Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Thrill Club

Book Description:

Talia Blanton could scare you to death. She writes horror stories - stories that often give her friends starring roles. Everyone loves Talia's terrifying tales until they start to come true. One by one, Talia's friends become Talia's victims. Is Talia making her stories come true? Or is someone trying to turn Talia's real life into a horror story?

My Description:

Shandel Carter (whoever THAT is) is walking home late one night. I think we all know what street she's on. That's right - Poplar Street. Tee hee. She questions why she's walking on Fear Street alone. Because you're an idiot? A ghost? A psychotic homicidal maniac with anger management issues? They're all so likely! She thinks about the fight she had with her best friend, Nessa, a little earlier (which is why she's walking alone now; no rides from Nessa!) The argument is pretty ridiculous. The girls were doing homework and talking about ghosts. Nessa insisted she saw a ghostly bride on Fear Street and Shandel didn't believe her. So Shandel stole Nessa's pencil and wouldn't give it back until Nessa admitted that she never saw any such ghost. Nessa maintained that she DID see something and if Shandel didn't believe that, she could just get the hell out of her house. Childish much? YES. Don't let Fear Street get between you, girls. It's not worth it! Anyway, Shandel is walking past the cemetary when she hears someone whispering her name. WoOoOo it's a ghoOoOst! Maybe? She sees a vapor rise from behind a gravestone. While she's watching in amazement, someone comes up behind her and promptly slits her throat. Well, I can safely say I didn't see that one coming.

The next chapter begins with Talia Blanton FINISHING HER READING. That's right, kids. NONE of the aforementioned events just happened. Although I find that irritating, Talia's short story was better than many stories I've read by authors such as R.L. Stine or perhaps R.L. Stine. Bravo, Talia. She was reading to her friends in the Thrill Club: Rudy Phillips, Seth Varner, Maura Drake, Nessa Troy, and Shandel Carter. They all enjoyed the story and begin making lame jokes about never borrowing a pencil from Nessa. Har har har. Shandel doesn't join them in their laughter, sitting quietly in the corner instead. I don't blame her...I'd feel pretty shitty if my friend killed me off. Talia doesn't notice, though. She's too busy mentally kissing her own ass: "Starting the Thrill Club was a great idea, she thought. The six friends met every week at a different person's house to swap stories and frighten one another. Talia took pride at being the writer in the group. She liked these moments best of all, when her stories had just ended. Everyone admired her, wondering how she turned out a scary story every week." If you pat yourself on the back any harder, Talia, your arm will fall off. Besides, Talia gets help from Seth so she doesn't actually write those stories all alone. Talia finally focuses her attention on Shandel and asks her if she liked the story. Shandel hated it because she died in it; she didn't like the fact that Talia used real names. Maura chimes in saying that the stories are better that way. Then she turns catty, looking at Seth and saying "Maybe I should compliment you on the story, too." Zing! Apparently Seth and Maura used to be a couple, but now Seth is with Talia and Maura is a jealous little wench. RAWR! Talia gets pissed as everyone except Seth starts making fun of her and telling her she's annoying. Instead of telling them to shut the fuck up, Talia just stands there waiting for Seth to defend her. Lady, you have to do it yourself! No-one will do it for you, especially not your stupid man friend over there...he doesn't seem too interested. Talia finally takes matters into her own hands. She crosses the room to Shandel and asks for an apology before springing a switchblade on her. Because that's the logical way to handle all situations! Of course it's just a fake, but it scared the crap out of everyone. They all find it amusing except Shandel. Talia tells her not to be mad to which she replies "I don't get mad. I get even." I look forward to that.

Maura, Shandel, Rudy, and Nessa leave a few minutes later and Seth and Talia use the time alone to make out. Unfortunately, Seth isn't into it because his dad died a few months ago and he can't stop thinking about it. Instead of attacking him, Talia listens while he talks about it. Then he says he wants to show her something very strange. We don't wanna see your rash, Seth. I don't care if it looks like R.L. Stine! Oh, my bad. It's just a cassette. As Seth is putting the tape into the player, Talia looks out the window and is shocked to see Maura spying from her bedroom window. So the ex lives next door, eh? Seth tells Talia "It was really cool when we were going together. We could stay in our rooms and talk all night if we wanted to." I seriously doubt you two just talked, man. But I'm not going there. Seth switches on the tape which is a recording of these weird chants that his father recorded in New Guinea. As it speeds up, Seth starts murmuring along with it and freaks Talia out. She leaves a few minutes later. So basically everything that has happened so far has been totally pointless. Thanks, Stine.

