A Revisit to Fear Street: “Night Games”

89795Book: “Night Games” (Fear Street #40) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1996

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

Book Description: Living on the edge…

Diane loves sneaking out in the middle of the night. Her friends do, too. They have the town all to themselves. Every night they come up with a new prank to play.

But then Diane’s boyfriend, Lenny, wants revenge on a teacher, and the pranks turn to murder. Now Diane and her friends are in too deep.

Much too deep…with no way out.

Had I Read This Before: No.

The Plot: We meet Diane, Cassie, Jordan, and Lenny as they are walking home from Red Heat Dance club. They are outside the house of their most hated teacher, Mr. Crowell, who has decorated his front lawn with tacky and bright Christmas decorations. These friends are shocked that their teacher has a life outside of being a dick who teaches math, as if teachers aren’t humans too. Diane’s boyfriend Lenny ESPECIALLY hates Mr. Crowell because he has a victim complex and thinks that Mr. Crowell is extra hard on him. Diane assures the reader that Lenny may look like a tough guy, but beneath his abusive and asshole-ish demeanor is a ‘marshmallow’, and ho boy, he’s one of those. As they continue to walk they suddenly see a figure crawl out of a window. Is it a burglar? No, it’s their old friend Spencer Jarvis! They has him why he’s crawling out of some stranger’s house, but he says that his family lives there now. When Diane asks where he’s been this past year (as she’s called him and called him, since they were besties until she started dating Lenny), he asks her if she got his letter. Apparently his Dad’s store closed and his grandmother in DC got sick, so they moved out there to care for her. But they’re back now, and while he’s not at their high school he’s at St Ann’s, a hop skip and jump away! And he’s sneaking out to play some ‘Night Games’. He invites them to come along, and since it’s past midnight and they’re all no doubt already breaking curfew, why not keep the fun going? They see a car with a couple inside, making out, and Spencer pretends to be a police officer and gives them a good scare. Hm, impersonating a police officer, we’re off to a great start. They all run away when the couple figures it out, and Spencer invites the group to come back that Monday after midnight to play more Night Games.

That Monday in Mr. Crowell’s class, Lenny is caught snickering and Mr. Crowell calls him out. He’s kind of like a worse and more abusive version of Mr. Northwood in “The Dare”, because while I felt bad for Mr. Northwood Mr. Crowell probably shouldn’t be teaching children. That said, Lenny actively starts to take a swing at the guy, so there are no winners in this horse race. Luckily, Diane’s horror at Lenny’s action makes him stop (oh yay! She’s even being painted as ‘the one who can quell his violent urges’ like that’s her fucking job or something), and he stomps out of the room. Diane assures us that Lenny doesn’t look for trouble, it just happens to find him, and to that I say

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(source)

I’m really not here for characters like this anymore. Unless you give me a tragic backstory or a reason for emotional problems, I don’t want to hear it. After class Cassie says that Lenny should be careful because Mr. Crowell has a heart condition and his antics may very well give the man a heart attack, but Diane doesn’t buy that, and I don’t really buy it either. Spoiled kids ain’t nothing but nothing. Cassie asks if Diane is still going out that night, and Diane says yes, so Cassie says she’ll go too because it’s nice seeing Spencer again even if his idea of fun is kind of, uh, ‘odd’?

They all meet outside Spencer’s house that night, and tell Spencer about Lenny’s run in with Mr. Crowell. Spencer says he never liked Crowell either, and they being their Night Game. Spencer leads them to Mr. Crowell’s house, and suggests that they peep inside his window and see what he’s up to. These games are pretty felonious I must say. The other’s are a little nervous, but all agree, and Diane even finds it a little exciting. They watch him lead a pretty depressing existence of drinking a soda and looking at his Christmas tree, but that doesn’t last long because suddenly Spencer is destroying the lawn decorations. Mr. Crowell hears the ruckus (and I’m sure half of Shadyside does too), and they all run off, with Mr. Crowell shouting ‘I saw you!’ They all run back to Spencer’s house, and the guys LOVED this. Cassie is horrified that they vandalized his property, but Lenny points out that Mr. Crowell could never prove it was them even if he DID suspect them. Spencer asks if they want to go out again the next night. The guys are in, Cassie says she doesn’t want to, and when they ask Diane she says that she does want to, BUT Spencer has to tell them if he’s going to do something crazy like that again. That’s the WORST stipulation ever, but they all agree. When Diane sneaks back into her house and into her room, her phone is ringing. She picks it up and it’s some guy named Bryan, who she used to date before Lenny. He begs her to take him back, and she says no. She hangs up, and the phone rings again. This time the caller says ‘I saw you tonight, Diane, and I know all about your Night Games.’ Diane thinks it must be Bryan. I think that Bryan’s middle name is ‘Red Herring’.

