Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dead End

Book Description:

Natalie Erickson and her friends share a terrible secret. They were all in the car that foggy night--the night someone died at the dead end. Now someone knows too much and there's danger ahead. Natalie just wants out of this nightmare. But that's the problem with dead ends--there's no way out!

My Description:


Natalie talks about accidents. That's it. Seriously. Why this warranted a two page prologue I do not know.

We begin this blatant rip-off of I Know What You Did Last Summer with a raucous party. It's Friday night and Talia Blanton's parents are away which means the kids will play. Talia (star of the crap fest The Thrill Club) only invited seniors from Shadyside High, but some underclassmen creeps have infiltrated the premises. BOOOO! Talia and Natalie talk and we find that they became friends because they both love to write. I wish I could say the same about the person who wrote this book. Natalie spots her boyfriend Keith stuffing his face with pretzels and walks over to him. She doesn't seem too interested in this guy. In fact, she makes it seem as though they were forced together by her friend Gillian. Keith says he's going upstairs for a beer and invites Natalie, but she hates the stuff: "It tastes like soap!" I've personally never had a beer so I can neither confirm nor deny that. I'm surprised they even know what alcohol is. Anyway, Keith scampers off to get wasted and Natalie mingles with her friends and I sit in boredom. Natalie's friend Randee comes over and says "Hey, Gillian and Carlo are really getting it on, aren't they!" And for the next few minutes, these freaks watch Gillian and Carlo sucking face. This party is offcially shit. Did I mention they're crammed into the basement? Yeah. Randee and Natalie are chatting when suddenly they hear someone scream. They turn and spot someone tumbling down the stairs. It's just Keith who is drunk off his ass and stumbles off to the bathroom to be sick. Nice. Some guy named Todd asks Natalie to dance, but she declines because Todd's nickname is Caveman meaning he looks like a neanderthal. "He'd actually be kind of good looking if his forehead didn't jut out so far which makes him look a little like a caveman." Todd is blissfully unaware of this fact and is quite vain. Ok then. The gang eats pizza and Natalie chats with some friends from camp. Zzzzzzzzz. Keith comes up and asks her if she's ready to go and she says no, but totally contradicts herself five seconds later when she grabs her jacket and leaves. I guess she means she didn't wanna leave with HIM? I dunno. I'm kinda tuning out because this all so dull.

Natalie heads for Randee's car where Randee, Gillian, Todd, and Carlo are piling in. She asks if she can have a ride since she came with Keith but really doesn't wanna leave with him. She gets in the car just as Keith comes running down the street. Go home before your ass gets ran over! It's been raining and is really foggy outside so Randee is having trouble seeing clearly. Everybody is talking...blah blah blah...these people are basically cardboard cutouts. Totally lifeless and boring! I mean, I hated almost every character in the last book *cough*Double Date*cough* I reviewed, but at least they were somewhat interesting! Anyway, Randee flies over a pothole and Todd tells her to make a left. Instead, Randee slams on the brakes beside a 'Dead End' sign (tying in to the title. Isn't that nice?) and the car begins to slide. It skids and slams right into another car. Uh-oh, kids. Randee screams at Todd for not warning her about the turn sooner because she really doesn't wanna take the heat for this one. Too late, little girl! Randee decides to simply drive away without seeing if the person in the other car is ok. She speeds toward Todd's street while screaming "I can't! Don't you understand? I can't stop! I can't!" And just why the hell not? "I'm not supposed to be here. I'm grounded. My parents grounded me for two weeks. I'm not allowed to go out. And I'm not allowed to have the car." Yes, go on and on, Randee. God knows this is alllllll about YOU. By the way this reminds me of that scene in "I Know What You Did Last Summer" where Barrie freaks out after Ray hits the man with Barrie's car. The comparison between this book and that movie (based on a book by Lois Duncan who should totally sue Stine's ass off) is too close for comfort. No imagination or originality is to be found here and I'm really not looking forward to the rest of this book. It's dry, plodding, and someone has done it better already. What a waste of paper. Ok, I'll step off the soapbox. Where were we? Oh yes, Randee's TRAGIC! grounding. I thinking getting in a little trouble (ok, a LOT of trouble) is a small price to pay if you can possibly save someone's life. Randee, Gillian, and Todd refuse to go back because their parents don't know that they're even out. Randee gets out of the car to examine the bumper. "Just one scratch on the bumper." You're more worried about the damn car than about the people you just plowed into? In some circles, you would be considered an asshole, Randee. She convinces the others that if they're all ok, the people in the other car are also ok. And they leave. *sigh*

