Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Wrong Number

*Alternately titled "Caller ID: The Before Time" *

Book Description:

It begins as innocent prank, when Deena Martinson and her best friend Jade Smith make sexy phone calls to the boys from school. But Deena's half-brother Chuck catches them in the act and threatens to tell their parents unless the girls let him in on the fun. Chuck begins making random calls, threatening anyone who answers. It's dangerous and exciting. They're even enjoying the publicity and the uproar they've caused. Until Chuck calls a number on Fear Street. To his horror Chuck realizes he has called THE WRONG NUMBER. The jokes are over when murder is on the line. The murderer knows who they are and where they live-and they have nowhere to call for help.

My Description:

These "prologues" are always so f-ing pointless. This one takes us inside the mind of an unidentified male. The gist: he likes to scheme (ooo, he loves the scheming like crack!); he's messed up in the past, but he won't this time because his plan is foolproof (doubt it); all he has to do is be patient...everyone is in for a big surprise. Can't wait.

The first chapter starts at the beginning of September. Deena Martinson and her best friend, Jade Smith, are sitting in the bathroom doing something stupid with hair gel. Deena glops the stuff all over Jade's hair because Jade claims that when it dries, her hair will be shiny and glorious. More like dry and shellacked. Seriously, Stine, I don't think you understand how gel works. You must be thinking of conditioner. Anyway, the girls talk about school (the fall semester starts Monday; it's currently Saturday) and about the fact that Deena's half brother, Chuck, is coming to live with the Martinsons. Apparently Chuck is a punk ass troublemaker who got kicked out of his last school. I suppose living in Shadyside is his punishment. Since Jade is a hardcore flirt, she's immediately intrigued. Jade says boys in Shadyside are boring and predictable. I agree. They always wanna kill you. I can see how that would get old after a while. Jade picks up Deena's new phone and says she's gonna prank call her sister Cathy who happens to be babysitting this evening. The call is pretty lame: Jade pretends to be calling from the Division Street Mall to inform Cathy that she is "worse-dressed shopper of the month." Cathy has an IQ over 40 and quickly figures out that it's Jade. Since that didn't go over so well, Jade decides to call the nerdiest guy in Shadyside, Henry Raven. Come on! This guy probably puts up with enough shit...he doesn't need you adding to it with your lame ass "pranks", Jade. When Henry picks up, Jade attempts to talk seductively: "You're just the kind of guy a girl like me yearns for." But Henry ain't buying it: "Find another guy. I don't have time for this." Go Henry! Nerds rule. Jade and Deena find this absolutely hilarious and laugh for what seems like forever before calming down enough to discuss Deena's prank call. Deena gets the privilege of calling Rob Morell, the most popular guy at Shadyside High. The call is almost as lame as Jade's calls: Deena tells Rob (in her most seductive voice, natch) that she's his secret admirer. Rob, interested, asks her what she looks like and she says people tell her she looks like Kim Basinger which sets Rob's loins aflame. One would think that Rob would have plenty of dates since he's "most popular", but he appears to be as lame as Deena. Deena hangs up after telling Rob that she'll be in touch soon and the girls call it a night.

The next day, the Martinsons head to the airport to pick up Deena's brother from another mother, Chuck. When Deena spots him, we get the following description: "He was tall and his T-shirt and tight jeans showed off the taut muscles of an athlete. His hair was thick and sandy above startingly blue eyes." Easy now, Deena! Chuck doesn't look too bad, but Deena doesn't care for the expression on his face, a look she dubs 'the snowl' (sneer + scowl = snowl) Clever. On the drive home, they're involved in a car accident. Daddy Martinson tells everyone to get out of the car. They all do, but Chucky has to be a damned hero and runs over to a little boy who keeps pointing to a burning car and screaming "Save Tuffy!" Chuck makes his way through the thick cloud of smoke and saves Tuffy, a little black and white dog. Aw...stop manipulating my emotions, Stine.

The next morning, Deena makes herself and Chuck a bowl of cereal each. Chuck takes two bites and dumps the rest down the sink. Asshole. At lunch, Deena tells Jade that Chuck isn't all that. Jade wants to meet him, but he isn't around so the girls just gossip about the two fattest kids in school (that's how they describe them) Bruce Kipness and Sherry Murdoch, becoming a couple. That's not juicy news, girls. It's downright dull and quite shitty of you. Anyway, just as Jade starts to make fun of a teacher's new haircut, two boys in the midst of a fight burst through the doors. It's Bobby McCorey (local badass) and Chuck (out-of-towner badass) and Chuck is holding a knife! NOOOO! Yes, the chapter ends there. *sigh*

The next chapter is like the prologue. We get more vagueness from the unidentified gentleman: he's having trouble keeping it together, but the plan is on schedule; one more week and his troubles will be over. Oh joy.

On Saturday afternoon (an entire week has already passed?!) Deena is outside washing her mom's car and thinking about classes, her social life (practically non-existant), and Chuck. After he got into the knife fight, Daddy Martinson grounded him indefinitely and made empty threats ("If you make so much as one misstep, you'll be kicked out on your ear!") Your son tries to stab a kid and all you do is ground him? Chuck doesn't even suspended/expelled from school because Dad talked to the principal. Whatever. I call bullshit, man. Anyway, Jade shows up because some guy cancelled their date so she thought she'd come over and see what Deena was up to. I'm sure Deena enjoys being Jade's afterthought. Deena invites Jade to stay for pizza and movies (and don't worry--MORE prank calls) and Jade agrees. Of course she HAS to bring up Chuck--"He sure is good looking." She'll probably molest him before the day is over.

After the girls finish eating, Jade decides it's time for Deena to make another sexxxxxxxy call to Rob Morell. Rob is so turned on, he gets tongue tied: "Well, couldn't we go out for a cuff of coppee?" Ha. As Deena gives him her answer, she hears an odd clicking noise on the line and quickly tells Rob she'll call back another time. Chuck comes into the room a few minutes later and Deena is forced to introduce him to Jade who is staring at him like he's a god...or maybe a big juicy steak that she'd like to take a bite of. Chuck confesses he heard everything Deena said to Rob (that explains the clicking noise) and promises he won't tell Dad...if the girls let him in on the fun. Chuck seems like the type of guy who would think prank calling is far below him, but I guess not. He calls the bowling alley first and tells the girl who answers that there is a bomb somewhere on the premises and everybody better evacuate immediately. He hangs up and laughs as Jade and Deena freak out. That wasn't even funny! It was unnecessarily evil and ILLEGAL. Next, Chuck wants to call someone on Fear Street. Jade and Deena tell him that he's playing with fire; everyone knows Fear Street is a terrible, awful place. Chuck doesn't listen and places a call to Bobby McCorey, the kid that he tried to gut like a fish. When Bobby answers, Chuck says "This is the Phantom of Fear Street. And I've got my eye on you. If I were you, I'd make sure all the doors and windows were locked tonight--and every night." and hangs up. THE PHANTOM? Are you serious? I'm a fucking geek, Chuck, yet I still manage to be more intimidating than you. And that, sir, is quite pathetic. Then Chuck runs over to the window, hangs his head out (it's raining and lightning) and screams "Spirits of Fear Street! Come and get me! I'm waiting!" Yes, spirits, get him. Get him now so I don't have to waste anymore time reading about a fake bad boy with mental problems and a giant chip on his shoulder. Suddenly lightning crackles and Chuck crimples to the floor. Good work, spirits! The girls rush over, horrified, but Chuck is just kidding. He's completely ok...unfortunately. Jade decides that it's time to leave and Chuck offers to walk her home. He later apologizes to Deena for his shenanigans and offers to help her with her homework which prompts the question: why would she want help from a moron?

At school on Monday, Jade shows Deena an article from the Shadyside Morning Press titled "Bomb Threat A Hoax, Police Say". In it, an officer is quoted as saying that the police are taking the threat very seriously. Uh, I thought they knew it was a 'hoax'? Oh well...Shadyside cops suck. They've got to know that their town has the highest crime rate in the country (possibly the world) and yet they don't seem to be doing shit about it. Anyway, Jade is very amused, but Deena tells her they need to stop with the stupid calls. Deena then claims that they call Chuck made to Bobby McCorey was more serious than the bomb threat. Looks like Chuck's stupid is rubbing off on Deena. Deena says once again that she thinks they shouldn't make anymore calls. Jade smiles and says "Maybe I ought to tell Rob Morell who's been calling him." What a bitch! If Jade wants to prank people, why doesn't she keep her ass at home and use her own damn phone?!