Talia has to walk home alone. In the dark. On Fear Street. A recipe for HORROR? Perhaps. As Talia passes the cemetery, she hears footsteps behind her. Paranoia causes her to take off running rather than look to see who it is. She hears someone whisper her name...and this crap is EXACTLY like her story! She trips over a tricycle (random much?) and lays on the ground begging her pursuer for mercy. She STILL hasn't glanced behind her to see who it is. Oh, it's just Shandel. She tells Talia that this is payback for the "little knife stunt". You peddled your tricycle all the way out there for that, Shandel? The girls start walking together and the conversation turns to Maura. Talia really dislikes the way she keeps looking at Seth even though she already has a boyfriend (Rudy). Get over it! I don't know what either of them see in Seth. He's disturbed and lost in his own world. He doesn't seem particularly interested in Talia...he'd rather sit around and brood about his dad. Shandel pisses Talia off by saying that she and Seth will never make it as a couple. They part ways a few moments later with Talia still seething.

The next morning, Talia drags herself out of bed. After eating some waffles, her mom drives her to school. This book is ACTION PACKED! If I seem sarcastic, it's only because I'm being sarcastic. Seriously, though, I need more than fake switchblades and waffles to keep me interested. Come on! Anyway, Talia spots Seth hanging out beside her locker "like a faithful dog" and her heart sinks. God forbid you actually want to see your freaking boyfriend. Save him (and me) some time and just cut him loose already. Talia also spots Deena Martinson and Jade Smith (the third review in a row in which I have mentioned these two!) and they wave, but she totally snubs them, pretending that the contents of her locker are much more important. When she gets to math class, the teacher (Mr. Hanson) asks to speak with her privately in the hall. Uh-oh. He hands her the assignment she turned in the day before and asks if it's really her work. She lies and says yes even though SETH actually did it for her. Hanson believes her and as she takes her seat in the classroom, she notices Shandel staring at her and smiling. I suppose she got even again. *cough* lame *cough*

It's now time for another meeting of the Thrill Club with zero thrills, natch. Nessa is wondering where everyone is; so far only Rudy has shown up. Maybe everyone else suddenly realized they had better things to do like cleaning their toilets or flossing. Anyway, Maura shows up a few minutes later. Her excuse? "I had to take a shower." Ok then. As they're waiting for the others to arrive, Maura starts bitching about Seth and Talia: "Seth lets Talia take complete and total advantage of him. He does her homework, drives her around, and tags along behind her like a little lapdog. She treats him like a slave and he just begs for more. Some guys are just so pitiful." You know what's pitiful, Maura? Moping after your ex-boyfriend LIKE A LITTLE LAPDOG. And you keep bashing Talia, but you obviously weren't much of a prize or Seth would still be with you. Anyway! Seth shows up a few minutes later. He also has an excuse handy: "My mother asked me to do the dishes." Talia enters the room moments later completely zonked. She says she can't remember even walking over. [Insert drug of choice here] Nessa goes to call Shandel so they can get this show on the road, but Shandel's mom says she left an hour ago. Then where the hell is she? Is the horror finally beginning?! One can only hope. They all decide to pile into Seth's car and troll the streets searching for Shandel. Maura goes to fetch her sweater and grab the sweatshirt Talia brought. When she hands Talia the shirt, she flips out over a dark stain on the sleeve that appears to be blood. Talia has no idea how it got there because she's been scarfing shrooms all afternoon and her memory is shot. Seth starts driving, going first to Shandel's house. Her mom JUST SAID she isn't there! They keep rolling down the street, finally stopping at the Fear Street cemetery where they spot Shandel sprawled facedown in the grass. Her throat has been cut...just like in Talia's story. The gang contacts the police and has to take a trip to the station for questioning.

A few hours later, Seth drives Talia home (everyone else was special enough to be picked up by their parents) and they have a heart to heart in the car. When Talia mentions the story, Seth says "It wasn't your story that killed Shandel. It was a real person with a real knife." Uh, no shit, Sherlock. Once again, what does this girl see in him? Talia responds by kissing him for several minutes until he breathlessly breaks away and tells her to call him tomorrow. She goes into the house and straight up to her room. She pulls open one of her dresser drawers and finds a big bloody knife lying on top of her nightgowns. Damn you for being so predictable, Stine!

On the way to Shandel's funeral two days later, Talia tells Seth about the knife. He asks her what she did with it and she tells him she wrapped it in newspaper and threw it in the trash. Good job. They're both confused about who could've put in the drawer and why. They finally reach the church and find the rest of the Thrill Club. After the funeral, they go to a coffee shop and mope over Shandel. Someone brings up Talia's stupid story AGAIN. Shut up about it! Then Maura asks Talia "Did you clean your sweatshirt? The sweatshirt you wore on the night of the murder. Did you clean the fresh bloodstain off your sweatshirt?" Shut the hell up, Maura, I beg you. Talia gets pissed off at Maura's blatant accusation, but all she can say is "It wasn't blood. It was ketchup." Quite convincing.