We do a time jump backwards to the past winter. Spencer has invited his friends up to his uncle’s ski cabin in the mountains. He is excited but also apprehensive since they’ve all paired up and he doesn’t have a girlfriend (especially since they give him grief over it. They also tease him because he’s fat in this timeline). He had hoped that when Diane and Bryan broke up she would have asked him out, but instead she started going with Lenny. His friends arrive and Jordan deliberately makes his car kick up snow in Spencer’s face. And also Spencer hadn’t even invited Lenny to the cabin, Diane had just assumed that he was invited since they were dating now, and that’s a pretty bold assumption, Diane. As his friends all go pick their bedrooms, Spencer overhears Lenny bitching about having to be here this weekend (SO WHY DID YOU COME, ASSHOLE?!), but Jordan eases the tension, which makes Spencer mad because Jordan used to be close to HIM, but now he’s close to Lenny. While they’re all hanging out the weather outside causes a power outage, and Lenny continues to bitch and Diane tells him to go sit in the car if he hates it inside so much. Spencer invites Diane to go with him to get more firewood. They go to the shed, and she confides in him that Lenny is a real jerk and she hates that they fight all the time. Spencer and Diane then start to kiss, but Lenny is there! He punches Spencer in the face and literally drags Diane back to the cabin. Spencer thinks that he can’t let Lenny get away with what he’s done….

Back to the present timeline! Cassie and Diane are splitting a pizza at Pete’s Pizza and talking about the night before. Diane tells Cassie that Bryan called her and that he was threatening her about the Night Games. Cassie asks how he could possibly know about that, but Diane is off on the next topic: Lenny being a hotheaded jerk off (my words, not hers). She wishes that people would just give him a break, as if LENNY isn’t the common factor in all the trouble he gets into. Cassie wants to talk about Spencer and how much he’s changed. He used to be a dork, but now he’s fit and self assured! Before they can talk for too long, Lenny bursts into the pizza parlor, his hand bleeding! When they ask what happened he says that it was Mr. Crowell that did it! Though actually it was because he punched his own locker because Mr. Crowell told the basketball coach that his grades in math were failing. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF, LENNY. He was kicked off the team because policy says you have to have passing grades to play sports and I think that’s pretty common, but to these guys it’s ‘so unfair’. Jordan shows up and says that he heard about Lenny getting kicked off the team, and Lenny almost attacks Jordan because he’s ever so reasonable. They change the subject, and confirm that they’re going to Night Game it up that evening. And Lenny says that tonight he’s really going to get his revenge on Mr. Crowell.

