Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Mind Reader

Book Description:

A bony hand beckons from a shallow grave... But only Ellie Anderson can see the skeletal hand. Ellie has visions -- visions of past secrets and future horror. Her visions have led her to the body of a girl who was killed two years before. Now her power may help her find the murderer...unless he finds her first!

My Description:

Ellie is visiting Alma's Coffee Shop (what about the damn Doughnut Hole?!) for a Diet Coke and a chance to talk to her BFF Sarah who works there. Both girls get distracted by a good looking guy who walks in and takes a booth. Ellie decides he's in college because he's wearing a sport coat with a denim shirt and jeans. So sexy, so mature. Sarah goes to take his order while Ellie drools all over the counter. Sarah comes back with a name: Brian Tanner. A few moments later, Ellie feels a desperate urge to get the hell out of dodge and far away from Brian Tanner so she runs off. Mind Reader AWAAAAAY! (For the rest of this book, I'm pretending Ellie is a superhero called The Mind Reader. Her mission: to protect the world from weirdos in sport coats and murderous males with a murderous gleam in their eyes and dried flakes of skin falling off their lips.

Ellie goes home and takes her black Lab, Chaz, for a walk. Of course they end up on Fear Street where Ellie mourns the fact that her visions make her life so much worse. She lost a friend and a boyfriend because of it. Once, when she was a kid, she saw her dog Jake being hit by a car and it actually happened. She found his little corpse by the side of the road. (Damn these tears!) Ellie decides it's time to go home, but Chaz isn't letting her leave so quickly. He brings her a strangely long bone and starts howling his head off, dragging her toward some bushes in the woods. Chaz has found what's left of a human hand. Good dog! You've just found your first corpse on Fear Street!

Ellie runs out of the woods and flags down a car filled with four stupid seniors from Shadyside High. She and Chaz hitch a ride to the police station where a condescending cop questions her story. Two words, buddy: DEAD PIG. Ellie is passed to another cop, Lieutenant Wilkins, who happens to be Sarah's father and he believes the story. In the woods, the cops find the big bone Chaz brought to Ellie. "That's no deer bone." What a relief. Ellie can't find the hand, though, and she gets a sinking feeling it was a vision. But she finally locates it behind a big rock because The Mind Reader is just that awesome. Sarah and a group of less important teenagers show up. Brian Tanner is also there standing off to the side and looking NOT AT ALL suspicious. He disappears a moment later. One of the officers finds a scrap of red fabric and Sarah collapses at the sight of it. She's fine a few seconds later but has no idea why she randomly passed out. Got a little something gnawing at your subconscious, Sarah? Don't deny!

The next day, some meathead named Frank Schuler comes running up to Ellie to talk about the night before. Ellie can't believe he's lowering himself to speak to her--he never has before. Frank's brain dead girlfriend Patty also gallops up to flap her floppy horse lips about Melinda, Sarah's older sister. Melinda disappeared and was supposedly wearing a red shirt the night it happened which explains why Sarah fainted when she saw the scrap of red. Ellie is fairly new to town and didn't know about Melinda. She runs to a pay phone to call Sarah's house, but no-one answers. Ellie decides it's Melinda's body in the grave in the woods. The Mind Reader don't need no damn evidence--she feels it in the gut...of her mind.

After school, Ellie heads to her job at the Shadyside Public Library. Brian (I keep typing that as Brain which we all know he isn't) shows up and asks if she can help him find a book on primitive weapons. He admits he could have found it himself, but he wanted an excuse to talk to her. Smooth. Or whatever the complete polar opposite of smooth is. They awkwardly converse and Ellie finds out that Brian attends Waynesbridge Community College and is quite possibly a creepy stalker based on the fact that he knows she's new to town. I wonder if Ellie's paranoia is marajuana based? Everybody in Shadyside knows everything about everybody else. It is their curse. So the fact that Brian knows she's new to town isn't surprising. He probably also knows her class schedule, her menstrual cycle, and what brand of toothpaste her father's cousin's sister's aunt uses. Anyway, Ellie finds a book on primitive weapons titled "Primitive Weapons" (what are the odds?!) When she pulls it from the shelf, she freaks out because in the empty space is a bloody knife! AIEEEE! It's only a vision, though. She lies and tells Brian her ear-drum-shredding scream was because of a mouse. She hands Brian the book and walks away. He calls her name, but she ignores him, locks herself in the office, and proceeds to lose her mind because she never told Brian her name. *sigh* Shut up, Ellie.