As Natalie tries to fall asleep later, she keeps replaying the accident in her mind. "I especially didn't feel good about racing away like that. But what choice did we have?" You fools totally had a choice! Stop trying to excuse the fact that you ran away! She finally falls asleep and is awakened in the morning by the phone ringing. It's Todd and baby, he has bad news. The woman driving the car they hit is D-E-A-D. I hope these little shits feel guilty. Feel the pain of remorse! They deserve to suffer for not going back. And for being boring lamewads. SNORE. Todd goes on to say that he heard about it on the radio and now they REALLY can't tell anyone because Todd's dad works for the mayor and the dead lady was the mayor's sister. Uh-oh spagetti-o's. Natalie immediately feels horrible and wishes they had gone back. Someone should've kicked Randee's ass out and drove back anyway. Natalie hangs up the phone and tries to process the fact that she and her friends are "hit-and-run killers". As she's becoming lost in thought, the phone rings again. It's Keith who has absolutely HORRIBLE timing. She says she really can't talk right now, but he doesn't listen and whines like a little bitch until Natalie hangs up on him.

That afternoon, the fab five meet at Shadyside Park to talk. Todd, being the insensitive bastard that he is, attempts to make light of the situation, laughing and joking. He mercifully shuts his trap when he realizes no-one is laughing. They discuss the accident and Carlo says they should just confess. Everyone stares at him as if he'd just sprouted a second head. Finally, Randee says it's easy for him to say that because he wasn't the one driving. Which is true. Carlo doesn't let it go, though, and says they're gonna get caught anyway so they may as well confess. This causes Todd flip out, grab Carlo, and scream "You die next, Carlo!" into his face. Why is Todd even here? As a caveman, he should be frozen in a block of ice or chilling out in his loin cloth, polishing his club, and picking bugs out of his hair. Anyway, Todd's reasons for not wanting to confess are incredibly selfish of course. He doesn't want his dad to lose his job and he doesn't want daddy to find out he was in the car either. Someone is DEAD and you're worried about getting grounded? Go fuck yourself! Randee says they need to forget it: "Todd is right. We can't go to the police. We just can't. We have to hope and pray that no-one saw us, that no-one can identify my car." How predictable. Natalie does what she does best, coming up with excuse after excuse as to why they shouldn't tell anyone. I really hate Natalie. She acts as if she's so much more moral than the rest of them when she's just as bad! They all take a vow of secrecy, swearing to never reveal the truth. They feel confident that nothing will happen to them if they just keep their mouths shut. But something WILL happen. Otherwise I wouldn't have 100 pages left to read.