On Saturday night, Talia finds herself sitting by the phone hoping that Seth will call. She grows tired of that pretty quickly and does what she should've done all along: calls HIM. He picks up and she asks if they're going to the movies, but he says something came up. He tells her his mom is sick and he doesn't wanna leave her. LIAR! Talia also thinks he's lying, but she humors him anyway because she's got no spine. He tells her he'll call her tomorrow and hangs up. To get her mind off things, she flips on her computer with the intention of typing up a scary story. Hopefully she'll kill off Seth and Maura this time. I know, I'm horrible. She just sits there and doesn't type anything because she can't clear her head of Shandel. Suddenly the doorbell rings. It's two detectives that Talia talked to on the night of Shandel's murder. They ask to speak to her parents, but she informs them that her ma and pa are at a dinner party. One of the men asks her if she just called Shandel's mom. What? He tells her that Shandel's mom called them and told them that Talia called her and confessed to murdering Shandel. WTF?! This is the work of that stupid fucking Maura, I know it! What a piece of useless crap.

At school on Monday, everyone treats Talia like a circus freak because they all believe she murdered Shandel. At lunchtime, she finds Rudy in the hallway. He leads her to the gym so they can talk. He tells her that he doesn't believe any of the stupid rumors floating around. Talia smiles at him and the next thing you know, they're kissing like they're single or something. Normally I'd be opposed, but I hate Maura and Seth so more power to Talia and Rudy. The moment is interrupted by a slamming door. Someone was watching them. They both worry for a moment, but they dismiss it because it was just a kiss after all. Famous last words, kids.

On Thursday morning, Talia's mom drives her to school as usual. As she's walking down the hall, she spots Nessa standing with some guy. She's obviously flirting, running her fingers down his arm and other vomitous crap like that. Talia gets a shock when the guy turns around and she realizes it's Seth. Dammit! All your so-called "friends" are total assholes, Talia. Talia marches over to confront them, but all Nessa says is "You told me last night you were breaking up with Seth." Talia freaks out and says she never called. Nessa claims that Maura was at her house when Talia called. Ok, so it wasn't Maura...what the hell is going on?

That evening, Talia is home alone doing homework. Her concentration (what little there is of it) is broken by someone tapping on the door. She pulls it open and screams. Don't worry, kids--it's just Seth wearing a grotesque mask. Stupid turkey. He bursts out laughing, but Talia isn't amused. Then they share a quiet moment in which they confess they don't wanna lose each other. *barf* Adolescent romance makes my skin crawl. Especially when a middle-aged man writes about it. Anyway, they sit down and Seth gives her a typed horror story that she can once again pass off as her own at the next Thrill Club meeting. I don't get there some kind of rule that says no-one but Talia can read/write the stories? She doesn't think she should take it because of what happened the LAST time he wrote the story for her, but Seth doesn't care about that so she takes it. Is anything scary gonna happen anytime soon? Stine? Anybody? *crickets chirping*

In the next chapter, Rudy is preparing a little prank for the Thrill Clubbers. He makes a noose, throws it over some pipes in the basement, and prepares to stick a ventriloquist dummy in it. When the gang comes downstairs, they'll think a real person is hanging there. Or if they have half a brain, they'll notice it's a fucking doll and have a good laugh at Rudy's expense. Unfortunately he made the noose too small and it won't fit over the dummy's big fat wooden head. He stands on a chair and reaches up to adjust the rope. On impulse, the moron sticks the thing around his own neck. Of course he slips off the chair, effectively hanging himself. Oh damn me straight to hell! That was Talia's stinking story! I thought for once something was as it seemed, but noooooooo. Talia tells Seth that it's a great story (no, it really isn't) but she doesn't wanna use Rudy's name. Seth convinces her to keep it the same for the time being.

The next afternoon, Talia is standing at her locker when Rudy comes up. He asks if she's coming to the Thrill Club meeting later because he has something really scary planned. I hope for his sake that it doesn't involve a creepy dummy and a noose. He asks her to come by his house at six that evening to help him set up the "decorations". She agrees and they part ways. *yawn*

After school, Talia takes a peaceful walk through Shadyside Park. Unfortunately, Maura comes running up which completely ruins the peace. She tells Talia that she really believes Seth is going crazy. I could have told you that pages ago! He's always been slightly off! Maura says that she can see him in his bedroom at night, pacing and mumbling to himself. I guess I'm crazy, too, because I've spent many nights doing the same damn thing. Talia gets ticked off and tells Maura she needs to start minding her own business and stop spying on Seth through the window! She then runs off to Rudy's.