After work, Ellie walks in the dark to Fear Street to visit Sarah, but no-one is home. Ellie looks up and sees a grinning skull in the window. Apparently someone is home after all. Ellie hurries off to see if Sarah is at the coffee shop. As she's walking, Brian pulls up alongside her in his black rape Jeep and offers her a ride. He urges her to get in, but she has a bad feeling about this guy so she refuses and runs to the coffee shop. Ellie asks Ernie, the owner, where Sarah is and he says she never showed up for work. He walks off and frigging BRIAN pops up out of nowhere. Obviously his manly leather elbows are just too much to resist because Ellie is no longer freaked out by him and they talk. They have a few burgers before Ellie sees Lt. Wilkins walk in. She asks about Sarah and he says she's staying with her aunt for a few days. Ellie turns and sees that Brian is gone. Ernie says he dropped some money on the table and ran when he saw Lt. Wilkins. Verrrry interesting. Kind of. Ok, NOT AT ALL. We all know this jackass isn't guilty because he looks too damn guilty!

At home, Ellie finds her dad reading a newspaper with the headline 'Unidentified Body Found In Fear Street Woods' and tells him she found the body. He gets pissed because he doesn't want her involved. He hates the police because some psycho who should have been behind bars killed Ellie's mother. (He always told Ellie her mom died of appendicitis, of all things). They both have a cry and Ellie goes upstairs for a shower to wash away the sads. Oh, and the vomit she couldn't hold back. As Ellie is showering, she looks up and sees the bloody knife from the library. In the most awesome scene of the entire book, the sentient knife dives down in an attempt to stab Ellie. Blood is splashing everywhere (the knife is bleeding, dammit!) and suddenly Ellie hears her mother's voice. Her mom is trying to kill her from beyond the grave with a floating blooded blade? I'm in heaven. Of course that's not what's happening, unfortunately. A moment later, the voice, the blood, and the knife disappear and all Ellie hears is her father telling her that Brian is on the phone. Ellie tells him to tell Brian that she's gone to bed. She goes downstairs and asks her dad how her mother was killed (isn't it obvious, lady?) but he says he doesn't want to talk about it anymore.

At the library the next evening, Ellie clicks through the microfiche machine for a newspaper article about her mother's death. She was stabbed to death while two year old Ellie sat nearby in a stroller. The Mind Reader (who I'm beginning to think might actually be Brian which pisses me right the hell off) saw her mother die a horrible death but she was too young to remember or understand. Ellie suddenly has a vision and sees her mother saying "I love you" just before she died. SOB! (Seriously.)

After work, Ellie goes to Sarah's house because she believes she's there. Ellie knocks before letting herself in through the unlocked door. Sarah is lying on her bed, a complete wreck. The grave in the woods was indeed Melinda's and Sarah and her father are grieving hard. Sarah eventually falls asleep and Ellie takes the opportunity to snoop around Melinda's room. She has the beginnings of a vision but flees the house before she can see more. Predictably, Brian is waiting nearby and Ellie spills everything. Death and debilitating depression turn Brian on and he asks Ellie out. At first she refuses, but when he mentions rowing to Fear Island, she's all for it. Are these two completely deranged? They'll be near the place where Ellie found her best friend's sister's moldy remains and they're going to have a happy little picnic there? With any luck the free floating knife will nip that in the bud right quick.

On Saturday morning, Ellie sees a news piece about Melinda and learns that the cops are searching for her boyfriend Brett Hawkins. Ellie pushes it out of her mind: "Today is a day for fun." Yeah, good luck with that. Ellie and Brian (or is your real name BRETT? Hm? HMM?) drive to Fear Street Woods with Chaz the dog (a.k.a. the most intelligent being in Shadyside). They canoe. They kiss. They fill themselves with fried chicken and teenage lust. It's all funny sunny rainbows until Brian pulls out a knife to slice an apple and it looks like THE knife. This time it isn't a vision. Brian says it belonged to his grandfather, but Ellie only knows it from her nightmares. She says she needs to go find Chaz who has wandered off. Ellie gets Chaz and mentally talks herself out of seeing the knife as neon sign pointing to Brian as the murderer. They all get into the canoe and Ellie ends up in the drink a few minutes later. She panics because she feels something around her ankle pulling her down. Finally she frees herself and realizes Brian is nowhere to be seen. A fisherman is rowing toward her and then she spots Brian floating facedown in the water. The fisherman picks them both up (Brian is still breathing). Brian claims that he dove in to save Ellie, but the water was so dark with Fear sludge that he couldn't see her so he flailed around like a dying eel, grabbing Ellie's ankle in the process and nearly killing them both. Before Brian passes out he says he's supposed to be saving Ellie. He also says "Melinda" because SOMEBODY has to think of the dead girl.