That night, Natalie is sitting in her room attempting to write a happy poem to make herself feel better. Her mom comes in with some laundry and they talk. Of course Natalie can't say "Mom, me and some friends killed a person. Do you still love me?" so she talks about the party and Keith. When her mom starts to ask if she and Keith are having problems but simply trails off instead, Natalie thinks "I had her well trained. She knew better than to ask personal questions. She knew it always made me angry." I hope you're referring to your talking dog, Natalie. What? Oh, my sources are telling me those don't exist. So stop acting like such a bitch! She's your MOTHER! It's her job to pry into your life. If you get sent to jail for your "vehicular indiscretion" you'll miss having her around. Mom leaves the room, Natalie kicks herself in the ass for not being able to forget about the accident, and Keith shows up. Once again, his timing is crap. She's incredibly rude and basically tells him to get the hell out, but he refuses to leave. "No! We have to talk NOW. Natalie, I know your secret." Ooooo. Oh. Never mind. It isn't THAT secret. "You want to dump me, don't you? That's your secret wish. You want to dump me and go out with Todd." Uh, that isn't a secret. You suck, Keith. And so does Natalie which is why Todd won't touch her. Even neanderthals have standards. Natalie hugs him and says she still wants him. Then we have to get her thoughts about how vulnerable she suddenly feels: "I suddenly felt as delicate as a butterfly. As delicate and vulnerable. An image of a crushed butterfly, it's wings crumpled and torn, flashed into my mind." SOB! Not. She says she's actually afraid of Todd because "He's such a truck! And I think he has a real mean streak." And since she's such a bitch most of the time, he'd probably lose it and use his meaty paws to beat her to death. Not a good match. Keith says AGAIN "Listen, Natalie, we've got to talk." What the hell did you just do? See, when you were both moving your mouths and words were coming out, I assumed you were talking. Forgive my ignorance. Natalie puts on her bitch mask AGAIN and says "Bye. You're out of here." and pushes him out the door. But before he leaves, he asks her if she's going to Carlo's uncle's lodge next Saturday. Keith can't make it, but says Natalie should totally go "Because your precious Toddy Woddy will be there!" For some reason, this causes Natalie to shove her tongue down Keith's throat. *sigh*

Later, Natalie calls Todd to see if there are any updates on the case and he gets all pissed off. "Are you going to call me every hour for updates?" Natalie is used to being the bitch and is shocked to get a taste of her own nasty medicine. Todd tells her he can't talk now and he'll call if he hears anything. When he hangs up on her, she slams the phone down and yells "What a pig!" Tee hee. Over the next few days, Natalie concentrates on school and manages to put the accident out of her mind. Until Tuesday afternoon when Todd comes up with news. "My dad is kind of worried about the mayor. He and his sister were really close. Mayor Colletti can't stop talking about her." Apparently the mayor has offered up a special bonus to any police officer who turned up an important clue. Yeah, that won't happen. Shadyside officers are the worst.

Friday night, Natalie is packing for a weekend at the lodge. She's thinking about her friends and the fact that maybe no-one will ever know about what they did when the phone rings. It's Todd and he says something needs to be done about Carlo who is cracking under pressure. Todd says to meet him and the gang at Pete's Pizza in 15 minutes to discuss what to do about Carlo. When she arrives, Todd, Randee, and Gillian are already in a booth. Carlo wants to go to the police and Todd says maybe Carlo will have an accident of his own. THE HORROR! When everyone acts shocked, he says he's joking, but no-one really believes him.

On Saturday morning, everyone piles into Todd's jeep and heads for the lodge. The conversation consists of guns and chipmunks so I'm not even going there. "The chipmunk was vicious." Shut up, Todd. They arrive at the lodge which is in the middle of nowhere so you know something wicked will happen and are greeted by Uncle George and Carlo. George is dressed like Elmer Fudd. (Blogger is being an a-hole and won't let me post my Fudd picture with my clever caption "Quiet. I'm hunting wabbits." Not that you really needed to see that anyway...) Yikes. They go inside for breakfast and amusing stories from George. Then everyone except Natalie and Gillian grabs guns and prepare to go hunting. Natalie thinks Randee is only doing this to impress Todd. "How can she like that big moose? I wondered silently." Shut up! You're probably jealous. At least she has a moose. All you have is Keith. For some stupid reason, Natalie and Gillian decide to go along anyway even though they refuse to hunt. Everyone heads outside, but Natalie has to run back in for her gloves. When she comes back out, she hears a gunshot and a loud scream. It was Gillian who screamed and Todd who fired the shot. He didn't hurt anyone, but we all know what this moron is trying to do: "accidentally" hit Carlo. Sadastic bastard. This is what happens when you raise children in Shadyside! Someone needs to ban people from ever bringing kids into this town. Stine? No? Fine then. Be the way. See if I care! *sob*

