A Revisit to Fear Street: “Secret Admirer”

308672Book: “Secret Admirer” (Fear Street #36) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1996

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: Selena is on top of the world. Her acting career at Shadyside High is blossoming—everyone admires her. So when she starts receiving bouquets of dead flowers from a person called “The Sun,” she treats them as a joke.

But Selena soon realizes that this is no laughing matter. Her understudy is injured in a suspicious accident. Then a speeding car nearly kills her. Selena knows “The Sun” is responsible.

And that her number-one fan has become her number-one nightmare.

Had I Read This Before: No (I think we’re getting to the point where I aged up from “Fear Street” and dove head first into adult books).

The Plot: Another “Fear Street” book, another ominous prologue. This time it’s a bad and threatening poem directed at our protagonist, Selena, signed by “The Sun”. Then we jump into our story, where we find out that Selena is the star of the Shadyside drama department, and has just finished up the last night of the most recent play. Everyone loves Selena! She and her theater friends gather back stage, and they all congratulate her on a job well done. Alison, the second best, says she’ll NEVER be as good as Selena, and Jake, one of her best friends from her childhood, calls her ‘Moon’ (as Selena means ‘moon’), but says he’s not feeling up to going to the cast party. Mr. Riordan, the drama club director, says that the next show they are going to do is “Romeo and Juliet”, and Selena is thrilled because she would LOVE to do Shakespeare. She is then approached by her ex boyfriend Danny, who wants to congratulate her as well, though she’s not so keen on talking to him. Luckily for her her bestie Katy, a stagehand, comes up and pulls her away. She says that Selena will almost assuredly be Juliet, and Selena plays coy and says that there’s no guarantee she’ll get it. But she’s pretty and think and has been the lead multiple times before this, so…. yeah, she’ll probably get it. Mr. Riordan says that “Romeo and Juliet” will be an especially important production because theater scouts from colleges are going to be in the audience, including Northwestern, the school that Selena would love to go to. When Selena goes for her backpack, she finds a wrapped bouquet, but when she opens it it’s a bunch of dead roses, and a threatening note with a sticker of a Sun on it (hilariously, Stine decrees that these dead flowers ‘smell of decay’, and I wonder if he knows that’s not really how flowers work). Katy thinks that is’s scary but Selena brushes it off as a dumb joke, probably pulled by Jake, who has pulled jokes since they were kids. Katy says that Jake has been acting weird lately, but Selena hasn’t noticed.

They go back to Selena’s house, and Selena is already excited for the spring play. Katy laments the fact that she’s ‘too big’ to be in theater, as she’s about twenty pounds overweight, and Selena suggests that she could play Juliet’s nurse! Oh my God. Katy asks Selena if she ever thought she would be so popular, as Selena also used to be overweight, but then got thin because she loved theater SO MUCH and she knew she couldn’t get lead roles if she was fat. Jesus Christ this isn’t really body positive, is it? Selena also notes that she got the lead in a play sophomore year because the original lead actress had to leave the school (and later we find out this is a shout out to “The Prom Queen” when Simone went crazy and killed all those people). There’s a tapping at the window and then a crash. The girls rush to see what the commotion was, but don’t see anything… until they leave the house to go to the party. A metal ladder is on the ground beneath Selena’s window. Katy thinks that someone is stalking Selena, but Selena thinks her mother was probably working on something outside and didn’t put it away. Except there’s a sun sticker on the bottom rung…

As they are driving to the party Katy is practically begging Selena to take this seriously. Selena says she isn’t famous so why would someone stalk HER, but Katy rightfully points out that she doesn’t have to be Rebecca Schaeffer to have a predator target you. Selena thinks that it’s probably just Danny wanting to get back together. Just then a car starts following them and drives up super close to them. Katy starts to panic, but Selena keeps her cool and tells her to just drive to Mr. Riordan’s house, whoever this person is wouldn’t dare follow them into a crowded home. Yes and no, maybe a police station is better. When they park at Mr. Riordan’s, the person following them does too, and it turns out it’s Danny, who was ‘just playing a joke’. Well ha fucking ha, Danny. Mr. Riordan calls everyone around, and introduces them to Eddy, a handsome (as noticed by Selena) second year drama student from Waynesbridge Junior College, who is going to assist with the spring play. Selena feels like she’s seen him before, and goes to introduce herself. Eddy says that he’s seen her in a number of plays and that he thinks she’s a natural. He also says that he thinks it’s great that she can balance her grades and her acting, and when Selena asks HOW EXACTLY he knows this he claims it’s part of the job of being an intern, knowing everything about your actors. He then gets called away, and Selena is more flattered than freaked. She then goes to talk to Jake, who seems bummed as hell. When she asks him why he freaks out at her, and she asks him if he left her the dead flowers. He denies it, and says that it sounds like more than just a joke and that she should tell Mr. Riordan, or maybe the police. Selena does go over to talk to Mr. Riordan, but before she can Danny stumbles out of no where, covered in blood, and collapses in front of Selena! But, turns out, he’s pulling another prank, as it’s fake blood. No one is amused. When Selena goes out to get some air, Eddy is there. He says that he can’t believe she used to date Danny, and when she asks how he knew about THAT, he says he must have just overheard it, and then excuses himself.

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(source)

Alison comes out to inform Selena that she, too, is trying out for Juliet, but Selena says that’s fine. Katy says that she can take Selena home if she’s ready to go, and Selena is, but before they can go Danny says that HE will take Selena home. Selena says she’s not interested, and then JAKE comes out and starts to knock Danny away, saying that if ANYONE is going to take Selena home HE will. He and Danny fight, and Mr. Riordan, you have OFFICIALLY lost control of this cast party. Selena breaks it up, and when Jake tries to apologize she won’t hear it. He then says he wants to see Danny dead. Then, to make matters worse, as Selena is trying to fall asleep that night her phone rings. When she answers it’s a weird voice saying that they are watching her before hanging up.

At school the next week, Danny tries to apologize to Selena, and she confronts him about the dead flowers, the note, and the phone call. He denies it all. Then we must jump ahead by a few WEEKS because we’re already at Spring play auditions! I did theater in high school, there was usually a month or two AT LEAST between productions. Regardless, Selena, Katy, and Jake are sitting around waiting for their turns to audition. Jake asks Selena if she still thinks it’s Danny, and she says maybe, and he says that she should tell Mr. Riordan. Selena says she doesn’t want to, because if she does he may not cast her in the play out of fear for her safety. My guy reaction was to say ‘OH COME ON’, but then I realized that she’s probably right, and instead of going after the stalker, it would be seen as easier to limit the victim. Fucking patriarchy. Regardless, Jake admits that he understands wanting something that he can’t have. Selena and Alison go to practice for their auditions, and Alison claims the usual area that Selena takes, which is by the wardrobes, so Selena goes somewhere else…. And then a horrible crash is heard! Everyone rushes to the wardrobe area, and Alison has been crunched by a heavy wardrobe cabinet that fell on her! Luckily she’s alive, and paramedics are called. Jake points out that usually that spot is where Selena practices, and when Selena inspects the cabinet there is a sun sticker on it.

A little time later Selena is practicing her Juliet lines at home (given that Alison is still hospitalized) when Danny calls her, asking if she wants to go grab a bite to eat. Selena goes off on him, telling him she doesn’t want to go out with him and that he needs to stop harassing her and/or trying to crush her with a wardrobe. Danny continues to deny his involvement, and Selena hangs up. The phone rings again, and this time it’s Eddy, who is calling to tell her that Alison will be back the next week and not to worry. They start talking, and he mentions that he is so impressed with how confident she has become, given that she used to be so introverted and used to wear baggy clothing. Selena asks how he knew that, and he claims that he must have seen an old yearbook, and then asks her out to a movie. She says yes, and he tells her that they shouldn’t talk about it since it’s probably totally unethical for this boy who is assisting with drama club to be dating the girl who is part of the club. She promises she won’t tell ANYONE, and I gotta say, this is some kinda power dynamic that’s not ethical AT ALL. After hanging up it starts to rain, so Selena decides to make sure all the windows in the house are closed. When she gets to the window by the front door, she sees a bundle on the porch. When she opens the door, she finds a dead, mutilated rat, and a note from The Sun telling her quit the play or else. She calls Katy and tells her about the dead rat, and Katy says that it must be someone in drama club…. And asks if maybe Selena should quit the play for her safety. Selena refuses, saying she needs the scouts to see her if she wants a scholarship. Katy asks her to at least tell Mr. Riordan, and Selena says that she will. Katy then reminds her about the sleepover they’re having that Friday, but OOPS, that’s the day that Selena made a date with Eddy, so she tells Katy she can’t make it after all and tells her about the date with Eddy, EVEN THOUGH she promised not to tell anyone. Katy is skeptical of this, given the ethical implications, but Selena is insistent that it’s all fine. She hangs up, and then tries to sleep. But she can’t stop thinking about her stalker. Her Mom comes home from her night shift (Dad died a few years ago so her Mom has a busy work schedule), and Selena considers telling her about the stalker, but doesn’t want to worry her, so doesn’t.

The next day the official cast list is posted, and Jake is upset that Danny got the part of Romeo over him. When Selena can’t even muster a fake ‘yeah fuck that guy’ for Jake and opts to say that Danny was good, Jake gets mad and says that Danny won’t get everything he wants THIS time. Katy tells Selena that Jake’s parents are splitting up and that’s why he’s been so moody lately. Selena had NO idea that her best friend’s parents were having problems, I guess. Katy asks Selena if she’s going to tell Mr. Riordan about the stalker, and Selena says that she will, soon. She and Danny talk and he asks if they can just try and get along since they’re starring opposite each other, and she agrees. As Mr. Riordan blocks a scene with Selena and Jake (who is Juliet’s father), suddenly a set of lights fall from the ceiling! Katy knocks Selena out of the way, undoubtedly saving her from grievous injury/death. Katy hurts her arm, and Selena feels awful since the lights were obviously sabotaged by her stalker.

After the movie that Friday, Selena and Eddy decide to get some burgers at a place called Sam’s. Eddy continues to praise Selena about how good she is, and is convinced that she will get the scholarship, but offers to give her private acting feedback if she wants it. Selena is wary, and wonders to herself why she is so SUSPICIOUS of him, and gee, Selena, perhaps it’s the fact that he is oddly interested in YOU and is in his twenties and you are still a teenager? When he asks why she’s so reluctant, she tells him about her stalker, and tells him that Mr. Riordan didn’t take it seriously, so the police probably won’t either. To that I say fuck you, Mr. Riordan. When Eddy goes to pay for the check, Selena sees Danny in the doorway! She goes to chew him out for following her, but then realizes that he’s there on a date with a girl named Susie. Embarrassed by her reaction, Selena meets Eddy outside (who is relieved that Danny didn’t see them there, UGH). Selena is now certain Danny isn’t her stalker since he has a new lady friend. As she and Eddy are walking back to the car in the parking ramp of the building (down a narrow tunnel), Eddy admits that he went to Shadyside High, and that he had a crush on her when he was a senior and she was a sophomore. So THAT is why he knows her. Selena finally feels safe with him (I wouldn’t go THAT far, Selena), but as they are going down the tunnel suddenly a squeal of tires gets their attention. A car comes ZOOMING down the tunnel with no headlights, and Eddy pushes Selena! IN FRONT OF THE CAR? No, past it so that the car doesn’t hit her. The car speeds off, and Eddy says that they were walking down the wrong side of the ramp so that must be why this happened. Selena isn’t so sure…. And wonders WHY they were walking on the wrong side….

The next day Selena gets a flower delivery! She thinks that it must be from Eddy, as it’s a pretty bouquet and not a bunch of dead ones. As she’s practically rubbing her face with the flowers and the greens, her mother comes in and points out WAIT THOSE LEAVES AS POISON IVY!!!! And Selena is VERY allergic. She’s still dealing with the rash a week later, and wonders how the stalker knew that she was so allergic. As she is sitting in the library with Katy and Jake, her friends say that they think she should quit the play, but Selena refuses. So Jake says he’ll do some snooping and try to figure out who is doing this to her. Later at rehearsal Selena sees Jake snooping around Danny, and Selena thinks that he’s too biased to investigate properly, so she goes to the theater lockers. She goes to Danny’s locker and opens it up… AND FINDS A SHEET OF STICKERS!! She double checks the locker numbers, but realizes to her horror that she didn’t open Danny’s locker… she opened JAKE’S LOCKER!!!!

That afternoon Selena and Katy are talking on the phone, and Selena tells Katy that she found the stickers in Jake’s locker! Katy doesn’t want to believe it, but says that Selena needs to talk to Mr. Riordan. Selena doesn’t want to get Jake in trouble because she feels so bad since he’s having such a hard time, but Katy says that if he needs mental help SElena needs to tell people anyway! Then there’s a call waiting click, and Selena answers, and it’s Jake! He says that he needs to talk to her, and asks that she meet him at the school ASAP. She tells him that she found the stickers in his locker, and he says he can explain it but it has to be in person, so PLEASE meet him at the school. She agrees, then goes back to Katy and tells her what’s up, and asks Katy if she can drive her. Katy says sure and they hang up, but then Katy calls right back and her Mom took the car so she can’t take her after all. So Selena goes by herself by taking the bus. When she gets to the school she goes to the auditorium, but doesn’t see Jake anywhere… until she finds him crumpled in a heap at the bottom of the ladder to the catwalk, DEAD!!!

Selena gets home after talking to the police and she tells Katy what happened, the theory being that he must have been hiding in the catwalk and then fell to his death after slipping. Both are very upset, but Selena is convinced that her stalker is dead, and wonders why Jake was doing it. After staying home for a few days and rehearsals being postponed, they start up again and everyone is bummed. Selena has decided to drop out of they play because she’s so upset, but Mr. Riordan is in SUCH a hurry he says that she can tell him whatever it is she needs to tell him the next day, and rushes off.

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In that moment I kind of really loved Mr. Riordan. (source)

Katy tells Selena that she thinks that she’s doing the right thing, and Danny asks what they are talking about. Selena tells him that she’s quitting the play because it’s ‘what Jake would have wanted’. And Danny finally, FINALLY, tells Selena what a self centered little jerk she is. And it may be harsh, but I am with Danny on this one. As far as Selena knows, her stalker is dead, so it’s not a matter of her safety that’s in question here, it’s her feeling sad about Jake and not wanting to do the play because of that. WE’VE ALL HAD DISAPPOINTMENT, SELENA. After Danny’s smackdown, Selena realizes that he’s right, and that the show must go on. So despite Katy’s skepticism, Selena says that she’s still in. That night, Selena isn’t able to sleep, so she goes down to the kitchen for a glass of water….. AND SEES A NOTE ON THE FRIDGE WITH A SUN STICKER! It basically says that Jake wasn’t the stalker and had to die because he knew too much, and that the stalker will be in the audience at the dress rehearsal.

