Friday, October 31, 2008

The Sleepwalker

Book Description:

One week after she starts her summer job on Fear Street with old Mrs. Cottler, Mayra Barnes begins to sleepwalk. How terrifying to wake up outdoors in the middle of the night and not know where she is! Mayra becomes even more terrified when she discovers Mrs. Cottler may be a witch. Is the old woman casting a spell on Mayra to make her sleepwalk? To add to Mayra's horror, she is being followed by a menacing stranger who seems to recognize her. But she's never seen him in her life! Mayra's sleepwalking is leading her into more and more peril. She soon realizes she must take action. She must find out what is happening to her--or she may never leave Fear Street alive!

My Description:


It's the middle of the night and Mayra is sleepwalking. She stops at the edge of the street and wakes up confused. And that's it. The most pointless prologue in history!

One Week Earlier

Mayra is eating breakfast with her mom and ten year old sister, Kim. Kim is an annoying little shit who can't resist complaining about the eggs ("They look like puke.") and mimicking everything Mayra says. HATE! Thankfully Mom will be tossing the little brat out at day camp in just a bit. She asks Mayra is she's excited about her new job with Mrs. Cottler. Mayra isn't too enthused because she doesn't waste a perfectly good summer. Mom is a nurse who took care of Cottler in the hospital LAST summer and apparently the old lady is a total pain in the ass. Good luck with that, Mayra. Better you than me. Mom thinks that Mayra hit the jackpot, though: "I mean, five dollars an hour just to straighten up, prepare her lunch, and read to her in the afternoon? Come on, Mayra, you lucked out." Doesn't sound too lucky to me. Plus, what if there's more that old Cottler forgot to mention? Like changing her crusty diapers or washing her wrinkly, saggy body? I may have thrown up in my mouth a little just thinking about it. Anyway, a few minutes later, they all head out. And joy of all joys--Cottler lives on Fear Street! Ain't life grand? *barf*

It's now Wednesday afternoon, Mayra's third day with Mrs. Cottler. As it turns out, Cottler is only SLIGHTLY bitchy and Mayra gets along with her fairly well. Anyway, it's lunchtime and Cottler's stupid black cat, Hazel, has just broken Mayra's favorite necklace, beads scattering across the floor. Cottler says she'll restring the beads while Mayra dishes out some soup. How sweet. A little later, they go for a walk out by the lake. Cottler can't resist mentioning that her son drowned in this lake years before. The lake is near Fear Street so I seriously doubt her son is the only one who met his untimely end there. Back at the house, Mayra reads to Cottler from "Nicholas Nickelby" by Charles Dickens while Cottler pets the cat and dozes off a few times. I don't think this could possibly get any more boring. Sleeping geriatrics aren't scary, Stine. Cottler wakes up long enough to ask Mayra to fetch her a sweater. Mayra runs upstairs to Cottler's bedroom and randomly opens a drawer. She's amazed by all the black candles she finds inside. This kid must be starved for entertainment--even I'M not that easily amused. Hazel enters the room and lets out a loud shriek. Mayra quickly finds a sweater and dashes out of the room because she doesn't like the way Hazel is staring at her: "All the while she could feel the cat's eyes on her, admonishing her for looking where she shouldn't have looked, accusing her, warning her..." Cats can do many things, but I've never met one who could admonish, accuse, or warn.

On the way home, Mayra can't stop thinking about Hazel and the black candles. She also contemplates her deadbeat father who left the family a few years back and her boyfriend, Walker, who has been away for a few weeks. Where? No idea. I'll just assume it's a sordid story involving a mental institution. Or something. Anyway, Mayra is mooning over Walker's kisses when someone grabs her shoulder. A homicidal maniac?! No, just a regular maniac--it's her ex-boyfriend, Link. Who the hell names their kid Link? Is his last name Sausage? Yes, I'm lame. *sigh* She broke up with him a month ago and the poor sap is still trying to get back with her. He says he really wants to talk. Mayra refuses because Link the sausage is very conceited and she's completely over him and she has Walker now. She runs off and screams "Have a nice life!" at him to which he replies "You'll be sorry!" Whatever.

