Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The New Girl

Book Description:

Dying for a Kiss

She's pale as a ghost, blonde, and eerily beautiful--and she seems to need him as much as he wants her. Cory Brooks hungers for Anna Corwin's kisses, drowns in her light blue eyes. He can't get her out of his mind. And the trouble has only begun: Shadyside High's star gymnast is losing sleep, skipping practice, and acting weird. All the guys have noticed, but only Cory's friend Lisa knows the truth: Anna Corwin is dead and living on Fear Street. Now Cory must explore its menacing darkness to discover the truth. He has already been warned: come to Fear Street and you're dead!

My Description:


Anna is lying dead and bloody on the ground. The killer didn't like how perfect Anna was so he/she pushed her...down the stairs? Out a window? Not sure, but it doesn't matter because the result remains the same: Anna = deceased. Her murderer is possibly Anna's brother or sister because they keep referring to 'Mom' as in ' "[speaking about Anna] My Diamond", Mom always said.' The sibling slaughterer is looking down at Anna's crumpled corpse and decides it's time to pretend to be shocked and horrified. "Anna's dead, Mom! Come quickly! It's all too horrible-but Anna's dead!" Smooth, kid. Real smooth.

* * * * *

So the main character of The New Girl is surprisingly male. Usually we get airheaded chicks who don't know their ass from their elbow to guide us through our Fear. Will a teenage boy be any better? I wouldn't hold my breath. Anyway, Cory spots the beautiful blond new girl for the first time while he's performing childish stunts with his friends in the cafeteria. He ends up face planting in a tray full of food. Because he's just that awesome. As Cory is raking spaghetti from his fat head, he asks his friend David if he saw that bootiful girl, but David didn't see anything because he was too busy watching Cory make a fool of himself. Cory grabs a few things to eat from his friends' plates and thinks about how grateful he is that his gymnastics coach didn't see him bite the dust. Apparently gymnasts are supposed to be coordinated or something.

Cory goes to his locker amid the shouts of kids making fun of him for having slop all over his shirt. His friend Lisa has the locker next to his and she tells him how great he looks. He'll never look as great as Lisa, though, who is described as looking like Cher (circa 1989).

Kick. Ass. Anyway, Lisa gives him a black and white striped shirt ("It's from the Gap. It's for girls or boys. You know. It's just a shirt.") so he can change. Cory washes spaghetti sauce out of his hair in the drinking fountain, puts on the clean shirt, and spots the mysterious blond again. She's halfway down the hall and Cory notices that she seems to be floating. Floating is the preferred hobby of all dead chicks who are doomed to roam the earth for all eternity. Cory calls to her, and she turns, says something quietly that Cory interprets as "Please don't", and slips into a classroom. 

Three days later, Cory is still obsessing about the girl. It's interfering with his gymnastics bar stuff (Can you tell that I have no idea what I'm talking about?) Anyway, Cory had a dream about the girl kissing him all over his face in the cafeteria, but when he tries to touch her, his hand goes right through her. Cory doesn't understand this dream. Open your eyes, boy! She's the ghostliest ghost on Fear Street!

After gymnastics practice, Cory runs into Lisa and they walk home together (Lisa lives across the street from Cory). Cory mentions the girl and Lisa tells him her name is Anna Corwin and she has third period physics with Lisa. Lisa really doesn't know Anna because Anna never says a word and is absent a lot. But she does know that Anna lives on Fear Street and that scares the bippy out of Cory because everyone knows that Fear Street is full of horrors and such. Cory walks home thinking about what a nice, old-fashioned name Anna Corwin is. I've never known a teenage boy who ever called anything "nice and old-fashioned". Congratulations, Cory.

Later, Cory calls information for Anna's number and address. He debates over whether he should call Anna's beautiful corpse and eventually does. A young man answers and informs him that this is the Corwins' place, but there's no Anna there. THE PLOT THICKENS! Except not because we already know she's dead. Dammit, Stine, why did you have to tell us she's dead?! (As if we couldn't have figured it out ourselves even if he didn't tell us--this is Fear Street, after all.) And why is she going to school? What does that accomplish? A high school diploma will not serve you in the netherworld.