Diane assures the reader that she knows it’s nuts that she, sensible and practical Diane, participated in these things. But she explains that to her, Night Games are Freedom, because during the day you have all these responsibilities, like homework, and school, and not vandalizing teacher’s homes. But there’s also the fact that Spencer is now confident and thin and can somehow make her do things that she normally wouldn’t do. All of the friends are waiting for Spencer, who is late, and Cassie wants to bug out. But the Spencer crawls out of his window and joins them. Lenny tells him that he wants to go back to Crowell’s house and do some ‘real damage’, and even Spencer is like ‘whoa there buddy’. He says that Night Games aren’t about revenge, they’re about fun! Lenny says that revenge IS fun. And Spencer is a little quiet, and then says that they should go if they’re going to because it’s getting late. They go to Mr. Crowell’s house, and all the lights are off and his car is gone. Lenny says he’s going to destroy all the decorations on the lawn, but Spencer has a better idea: they’re going to break in. Cassie is horrified, but allt he boys are down for it and climb in the window. Diane tells Cassie she can stay outside if she wants, but she’s going in too, and Cassie joins her. Lenny turns on the light saying they should break all the things, but Spencer turns it off and tells him to actually THINK for once in his life. He suggests that they just move some things around. That way, Mr. Crowell will be freaked out, but it may not be enough to call the cops about. And hey, it was cute and quirky when Amélie did it. A mean teacher DEFINITELY equates to a bigoted grocer who makes fun of disabled people. Anyway. They start to mess with his stuff, and Diane decides to explore the house. When she gets to his bedroom she freaks out, thinking Mr. Crowell is on the bed, but Spencer shows her it’s just a pair of pajamas laid out. He relief is short lived, though, as Mr. Crowell returns home! They wait for him to go up the steps as they hide in the kitchen, and then make a break through the door that’s in the kitchen. Spencer also steals one of Mr. Crowell’s CD players, which was NOT part of the deal, guy! And Diane was especially shocked that he looked EXCITED about it! She runs all the way home and climbs into her bed just as her mother checks on her. She pretends that she was asleep, and her mother says she thought she heard someone walking around, but is satisfied and leaves. Diane thinks she dodged a bullet, and Cassie calls her. They agree that it was fun (FUN?!), but Spencer went too far when he stole the CD player. I would argue the breaking and entering was going too far. After hanging up, Diane tries to go to sleep, but the phone rings again. This time it’s the same mystery caller she assumes is Bryan. This time the caller says that she’s going to pay for what she did.

In Mr. Crowell’s class the next day they are all paranoid that he knows they were in his house. When he asks Diane to stay behind after class she almost panics, but he just wants to ask her how her midterm project is going. She meets up with her friends and says she thinks that the Night Games need to stop. Cassie agrees, but Jordan and Lenny think she’s overreacting, after all, Mr. Crowell has NO idea it was them! Diane tells them about the phone calls she’s been getting. She doesn’t mention Bryan’s name because Lenny would probably beat him up, but now that she’s been threatened Lenny is also ready to stop. Jordan is mad, but agrees. They go to Spencer’s house after school, but he doesn’t answer the door. Figuring his still at St. Ann’s, they agree to talk to him later. Diane has dinner at Cassie’s house and studies, and then walks home. But then she’s grabbed by someone! Turns out it’s Bryan, who followed her. He tells her that he needs to protect her from Lenny, and she tells him to back off and to stop calling her. Bryan is confused about the phone calls, and says he only called her the one time. He grabs her arm trying to stop her from leaving, but a passing car makes him lose his nerve and he runs away. Diane’s parents aren’t home, and she looks forward to having some time for herself, but then Lenny shows up on her doorstep. Turns out his parents caught wind of his bad grades and he’s in deep trouble. And whose fault is it according to him? MR. CROWELL, OF COURSE! He says that he’s having fantasies of killing him, and Diane kisses him to try and calm him down. There’s another knocking on the door, and this time it’s Cassie. She shows them a note that was left in her bag, telling her to stop the Night Games or she will be the ‘loser’. Lenny thinks it’s Mr. Crowell. Diane thinks it’s Bryan. Cassie, however, thinks it’s Spencer. Lenny dismisses her, as the Night Games were Spencer’s idea. But Diane agrees that Spencer has been weird lately. Then Spencer shows up and shows off a threatening note that he got.

AND WE GO BACK TO LAST WINTER! Spencer is still feeling bitter about the whole ‘getting punched in the face’ thing. The snow from the night before has stopped, and they all decide that a snowball war could be fun. Spencer makes some ice balls to throw at Lenny, but Lenny calls him out on it and Jordan thinks that a real CORKER of an idea would be to bury Spencer in the snow. So they hold him down no matter how much he protests, and start to cover him in snow. The girls tell them to stop but Lenny says it’s just a joke, though Spencer is starting to have a hard time breathing. They bury him so deep he can’t move, and then Lenny says that they should drive back to Shadyside. Diane says that they can’t just leave Spencer in the snow, but Lenny says he’ll be fine, he has a car, and they all leave Spencer buried in a snow drift.