Okay, now you could totally quit, Selena. But does she? NOPE! Unfortunately Mr. Riordan invited the entire football team and then some tot he dress rehearsal, so Selena won’t be able to notice any lone stalker in the audience. Eddy has to go to class that afternoon but wishes her luck, and Selena knows that the show must go on. The dress rehearsal goes well, and Selena is riding such a high she almost forgets her backpack in her locker, but retrieves it at the last moment, shoving all the locker contents inside in a rush. That night after dinner she opens her backpack, and finds another letter from the stalker! This one says that THEY KILLED SOMEONE THAT NIGHT!!! Selena panics a moment, but then remembers that, oh wait, NO ONE DIED AT REHEARSAL. She deduces that the stalker must not have meant for her to find it until the next day…. which meant that the stalker was going to kill someone TONIGHT!!! And Selena is convinced that Katy is going to be the next victim! She tries to call Katy, but there’s no answer at her house. She knows she has to go to the school. Before she can, though, the phone rings, and it’s Eddy, asking her out for later that night, but she says that there’s something that she has to take care of first. When he asks if she needs help, she says that only SHE can do it, and hangs up.

Selena gets to the school, and tries to find Katy in the auditorium. It seems like no one is there, but then she hears the soft voice of someone calling for help… and it’s coming from the catwalk. Selena, who is desperately afraid of heights, steels herself and climbs up to the catwalk, calling for Katy. But she doesn’t find Katy, she finds Danny in the prop room up top…. and he’s been beaten up and tied up. In his daze he tells her that she called him, telling him to come to  the school. She starts to look for something to cut his ropes, but hears a noise. Katy suddenly pops up, and Selena says that they have to untie Danny and go. Katy asks why they should untie Danny, as since he’s tied up he can’t cause any more trouble. Selena explains that he isn’t the stalker, that she thought the stalker was going to hurt Katy but it was Danny instead, and they need to help him. But Katy, instead, HITS HIM IN THE HEAD WITH HER FLASHLIGHT. She then tells Selena that she wants to talk about their friendship, and how she misses the time that it was just the two of them. And then she shows Selena the sticker sheet. YUP, YOU GUESSED IT, Katy is the Sun. Katy says that she knew Selena would assume it was a boy in love with her because she’s so vain and selfish now that she’s so thin and popular and obsessed with drama. Katy didn’t even WANT to join drama club, but wouldn’t see Selena anymore if she hadn’t joined!!! Katy was mad that she was losing her friend to drama and college, and that was why she stalked her, to try and scare her to drop out of the play and not get the scholarship. Jake found the stickers in Katy’s locker and was going to tell Selena, so Katy killed him by pushing him off the cat walk. Katy then attacks Selena, who runs out of the prop room and onto the catwalk. They scuffle and Selena ends up dangling from the catwalk, with Katy about to hit her with the flashlight, but then Eddy shows up at the top of the ladder, and so Katy’s attentions turn to him. But HE TOO ends up stumbling and then dangling from the catwalk as well! Katy starts to smash his fingers with her flashlight, and Selena pulls herself up and knocks her away. They wrestle a bit more (gawd they wrestle forever) and Eddy FINALLY gets Katy subdued. He drags her to the prop room and somehow keeps her subdued WHILE untying Danny (two sets of arms?), and ties Katy up. Selena asks how he knew that she was here, and he tells her that he had a hunch she’d come here. They kiss, and he asks if she’s acting. She tells him no, she’s not, she’s happy the show is over (no it isn’t, opening night is the next night). And he says, as he pulls her close, “Hey don’t say that, this may only be Act One!”. The End.

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Not the time for romance, guys. (source)

Body Count: 2, one for Jake, one for the rat.

Romance Rating: 3ish? Eddy was really just there to be a red herring, but hey, at least he wasn’t completely toxic (outside of the ethical issues of being the assistant director guy).

Bonkers Rating: 4. A fight on the catwalk is always going to be stellar, but everything else was kinda pedestrian.

Fear Street Relevance: 3. Selena lives on Fear Street and the woods cast a lot of long shadows in her room. But otherwise, all the action elsewhere.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“Selena didn’t even see the bank of the spotlights fall. But she heard the crash. Felt the stage rock. Heard the shatter of glass. The crunch of metal. Heard the high screams of horror all around. And knew that she was dead.”

…. But she isn’t dead, of course. In the words of Trixie Mattel….

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(source)

That’s So Dated! Moments: Not as many as I would have thought! Though I got an edition that was clearly updated. Outside of a reference to a tape player in Eddy’s car, it was fairly neutral in terms of dating itself.

Best Quote:

“Actually, she thought that if Eddy had suggested going to a place that served baked worms, she’d probably agree to it!”

… Oh.

Conclusion: “Secret Admirer” had the potential to be over the top ridiculous, but it just kind of limped home. Up next is “The Perfect Date”. 

A Revisit to Fear Street: “The Face”

176604Book: “The Face” (Fear Street #35) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1996

Where Did I Get This Book: An eBook from the library!

Book Description: Why can’t she remember?

They say something horrible happened that day. But Martha can’t remember any of it—not the smallest detail. They say it will come back to her in time.

But someone wants her to remember now. She draws his face, over and over—the face of a dead boy. She can’t control her hand. And she can’t remember how he died.

But she’s going to find the answer. Even if it lies with the dead.

Had I Read This Before: No.

The Plot: We start with a strange dream about drawing silver lines on a piece of paper and then the paper becoming soaked in blood or something. I don’t care for these prologues because they’re just nonsense. But then we meet Martha. Martha was in some kind of accident before the story began that has robbed her of huge chunks of her memory. Her besties Adriana and Justine don’t really know how to interact with her now that she’s an amnesiac, but her boyfriend Aaron is still loyal and loving (though Justine has a blatant crush on him, as is demonstrated during a wrestling match he’s in that they are both attending). We also find out that her friends MAY have been in the accident too but Martha was the only one who went into shock? It’s a confusing and clunky first chapter of exposition. We pick up after that inside Aaron’s den, where he and Martha are watching “Lethal Weapon”, and Martha tells the reader that Aaron kind of looks like Mel Gibson. I’m hoping she’s talking about The Mel Gibson “Thunderdome” era and not The Mel Gibson “He’s A Misogynistic Bigoted Abuser” era.

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Remember, Hollywood welcomed him back with open arms. (source)

Martha confides that she’s worried about Adriana, who has been looking super skinny and tired and whose grades have been slipping. Aaron asks if she’s talked to Adriana, but no, they haven’t spoken about the accident or anything. Martha wonders why it has affected Adriana so much but not the rest of them (excluding herself, I would imagine, since she CANNOT REMEMBER ANYTHING).

We THEN jump to the next day where Martha is out and about in Shadyside buying art supplies and she runs into Ivan, Adriana’s older brother who has adopted a new ‘bad boy’ look, with an earring and a goatee. He’s also been getting into trouble and drinking more, so you know that I am smelling a love triangle here because Stine LOVES his ladies to be into misunderstood bad boys. After teasing her about her ‘doodles’, he offers to give her a ride home. While they’re driving he asks if she wants to just keep on going and leave Shadyside for good, and Martha asks if he’s joking, to which he says ‘of COURSE’, but we know better, don’t we? She asks him if he knows what’s up with Adriana and he seems less than interested/sympathetic to his own sister, but does say that she’s been taught some kind of self hypnosis. Also the atmosphere at home is awful with his parents fighting and literally throwing dishware at each other, and Ivan is so upset about it he starts driving erratically and the car drives off the road and heads for a tree! But it seems that it stops right before impact, and both Ivan and Martha hug and cry and he apologizes that he almost took her out in his impromptu suicide attempt that he couldn’t follow through with. He drives her home.

The next day Martha and Adriana are hanging out at Martha’s house and Martha brings up the murder suicide kinda thing that almost happened. Adriana doesn’t seem too worried and seems more interested in her make up, but confirms that she has been taught self hypnosis to try and help her fall asleep. Adriana says that Ivan is messed up because his girlfriend Laura (the most BEAUTIFUL girl in Shadyside, I guess) dumped him. Given that no one got why they were going on in the first place the only person caught off guard was Ivan himself. Martha thinks that someone should talk to him, but Adriana says that Martha should focus on herself and her own well being before leaving the house. Martha decides to draw a self portrait. But as she’s drawing, her hand starts to act of it’s own volition and draws on it’s own, as if a ghostly presence is controlling it!

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So you’re saying it’s a Kanderian Demon problem? (source)

When the hand stops, there is the face of a boy on the page. Martha thinks that it’s too detailed to be made up in her head, and notices that the face has a scar on the eyebrow. She freaks out and crumples it up, and decides to try again. She thinks maybe she should call Laura and ask her to work as a model, but apparently Laura isn’t cooperative and is always critical of the final product, so tries to draw herself again. But, once again, she draws the boy. She then rips but the drawings, and thinks she’s going nuts.

Later that night Martha is meeting Aaron at the mall for a movie. She’s running a little late, and when she arrives she sees Aaron and Justine are both there, with Justine flirting with Aaron. Martha is okay with Justine flirting with him when she is present, but when she’s NOT around and Justine is flirting? Could Justine possibly be a, dare I say it, BAD FRIEND? But since Martha doesn’t want to ‘start having evil thoughts’ about Justine, she just joins them and says hello, Justine backing off right away, claiming she happened to run into him, and he invited her to come to the movie too. Martha thinks that she sees Justine brushing up against Aaron the whole show.

Later that night, Martha is back home trying to sleep, when Justine calls. She wants to talk about the movie they saw and how much Aaron liked it, but then it turns into a ‘my life sucks’ kind of thing and she tells Martha straight up that she’s jealous of her because Aaron is so great. Justine doesn’t have a boyfriend AND she can’t afford to go to college next year AND Martha is such a good artist with good parents. When Martha says that her life isn’t actually perfect, Justine, oddly, agrees, and says that Martha’s life ‘isn’t as perfect’ as Martha thinks. Then she hangs up with a lame excuse.

That Sunday evening Martha is on the couch watching TV, when there’s a flash of a cabin on the TV. Which instigates a flash of memory for Martha! She remembers being at two cabins, with Justine, Adriana, Laura, and herself inside one of them. There’s a knocking at the door, and when Adriana answers it’s Aaron and two other boys whose faces she can’t remember. And then it’s all gone. And when Martha looks down she sees that she drew the face again.

The next morning there is no school because of teacher conferences, and when Martha goes downstairs into the kitchen Laura is there, reminding her that Martha was accompanying her to a photo shoot for her aspiring acting/modeling/whatevering career. Martha drives them, and wishes that she could ask Laura if she recognized the face, but her doctor told her friends not to tell Martha anything or give her any hints, because her memory has to come back on it’s own. That sounds like nonsense, but I’m not a medical professional. After the shoot is over, Martha is driving Laura back home, and Laura says that she was at a party the night before and Ivan showed up, acting a fool. Martha says that Ivan is a mess because of her dumping him, and Laura doesn’t give a rip. Laura then tells Martha to watch out for Justine, and declines to elaborate.

The next day Martha goes to meet with Dr. Sayles, the man in charge of her case and recovery. She tells him about the cabin memories, and he doesn’t betray any sort of emotion. But when she shows him the drawings she’s done, he looks genuinely shocked. Do we get to learn more about this? NOPE, we jump forward to that next weekend. Martha is still wondering WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN, when Adriana and Laura burst into her room and tell her to get inside, bitch, we’re going SLEDDING!, or something very close to it. So they go to Miller Hill and Martha resolves to have a little bit of FUN for once. Once they are at the top of the hill, Laura and Adriana take off, leaving Martha at the top. When Martha starts down, she starts to scream, and then doesn’t stop screaming, even when she gets to the bottom. She doesn’t remember how she got home, just that Laura and Adriana brought her back, and she wonders what triggered her. But apparently, she had another memory. Now she, Aaron, Justine, Laura, Adriana and IVAN are there, having a snowball fight. Then Justine takes it way too far and starts hurling them at Martha, hitting her hard and starting a huge fight between them. Then she remembers kissing someone in the cabin, but it wasn’t Aaron. It was the boy in the drawings!!

Martha decides to ask Aaron about everything the next day. She goes to his house, and his little brother Jake lets her in, albeit reluctantly. Then Aaron meets her in the hall and doesn’t want her to come in much further…. Because JUSTINE is there! They claim that she was just picking up a graphic calculator because hers broke, and that she only hid because they didn’t want Martha to get the wrong idea, especially after she had a freak out at Miller Hill. Justine leaves, and Martha wonders if she should believe them. She asks Aaron about the cabin trip, and he says that he isn’t supposed to tell her, doctor’s orders, and that she’s lucky that she doesn’t remember because something TERRIBLE happened on the cabin trip. She shows him the drawings, and he begs her to stop asking him. When she asks if he knows the boy he tells her that the boy is DEAD!

With Aaron not speaking to her and more questions than answers, Martha is at home on Tuesday evening and Adriana comes to visit. She tells Martha that things at home are bad. Her Dad has finally moved out but Ivan has a new tape player and a new Discman and she doesn’t know how he paid for it, so she thinks that he’s been stealing. After all, he’s been hanging out with some tough characters! She then notices that Martha’s been drawing the whole time, and that it’s the dead guy’s face. And after swallowing down whatever she MUST have been thinking in that moment. Adriana invites Martha to the basketball game that Friday. Not that the sudden change in topic is at ALL strange, right?

So Martha, Laura, and Adriana go to the basketball game. All is going well for a bit, but then Martha starts hallucinating that every player on the opposing team has the dead boy’s face! She starts to freak out, and so Laura and Adriana drag her out of the gym. While Laura goes to find her a drink (most likely just water even though Martha could PROBABLY use a nice hard whiskey), Adriana pulls out a coin and starts to use hypnosis on Martha, claiming that it’s to calm her down. Martha says she’s feeling better, and when Laura comes back they start to leave. Martha asks if they will tell her anything about this boy, but they refuse and say they’re going to take her home. But who does Martha see making out by the lockers???? AARON AND JUSTINE! Since the graphing calculator excuse is no longer viable, he starts to say something, but Adriana and Laura tell him to back the hell off, and Justine too, and they take Martha home.

Back at home Martha tries to calm down by drawing. But then another memory surfaces! She remembers kissing the strange boy, but this time it becomes clear that she doesn’t want him to be kissing her. She asks him to stop, and then calls him Sean, and the memory ends with them shoving each other and her slapping him. As she’s pulled from the memory she wonders why they were fighting (maybe because he was sexually assaulting you, Martha?), and then she notices that she has a message on her answering machine. The message is a low raspy woman’s voice saying ‘You keep drawing him because you killed him’. Martha thinks that it sounds like Laura, but why would Laura do this?!