Saturday night rolls around and Deena has made up her mind: NO MORE CALLS no matter what Jade says. Ma and Pa Martinson leave to visit friends and Deena decides to grill hamburgers and make potato salad for she, Jade, and Chuck. After eating, Deena tells them that she wants to stop the calls and they all agree. A few minutes later, a bat decides to make an appearance right in Deena's face. She and Jade freak out and run inside while Chuck plays the macho man, sticking around and making jokes ("It's not carrying a switchblade or anything." No, but it's probably carrying a nasty case of rabies and if there is a God, Chuck, you'll catch it!) Finally, he goes inside and the conversation somehow turns to Fear Street. Of course. Chuck doesn't believe that anything bad happens there; he thinks it's all stories and nothing more. To prove that there's nothing freakish about Fear Street, Chuck decides to make another call. You've got to be joking. How will this prove anything? He finds a random number in the phone book for a house on Fear Street and dials that sucker before anyone can protest. He turns on speaker phone and lets it ring. On the sixteenth ring, a frightened woman picks up and screams "Please come quickly! He's going to kill me! You're my only hope!" Then she screams and the sound of shattering glass is the last thing the gang hears before some man gets on the line. He tells Chuck that he must have gotten the wrong number (tying in to the title, good job) and hangs up. Chuck decides they have to go to that house and save that lady. He doesn't wanna call the cops because they would wonder why he called the house in the first place. Chuck, you could have told them that you dialed THE WRONG NUMBER by accident. The Shadyside police force sucks, but they would be able to do more for this chick than you ever would. Ever since Chucky saved the dog from the burning car, he's had a God complex that he just can't shake.

They all run out to the car and Deena dives behind the wheel. Chuck gives her the address and she flips out because the house is close to the cemetary. I think that's the least of your problems, sweetheart. When they arrive at the house, they think they've gotten the wrong address because the house looks junky and deserted. That pretty much describes ALL houses on Fear Street. Chuck gets out to investigate and the girls stay put until curiosity gets the best of them and they follow Chuck. All three of them stand on the porch; Chuck rings the bell. As if anyone is going to answer! They make their way to the side of the house and find a door hanging open. How convenient. They go in and find that the house has been ransacked, objects thrown helter skelter. Suddenly they spot someone lying on the floor in the next room. It's a lady corpse! She's been stabbed! I didn't see this coming from a mile away or anything! That's always the method of death in these things. There are other weapons than knives: guns, flamethrowers, brass knuckles, clubs, hammers. Get creative, Stine. Just as Chuck picks up the phone to call 911, a man wearing a ski mask enters the room. He tells Chuck to drop the phone and Chuck does, picking up the bloody knife lying beside the corpse. The man tells Chuck to put it down, but Chuck doesn't listen because it's really hard to take a ski mask seriously. Deena and Jade run to the car and Chuck follows close behind. Unfortunately, Captain Ski Mask decides to do the same thing, getting into his car and following them. Chuck makes a series of wild turns, bouncing from one street to the next until he's sure he's lost the ski mask for good. But as soon as he pulls into the Martinsons' driveway, he spots ski mask's Honda barrelling down the street. A Honda? I would imagine that such a sinister ski mask would have a more intimidating ride. The car pulls into the driveway and promptly pulls right back out and drives away. Ok then.

Inside the house, Chuck dials 911: "Hello. Send an ambulance to eight eighty-four Fear Street. A woman has been stabbed. My name? Just say I'm the Phantom of Fear Street." I'd rather say you're the Dumbass of Fear Street. Get real, Chuck! Later that night, Deena wakes up to the sound of car doors shutting. She runs downstairs and finds her father opening the door for a couple of Shadyside's "finest". Uh-oh. They want to talk to Deena and Chuck about the unpleasant episode a little earlier. They ask questions and Deena and Chuck lie for all they're worth. Sadly, Stanley Farberson (owner of the home on Fear Street) managed to get their license plate number and gave it to the police. He also told cops that CHUCK killed his darling wife. WHA?! One of the cops tells Deena and Chuck that he has to take them into the station for further questioning. How's the Phantom gonna get out of this one?

The next chapter is simply the ramblings of that anonymous male I've come to loathe: he's accomplished the plan; only one more week to wait; if someone gets in his way, he'll kill them. Great. Moving on...

Deena wakes up on Sunday afternoon thinking about the events that occurred the night before: the police let Deena leave, but they officially arrested Chuck because his fingerprints were all over the knife that was used to kill Mrs. Farberson. On the way home from the station, Deena told her parents that when they found Mrs. Farberson, she was already dead. At home, Deena called Jade and told her to come over. The girls told Mr. and Mrs. Martinson the entire story and later told the officers who think that Deena is just trying to protect Chuck. The fact that Mr. Farberson identified Chucky in a lineup isn't helping the case any.
On Monday morning, Deena meets Jade in the school parking lot. Jade hands Deena an article titled "Local Teen Charged In Murder" that makes Chuck look like a horrible burglar/murderer. Mr. Stanley Farberson has concocted quite a story! All day long, kids are talking about Chuck. Bobby McCorey and his thug friends harrass Deena, telling her to inform Chuck that jail will be the least of his troubles. My ass. At lunch, the fabulous Rob Morell comes over to talk to Deena and ends up asking her out. She says yes, but nothing ever comes of this for some reason.

That night, Deena silently questions Rob's motives: "Did he know she'd made those calls? Did he think she was after his bod?" Ah, that's hilarious. Good stuff. Deena turns her attention back to her trigonometry book when the phone rings. It's Jade telling Deena to turn the TV to channel 7 before abruptly hanging up. The local news is on. A large man with a broken nose is being interviewed about the murder. It's Mr. Farberson. When a reporter asks him how he feels about the suspect, he replies "I hope he gets the maximum. I know I'm supposed to turn the other cheek, but I can't forgive someone for such a terrible crime." Deena is shocked because she recognizes that's the voice of the ski mask! Ski mask = Farberson. Interesting...kinda. Deena calls Jade back and they agree that Farb was in the house on the night of the murder even though he's been saying he was at his restaurant at the time. And now I suppose these girls think they're Nancy fucking Drew. Of course. They must solve the crime! It's their duty! To the Batmobile!

The next morning, Deena calls one of the detectives assigned to the case and explains her theory: Mr. Farberson staged a burglary, killed his own wife, and blamed the innocent Chuck. Senseless? Sure! But who cares? Anyway, the detective doesn't believe a word she says and she hangs up feeling disappointed (exactly the way I feel about this book. What a coincidence.) At lunch, Jade leads Deena to her locker and shows her some wigs she ripped off from the drama department. The plan? Disguise themselves and poke around Farberson's restaurant, the Alberga Three (I don't get it) and find out as much as possible about him. How will this help? Oh well...may as well keep my mouth shut and go along for the ride.

After school, the girls disguise themselves ("We look at least eighteen now.") and head on over to the restaurant. They're greeted by a hostess named Kate. Jade tells her that she and Deena are there to apply for jobs. Luckily for them, a woman named Linda Morrison just quit her job as assistant to Farberson, so Kate says. Kate asks if they're from the agency and Jade lies and says yes. Kate leads them to Mr. Farberson's office where he gives them applications to fill out and exits the room with Kate. The girls use this opportunity to snoop through his things. Jade finds a sheet of paper that has 'Shadyside Travel Agency' printed on it and quickly shoves it into her pocket just as Farberson comes in. Planning on getting the hell out of town, eh? Grand idea. Farb tells the girls he called the so-called agency and he knows they didn't send the girls and he wants to know why they're really there. Busted! Of course Jade lies her way out of it, claiming that Linda Morrison is her cousin and informed her of the job. (I'm sorry if none of this makes sense. I'm barely muddling through it myself. I swear, this book is no longer than any other Fear Street novel, but it feels like a fucking 600 page epic.) Apparently Farb has a plane reservation to Argentina. Oh I get it now--they think he killed his wife, blamed someone else, and is now making a quick getaway before anyone realizes he's the guilty one. The end! Not. Also, the reservation is for two people. Ok. Then girls then begin to wonder if Linda Morrison can tell them anythin salacious about Farb. After all, she WAS his assistant. Just get it on with it.

