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.

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