The next afternoon, Mayra is about to begin reading to Mrs. Cottler when they hear a loud knock at the door. Mayra answers it and finds a very angry bald man on the other side. His name is Mr. Kleeg (Cottler calls him Mr. Clean) and he has a complaint: "The peaches from your tree fall all over my backyard. I can't mow the lawn! I can't walk in my yard because of your peaches!" Cottler simply says that she cannot make the fruit stay in the tree. Mr. Clean storms off after threatening to cut down the tree. Cottler picks up a handkerchief that he dropped and pockets it like a good old thief. The ladies get back to their reading, but Mayra can't concentrate because all she can think about is Walker. A few facts about Walker: he's very shy, has blond hair, and is obsessed with magic. In fact, he wants to be a professional magician. That's probably where he was for the past few weeks--magic camp! "This one time at magic camp..." He comes home on Saturday and Mayra can't wait to get her hands on him. Hawt. Cottler interrupts the reading to tell Mayra that she's tired and wants a nap. Mayra helps her upstairs and prepares to leave early. When she gets downstairs, she notices that Cottler's cane is still there and decides to take it up to her. She peeks into the room and spots Cottler sitting up in bed, facing the wall, and holding Mr. Clean's handkerchief. She's completely motionless and that worries Mayra, but not enough for her to do anything about it. She props the cane against the wall and runs home. Good one.

The next day, she calls her friend, Donna Cash, and confesses that she thinks Cottler is a witch. You must be shrooming, Mayra. A black cat and black candles are hardly evidence of witchcraft. This isn't the dark ages! Donna doesn't think Cottler is a witch and tells Mayra that she should just ask the old lady if she is. Girls, you're both addled in the brain. Mayra mentions Stephanie, Link's sister, and the fact that she was so interested in the occult and witchcraft. And that statement leads Donna to mention something that has never been mentioned before in a Fear Street novell (at least not so directly). Let us all gaze in wide-eyed wonder at the ground breaking statement: "Yeah, Stephanie was really into [the occult] for a while. I think it was before she discovered sex!" SEX! Stine finally acknowledged that some teenagers have sex! And was Donna calling Steph a slut? Catty. The conversation steers toward Walker; Donna thinks that Mayra spends too much time with him and now his magical beliefs are starting to rub off on her. Blah blah blah. The girls hang up and Mayra heads to Cottler's house. When she reaches Fear Street, she sees an ambulance and Mr. Clean being wheeled out of his house on a stretcher. She asks Cottler what happened and Cottler says that Mr. Clean broke his hip. Cottler seems pretty pleased as she says "I warned him something bad would happen the way he was carrying on yesterday." Oooo...witchy woman.

On Sunday, Mayra meets up with Walker at his house. Walker wasn't at the asylum after all; he was traveling out west with his family. Yee haw. Mayra randomly mentions that Walker has big hands and he says "Big hands are good for magic." *cough*That's not what I heard*cough* After some boring card tricks, they head off to Ray's Pizza Place (what happened to Pete's?) These two have some extremely engaging conversation over pizza...

Walker: "I like your sundress. I've never seen your shoulders before."
Mayra: "I have two of them."
Walker: "I know. I counted."

Dear. God. Are they serious? This book is truly an enigma--we go from sex to THAT? Anyway, when Mayra gets home, her mom tells her Link Sausage called which both disgusts and flatters Mayra. She goes to bed and has a dream in which she's standing on the shore of the lake. She steps into the lake and discovers she can walk on the surface. As she's walking, she notices someone standing on the opposite short watching her. Before she can figure out who it is, she wakes up. She's shocked to find herself standing on her lawn. This book isn't called "The Sleepwalker" for nothing.

After "work" the next day, Mayra walks to the mall. As she passes the cemetery, a man steps out of a house across the road and stares at Mayra as if he knows her. We get the obligatory description: "He was nearly seven feet tall, powerfully built, and had a football player's neck, almost wider than his head. He was wearing black spandex bicycle shorts and a red, sleeveless T-shirt that showed off his commanding chest and bulging muscles. With his square, red-cheeked face and short, blond flat-top haircut, he looked like the stereotype of a marine drill sergeant or a pro football middle linebacker." Sounds like a prize. *snort* Why does this guy get such a lengthy description? We didn't get half that about Mayra and she's the main character. Oh well. The man calls out and chases Mayra for a few blocks before giving up. She dives on a bus and rides the rest of the way to the mall, still shaken by the man. Her bad day gets a little worse when she stops in front of the pizza place and spots Walker inside holding hands with a girl named Suki Thomas who is, according to Mayra, "the trashiest girl in school." Magicians have such class. Mayra runs inside and interrupts the moment by rambling about her freaky experience with the big necked man. Then she takes the time to accuse the two of getting a little too close. Walker explains: "I was showing her a coin trick. You know, which hand has the coin? That's all." Mayra believes him because he's Walker. *sigh* She sits with them for a few moments before dashing home. So awkward.