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That’s some sociopathy kinda shit. (source)

Present time again! At lunch the next day Diane, Cassie, Lenny, and Jordan are talking about their predicament. They don’t know who is sending the notes, but they really do want to stop the Night Games. They didn’t tell Spencer when they saw him, but they say that they have to stop. Diane thinks that Bryan is sending the notes, but that’s neither here nor there. Lenny goes to talk to Mr. Crowell after school, but the teacher doesn’t have any sympathy for him and apparently called him a loser, and that’s not great, Mr. Crowell. Lenny is incensed, and he and Jordan say that they need to have one more Night Game for revenge.

That night they all tromp toward Mr. Crowell’s house under cloak of darkness. Lenny is ready to do just about anything, and they arrive at Mr. Crowell’s house and climb in the window. Lenny shows them be brought spray paint. He starts to spray all over the house. Diane has had enough, and she goes and finds Cassie, telling her she is ready to go. Cassie agrees, and they go to find the guys. But when they do find them, they see what the guys have found. Mr. Crowell is DEAD ON THE FLOOR!!! Jordan says that THEY didn’t kill him and they have to go, because if the police found them inside this house they’d be DEAD. Diane wonders if Lenny did this when no one was looking. Lenny is freaking out because he spray painted ALL OVER THE DAMN PLACE, and now he can’t find the spray can, like an IDIOT. They start to look, and headlights make them panic. COULD IT BE THE POLICE? No, it’s just a neighbor’s car pulling into the driveway next door. Jordan finds the spray can and then get the fuck outta dodge. As Diane runs home she sees a blue Toyota, much like the car that Bryan drove. Is it Bryan following her? If not, why is he out so late!? She gets home and dives into bed.

The next morning Cassie calls. Mr Crowell’s housekeeper found his body, and the police say he died of a heart attack. BUT they think that the intruder who spray painted his house was the one who gave him said heart attack, so they aren’t off the hook! Diane asks Cassie if maybe the police are right, that they DID give Mr. Crowell a heart attack, and Cassie says she doesn’t know. They hang up, and Diane stays home from school. That evening, while her parents are at a play, there’s a pounding on the door. Diane ignores it until it stops, but when she opens the door there’s a rolled up banner on the stood. She unfurls it and finds a spraypainted note that says “you die next”. She calls Cassie and Lenny, but they are already on the way to her house. When they arrive, they have notes too. Diane tells them that she saw Bryan’s car, and they wonder why he would be doing this. The decide to go find Jordan, who is off with a friend. They eventually see his Jeep by a coffee shop, and he’s with Bryan! They demand why he’s with Bryan, but he says they’re lab partners and what is the problem? They show him the notes (in front of Bryan because FUCK IT I guess), and say that HE found the spray can and did he write the notes? He says no, Spencer took the spray can. They decide they need to go talk to Spencer, but Bryan says that this isn’t HIS business and they leave him behind. Smart man, that one. Stalkery, but smart.

They go to Spencer’s house. They knock on the door but he doesn’t answer. Diane looks through the window into the dark house, and then screams. She opens the window, and they enter the living room. Spencer is lying dead on the floor. They wonder if they should call the police, but no, then they would be connected to this AND Mr. Crowell and that’s murder! They try to turn on the lights, but they don’t turn on. In fact, the entire room is empty too, and not only is there no electricity, there’s no heat! And then… THEN… Spencer sits up. But he says that he IS dead! He then floats up off the floor!! HE’S A GHOST! A SOMEHOW SOLID GHOST! That last winter he smothered under the snow! He’s been dead the whole time! When they ask him how he came back from the dead, he says that it was his hatred that kept him here, and once again, we have no use for magical systems in THIS book! He’s the one who killed Mr. Crowell by scaring him to death, knowing that the Night Games would make it so they’d be suspected of murder. But he wants to kill Diane first because she’s his ‘favorite’, aka she didn’t want to fuck him and instead wanted to be with Lenny. He starts to strangle her. As he does so, Diane’s friends do nothing to stop it! She starts to pass out, and fades to black… but then starts to fight  back! By hugging him?! She puts her arms around him saying that she loves him because he’s her friend and that they missed him, and the others do it too. And this makes Spencer melt into a pile of goo. Which then disappears. Cassie, Lenny, and Jordan celebrate! The evil has been defeated! But Diane isn’t celebrating. Because Spencer DID kill her when he strangled her! And her friends didn’t even try to stop him. And now Diane says that she may want to ‘play some Night Games of [her] own’. The End.