The group continues on into the woods. Since not a damn thing is happening, the dear author pads the pages with Natalie's flashback about getting lost in the woods when she was a kid. Unfortunately, that sequence is about as interesting as dirty dishwater. Natalie gets lost in the woods this time, too. *sigh* She's confused as to how she lost track of everyone. A few words of advice? Get your head out of your ass! She freaks out for a moment, no doubt thinking about the time she was lost all those years before and had to spend the night in the woods with the crickets and squirrels. She decides to attempt to find the lodge when she hears gunshots. She keeps walking and comes upon a horrifying sight. Someone blew Carlo's brains out and his body is lying before Natalie which causes her to completely lose it: "Where is his head? WHERE IS HIS HEAD?" Bad Todd! Go to your room! Natalie can't stop screaming and staring at the bloody pulp that was once Carlo's head. Suddenly Todd comes up, grabs her by the shoulders and says "Don't tell." Oh yeah, I'm sure she's gonna keep this one to herself, you stupid asshole!

Carlo's death is ruled as an accident so apparently Natalie kept her trap shut after all. She reads the newspaper the next day and finds the article with the "official explanation": "Carlo tripped over an upraised tree root. The shotgun stock banged against the tree trunk. The gun went off, shattering his skull." That's some top notch reporting right there, folks. If Natalie's conscience was hurting before, it is positively WRECKED now. Seriously, who in their right mind would sit by and say nothing?!? She doesn't even like Todd!!! He shot someone's brains out and she's just gonna sit there and wring her hands? Let me repeat this yet again: I hate you Natalie, you dumb bimbo. Someone needs to shove you in a box and send it floating down the river. She reads the article again and actually questions whether it was an accident or if Todd did it. Yes, this stupid piece of shit is unsure even though Todd practically signed a confession and handed it over. Grrr. Suddenly Todd bursts into Natalie's room. AHHHH! Oh, never mind. It isn't Todd at all--it's Keith. Natalie's parents aren't home and the door wasn't locked so Keith just let himself in. Nice manners. They hold each other and Natalie cries about Carlo which just pisses me off to no end. When Keith asks what happened, she blurts "Todd killed him!" Good work, Sherlock. Before long, Natalie has told Keith about everything including the car accident and the vow she and her friends took to never tell (oops). As Keith is proclaiming his shock, the doorbell rings. They down to answer it and sadly, it's Todd. For real this time. He says he just wanted to see how Natalie is doing (i.e. he wants to make sure she hasn't blabbed to anyone.) and instead of inviting him in, she says "Todd, did you kill Carlo?" Could this chick possibly get any more STUPID? Does she honestly believe he'll truly confess with Keith standing there? Todd makes a joke out of it: "Sure, Natalie. I killed him. See, I kill a friend of mine every week. It's my hobby." That's probably not far from the truth. He gets pissed off and Natalie ends up apologizing. Just before Todd leaves, he says "Hey, you know something, Natalie? I wasn't the only one in the woods with a rifle yesterday morning." OOOO!

