Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Overnight

Book Description:

"Nothing bad will happen," Della O'Connor assures her friends in the Outdoors Club. So what if their advisor can't go on the overnight to Fear Island - won't it be more fun with no adults around? But it's no fun at all when Della gets lost in the woods, and the dangerous stranger appears, whispering threats, driving her to a violent act. Suddenly all of her friends are involved, prisoners in a conspiracy of silence, trying to conceal the terrible truth. But someone saw what Della did. And he's threatening them all, forcing them back to Fear Island to find the evidence they forgot to bury...

My Description:

We begin with Della digging through her locker. She's disgusted because someone scratched 'Della and Gary' inside a heart on the the inside of the door. (WHO did?) She doesn't wanna think about Gary since she dumped him a few weeks ago. I pray this is Gary Brandt we're talking about. I'd like to know if he's MORE than just a disgusting slut. (Doubtful) Anyway, Della starts thinking about the upcoming Outdoors Club overnight and how Gary will be there. Unfortunately, Suki Thomas will also be there and she only joined the club to be near Gary because she's a skank. Dude, it has to be Gary Brandt! Suki and Gary are always mentioned together because they're partners in whoredom! (Why does this excite me so much? I hate myself right now.) We get a quick description about how beautiful Della is. Naturally, she's blonde and blue eyed because Stine apparently thinks any other hair color is the devil's work. Della shuts her locker and finds her ugly friend Maia Franklin (she's described as a brunette Orphan Annie with short frizzy curls and giant glasses. WHY?!) who probably only exists to make Della look better. They talk about the overnight and Maia's strict parents which leads Maia to make a quick reference to sex: "I guess [my parents] think if I spend the night camping out on an island where there are boys, I'm going to behave like a rabbit in heat." Thank you for that disgusting visual. Della's response: "And what's wrong with that?" What the hell is going on here?! I thought Shadyside teens were sexless androids! My entire belief system is shaken to the core. If someone says there actually ISN'T a pet cemetery on every corner, my head will explode.

The girls walk to Mr. Abner's classroom for a meeting of the Outdoors Club. Suki and Gary are talking and we have to get a description of Suki's looks because "very punky looking" girls shouldn't be in the outdoors, apparently. She didn't join for the nature. She joined for the Gary. ZING! The girls take their seats and soon after, Ricky Schorr comes bouncing in. I can't remember what other book this guy is in, but I do remember that he is incredibly annoying, thinks he's hilarious, and never shuts the hell up. He drops some leaves on Gary's desk and challenges him to identify them since Gary is the club president. Since this is Ricky we're talking about, the leaves are poison ivy. Gary didn't know which means Gary ain't no outdoorsman. He wrestles Ricky to the floor just as Mr. Abner walks in. He tells them to knock it off, informs Gary the leaves are grape ivy (Gary is a dumbass), and tells everyone he can't take them on the overnight Saturday because of a personal emergency. Everyone is really disappointed and Mr. Abner leaves after telling them they'll go sometime soon. Suki, because she's bad and rebellious, suggests they go alone. I really can't believe they're all so shocked at the idea. They're teenagers, not 6 year olds! Maia keeps screaming that her parents will kill her. THEN DON'T GO, GENIUS. Everyone agrees to go and Della persuades Maia. "Trust me, Maia. Nothing bad will happen." And we all know how that turns out...

It's now Saturday and Della is finishing her packing with Mom's help. Mom wants to know why the overnight has to be on Fear Island since it's so spooooky and Della says that's the point. I'm sure you want to know more about Fear Island. you go: "Fear Island was a small uninhabited island, covered with pine trees, in the center of the lake behind the Fear Street Woods. Even though it was the perfect spot for picnics and camping and only a few minutes' boat ride across the lake, few people ventured there because of the dreadful stories about it." Had enough? No you haven't: "Some said that strange animal mutations, hideous dangerous creatures that didn't exist anywhere else, roamed the woods. Others said the island was infected with poisonous snakes. And there were stories that the island had been used long ago as an Indian burial ground and that ghosts walked the woods at night, seeking revenge for their fates." Have fun, kids!

A guy named Pete from the club arrives in his Subaru to take Della to the lake. He has a crush on her, but she's still mooning over Gary...even though SHE broke up with HIM. They arrive and see that everyone else is already there. Della can't get over how good Gary looks, but the sight of Suki curling around him like a feral cat really kills her buzz. They get into a couple of canoes and start paddling toward the island. Once there, Suki starts whining about a broken nail and Ricky won't stop making stupid jokes and I think it would be better is everyone just drowned them both now and saved themselves a lot of pain later. They set up two tents, one for boys, one for girls. At one point, Della realizes Gary is alone for once without Suki hanging all over him. At least Della THOUGHT he was alone. She walks along a short trail and finds Suki and Gary slurping each other up like they're cherry Slushies.