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Laaaaame. (source)

Body Count: 3.

Romance Rating: 2. And I only give it a 2 because Cassie and Jordan seem to have a semblance of a normal teen relationship. Lenny is just AWFUL to Diane, Bryan is a stalker, and Spencer, uh, killed her.

Bonkers Rating: 7. It would have been higher but it pretty much just repeated the twists that “The Perfect Date” did so it wasn’t exactly shocking, and just as lazy.

Fear Street Relevance: 2. Once again, I don’t think that Fear Street is mentioned once in this book in terms of locations, but I will admit that I could have missed it because my eyes glazed over so many times, so I’m upping it just in case.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“The moon came from behind a cloud and washed eerie, white light through a window. It glinted off the metal in Lenny’s hand. A gun? No! Not Lenny. Not a gun.

‘Lenny!’ I cried. ‘Are you crazy? What are you going to do with that?'”

… And it’s not a gun, but a spray paint can.

That’s So Dated! Moments: At one point there is mention of the potential to watch the “Lethal Weapon” movies (as opposed to the newish TV show).

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This encapsulates my experience more and more as I read these books. (source)

Best Quote:

“He studied his slice of pizza with a small frown. He glanced at Cassie. ‘You ordered this, didn’t you?'”

I honestly think this captures the quiet exasperation/endearment that happens between a long term couple when one does something incredibly predictable when it is to the other’s chagrin.

Conclusion: “Night Games” was boring and felt like a rehashed remix of “The Perfect Date” and “The Dare”. You are better of just reading those two (and “The Perfect Date” is also pretty bad). Up next is “The Runaway”! (NOTE: my regular “Revisit to Fear Street” posts will be back in November, as we have a couple of fun surprises in their stead for the rest of October)

A Revisit to Fear Street: “The Boy Next Door”

176473Book: “The Boy Next Door” (Fear Street #39) by. R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1996

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: This guy’s got killer looks…

Lauren and Crystal think Scott has it all. He’s handsome. He’s the new star of Shadyside High’s football team. And he’s moved in right next door! Both girls will do anything. Say anything. Try anything to get the chance to go out with him. That’s all either of them want.

But that’s all Scott’s last girlfriend wanted, too—and now she’s dead.

Had I Read This Before: No.

The Plot: We open with an as of yet unnamed narrator who is attending their girlfriend Dana’s funeral. It’s first person POV, and the narrator is talking about how they convinced Dana to sneak with them into the backyard of their neighbor so they could go swimming after dark. They convinced Dana to do a swan dive off the diving board, and she did… but joke’s on her, the pool was empty, and since it was pitch black apparently (light pollution or other lights from neighboring houses nonexistent) she didn’t realize it and crashed headfirst into the cement. Our narrator muses about how they pulled her out and waited for her last breath before calling out for help. Apparently this was all done because they didn’t like that Dana started wearing short skirts and make-up because that’s ‘no way to behave’, but they say that they REALLY hope their next girlfriend doesn’t make them commit murder like Dana did.

Wow. Wow wow wow. You know, I’d say something snarky, but given that I feel like this is how incels actually approach women I just am kind of saddened by how ‘too real’ this prologue is.

Jump to Shadyside, specifically Fear Street, where Crystal is on the phone with her BFF since third grade Lynne as they talk about make-up and boys (NOTE: her name is Lynne, not Lauren, and boy was THAT a significant typo to be on the back cover of this book). Crystal notices that a moving truck has pulled up to the house next door, and who should jump out but a very CUTE BOY! Crystal gives Lynne the play by play as she watches the cute boy walk into the house, and then into the room across from her window. As Crystal watches him take his shirt off (at Lynne’s insistence, natch), she panics as he spots her. She drops the phone and disconnects from Lynne, and by the time she calls back he’s pulled his shade down. And, wouldn’t you know it, this new boy next door was our previous unnamed narrator. His name is Scott, and boy does he think Crystal looks like a TRAMP for wearing make up and a low cut LEOTARD, my GOD! He swears to himself that he won’t get so close to her that her wantonness makes him kill her.