The next day, Cory sees Anna when he gets to school. He asks her questions he already knows the answers to and he can't get over how pale she is. "It's like I can almost see through her skin." Indeed. He tells her he tried to call her and asks if he had the wrong number or something, but she says no. She doesn't explain further because dead people just don't give a damn.

Later, Cory is at a gymnastics competition against a rival team, Mattewan. What, no Waynesbridge? As Cory is doing his routine on the bars, he spots Anna in the bleachers and of course he ends up falling on his ass. He finds it very funny: "I'm falling for her!" HAR. HAR. HAR. I should kick you in the face for that, Cory.

On Saturday night, Cory is sitting alone in his room thinking about Anna. He decides to go next door to hang out with Lisa in an effort to forget about Anna. Lisa answers the door and they sit on the couch to talk. As Cory describes how he screwed up at the gymnastics competition, Lisa starts running her fingers through his luscious locks. Ooooo! But the moment he mentions Anna, Lisa gets pissed and tells the clueless Cory to leave. Back in his bedroom, Cory wonders why Lisa freaked out, but he doesn't really care because Anna has infected his feeble brain like a parasitic worm and he can think of nothing else. He calls her house and a woman answers. He asks for Anna and the woman asks why he keeps calling. In the background, he hears a girl scream "Let me talk! It's for me! I know it's for me!" The woman tells Cory that Anna isn't there and hangs up. Cory is a little horrified at the screaming he heard and wonders if Anna is being tortured and held prisoner in her own home (only being allowed out for school and Shadyside gymnastics meets? Is that part of the torture?) He decides he has to find out and must go to Fear Street right away. Here we go, kids!

Cory has a few second thoughts before leaving, mainly because a family of three was recently found murdered in the Fear Street Woods. But he decides he has to make sure Anna is long as someone goes with him. He calls David and David tells him to pick him up. When Cory arrives at David's, he gets bad news: David's dear sweet mama won't let him go. David recently busted his ankle and he's still on crutches. Plus, he has a cold so his mom wants him home. Cory will have to venture to Fear Street alllll alooooone in the darrrrrrk. He makes it to Fear Street and parks because he thinks it'll be easier to find Anna's house (444 Fear St.) on foot. As he gets out of the car, he hears an animal howling. "It doesn't sound like a dog. Could it be a wolf?" It's a werewoof. Cory starts walking and singing "Love Me Do" to himself. (Keeping it '62 in '89.) He finally finds 444. The mailbox is lying in the street, the grass is overgrown, and weeds are waist-high. It doesn't looks like anyone lives here so Cory turns away and heads for his car. Suddenly he hears footsteps behind him and they're picking up speed. He starts running, but someone grabs his shoulder. AIEEE! It's just a guy who says he was out walking his dog Voltaire (does Voltaire know he is living in the deepest circle of hell?) when he saw Cory wandering around and thought he needed some help. Cory asks about the Corwins and the man says they do live there and they're very strange. "I wouldn't go up there uninvited, I don't think." The man walks off and Cory proceeds to completely ignore his advice and knock on the Creepy Corwins' door. A guy who appears to be in his early 20s opens the door a crack. Cory asks about Anna and says he goes to school with Anna. The guy begs to differ: "Anna is dead. Don't come here again. Anna is DEAD!" We heard you the first time, shrieky. Cory is shocked and numb at the news. He drives home and manages to fall asleep.

On Monday morning, Cory gets to school early to wait by Anna's locker even though he's now aware that she is a specter and their teenage love can never be. Anna never shows up so Cory drags his carcass to homeroom. Later, he asks Lisa if Anna was in physics and she says no. Lisa is still acting pissy with Cory because she likes him and he a) doesn't realize it and b) is totally obsessed with Anna Corwin who isn't even an actual human being anymore. As they walk to lunch, Cory tells her about Saturday night. Lisa thinks it's amusing because she believes that Cory simply got the wrong house, woke up the guy who lived there, and, as revenge, the guy played a joke on him by telling him Anna is dead. Cory doesn't think that's the case at all and stops paying attention to her so she says she isn't hungry anymore and leaves. Such a childish little girl.