Later, Ricky takes out what we today call "paintball guns". In the faraway land of 1989, however, they're referred to as "pistols" for a "ZAP war". Actually, I can't even call them paintballs because the paint isn't in ball form. They're just squirting streams of paint at each other. The teams are boys vs. girls (of course) and Della hates having to associate with Suki. The girls decide to split up. Maia heads off first, leaving Della alone with Suki for a moment. Suki uses the opportunity to bring up Gary: "Gary's really nice. You broke up with him, right?" Della immediately runs off into the woods without answering. HA! After managing to hit Ricky with a blob of yellow paint, Della runs deeper into the woods and realizes she's lost. Dark clouds are rolling in and Della is starting to get really freaked out. The fact that she hears footsteps nearby isn't helping any. She thinks it's just one of the others sneaking up on her, but it turns out to be some creepy stranger. He's dressed nicely and is really hot so Della isn't as scared as she should be. Handsome strangers with nice coats aren't dangerous! Only dirty derelicts with ripped jeans are. *sigh* You poor stupid girl. Della explains what she's doing out in the woods, but the guy is really vague when Della asks him what he's doing out here. Eventually he says he's a college student from Boston doing a project on trees and that's how he came to be in the woods of Shadyside in the middle of the semester. "Lots of trees to study on the island. I'm doing my paper on tree reproduction." You're joking, right? Because that has got to be the lamest excuse in the history of EVER. He's acting really shifty, blatantly lying, and won't even tell Della his name yet she continues to chat and joke like he's her BFF. When Della FINALLY becomes suspicious, it's too late. The guy grabs her hair and yanks her toward him. She starts to scream, but the guy tells her it's useless because no-one will hear her. He starts babbling about communication and how the old man wouldn't listen to him and it's about time he got something he wanted. The boy ain't right. Della somehow manages to shoot him in the forehead with her paint gun. She runs, he catches her, they struggle, and she ends up shoving him down a ravine. Della makes her way down even though it's obvious he's D-E-A-D. She decides she won't let a random creep's death ruin her life so she just won't tell anyone. That's nice. She starts grabbing handfuls of leaves and piling them over his corpse...until she looks up and sees Ricky and Maia staring down at her. Uhhh-ohhh.

Della starts climbing out of the ravine screaming "He attacked me!" and starts rambling that his fall was an accident blah blah blah. He's still dead and it's still your fault. Pete, Gary, and Suki wander over to gawk at the dead man. Ricky asks plenty of stupid questions, Gary wants to know whether the guy is really dead, and Maia is crying that her parents are going to kill her. Because this is all about her and the fact that she might get grounded for 2.5 seconds. Let's all ignore the dead man! I'm beginning to hate them all. How surprising. Instead of getting the hell off the island and going to the police, they decide the best thing to do is to cover him with leaves and forget all about him. Then they go back to camp and choose to spend the night because their parents might get suspicious if they went home early. They cook hot dogs around the fire and Ricky tells plenty of stupid jokes that no-one listens to. Gary says that before they go to sleep, they all need to take an oath of secrecy. As if anyone will be able to keep this a secret. He's dumber than I thought. They all agree and head for their tents.

A few hours later, Della wakes up and thinks she hears someone outside the tent so she wakes Suki and Maia. Not once does any of them think it might be one of the guys out for a midnight pee. When Della creeps outside, she doesn't see anyone but notices the backpacks have been knocked over and assumes it was a raccoon or muscular chipmunk that she heard.

The next morning, everyone finds the canoes missing along with Ricky's backpack. Ricky whines like a little bitch and everyone else wonders what they're going to do. Can none of them swim? Why am I still asking questions? Maia is STILL worried about her parents finding out she's here UNSUPERVISED! THE HORROR! Shut up, Maia. A moment later, Ricky the Royal Jackass announces that HE moved the canoes yesterday as a joke. Everyone hates him even more than before, but they're relieved to be getting off the island and away from their dirty little secret.

Once Della gets home, she struggles not to tell her mom what happened because Mom would probably have a heart attack if she knew her perfect spawn just killed a man. Della sleeps all day and wakes at 4 PM. She makes herself a sandwich, eats it with a Coke, and does some Government homework without thinking about her victim very much at all. At dinner, she realizes she no longer has an urge to tell her mom anything and talks about the paint war instead. A little later, Maia calls. She's totally paranoid, convinced her parents suspect something, and begs Della to come over. Della searches for her wallet before leaving (will she have to show ID before Maia's parents let her in?) but can't find it.