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We aren’t even twenty five pages in and the misogyny is already trying the LAST of my patience (source).

Sometime later there is a knocking on Crystal’s front door, and while she hopes it’s Scott it’s just Lynne, whose blonde hair is now in ‘a thousand tiny braids’ in an effort to look like Bo Derek but really just looks like cultural appropriation. They split some ice cream and gossip about Scott (who is now Tailback for the Shadyside Tigers), and when Crystal’s Mom walks in the room Crystal internally laments that her mother is SO pretty but isn’t intersted in dating and isn’t that sad? I mean, Crystal, I get you want your Mom to be happy,  but maybe she is still a little bummed that your father died in that car accident a few years back? THEN Crystal’s sister Melinda walks in, and BOY IS SHE DRAB, with her sweaters and glasses and non polished nails! MAN! Then Lynne brings up some boy named Todd who asked Crystal out even though Melinda liked him, and Crystal can’t help being pretty and popular, Melinda, so why so upset about that blatant betrayal? Lynne asks Melinda what SHE thinks of Scott, and Melinda just blushes, which Crystal finds ‘sad’, because if she’s so SHY around boys she’ll NEVER get a boyfriend. Lynne states she’s going to ask him out, but Crystal says that SHE wants to ask him out, and they make a pact that whoever gets to go out with him (Melinda included, though Melinda isn’t too hopeful it would happen), rules need to be followed. 1) Be happy for whoever gets him, and 2) don’t try to sabotage the others to get an upper hand. They all agree, and Melinda goes off to read (NERD, amiright?), and Lynne goes to use the bathroom, but tosses a new tube of lipstick to Crystal. Crystal applies some, and then looks out the window to see Scott staring at her. Then he looks REAL mad about something, and hits the ground with the hoe he’s holding.

You’d think the Hoe Incident would have been a big ol’ red flag to Crystal, but at lunch later that week she and Lynne go to talk with Scott and another football player named Jake in hopes he’ll notice one of them. Lynne flirts relentlessly, but Scott seems more interested in talking to Crystal, and Crystal tells herself his garden tantrum must have been because of a fight with his parents or something. Lynne invites Scott over to her house that coming Sunday for a party (right in front of Jake, who has a thing for Lynne, so she cordially invites him too), but Scott says he can’t go. Lynne places her hand on his arm, and he raises his knife up in the air! Crystal thinks he’s going to stab Lynne, but he’s just pumping his fist for the sudden flash mob of a pep rally the cheerleaders are doing. She wonders if she’s losing it, and I’m thinking someone needs to give her “The Gift of Fear” STAT.

That Saturday Crystal goes into Melinda’s room in hopes of getting information on Scott (since Melinda shares a class with him). She also thinks about how lame Melinda is, what with her re-reading “Jane Eyre”, but I guess Melinda has her own prejudices because she rolls her eyes at her sister’s nail polish fetish. Melinda thinks that Scott is ‘sad’ about something (yes, very sad about murdering his girlfriend no doubt), and Crystal says that she thinks Lynne is going to win the contest because she is SO FLIRTY AND OUT THERE, and Crystal hasn’t gotten any phone calls from any guys in the past few weeks (except one, but that barely counts). Melinda isn’t exactly weeping in sympathy, and Crystal concludes that she’s jealous because Melinda is such an introvert and boys don’t pay any attention to her. She asks Melinda if she likes Scott too, and Melinda says she doesn’t even KNOW Scott so how could she like him? Crystal doesn’t accept that, but then Lynne calls so the sister conversation screeches to a halt. Lynne is bummed because Scott hasn’t called her either. Crystal mentions that Jake said that Scott is a good guy and a good football player, and Lynne decides that she should immediately hang up and pump Jake for information about this guy. Which seems a bit insensitive because Jake likes Lynne and Lynne knows it, but oh well. Crystal goes to get the mail and finds some that belongs to Scott’s dad, and sees this as the perfect opportunity to go ask him out. Meanwhile, Scott wakes up from a dream or something, thinking that he dreamed about killing the dog of a woman who ’embarrasses’ him by making kissy faces at him as he walks by. She’s described as having peroxide blonde hair and a nose ring, and could it be Suki Thomas?! I miss Suki!!! But then he looks at his hands, and realizes that there’s blood all over them. So maybe it wasn’t a dream after all. Luckily he has time to bury the dog!

