Sunday, June 8, 2008

She's Baaaaaack!

Book Description:

The doctor says Nancy is cured. She's over the murderous rage that made her try to kill her sister Emily last year. Now she's home for good...or EVIL. Emily wants to forgive and forget, but the nightmare has started all over again. Someone wants to hurt her. Is it Nancy? Or is there someone else who wants Emily dead?

My Description:

* If you weren't around for the first installment, check it out. *

A year has passed since Nancy Casey went completely batshit crazy and tried to kill her sister, Emily, in an open grave. Wow. Best opener EVER. Anyway, Emily and Jessie are waiting around the house for Hugh (yuck) and Mama Casey (still as spineless/nameless as ever) to bring Nancy home from the mental insitution. Jessie is dragging all her junk out of Nancy's room where she's been rooming for the past year and throwing it back into the room she used to share with Emily. Jessie is just about to place her beloved glass swan on the dresser when Rich (Stephen King fan-slut) bursts into the room. Jessie, startled, drops the swan and it shatters. She calls Rich a "dirty rotten creep!" but he isn't interested in insults. He just wants to rip Emily a new one: "Dad grounded me for last night's party. Thanks to you. Don't bother lying. You were there. You saw me. The next thing I know, Dad is grounding me. I can put two and two together." Well, ladies and germs, it seems that little Richie has turned into quite the angry asshole over the past year! Emily denies saying anything, but Rich rails on and on, saying he can't finish filming "Night of the Living Eyeballs" with his friends. With a name like that, I doubt it would have been a hit anyway. NIGHT OF THE LIVING EYEBALLS? Are you kidding me? Rich ends his tirade with "I'll pay you back, Emily!" Promises, promises.

A few seconds after Rich runs out of the room like a whiny little baby, Butch, Emily's dachshund (she had to get something to replace poor Tiger) comes running in and jumps all over Jessie. Of course she's totally repulsed and pushes him away. This is one of many scenes in this book that is reminiscent of (i.e. an exact replica of) scenes in the previous book. In the next moment, the girls hear someone knocking on the door. They assume it's Nancy and their parents which makes no sense whatsoever because they LIVE there and would have no reason to knock. They answer the door and it's Cora-Ann, Jessie's friend. We learn that Cora-Ann spends a lot of time at the Wallner/Casey house because her parents are insensitive assholes who spend the majority of their time duking it out. After several minutes of gossiping and scarfing Oreos, the girls hear car doors shutting outside and assume it's Nancy and the parentals. They open the door and Nancy is standing there holding a knife. Looks like that expensive mental therapy went down the drain quick. But wait! Thank our lucky stars, it's just one of Rich's props that Nancy found in the bushes! Emily stops screaming long enough to figure that out. Yeah, she freaked out over a shitty prop. Anyway, everybody hugs Nancy and welcomes her home, but she doesn't seem that enthusiastic. Her eyes are glazed and she keeps looking around as if she's lost. But it's a huge contrast between where she was and where she is so her temporary zombification is understandable. Ah, and to sweeten the homecoming, Hugh decides to start in on Rich. He screams at him to come down and greet Nancy. Rich comes down, says hello to Nan, gives Emily dagger eyes, and attempts to head back to his lair...uh, cave...dungeon? I mean, his ROOM. But Hugh nips that idea in the bud: "Are you insane?!" Cora-Ann diffuses the situation by asking Rich about horror movies (namely, 'Gnaw' and 'The Shining') Nancy heads upstairs to unpack and everybody goes about their business. Emily goes into her room and is horrified at what she sees. An empty bottle of perfume! WHHHHHHYYY?! Apparently Em's boyfriend, Josh, bought her this bottle of Ma Cherie while he was on vacation in France. It was special and someone poured every drop out onto the floor. Em automatically assumes it was Nancy, perhaps Rich. She confronts Rich asking if he did it and he just grins and says "Maybe."