The next day is a teacher's conference day so NO SCHOOL. The girls decide to use this prime opportunity to go speak with Linda. Hopefully she's completely would give this bland book some much needed spice. Anyway, as an excuse to get into Ms. Morrison's house and talk to her, the girls are going to pretend that they're conducting a survey. I'm sure you can guess who's plan this was. Yeah. Jade actually plays this pretty smooth, informing Linda that the survey is about employer-employee relationships. She launches into questions about Farberson and the restaurant, but she's cut short when the telephone rings. Linda picks up and tells Jade that she needs to take this call in another room so could Jade please hang up this phone when she picks up the one in the next room? Why would you ask a perfect stranger? Couldn't you call the person back later? Jade agrees and Linda walks into another room, but Jade doesn't hang up. Instead, she listens in as Linda has a chat with...Farberson! And it becomes real obvious real quick that this isn't a platonic relationship: "Oh thank goodness it's you, darling. I've had such a dreadful morning. I'm such a wreck. You've got to come and take it away. Please come!" He says he will and they hang up. Jade hangs up, too, just as Linda comes back into the room. Jade tells her that she and Deena have to be going now and they flee to the car before Farb arrives. Jade explains the situation to Deena and they decide to wait until Farb arrives and see what exactly he's coming to get from Linda (besides some sweet sweet looooooove). He shows up and retrieves a package from Linda. As he drives away, Deena says "I know what's in the package, Jade. I just know it for sure. It's the mask and the bloody shirt he wore the night he killed his wife." Don't get too excited, Madame Sleuth. The girls drive straight to the restaurant and see Farb dump the package in a dumpster in the alley. As soon as he's gone, the girls tiptoe into the alley, but before they can nab the package, a chef comes out of the kitchen and asks them what they're doing. Jade makes up a lie and she and Deena run back to the car.

They come back later at night. They both get into the slimy, smelly dumpster and start digging for the package. A couple of guys come out of the kitchen, dump some nasty garbage into the dumpster, and go back inside. The girls are even more repulsed by the smell, but they keep searching. FINALLY Jade finds the package and they leap out of the dumpster, run to the car, and open the package. It sure as hell isn't a mask and a bloody shirt. It's a dead cat. Dammit, Stine! You and your zoo of furry corpses! The girls assume that Linda's cat died and she couldn't bear to get rid of it herself so she got Farb to do it. They glumly get into the car and suddenly some creep wearing a SKI MASK pops up from the backseat. He grabs their shoulders and says "Don't ever let me see you again. I only give one warning." He jumps out and stalks off in the dark. What a gentleman.

After school the next day, Deena goes to visit Chuck. He tells her that she has to get him out because he's going crazy. Deena tells him about all the junk she and Jade have been up to on his behalf. She also tells him that they plan on going to Farb's house and searching for anything that might be incriminating. This infuriates Chuck because he's afraid that Farb will find the girls and kill them. A guard comes and drags him back to his cell, leaving Deena to sit alone in shock. She goes home and has dinner with the parentals and gets into a fight with Dad over Chuck. She storms off to her room. Drama drama drama. Jade calls and she and Deena make plans to visit Fear Street very soon. After 128 pages of mindnumbing boredom, things are finally getting interesting.

On Friday night, both of Deena's parents are stuck at work so she won't have to explain where she's going. Deena eats and then walks to the Division Street Mall to meet Jade. It's pouring rain and by the time she arrives, she's soaked. They take the bus to Fear Street (why the hell didn't Deena take the bus to the mall?!) and creep up to the Farberson house. They go into the house and find that it's a total mess. They make their way upstairs and into Farb's study where they find a letter written by the now deceased Mrs. Edna Farberson. The main points: Mrs. Farberson had a large inheritance and Mr. Farb was blowing through it pretty quickly; she was getting sick of his crap and planned to leave him. The girls decide this is enough evidence to show the police (not still doesn't prove anything!) and they prepare to leave. Unfortunately, they hear someone enter the house. Uh-oh. They wait for a moment until the sound of footsteps stops. They creep into the hall and Jade makes to to the staircase. She looks down and sees Farb snoring on the couch. A life of crime will really take it out of you. She reports back to Deena and these geniuses decide to go quietly down the stairs and swiftly out the door. They can't possibly think it'll be that easy. Anyway, they get halfway down the stairs before Farb starts yawning and stretching. They dash back into his study where Deena has an ill-timed bout of clumsiness, tripping over a wastebasket and catching Farb's unwanted attention. The girls dive into the closet just as he enters the room. It's getting tense, kids. I'm nervous! Farb opens the closet and says "Well, well, girls. Just can't stay away, can you?" Oh damn. Jade says they know he killed his wife and he'll never get away with it. Farb responds by grabbing Jade's arms and yelling "It's time to teach you girls a lesson!" just before slamming Jade into a desk. Deena uses the opportunity to flee downstairs, but she makes the mistake of stopping to try the telephone which is dead. Farb catches her and drags her back upstairs, throwing her to the floor beside Jade. He confesses that he did indeed kill his wife and insinuates that they're going to be his next victims. He leaves the room and locks the door behind him. Probably going to finish his nap. The girls quickly decide to climb out the window and go down a tree that's only a few feet from the window. They hear Farberson putting his key into the lock so they shove a bureau in front of the door to block him. Both girls are clinging to a tree branch when Farb finally gets into the room. He tells the girls that they won't get away and disappears.

He comes outside a few minutes later with a chainsaw. Awesome. Every book needs a chainsaw. Farb revs up the chainsaw and starts to cut into the branch that the girls are hanging on. He almost cuts it completely off....until the cops show up. How very convenient. A couple of officers help the girls down and immediately after, the branch crashes to the ground. Mr. Martinson and Chuck are there, too. Apparently Chuck told one of the detectives about Deena and Jade's plan to raid Farb's house. And everything else just fell into place I suppose.

At school on Monday, everyone is all abuzz about the events. Jade and Chuck are suddenly sickeningly cozy, holding hands in the hall and such. And Rob asks Deena out and it's so cute! *barf* The end.

Conclusion? The first half of the book is pretty dull, but the scene with the chainsaw (and Farberson's maniacal laughter) makes it all worth it.

Up next: "The Secret Bedroom"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Knife

*I apologize beforehand for all the animosity in this post.*

Book Description:

Shhh. There are a lot of things they want to keep quiet at Shadyside Hospital. In fact, just about every private room holds a private secret of it's own. Poor Laurie Masters. The student volunteer innocently happened to stumble onto the hospital's sickest secret of all. Laurie has seen too much and now the doctors and nurses are taking a close look at Laurie. What they come up with is a deadly diagnosis. Laurie may not be sick, but she's getting a prescription anyway--a prescription for horror!

*That description is totally off. This book would have been more interesting if any of those things were true! Prescription for horror my ass.*

My Description:

Always with the damn prologue! Anyway, this is short. Laurie is running from a creepy dude. She hides, he finds her, he blows his hot nasty breath on her cheek, she wonders where he's hiding the titular knife, and the next page begins chapter one...

It's one week earlier and Laurie is talking with her friend Skye. They're high school students who are spending their summer vacation volunteering on the children's floor at Shadyside Hospital. Skye is hurrying to take some balloons to a sick little boy. I think we're supposed to admire these girls for sacrificing their entire summer to take care of sick kiddies without getting paid. I guess Laurie is admirable, but I think Skye just wants to meet hot doctors. Typical. While Skye is delivering her balloons, Laurie looks at the new wing of the hospital, the Franklin Fear Wing (still under construction). I hate that every aspect of this God forsaken town is consumed by Fear! In a hospital, who wants to be staying in the Fear Wing? Not exactly comforting. Suddenly Laurie hears a soft crying coming from Room 903. She steps inside and spots a small boy lying in bed with tears streaming down his face. She tells him that she's there to visit which is a total lie that doesn't even calm him down. She checks his chart and finds out that his name is Toby Deane; he's three years old and has pneumonia. She tries talking to him, but he won't speak so she just holds his hand instead. This Hallmark moment is making my frozen heart feel again. Bravo, Stine, you win this round. The moment is broken by Nurse Edith Wilton, a real ballbuster who will...well, she'll bust your balls. She's harsh like that. She bustles in and tells Laurie that she really needs to leave now. Ok...