Martha decides to go visit Adriana’s doctor, Dr. Corben, to see if hypnosis can help her. My first thought goes to planted false memories and Satanic Panic, but let’s see how this all plays out before I start ranting about the irresponsibility of this kind of therapy. So anyway, Martha asks if Dr. Corben will help her, because Adriana hypnotized her and Martha thought it might help. Dr. Corben is aghast that Adriana did that because it’s very dangerous since the girl has no training, and she says that she would need to get permission from both Martha’s parents AND her doctor before she would do anything. Martha decides that she needs to split because this woman isn’t helping her at all. Outside of the office, Aaron appears, and he tells Martha he isn’t going to sneak around anymore and that he and Justine have been going out for months, and that is what Martha and Justine were fighting about at the cabin. She asks him what happened to Sean, and he is shocked she remembers him. But he still won’t tell her because it is ‘too horrible’!

That Wednesday at school, Ivan gets into a huge fight with another kid and gets suspended. Laura and Martha are on the phone talking about it, and another memory comes back to Martha: Laura was going to dump Ivan for Sean! When she confronts Laura, Laura clams up and says she doesn’t want to talk about it before hanging up. But now the memories have recovered pretty much completely, and as they say on “Monk” here’s what happened!: After a day of sledding and Ivan and Laura fighting outside the cabin, Adriana suggests that the group go skiing! Ivan and Aaron bicker a bit, and Adriana suggests that Martha should go first because she was the sledding winner, and Sean says he’ll go second. Martha realizes that her ski straps are messed up, and says that Sean should go before her so he doesn’t have to wait. So he does. And then Martha realizes that there is a weird silver line between to trees that Sean is skiing right towards…. a silver wire. Before Martha can yell to warn him, he skis into it, and it cuts his FRIGGIN HEAD OFF!!!!!!

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(source)

So she calls Adriana and tells her she remembers everything, and Adriana starts to cry as well, saying that she can’t sleep and can’t concentrate because she’s been so traumatized. The police couldn’t figure out who set up the wire, and Martha asks if Adriana thinks that one of their friends killed him. Adriana says she doesn’t know, but no one else was up there so who else could it have been? Then she says she’s coming over so they can commiserate or something. Martha goes to find a change of clothes, wondering why she was the only one to lose her memory when all of her friends saw it. Then she finds her unpacked back from the trip, and when she opens it up, she finds SILVER WIRE!! She must have lost her memory because SHE killed Sean!!! She wonders if everyone has stopped talking to her because they know that she killed Sean! Adriana arrives and Martha tells her about the wire, saying that she must have killed him. Adriana asks why, and Martha admits she doesn’t know but says she’s going to tell her parents. But then IVAN comes in and says that Martha can’t turn herself in because HE KILLED SEAN!! Adriana understandably freaks out, and Ivan tells them what happened: he had stolen a car and felt so guilty about it he had to tell someone, so he told Sean. And then Sean, the asshole that he was, decided to start blackmailing Ivan. So Ivan took the wire and tied it up between the trees! But oddly, he remembers tying it up much lower, around ankle height, thinking it would trip Sean and rough him up a bit (yes, because THAT would absolutely stop a blackmailer). He saw the wire had moved, but only once it was too late to do anything. Ivan says that he’s going to  turn himself in so Martha doesn’t admit to something she didn’t do. But then Adriana freaks out at him, saying that he KNOWS that Martha did it, and that he can’t ruin this for her!

Yeah, as it turns out, Adriana had moved the wire to the height that it was! And she had done it because she wanted it to catch Martha in the wire and kill her!!! She was jealous because she liked Sean, and Sean liked Martha, and Adriana saw Sean kissing Martha and lost it. Martha tries to explain that she did NOT want to kiss Sean, but Adriana doesn’t believe her, of course. And apparently she hid the wire in the bag AND she used hypnotism on Martha to make her memories stay repressed!! And then she grabs the wire from the bag, kicks Ivan in the stomach, and wraps the wire around Martha’s neck, trying to strangle her and/or decapitate her. But as they struggle, Adriana suddenly stops. Because she sees Sean’s face drawn on the piece of paper that is on Martha’s desk. So Ivan disarms her and grabs her arms, subduing her. She then goes into a catatonic state, and Ivan and Martha hug as she just keeps staring at the portrait, the portrait of the face that ‘saved [Martha’s] life.’. The End.

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I mean, okay? (source)

Body Count: 1, and what a badass death it was!

Romance Rating: 2. Everyone was cheating on each other and it was a huge mess!

Bonkers Rating: 5. The story itself was kind of standard, but the misuse of hypnotism AND a ski death involving decapitation was excellent.

Fear Street Relevance: 0. There is NO mention of Fear Street in this book. Not even an off handed mention of one of the characters living there. I’m done with that kind of thing in these books, if Fear Street isn’t even mentioned, it’s a zero for me.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“To my surprise, he was staring at the drawings with bulging eyes. His mouth wide open. No longer the blank faced professional. He was staring at my drawings in total shock.”

…. And then we don’t get any kind of follow up as to how the rest of the appointment went. Like, as if that was that. I hate it when Stine ends a chapter on a cliffhanger that doesn’t have any resolution.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Well outside of Mel Gibson still being an acceptable sex symbol, Martha, Justine, and Aaron went to see a Jim Carrey movie with mentions of lots of gross out humor. OH, and Martha compares her doctor to a surfer on “Baywatch”. And he wears Bass Wejun loafers?? What are those?

Best Quote:

“Why do cats always have to act like cats?”

I ask myself that every single day.

Conclusion: “The Face” was pretty lack luster. I wish that it had been a recreation of the A Ha video for “Take On Me”, but instead we got something meh and not even trying to be a part of the Fear Street mythos. Up next is “Secret Admirer”! 

A Revisit to Fear Street: “What Holly Heard”

89810Book: “What Holly Heard” (Fear Street #34) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1996

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: Holly Silva not only has a big mouth, but ears like satellite dishes. If there’s a rumor, juicy piece of gossip, or scandal anywhere in Shadyside High, Holly can and will dig it up and spread it like peanut butter on bananas. New inklings of romance, BFFs on the outs, cheating, fights…Holly hears it all. Once she does, it’s a short trip from her brain to the brains of Miriam and Ruth, her closest friends.

Usually Holly’s gossip doesn’t amount to anything exciting, but this time is different. Rumor has it Mei Kamata’s involved in an on-going feud…with her own mother. The cause of strife is long-haired bad boy senior Noah Brennan, the guy Mei will no longer be dating if her parents have anything to say about it. When Holly walks by the pair in the parking lot after school one day, she hears the unimaginable: Mei tells Noah she’s going to kill her mother.

Ruth and Miriam don’t exactly see this as the jaw-droppingly incredible insight into teenage female psychology that Holly does. After all, how often to kids threaten to unleash exaggerated bodily harm on their parental units? It isn’t until Mei’s mom takes a fatal tumble down the stairs of her home that the three girls realize they might know more than they should. Somebody knows what Holly heard and is taking steps to ensure none of the girls hear the wrong thing again. Steps up to and including murder.

Had I Read This Before: Yes.

The Plot: Okay, first of all, that plot description above HAS to be updated. It doesn’t read like an old school “Fear Street” summary at all. And I am not totally clear on whether or not this Holly is the same Holly from “College Weekend”, as the descriptions sound similar but I don’t remember if the last times line up. But anyway, Holly Silva runs down the hallway to her friends Miriam and Ruth with some serious hot goss. This is what she’s known for, spreading gossip and feeding off of it like an emotional vampire (and as someone who loves a great gossip sesh over brunch, I feel her on that, though I like to think that I don’t spread so much as I ‘converse’). So maybe I’m more like Miriam, as she evidently lives for this while Ruth isn’t so down. Holly’s latest dish is that Miriam’s old friend and local rich girl Mei Kamata has been having bad fights with her mother all because Mei has been dating Shadyside’s newest bad boy, Noah Brennan. Holly is especially living for this gossip because she has a serious thing for Noah and this may mean trouble in paradise. Ruth is concerned about this, reminding Holly that she does have a boyfriend, a very cool and nice guy named Gary (Ruth and Gary are neighbors and BFFs), but Holly’s eye is wandering. Just then Noah walks up to them and Holly puts on her best flirtation display. Unfortunately, Mei walks up and sees the whole thing. Miriam, trying to diffuse the tension, asks Mei if her party is still on that night (it is), and Noah is immediately drawn back to her and they leave together and she tells him that her parents won’t be home until 6 (woo woo!). Holly is immediately petulant, and when Ruth says that she has Gary Holly gets crabby and heavily implies that she’s going to try and break them up. This girl is awful. Ruth storms off, and Holly tries to say that she can’t help herself because she loves Noah so much. They then run into Miriam’s boyfriend Jed, who is on the basketball team. We are told that Jed has always been Miriam’s dream guy, but he’s been acting strange the past few weeks. He’s been moody ever since the playoff season began. When she asks him if he’s still up for the party, he says he forgot about it, and asks if they REALLY have to go. They fight and he storms off saying he’ll pick her up at eight. Holly wonders what he was putting in his bag, and Miriam is at a loss. Holly says that she’ll dig up some dirt on him for her to find out what his deal is.

Later that night Miriam, Jed, Ruth, and Miriam’s cousin Patrick (who Miriam is trying to hook up with Ruth, who seems not at all interested) are driving to the party. Jed seems back to himself, and says that the playoffs are just stressing him out since college scouts are attending. They arrive at the party at Mei’s house, and Miriam laments the friendship she had with Mei before Mei and Noah started going out. They find Holly, who is wearing a dress that doesn’t sound at all age appropriate. Jed and Gary are basketball teammates so they start talking shop, and Holly tells Miriam that her dress is ‘working’ and that Noah’s been staring at her all night. When Miriam calls her out on it, Holly claims that she feels SO BAD about it now because Mei seems SO MAD at her. Miriam lays the blame squarely on Noah, and I’m not sure THAT’S totally correct. They go find their boyfriends and start dancing with them, but the music the live bad is playing is SO POWERFUL they blow the power in the house and the lights go out. Once the breakers get flipped, the lights come back on and Holly is clinging to Noah. Mei is PISSED, even though Noah seems totally not interested in Holly at all. Miriam asks Holly what she was doing, and Holly says that she was ‘afraid’, and that she wasn’t flirting, she swears, but now Noah has ‘something to think about’.

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Mei should be throwing her ass out. (source)

The next night Ruth and Miriam are in Ruth’s bedroom waiting for Holly to pick them up from the basketball game. Ruth is infuriated at Holly for acting the fool, and thinks that she’s jealous of Mei. Miriam says that no, she just really likes Noah, but I think that it’s VERY possible for those two things to go hand in hand. Ruth also says that she and Patrick didn’t really click as she tends to her two hamsters Lizzy and Tilly. She then says she likes staying at home better than parties, especially since a group of rough necks were pulling up just as they were leaving. Ruth then takes her backpack out and dumps it’s contents on the bed. One item inside it is a hammer, which she says belonged to her Dad, who died a year earlier. She is apparently using it in art class to build a loom. Miriam thinks that Ruth doesn’t like dating because she has Daddy issues, essentially. She also is still mad about how Holly treats Gary, and honestly she isn’t wrong. It’s then that Holly bursts into the room and says that she has AWESOMELY HOT GOSS! After Miriam and Ruth left the party, the roughnecks who showed up were Noah’s drunk friends! After Mei’s Mom kicked them out, the two of them got into a huge fight about Noah, and Mei was told that she’s not allowed to see him anymore. Holly, of course, is ECSTATIC. Ruth calls her out on her bullshit, and Holly says that Gary is boring (SO DUMP HIM), and Miriam begs them to stop fighting and says they should get to the game. Ruth opts to stay home because she’s obviously sick of Holly and her crap.

At the game, Jed is doing awfully. After a Waynesbridge player accidentally elbows Jed in the face, Jed full on attacks him, punching him in the face and then putting him in a choke hold! After he’s pulled off he’s thrown out of the game, and Miriam rightfully freaked out. Holly says she’ll talk to Gary about Jed to see what the scoop is. Once the game is over (the Tigers DO win, by the way, so they’re still in the playoffs), Miriam waits for Jed outside the locker room. She asks if he’s okay and he starts railing about almost getting kicked off the team (um, he probably SHOULD have been kicked off, so count your lucky stars, bucko), and how the other player meant to elbow him. Miriam says he’s been elbowed before and never did anything like that, and he asks how SHE’D like it if SHE was pushed around, and starts pushing her and twisting her fingers, and holy SHIT this is messed up. He then stops, as if pulled from a trance, and deeply and profusely apologizes to her, and she says that if he EVER lays a hand on her again they are DONE. But then they have a ‘cute’ exchange and I could just barf. When Miriam goes to find Holly in the parking lot, she finds her hiding between some parked cars, and she has some news that has actually spooked her: she overheard Mei and Noah talking, and Mei said that she could just KILL her mother, and that Noah says that he would do ‘whatever it took’ for them to be together. So OBVIOUSLY, since Holly has never heard of hyperbole in a fit of emotion, this means that Mei and Noah are going to kill Mei’s Mom! Miriam tells her she’s being ridiculous, and Holly seems to come to her senses. When Holly asks Miriam about Jed, Miriam tells her everything. And for once Holly is a GOOD person because she tells Miriam that Jed is abusive and that he’s not worth being with.

That Monday Ruth and Miriam are hanging out, when Holly comes up to them with not so hot goss, but sad news. Mei’s mother died that weekend. She was found at the bottom of the steps with a broken neck. Holly is convinced that it was murder, and no matter how much Miriam proclaims that Mei wouldn’t do that, Holly and Ruth won’t hear it. Holly thinks they should go to the police, and then when Noah walks up to them and says that Mei’s Mom is dead, and that he saw Holly at the game….. then he walks off. Okay, yeah, that’s admittedly a weird thing to say. Now Holly is convinced that he knows that she heard them and she is in danger! Seems to me that she’s REALLY making a tragedy all about her, but hey, at least she doesn’t seem into Noah anymore. She promises that she’s not going to say anything to anyone about this, and to THAT I say HA. Miriam asks if she can get a ride home from her that night, but Holly says she’s staying late to hang decorations for the victory rally post-basketball game. Miriam wonders if Noah is someone that she should be afraid of. Because you know, Noah wears leather, drinks occasionally, and has long hair, which means he’s gotta be a serial killer.

Later that night Miriam gets a phone call from Holly. She’s still at school but feeling jumpy, and she wonders if Miriam will come keep her company because she thinks she’s seeing Mei EVERYWHERE. Also, she has some news about Jed that she wants to tell her in person. Miriam says she’ll ask her Mom if she can take the car, but when she gets back on the line Holly isn’t answering her. She drives to the school, and when she goes into the gym Holly is nowhere to be seen. She goes by the door to the locker rooms thinking that maybe she went home… until she sees Holly’s scarf. When Miriam looks behind a pep rally sign, she finds Holly, dead. She freaks out and runs for the doors, but then someone grabs her. Luckily it’s just Jed, and when Miriam tells him what she saw, he goes to see for himself. He then takes her hand and says they need to go call the police. After he calls they sit in the parking lot, and he suddenly freaks out, kicking and punching Holly’s car in a fury. Miriam wonders why he’s doing this, but in his defense I don’t know how I’D react if I found the dead body of one of my friends. As they wait for the police, she realizes that it’s weird that he’s here, and she asks him why he’s at the school this late. He says that he and Gary were working out and Gary left just before Miriam started screaming. Miriam starts to suspect that maybe Mei DID do this.