The next morning, the whole gang (excluding Rich) heads on down to the pancake house for a nice, artery-clogging breakfast. Hugh orders "a tall stack of pancakes with eggs and steak on top. When it arrived, he drowned it all in butter and maple syrup." Yum? As he's shoveling it in, Hugh makes a truly terrble joke: "Know what you call a waffle made with spoiled eggs? An awful waffle!" Har har har! NOT. Two painful hours later, they go home. Emily enters the den and goes to open the shades. As she's doing so, Nancy comes up behind her and wraps her spindly fingers around Em's throat. She lets go when Emily turns around and asks "Why did you do that?" Nancy says she had to prove a point. She's noticed that Emily has been acting really weird around her and she knows she tried to kill her with a shovel and everything, but she's changed, I tell ya, she's changed! Nancy cries a little and they head up to the room for a long, meaningful, Oprah-esque talk. Nancy mentions the various activities she participated in while at the mental hospital: clay sculpting, storytelling sessions, wood shop, car repair. Emily apparently thinks this place sounds like a rockin' good time because she says she wants to go. We'll only let you go if you attempt to bludgeon your family to death. No? Then quit bothering me, I'm trying to watch TV. Nancy just laughs and then brings up the reason for her instability: her father's death. She tells Em that she's sorry for ever believing she killed their dad. I kind of wish you still believed, Nancy. It would make this book a lot more interesting. Butch comes waddling in and interrupts this Hallmark moment. Nancy picks him up and that leads to the grossest line in this book: "His body hung down from her hands like a long, furry sausage." I may have just thrown up in my mouth a little.

Later, Emily is ice skating with her love muffin, Josh. They're both clumsy and keeping falling down. EMILY is clumsy, at least. I think Josh just wants an excuse to lay on top of her. Ew. They kiss a little and then they talk about Nancy. As if this fact hasn't been driven into our heads about a trillion times already, JOSH USED TO DATE NANCY. She tells him Nancy is good and she's been painting a mural in her room that she keeps covered with a sheet; Emily hasn't been allowed to see it yet. Hmm. The two finally get tired of "skating" and start walking back to Fear Street. They hear the roar of a motor and Rich comes riding up on his dirt bike, almost running them over. Two little punks are riding with him. Rich leans forward and starts BARKING like a dog at Emily. Emily tells him that he's supposed to be grounded, but Rich is a rebel, dammit! He doesn't care about rules! He tells Em "I suppose you're gonna tell [Dad] huh, snitch?" He threatens Em ("You'll regret it.") and drives off with his minions. Josh explains to Em that 14 is a hard year for a guy. Is that supposed to be a double entendre? Emily says that Rich was like this last year, too, but I have to disagree.

At Emily's house, they make hot cocoa and snuggle on the couch. 50 pages in and this is the scariest thing that has happened so far. Emily suddenly sits up and says someone is standing outside the door to the den. What, she's psychic now? She walks over to the door, sees a shadow moving under the door, opens the door, and finds Cora-Ann. Spooky. Cora-Ann sees Josh and must assume that he and Em were about to make sweet love or something because she runs away all embarrassed and such. Emily decides it's time for Josh to leave. She walks him to the door, but he doesn't leave right away. *Wink Wink* Then he asks her if she wants to go to Red Heat on Saturday night. "It's a date." He leaves and Em goes upstairs to her room and finds Jessie playing Tetris on the computer. Emily picks up the Ma Cherie bottle and Jessie says "Give me a break. The way you moon around after Josh comes over, it's sickening. Do you know how lucky you are?" Emily just grins. I'll take that as a yes. Jessie goes downstairs to eat and Em starts her French homework. After a while, she decides to head downstairs for something to drink. On the stairs, she comes upon Nancy heading up with some paint brushes to work on her mural. As Emily passes her, she sees Nancy stick out her foot. Em falls all the way to the bottom, but doesn't hurt herself at all. Somehow. Nancy runs down and apologizes profusely. Emily tells her she saw her stick her foot out on purpose, but Nancy has an explanation for that: "It's the pills I have to take. They relax my muscles. They turn me into a total klutz." Anti-psychotic meds also serve as muscle relaxers?