At Maia's house, Maia answers the door and drags Della to her pink frilly room where she breaks down and sobs. Della tells her she needs to get some sleep and forget about the man in the ravine because he was crazy, not some innocent boy. Eventually Maia calms down and Della leaves in a fairly good mood. That doesn't last long, though, because someone left a little surprise for Della at home. She finds an envelope on the porch and opens it. Out falls a tiny silver skull (the dead guy was wearing a necklace with one on it) and a note that reads "I SAW WHAT YOU DID." Of course you did.

On Tuesday night, the Outdoors Club gang (except Pete who is late) meets at Della's house to discuss the note. Della assumed it was one of Ricky's jokes, but even Ricky has higher standards than that. Gary also received a skull, but no note. How very sinister. Gary mentions he lost his wallet and Della says she did too and that must be how the sneaky skull gremlin got their addresses. After discussing that, they hear someone knocking on the door. But when Della answers, there's no-one there. NOOO! She runs to make sure the other doors are locked and a moment later, the knocking starts again. Gary answers, there's nobody there, and they chalk it up to neighborhood kids playing a joke because that makes them feel better. Since Gary is a total dumbass, he decides the best plan of action is to take the prankster's picture. He grabs Della's Polaroid and tells her that the next time the person knocks, jerk open the door and Gary will snap a picture. The knock comes, but the guy leaps off the porch and runs. All Gary got was a blurry photo of the screen door. A second later, Pete walks in and they explain what just happened. He says he didn't see anyone, but that doesn't make sense because he was practically right there. I'm watching you, Pete...

Maia has had enough and says she's leaving, but Pete stops her with a newspaper article (the almighty power of print). It tells the story of a recent burglary/murder. Two men broke into the tiny cottage of a gardener who was rumored to be an eccentric millionaire who kept his money hidden somewhere in the cottage. I'm sure. The burglars found nothing but the gardener so they killed him for not being rich. A picture of one of the burglars shocks everyone: it's the man they (accidentally!) left for dead in the woods. They believe that the man who is half-heartedly stalking them must be the dead guy's partner out for revenge. They all argue over the guy's possible motives because they're all morons--didn't they just say he wants revenge? Maia doesn't join in the conversation because the only thing she gives a damn about is whether or not she gets in trouble with her parents. Della finally loses it: "Oh, Maia - stop thinking about yourself for once! You're only worried about your parents finding out that you went on the overnight without a chaperone. You don't care what happens to the rest of us!" And none of you care about the deceased gent who's currently rotting away under a pile of moldy leaves in the woods. Your parents obviously raised you right. *sigh* Maia shuts her mouth and everyone starts arguing again. Until they hear a knock at the door. But don't get too excited--it's just Della's mom and her friend Mr. Garrison.

Mr. Garrison is probably more than just a friend, as evidenced by his hasty explanation for walking Mom home: "Your mother forgot her house key." That's just fine and dandy, Mr. Garrison. But if she did indeed "forget her house key" what the hell could you do? There's no mention of you being an expert locksmith so me thinks you were over for super happy fun time. Don't worry, Mr. Garrison, we won't tell. Anyway, everyone explains they were having an Outdoors Club meeting but they're done now and they all leave. Pete stays behind to ask Della out for Friday night and she says yes. Love blossoms even among the darkness of murder and lies. NOT!

It's now Friday night and Della and Pete are dancing at The Mill (a dance club that was once...a mill). After a while, they get all sweaty and tired and decide to leave for a burger before going home. As they're driving, someone starts tailing them. Pete, who is proving to be as stupid as Gary, pulls over and starts to get out to confront the driver. But Della stops him and begs him to just drive. He speeds away and the other car immediately follows. It starts bumping Pete's dad's precious car so Pete makes a sudden U-turn in the road and the car speeds past them. But of course it isn't over. The car turns around and promptly crashes right into a tree. NOW it's over. Pete drives over to check the damage and decides to get out to see if the driver is still alive. The car is completely totaled but the driver's side is surprisingly unscathed. The car is empty.

It's now Monday afternoon and Della is telling Maia about the car. Maia freaks out a bit and then they go to the Outdoors Club meeting. Mr. Abner comes in looking like Howdy Doody and begins apologizing for not being able to take them on the overnight. But he has great news! He'll be able to take them Saturday! Damn it all. Della and Ricky at least attempt to act enthusiastic, but the other pretend they have plans and might not be able to go. The meeting is over so they all head out after promising to meet with Mr. Abner on Wednesday to let him know if they'll be able to go. They stand around in the student parking lot trying to think of a way out of the overnight. Ricky brings up his missing ZAP gun and asks Della if she can bring it to his house. Unfortunately, it's lying at the bottom of a ravine with a dead man. Ricky completely loses it, saying when the cops find the corpse, they'll see his gun and know it's his because he's known for his ZAP guns. Yes, he's serious. Ricky angers them all by saying if he gets caught, he'll take them all down with him. Della says everything is her fault so she'll go back to Fear Island for the stupid gun. They all decide to go on the overnight if for no other reason than to retrieve Ricky's gun. "It couldn't be any worse than the last overnight - could it?" Shut up, Maia.