On Thursday night, Randee and natalie are at Gillian's house to study for a test and comfort Gillian--she was pretty close to Carlo. Gillian carries some apples and cheesecake to the kitchen table and the girls consider this a feast. First, that ain't a feast. Second, apples aren't comfort food. Cheesecake rocks, but where are the mashed potatoes and fried chicken and other heavy, starchy stuff guaranteed to put you in a food coma? The girls start gossiping about stuff at school. "Did you see the lip lock Gina Marks had on Bobby Newkirk (NOOOOOOO! You will NEVER mention him to me again!) after school in front of the library? What was THAT about? The hall was full." Who the hell is Gina Marks? I thought Suki Thomas and Gary Brandt were the only sluts at this school. Oh well. I'm not involving myself in the lives of people who don't even exist. Randee says she and Todd are going out Saturday night and she defends him before Natalie can start her trash talk: "You know, Todd isn't a bad guy, Natalie. Just because he's a jock and he's built like a bear and likes to act tough sometimes doesn't mean--" Of course Natalie interrupts and says she isn't giving Randee a hard time about Todd. No...but you were thinking about it which is almost as bad and deserves a SMACK. Ever since Todd made the comment about other people having rifles the day they were hunting, Natalie has been puzzling over who it could be. I still say it's Todd for no reason other than I hate him. Anyway, the girls eat some cheesecake and then start their studying. Gillian opens her backpack and a foul smell wafts out. "As she unzipped the pack, a large chunk of green-and-purple spotted decayed meat slid out onto the table. Thousands of white maggots crawled over both sides of it." Well, that's just beautiful. *barf* Gillian flips out and asks who put it inside her pack. The sandman? An evil leprechaun? A disgruntled butcher? YOU? Gillian sees a note inside her pack and pulls it out. I guess we're all ignoring the fact that the kitchen table is shellacked with maggots? Ok then. The note reads "You can be close to Carlo again. In the grave. This is you. Dead meat. If you talk." Clever...or something that mean the exact opposite of clever.

The girls move to the living room (uh, hello? MAGGOTS!) to comfort Gillian. Natalie makes the mistake of bringing up Todd and Randee is quick to both defend Todd and tear Natalie a new one. Natalie simply believes randee is protecting Todd for some reason. Well, duh. He's her lover boy! A cave wench is honor bound to protect her hairy cave mongrel. Natalie then mentions that Keith knows about everything which really pisses Randee off. I wish Randee would kick Natalie's ass, man. She deserves it! Keith picks Natalie up a few minutes later before Randee can properly lay the smack down. Once outside in the pouring rain, Natalie boo hoo's on Keith's shoulder then makes out quite aggressively with him. She breaks the kiss to ask him if he told anyone about what she told him and he says no. They get in the car and Keith tells her that it's almost over anyway. "It's been nearly two weeks. The police don't have a clue about who killed the mayor's sister. That's what they said on the news tonight." Natalie is instantly relieved. HATE!

On Friday afternoon, Natalie finishes a math test she's sure she did poorly on (hahaha!) just before the bell rings signaling the day's end. Natalie heads for her locker and finds Gillian standing there. She's been crying and immediately says "Natalie, I'm going to the police. I have to. I can't eat. I can't sleep. It's driving me crazy." Just go. Just do it. P.S. I know you can eat--you devoured half that cheesecake before the maggots decided to have a slumber party on your table. Gillian says that Carlo told her things at the lodge and there's so much Natalie doesn't know about. The girls turn and stupid Todd is standing there. And the chapter ends there so I guess that was completely insignificant. Unless he was spying. I'll assume he was.

Later, Natalie and Keith go to the ice rink. As they skate, they talk about Gillian and whether or not she should go to the police. It's really not for these two to decide. Natalie wants to convince her not to go, but she has to play the saint also and thinks Gillian should just tell. Natalie is truly a wolf in sheep's clothing. I wish Keith could morph like a Transformer into Godzilla and devour Natalie in one bite. RAWR! He wants to leave, but Natalie doesn't want him to and keeps pulling on his arm and whining when he turns to go. He finally pulls away and leaves. Good for him. Natalie stays for a while longer before leaving. She makes her way out into the darkness and starts walking home. It isn't long before she starts RUNNING home--someone is following her. She turns and it's just Randee and Todd who said they called out to her, but she started running. You fuckers didn't say anything! You just chased her which makes me almost positive you're both partners in trying to eliminate all your friends. Natalie turned around just as you were planning to grab her, right? Oh well. Kill her. I don't care. They say they all need to go to Gillian's to convince her not to go to the police. Right. They've probably already killed her. They arrive at her home and ring the bell, but no-one answers. They wait and ring again then Natalie hops off the porch and peeks into a living room window. She's shocked to see Gillian's lifeless body sprawled at the bottom of the stairs. She screams and they all rugh in through the conveniently unlocked door. Gillian's neck is broken and is twisted almost completely around, Exorcist style. Randee and Todd act sufficiently shocked even though I'm sure these turds are the culprits.