The next day, Emily is in the school cafeteria getting a sloppy joe. She spots Cora-Ann sitting alone so she goes to join her. Cora-Ann confesses to Em that her family is falling apart: her father left the fam last week. She hasn't mentioned it because she was too embarrassed. I'm not much of a hugger, but I kinda wanna give Cora-Ann a giant hug right now. Yeah, yeah, a little sappy. Don't worry, I'm moving on. Em tells her she's sorry and Cora-Ann will always have she and Jessie. Speak of the devil: Emily spots Jessie in the food line, but when Emily waves, Jessie just stares at her and turns away. Interesting...Zzzzzzzzz. Jessie catches Emily after Em's chemistry class and she's kind of pissed: "What were you and Cora-Ann talking about? I said, what were you talking about? Every time I looked over, it was like you were having the world's most serious discussion." Em explains Cora-Ann's family issues and Jessie doesn't understand (and doesn't want to) why Cora-Ann would tell Em instead of her. Em just says "You weren't there." to which Jess replies "She's MY friend! Don't forget it!" and storms off. Two words: chill pill.

Saturday night ping-pong! Jessie, Em, and Cora-Ann are hanging out in the basement growing bored with the game. Em is just killing time until her date with Josh and Jess is a little bitter because she's perpetually single. Wonder why? Yeah, she looks good, but she's sort of crazy herself. She'd quickly turn into a jealous stalker type, the kind you find in Lifetime movies. Nancy comes down holding Scrabble and asks if anyone would like to play. Em declines, but Cora-Ann and Jessie say yes. Nancy smiles and does a little jig. Scrabble AND ping-pong?! Heaven help me, I'm having a heart attack here! Em goes upstairs to get ready for her date. She opens her closet and takes out her little black dress, still in its dry-cleaning bag (Jessie wore it, stained it, and promptly sent it to be dry-cleaned like a good girl). Em opens it and freaks out: it's been slashed down the middle. The other girls come running in: they heard Em's blood-curdling screams even in the basement. This girl is the queen of overreacting. Yes, it sucks that your dress is ruined, but must you wake the neighborhood with your banshee-like screeching? Em says this was no accident and looks directly at Nancy. Nancy is upset at being accused of something AGAIN and runs to her room. Em knocks on Nancy's door, but she doesn't answer. So she walks to Rich's room on a whim and a plot device and finds him sitting in the floor cutting construction paper for no apparent reason. Rich looks at Emily and says "Snip snip."

The next day, Emily tells her mom about this little incident, but Mama Casey really doesn't care. She just wants to scrub her stove in peace. She just tells Em that Rich is a disturbed boy and she and Hugh are searching for a good therapist to send him to. Grrreat. Em goes outside where Cora-Ann and Jessie are building a snowman. Nancy comes walking out of the woods carrying a toolbox and grinning like Hannibal Lecter does just before he eats someone's tongue. But it's cool, kids. Nan was just fixing the treehouse! Um, why? You all are seniors in high school (or older, in Nancy's case). Why would you want a treehouse that you can't even fit in? *sigh* God hath cursed me with a thing called 'logic'. Nancy spots Jessie and Cora-Ann's snowman and tells them it's pathetic which results in a snowball fight. Woooo! Seriously, is anything even remotely horrifying going to happen anytime soon? There's about 50 pages left and I have little hope for them.

Emily leaves for Josh's house "around six". It's already very dark and the roads are pretty icy which is pretty much a recipe for disaster here. The car is racing around curves and such, but when Emily presses on the brake pedal, nothing happens. Of course. Someone screwed with the brakes! Em skids off the road and slams into a tree. The car is totaled and Em wakes up in the hospital. Hugh is the only one there. Mom, Nan, and Jessie went to the movies before the cops called so they have no knowledge of this travesty. *cough* I doubt they'd care anyway *cough* What? I'm just being as passive-aggressive as the rest of this family! Hugh left them a note and came straight to the hospital. Em tells him that she knows it was Nancy who cut the breaks. After all, she learned about cars while institutionalized AND she was seen with the toolbox earlier! That's hardly evidence, doll. Hugh doesn't buy it either and tells Emily that the brakes were loose and he kept meaning to get them fixed, but he didn't and he blames himself for the entire thing. Oh good. He helps Em out of bed and they go home. Say what?! The fucking car was totaled so one would assume this chick would be pretty damaged as well and spending quite a bit of time in the hospital. Ok, fine. I'll overlook this...yep, I'll just turn my head like I always do, Stine, even though you are seriously driving me batty with shit like this...Em must have about 900 lives, though, considering how many times she has escaped death/serious injury with hardly a scratch on her.