The next day Ruth is dropping school work off for Miriam, who has been in bed basically since it happened. Ruth tells her that Gary is a wreck and wasn’t at school either, and neither was Mei. But Noah was, and Ruth says that he looked completely nuts. Miriam doesn’t want to talk about any of them, and Ruth says that she’s sad too even if she has a hard time showing it. There’s going to be a memorial at school the next day, and since Miriam’s Mom thinks that one day of mourning/processing time is perfectly adequate for a girl who found her best friend brutally murdered, Miriam will be there. Now Ruth is convinced that Mei and Noah killed her, but Miriam says they have no proof. And she says that if Mei DID do it, the police will be able to find proof that she did and will catch her.

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Tell that to John Walsh, honey. (source)

Ruth opens up her backpack to give Miriam her homework, but when she pulls her hand out both it and the notebook are covered in a red, sticky liquid. A message in blood is written on the cover: “We know you know, that’s why you die next!” Ruth says that Holly must not have kept her big mouth shut, and Miriam finally concedes that perhaps the police should be involved.

After dropping the notebook off at the police (and it wasn’t blood, of course, just paint), Miriam is feeling better now that she’s home. The police say they’ll look into Mei and Noah, and Miriam calls Jed. He says he’ll come right over, and when he arrives they start to talk about all the horrible things that have happened. Miriam says that she never thanked him for being there for her the night before,  he has a ‘murderous glare’ (as Miriam categorizes it, anyway). She decides not to tell him about Mei and Noah, lest he lose it. But then he says he doesn’t want to talk about Holly anymore because everyone is treating her like a saint but she was a bad person who treated his best friend like shit, AND he was trying to dig up dirt on HIM! She asks how he can be so cruel, and he says that it’s Holly’s fault that she was killed, and YUCK. She says that SHE was the one who asked Holly to go on a recon mission because he’s been acting different and being, you know, VIOLENT, and she’s worried about him. He says that it’s just pressure because of the playoffs, and he hasn’t talked to her and Holly about it because excuse HIM if he doesn’t want to gossip about Mei Kamata all the time. Ding ding ding, points for everybody I feel. But Miriam asks what he meant when he said that Holly was at fault for her own murder. He storms off, and she wonders what HE knows.

At school the next day Miriam doesn’t want to go to the memorial, so she ditches off to the bathroom. She’s confronted by Mei and Noah after she leaves it, and Mei asks her how she could spread the lies about her mother that Holly started, and how she could go to the police. Mei’s mother sprained her ankle the week before and it spasmed while she was at the top of the steps, that’s all. Miriam says that she doesn’t believe them, and if they didn’t kill Mei’s Mom then Miriam is being a grade A asshole right now. They also say that they didn’t kill Holly, and that Holly had a LOT of enemies because she got the dirt and spread it around the school. Miriam says that she and Mei used to be friends before NOAH came into the picture, and Mei says that while she WOULD kill for Noah, she DIDN’T. By the end of the day Miriam is totally over everything, and she sees Jed and Gary arguing, with Gary saying that he’s not covering for Jed anymore and that he knows everything that Holly knew. She waits for Gary to leave before she approaches Jed, and he apologizes again. So she asks what his problem is again, and here we go again as he gets defensive. She says that Holly knew something, and then she asks why he was at school the night she was murdered. He says that he was weight lifting, and that Gary was there, but she doesn’t believe him. He says that she can think what she wants, but he has a game to go play, and he looks less angry and more tired. They do their apology dance again.

Miriam asks Ruth to go to the game with her that night while they’re hanging out in Ruth’s room. Ruth says she’s not going anywhere where Mei and Noah are, and when Miriam expresses her doubts that Mei killed her mother, let alone Holly, Ruth says she thinks that it’s Noah who did everything. Miriam says she’s going to the game regardless because Jed needs her. When she gets to the school she sees Jed taking some kind of pill before the game, and when she asks what it was he says it’s a vitamin. They apologize to each other again, and he goes to play. While watching the game Miriam sees Noah watching her, but tries to focus on Jed. But then on the court Jed loses it again, and attacks another player, and now Miriam is convinced that HE is the one who killed Holly. She runs out, and Jed follows her. He tries to stop her from going, but she hits him in the stomach and bolts all the way to Ruth’s house.

Ruth answers the door and Miriam tells her that Jed is the killer, not Mei and Noah, and Ruth says that it couldn’t be him because there were two more murders tonight: LIZZY AND TILLY!!!!! DAMN YOU AND YOUR PET KILLING FETISH, STINE!!!! Ruth says that her Mom is working late and she was asleep on the couch when she heard a noise upstairs. When she got to her room, the hamsters were crushed to death, and they left a note: “Dead hamsters today, dead girls tomorrow.” Ruth goes to call the police, and when she comes back Miriam comforts her and asks if she wants to get dressed out of her pjs, but Ruth says that she can’t go back in her room with the dead hamsters. Miriam says that she’ll go cover them up. She can’t find anyhting to cover them with, so she goes to Ruth’s closet for a shirt, but when she opens the door, a bloody hammer falls out. The hammer that Ruth had in her backpack. Then Ruth walks into the room, and it’s clear from the look on her face that SHE KILLED THE HAMSTERS!! Ruth dives for the hammer and they start wrestling on the ground for it. Ruth wins and pulls an Annie Wilkes (kind of) and smashes Miriam in the knee cap with it. It was Ruth the whole time! Ruth killed Holly! When Miriam asks why, Ruth says it’s because Holly treated Gary like garbage and that Ruth has been in love with Gary this whole time. She had gone to the school that night to tell Holly to just dump Gary and stop leading him on, and Holly LAUGHED at her and said that once she had Noah she’d happily give Ruth Gary but not a moment sooner. In a fury she strangled her. Miriam says that Holly was a good person (I WOULDN’T GO THAT FAR. While this is certainly NOT a capital offense, and while murdering her isn’t the answer or the right thing to do, Holly really was just awful.) and that she didn’t deserve to die, and Ruth says that Holly’s endless hard on for gossip provided the perfect motive to frame Noah and Mei, and that it helped her manipulate Miriam because she, too, took the gossip very seriously. Miriam says that Jed is going to come in here any minute and Ruth says she’ll just kill him too, because he’s been acting like a loon and she will say that he killed Miriam and the hamsters, and then claim self defense. Jed does enter, and Ruth immediately cracks him with the hammer. But before Ruth can kill her, Miriam grabs the hamster cage and smashes it over her head, knocking her out.

Jed comes to and has his own confession to make. He says that it is his fault that Holly is dead, because he told Holly to wait for him in the gym that day so they could talk. See, this whole time Jed has been acting weird because he’s on STEROIDS!!! The anger, the anxiety, the mood swings, ALL steroids. The pressure for a scholarship was too much, and he started the roids in hopes it would improve her performance. Gary knew and told Holly, and Jed wanted to talk to her before she talked to Miriam. But then he got in a weird ambiguous steroid fog, and he was late meeting her. If he’d just been on time, maybe Holly wouldn’t be dead! Miriam tells him it’s not his fault, and they make up. SHe says they need to call the police, and he asks her if she is will stay with him if he promises to get off the roids. She says ‘that’s the latest gossip’. The End.

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This is my brain on this book. (source)

Body Count: 4, if you include the hamsters. And you know that I do. Godspeed, Lizzy and Tilly.

Romance Rating: 3. Holly is hoping to cheat on Gary with Noah, Jed is lost in a roid rage and may in the future pull a Chris Benoit on Miriam, and Ruth killed Holly because she loves Gary. But that said, Mei and Noah seem like they’re a pretty good fit!

Bonkers Rating: 5. The Roid Rage subplot was totally nutso to me, but otherwise it’s not much to write home about, craziness wise.

Fear Street Relevance: 2. Miriam and Holly both live on Fear Street, but none of the action actually occurs there.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“They walked away from me now, Miriam thought. But will they come back?”

…. And nope. They won’t. Outside of a moment in the gym with Noah, that was it for them in this book.

That’s So Dated! Moments: I liked that Holly’s stylish hairstyle was very much a 1990s perm.

Best Quote:

“‘I’m sorry. So sorry,’ Ruth murmured. ‘I won’t have any friends left after tonight- will I? Not even my two hamsters. My two real friends.'”

Girllllll….. that was kind of on you.

Conclusion: “What Holly Heard” was a lame duck with a strange Nancy Reagan style anti-drug subplot, and I am kind of flummoxed by it. Do better, Stine. Next up is “The Face”. 

A Revisit to Fear Street: “The Stepsister 2”

176476Book: “The Stepsister 2” (Fear Street #33) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 2005

Where Did I Get This Book: ILL from the library!

Book Description: The doctor says Nancy is cured…

She’s over the murderous rage that made her try to kill her sister Emily last year. Now she’s home for good…

Or evil. Emily wants to forgive and forget, but the nightmare has started all over again. Someone wants to hurt her. Is it Nancy? Or is there someone else who wants Emily dead?

Had I Read This Before: No.

The Plot: For whatever reason, R.L. Stine has decided to write another sequel to one of his more lackluster early books. While part of me is relieved that he didn’t feel a need to revisit “Missing” or “The Secret Bedroom”, why oh WHY does he pick wet blankets like “Wrong Number” to follow up on? This time we’re revisiting “The Stepsister”, which means that Emily, Jessie, and good ol’ crazy pants Nancy are back at it again. We jump into Emily and Jessie, first sworn enemies now thick as thieves step sisters, waiting for Nancy to come home from her stint at the mental institution. If you remember she was there because she tried to kill Emily because she blamed Emily for their father’s death. We are also reminded that Jessie carries her own baggage, as her friend Jolie died and everyone thought she murdered her. As Jessie is putting her favorite crystal swan (a gift from her no longer around mother) on a shelf, screams startle her and she drops it. Rich, the third musketeer in this blended family recipe, storms into the room yelling at Emily. Apparently they were at the same party and Rich drank some beer. His Dad (remember Hugh? GOD he’s awful) found out and grounded him, and Rich thinks that Emily must have ratted him out. Emily denies it, but Rich says that he’ll get her back and leaves. Jessie and Emily talk about how WEIRD he is, with his love for Clive Barker and weird splatterpunk horror novels, and he doesn’t sound so bad to me. This is that time before Columbine and after the West Memphis Three where everyone thought violent horror media was what was driving kids to violence, so perhaps we’re foreshadowing. Then we get an appearance from Butch, the family’s new dog, and oh Butch, I’m not getting attached to you.

The doorbell rings, and Emily and Jessie go to answer it, assuming it’s Nancy… But it’s not, it’s Jessie’s friend Cora-Ann! Cora-Ann lives in a house where her parents are constantly physically fighting, so she’s spending time at Emily and Jessie’s house a lot. They retreat up to the girls shared bedroom (which is a new thing, and they are both getting used to it as they snipe on and off). Cora-Ann has some gossip about the party the night before, but just before it gets intolerably boring they hear the car doors. Nancy is home for real now. The girls go to the steps and Mrs Wallner greets them SUPER politely, which we are told means that she’s nervous. But then Nancy walks in, and she’s HOLDING A KNIFE!! But not to fear, it’s a prop knife that she found in the bushes, one that Rich must have left while filming a horror movie with his friends, and frankly THAT IS SO COOL. At first Nancy is a bit quiet as everyone bustles around her, but the moment that she says hi to Emily, Emily is super happy to see her. Mr Wallner yells at Rich to come down and say hi (using the phrase ‘insane’ in the process, way to be sensitive you fucking prick), and Rich does so while still showing his anger at Emily by bumping past her. Cora-Ann breaks the ice by telling him she likes horror movies, and then Rich acts like a fucking gatekeeper and tests her on what her favorite horror movie is and I don’t like him anymore. The family scatters, Nancy goes to her room, Cora-Ann and Jessie go to play with make up, and Emily assures her mother that she’s happy that Nancy is home….. But when she goes upstairs to her room she sees that the perfume that her boyfriend Josh gave her, all the way from PARIS, FRANCE, has been shattered on the floor. Emily is immediately convinced it was Nancy. Jessie convinces her not to confront her, and then Rich appears in the doorway and mocks the mess, which makes Emily think that maybe he did it. I find it very hard to give a hoot.

The next day the entire family (sans grounded Rich) goes out for waffles in celebration. Mr. Wallner makes an ass of himself, and Emily thinks about what a boor he is, but then we also find out that she’s been calling him ‘Dad’ now and I can’t comprehend why on Earth she would do that. Nancy says that she wants to talk with Emily when they get home, and after a nice long breakfast they return to the house. Nancy leads Emily into the living room, and then WRAPS HER HANDS AROUND HER NECK! Emily freaks out, and Nancy says that she did it to ‘prove a point’, that Emily is still afraid of her. Emily astutely points out that Nancy just tried to strangle her, but Nancy says that no, she just put her hands on her neck but didn’t squeeze, which is not threatening at all.

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Is this actually an argument? (source)

Lucky for Nancy, this is Shadyside so Emily mostly concedes the point. They got to Nancy’s room and Emily comments on how it’s starting to look like it used to, sans a big sheet on the wall. Nancy says that’s the mural she’s working on, but no peeking until it’s finished. They chat about Emily’s life and Emily asks about the hospital Nancy was staying in, and Nancy says that it was okay. They have a heart to heart and Nancy says that she’s sorry. All seems well between the sisters, and Emily leaves to go on a date with Josh.

Josh and Emily as ice skating on Fear Lake as their date, and while that may seem like a bad idea given how cursed it is it actually sounds like a pretty tranquil evening. As they wrap up and take off their skates they suddenly hear the sound of dirt bikes, which then turns into actual dirt bikes driving very fast right at them. The bikes stop right before hitting them, and one of them is Rich (okay where did he get a dirt bike?). When Emily reminds him that he’s grounded, Rich threatens her not to tell, but then totally backs down when Josh steps in, and oh God did R.L. Stine predict the Incel movement? Is Josh a Chad and Emily a Becky? Rich rides away and Josh makes like the New York Times and tells Emily that they should feel sorry for Rich. They get back to Emily’s house and start to make out on the couch, but Emily notices someone watching them from the door. She thinks it’s Nancy, but it’s actually Cora-Ann, who gets all flustered and runs off. Emily tells Josh that she likes Cora-Ann and feels bad for her, and Josh suggests that they go out that next Saturday for a dancing date at Red Heat. It ‘takes him awhile to leave’, and what kind of metaphor is Stine throwing our way this time? Emily goes upstairs and chats with Jessie, is thinks that Emily and Josh are too gross and that Emily should try dating other guys, and mind your own beeswax Jessie. Then Emily naps, but when she wakes up to get some water she is tempted to look at the mural on Nancy’s wall. She decides not to, but when she runs into Nancy on the steps her sister must be able to smell the guilt because she tells her that she wants the mural to be a surprise and no one can look until it’s finished. Emily promises her that she won’t, and they seem to be okay. But as Emily starts to descend the staircase, Nancy’s foot shoots out and Emily tumbles down the steps after tripping on it. Emily wakes up to Nancy freaking out over her, and Emily accuses her of tripping her on purpose. Nancy tearfully insists that it’s her anti-psychotic medications make her muscle control completely non-existent. She apologizes profusely, and since Emily is somehow not a bundle of broken matter they don’t call an ambulance. Apparently in Shadyside concussions aren’t a thing.