After school, Cory does clerical work in the school's main office because apparently the school pays so little, no adults want the job. He realizes this is his opportunity to find out more about Anna. After using a ditto machine to make announcements (damn this book is old), he sneaks into the principal's office to sift through the student records. Before he can begin looking, Miss Markins, one of the secretaries, comes toward the office so Cory dives beneath the principal's desk. She leaves a moment later and Cory resumes his sneaky snooping. As predicted by anyone reading this book, there is no file for Anna Corwin. GASP!

A few days later, Cory is at a basketball game with his goofy friends Arnie and David. He ends up telling David about Anna's missing file and the fact that he's not sure she even exists. When he hears that Cory has access to student records, David gets excited and wants Cory to find his. David ain't interested in no ghosts. Cory leaves a minute later because his friends are worthless and Shadyside basketball sucks arse. Once home, he goes to bed and is awakened a little later by his ringing phone. It's a creepy weirdo with a hoarse voice (they're ALWAYS hoarse. Don't they have lozenges in Shadyside?) "Stay away from Anna. She's dead. She's a dead girl. Stay away from her-or you'll be next!" Cory is disturbed by the call and starts thinking about the guy who came up to him on Fear Street. Maybe it was he who called. Except Voltaire doesn't let him use the phone past 9 PM so it can't be him. A few moments later, the phone rings again. It's Anna. She she needs help and tells him to meet her on the corner of Fear Street. Cory agrees because Anna sounds so sexy on the phone...even though Fear Street scares the hell out of him. To scare himself further, Cory thinks about a story he read in the newspaper last spring. Two cars collided on Fear Street. There was blood everywhere, but when cops arrived, the cars were empty. I think Cory was reading something else...this sounds like a National Enquirer alien abduction story. Anyway, he arrives at Fear Street and waits. He doesn't see Anna so when she opens the car door a second later, he screams like a scalded girl. "You frightened me." *sigh* She says he's the only one who can help her. Cory plays it cool by confessing that he has been obsessing over her from the moment he laid eyes on her. She says she thinks of him, too. Then he says he needs to know that she's real so she kisses him to prove her realness. She tells him "You're all mine now." I think that means you're royally screwed, Cory. Anna admits she didn't need help at all, she just wanted to see if he would come. He mentions the man at her house and she says that's her crazy and dangerous brother Brad. When Cory tells her that Brad told him she was dead, she runs away. The dead are uncomfortable being reminded of their own death.

The next morning (Saturday), Cory's mom wakes him early because he has a gymnastics meet against Farmingville. Cory thinks about what happened the night before after Anna ran from him. He got out of the car and Voltaire pounced on him, knocking him to the ground. Voltaire's owner didn't seem too apologetic: "You back again, son?" Cory got a little freaked out and left. Cory can't stop wondering who that creep is and for a moment thinks it could be Anna's brother Brad in disguise. "Get real!" My sentiments exactly.

At the meet, he runs into Lisa who says she has to tell him something about Anna. Lisa's cousin has a friend who goes to Melrose (another high school...somewhere) and that friend once knew an Anna Corwin. "Well, you're not going to believe this. She said that Anna had been in her class-but that Anna was dead." Anna supposedly fell down her basement stairs and died instantly in the fall. Cory is finding this hard to believe because he kissed this dead girl last night. Lisa wants to play amateur detective and investigate the matter. They leave in the middle of the meet to go to the library to check out some microfilm (my kingdom for a Google search box). They find an article on Anna's death with a photo of her that confirms it's the same Anna these two have been seeing around Shadyside.

That night, Cory takes a joy ride around Shadyside, eventually ending up on Fear Street because that's where all roads in this town take you. He slows his car outside the Corwin house and sees Voltaire loping down the street with his owner walking close behind. This leads to the best lines in this book and possibly all other Fear Street books EVER. "There he is again, Cory thought. Do he and the dog prowl Fear Street all night? Are they ghosts, too? The Ghostly Guards, he thought. They've been assigned to keep people from discovering the truth about Fear Street-from discovering that everyone who lives on Fear Street is DEAD!" I love it. GHOSTLY GUARDS 4EVER.