Laurie and Skye go to get lunch in the busy hospital cafeteria. Unfortunately, the food isn't up to par ("What kind of meat is blue?" Today's stew, in case you were wondering.) and Skye finds ample time to complain. Shut up, Skye. You're not there for a gourmet feast, you're there to work! The girls discuss the raffle the hospital is currently holding. The prize? A red Mercedes Benz. Ooo la la. Skye is convinced that she's the one who is going to win it and has bought several tickets from herself, natch. Then Skye laments about the fact that she has two dates for Saturday night. I've said it once and I'll say it again: SHUT UP, SKYE. Laurie says that she has a date with Andy Price, the hospital administrator's son. She isn't too excited, though, because Andy is an immature whiny doofus without merit. Being a typical Fear Street heroine, Laurie is too spineless to tell the moron to fuck off. Anyway, the girls notice a hot guy enter the cafeteria. Skye proclaims that it's Tom Cruise. WOOO! Of course he takes a seat at their table and chats them up. His name is Rick Spencer. He's a college student who is spending his summer volunteering on the surgical floor. Skye is slobbering all over herself with thoughts of dating this hot college guy. Unfortunately for her, Rick seems to have eyes for Laurie only. Hahaha! That's what you get for being so full of yourself, Skye! Suddenly a voice over the intercom announces a code blue for room 903. Laurie freaks out and runs out of the cafeteria because 903 is Toby's room. She reaches the room and bursts inside only to find the crabby Nurse Wilton. Turns out the code blue was for room 503. Wilton kicks Laurie out and Laurie heads to the nurse's station to chat with the less prickly Nurse Girard. Girard is already talking to someone, though...*gasp* It's Toby's mom! And she's upset because she wants her kid back! And I'm just grasping at straws because there's nothing even remotely exciting about this! Mom leaves and at the same time, Wilton exits Toby's room and goes inside the Fear Wing. She's followed by none other than our resident hottie Rick. Wow. Secret affairs in the hospital...that's some soap opera shit right there. What the hell am I saying? They're not making sweet passionate love. They're probably killing each other.

That night, Laurie is sitting alone in the home she shares with her Aunt Hillary in North Hills (remember North Hills?! That's where those silly asstards in "Bad Dreams" were from!) Laurie's mom and dad were killed in a boating accident when Laurie was little and she's lived with her aunt ever since. Anyway, Auntie Hillary is a workaholic and rarely gets home before Laurie goes to bed. Laurie is sitting in the library partaking of a little chronic before bed (ok, fine. She's READING.) when the phone rings. No-one is on the line. Chills. A few seconds later it rings again. This time it's Rick (keep your shirts on, ladies). Laurie asks if he called a few minutes ago and he says "Yes, but the line was busy." Sir, you couldn't be more transparent if you tried. Then he asks her out for Saturday night, but she has to decline because she's already tied to that stupid Andy kid. Before they hang up, Laurie asks him how he got her number. He says that Skye gave it to him. *cough*LIAR*cough* They hang up and Laurie immediately calls Skye. Of course Skye says she didn't give him no stinkin' number and Laurie hangs up with an uneasy feeling. The last line of the chapter? "Laurie didn't understand much, but she knew one thing for sure--Rick Spencer was a liar!" And it only took you 30 pages to figure that out. Good one, Sherlock.

The next morning, Laurie finds a note from her aunt in the kitchen. I won't transcribe it because it starts with "Hi, cookie" which kind of makes me wanna kill myself for some reason. Anyway, the gist of it is that Hillary will be working late again. Why bother writing a note when you're ALWAYS late, Hil? Laurie has come to expect your perpetual absence and she doesn't seem to give a shit. Laurie is about to leave when the phone rings. It's Dr. Price, Andy's dad. GAG! The first thing out of his mouth? I'm so glad you asked: "I have a special assignment for you today. I want you to skip work and play tennis with my son." Rocks can't play tennis, doc. For a doctor, you sure are dumb. Oh wait! I've been conned! It was Andy PRETENDING to be his dad. Two words, Andy: fuck off. Laurie is too nice to be so vulgar and she tells him she'll see him after work at Patsy's Pizzeria. Skye will be there, too, with her flavor of the week, Jim Farrow. It's a party...God help us all.

Laurie finally hauls ass to the hospital. Once there, she buys a teddy bear for Toby in the gift shop and goes straight to his room. She finds his bed empty and automatically assumes he died in the night. *eye roll* She finds Toby standing beside his mother at the nurse's station. His mom is talking to Rick (this guy gets around) and Toby catches Laurie's eye. He walks over and she gives him the bear. Laurie tells him he has to go to his mom now and Toby replies "She's not my mommy." Well, just who the hell is she then? Look, I used to get pissed at my mom, too, and tell perfect strangers that she wasn't my mom at all (and such beatings I received for those shenanigans!) so I don't know why Laurie flips out. Kids say crap like that all the time. The "mom" yells at Toby that it's time to go and he scampers off while Laurie stares in confusion. Rick tells Laurie that he was telling Mrs. Deane (the alleged mother) where the pharmacy is. Laurie is immediately suspicious because apparently Rick is new to the area so how would he know where the pharmacy was? Laurie, lay off the reefer. You're way too paranoid. The phone rings then and Rick picks up. Laurie walks a few feet away and after Rick hangs up, he slips a box of surgical knives into his pocket. Laurie can't believe that Rick is a thief in addition to being a big fat liar!

The rest of the day is a busy blur for Laurie, but despite the chaos, she can't stop thinking about Toby. She just knows something is wrong and she's gotta help him, I tell ya, she's just gotta! Stupid Fear Street girls and their stupid hunches. She finds Toby's file and makes a note of his address. She's devised a cunning plan (and by 'cunning' I mean 'absolutely idiotic') to get to Toby: she'll stop by his house and sell a raffle ticket to his mom! The only hitch is that these poor pathetic cretins live on Fear Street and Laurie doesn't wanna go there alone. After all, she's from North Hills where no-one's pets ever die gruesome deaths and the only ghosts/psychos/haunted beds you see are on TV. North Hills doesn't have a series of novels named after it, though, does it? Booya! (Fear Street: 1 North Hills: -5) Anyway, Laurie puts away Toby's file and is just about to creep out of the file closet (which is not available to student volunteers. Naughty Laurie!) when she hears Nurse Wilton and Nurse Marshall talking. Oh snap! Marshall leaves and Wilton plants her bum behind the desk. Laurie sneaks out when Wilton's back is turned and runs down the hall. Unfortunately, Wilton spotted Laurie anyhow and screams for her to come back. Laurie keeps running and manages to dive into the elevator before the nasty nurse can catch her. But Laurie really should've caught another elevator because this fucking thing has a corpse in it! Never mind...her eyes moved...that "corpse" is alive, man, but just barely. The orderly transporting this poor soul to her room tells Laurie that she's gonna have to get the hell out at the next floor. What a jerk. Oh well. Laurie gets off on an unfamiliar floor; a sign tells her that it's for authorized personnel only, but don't worry--Laurie will snoop around anyway! She gets paranoid (her usual state of mind) that Nurse Wilton will find her soon and dives into a room to hide. I doubt Wilton really gives a shit at this point. She has better things to do than play cat-and-mouse with Laurie all day. Laurie backs into the darkened room and promptly grabs the cold, clammy hand of a REAL corpse lying on a table. Apparently she's in the anatomy room. Spoooooooky. Not. A few seconds later, she hears keys jangling and the lock turning. She's locked inside with an ugly corpse! AHHHH! Look on the bright side--at least Wilton never found her. Laurie manages to unlock the door, fumbling in the dark. She walks down the hall and spots Wilton and Dr. Price talking around the corner. Laurie can't believe the old wind bag would dare tell the hospital administrator about her! How does she know WHAT they're talking about? They could be discussing anything...there are a shit ton of things that are more important than Laurie.

Later, at Patsy's Pizzeria, Laurie tells the gang all about her misadventures. Andy makes gross jokes about the corpse ("All dripping with slime, I bet.") Laurie changes the subject, telling them of her plan to go to Toby's house and sell his mean old mama a raffle ticket. I'm not sure what she thinks will happen. I mean, this woman isn't likely to invite Laurie in for tea and crumpets so how does Laurie think she'll be able to gain anything from this trip? Laurie asks the group if they'll accompany her and they reluctantly agree. Andy has to be a sarcastic asshole about it: "Ooo, that does sound like a thrill! It might be to exciting for me!" Jackassery is ugly. After they eat, they pile into Andy's Volvo and head to Fear Street. They split up because they can't find the house right off the bat. No, it doesn't make any sense, but we're on Fear Street now so everything will only get more convoluted from here. Skye and Laurie find the correct house. Mrs. Deane is as sweet as ever, greeting the girls with "What do you want?" Laurie badgers Mrs. Deane into buying a ticket, but she has to go fetch her purse first. While the girls are waiting, they hear a child crying from somewhere inside the house. Laurie's curiosity gets the best of her and she creeps inside the house to investigate. She sees Toby on the stairs, but he looks thinner and paler. Laurie reaches out to him and suddenly Mrs. Deane comes barreling down the stairs. She yells at Toby to get back in his room (cage?) and tells Laurie to get out. She shoves a dollar at Laurie, grabs the ticket, and slams the door in their faces. Damn. What happened to manners?