It's now Saturday and the Outdoors Club is floating across the lake to Fear Island. Once they come ashore, Mr. Abner says they'll go on a hike now and set up camp later. Della and Pete decide they'll get the gun after the hike when everyone is gathering fire wood. After what seems like an eternity of walking, they finally go back to build a fire. Della and Pete attempt to run off to the ravine, but Mr. Abner assumes they're going to go make out or something and tells them to come back. He goes on ahead and a moment later, they hear someone screaming. It's Maia who is sitting on the ground with Abner's bloody head in her lap. The creepy man has followed them here and Maia saw him hit Abner with something and run away. Gary, Suki, and Ricky decide to go back for help and as they're leaving, Ricky reminds Della about his damned stupid gun. There are much bigger things to worry about!!! Della decides to go for it now and Pete says he'll go with her. Maia doesn't want to be left alone so Della tells him to stay. At first he argues, but Della has a whistle and says she'll blow it if anything happens. He gives her a flashlight and she runs off into the woods.

As Della nears the ravine, she spots a flash of light (possibly made by one of those newfangled FLASHLIGHTS) and realizes someone else is out here. She starts runningand ends up falling down the ravine. Smooth. She thinks she's fallen on the dead man but the leaf pile is flat. She searches for her flashlight and finds it, but it's dead. Then someone shines a light on her from above. "No! It can't be! You were dead! I know you were dead!" The man ignores Della's screams and jumps down into the ravine. She cracks her flashlight over his head and it suddenly flashes on. Har har har. She doesn't recognize the man and thinks it must be the "dead" guy's partner in crime. She crawls out of the ravine and starts running toward camp. Except the "dead" man steps out from behind a tree and stops everything. Della says he's dead. Obviously not, smart one. The man says he has a very faint pulse and was NEVER dead! I can feel my brain cells dying the longer this conversation goes on. Della asks him why he's been messing with her and her friends and he says he thought he could blackmail them and get some money since the old gardener didn't have any. Then he starts smacking Della in the face and telling her to shut up. He pulls out a pistol and Della thinks she's about to die, but it's just that stinking ZAP gun. He starts laughing as paint drips down Della's forehead. She runs, but he catches her and tells her she shouldn't have done that because he has a real gun and now he might have to use it. Of course Super Pete saves the day by running in just in time and shooting paint into the crazy man's eyes. Yee haw! Della and Pete make it back to the campsite with the man on their heels. But the cops have arrived and play time is over.

A week later, Della is preparing to go to Pete's house. He comes to pick her up with a folded tent in the backseat as a joke. It would be funny if it weren't so unfunny. The book ends with Pete asking if you can roast marshmallows in front of a TV and Della replying "We can try." Tune in next time as these lovesick fools go up in flames!

Conclusion? I would have liked this book a lot if there hadn't been so many holes in the story. I'm left with more questions than answers: is Gary's last name Brandt? What happened to Ricky's backpack? How deep was that ravine? Why didn't Della check to see if the man was actually dead? On the second overnight, why didn't they just convince Mr. Abner to go somewhere besides Fear Island? Why was Mr. Abner dressed like a deranged cowboy? Why did Della break up with Gary and why did she want him back? I kind of wish this book had been about the adventures of Della's mom and Mr. Garrison.

Next time: "Phone Calls" Another sad attempt at comedy. This one could get ugly...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What Holly Heard

Book Description:

Do you want to hear a secret? Holly did. She learned a terrible secret and now her friends know it too. Someone wants to make sure they never talk about it. Someone who'll go to any length to keep them quiet. Lying... Threats... Even murder.

My Description:

This better be a damn good secret...