At school that week Emily and Cora-Ann talk about their home lives. Cora-Ann confides that her father left potentially for good the week before, and when Emily tries to make it about herself by saying she too is having a bad time at home Cora-Ann shuts her down. After their heartfelt talk Emily feels SO bad for Cora-Ann, but when she tells Jessie about it Jessie snaps that Cora-Ann is HER friend. Then we fast forward to the weekend where the three of them are hanging out before Emily’s date with Josh. As Jessie and Cora-Ann lament that they haven’t had dates in a long while, I lament the fact that this book isn’t promoting the idea that a girls night of dancing could be just as fulfilling. But then it was 1995, and the Spice Girls “Wannabe” is two years away from changing all girls lives. When Emily goes to check on her perfect sexy dancing dress, she finds that it has been cut in half, which makes her scream. Jessie, Cora-Ann, and Nancy come running, and Emily accuses Nancy of cutting it. Cora-Ann thinks that it’s actually the press at the dry cleaners that does it, and Nancy runs off to her room. As Emily goes to apologize, she passes Rich’s room. He holds up a pair of scissors and says ‘snip snip’. HE’S ESCALATING!!! I’ve been watching enough “Criminal Minds” to know what escalation looks like!

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Emily Prentiss, save me from this book of cliches. (source)

The next morning Emily is talking to her mother about Rich and his ‘shenanigans’, but her mom brushes it off saying that they’re looking for a therapist for him and that until that happens Emily should ‘stay out of his way’. Christ, I can’t even with this. THEN when Emily confides that she is still kind of scared of Nancy (as she watches Nancy tool around outside), the person who tried to kill her, her mother scolds her and reminds her that she needs to be extra sensitive about this whole thing. And I get it. Nancy has problems, no doubt. But to ask her VICTIM to be a little braver and understanding is just wrong. Emily does wonder if she should be more understanding, and goes outside to talk to Nancy. They end up building a snowman to rival the one that Cora-Ann and Jessie made, and it turns into a lovely afternoon. But as Emily is driving to Josh’s house that night, the brakes give out on the car! She crashes into a tree, and wakes up in the hospital. Mr. Wallner, or “DAD”, is there, and Emily tries to tell him that she thinks that Nancy tampered with the breaks. He tells her that no, he knew that the breaks were feeling a bit loose but didn’t take the car in, and besides, how could NANCY possibly know how to tinker with a car? Even when Emily says that Nancy studied car repair during her psych ward stay, Hugh waves off this theory, most likely because Emily is a girl and what does she know?

A few nights later Emily wakes up to Jessie sobbing. She had a bad dream about Jolie again. The sisters bond over their mutual nightmares about the people they lost in their past, and reaffirm that they are good sisters to each other. Jolie realizes that Emily has never seen a picture of Jolie, and so she digs out a memory box and shows her a picture. Emily  point s out that Jolie and Cora-Ann are strikingly similar. Jessie wonders if she’s been having nightmares because she’s been hanging out with Cora-Ann so much….. The next day (maybe?) Emily is trying to write a paper about what would happen to Holden Caulfield after “The Catcher in the Rye” (I have a theory: he grows up and becomes a phony). She attempts to call Josh but when she picks up the phone Rich is on the line with a friend who is encouraging him to sneak out. Emily listens in a bit but then hangs up, but Rich knew it was happening and comes into her room to yell at her a bit asking what he has to ‘do to her’ to get her out of his life.

Later, Emily and Jessie are watching a movie when there is a knocking on the door. They go to the door and find Cora-Ann with a white canvas bag. She says her Dad is back and wonders if she can sleep over. They say sure. The next morning Emily wakes up and brushes her teeth, but then can’t get her jaws to open. Then she sees a bottle of super glue in the garbage!!! Okay, this is straight up assault at this point!! She rushes out of the bathroom and demonstrates what has happened to Jessie and Cora-Ann, and Cora-Ann calls 911. She is told that they should take Emily to the ER, and as they are leaving Emily accuses Nancy through her glued teeth, who then bursts into tears, and Mr. Wallner says that they need to act like a family, dammit. But I put forth that it’s hard to act like a family when you are being assaulted by your sibling or stepsibling or WHOMEVER. After she gets fixed up and they are leaving the ER, Cora-Ann says that this is still better than HER family (not the time, Cora-Ann), and says that her Mom may be moving them back to Parkerstown. Jessie stops short, and says that Jolie was born in Parkerstown. Cora-Ann asks if Jolie was the girl who died, and Jessie asks how she knows about Jolie, because she has never mentioned her. Cora-Ann balks and doesn’t answer.

In French class later that week Jessie and Emily whisper about Jessie’s new suspicions about Cora-Ann. Jessie thinks it’s weird that she knew about Jolie, but Emily says that in Shadyside EVERYONE gossips and that must be how she knows. When Emily gets home that day she sees Rich and Nancy up in the second floor window, perhaps arguing. It’s very strange. We THEN jump ahead to Saturday night, as Emily is returning from a movie she saw with Josh. She’s thinking a lot about all the stuff that’s happened, but when she walks into the living room the worst thing that I KNEW was coming has happened: Butch the dog is dead. Emily freaks out, and starts screaming for Nancy. When the family comes down the steps to see what happened, Rich mutters ‘another dog bites the dust’ (prick), and Emily attacks him.

We cut to Jessie driving Emily down the driveway as Hugh digs a hole for Butch the next morning. That night Hugh and Mrs. Wallner are leaving their kids alone (?!?!??!!?!) because of a sick relative (do they BOTH have to go though?!), and Emily is scared that she’s going to be killed next. They drive up to Cora-Ann’s house, but then Jessie freaks out because she sees two people walking out of her house… and they are Jolie’s parents! Jessie wants to hide but they are spotted, so they get out to talk to them. After awkward pleasantries, Jolie’s parents tell them that Cora-Ann is Jolie’s cousin!!! Jessie insists that they have to leave now, and as they’re driving SHE thinks that it was Cora-Ann who did these thints!! When Jolie died Cora-Ann was devastated. Jessie had told Cora-Ann that she was going out the night that the brakes gave out, she may have thought that the dress was hers, and Jessie was always borrowing the perfume. AND Butch was always jumping on Jessie, AND she was there for a sleepover when the glue was put in the toothpaste!! Emily now feels TERRIBLE for accusing Nancy of these things!!! Because obviously it was Cora-Ann, right?

When they get home Emily runs up to Nancy’s room and knocks on the door. She apologizes through the door when Nancy won’t open it. Emily says she’ll come back later, and goes to find Jessie, who can’t get a hold of their parents. The phone rings, and Jessie picks it up. And since it’s Cora-Ann, she loses her cool and yells at her to NEVER COME BACK AGAIN EVER! Then the power goes out because of a poorly timed thunderstorm during a time of year where it’s usually snowing. The girls go to grab candles, when there’s a knocking on the door. When Emily looks out the window, she sees Cora-Ann on the porch, and she’s HOLDING A KNIFE!!! Jessie tries the phone, but the line is dead. Did the storm do it, or did Cora-Ann do it?! They look out the window again and Cora-Ann is gone, but then they remember that they didn’t check the windows and other doors. And then Cora-Ann bursts through the back door in the kitchen, and comes at Jessie with the knife! But NANCY TO THE RESCUE!! She bolts out of nowhere, grabs a pan, and hits Cora-Ann in the head! Jessie and Emily are stoked, and thank her for saving them…. But when Jessie goes to hug her, Nancy hits HER with the pan as well! Then she turns to Emily and says ‘you’re next’. I guess it was Nancy the whole time, and all the red herrings proved to be nothing and we just get a repeat of the first book.

SO apparently, Cora-Ann took Nancy’s bag by accident when she left, and that bag had a huge ass knife in it. Cora-Ann was coming to warn Jessie and Emily. Nancy has been biding her time and waiting, pretending to be well and better and fooling everyone, including the medical professionals who were tending to her. But now she’s going to kill Emily. She tries to stab her but misses, and Emily goes running. She eventually runs up to Nancy’s room, and pulls the sheet off the mural. The mural just says “HATE HATE HATE HATE” a bunch of times and it doesn’t exactly sound like a Diego Rivera level masterpiece. When Nancy comes into the room and says she’s going to kill her, Emily, remembering her mother’s toxic advice about having to forgive Nancy to truly save their relationship, instead wraps Nancy into a bear hug and tells her that she forgives her, squeezing her tight. At that moment their parents come home, thanks to a washed out road, and all seems to be okay.

And in a neat little wrap up around the dinner table a few weeks later, we find out that Cora-Ann’s parents are in marriage counseling, Cora-Ann and Jessie are friends again (Cora-Ann admits that she was trying to figure out if Jessie killed Jolie but figured out right away she hadn’t), and Emily has been visiting Nancy in the hospital, where she is going to stay for a long time. They tell Rich to turn off the TV and join them at the table, and when he does he tells them that he was watching “Family Feud”. The End.

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I take last time’s declaration back, I hate these bad jokes in light of such tragedy. (source)

Body Count: 1. Poor Butch. I hate it when Stine kills animals.

Romance Rating: I’ll give it a 7! I liked Emily and Josh’s relationship this time around.

Bonkers Rating: 5. Not really crazy, and kind of a rehash of the first one.

Fear Street Relevance: 4? They were ice skating on Fear Lake and there were mentions of Fear Street here and there, but not much of the true action felt Fear Street related.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“‘No!’ Emily let out a cry as she saw the blood-stained knife in Nancy’s hand.”

… But it was the prop knife. Which wasn’t a prop knife after all??? I wasn’t clear on this.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Well outside of Emily overhearing Rich talk on a shared land line, at one point Emily and Jessie are watching a VHS of “Sleepless in Seattle” but I’m not even mad about it because I straight up love that movie!!

Best Quote:

“‘Pete is such a loser,’ she murmured. ‘I’m surprised I haven’t gone out with him.'”

I applaud your self awareness, Jessie.

Conclusion: “The Stepsister 2” was just a rehash of “The Stepsister” when it all comes down to it, so I wasn’t impressed. Next up is “What Holly Heard”.

A Revisit to Fear Street: “College Weekend”

89804Book: “College Weekend” (Fear Street #32) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1995

Where Did I Get This Book: An eBook from the library!

Book Description: Nightmare weekend

Nothing can ruin Tina River’s big weekend at Patterson College with her boyfriend, Josh Martin. She’s so excited, she doesn’t even mind that her cousin, Holly, will be tagging along.

But when Tina and Holly arrive, Josh is gone. His roommate, Christopher Roberts, says Josh is stuck in the mountains, delayed by car trouble. That’s weird—Josh never mentioned he was going away.

It gets even weirder when Holly suddenly disappears. But Christopher isn’t worried—about Holly or Josh. Christopher seems to have the answer to everything. Tina is confused. But one thing is clear—she’s about to learn more about love and murder than she ever wanted to know.

Had I Read This Before: No.

Review: We open with a short prologue in which our protagonist, Tina, is on the phone with Josh, her college boyfriend. She’s going to visit him that weekend and unfortunately has to bring her cousin Holly with because her Mom doesn’t want her traveling alone. While Josh is a little miffed, they are still excited to see each other and he’s convinced his friends are going to like her. But we find out from the omnipotent narrator that they are going to have some problems that weekend.

Fast forward to Tina and Holly riding the bus from Shadyside to Patterson College. Tina is excited to see Josh because she hasn’t seen him for three months, and Holly is excited to check out all the college boys during the Spring Fling Weekend. Tina wants to be a fashion model, but as of right now all she is interested in is seeing Josh. I’d make fun of her or get snarky, but during my freshman year of college my then boyfriend/now husband and I were in a long distance relationship and I KNOW how it feels like the end of the world until you can see them again. So Tina, you’re a-okay in my book. The train arrives at Patterson Station, and Tina practically drags Holly off the train by her hair. The conductor tells them that they’re the only ones getting off and that the station is super deserted, so they should be careful, but JOSH is supposed to be meeting them so all is well!… Except, big shocker, Josh isn’t there when they get off, and the station is basically empty. Holly says that she hopes this isn’t a sign of how the weekend is going to go, and Holly, you have NO idea. Holly says that she has a bad feeling, but then asks if there are any good dance clubs around because she’s SO breaking curfew and staying out all night, so she’s not THAT worried. They leave the platform and go into the station and it’s JUST as deserted outside of a black cat (BAD SIGN Holly says), and when they go out onto the platform AGAIN Tina sees Josh! Except it’s not, it’s a random creep who demands that they give them money or else. But then another guy swoops in to rescue them from the person who is no doubt a casualty of Reagan Era Social Policy! The guy says his name is Chris and he’s Josh’s roommate, and that Josh got caught on a geology field trip and won’t be back until later that night. Tina is bummed because she wants to have as much time as possible with Josh, but they follow Chris to his Jeep. Chris is confused to see Holly because he thought Tina was coming on her own, but Tina explains the situation of a human chastity belt.

In the car Holly goes on about the drama programs she’s visited, while Chris puts in a CD by Psycho Surfers, which happens to be Tina’s favorite! Chris then tells her that he heard she wants to be a model, and that his uncle is THE Rob Roberts, famous fashion photographer! He could take some photos of her this weekend and then send them to Rob, but Tina says she may not have enough time because she’s planning on spending it all with Josh. They get to the dorm and Chris says that the girls can sleep in his and Josh’s room and he and Josh will crash at his photography studio (I should mention Chris is RICH). Tina asks Chris to call the studio to see if Josh is there yet, but he’s not. Chris leaves for the night, and Holly and Tina settle in. As Tina admires the absurd amount of rocks on Josh’s side of the room, she also notices that the plethora of photos Chris mentioned are all gone. Then there’s a knock on the door, and when Tina opens it a girl is there, who seems to freak out at her appearance. But then she says that Tina just looks like someone she used to know, and introduces herself as Carla. She’s dating Steve, who is in the geology program with Josh, AND she went to high school with Steve and Chris so she’s an old friend. Carla confirms the car trouble situation, and then tells Holly and Tina about Chris’s old girlfriend in high school, Judy. She died in a sailing accident and Chris is still really broken up about it. Carla says that she’s going to talk to Josh when he gets back, because she doesn’t think he appreciates Tina, and Tina thinks that’s a little weird. Chris comes back because he forgot his chemistry notes, and he suggests that they all go to a party to pass the time. Tina is reluctant at first but eventually agrees, and says she needs to put some things away first. But when she opens Josh’s closet, she sees his hiking boots. Why did he leave them behind on a geology trip? The others come back and Carla says that Josh doesn’t deserve Tina because he’s on that trip and he hasn’t seen her in months, but Chris stands up for him and they go to his Jeep. Tina asks Chris about the boots and he says Josh got new ones. He puts in another CD and OH WOW, it’s another band that Tina likes! How coincidental, I’m sure.