At work the next door, a note for Laurie awaits at the nurse's station. It's from Nurse Schneider, supervisor of all nurses everywhere! The note simply says "Please see me as soon as you get in." Uh-oh. The meeting is fairly uneventful. Apparently Nurse Wilton told Nurse Schneider that Laurie was unhelpful, rude, and a total snoop. Wow. So Nurse Schneider is transferring Laurie to the X-ray department on another floor. Laurie is pissed, but at least she gets to stick around. By the end of the day, Laurie is bored to death of X-rays and decides she's going to talk to Nurse Wilton. Idiot. If she makes good with Wilton, maybe she can move back to the children's floor! Again, idiot.

At the end of the day, Laurie hangs around the nurse's station waiting for Nurse Wilton. She spots her heading into the deserted Fear Wing. Then, a few minutes later, she sees Rick go inside the Fear Wing. This seems so terribly risque! But it isn't, of course. Remember: Shadyside residents do not have sexual urges of any kind. Sex is purely for producing psychotic spawn. Laurie waits for several minutes for one of them to come out, but she eventually loses patience and decides to head inside the Fear Wing instead of taking her dumb ass home like she should have done an hour ago. She stumbles around in the darkness and comes upon...Nurse Wilton's corpse! With a surgical knife sticking out of her throat! This isn't as exciting as I'm attempting to make it seem! In fact, I've grown so bored with this book that I'm beginning to wish someone would stab ME with a big knife! Huzzah! Laurie runs away to the nurse's station where she tells Nurse Girard and Skye that Nurse Wilton has been officially shut down. Nurse Girard calls a doctor who shows up with two guards. Laurie leads the group to the Fear Wing and I'm certain you know what happens next. The body is gone and everyone thinks Laurie is playing a sick joke. So. Predictable. It. Hurts. Laurie believes that Rick killed her. She also believes that this incident is somehow connected with Toby. Are you fucking kidding me? Yeah, little Toby didn't the care he required (i.e. ice cream every hour on the hour) from Nurse Wilton so he hired someone to kill her. Whatever! Stop being so naive, Laurie. And quit with the Nancy Drew crap! Laurie decides to visit Fear Street AGAIN and she's going to check Toby's file AGAIN to see if she can find out anything else. But Toby's file is missing. Take me home, Jesus, I don't wanna live anymore...

After work the next day, Laurie goes home and puts on some ratty clothes and ties a scarf around her head in preparation for her visit to Fear Street. Um, why? What would it make any difference whatsoever what she was wearing? And what the hell does she plan to do once she reaches Toby's house? She drives to Fear Street in the dark and hides in the bushes. From her position, she can see Toby sitting at the kitchen table. An unknown female is talking to him. A man comes into the room with a little suitcase. They lead Toby out to their car and drive away with him. Laurie is about to move away from the bushes when she hears a child's bloodcurdling shriek coming from inside the house. Surprisingly, Laurie doesn't rush inside. She walks to her car and drives away with a plan: she'll talk to Dr. Price the next day and everything will be A-ok! Please excuse me, kids...I think I need a drink...maybe a couple hundred...

As Laurie is driving, a Honda pulls out in front of her and stops, blocking her path. Rick gets out of the car and starts walking towards her. At this point, I'm not concerned about Rick. I'm more interested in his T-shirt: " old black Batman shirt with the weird design that looked like an open mouth with dangling tonsils." What? Dangling tonsils? Someone enlighten me because I'm lost. Anyway, instead of running him over, Laurie simply burns rubber in the opposite direction. Once home, she runs upstairs to call Andy. She wants to talk to his dad, but like a good boyfriend, Andy ignores her and rambles on about a horror movie he's watching. Laurie finally screams at him and he tells her his dad won't be home until after midnight. He asks why she needs to talk to him anyway and she lies: "Uh, I'm doing an independent summer work project and I, uh, need to interview your dad." Convincing. Andy invites Laurie over for a little somethin' somethin', but Laurie makes up some excuse for not being able to and hangs up. Why doesn't she just tell him that she's totally repulsed by him? Subtle signals don't work on morons like Andy, Laurie. You've gotta amp up your game....or something. Laurie calls Skye and asks if she can stay the night because Aunt Hillary won't be home for hours and she really doesn't wanna be alone. As soon as Skye agrees, Laurie hears someone coming up the stairs. She tells Skye that Hillary just got home and hangs up. But fear of all fears! It isn't Hillary! Laurie doesn't get a glimpse of the intruder; he/she runs away once the real Hillary arrives. Laurie runs up to her aunt and tells her what happened. Laurie has a feeling that it was Rick, but Hillary mentions that she saw Andy's car parked at the curb. Laurie ends up spilling the entire story about Toby, etc. She says that she wants to talk to Dr. Price and Hillary offers to talk to him for her (Hil has been doing a job for the "prestigious" Board of Trustees so she sees Dr. Price all the time). Laurie acts like a bitch about it, saying she doesn't need help from anyone. Actually, dear, some psychiatric help would do you good. In the mean time, do us all a favor and kindly shut the fuck up.

Later, Laurie receives a call from Rick. He asks why she ran away from him on Fear Street. It was those dangling tonsils, man. They're the scariest thing about this book. Wait, scratch that. The scariest thing about this book is the fact that R.L. Stine probably wrote it while sitting on the john, sent it in, and got paid about a gajillion bucks, leaving us all to suffer. Anyway, Laurie explains why she ran away from Rick: "I saw you steal those surgical knives from the ninth floor nurses' station. You sneaked them into your pocket when you thought no-one was looking. Don't tell me you didn't." So he likes to play with knives. Who doesn't? Rick rationally explains that he was fetching them for a doctor and asks her "What did you think I did with them? Operate on someone? Stab someone?" This only serves to heighten Laurie's paranoia and I've never hated her more. Seriously, lady, lay off the peyote....or whatever your drug of choice happens to be. And don't tell me you're clean, dammit! Laurie asks Rick what he was doing on Fear Street and Rick says "Stay away from Fear Street. You're going to get yourself in trouble." No problem there.

On Saturday night, Laurie heads to the Dr. Price's house to speak with him. Laurie starts the conversation on a cheerful note: "Nurse Wilton was murdered in the Fear Wing. I saw her." *sigh* Dr. Price is shocked and calls the nurse supervisor to find out why he was never informed of this incident. The supervisor tells him that Wilton is on vacation for three weeks. A GHOSTLY vacation? No, shut up. Laurie then launches into her theory about Toby being in trouble. At this point, Dr. Price obviously thinks Laurie is retarded, but he humors her and tells her he'll check Toby's files. Laurie tells him the files are missing and the good doctor simply smiles and says "People AND records--everything seems to be missing." Ha. Laurie asks if she could be transferred back to the children's floor. To placate the little idiot, Dr. Price promises he'll try and sends her on her way.

Later, Laurie and Andy are hanging out. He asks what she was talking to his dad about and she explains yet again. When Laurie says she's doing the "project" for extra credit, Andy replies "How about some extra credit with me?" while trying to kiss her. *puke* She pushes him away as usual. Shouldn't you actually WANT to be around your boyfriend? Why not save him some time and tell him straight up that you don't like him and never will? Why am I still asking questions of a fictional character? Thankfully, these two get in a fight (Andy suspects Laurie is seeing another guy) and Laurie ends up storming off and telling Andy to leave her alone for good. Finally. Laurie drives to the mall to meet Skye and ends up seeing Toby and his mother in the parking lot. She calls to Toby and he waves at her...until his punk of a mother shoves him into the car. The rest of the day sucks because Laurie's mood was ruined by seeing Toby so unhappy. Boo-hoo. I don't get why she is so invested in this kid. Yes, his mother is a monster and that is not right. But Laurie does not know these people and it's none of her business. Plus, if she really wanted to make a difference she would call the proper authorities and have them check up on him instead of prancing around playing amateur detective.

That night, after a solitary meal, Laurie decides to call Toby's house and speak with his mom. You've got to be joking! Laurie calls and pretends that she has an extra ticket and wonders if it's Mrs. Deane's. Mrs. Deane says everything I was thinking: "You're a real nuisance, aren't you? I don't care if I've got my ticket or not, hear? And I'm very busy right now. Goodbye!" Before she can hang up, Laurie begs to say hello to Toby, but Mrs. Deane doesn't like that idea: "No, you can't! And I don't want you snooping around us anymore, Laurie! Just butt out! I mean that! Stay away from us!" Then Laurie hears a slap and a "howl of pain." She struck the child and Laurie must save the day! It's never going to end, is it?