The very first line of the book comes from Holly: "Guess what I just heard!" She's clopping down the hall at Shadyside High toward her friends Miriam Maryles (is that the WASP version of Morales? You suck, Stine.) and Ruth Carver. Holly is a notorious gossip and Ruth really doesn't wanna hear any more of this crap (Miriam, on the other hand, loves it.) But that doesn't stop Holly from yakking away: "I just heard that Mei Kamata has been having huge fights with her mother for the past two weeks. She told me she might run away!" Holly, you're getting entirely too much pleasure from someone else's pain. Since Mei is one of the richest kids in Shadyside, this is BIG news. Because rich people usually don't have any problems whatsoever. *sigh* Anyway, Holly goes on to say that the fights are usually over Noah Brennan, Mei's rebel-without-a-brain boyfriend, because Mei's mom hates him. You know Noah's a bad ass because he has long hair, a double pierced ear (DOUBLE!), muscles, and a baaaaad attitude. Basically identical to every other "wild" one in Shadyside. Cliches hurt me. Holly says she really hopes he and Mei break up because she wants a shot at him. She has a thing for greasy hair and uneven piercings. Ruth asks about Gary Foster (no Brandt?!) Holly's BOYFRIEND, but Holly simply says "Gary's nice, Ruth. But I don't know what it is about Noah. I think about him all the time." He's got an unforgettable stench. Holly notices Noah coming down the hall and she just can't believe how gorgeous he is: ripped jeans, black T-shirt, leather bomber jacket, shaggy hair, silver arrow earring. I don't see the appeal yet Holly is practically having an orgasm right in the hall. A moment later, Mei comes up to rain on Holly's parade. Mei is gorgeous and has a "hot" boyfriend so naturally Holly is harboring the green-eyed monster. Mei and Noah walk off together, presumably to Mei's house since her parents won't be home until much later so they'll have plenty of time to drink Coke, play Scrabble, and rub their dry lips together until the friction causes a fire that Noah will put out with the cold congealed chicken grease on his head. That stuff has to be good for something.

After they leave, Miriam and Ruth carry on about what a jerk Noah is and how Holly is a complete fool for even thinking about him since she has Gary. Holly doesn't listen (as usual) and says tonight at Mei's party (since when is she having a party? I really need to pay better attention to the trivial aspects of these peoples' lives. Something interesting might happen!) Holly will make her move. Miriam is freaked out by the way Holly is acting and when Holly says "I would do absolutely anything to get Noah." Miriam gets scared. Why why WHY is this such a popular plot in these books? No girl in her right mind aspires to be this:

After school, Holly and Miriam are walking to Holly's car when Miriam spots her hunk of jock meat, Jed. Jed is the "tall, muscular captain of the Shadyside Tigers basketball team. Miriam had been dating Jed since the beginning of their senior year and it was now February." Jed is Miriam's superhero which is why she understands what Mei and Noah have together. She knows what it's like to let a teenage boy become the center of your universe, she knows what it's like to LOVE! Gag. Me. Unfortunately, Jed has been acting like a complete ass lately, losing his temper and screaming when Miriam even looks at him wrong. Miriam blames this on "a dark, angry creature [that seemed] to slide into his body." Wow. I was going to blame 'roid rage, but I guess being violated on a daily basis by a shadow creature could also be the culprit. Miriam asks him what's wrong (because he looks like mummified shit) and then asks if they're still going to Mei's party. He gets pissy, tells her he'll pick her up at eight, and storms off. Maturity is obviously his strong suit. Except not.

As Holly is driving Miriam home, she asks what's wrong with Jed. Miriam says that sometimes he's really sweet and other times he's completely psychotic and she has no idea what's up. Since Holly is a snoop who likes to butt her fat head in other people's business, she says she'll start keeping a really close eye on him to figure out his issues. Yeah, this won't end badly.

That evening, Jed, Miriam, Ruth, and Miriam's dorky cousin Patrick are on their way to Mei's party. Jed is all sunshine and rainbows now so Miriam is happy because every aspect of her life is dominated by Jed. When they arrive at Mei's house, they can hear a local band playing. They're called the Dustmites. Really? No, REALLY? In spite of their incredibly stupid name, they apparently rock because almost every kid in Shadyside is packed into Mei's giant house. Patrick immediately runs off to get his freak on and Ruth, who Miriam cruelly set up with Patrick for the night, stands nearby looking bored. Meanwhile, Miriam attempts to get Jed's attention back on her; he's spotted Holly who's dressed in a tight slutty dress and he can't take his eyes off her: "Wow!" Creep. Miriam drags Jed over to talk to Holly and her dimwitted boyfriend Gary who is on the basketball team with Jed. Miriam and Holly walk off to talk and Holly confesses that she's dressed like a 10 cent hooker to attract Noah's attention. It's working a little TOO well and Mei seems pretty pissed, but instead of kicking Holly's ass out of her house, she just gives her dagger eyes. Miriam is disgusted by her skanky friend and drags her back to Gary and Jed. They all start dancing...until every light in the house goes out and a loud scream comes from the kitchen. Don't worry--absolutely nothing of interest happened. The band blew a fuse, Mei's mom screamed, and everyone is still alive which just sucks. When the lights come back on, Miriam sees that Holly is clinging to Noah. Mei looks ready to KILL! KILL! KILL! and Noah goes over to settle her. Holly claims that she got scared and grabbed for someone who just happened to be Noah. Shut up, Holly, you filthy stinking liar.