At home, Cory goes to bed and has another Anna dream. Anna comes to his room and tells him she is indeed dead, but he can still take care of her. All he has to do is DIE. "Then we can be together." His ringing phone wakes him up. It's just Anna begging for help AGAIN. She tells him to meet her in front of Simon Fear's old burned-out mansion and he goes because he's been rendered droolingly stupid by lust. Once there, he waits for a while in the car and then gets out to see if he can spot Anna nearby. "He listened for the neighbor and his vicious four-legged companion. The Ghostly Guards." It will never get old. Cory waits and waits, but Anna never comes. Finally he jogs over to the Corwin house and bangs on the door. A very irate Brad answers. "ANNA IS DEAD! ANNA IS DEAD! Why can't you believe me?" Brad doesn't wait for an answer, he just pulls Cory inside and laughs at his obvious fear. Then he tells him to get lost and never come back. Listening is not Cory's strong suit.

A few days later, Cory is in the cafeteria with his idiot friends thinking about the usual ghost. He's tried to call Anna more than once over the past two days, but no-one ever answers the phone. Looks like Brad finally got caller ID. After Cory's friend Arnie pretends to choke on a peach pit, Cory leaves and goes for a walk around the parking lot. He comes back inside a little later and goes to his locker just as Lisa is arriving at hers. She awkwardly asks him to the Turnaround Dance on Saturday night and Cory, shocked, accepts in the hopes that this will make him forget about Anna. But no-here comes Anna now. She steps between Cory and Lisa and introduces herself to Lisa. They talk a bit before the bell rings. As Lisa is walking away, Anna grabs Cory and kisses him, effectively ensuring that he won't be forgetting her anytime soon.

A few hours later, school is over for the day and Cory and Lisa are at their lockers again. When Lisa opens hers, she gets a nasty surprise. There's a dead cat inside with a note attached: "Lisa-You're Dead Too" A cat had to die for THIS? Later, after helping Lisa clean out her locker and missing gymnastics practice, Cory starts walking home and is soon joined by Anna, the cat slaying ghost. She seems appalled at the cat in the locker story and Cory instantly knows she didn't do it. You poor dumb bastard. She mentions the Turnaround Dance and asks if he wouldn't rather go with her, but he says he can't do that to Lisa. Cory asks her about her phone call on Saturday night, but she says someone was playing a joke on him because she never called. Suddenly Anna flips out and says "he's" watching her and she runs off into the dark. Cory assumes she's referring to the crazy and dangerous Brad. Because he's crazy and dangerous and wouldn't be above sneaking out at night to spy on his dead sister and her foolish victim.

At home, after enduring his mother cooing over the fact that he's going to the dance with Lisa ("I always knew it would happen."), he goes to his room to study. But of course his phone rings. It's just David who's calling because he wants to know why Cory has been acting so strange lately. "Cory, you've been in a dream world ever since you met Anna." Cory gets defensive and they hang up angry at each other. To take his mind off that, he goes to Lisa's house where she flirts and he...talks about Anna and reads about crime in the newspaper. Then we get the obligatory "threatening" phone call. "You're dead too. You're dead too. You're dead too." Only on the inside.

It's now the night of the dance and Lisa is busy bitching about how she's sure Anna is the one harrassing her. Everyone else is dancing to Phil Collins and Cory wants to join them. They dance for a few minutes, but Lisa just ends up dragging Cory to the side to whine that he keeps defending Anna. SHUT. UP. Lisa gets angrier and angrier, even shoving Cory into the wall. Eventually she calms down, apologizes for embarrassing Cory, and leaves. Meanwhile, Cory is literally smiling because he thinks Lisa is jealous of Anna. Dude. You are such an ass. A girl screaming breaks Cory out of his smug state. "It was Lisa's scream!" NOOO! Someone shoved Lisa down some stairs, but she only twists her ankle, nothing interesting like a compound fracture cutting through her leg skin or something. Lisa describes the pusher and Cory realizes it was Brad. Crazy. Dangerous. Yep. Cory thinks Brad might still be around for absolutely no reason. So he and Lisa roam a deserted hallway looking for a psycho who kinda wants them both dead. They hear a noise in a biology classroom, but it's only two trashy teens making out like their lives depend on it. Lisa pulls Cory into a music room (why are the biology rooms and music rooms so close together?) so she can laugh her ass off, but it ain't so funny when Brad enters the room. When he spots them, he runs, slams the door, and throws something against it so they can't get out. Oh Brad.