After dinner, Mayra and Mom chat about the sleepwalking incident and coffee. Yes, coffee. Mom likes it strong: "I like it strong. Strong and greasy." Is that how she likes her men, too? And just how the hell can coffee be greasy? My brain hurts. Mayra is incredibly upset about sleepwalking outside and Mom, like all other Shadyside parents, wants her to see a "shrink". I don't think these people ever say psychiatrist. It's always shrink. Suddenly the doorbell rings. It's Stephanie. She and Mayra go up to Mayra's room to talk. Steph says that Link is really messed up and Mayra needs to stop hurting him. Say what? Steph is pissed off and tells Mayra she needs to get back with Link. Bullshit! Mayra just says that Link has to grow up sometime. The conversation ends just like Mayra's last conversation with LINK ended; Stephanie says "You'll be sorry." and Mayra says "Have a nice life." You weren't even trying with this one, were you, Stine? Oh, and Stephanie steals a scarf from Mayra. These people are hella lame.

That night, Mayra has the dream again and wakes up on Fear Street where she's found by a police officer because the police force has nothing better to do than chase sleepwalkers. So very sad. Back at home, Mom says she's going to take her to a doctor. Then Kim comes in and pretends that she's also a sleepwalker. Stupid little Karen Brewer wannabe.

The next day, Walker comes over just before Mayra has to leave for work. He tells her that maybe he could hypnotize her and figure out why she's sleepwalking. I think you misjudge your abilities, Walker. She refuses and says she's gotta go to work so Walker walks her there. She goes inside Cottler's house, but the old lady is nowhere to be seen. Upstairs, Mayra hears the shower running and uses the ooportunity to snoop around Cottler's bedroom. She spots her beads (still unstrung) lying beside a melted black candle and freaks out. The shower shuts off and she scampers downstairs and fixes some tuna salad. You just gotta love the random nature of this book. Cottler comes downstairs a few minutes later and they have lunch. Later, a thunderstorm prevents them from taking their usual walk to the lake. They read for a while and Mayra leaves afterward. Zzzzzzzz.

As she's walking home, Link comes jogging up. Not this again. He asks Mayra if she'd like a ride home and at first she refuses, but when Link promises not to ask her out, she agrees. The ride isn't as tense as one would expect. He drops her off and Donna is waiting on the porch for her. They go inside and talk for a bit and Donna mentions that some big muscly guy who said his name was Cal stopped by a little earlier and asked for Mayra. Uh-oh. He said Cottler gave him the address. Makes sense. NOT.

That weekend, Mayra, Mom, Kim, and Donna go to Lake Monolac to stay in a cabin owned by Mayra's uncle George. Mom thinks a peaceful weekend away is just what Mayra needs. Yeah, take your kid to a lake when she's been having nightmares about A LAKE. Just leave...but don't forget to tie a cement block around Kim's ankle and throw her in the middle of the damned lake before you go. That would REALLY help Mayra. Mayra tells Mom that she wants to quit her job, but Mom gets all pissy and won't let her. Oh well. Mayra walks over to Donna who is laughing while Kim pretends to sleepwalk AGAIN. Mayra gets ticked AGAIN. But Kim's friend, Andy, interrupts by throwing a plastic toy car into the lake: "Look! It floats!" Mayra looks and starts screaming "NO!" over and over again. Shut up already. ALL of you.

Monday morning, Mayra is back at Cottler's. Cottler says she has something to tell Mayra. Her sister, who lives in Vermont, is ill and she's going to visit. She wants Mayra to come by and feed Hazel, get the mail, and water the plants and she'll pay her the usual salary. Mayra is ecstatic and thinks "I'll pay you to go away." Nice. Cottler goes back to chopping something at the kitchen counter. Mayra looks over her shoulder and thinks it's a human hand on the cutting board, but Cottler says it's pig's knuckles. God, this book is stupid.