Laurie drives to Fear Street and sneaks into Toby's house through an open window. Her idiocy pays off in the form of someone hitting her in the head and dragging her down to the cellar to be tied to a chair. It's the fabulous Mrs. Deane of course. "Scream all you want. No-one will hear you. I warned you, but you wouldn't listen." She marches back upstairs and Laurie hears her talking on the phone: "It's that girl again. She showed up here, snooping around. She broke into the house, but I've got her. No, she can't get away. She's tied up, good and tight. But you'll have to deal with her yourself. This is more than I signed on for. Ok, take care of her aunt first. Then finish off the girl." Sounds vaguely dirty. Uh, I mean, oh no Aunt Hillary is in trouble! Laurie spots a pair of scissors lying on a worktable and attempts to edge her chair over to it. Someone is coming, though. Laurie frantically thinks of where to hide which is absolutely pointless because she's tied to a freaking chair. There's nothing to hide from anyway--it's just Toby. Laurie gets Toby to use the scissors to cut her free. Then she tells him that she thought he went away with that man and woman. Toby tells her that was Terry. Yes, Toby has a twin. The two creep upstairs and flee outside to Laurie's car. Laurie hears Mrs. Deane screaming at them to come back, but Laurie ignores her and drives away. Poor Toby. Laurie tries to call her aunt from a payphone, but no-one answers. So she calls the hospital and conveniently enough, Hillary left a message there for her. Auntie Hillary's car wouldn't start so she needs Laurie to come get her. Oh, and she'll be waiting at the ninth floor nurse's station. WHY can't she wait on the first floor? Stine, you and your stupid plot contrivances. I need them about as much as I need a hole in my head (which, coincidentally, is looking pretty damn good right about now). Laurie gets back in the car and heads toward the hospital. On the way, Toby flicks on the radio and Laurie hears a stunning news announcement: Nurse Wilton's body was found at the bottom of a ravine among the ruins of a car. Good Lord. As if this is not enough for one evening, Laurie looks in the rearview mirror and sees Rick's beat-up blue Honda trailing her. She speeds up and when she pulls into the parking lot, no-one is following her. She grabs Toby and rushes inside...just as Rick pulls into the lot. Laurie frantically pushes the elevator buttons, praying that Rick won't get to them. See, Hillary? If your stupid ass had just waited in the downstairs lobby, all of you could have gotten the hell out of dodge by now! Laurie manages to dive into the elevator and it's doors close just as Rick steps toward them.

When she reaches the ninth floor, Hillary is nowhere to be seen. Nurse Girard tells Laurie that no-one has been by for over an hour and she allows Laurie to use the phone. Just as Laurie picks up the receiver, though, she spots Rick. Fortunately, Nurse Girard asks him to help her out with something and this leaves Laurie with enough time to run and hide like the chicken she is. I forgot to mention that Laurie left Toby with a kindly nurse in the midst of all this crap so at least he doesn't have to bear witness to how stupid some people can be. Laurie hides in the Fear Wing because that isn't the first place Rick will look or anything. As she's stumbling through the dark, she somehow spots a trapdoor (how can she see so well if it's dark?) and realizes that's how Rick removed Nurse Wilton's body. A trapdoor? You're serious? What purpose would a trapdoor serve in a hospital (or any other place for that matter)? Oh well. Rick enters then and we get the scene from the prologue in which he grabs her and breathes all over her. He has a good reason to grab her, though: she almost fell down an elevator shaft. But even though Rick just saved her ass, Laurie is still creeped out by him and wonders where he's hiding the knife. Laurie, for the love of all things good and holy in this world, just go ahead and throw yourself down that shaft. It'll be the nicest thing you've ever done for anyone.

Someone enters the Fear Wing then and Laurie screams at them to help her. Rick lets her go and goes to contend with the "intruder". Laurie hears sounds of a struggle and then DR. PRICE saying "It's ok, Laurie. You can come out now." She dashes to him, tripping over Rick's unconscious body on the way. Dr. Price hit him in the head with his flashlight, knocking him out cold. But the good doctor obviously didn't hit him hard enough because Rick is gaining consciousness already. Rick tells Laurie that Dr. Price killed Nurse Wilton. Say what? "He's been running an illegal adoption agency out of the hospital! He and Mrs. Deane - or whatever her name is - they've been kidnapping children from out of state and selling them to the highest bidders! Nurse Wilton found out about it and she was blackmailing him. That's why he killed her." I'm speechless. After a short battle in which Rick and Dr. Price wrestle a bit, the doctor ends up falling down the elevator shaft.

Rick and Laurie exit the Fear Wing and Aunt Hillary comes running up to them. After they tell her the whole sordid story, she explains why Price wanted her dead, too: she was working on a secret project and Price was afraid that she was getting too close to the truth. Before Laurie leaves with Hillary, she gives Rick a big kiss. Someone get this book away from me...

Conclusion? This one was Stine's gift to the plot contrivance gods. So very painful.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Bad Dreams

Book Description:

Every night Maggie Travers has the same horrible dream. Every night she is forced to watch the same murder. And every night the girl in her dream cries out for help. Maggie is afraid to go to sleep again. But when the terrifying dream starts to come true and the gruesome accidents begin, staying awake is the real nightmare!

My Description:

- Prologue-
Not much to tell...a girl is lying in bed, twisting and turning. Suddenly someone pops out of the darkness with a large knife and stabs the girl. We then segue into the first chapter...

The Travers family is moving to Fear Street! Joy of all joys! Well, not for them...and probably not for us, but lets wait and see. Anyway, Ma Travers and her daughters, Maggie (age 17) and Andrea (age 16) and their dog, Gus (please be merciful, God, and let this animal live! LIVE!!! At least through the first five chapters.) are crammed into the car seraching for Fear Street. One would assume that everyone in Shadyside would know where the most notorious street around is, but I suppose not. The Travers family is from North Hills, an upscale area of Shadyside (how fucking big is this town anyway?) and they're not used to being around trashy, haunted dumps like Fear Street. Why are they moving there? Daddy Warbucks...uhhh, I mean TRAVERS passed away a few months back and the family can no longer the afford the luxury of North Hills. Or something. Who cares why they're moving? Everyone ends up on Fear Street eventually! Yee-haw!

While Mom is driving, Maggie and Andrea are bickering like 5 year olds. I'm serious, these two act like total babies for the majority of the book. Whiny babies with diaper rash. Yeah. The arguements are basically variations of this: (paraphrased for your convenience)

Andrea: WAHHHHH! Maggie, you get everything! You're so much better than me! WAHHHHH! I have man shoulders and ugly hair and I used to be popular, but now I'm not and you are, Maggie! Since I can't hang out at the country club with my North Hills friends and make fun of the crippled and elderly, I'm going to bitch about it everyday and treat my family like shit! WAHHHHH!

Maggie: First of all, fuck off, Andrea. Second, you're just jealous of my sexy, airheaded boyfriend Justin and my bitchy, competitive friends from the swim team. Yeah, you're on the swim team, too, but no-one cares because you suck! Now shut up while I make sweet lurve to my boyfriend, you poopy head!

See what I mean? Totally childish. Their poor mother should have tied cinder blocks around their ankles and thrown them in the river. Unfortunately, she's too nice for such hate crimes. Anyway, they finally manage to locate the house. The movers are already there, hauling all their things inside. Mom opens the trunk of the car so they can retrieve the things they brought with them. Maggie reminds Andrea to NOT let Gus out yet. Of course Andrea walks her manly shoulders right over to the car door when Maggie isn't looking and Gus comes springing out. Mom and Maggie see Gus running full speed down the sidewalk and Mom yells for Andrea to grab him. Andrea responds predictably: "It's Maggie's dog. Let Maggie get him." What a useless sack of crap this girl is. She isn't even helping her mother and sister get things out of the trunk and God forbid she grab the FAMILY dog before it gets ran over. Maggie chases Gus and suddenly he runs into the road...right into the path of an oncoming truck. NOOOOOOOOO! It can't be! Stine, you cruel bastard! WHHHYYYY?!?!? Oh, never mind. Maggie grabs him just in time. Phew. He's safe...for now. Maggie drags him back to the house and goes to check out her new room. She's surprised to find a gorgeous canopy bed sitting inside...a canopy bed that wasn't there when her family first viewed the house. She loves it and marvels at her good luck. Of course that rat Andrea has to ruin the good mood by coming in, begging sweetly for the bed, and promptly throwing a shit fit when Maggie says "Finders keepers." HA! In your fat face, Andrea! I'm sorry, but I truly loathe this that so bad? Don't answer that.