Later, Ellie goes to the police station to see Lt. Wilkins. She's shocked at how old and shitty he looks. She asks about Brett Hawkins and mentions Brian, but Wilkins says he's never heard the name. "That meant that Brian must have muttered the name of a different Melinda. That meant all Ellie's fears about Brian were ridiculous." YOU BLOOMING IDIOT. Ellie's opinions on Brian change when Wilkins shows her a photo of Brett Hawkins--it's Brian. She tells him about her visions and mentions a buried knife, but decides not to mention Brian. YOU FEEBLE MINDED IMBECILE. He believes it all and they go to the woods where Ellie digs up a knife which Lt. Wilkins identifies as Brett's. FINALLY Ellie decides to tell him that Brett is going by Brian Tanner now and supposedly lives in Waynesbridge. Wilkins leaves and Ellie starts to walk home when she comes across a dirty Sarah who's wearing only a bath robe. She flips out and runs away when Ellie tells her about Brian. Speaking of Brian, he's waiting in Ellie's living room. "Ellie. Why did you show him the knife?" Because a person is DEAD, moron. After a bit of wrestling, Brian pins Ellie and tells her that, yes, he is Brett Hawkins...and that's as far as he gets because the police are at the door. Ellie runs to the back door because Brett tried to choke her when she went for the front. Lt. Wilkins is there and arrests Brett. Later, Ellie's dad passes on a message from a phone call with Wilkins: Brett escaped and is probably coming for you. Dad uses his last moments with his daughter to tell her that her mother had visions and she too was helping the cops with a case. She helped get a psycho killer arrested and in return, he brutally murdered her in broad daylight. Moral of the story: never cooperate with the law. Even after all that, Dad decides to drive her to the police station after all. YOU BLUNDERING CHOWDER HEAD. You spend all that time telling her that helping the cops will only get her slashed like her mother, but when she tells you it's her duty as The Mind Reader (irony: she's never read a single mind) you herd her straight for the slaughter. Worst. Father. Ever. Dad tells her to warm up the car, Chaz jumps out of the bushes and scares the hell out of her, and off they go! TO DIE.

At the station, Ellie conjures a vision...of blurry gold light. I've officially lost faith in The Mind Reader. A few hours later, after her father has gone to bed, Ellie sneaks out to visit Sarah who desperately needs psychiatric help (Lt. Wilkins = close runner up for Worst Father Ever). Sarah has locked herself in Melinda's room, but Ellie uses her muscle-y leg to kick the door open. The room is trashed and Sarah is pissed because Ellie dug Melinda up. Sarah hated Melinda because Melinda was perfect and their dad loved her more. So when Melinda decided to run away with Brett, Sarah helped her out and now blames herself for Melinda's death. Then Ellie has a vision about Melinda's grave and tells Sarah they have to go there because Melinda wants them to. Sarah grabs one of her dad's revolvers in case Brett shows up and the girls leave for the woods.

Once there, they start digging and come upon a gold button. At that exact moment, Brett steps out of the trees and says "What's that? Did you find the button?" Then the cops show up; a cop drove by and happened to see the suspicious teens in the woods and radioed Lt. Wilkins & Co. Wilkins is prepared to shoot Brett. but Sarah shoots Wilkins first. The gold button belongs to him...somehow Sarah figured out that Wilkins fought with Melinda about Brett and ended up shoving her. She hit her head and died so Wilkins buried her in the woods and tried to pin the whole thing on Brett. Make sense? Didn't think so.

Later, Brett tells Ellie that he's been on the run for a few years, but he was drawn to Shadyside because he saw Ellie in a vision. "I'm kind of like a mind reader. I have visions. Dreams--only I'm wide awake." Ok, that isn't mind reading. Why does this piss me off so much?! Oh, I know--BECAUSE THIS DAMN BOOK IS CALLED "THE MIND READER" AND NO-ONE READS A SINGLE FRIGGING MIND! Anyway, visions visions blah blah blah kisses FIN.

Conclusion? No mind readers in a book titled "The Mind Reader"? Stine just pwned us all...for which I will take hideous revenge.

Next time: "Seniors #8: Sweetheart, Evil Heart" Just in time for Valentines Day--hearts, candy, and a stupid arrogant asshole who's dating a dead girl and doesn't know it. HAHAHA!

Unrelated to Fear Street: an author (Josh Voyles) who actually WANTS my opinion sent me his new book, Sliver, for review.Step...away...from...Fear Street? I'M SCARED! (Review of Sliver coming soon in spite of irrational fear of real world.)

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