When she gets home, her mom calls and tells her that Donna has been in a bad car accident. So Mayra calls Donna's room to see how she is. She's got a broken leg, a broken wrist, and bruised ribs. Ouch. Donna says some nut in a red pickup truck ran her off the road and Mayra automatically assumes it was Link because he drives a red truck and is pissed off at Mayra (Donna was driving Mayra's mother's Toyota for some reason). Shut up, Mayra. Please. Later, Mayra goes to visit Walker. He doesn't seem to happy to see her: "What are you doing here?" Nice to see you, too, jackass. Anyway, they talk for a few hours about witches and Donna and other crap I couldn't care less about at this point. Mayra tells Walker her idiotic theory about Mrs. Cottler: "Mrs. Cottler was in the hospital a while back and my mother was her nurse. And somehow Mrs. Cottler got the crazy idea that my mother was trying to kill her. She complained to the hospital and made a big fuss. [I think] she hired me and cast a spell on me to pay back my mother." You've got to be kidding. Does this moron not realize that plenty of people sleepwalk and it has NOTHING to do with witchcraft? Walker gets excited when he finds out that Cottler is going away for a few days because that will give him and Mayra a chance to look for clues in the house. No comment.

The next day, Mayra and Walker head over to Cottler's. As soon as Walker sees Hazel, he says "A black cat. Well, that proves the old lady is a witch!" No, it doesn't! It proves NOTHING! The color of the fucking cat doesn't mean anything! Do us all a favor and disappear. They go into the library and find a bunch of books on sleepwalking which inspires Walker to once again proclaim that she is a witch. Walker, I swear I will send you back to your maker if you say the word WITCH again. They're about to leave the room when Mayra spots two photos lying on the desk. One is of Link and the other of Steph. She opens a desk drawer and finds more photos of them and a birthday card signed "Happy Birthday, Aunt Lucy. Love, Stephanie." Mystery solved. Mayra remembers her beads and runs upstairs, but they're gone.

Later, Mayra visits Donna at the hospital and explains what she found at Cottler's. Donna says that doesn't really mean anything (thank you!) but Mayra thinks it makes perfect sense. Donna gets sleepy a few minutes later so Mayra leaves to brood some more. She decides to go visit Steph. Real intelligent. The front door to Steph's house is open so Mayra pulls open the screen door and calls for Steph. No-one answers so Mayra lets herself in and goes upstairs. She pushes open the door to Steph's bedroom and is shocked at what she sees. Steph is sitting in the floor chanting. Three black candles are lit and she has Mayra's scarf tied around her head. Predictable much? Steph stops her chanting and turns, asking Mayra what she's doing here. She tells Mayra to let herself out. HA. But Mayra needs to know why Steph is using her scarf to cast a spell on her. Steph laughs and says she wasn't casting spells and she was using the stupid scarf to hold her hair back. Mayra brings up Cal, but Steph doesn't know him. They argue for a few minutes. Then Steph drops a bomb: "I thought you had come to make up with Link since Walker dropped you." BOOM! "Everyone knows he's going with Suki Thomas now." Never trust a magician. Mayra refuses to believe it and the girls end up apologizing to one another about fighting. Mayra exits the house just as Link pulls up. She makes sure to examine his truck for dents or anything that would indicate he ran Donna over. She finds nothing and feels guilty for her suspicions.

That night, she has the dream again. This time, she's able to see the person standing on the short--it's Walker. Then she starts to drown. She wakes up and she really is drowning. Luckily, a man in a speedboat (S.S. Plot Contrivance) who just happens to be fishing in the middle of the night drags her out of the water just in time.

The next day, Mayra goes to the hospital's psychiatric ward to visit Dr. Sterne about her corroded brain. Unfortunately, she spots Cal. She realizes that he's after her because he's a mental patient. I don't know how many times I have to say this...shut up, Mayra. He sees her and starts to come after her. She freaks out and runs. Some nurses grab him as Mayra ducks into Dr. Sterne's office. She tells him all about her dreams and sleepwalking episodes and he says he believes it's occurring because of repressed trauma. That's just fancy talk for "Go ahead and allow yourself to drown because we're sick of your shit." He prescribes her a pill and tells her they're out of time. Mayra goes up a few floors to visit Donna and report the latest news. And that's it.