That night after dinner, Justin (he of the sexy and the airheadedness) calls Maggie. Maggie can't believe Justin ever even wanted to go out with her because he's so popular and dreamy and wonderful. Maggie's swim team pal, Dawn, briefly dated him, but wasn't so impressed. One lady's trash is another lady's treasure! I use the word 'treasure' loosely. Maggie dutifully complains about the dreary house ("It's like something out of The Addams Family." Except even the Addams wouldn't stoop that low.) and Justin says he can't wait to see it so they make a date for the following afternoon. Immediately after they hang up, Dawn calls. The girls carry on about swimming and Andrea stares menacingly at Maggie because Maggie is so popular! WAHHH! Go play in traffic, Andrea.

That night, the girls are at their bullshit antics again. They have to share a bathroom and Andrea has been holed up in there for quite some time, not allowing Maggie her turn. Of course Maggie keeps yelling and banging on the door. Instead of telling Maggie that she has explosive diarrhea and it's going to be a while, Andrea simply doesn't respond which only makes Maggie angrier. Finally Andrea emerges in a cloud of steam and tells Maggie "The water pressure stinks! And I had to let the shower run for a year before the brown water stopped coming out!" A likely story.

Maggie eventually gets to bed and has the first of a series of "bad" dreams. In this particular dream, Maggie sees a girl lying in bed. That's all. But Maggie just knows that girl is in trouble, dammit! People don't just SLEEP like that for no reason! *sigh* Maggie wakes up screaming, drawing the attention of her mother and Andrea. Are you serious, Mr. Stine? Are you really? That was NOT a bad dream! Nothing happened! Maggie tells them about the dream and when she mentions that the girl in the bed had blonde hair, Andrea tells Maggie that she dreamed about Dawn. Whatever.

The next morning, Maggie begins setting her room up to look the way it did in her old house. But it doesn't look quite the same because Fear Street sucks, remember? She gets dressed and goes downstairs to wait for Justin. The hours pass and he FINALLY shows up at around five o'clock. Maggie is pissed, but her anger fades away when she looks into Justin's baby blues. *BARF* And check this shit out--he brought her a freaking bag of sponges as a gift because she mentioned they were doing heavy duty cleaning around the house. This guy is a class act...he didn't show up on time and as an apology, he gives you a damn bag of sponges? What the hell is wrong with you, Maggie? I don't care HOW good he looks! He's a jerk! Maggie gets the sweet prince a can of Sprite (what? No Coke?) and takes him on the grand tour. And by 'grand tour' I mean she takes him to her room and they make out. This chick is compltely whipped. Justin could tell her to peel her own skin off and she'd do it. Maggie confesses that she's incredibly nervous about swimming tryouts the next day. Justin really isn't all that useful in calming her nerves. Maggie also tells him about her stupid dream. Justin's response? "He says "Weird." just before sticking his tongue down her throat. *sigh* I give up. Maggie glances at the door and sees Andrea there. Maggie accuses her of spying on them. Andrea denies it, saying she just needs to borrow a pair of socks because she can't find her's. Maggie finds a pair while Andrea tries to engage Justin in conversation by complimenting him on his baseball skills. Why do you people insist on blowing smoke up this guy's ass? He treats you both like crap! Actually, he doesn't treat Andrea like anything because that would mean acknowledging her presence (which he doesn't). After Andrea leaves, Maggie mentions her dream again. Justin shows he cares by pretending to die. Seriously. He grabs his throat, makes a choking sound, and collapses to the floor. Is that his way of telling her he'd rather die than listen to her for one more second? Maggie, that idiot, actually buys it! She honestly thinks he's dying until he starts laughing. Is anything interesting or scary going to happen anytime soon? The only terrifying thing about this book so far is Justin's total lack of a brain and Maggie's gelatinous spine. They wrestle and Justin leaves. My brain is now throbbing.

The next day, the swim team is in the locker room preparing for tryouts. Apparently there are a few slots open for something called the 200IM (Individual Medley) taking place at the All-State meet. Coach Randall (a 40 year old who almost made it to the Olympics in her formative years but wasn't good enough so now she has to coach these jokers) has chosen four girls (Dawn, Andrea, Maggie, Tiffany Hollings) who will tryout for the coveted slots. Andrea whines about losing her bathing cap and accuses Maggie of stealing it. One of the girls tells Andrea that her cap is sticking out from under her backpack. Andrea blushes in embarrassment as everyone laughs at her. They all leave the locker room and once by the pool, Coach tells them to get over to their places and wait for the whistle. They dive in and Maggie ends up winning the race. Andrea is last. I'm sure she'll mope and bitch plenty. After an hour of regular pratice, they all hit the showers. As Maggie emerges from the locker room after dressing and gathering her things, she sees someone floating facedown in the pool. It's Dawn. Maggie automatically assumes that one of the best swimmers on the team has done gone and drowned herself! She dives in to save the day, but Dawn is fine and gets pissed off at Maggie for acting like a damned fool. Then the girls laugh like hyenas at Maggie's wet clothes. Har har. NOT.

On Tuesday night, Maggie has another dream. This time, the girl is writhing on her bed again. Suddenly a figure holding a knife (we saw all this in the prologue) bursts out of the darkness. The girl slams her head against the headboard and Maggie wakes up. She thinks about the bed the girl was in...the bed with a pink canopy...ruh-roh! Andrea comes in then and Maggies freaks out because she thinks it's the girl. Maggie rehashes the entire dream and Andrea tells her that she's only having these dreams because she's under a lot of pressure with the swim team and such. That is always the excuse in these books! Bad dreams? You're just under pressure. Got cancer? It's just pressure. Whatever! Maggie ruins this sisterly moment by bringing up her win which inevitably leads to Andrea throwing a hissy fit and storming out.

On Friday, as Maggie is heading to geology class, she spots Dawn on the stairs. She calls to her and tries to push through the crowd, but she can't manage. Suddenly, Dawn goes tumbling down the stairs. She starts screaming that her arm is broken and someone pushed her. Maggie rushes to her side at this moment and Dawn accuses her. Maggie swears she didn't do it, but Dawn doesn't really believe her. Maggie runs off to the girls room to cry her eyes out. She eventually makes her way to geology class where the teacher is more concerned about discussing the class trip than actually teaching them anything. Next Wednesday, they'll be going to the caverns at Glenn Rock Mountain and you better believe something stupid will happen there.

On Saturday morning, Maggie goes outside and sits on the creaky old swingset that resides in the backyard. Then she gets up, squashes some berries from a bush for no apparent reason, and falls asleep sitting against a tree trunk. Ok then. Wonder how much she had to drink. She wakes up to an old man asking if she's been baking long. He points to the sun and then introduces himself as Milton Avery. He and his wife, Claire, live next door. He tells her that he's so glad someone finally moved into the empty house. Maggie is curious as to why her home stood empty for so long. Mr. Avery invites her over for tea and says his wife will tell her the whole story. Hopefully they'll kill her and we can end this thing now. Ok, ok, I don't really mean that, but dammit, man, this book is BORING! We're more than halfway through and NOTHING has happened. Throw me a frickin' bone, Stine! Oh why do I even bother asking? He'll never change his wicked ways. Anyway, the Averys tell Maggie that a girl named Miranda Helfer was stabbed in her own bed in that house. Then the chapter ends and how I wish it hadn't because...

On Saturday night, Maggie and Justin are on a date at the movies. Maggie's mind is a million miles away, though. She can't stop thinking about the dream. These pages are a little boring, but at least I'm not reading about these two fools playing tonsil hockey in a darkened movie theater. In the parking lot after the movie, Maggie spots Dawn and Tiffany hanging out. They'll hang out in the parking lot, but they won't go in to watch anything...smells like teen spirit. Maggie signs Dawn's cast while Justin acts like a whiny child, tugging on Maggie's hand and telling her he wants to leave. Maggie glares at him and cracks his skull open with a hammer. Just kidding. That scene only occured in MY dreams. They leave, but instead of taking Maggie home, Justin pulls off onto a deserted street. This has 'date rape' written all over it. They kiss for a few minutes, but Maggie starts thinking about the damn dream again and pulls away. She says it's too uncomfortable in this tiny car and Justin says they can sit under a tree instead. Just shut up, Justin. Why don't YOU sit under the tree while Maggie drives far far away. Maggie starts rambling about the dream. She thinks the bed remembers the murder and it's making her have dreams about it. Yes, you read that correctly. THE BED REMEMBERS. Justin looks at her like she's crazy, but she's just says she must be right. Then Maggie says the dreams could be messages from Miranda. Justin just giggles at this. What kind of 17 year old guy GIGGLES? Oh's the end of the chapter, mercifully.