They get to the party and Holly is stoked while Tina is intimidated about the COLLEGE GIRLS. Carla takes Holly to meet some drama kids, and Chris asks Tina if she wants a drink. As they drink soda (SUUUUURE) they talk more and they have so much in common! He then asks her if she wants to dance and she says sure. Then they go out to the back porch and he tells her to wish upon a star (Christ). She says that she wishes to be a famous model one day, and he says he can help make that come true by taking her pictures. Then he kisses her. They’re BUSTED by Carla, and Tina is first scared that Josh is going to find out about this. But then she realizes that Holly isn’t there. Carla says she las saw her dancing with a townie. When they go back inside, the party has TAKEN A TURN BECAUSE THOSE ROWDY TOWNIES ARE THERE and perhaps a bike race is the only way to solve all their differences? I’m saying it now, I’m Team Cutters!

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“Breaking Away”, anyone? Anyone? (source)

One of the townies tries to get Tina to drink beer by forcing it in her mouth and no, the Cutters wouldn’t do that, they’re gentlemen, and Tina can’t find Holly anywhere. But she does hear a scream that sounds like Holly, and she runs out back to see a curly haired girl (like Holly) being dragged off “Road Warrior” style on the back of a motorcycle, and Tina chases after them for a bit but tells herself maybe Holly wanted to go with them (UHHHH), but maybe it wasn’t even Holly at all. Then she finds an earring that looks just like Holly’s and yikes. She runs to find help but finds Carla instead, who tells her that she JUST SAW Holly go off with drama major extraordinaire Alyssa Pryor, who Tina remembers from Shadyside High. Phew, thinks Tina, but then wants to talk to Carla about the kiss she walked in on. Carla says Tina shouldn’t worry because in COLLEGE you totally hook up at will, and she and Steve aren’t monogamous so it’s really not a big deal.

Tina is in a mood by the time they get back to the dorm, and she hopes that Josh is finally back. Chris says he’ll walk her up because he has MORE THINGS to grab, and when they enter the room it’s still just them. She worries Josh has been in an accident, and Chris says he’ll call the studio to see if Josh has left a message, and says he’ll call her when he finds out after he gets there for the night. He does so, and claims that Josh did leave a message that he won’t be back until the next afternoon because the garage can’t get the car part they need til the next morning. Tina is now full on peeved and decides to try to sleep. But she’s awakened by a strange sound, and is convinced that someone is in the room with her, and the door is indeed open (there’s a weird moment here where she doesn’t realize it until she turns the light on, BUT wouldn’t the light from the hallway be a tip off??). She closes the door and locks it, admonishing herself for not locking it in the first place. Then she goes to Josh’s desk and finds his CAR KEYS. How is he on a trip WITHOUT HIS CAR KEYS???

The next morning Tina wakes up at tenish, and sees that Holly’s clothes remain untouched. She still isn’t back! While Tina knows she isn’t Holly’s mother, she is a good cousin and wants to make sure she’s, you know, ALIVE. She calls information and asks for Alyssa’s phone number, but there is no one listed under that name. She calls Chris at the studio to see if he’s heard from Josh, but nope. He says he’ll give her a tour around campus, and when she asks about Josh’s keys he says he can’t hear her and hangs up. Subtle. When he arrives with donuts she asks him about they keys again, and he says that he must have taken his spare set, and when she asks why he didn’t just bring his regular set with the quartz key chain she got him, he says he probably didn’t want to lose them. and she TOTALLY buys into it. Look, there’s gaslighting, and then there’s willful stupidity, Tina, and you are being WILLFULLY STUPID right now. He takes her to fraternity row and tells her that Josh is pledging, and Tina thinks that’s odd since Josh has never been into fraternity life, and maybe she doesn’t know him like she thought she did. They can’t find Holly at the drama department or the cafeteria, and Chris says he’ll go grab Alyssa’s number from the student directory at the bookstore. He comes back with it and gives Tina a quarter for a pay phone, but when Tina calls the number the voice on the answering machine is NOT Alyssa’s! Chris suggests that perhaps Alyssa is trying out a new voice because actresses, and once again Tina thinks that’s a very reasonable explanation.

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The absurdity of this. (source)

Carla shows up and tells them that she just heard from Steve and Josh and their car broke down AGAIN, so she’s off to pick them up. Tina says she wants to go but she says no, she can’t come because her car is only a two seater and one of the guys is already going to have to trunk it (I’ve done this before. Don’t be dumb like me, kids!). Tina suggests the Jeep, but then realizes that she should wait around for Holly and Carla heads off to get the boys. Chris suggests that they should go rent a motorscooter and go for a ride. They go around town and he takes pictures of her on his camera, and then they go to the Spring Fling Carnival that afternoon because OBVIOUSLY Holly will turn up there.

As they hang out at the carnival, they run into a guy named Jack, who when to Shadyside the year before. Chris tries to get Tina to head off with him, but Tina wants to hang with her old friend for a bit. She tells him that Holly is here too, but she went off with Alyssa and she hasn’t seen her since. Jack tells her that Alyssa transferred to a school in Seattle and doesn’t go here anymore. Tina FREAKS, and Jack heads off totally unconcerned. Tina says that Carla must be lying, and Chris tells her to relax and that Holly is probably fine and just enjoying a spot of rebellious independence. He suggests they just try to enjoy themselves, and they end up at the Ferris Wheel. And they get stuck at the top, which makes Chris think it’s the perfect time to put the moves on her. They do kiss a little bit, but then Chris gets all pensive and shit. He says he hasn’t been on a Ferris Wheel since Judy, and she comforts him. He starts ragging on Josh for leaving, and says that if HE were her boyfriend he’d NEVER leave her. He then scoots closer, offsetting the balance of their car, and tries kissing her again, and when she refuses he threatens to tip it over because she’s a TEASE. Before he can, though, the car starts up again, and they start to descend. He tells her he was just kidding.  and that he’s sorry. Now Tina is back to the ‘I feel sorry for him’ portion of our reading journey, and thinks that if she’d never kissed him in the first place none of this would have happened. To that I say HELL NO AND I HATE THAT STINE EVEN PUT THAT OUT IN THE UNIVERSE.

Tina thinks they’re heading back to the dorm, but Chris says they should go to his studio instead so they can take indoor shots. She is reluctant, but he reminds her that his uncle is THE Rob Roberts, and Tina thinks that this is the only way to achieve stardom. As they ride the scooter Tina thinks she sees Carla who is supposed to be going up to pick up Josh and Steve! But when they swoop back they don’t see her, but another girl in similar clothes and with similar hair. So they get to the studio, which is in a basement, nothing sketchy about that, and she looks at all his state of the art equipment. She sees a picture on the wall of a girl who looks a LOT like her, outside of the darker hair and different eyes, and it’s implied that it’s Judy. Chris shows her where she can go get into modeling makeup, and when she nearly opens a closet door he FLIPS and tells her not that one because it holds lots of chemicals. She finds the bathroom, freaks out because she thinks a mannequin is a body (it’s not), and then he starts telling her how to do her makeup for his ‘vision’. He then applies it the way he likes and tells her what kind of outfit to pick out. Lucky for her all of the dresses are just her size! He starts taking her picture and telling her how to pose, and retouches her makeup just the way he likes….

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It’s so fucking creepy, you guys. (source)

And when she compliments the dress he says that it belonged to Judy!!! She continues the shoot, and then he starts calling her Judy and tries to kiss her. She tries to remind him that she is NOT Judy, and he kind of gets it but, like, not really? She realizes that she has to play along or he’s going to flip out on her, and he tells her to put on this old fashioned dress now.

As she’s changing, Tina finds a picture in a drawer. It’s of HER SLEEPING IN THE DORM ROOM THE NIGHT BEFORE. When she exits he says that they’re going to photograph a beach scene, and it makes no sense given her gown but Judy died at the beach so it probably makes sense in his mind. She asks if she can have a soda, and when he goes to get her one she bolts! But all the doors and locked. And as Chris starts to chase her around, he says that he’ll have to kill her ‘again’. SO HE KILLED JUDY TOO. They struggle a bit and he locks her in the dark room. When she finds the light for the room, she realizes that she’s surrounded by pictures of her of all shapes and sizes, the photos being the ones that she sent to Josh, and the last one is of her at the train station the night before. She decides she needs to find a weapon, but when she opens that cabinet, JOSH’S BODY TUMBLES TO THE FLOOR!!! Looks like she threw chemicals in his face and then based his brains in. Chris bursts in and grabs her, calling her Judy all the while. She tries to reason with him, and then tries to throw acid in his face… but it’s just water. Some acid does drip on her arm and it sizzles, and just as Chris is about to lunge she distracts him and then hits him in the head with a tripod.

She runs and tries to think of a way to escape and/or call the police. THen she opens the door that Chris didn’t want her to open, and HOLLY IS IN THERE! Chris introduced her to a guy the night of the party, and when hse got back to the dorm Chris grabbed her and tied her up and threw her in the closet. Tina tells her that she thinks she killed Chris, and unties her. But unfortunately, CHRIS IS ALIVE! He’s about to lunge at them with scissors, but then Carla and Steve enter. THey look like they are taking Chris’s side, talking him down and suggesting that he get one more picture of Judy, the two of them together. Tina refuses, but then does when it looks like it could mean life or death. But when Chris goes to get his camera, Carla and Steve subdue him and tie him up. Carla explains that they were only going along with him to disarm him. Chris had told her that Josh was with another girl this weekend and to cover for him, which is why Carla was participating in the lies. But then Steve told her as she picked him up that Josh would never do that, and they put two and two together. Holly calls the police, and Tina tells Carla and Steve that he killed Judy too, and Carla and Steve feel like fools for thinking otherwise. As Chris rants and raves about developing ‘Judy’s’ photos the next day, Tina runs outside into the night. As she looks up at the first start of the night, she thinks forlornly that no matter how much she wishes it away, she’ll never be able to forget what happened to her and Josh this past weekend. The End.

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Gee, for once I wish we did have a dumb quippy end line. (source)

Body Count: 1, but if we’re going to count Judy it would be 2. The injustice of Josh dying is too much.

Romance Rating: 2. I feel so badly about Josh because he and Tina seemed happy, but we never saw them actually interact. And Chris and Tina is obviously gross and creepy as hell.

Bonkers Rating: 7, just because of the SUPER disturbing ‘dress this girl up like my dead girlfriend’ photo session that sounds like something out of “The Neon Demon”.

Fear Street Relevance: 1. ONCE AGAIN, we aren’t even in Shadyside and the only time Fear Street is even mentioned is when someone says something about Fear Street having a carnival, but NO, R.L., FEAR STREET wouldn’t have a carnival, SHADYSIDE would have a carnival, and it feels like you just forgot to even mention Fear Street and tossed it in at the last second.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger: 

“She glanced down at Josh’s body sprawled on the floor. Then she let out a horrified gasp. ‘Chris! It’s Josh! He’s moving! He’s getting up!'”

… But it was just a distraction tactic so she could hit him. I mean, of course it was, but what a stupid cliffhanger. A kid reading it might think this was turning into a zombie story, which would have been SO cool….

That’s So Dated! Moments: Chris’s Jeep is described as not only having a fancy CD player, but EVEN A CAR PHONE!!!! And he has a COLOR MAC WITH A CD-ROM AND A LASER PRINTER!

Best Quote:

“‘Well, I always say,’ Carla continued with a grin, ‘if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.'”

Uh, NO, Carla, YOU don’t say that! Stephen Stills says that, you goddamn plagiarist! And he isn’t exactly the best person to ask for relationship advice, if you’re going to ask a member of CSN about love I would argue Graham Nash is the way to go. He wrote “Our House” for Joni Mitchell for God’s sake (not that she was very, uh, grateful in the end)….

Conclusion: “College Weekend” was surprisingly dark and a pretty good, creepy read. Definitely one of the more twisted “Fear Street” novels I’ve read. Up next is “The Stepsister 2”! 

A Revisit to Fear Street: “Switched”

2534782Book: “Switched” (Fear Street #31) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1995

Where Did I Get This Book: An eBook from the library!

Book Description: She traded places with a killer…

There’s a little cabin in the Fear Street woods where a girl can really lose her mind. In fact, she can change it into someone else’s. That’s what happened to Nicole and Lucy. Now Lucy is in Nicole’s body, and Nicole is in Lucy’s. What a trip!

But for Nicole, what a trap! Because Lucy is using Nicole’s body to get away with murder!

Had I Read This Before: No

The Plot: We meet our protagonist Nicole, who is having a REALLY BAD DAY YOU GUYS. She broke a nail, her parents are totally unreasonable in that they want her to tell them where she is and if she’s going to be late (what the HELL parents?), and her boyfriend David has been acting SO distant lately! To make matters worse, when she didn’t hand in a biology paper that she didn’t even both to do (and when asked why she didn’t do it all she can say is ‘I don’t know’), her teacher Mr. Frost says that he will accept it late as long as she gets it in on Monday. BUT YOU GUYS, IT’S FRIDAY, THAT IS SO UNFAIR BECAUSE SHE WANTS TO HANG OUT WITH DAVID THIS WEEKEND!

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Yes, please tell me why your middle class healthy teenage existence is the worst thing in the history of ever…. (source)

Mr. Frost remains steadfast and Nicole is stuck taking responsibility. As she leaves the classroom she runs into David, and is about to break the news to him that she has to cancel their date, but before she can he stumbles through some monosyllabic wishy washing saying he can’t hang out because he made other plans. After more mumbling on his part, she asks if he’s breaking up with her, and he confirms that he is because it’s ‘too much’. She doesn’t know what that means but I’m sure we’re going to find out. He then hurries away but promises he’ll call her. As Nicole leaves the school, she runs into her BFF Lucy. When Lucy asks what’s wrong, Nicole tells her that she had an awful day, but confides in the reader that she trusts Lucy with all her heart and is so happy that she has such a good friend. To that I say ‘uh oh’. Lucy says that she had a bad day too, and says she knows how to fix it all! They should switch bodies!!! As if this is something totally natural, as natural as saying ‘let’s go to Pete’s Pizza!’, or ‘let’s have a slumber party!’.