That night, Mayra decides to go to the lake while she's awake. Why? I guess it doesn't really matter. Nothing in this book makse any sense anyway. She sits down on the short and takes off her shoes. As she does, she hears someone behind her. It's Link. He saw her walking down Fear Street and followed her. Creepy. After some small talk, Link can't control himself any longer and grabs Mayra. He says he misses her and won't let go until she admits she misses him, too. She flips out, punches him in the head, and dives into the lake. I really hate this chick. The water suddenly helps her remember something horrible that happened a few weeks ago. She makes it to short and asks Link to take her home. She just punched the guy in the side of the head and now she expects him to take her home? She's got balls. Once home, she runs to her room and struggles to piece together the events of that night. Prepare yourselves for a flashback. I'm sure we're in for a convoluted ride (yes, even more convoluted than the rest of this book):

Mayra and Walker were at the mall on that fateful night and some kids were making fun of Walker because of his fondness for magic. So when he and Mayra reach the parking lot, he finds a car with the keys in the ignition and decides to steal it to prove that he isn't a nerd, he's a rebel, dammit! He speeds, plows into another car, and that car rolls into the lake. Mayra freaks out, afraid that the people in that car won't make it. A man splashes to the surface, but Walker pretends he doesn't see and drags Mayra to the car and drives away. Asshole! End flashback.

Mayra calls Walker and tells him to meet her at Cottler's tomorrow evening. They meet and end up at the lake. Where Walker hypnotizes Mayra. Put me out of my misery. Anyway, as Walker is attempting to hypnotize Mayra by waving a lighter back and forth in her face, he says "You will continue to forget about that night at River Ridge. You will not be troubled by the yellow car." Oh shit. Mayra's eyes fly open and she is pissed: "You filthy creep! I knew that's what you did to me that horrible night. My sleepwalking! It was all your fault and you've known it all along!" Mayra freaks out further because someone died that night and Walker really doesn't give a shit. And she REALLY loses it when Walker says "I've been going out with Suki. Everybody in the world knows that. I just hung around you to make sure your memory didn't come back." This guy is a worldclass asshole!!! She says she's telling the cops about the accident, but Walker can't allow that to ruin his chances of becoming a famous magician so he shoves Mayra's head underwater to drown her. But Hazel comes out of nowhere and starts clawing the living hell out of him and he's forced to let Mayra go. This book makes no fucking sense!

Mayra flees to Cottler's house where she calls the cops and finds Hazel in the kitchen licking her paws. How the hell did the thing get back so fast? Suddenly a rock flies through the window and Walker climbs in through the hole. Mayra runs to the door and finds Cal on the other side. If this isn't a crazy night from hell, I don't know what is. Cal looks at Walker and screams "You killed my brother!" Oh, I get it now. He pins Walker to the floor with his cane, but the police burst in at that moment. Cal explains that he thought Mayra was the one who was driving the car that ran him and his brother off the road and that's why he came after her. But he heard her and Walker talking by the lake and found out the truth. Also, it was him who ran Donna off the road because he thought Mayra was driving. But don't worry--he only wanted to scare her! If I only had a nickel for every time I've heard that crap.

One Week Later

Link and Mayra are making out, but they break for air so Link can drive her over to Cottler's to pick up her paycheck. On the way over, Mayra mentions that she thought Cottler was a witch, but Link dispells that: "She has a Ph.D. She taught occult studies at several universities until she retired a few years ago. She's published about a dozen books on the subject!" Of course she has. Cottler gives Mayra her paycheck and her beads. After one last look at the amazing Hazel, Mayra walks away with Link.

Conclusion? This book is totally ridiculous, but it takes itself so seriously. The result is a convoluted mess that made my head hurt.

Next time: "Ski Weekend" I'm not sure when the next post will be because my computer has gone haywire (I'm using my aunt's computer to post this) but hopefully it'll be sometime in the near future.


Attack of the Jack-O'-Lanterns (Goosebumps #48)

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