The next night, Miriam and Ruth are hanging out at Ruth's house, waiting for Holly to pick them up for a basketball game. Unless a glass backboard falls on Jed, slicing and dicing, I really couldn't care less. While they're waiting, the girls talk about Jed's twisted psychosis, Holly's urges for Noah, and how cute Ruth's hamsters, Tilly and Lizzy, are. What a glamorous life. I'd rather be a hamster. Anyway, Ruth says she can't stand how Holly treats Gary and Gary told her that he knows that Holly isn't interested in him but he stays with her to be nice. I think it's the other way around, stupid. Seriously, what is wrong with him?!

Finally Holly shows up and immediately starts yapping away about how awesome the party got after Ruth and Miriam left. Mei and her mom got into a huge fight in front of everyone about Noah (Mei's mom said he was an "irresponsible creep". I think I love this woman.) Eventually her mom kicked everyone out and got her car toilet papered and beer cans thrown all over her lawn for her trouble (the group who did this was led by Noah. Because he's such a bad ass, sticking it to the oldsters like that). Holly heard (oh how Holly HEARS) that Mei became hysterical after everyone left and her mother told her she was never to see Noah again. Why can't this book be about Mei's AWESOME mom? Even if it was just a chronicle of her bowel movements, it would be so much better than this. Anyway, Holly is obviously elated that Noah is probably free now so she can move in for the kill. What a wicked little harpy. Thankfully, Miriam and Ruth remind Holly that Mei will never listen to her mother and she and Noah are probably going stronger than ever. Holly has to admit it's true. HA. Then Ruth and Holly get into a fight over how Holly treats Gary and blah blah blah. Miriam breaks it up before it gets interesting. Ruth decides not to go to the basketball game so Miriam and Holly leave without her.

Throughout the game, Jed plays pretty badly. He's mad about it and when a player from the other team blocks one of Jed's shots AND elbows him in the face, Jed totally loses it. He punches the guy in the mouth and blood gushes everywhere/ But that's not enough for dear Jed. He grabs the kid in a choke hold and hangs on until he starts to turn purple. Finally someone pulls them apart before Jed kills the guy. The coach tells Jed to get lost and the game continues like nothing ever happened. Miriam is freaked out because she's dating a homicidal maniac. But who cares? Shadyside wins the game! WOOOO!

After the game, Holly waits in the car while Miriam goes to find Jed. When she asks him if he's ok, he responds with "No, Miriam, I'm not. I came this close to getting kicked off the team, okay? Is that enough information for you and your friends?" What a little bitch. He goes on to say that he doesn't like being elbowed which is why he had to lose his shit on the court. To bring his point home, he starts shoving and poking Miriam, asking if she likes that. Then he grabs her hand and grips it so hard, Miriam starts to scream. He stops and says he's sorry, but Miriam isn't buying it. It took him almost breaking her hand for her to realize he's a total creep?! *sigh* Miriam turns to run but turns back to tell Jed if he touches her again, they're through. Once should have been the deal breaker, fool. Anyway, Jed says "I never wanted to hurt you, Miriam. I just...I only wanted you to know how it felt for me out there. Playing basketball has never been this hard for me before." ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? To make matters worse, Miriam actually buys this bullshit: "She could actually feel some sympathy for him. She reached out and gave his hand a squeeze." I'm going to barf. Seriously, this is truly sickening.

After that disgusting display, Miriam walks back to Holly's car. Holly has been eavesdropping (as usual) and heard something juicy (is this "What Holly Heard"?). She overheard Mei and Noah arguing about what happened on the night of the party. "I heard them say they were going to kill Mei's mother!" Oh joy. Miriam doesn't take this seriously and even laughs at Mei's exact words ("I'll kill my mother for this.") Miriam says that Mei has said that many times after a fight with her mom. Homicidal threats are big among Shadyside's teenage set. Eventually Holly calms down and as an afterthought, asks how things went with Jed. Miriam spills everything and instead of driving back to run him over a couple of times, Holly just says "Are you okay?". Um...NO. Holly DOES try to convince Miriam that Jed isn't worth her time, but Miriam just spews off that basketball is stressing him out and that's why he's acting like a lunatic who just popped out of Happy Sparrow Insane Asylum. Damn you, Miriam!