Later, Nessa, Seth, and Maura are waiting on Rudy's doorstep, but no-one answers no matter how many times they ring the bell. Maura mentions that Talia is supposed to be she insinuating something? Because I sure am. Anyway, they finally decide to let themselves in and find the house seemingly deserted. They make their way down to the basement where they predictably find Rudy hanging from an overhead pipe. They all freak out and Seth starts to run upstairs to call for help, but stops to comfort a sobbing Nessa. Suddenly they spot a dazed Talia emerging from beneath the stairwell. Creepy little freak. And they see that her hands are covered in rope burns. OF COURSE.

In the next chapter, we find out that Talia has now been in a mental hospital for five days. Seth comes to visit her because he enjoys a good train wreck from time to time. She tells Seth that she has a juvenile court hearing in three weeks and also she really can't remember killing two of her best friends. I don't see how she possibly could've killed Rudy...unless she kicked over the chair or something. Why am I even questioning anything at this point? Seth leaves a few minutes later with the excuse that he has to meet someone somewhere. Vague much? After he leaves, Talia goes over to the window and spies Seth in the parking lot with the dreaded Maura. They get into his car and speed away as Talia wonders if Maura committed all the crimes and framed her for it just to get Seth back. How many times do I have to say it? HE ISN'T WORTH IT! Plus, that makes no sense whatsoever...I need some Xanax before I finish this book...

That night, Talia is in bed reading when a boy and girl come inside her room and start babbling about her hair and then someone else enters the room and says something about coming away. Talia flips out because she thinks it's Rudy and Shandel back from the grave for revenge. In reality, it's just a couple of Talia's fellow mental patients, Arnold and Mayrose. A nurse comes in and leads them back to their room. I suppose this interlude was supposed to show us how guilty Talia feels or something, but it came across as totally pointless.

One evening (no idea what day this is) Seth is doing his homework when Talia calls and begs him to come over. She's recently been released from the hospital and I guess he thinks he'll be her next victim. He shows up, spots some shrunken heads on a shelf, Talia comes at him with a fucking HACKSAW saying she needs another "trophy", and I realize too late that this was another one of Seth's stories. Talia refuses to read it at the next meeting for the obvious reasons and gets upset at Seth for even writing it. When Maura and Nessa arrive, things are incredibly tense, but Seth breaks the tension by urging Talia to read the story. Ok, I think my suspicions about Seth are correct: he's somehow using some weird New Guinea voodoo (courtesy of his dead daddy) to make Talia his personal murdering slave. Yes, it sounds crazy...I may be delirious...I think this book gave me scarlet fever. Anyway, as Talia is reading, she notices that Seth has his headphones on. How rude. Suddenly she hears a weird buzzing noise inside her head. When she reads the part about the hacksaw, she hears a voice inside her head: "Go pick up the hacksaw. It's on top of the desk." It's totally Seth! She does everything the voice tells her to and steps toward Maura. Ooo. Nessa flips out and grabs Talia , but the voice tells her to slice Nessa with the hacksaw so she does. Maura tackles Talia, Talia breaks free, and Maura and Nessa both gang up on Talia. Talia hears the voice again: "This is bad. I'm going to have to handle this myself." Talia is suddenly confused, having no memory of what she just did.

Seth removes his headphones and gives them all a convoluted speech (edited so you don't have an aneurysm and die): "No-one escapes. My father didn't die. He escaped. The tape is a mind transfer tape. My father brought it home from the New Guinea tribe he studied. If you join in, if you chant along with the voices, your mind floats free of your body. My father played it and escaped to someone else's body...he never came back. Whatever, Seth. Your dad probably lives with his new girlfriend and Golden Retriever one town over. He couldn't stand living with his crackpot son any longer! On the other hand, this confirms my New Guinea voodoo theory...uh, sort of. Seth grabs a "long New Guinean knife" off the wall and proceeds to further lose his shit. He tells Talia that she only used him and he had to make her pay. So he crept into her mind and made her KILL KILL KILL! He starts chanting, the knife falls out of his hand, and he dies. What the hell? That's it? No bloody knife fight or weird New Guinean spirits? You suck, Stine.

The last chapter is simply the three girls reminiscing about Seth. Talia mentions she's writing a new horror story. When Maura and Nessa look at her in shock, she says "I'll make sure this one has a happy ending." *sigh*

Conclusion? I'm just gonna pretend I never read this.

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