Cory looks out the window and sees Brad jump into a car and drive off. He decides the only way they'll be able to get out is if he uses his killer gymnastics skills to walk a three inch ledge until he gets close enough to a nearby tree to jump on it and climb down. The ledge is a little slippery so falls onto a lower ledge and throws himself through a conveniently open window. "I'll have to thank whoever left that window open." 

He runs to the room where Lisa is trapped and lets her out. Brad used the hall monitor's desk to keep them inside. The hall monitor's desk. Why in the HELL would a hall monitor need a desk? Are the drawers full of the remains of kids who didn't have hall passes? Hall monitor's desk. Bullshit. Anyway, the two go to Lisa's house where she receives a phone call from a heavy breathing pervert who says nothing and hangs up. This scares her and Cory says he'll talk to Anna tomorrow and then they can go to the police about Brad who presumably made that sexy phone call. What are they gonna tell the police? They have absolutely no proof of anything. Oh well. The cops will believe them anyway because Shadyside cops don't give a shit about things like evidence.

The next morning, Cory drives to Fear Street and knocks on the Corwins' door. While he's waiting, the Ghostly Guard appears. "Don't ever see you much in the daytime." This guy gives me Deliverance vibes. He tells Cory that the Corwins left earlier, then he leaves, too.

The next day, Cory gets to school and searches for Anna. He doesn't find her until the end of the day. He tells her they've got to talk and she agrees. They go to the Pizza Oven in Division Street Mall which just sickens me. How dare they not support Pete's Pizza?!? Anyway, Cory tells Anna to tell him everything so she does. Here we go... Dad left, Mom is sickly, Brad is the head of the family, sister Willa FELL DOWN THE BASEMENT STAIRS, Brad always got the two sisters confused because his brain is no good (which explains the prologue) because his girlfriend Emily died in a plane crash and it really screwed him up, Brad tells everyone Anna is dead and sometimes won't let her out of the house, and the newspaper obituary that Cory and Lisa found that declared Anna dead was supposed to be Willa's, but Brad told the paper Anna was the one who died. So all this time there hasn't been a ghost at all. Just a broken family and a very disturbed young man in desperate need of psychiatric assistance. Son of a bitch. A few seconds later, they spot Brad at the window. Anna runs out a back door, but Brad just stands there staring at Cory. MENACINGLY!

At home, Cory burns up the phone lines repeatedly trying to call Anna. No answer. Finally Brad picks up and tells Cory "Anna isn't anywhere. Anna is dead." before hanging up. Cory is afraid Brad did kill Anna so he immediately leaves for Fear Street. He arrives at their house, knocks, and hears Anna scream "He's come for me! Let me go!!" Cory rushes inside and finds the two fighting. Obviously. Cory runs in and he and Brad wrestle. Brad tries to choke Cory, but Cory bashes his head with a vase. With Brad unconscious, Anna pulls out a letter opener to stab him, but Cory won't let her so she turns on him after leading him up the stairs and into the hallway. He falls out an open window trying to get away from her, but since this is the poor man's Spider Man, he swings himself back through the window and hears Brad coming up the stairs. He tells Cory, who is gripping the struggling Anna, that he tried to keep him away from Anna for his safety. Ready for more insanity? Anna is actually Willa. Willa lost her damn mind after Anna died because she's probably the one that killed her. She was insanely jealous of the perfect Anna (which explains the prologue, for real this time) and Brad wishes he had gotten her help sooner, before she started pretending to be Anna and trying to kill everybody. Cory asks why he pushed Lisa down the stairs at the dance and he says he thought it was Willa and tried to grab at her, but she fell. A likely story. Brad tells Cory to call the cops. "We've got to get her some help."

Flash forward to Cory eating chocolate cake with Lisa and explaining the whole Anna/Brad/Willa thing. "Another horror story from the folks on Fear Street." Then they kiss. Two thumbs DOWN.

Conclusion? - I liked this one until it started going off the rails like so many of these books do. This one should have been titled "The Ghostly Guards" and been all about Voltaire and Strange Neighbor Guy solving crime and patrolling Fear Street for evil ghosts. *sigh* What could've been!

Next time: "Beach Party" A beach. A party. Death. What more do you need to know?

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