Nicole is also confused but follows Lucy through Fear Street Woods and past the old Fear Mansion. She asks Lucy if they are REALLY going to switch bodies, and Lucy wants to be sure that Nicole is all in. Nicole says that she is, because 1) she’s so sick of her life right now, and 2) she wonders what it would be like to be with Kent, Lucy’s boyfriend. I feel like there is an absolute consent problem going on with that though, and even she herself admits that these are sick, strange thoughts. But they sally forth, and come upon a stone wall in the forest. Lucy says that her grandfather told her that no one knows how the wall got there, but it’s called the “Changing Wall”, and criminals would force innocent people to switch bodies with them so they could get away from the consequences of their crimes while someone else took the fall. Her grandfather learned this from the caretaker at Fear Street Cemetery. Lucy explains that all they have to do is climb to the top of the wall, grab hands, and jump. When they land, they will have switched bodies in a “Freaky Friday” kinda scenario. Nicole is skeptical and hesitant, but when Lucy insists that they HAVE to she’s convinced. They climb up the wall, and a bird’s freaky-ass screech is kind of putting Nicole off, and she wonders if it’s a warning? But to hell with it, because they grab hands and jump!…. AND IT WORKS! They have a moment of giddiness, and swear that the won’t tell anyone and that when they’re sick of it they’ll come back and change back. Nicole admits that she may not want to change back, and tells Lucy that David dumped her, and Lucy says that she may just try to win him back. When Nicole brings up the VERY UNETHICAL fact that she will be wooing Kent under FALSE pretenses, Lucy says that she doesn’t care. They start to walk back (though Nicole is having a hard time at first, not used to this body, which is actually kind of an interesting concept), and they part ways, Nicole excited to be trying out a fun, new life…. Until she gets to Lucy’s house, because when she opens the door, the finds Mr. and Mrs. Kramer SPRAWLED OUT DEAD ON THE FLOOR IN POOLS OF BLOOD!!!!

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THAT WAS FASTER THAN I EXPECTED. (source)

Nicole SPRINTS back to her own house, wanting to tell Lucy what happened, but no one is home. Which is ODD, because wasn’t Lucy going straight to Nicole’s house? Regardless, Nicole has no luck there, and decides that she can tell Kent EVERYTHING because Kent will OBVIOUSLY believe her, right? I am DUBIOUS, but she does run to Kent’s house and when he answers she immediately spills her guts about the Changing Wall and finding Lucy’s parents dead, and he seems to believe her story… But then when he goes to get her some water, she hears him talking to someone. When she looks into the kitchen, he’s on the phone with the police. Whoops. He comes back with water, but Nicole bolts and decides to go back to Lucy’s, get into clean clothes, and make a plan from there.

She goes back into Lucy’s house and goes to her room to change, but finds that her closet is empty! And so are her drawers! And what’s worse, there’s a bloody knife on her desk. Nicole is blindsided by this, but honestly, I’M not because of COURSE Lucy was going to be the worst because it’s fucking written on the back of the book! Lucy also left behind a note in her handwriting, with a bloody fingerprint and everything, saying ‘I HAD TO KILL THEM, I COULDN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE’. So now Nicole finally figures out that Lucy killed her parents, convinced Nicole to switch bodies on her, and is going to let Nicole take the fall since she’s in Lucy’s body and no one will EVER believe her.

So as Nicole tries to formulate a plan (force her to switch bodies again? Kill her?), but decides that just finding her for now is the best first step. But then there’s a knocking on the door. She goes back to the main area and she peeks out the curtain and sees two police officers on the front step. Determined not to give up without a fight, Nicole escapes out the back. The police pursue her on foot for a bit, but she escapes through the trick boards in the back fence and hides in a neighbor’s play house. The police don’t find her, and once they leave she climbs out, formulating a new plan in her mind.

And I am SO FUCKING EXCITED THAT THIS BOOK IS SO BATSHIT INSANE.

Nicole runs back to the school, and is able to get into her car because she is one of those people who hides an extra key in a magnetic box under the fender. So lucky for her it actually came in handy with it’s intended purpose, and didn’t end up being used by a car thief who knows all the tricks. As she drives, hoping to find Lucy at her house, she thinks about what she’s going to say, going for ‘I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS’ kind of guilt trip. But there isn’t a car in the driveway and no one appears to be home, but the lights they leave on when they are gone AREN’T on so Lucy must have taken their car? It seems like a strange tidbit, but this is by far the strangest Fear Street story yet so I’ll let it slide. She eventually finds Lucy at Pete’s Pizza hanging out with some other girls, their friends Margie and Hannah, seeing her through the window (but seeing her in Nicole’s body, which has to be weird no matter how you slice it). The girls are arguing over the last slice of pizza. Nicole goes into the pizza parlor and Margie and Hannah look shocked to see her, AND they know that she’s Nicole instead of Lucy? So Nicole surmises that they must be in on it, and when she asks where Lucy is they say she isn’t there, and hasn’t been here. But Nicole points out that if they haven’t seen her how do they know that SHE is actually NICOLE? When they are still playing dumb, she leaves, thinking Lucy can’t be far. But she can’t find her, and when she gets back to her car she THINKS that she’s seen her, but no, it’s Margie, and she and Hannah say that they just want to talk. But Nicole CAN’T be bothered and zooms off, wondering why they looked so scared, and thinks that Lucy must have threatened them, and decides to go back to Kent’s house. She thinks that maybe she can threaten him for information and grabs a knife, but when she enters the den she finds that he’s been DECAPITATED!! And to make matters worse, as she’s processing this two police officers peek in the window and see her with a knife in her hand!! When they enter they also know that she’s Nicole…. And I finally see where this is all going. But anyhoo…. She tries to run to the back door but finds herself cornered, so she instead runs to the basement, dives into the coal shoot, and shimmies her way out and into the night.

She runs all the way to Fear Street and finds herself thinking about Lucy, whom she thought was her best friend, and the stuff in her life that might have driven her this far. Her parents didn’t like that she and Kent were so serious, but Nicole had always liked him. And when Lucy was in that car accident while back Nicole had stayed by her side in the hospital, never giving up on her when others had. She then remembers that she has a picture of Lucy in her wallet, and thinks that maybe she can use the picture to switch bodies back! So finds the Changing Wall, climbs up on it, and jumps off… but yeah, it doesn’t work of course. So in despair she falls asleep in the dirt.

The next day Nicole decides to try and get into some new clothes at her parents house, and when she arrives she scans the newspaper on the stoop for any news on the murders. There are no stories, but Nicole figures that perhaps they aren’t letting any info out until she’s caught. She peeks in the window and sees her parents looking way stressed and worried, and while she wants to go in and tell them that she is there she knows they won’t believe her. They get in the car and drive off, and Nicole sneaks inside, showers, and thinks that if she can just talk to Margie and Hannah again she may get information about Lucy. So she goes to the school, avoids the grey suited police officers from the night before, and hides until they leave (after a crazy rigamarole involving a bus, a hedge, and a crabby woman with a hose). She goes inside the school and runs for the girl’s locker room, knowing Margie has gym fourth period. She hides in a closet and waits. Eventually fourth period comes by and familiar girls voices fill the locker room, including Margie’s, who SCREAMS! When Nicole runs out to see if she’s okay, it turns out a Charley Horse just got the best of her. The other girls go ahead of her when Miss Hawkins blows the whistle, and then Nicole confronts Margie. Margie asks her to sit so they can talk but Nicole tells her EVERYTHING, the Changing Wall, the dead people in Lucy’s life, and she asks if Margie knows where Lucy is. Margie says she does, but before she can say any more people come into the locker room. Nicole hides in the closet again, and when she leaves MARGIE IS NOW DEAD ON THE FLOOR WITH A SKULL CRUSHED BY A SHOT PUT!!!

Nicole is now convinced that Lucy is following her because whenever she talks to someone about this, they end up dead. So for whatever reason her new plan is to go visit Lucy’s grandmother Carla who lives on a farm out in Conklin. Nicole used to spend a couple weeks of the summer there with Lucy and Carla, and Nicole thinks that maybe Lucy is there because she took all of her clothes. And Carla knows Nicole so if she saw Lucy in Nicole’s body it wouldn’t be too weird. So Nicole gets on a bus to Conklin (side note. I’m pretty sure that the witch girl in “One Evil Summer” was named Conklin, surname wise), and ends up at Grandma Carla’s farm. She knocks on the door, and Carla lets her in, happy/surprised to see her. She asks Carla is ‘Nicole’ is there, and Carla dodges the question and offers to give her some soup because she’s made a large pot today. When Nicole asks if ‘she’ has been there, Carla balks and goes to get the soup… and then calls the police. When Nicole confronts her about it, Carla suggests that they talk about it, but Nicole runs again and hides in the barn, certain that the cops are coming for her. And in the barn, who does she see? LUCY!!! When Nicole grabs her and confronts her, Lucy says that her name is not Lucy, but NANCY, and that Lucy made them switch bodies too!! Nicole freaks out but then ‘Nancy’ says no she really is ‘Lucy’ and she bolts out the barn door. Nicole follows her, but then is tackled to the ground by…. KENT!! He says that he has come for her to help her, and Nicole sees Lucy fall into the well, and hears her asking for help. Kent says that Nicole should just ‘let her drown’, and YOU GUYS KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING RIGHT?!?! Nicole elbows him away and runs for the well to help Lucy, but it’s no use, she can’t pull her out, and Lucy drowns in Nicole’s body. Kent does come back to her and pulls her away, and he leads her back to Carla’s house. As they walk up the drive, suddenly Lucy appears and tells Kent that they should switch bodies….. AND PULLS HIS HEAD OFF LIKE IT WAS ATTACHED WITH VELCRO. Nicole freaks, but then a car door slam gets her attention. The Grey Suited police officers are here, and they come up to get Nicole. When Nicole turns back to Kent and Lucy, they’re gone. Then ANOTHER car comes up the drive, and who is inside???? Well, Nicole’s parents, for one. But then THE KRAMERS!! LUCY’S PARENTS!! THE ONES WHO NICOLE FOUND DEAD!!!  AND THEN KENT TOO!!! They all swarm her, making sure that is is okay. Because Y’ALL, LUCY IS LONG DEAD. SHE DIED IN THAT CAR CRASH AWHILE BACK. And Nicole has been having delusional spells ever since, imagining that Lucy is still alive, or SOMETIMES imagining that she IS Lucy!!! Those grey suited men?? NOT police officers!! THEY’RE DOCTORS!!! AND APPARENTLY, sometimes Nicole ALSO has hallucinations of people around her dying awful, violent deaths!! So The Kramers, Kent, and Margie are ALL just fine!!

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R.L. STINE YOU MAGNIFICENT BASTARD!!! (source)

We last see Nicole in a mental ward, feeling like the worst of her hallucinations are behind her.  She’s going to be let out any day now, given a clean bill of health. And the best part is that Lucy has been by her side the whole time. Nicole knows that when she and Lucy are let out they are going to graduate together, and it will all be perfect. THE. END.

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BRA.VI. SI. MO. (source)

Body Count: None, I guess! Except for Lucy off page before the story started.

Romance Rating: 1 because David dumps Nicole in the first chapter and there’s nothing else to see, romance wise.

Bonkers Rating: 10!!! A perfect 10!! This was actually a really great twist, the kind that you see all the time in thriller and mystery books now, but I didn’t expect R.L. Stine to craft it back in 1995 for his “Fear Street” fans!….. So did he actually write this?

Fear Street Relevance: 8, because the Changing Wall is in the Fear Street Woods and we revisit the good ol’ Fear Mansion ever so briefly.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger: Honestly, they were all golden. There was not a dud in the bunch. All were relevant and none felt like cheats.

That’s So Dated! Moments: At the mall there is still a CD store to make note of.

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Rest in Peace, Sam Goody. (source)

Best Quote:

“I wore a black tank top and dark denim jeans. Black to match my mood.”

2Edgy4Me.

Conclusion: “Switched” was AWESOME. It has a place up there with the other books I’ve greatly enjoyed in this series, like “Missing” and “The Secret Bedroom”. Definitely read this one if you have the chance because it won’t disappoint!! Up next is “College Weekend”! 

A Revisit to Fear Street: “Final Grade”

176560Book: “Final Grade” (Fear Street #30) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1995

Where Did I Get This Book: ILL from the library!

Book Description: Everyone thinks she killed her teacher

Intense, competitive, Lily Bancroft had good reasons to hate him. She lives to win, and he was about to destroy her dreams. But murder? That was going too far, even for someone as driven as Lily.

She’s innocent. But that hasn’t stopped the whispers behind her back. Or the weird phone calls late at night. Then someone else is brutally murdered and suddenly Lily is drawn into a nightmare she can’t begin to control. Will her final grade be her last?

Had I Read This Before: Yes.

The Plot: We meet our protagonist Lily Bancroft as she’s arguing with her social sciences teacher Mr. Reiner. Seems that he gave her a B on her test and she feels that she deserves an A because she just does, okay? Mr. Reiner isn’t swayed, and after having a fantasy about killing him, Lily leaves the room, angry that she may not get the A that she needs to be Valedictorian at the end of the year to get the scholarship she needs. She runs into her friend Julie and says that she could just kill Mr. Reiner, which is poor phrasing and Julie’s older brother was murdered during a grocery story robbery, but hey, Lily is a Type A personality who is very much in her feelings. Besides, both of her older sisters were Valedictorian and she needs to keep up with them in her parents eyes. They stop by the library so Julie can drop off some books, and run into Lily’s boyfriend Alex, who used to date Julie but whatever, hormones gonna hormone. They then run into Scott, the editor of the school literary magazine The Forum, who mentions the deadline they have. But Lily says she can’t go to the meeting today, she has to work at her Uncle Bob’s pharmacy that night. See, her mother had a stroke and now Lily has to bring in a second income to help make ends meet at home. Damn, I feel like the college application essay alone will get her into any school she wants with a full scholarship, but hey, that’s not my business.

As she’s starting to walk to work Graham, Julie’s cousin and Lily’s rival for Valedictorian, offers her a ride in his sea foam green Porsche. He’s a total douchebag, but Lily accepts the ride because she doesn’t want to be late to work. He then brags about his grades and asks her if she’s ready for the state trivia contest they’re both trying to get a seat on, and she grits her teeth until she gets to work and thanks him for the ride. She really wants to win that because there’s a cash prize. While at work that night Lily is trying to do her homework as well as serve customres, when all of a sudden a guy pulls a gun and holds up the place. Uncle Bob comes out of the back room and then grabs the pistol he keeps in the drawer. The robber chickens out and runs off, and the new pharmacy delivery boy Rick runs after him (like a dope). Lily calls the police and Rick comes back empty handed. When Bob points out that he could have been killed, he shrugs in a ‘macho’ manner, and oh, he’s gonna be one of THOSE characters. He asks Lily what she’s doing, and she says homework. Then he asks her out, and is only swayed when she says she has a boyfriend. He confides that he’s a drop out because he had problems in classes, and she tells him that hey, she has problems too, and tells him all about that AWFUL Mr. Reiner. He asks her out again, and she says nope.