On Monday morning, Miriam tells Ruth about what happened with Jed. Ruth says Miriam should get him some help. I agree that he needs help, but Miriam's friends should be more worried about HER than her psychopathic boyfriend. Anyway, Ruth and Miriam have a good laugh at Holly's expense over her hysterics the night before. They choke on their laughter when Holly walks up a moment later and tells them that Mei's mom is dead. She was found at the bottom of her spiral staircase with a broken neck. Did Mei push her or was it just an unfortunate accident with a banana peel? Hmm. Holly is certain that Mei and Noah were involved, but Miriam predictably denies it. Holly wants to go to the police, but Miriam tells her to shut up because Noah is coming. Noah looks like he spent the night in a bong which scares Miriam. Red rimmed eyes equal MURDERER!!! Noah stops and says "I guess you heard about Mei's mom." Miriam blurts that they're all really sorry about it and Noah goes on to say that Mei is a wreck and he's just here to pick up her homework. Then he turns to Holly and says he saw her in the parking lot on Saturday night. All Holly can do is look at his hands and wonder if those are the hands of a killer. Killerhandskillerhandskillerhands. "They saw me, Miriam! They know I heard them plotting to kill Mei's mom. They know and now they're going to kill me too!" Dare to dream. Holly freaks out for a few more minutes until all three girls decide not to speak of it anymore. Which means we'll be hearing about it until the last page of this horrible book.

That evening, Holly calls Miriam at 7:30 PM from the school where she stayed to help decorate the gym for a "victory rally" and everyone else has left and she's scared to be alone and wants Miriam to come. Oh, and she has some important news about Jed. Miriam rushes right down (anything for Jed!) and wanders around the creepy deserted gym searching for Holly. She spots the edge of Holly's blue scarf on the floor, partially hidden by a giant sign. She steps closer and sees that the scarf is wrapped tightly around Holly's neck. She's sprawled across the floor with blood trickling from her nose. Miriam only starts screaming when she sees Holly's eyes: "Her beautiful green eyes. No longer green. They had rolled back into her head. Like two egg whites, they stared up blankly, lifelessly at Miriam." Yeah...Holly's dead. Miriam starts freaking out and out of nowhere, Jed pops up. He goes to make sure Holly is REALLY dead and runs to call 911. Then he and Miriam go outside to wait. Jed immediately starts acting crazy, kicking the tires of Holly's car and beating his fists on the hood like a deranged ape. Miriam tells him to stop and just hold her. But once his meaty arms are wrapped around her, she starts wondering what the hell he was doing inside the school. Supposedly he was weight lifting with Gary who left a little earlier. And Gary's tape player was on so they couldn't hear a girl being murdered or anything. A likely story... Anyway, it doesn't matter what Jed or Gary was doing because Miriam has already convinced herself that MEI murdered Holly. *sigh*

The next afternoon, Miriam hangs out at Ruth's house. Ruth lives on Fear Street and no-one has suspected her of the murders? Morons. The girls talk about how upset Gary was. I doubt it. In fact, he probably killed her. After all, everyone knows she treated him like crap. Anyway, Miriam rambles on about how miserable she is and Ruth gets pissed when Miriam says she doesn't want to think about who could've murdered Holly. Ruth believes Mei and Noah were involved and even though Miriam was thinking the same thing the night before, she's apparently changed her mind. Five seconds later, she goes back to believing they did it because Ruth says they're the only ones with a motive. But they have no proof so they're not saying anything. There are no words for how much I want to sucker punch them both. Eventually Ruth changes the subject and says she got Miriam's homework for her since she was too upset by the sight of those egg white eyeballs to attend school. Ruth reaches into her backpack, pulls out her notebook, and is shocked to find it covered in blooooood. Someone scrawled a message with the red stuff: "We know you know. That's why you die next!" Typical. Murderers in these books have no sense of creativity. Ruth automatically says it had to be Mei. I am so SICK of this Mei crap! First, they have absolutely no proof that she killed anyone. Second, even if she and Noah knew that Holly overheard them talking that night, why in the hell would they have cared? Even if they actually murdered Mei's mom and Holly told the cops what she heard, that's not enough proof! I HATE THIS BOOK!

So the bloody notebook prompts Ruth and Miriam to talk to the cops. Because their best friend's corpse wasn't enough. Damn these fools. What's gained from the trip to the Shadyside police? The knowledge that the notebook was coated in RED PAINT, not blood. That's it. Afterward, Miriam calls Jed and begs him to come over. Inviting Jed over is always a mistake. He starts ranting about how Holly treated Gary like crap (this should be a drinking game. Drink everytime someone says "Holly done gone and wronged that boy!") and how Holly was snooping around, asking Gary questions about Jed. Jed ends his screaming tirade by saying Holly got what she deserved because everything was her fault. WHAT was? Miriam says she was the one who told Holly to ask about Jed because she wants to know what the hell is wrong with him. He blames it on "Pressure." again. Then he runs to his car and speeds away. My brain is bleeding...

The next day, the school has a memorial for Holly. Miriam bitches to Ruth about not wanting to get up in front of everyone to speak about Holly. This isn't about you, Miriam, so shut your damn mouth. Ruth goes into the gym, but Miriam runs to a bathroom stall because she thinks she's going to be sick. Nothing happens so she just splashes her face with cold water...and nearly pees her pants when she turns and sees Noah and Mei standing in the doorway. They're extremely pissed because Miriam told a bunch of lies to the cops. Mei screams that she loved her mother and never would have hurt her. She says her mother's fall was an accident and keeps screaming that Miriam had no right to say those things. So now Miriam thinks it was just Noah. Just when you think she can't possibly get any dumber.