When they arrive home, Rich comes out of the kitchen eating ice cream out of the carton. Hugh reacts predictably: "That belongs in a dish, mister. How many times do I have to tell you these things? Aren't you even going to ask Emily how she is? She just had a very serious car accident, you know." It couldn't have been THAT serious, man, if she's up and walking around like not a damn thing happened. Rich replies robotically with "I hope you're ok."

Later that night, Emily wakes up to the sound of someone crying. It's Jessie. Em asks what's wrong and Jessie tells her she had a nightmare about Jolie (her dead friend). Jess apologizes for waking Em and tells her she wants to show her something. She takes out a picture of Jolie and Em takes one look and freaks out for the 5848947 time since this book began. No, Jolie isn't hideously deformed or anything. She looks exactly like Cora-Ann. Ooo!

The next afternoon, Emily is attempting to work on her English paper, but she really REALLY wants to call Josh. Prioritize! She picks up the phone and hears Rich talking to his friend, Willy (my hate for that name knows no bounds). Willy wants Rich to come over because his parents are gone and he has a six-pack that's just begging to be drank by two underage boys. Em hangs up and waits 5 minutes before picking up again. As soon she does, Rich bursts into her room: "Don't bother listening in. I'm already off. Why do you keep spying on me? I heard you! I heard you on the line! I've had it, Emily! What do I have to do to you to get you to stay out of my life?" Emily tries to explain, but he's having none of it and leaves.

Later that night, Jessie and Emily are watching a movie. It's late and when the film ends, the girls start to go upstairs for bed, but they hear someone knocking on the door. It's Cora-Ann and her white overnight bag. Her father returned home and the tension at home is greater than ever. They all head for bed.

Em's alarm goes off the next morning, but she keeps hitting snooze and eventually turns the whole works off. When she finally drags herself out of bed, she realizes it's after 9 and they're all late for school. Emily rushes into the bathroom to wash her face and brush her teeth. And my my my, someone put superglue in the toothpaste. Em's frigging teeth are glued together. Guess you're gonna be even later to school. Jessie and Cora-Ann run into the bathroom. Jess grabs the empty superglue container out of the trash can and reads the label. It says to rinse with water and seek immediate medical attention if the stuff comes in contact with your eyes or mouth. They drive Em to the emergency room where a nice doctor swabs her mouth with some special liquid (no, not water, you little smartass) and the glue comes right off. And the girls head off to school even though they've pretty much missed half the day by now. I've never seen kids who are so eager to get to school and seem to find the concept of missing a day absolutely unthinkable.

In French class, Jessie and Emily pass notes. Jessie writes that she's getting suspicious of Cora-Ann because earlier Cora-Ann mentioned that her mom wants to move back to Parkerstown where Cora-Ann is originally from. Coincidentally, Jolie was also from there. Cora-Ann asked Jessie if Jolie was "the girl who died" and Jessie thought that was weird because she never mentioned Jolie to Cora-Ann. Phew. I think we're caught up now.

Flash forward to Saturday night. Emily is driving for the first time since the accident. She's driving home from Josh's house. How is it that she got a new car? Insurance or something? Hugh and Mama Casey don't make that much, that I know. Oh well. This book is like a slice of swiss cheese, filled with more plot holes than I can count. Anyway, you are about to experience some serious deja vu. When Emily arrives home, she finds it strange that Butch doesn't come to greet her like he usually does. She walks into the living room and spots what appears to be a brown sweater crumpled on the floor. It ain't no damn sweater. It's poor Butch's corpse. ANOTHER dead dog. This is the EXACT SAME SCENE from the first book! It's as if Stine literally just copied and pasted. Emily screams and Jessie comes running from the den. Em tells her it was Nancy who did this. She runs upstairs screaming Nancy's name over and over again and pounding on her bedroom door. Nancy opens it and Em attempts to choke her, but Jessie pulls her off just in time. Emily says "Butch is dead!" and she hears Rich say "Another dog bites the dust." She looks at him and he's standing there with a smirk on his face. Way to incriminate yourself, moron. And to think I once liked you!