She gets off the bus at Fear Street and starts walking home. Then someone jumps out of the bushes, but it’s just Alex. She tells him about the robbery and he’s worried about her, but he also gets frustrated when she says that she has to go inside and study instead of sitting and talking with him for a bit. But he does agree, and lets her go inside. Her father seems less concerned about the robbery and more concerned about the B grade she got on that test, so Lily is more determined than ever to study her butt off. Her room phone gets a strange call, where the person on the line says that they know her and watch her ‘all the time’. They then hang up, and Lily focuses on her work.

The next day on the bus to school Lily is exhausted, but has decided that she is just going to ask Mr. Reiner if she can do some extra credit work to boost her grade. Alex says that’s a good idea, and they get off the bus and part ways. At her locker Lily runs into Lisa Blume, who heard about the issue with Mr. Reiner and needles her a bit. Lily says that she’s going to get her A ‘one way or another’, and Lisa, being a huge gossip, is probably not the person to say that to. When Lily goes to Mr. Reiner’s classroom to propose the extra credit idea, she finds him sprawled on the floor, a ladder and a broken lightbulb on the scene. And the poor man is dead.

So while Lily does feel bad about her bad thoughts about him, and the fact that there are rumors about her maybe killing him instead of it being an accident where he fell off the ladder and died, she is pleased that she is potentially going to get a better grade now, as the substitute has given her more options to raise it. She’s playing a friendly couple of games of tennis with Alex, Julie, and Scott, and this is the one place where she isn’t competitive (much to Alex’s chagrin). After the games Scott suggests that they all hang out some more, but Lily says she has studying to do, which miffs Alex even more. As she’s walking home Graham drives up next to her and offers her a ride. She agrees, but gets mad at him when he insinuates that maybe she killed Mr. Reiner over her grade. She gets out of his car and storms off. That night she gets another weird phone call, and the caller says that he knows she got what she wanted. So now she thinks that Graham is the caller.

Maybe a day later Lily meets up with Scott to look over her essay and the covers for the forum. Scott says that her essay is great (natch!) and that she should come to the paper mill that night to watch them print out the new edition on a huge printing press. She says that sounds fun and that she’ll come by after work, and then he asks her to help pick a cover. Alex comes in and is jealous, and when Scott leaves he tells Lily he doesn’t like that Scott likes her. Lily assures him he has nothing to worry about, and he trusts her. At work that night Rick comes in and starts pestering Lily. He teases her about Mr. Reiner, and she blows up at him. He asks her out again and she says no, and he GRABS HER HAND and asks her if she’s stuck up and he only ‘wants to get to know her better’, and she tells him to knock it off. He then apologizes profusely (of course) because he ‘needs this job’ so please don’t say anything to Bob. Stine LOVES these characters, the assholes who are actually just ‘misunderstood’. It’s so 90s. I like me a good bad boy trope as well, but you are NO Bender in “The Breakfast Club”, Rick, so fuck off. Uncle Bob asks if everything is okay, and Lily says yes, saving Rick’s undeserving ass from a swift firing.

Lily goes to the paper mill after work to meets her friends, but as she enters a bunch of HUGE rolls of paper start rolling towards her a la Indiana Jones. She jumps out of the way before being crushed to death, and her friends and the night foreman Mr. Jacobson all find her. He says that he has no idea how that happened, but now they’ll have to reload and delay the printing until later that week. Graham says that Jacobson is an idiot and that HE would know how to run this place better, and fuck yourself Graham because he’s the foreman and you aren’t. I don’t care if your Dad owns this place. They all decide to go to pizza instead. But because of this Lily doesn’t get home until after 11, and the trivia contest is the next day. She gets another weird phone call. Now the voice is saying that it wants to ‘help her’.

At the trivia contest it’s Lily vs Graham, and at first she’s holding her own pretty okay. But then Graham tells her that he saw his midterm grades, and that he’s getting basically all A’s. So poor Lily gets inside her own head, and the stress and exhaustion prove to be too much, and Graham ends up winning. Lily is devastated. As she’s walking home, Rick just happens to be in the neighborhood making deliveries, and offers to walk with her. He actually acts like a decent human being as they walk, but then he says that he wondered if he could ‘help her’ somehow when it comes to cheering her up. She then asks if he’s the person who’s been calling her….. And he says he has. She freaks out on him, but he swears that he never actually waits for her to pick up and always hangs up before she does. Lily doesn’t believe him, and when there is no call that night she is further convinced that he was the caller all along. But it’s NEVER that easy on Fear Street.

The next day the midterm grades are posted for all to see. How humiliating for those who aren’t doing so well!! I don’t understand why schools would do this. It was bad enough that my school posted the names of those on the Dean’s List AND posted the name of the ‘most improved’ student for the semester. That’s not encouraging, it just opens up for your asshole classmates to be like ‘HOW BAD WERE YOU BEFORE?’ Anyway, Lily is indeed humiliated because she is number 2 behind Graham. When her friends try to comfort her at the magazine meeting, because number 2 is still pretty good and there is STILL TIME for her to get her grades back up to snuff, she yells at all of them and storms out because

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(source)

Lily leaves work early because the store is dead and Uncle Bob takes pity on her, so she goes to the paper mill to see the magazine get printed. When she arrives Mr. Jacobson has left a sign that says he’ll be back at 9:30. It’s 9:20, but Lily finds the door open. She goes in, hearing the printing press. She figures they must have started after all, so she heads towards the pressing room. She walks in and covers her ears because it’s so loud as it prints, and she gets splattered in the face with red ink that runs through the press. But wait, it’s not red ink. It’s BLOOD!! She runs around the other side and finds Graham HEAD FIRST IN THE PRESS!! She turns it off and checks to see if he’s still alive, but he’s not. She faints, and only comes to when her other friends arrive, and ask her how she got all that blood on her. I mean, there’s a bloody corpse next to her, guys, there are LOTS of ways it could have gotten on her.

The next morning at breakfast her mother asks her why she’s not eating. I ask HER why Lily hasn’t been taken straight to a therapist after seeing what she saw. Lily gets in Alex’s car to go to school (!?!?!), and he tries to comfort her. It doesn’t help that a bunch of Graham’s friends proceed to cut them off and stare at them, and Lily thinks that this is somehow all her fault, even though the police said that it was a tragic accident. When she gets to school she can’t help but gleefully think about how she is number one now. Kinda ghoulish. You get me to a sympathetic point and then knock it all down, Lily.

At the funeral Lily is really starting to lose it. She feels like people are looking at her, and when she goes to the viewing of the closed casket she hallucinates that Graham sits up and accuses her, but she gets her wits about her enough to understand that Julie is really hurting, as she just lost her brother and now her cousin is dead too. The funeral retreats to Julie’s house for refreshments (this officially isn’t the Midwest small town dynamic because it’s not in the church basement and there isn’t a spread of various bars to go with an unabashed reluctance to a bother anyone in any way), and as Lily and Scott are talking, but when Graham’s mom gives her a suspicious stink eye Lily takes that as her cue to leave. She rushes home to her empty house, and has a nice cry. As she empties out her purse looking for some tissues, she instead finds Graham’s glasses!! Suddenly there’s a bang and footsteps coming up the steps, and Scott is there! He says he was worried about her, and she tells him about the glasses. Which which Scott says that of course he knew about it, as he put them there! He wants her to know everything that he did for her to prove his love, aka killing Graham!!! He got the idea after Mr. Reiner’s freak accident with the light and slipping off the ladder. He told Graham to meet him at the printing press at nine, knowing the foreman would be on a break and then pushed him into the press so that Lily will be number one! He also was the one making the phone calls, and now they can be together forever! Lily tries to leave the room to call the cops, but he says that he’ll kill her if she leaves the room. Oh, and if she DOES try to turn him in, he’ll say that it was all her idea and that she also killed Mr. Reiner because she wanted to badly to be number 1. He grabs Graham’s glasses for collateral, and tells her that they can be together now. He leaves, and Lily doesn’t know what to do.

At the magazine meeting the next day Scott suggests that they make a special tribute issue to Graham. Lily thinks he’s demented but goes along with it. Julie is driving her to work afterwards and apologizes for being so distant lately; she’s just sad that Lily has no time for her outside of studying and Alex. Lily is relieved that Julie doesn’t blame her for Graham’s death. But then Julie, being a regular Nancy Drew, says that she isn’t convinced that Graham died in an accident, and believes that he was murdered! After all, his dad owns the paper plant, so of COURSE he knows how to use the press and not get caught in it. Julie assures Lily that she doesn’t believe the rumors and thinks that someone else killed him. Lily is scared that Scott will hurt Julie if she voices her suspicions or goes too deep. That night Scott calls Lily and tells her to break up with Adam and start dating him. Lily tries to deflect, saying people may be suspicious if she does that and may ask more questions. Then she IDIOTICALLY tells him that Julie is suspicious. He then threatens Julie, so Lily agrees to go out with him.

The night of the shitty date she has to go on, Lily runs into Alex outside her house and makes up a lame excuse about the library and studying. He gets miffed and walks off. She then meets up with Scott and has the actually pretty good idea of making it a terrible date for him so he’ll not want to do it again. She makes him drive to a town twenty miles away to see a movie, won’t hold his hand, and then makes him take her to a scary pool hall frequented by bikers and potential meth heads for dinner. Unfortunately they run into Rick, who just makes polite conversation, which gets Scott all possessive. As they leave he says that she better not be into Rick and that she better dump Alex or else. He drives her home, basically assaults her when he tries to kiss her and won’t let her go, but she squirms away and he walks her to her door. He tries to kiss her again but she ducks inside, and tries to figure out what to do…. Maybe CALL THE COPS!!! SCOTT HAS THE GLASSES!! There is EVIDENCE that he says he’s holding on to for collateral but EVIDENCE IS IN HIS POSSESSION!!!!

Lily avoids Scott okay at school that Monday, but at the magazine meeting he talks about their date in front of everyone. Including Alex. Alex, angry that Lily has been lying to him and has made time for Scott but not him, dumps her. Later that week (maybe? Time is being weird in this one), Lily is at work and Julie calls her telling her that she thinks she knows who killed Graham, because someone left a message for Graham at the paper plant the night he did. She asks Lily to meet her there the next night, because she wants to tell her in person. Lily tries to dissuade her, but when a customer comes in she has to hang up but says she will call her back. But she never gets the chance, because after a number of customers and Rick take up her time with all their bullshit, Scott comes in with a flower and an urge to make out. He starts to get grabby again (so much casual sexual harassment and assault in these books), and Lily blows up at him, saying that they won’t be together forever because Julie is figuring it all out!

 

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YOU ARE GOING TO GET ONE OF THE TWO LIKABLE PEOPLE IN THIS BOOK KILLED, IDIOT!!! (source)

So Scott says that they’re just going to have to kill her then. Ugh, SEE? She tries to get him to think that they can talk to her together and change her mind, and then SWEET KIND UNCLE BOB, in a moment if ill timed kindness, tells Lily that she can leave for the night and go have fun. Thanks, Uncle Bob! When he goes back to the back room with Rick to build some shelving, Scott tells Lily they’re going to take care of Julie now. Lily opens the drawer, hoping to grab the gun to intimidate him into stopping this whole thing, but oops, he grabs it first, and points it at her saying she better call Julie.

So they go to the paper plant, and Scott lets them in with his personal key the magazine has. Mr. Jacobson is nowhere in sight, and they wait for Julie. When she arrives, Lily screams at her to run before Scott can get the jump on her, but sweet idiotic Julie just stands there asking what’s going on. Scott confesses that he’s the one who killed Graham, but then tries to pin it on Lily as well. Julie doesn’t know what to think, but what does it matter because Scott presses her up against the press and points the gun right at her as Lily begs him to leave her alone. There’s a scuffle, and Lily almost gets the gun away from him, but to no avail. Scott aims the gun at Julie and shoots, and she falls to the floor. Lily cries over her best friend, and Scott says that they can be together now. He lets his guard down and puts the pistol in his pocket, but Lily gets the gun and aims it at him. She says that she’ll shoot him, but he calls her bluff. And he’s right, she wont’ shoot. So he embraces her…. BUT THEN JULIE STANDS UP, GRABS A LARGE METAL BAR, AND HITS HIM IN THE HEAD. He collapses, and the BFFs are reunited. Lily says she thought Julie was dead, but Julie says that nothing hit her. As they try to figure out why, Scott rallies for a moment, but then does drop dead while saying Lily’s name over and over.

So the police and medics come, as do Uncle Bob and Rick to pick them up and take them home. And turns out the gun was a starter pistol, and that’s why Julie wasn’t shot. Bob thinks real guns are too scary, and I LOVE Uncle Bob. Julie then eyes Rick and asks Lily if he’s single, and Lily says that Julie can have him because SHE needs to make sure that she keeps her grades up! After all, there’s still time to finish first, and she KNOWS that she will. THE END.

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That’s absolutely what you should be thinking about right now, Lily. (source)

Body Count: 3. I feel bad for poor Mr. Reiner. Dealing with entitled kids all day and then he dies because maintenance won’t fix the damn light in his classroom is a rough way to go.

Romance Rating: 2. Alex was okay and I felt for him, but he didn’t support Lily’s need to succeed and was more focused on his own entertainment. Scott is a sexual extortionist, and Rick is definitely toxic in his own right so JULIE DON’T DO IT DON’T GO OUT WITH HIM.

Bonkers Rating: 4. Because of the printing press death. Everything else was pretty run of the mill.

Fear Street Relevance: 3, if only because Lily lives on Fear Street and because the past two books had absolutely NOTHING to do with Fear Street so that’s no doubt shading my opinions.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“Then she realized there was an answer. An answer that had been there all along. ‘I’ll kill him’, she thought.”

…. And then it’s NEVER brought up again. EVER. She goes back to just wondering how she’s going to get out of this mess.

That’s So Dated! Moments: There’s the fact that Lily says that Julie prefers reading while most kids their age like spending their time watching MTV, and I have to assume that it was a reference to the music videos and not to shows about teen pregnancy. Also, there’s a mention of Winona Ryder’s new romantic movie. But to be fair Winona has made a comeback and I’M SO PROUD OF HER!

Best Quote:

“She moved the press. She tugged at his waist. She pulled frantically. ‘Are you alive? Graham? Are you?'”

NO HE’S NOT ALIVE, HE’S HEADFIRST IN A PRINTING PRESS!! This reminded me of the scene in “Tucker and Dale vs Evil” where that one kid jumps head first into the wood chipper and Tucker freaks the hell out, turns if off, and asks ‘hey, you okay?’

Conclusion: “Final Grade” was better than “Dead End” but that’s not really saying much. Up next is “Switched”.