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 report...it'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 woods...is 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"

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 ...