's as being some kind of dive bar, not a dance club. And I don't think that punks hang out at places like that? I dunno, though. Anyway! Everyone starts making fun of Carter and Jill being they're rich and preppy and dressed to the nines--how dare you not show up wearing ripped jeans and flannel shirts like the rest of us (GRUNGE!) Ray gets pissed off at Jill when she refuses his advances. And by "advances" I mean doing that thing that those guys in "Night At The Roxbury" do--bouncing a chick back and forth with your chest. Afterwards...

Notice that they're standing ALONE, Ray. Get me? Yeah, ok. So he does that and Jill freaks out and starts crying. Ray, Adam, and several other freaks make a circle around the girls and won't let them go. Carter finally grabs Jill and plows through the people. I didn't know Carter was on the football team. They run outside to Carter's car and she drives them back to her house. Jill sits in the kitchen drinking a glass of water and crying uncontrollably. Carter apologizes profusely and is forgiven waaaay to easily.

A few days later, Carter confronts Adam at school. He basically ignores everything she says and tells her that he needs some money. $1000 would do juuuuuuust fine. So Carter pawns those diamond earrings her father gave her for scoring so high on the test she didn't take. She gives Adam the money and feels relieved--she's finally washed her hands of this whole thing. NOT. Hahahahaha! Anyway, at dinner that night, Carter's father asks her why she isn't wearing her earrings. She makes up some lame story about how one of them got damaged and she took it to a jewelry store in the mall called Sparkles to get it repaired. He rolls his eyes, but accepts this because Carter has his balls in a vice.

A week or so passes without Adam paying any attention whatsoever to Carter. Things seem to have cooled off. Carter even starts paying attention to Dan again--he was getting suspicious because every weekend she kept making excuses not to hang out with him so she could hang with Adam instead. She goes over to his house one evening to watch movies and eat ice cream. A sleepover! Because they're 12 years old and not seniors in high school! The movies Dan rented? Batman Returns and Wayne's World. Carter likes Batman better...blah blah blah nobody cares. They make out a little--"She put down her ice cream and gave him a big chocolately kiss. Dan let his spoon fall to the floor." Hawt. And then "they snuggled on the couch until midnight." Yeah, I have a feeling they were doing a helluva lot more than "snuggling". Carter finally leaves. On the way home, she is ran off the road by some psycho (another one?) She never figures out who it is, but she thinks it's Sheila or Adam because...well, duh. She never tells anyone about this for whatever reason. When she arrives home, Adam is standing beside the garage, waiting for her. Damn. She accuses him of running her off the road minutes ago. He denies it and gets straight to the point of why he's there--mo' money, bitch! He tells her to bring another $1000 to him the next day or he's going to tell her father about the test. Ok, freeze for a minute. Carter has her father wrapped around her little finger. I seriously doubt that if she just confessed, he would be THAT upset over it. I mean, yeah, he'd be pissed for a second, but he would get over it. She just keeps letting this shit with Adam go on and on and she could easily stop it!

The next day, Carter's parents are off to Carter's cousin's wedding (why isn't she going with them?) They won't be back until late. This is the perfect set-up for something awful to happen and, not to disappoint, it does but not until later.
Dan comes over not long after the 'rents leave and drops a bomb--he's been talking to Jill about how strange Carter has been acting lately and thinks he has figured out what's happening. Good sleuthing, Sherlock. Carter breaks down and tells Dan the entire story while sobbing on his manly chest. Carter tells Dan that she wants to kill Adam and takes her father's pistol out of a drawer to prove it. Dan tells her no way and then leaves like two seconds later. After he leaves, Carter gathers up some jewelry and stuff to pawn for money to give Adam. She finally gets it and goes to Adam's house. She drops the money off and then drives around for hours in a "daze". When she arrives home, Dan is standing by the front door waiting for her. They go inside and then like a nanosecond later, the cops come to her door. The officers inform her that Adam Messner has been shot (!!!!) and they want to ask her a few questions. They get their info and leave Carter and Dan alone. Dan begins to get really suspicious of Carter. "You did go to Adam's house today, didn't you?" he asks. "Why did you lie [to the cops] about it?" Carter tells him that she didn't want to get the police involved. Dan grows cold and leaves as Carter begs him to call her later (no dice!)

The phone rings a few minutes after Dan leaves (all this shit is happening very rapidly.) Carter idiotically thinks it's Dan even though he probably hasn't even gotten halfway down the damn sidewalk yet. The person doesn't give their name. They just say "Carter. I know what you did." and then they hang up. So rude. Nothing weird happens for the rest of the night.