Later that evening, we get more of Natalie's bullshit. She's toassing and turning, wondering who killed Gillian and Carlo because she's positive those weren't accidents (NOW you get it. Fool) and blah blah fucking blah. I couldn't care less at this point.

The next morning, Natalie hurriedly gets dressed and is about to climb into the car to go to the police with everything (SHOCK) when Randee pulls up. Natalie explains what she's doing and Randee says she'll go with her because that's why she came over anyway. Liar! They make it to the station and blurt out the story to Lieutenant Frazer who is probably regretting his choice of becoming a cop right about now. He asks several questions and then asks to see Randee's car. The girls lead him outside, he checks the car, and says "Why are you confessing to a crime you didn't commit?" Oh give me a fucking break! He leads the girls inside and says they're looking for an older car and they found particles of blue paint on Ms. Coletti's car. Natalie is elated that they weren't responsible for the woman's death, but she needs closure on the death's of her friends. Lieutenant Frazer says the girls are still in trouble for leaving the scene of an accident even though the person was already dead. So they hang around the station a little longer until their parents can be called. When they leave, Todd shows up looking all angry and says "Hey! I told you not to go to the police!" And I told YOU to bury yourself so I guess neither of us listened. The girls tell Todd the accident wasn't their fault after all. Randee tells the two to get in her devil car and she'll take them home. Natalie hesitates because she really doesn't trust these two for some reason. Because they killed your friends! Wake up, Natalie! She decides to walk home even though it's pouring rain.

When she gets home, she spots Keith's car in the driveway and runs to the porch where he's waiting. Natalie hugs him and starts to explain what happened at the station but then she looks at Keith's BLUE car. "I lowered my gaze to the dented bumper with its rusted chrome. And then to the tires. I let out a low gasp when I saw the tiny spare tire was still on the right front wheel. One wide tire and one skinny tire." She thinks about a photo the Lieutenant showed her of tire tracks found at the scene of the crime...one wide track and one skinny track. Ruh-roh! Keith realizes she's on to him and shoves her into the car.

As they drive around town, Keith tearfully confesses to hitting the woman. But he was only driving drunk because he was chasing Natalie because he thought she wanted Todd. WAHHHH! What. A. Dumbass. It sickens me that people to die because of other's sheer stupidity. Keith also killed Gillian and Carlo just because he could. He sent Gillian the maggot infested rotten meat message but when that sailed over her head, she had to go. I wanna know where he got all those maggots...I'd hate to see his room. Anyway, Keith still has a loose end to tie up--Natalie! He speeds around a corner and heads straight for a cliff. Unfortunately, his dinky spare tire pops, he loses control of the car, Natalie dives out, and Keith goes over the cliff with his death machine. A second later, Natalie hears a loud explosion and sees a fireball which pretty much seals Keith's fate. She realizes she's clinging to the dead end sign and I COULD get into Natalie's philosophies on the irony of the sign, but I really just want this fool to shut her damn mouth. She stands and bgins walking back to town. A totally unsatisfying ending. In MY version of the ending, Natalie gets smashed by the rogue driver of a truck full of cheesecake and maggots. Yee haw!

Conclusion? It's pretty damned sad when you have more sympathy for the murderer than his victims because they're so fucking vapid and irritating. DIE NATALIE!

Next time: "Cheerleaders: The New Evil" Pray for me for I am about to enter the lion's den. I'm actually scared of how BAD this book is gonna be. But really, what can you expect from a book whose cover depicts a menacing Santa Claus on ice skates standing behind a fallen cheerleader who's looking up at him like she's wondering where her gifts are? As laughable as the cover is (ice skates!) the material inside is only gonna make me cry.

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