The next day, while Hugh is burying Butch, Jessie and Em take a drive to Cora-Ann's house. On the way, they discuss the fact that Mama Casey and Hugh will be visiting sick uncle Mark that evening (when the adults are away, the psycho will play). When they arrive at Cora-Ann's, they get out and as they're heading for the door, a man and woman come out. Jessie tells Emily that they have to hide, she doesn't want them to see her. "Jolie's parents!" What the hell is going on? They spot Jessie and say hello. Mr. Bowen tells the girls that he and Mrs. Bowen were just going out or else they would invite them in. Mrs. Bowen pipes up with "You must be here to see Jolie's cousin, right? Cora-Ann." Ah. So that's it. The Bowens leave and Jessie tells Emily that they have to leave NOW before Cora-Ann spots them. In the car, Jessie tells Em "I forgot that Jolie had a cousin. A cousin who was so upset that she didn't come to the funeral. A cousin who was totally freaked when Jolie died. And now she's wormed her way into my life." Look, I've got crazy cousins, too, including one who is in prison and one who believes he's a "demon hunter", but I don't automatically assume they're murderous stalkers! Jessie believes Cora-Ann wants revenge for Jolie's death. Oh here we go. She blames all the bad things that have been happening (Butch's death, the ripped dress, the superglue) on Cora-Ann. She says those things were meant for her instead of Em. Em buys it and immediately feels guilty for blaming Nancy.

When they arrive home, the dark clouds that have been threatening rain all day finally break open, drenching them both. Once inside, Em runs up to Nancy's room and talks through the locked door, apologizing. Nancy tells her to go away, she's working on her mural. Em goes to change her wet clothes (she puts on a giant smock, of all things). Jess comes into the room and the phone rings. She picks up and it's the dreaded Cora-Ann. Jessie tells her to never bother them again and slams the phone down. The electricity suddenly goes out and this book just turned into every slasher film I've ever seen. The girls stumble to the kitchen in search of candles or matches or a flashlight. Em suddenly remembers there are matches and candles in the dining room beside the "deck of cards Mom won't let us play with." Dirty playing cards...nice one, Mom.

Before they can get to the dining room, someone starts banging on the door. They rightfully assume it's Cora-Ann and Jessie picks up the phone...the line is dead blahblahblah. At this moment (it's all falling into place too perfectly) Cora-Ann bursts through the kitchen door holding a knife. Nancy comes running in and smashes Cora-Ann in the head with a frying pan. Jessie thanks her for saving her life and Nancy responds by hitting Jessie in the head also. Way to go, slugger. Nancy tells Emily that she's next. So, uh, I guess this means she's not cured after all, huh?

As if all this shit weren't convoluted enough, check it out: "Cora-Ann must have taken my bag by mistake. My white canvas bag. She must have thought it was her's. She opened the bag and found my knife. She found my knife and came running over here in the rain. She couldn't wait to show you what she'd found. She almost ruined it for me." Will it never end?! "I waited a whole year to pay you back. I kept my knife hidden in my bag and I waited. I fooled the doctors and pretended to be cured." She takes the knife and lunges at Emily, but the knife just tears through that giant smock she's wearing instead of cutting flesh. Em runs upstairs to Nancy's room and catches a glimpse of the uncovered "mural". The "mural" is just the word 'HATE' written over and over in red paint. Such an artist, that Nancy. Nan runs in and Em grabs her, hugs her, and tells her she forgives her. Mama Casey and Hugh come in then, saying the road was washed out and they had to come back.

Too much action for my brain to process. Seriously, it's like Stine crammed all the action in at the end to make up for the dullness of the rest of the book and it's just way too much! One plot contrivance after the next does not a good book make. I can't even think coherent thoughts...
The last paragraph or so takes place three weeks after the Nancy debacle. Cora-Ann lived; things are better at home and her parents are going to couples therapy. Nancy has been shipped back to Happy Acres or wherever the hell she was before. Jessie, Em, Mom, and Hugh are about to eat dinner. Hugh yells at Rich to get his butt to the table, but Rich is watching TV and wants to see the last bit of his show. What's he watching? Family Feud. Please excuse me while I shoot myself in the face.

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 ...