At school on Monday, everyone is staring at Carter and whispering to one another. Carter sees Jill and calls out to her. Jill freaks out and runs away. Then she spots Dan, but he doesn't run like a wuss from the accused murderer. He just stands there and tells her he doesn't know what to say. Then you should have just ran away, Dan, you worthless sack of crap.

That night, Carter's parents leave again, this time for some charity benefit thingy. Carter is watching TV when it suddenly goes black along with rest of the house! She runs to the phone and it's dead! She drops the phone and hears footsteps coming from the basement. Could it get any worse? Of course! Some nutjob emerges from the basement and says to Carter "Careful-or you'll break Daddy's heart." Yeah, because that makes so much sense in this case. He attacks her and while he's choking her (friendly guy--I like him already) he tells her "You were a lucky girl. I tried to run you off the road [so THAT's who it was] but you slipped away. Not this time. This time the message will get through..." I think there are ways to make your voice heard besides killing someone, mister, but whatever floats your boat. And just as Carter thinks she's about to meet her maker...she hears sirens outside! An officer bursts through the door and yells "Freeze!" Another officer pulls the man off Carter. Someone tell me how the cops KNEW that she was in danger. Are they psychic? No. It just so happens that the "burglar tripped the alarm in your basement door. We came as fast as we could. We heard someone scream, forced our way in, and found this man." How convenient, officer. Carter's parents arrive home and her father recognizes the would-be murderer--why, it's none other than one of Henry Austin's thugs! WTF? Turns out Carter's daddy has been presiding over a case and this Henry Austin guy sent one of his minions to scare Carter in order to intimidate Judge Phillips. Ok, I'll buy it, but only because I don't feel like dwelling on this for much longer.

A few nights later, Carter receives a call from Sheila. Sheila wants money. God, is this crap ever going to end?!?! Sheila tells Carter that Adam told her (Sheila) alllllll about the test. "You paid Adam to keep quiet and now you're going to pay me. $500 should do it." At least she isn't as demanding as Adam. Ooo and then Sheila says "Don't bother trying to deny [that you killed Adam]. I was the one who found Adam's body. I was the one who called the police. I know you killed him and I've got proof." *sigh* I was really hoping this shit would be over by now. Adam, you fucker, even in death you cause problems! Sheila tells Carter to meet her by the Fear Street woods with the money the following night (I have no idea what day it is...)

Carter sells her "expensive sound system" for the money. She meets Sheila at the aforementioned location with the cash. Sheila is waiting by the woods smoking a cigarette (ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FOREST FIRES!!! Smokey weeps.) Sheila tells Carter to give her the money and she will give Carter the proof. Ok, my friends. This shit is about to go south QUICK. Carter hands over the dough and Sheila hands Carter a necklace that DAN bought for her a while ago. DAN KILLED ADAM IN THE NAME OF THE MESSIAH! I mean, in the name of CARTER. Are you fucking serious, Dan? You're risking hard jail time because of Carter? You're an idiot. Sheila tells Carter that she found the necklace beside Adam's body. She knew it was Carter's because Carter's name is engraved on the back of the locket.

Carter goes home and calls Dan. She fails to mention the fact that she knows DAN KILLED ADAM. She just says that she's going to confess everything to her father the following day (what day is this?!?! Oh, never says it Saturday.) She wants Dan to come over for moral support. He agrees. The next day, she spills everything to her dad. And OHYMGOD she tells her dad that SHE killed Adam. And Dan, that spineless little shit, goes along with it. He asks Carter's dad if he can get her off the hook. Tsk Tsk. The judge picks up the phone and is about to call the police...until Dan confesses. Finally!! Dan swears it was an accident, though. Shut up, Dan. After this, Carter says "See, Daddy. I was right. I told you he would do the right thing. I knew Dan would confess." So this whole thing was a set-up to get Dan to confess? Why couldn't R.L. Stine have told us this in the first place? Carter's dad tells Dan that he'll get him the best lawyers blah blah blah and all is happy happy. The book ends with Carter and Dan playing fucking chess.

This book seriously angered me (as if you couldn't tell!) I'm glad it's over...until next time when I review The Stepsister. No, I don't remember it being any better than this shit...but it's been a while so I could be mistaken.

Attack of the Jack-O'-Lanterns (Goosebumps #48)

PUMPKIN POWER! Nothing beats Halloween. It's Drew Brockman's favorite holiday. And this year will be awesome. Much better ...