After school, as Miriam is walking past the boy's locker room, she hears Jed and Gary arguing. To make a stupid story short, Gary says he's going to tell someday and Jed says he better just forget everything he knows. Jed comes storming up to her a moment later and apologizes yet again for how he's been acting and asks her to come to his basketball game tonight. It's his last chance to get a scholarship so if he messes this up, he'll probably kill everyone in the school. Unfortunately, Miriam chooses this moment to bring up Holly yet again and accuse Jed of hiding something about her murder. He flips out and screams that he doesn't want to talk about her anymore. Miriam asks him what he was really doing at the school the night Holly was killed and he tells her again that he was lifting weights. He then says he's done with this conversation and walks off. Miriam can't just let it go, though, so she calls to him at the door and tells him she'll be at the game tonight. Of course.

That evening, Miriam begs Ruth to go to the game with her. This somehow leads to the two arguing yet AGAIN about whether or not Mei killed her mother and Holly. This got old about 100 pages ago. And I don't even care anymore. I'm just praying that this ends soon so I can move on with my life! Miriam leaves Ruth with her hamsters and runs on home to get ready for the game.

Miriam's mom drops her off at the school about an hour early so she can have a moment with Jed for some unholy reason. She spots Jed near the water fountain, popping something into his mouth before taking a sip ('ROID RAGE!). When Miriam asks him what it was, he says "Oh, um, it's a high potency vitamin. I found it at a health food store in Waynesbridge. It gives me energy before the game." Liar. Miriam wishes him luck and Jed jogs off.

It's now the middle of the third quarter and Shadyside is losing. Tee hee. Miriam takes her eyes off the game for a moment...and notices Noah sitting alone and staring at her. She turns her attention back to the game just in time to watch Jed work himself into a fury. He ends up punching someone from the opposite team in the jaw, rocking the guy's head back so hard, Miriam is afraid his neck might be broken. Then Jed grabs the guy by the throat and starts pounding his head into the floor. Is no-one going to stop him?? As Miriam watches in horror, she realizes that Jed killed Holly. Ok. She freaks out and runs to the parking lot. She decides to head for Ruth's house since she doesn't live too far away. As she's running, she hears someone behind her, but she doesn't stop. It turns out to be JED, of course, and he calls out to her, but that just makes her run faster. Eventually she stops and looks around. Jed seems to be gone...until he pops out from behind a shrub and grabs her. *cue generic horror movie music* She elbows him, runs to Ruth's house, and becomes even more creeped out when Ruth tells her Jed isn't the murderer. Miriam asks her how she knows and she just says "Two other murders. Tonight." Ruth drags Miriam upstairs and tells her that Mei and Noah broke in and killed her beloved hamsters. The note: "Dead hamsters today...Dead girls tomorrow." You have got to be joking. I mean, COME ON. Miriam dials the police and the girls sit down to wait. While Ruth sits in her mom's room, Miriam goes into Ruth's room to cover the hamsters with something so Ruth won't have to see them. When she opens Ruth's closet, a bloody claw hammer falls to the floor.

Ruth enters the room, immediately becomes furious when she sees the hammer, and attacks Miriam. She attempts to smash Miriam's brains out with the hammer and the girls wrestle around until the hammer comes in contact with Miriam's kneecap. Miriam manages to punch Ruth in the face which somehow leads to the two having a conversation about why Ruth killed Holly. Holly had to die because she treated Gary like crap (drink) and Ruth is in love with Gary. "There is no hope. All of us were put on this earth to suffer and Holly never suffered." How...deep. Just as Ruth prepares to finish Miriam with the hammer, Jed bursts in. Sadly, Ruth throws the hammer at Jed's head and he's down before he can do anything. But it's ok because Miriam ends up smashing the glass hamster cage over Ruth's head, effectively ending the fight.

Miriam runs over to Jed who is just regaining consciousness. He says he killed Holly. Damn this book. He goes on to say that he's been taking steroids (duh) and if he hadn't been so messed up, he could've saved Holly from Ruth that night. The end of this book is painfully stupid:

Miriam: "We've got to call the police. Right away."
Jed: "Does this mean-you-you're going to keep seeing me? If I promise never to take another pill. Will you-will you stay with me?"
Miriam: "That's the latest gossip."


Conclusion: This is one of the WORST books I have ever read in my entire life.

Next time: "The Overnight" Fear Island + unsupervised teenagers + a creepy stranger = the perfect storm.

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 ...