At the next swim practice, Coach Randall informs the team that Maggie and Tiffany will be representing them at the All-State meet. Yippee. She tells Andrea that she gets to be the alternate in case Tiffany or Maggie is unable to compete. Andrea just sulks like she usually does. I'm so sick of her immature bullshit. GROW UP!!!

That night, Maggie has another dream. This time, the girl (Miranda) gets stabbed, but Maggie still can't see the murderer's face. She wakes up screaming and screams some more when she spots Andrea standing in the corner holding a gleaming object. A knife? No, a curling iron. She tells Maggie that she couldn't sleep so she was going to play with her hair for a while and needed Maggie's curling iron. Ok? Andrea leaves the room and Maggie decides to go downstairs to read or something. She grabs Moby Dick with the thought that it's so long and boring, it should make her sleepy soon. But once she goes downstairs, she can't concentrate...her thoughts are filled with the dream. She decides to go back to bed in the hopes that she'll dream again so she can see the killer's face. When she reaches her room, she flips on the light and screams. The big knife is sticking out of her pillow! And her blanket isn't the way she left it! Give me a break. She runs to get her mother and drags her back to her room. Of course when her mom looks, nothing is there. Maggie is pissed because she believes Andrea set this all up. She sprints to Andrea's room and starts screaming at her. Andrea tells her that she's crazy, Mom tells them both that they'll all talk about in the morning, and Maggie storms off in the typical manner.

Tuesday afternoon at swim practice, Coach Randall reminds everyone that the big meet is on Friday and then tells them to swim 10 laps. Three of the four girls who raced earlier in the book (Tiffany, Maggie, and Andrea. Dawn's arm = busted.) race again for no reason. Are there any other girls on the team? If so, they're never mentioned even in passing. Tiffany wins the race and I don't even have to tell you who loses because she's just a loser in general. After practice, as Maggie is exiting the locker room, Coach Randall asks to talk to her in her office. Maggie thinks this is weird because the Coach is a woman of few words. I think it's perfectly normal because this is nothing more than a plot contrivance as you will soon see. They talk about swimming and Maggie's home life and the conversation is over within minutes. Maggie walks out of the office and spots Tiffany lying face down beside the pool in a puddle of blood. Maggie runs over and sees a stab wound in Tiff's side. The knife is lying nearby! AIIIIEEE! Maggie stupidly picks up the knife (never disturb the crime scene!) just as everyone comes running. Maggie says "I didn't do it! Really!"

Later, Maggie is lying on the sofa at home while her mother tells her that no-one really suspected her of the crime. They didn't suspect you, Maggie, they just...suspect you. Andrea comes in with a shit eating grin on her face--now that Tiffany and Dawn are sufficiently incapacitated, Andrea gets to compete in the big meet! Motive much? Maggie tells Andrea that people might think SHE stabbed Tiffany, but Andrea just laughs and says "What an idea!" Yeah... Anyway, Maggie has another dream that night, but I'm not going to rehash it because it's the same shit all over again basically. The only difference is that Maggie chases the girl and asks her if she's a ghost. The girl nods and Maggie wakes up. But the ghost girl is still there! She's holding a knife and preparing to stab Maggie. Maggie screams "Miranda! Don't! Please!" Just as Maggie's mom comes in, the ghostly Miranda dives out an open window. Why would she need to do that? She's a freaking ghost...couldn't she just make herself disappear into thin air? Mom sees Maggie lying on the floor mumbling about ghosts and almost immediately tells Maggie that she's getting her some professional help. You're just wasting your money, Ma.

And now we come to the day of the geology trip! Fun times...creeping through caverns. The teacher, Mrs. Harrison, has divided the class into groups. Maggie is in a group with a few other girls whom she doesn't know well. Their teacher must be a moron...she's letting all the groups split up. Wouldn't it make more sense to stick together? What if someone got lost or hurt? Oh well...if none of them care about these things, I suppose I shouldn't either. Maggie somehow gets seperated from her group and becomes lost in the twisting tunnels. She hears footsteps behind her in the dark and freaks out. She starts running blindly through the tunnel. Someone says her name and shines a flashlight on her. It's Justin, her knight in dull armor. He tells her that everyone is on the buses and they're waiting for her. Maggie blurts out "I thought you were the killer from my dream." Good God, will it ever end?!?! And how is it that everyone is already back on the buses? They were only in this cavern for like 5 minutes. I guess there are other things to see. Or something. Anyway, Justin gets ticked off because she mentioned the dream AGAIN and they walk out of the cavern in silence.

The next day, as Maggie is walking home from school, Justin comes running up to her like a lost little puppy. Maggie tells him that she's been seeing a psychiatrist and Justin, in all his sensitive majestic glory, says "A shrink?" Please excuse me while I slam my head into the wall a few thousand times. Justin says that they can go out Friday to celebrate her winning the big swim meet because he's sooooo sure she'll win. As they're hugging, Maggie glances over his shoulder and sees Miranda standing on the sidewalk. NOOO! And Maggie sees this as her chance to prove to Justin that she isn't completely crazy. She tells him to look, but there's nothing there when he turns. Maggie, embarrassed, says "Later" and trudges home.

When she gets home, Andrea tells her that the Averys are having a cookout and they're invited. They head over (Mom is already there) and eat burgers and fries. Andrea is all jokes and smiles for once instead of moping around like a suicidal emo chick. Maggie is the one moping this time. She ends up leaving early. At home, she decides to go to sleep and figure out the rest of the mystery. Yes. Please do that. Quickly. But surprise surprise! The bed is gone! It's been replaced with a totally different bed...NOT A CANOPY IN SIGHT. Maggie completely flips out. Andrea comes in and tells her that Mom moved the bed to the attic because the damned thing was obviously making Maggie nuts. And it still is. Andrea says that Mrs. Avery made chocolate pie for dessert (Maggie's favorite) and Mom wants Maggie to come back for a slice. So she does.

Later that night, Maggie waits until she's certain Andrea and Mom have fallen asleep. She climbs out of bed and up to the attic as quietly as possible. She gets a shock when she sees someone is sleeping in the canopy bed. Prepare yourselves for the dumbest ending ever, kids. The girl lying in the bed leaps up, grabs her handy dandy knife, and heads toward Maggie. Maggie thinks this is Miranda's ghost, but it's just gotta be more convoluted than that. It's Miranda's sister, Gena. Gena killed Miranda because Miranda was mean. Yes, that's really her reason. Gena's parents shipped her off to a mental hospital, but Gena is straight up crafty, man, and she managed to escape. She's been living in the attic all this time! She sneaks out for food and such when the Travers aren't in the house. She stabbed Tiffany and shoved Dawn down the stairs and put the knife in Maggie's pillow that time. Why? Well, Maggie is mean to Andrea (as if it isn't also the other way around) just like Miranda was mean to Gena and mean people have to die! Andrea enters the room then and Gena says "Hi, Andrea. I'm going to kill your sister for you now." Oh Gena...I think I love you. Maggie suddenly thinks that Andrea was in on this, but Andrea never knew about the psychopath in the attic. Gena steps toward Maggie to stab her. The girls wrestle a little until Andrea throws the canopy over them. She lifts a corner and tells Maggie to hurry out. They hold the canopy down over Gena. Why doesn't Gena just slice the fabric with that stupid knife? The hand holding the knife pokes out from beneath the canopy and Andrea grabs the weapon and throws it down.

The last few pages are of Mom, Andrea, and Maggie sitting around the kitchen table talking about what happened. They called the cops after Andrea got the knife away and Gena was hauled back to wear she came from. Hey, wonder if she knows Nancy Casey? The bed is permenantly relegated to the attic and everything is all better. The last line of the book? "Goodnight...and sweet dreams." Oh fuck off!

Conclusion? This isn't a book at all. It's a soul sucking demon sent directly from hell to torment all who dare touch it. Seriously, though, don't waste your time with this isn't worth it. The only good thing about it was that Gus LIVED! YES!

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 ...