After gathering the courage to go ask Scott out, Crystal walks up to the door (this has to be later…) and knocks on it. No one answers, but the door is open, so Crystal takes this as an invitation to walk inside. After all, if she doesn’t ask him out, Lynne certainly will! She climbs the steps, thinking her hears voices, and when she gets to the top she calls out for Scott. Someone then jumps out from behind a door and grabs her, but it’s just Jake playing a trick. Hardy har har, Jake. She follows him into Scott’s room, and Jake points out that they can see her bedroom from his bedroom. When he implies that Scott could spy, Scott gets SUPER offended and only calms down when Crystal says she knows he’d never do that. The doorbell rings, and Scott goes to answer it. When he comes back, Lynne is there! She claims that she was looking for Jake, but then looks VERY surprised and perturbed perhaps to see Crystal. Jake asks why she wanted to see him, and she says she needs help with her homework. So when Scott kicks them all out, Jake literally picks Lynne up and says he’ll help her right now. This is played for laughs, but given all the other creepy sexist stuff in here it just sticks out even worse than I probably would have before. Crystal doesn’t quite get the hint, but Scott asks her to leave too. Then he reiterates that he wouldn’t spy on her. Crystal hopes that he will kiss her, but when he doesn’t she leaves, humiliated. And then Scott is really mad that Crystal has been tempting him, and tries to calm down by reading the American Family magazine that she brought over… But then there’s a woman model in tight jeans, so he stabs himself in the hand. Like I said. Incel.

Later that week Crystal is determined to go ask Scott out, but when she gets to his house she sees Lynne parked on his porch with a bag of chips and a six pack of soda. Then Jake and Scott walk up, and once again they have an awkward hang out day in Scott’s house, watching TV together. Crystal not so subtly asks Scott if he has a girlfriend, and he says that he doesn’t anymore. Lynne asks why he hasn’t asked anyone out then, and he says he’s not ready. Crystal can tell that Scott seems upset, and wonders if Melinda was right about him. She crosses to sit next to him and asks why he doesn’t feel ready, and his weird flinchy reaction (so sexy, right girls?) makes her think that Melinda IS right. Lynne asks what the fuss is about and Scott says that he’s NOT ready to talk about it, and Crystal feels bad for being so ‘pushy’ with him because he probably has a broken heart and this is driving him crazy. Lynne suggests that they all go bike riding (though she implies that Crystal should go off with Jake), but once again Scott kicks them out, saying he has homework to do. The three of them start to leave, but then Lynne says she forgot her backpack. When she comes back out a few minutes later, Crystal can tell something happened. She waits for Jake to leave her house before asking Lynne, and Lynne says that she’s the winner because she kissed him. Crystal is mad, and Lynne reminds her of the first rule of the pact. Crystal says one kiss does NOT mean going out, but Lynne says she and Scott are going to be the talk of school. Meanwhile, Scott is so angry about her having the audacity to kiss him, he decides that she has to die.

So Scott goes to Lynne’s house and sneaks in, and finds her in the kitchen. He suggests that they go for a ride, and she says sure. He takes her to a cliffside under guise of looking at the view, but Lynne says she’s more interested in the view in the car. She tries to make a move, but he isn’t keen on it, and she says he’s weird because he broke and entered into her house and NOW he won’t even look at her, so what gives? She starts to kiss at him, and he’s about to smash her face into the dashboard, but then a random deus ex machina man knocks on the window asking for directions. Lynne gives them to him, and Scott knows he can’t kill her now. He thinks that she knew that he was going to kill her, but instead she comments on his ‘wild side’.

A week later Crystal and Lynne are hanging out at Lynne’s house and she’s SO upset that Scott hasn’t called her since their ‘date’. Crystal reminds her that he said he wasn’t ready to date, and maybe he tried but changed his mind. Lynne, so obsessed, doesn’t think that’s true, and for some reason they decide to call his with terrible French accents? For some reason? First two times it’s his mom. On the third time Lynne takes over, but Scott answers, and she panics. She admits that it’s her, and asks him if he wants to come over that night because her parents are out of town. Crystal is actually rooting for her now. But he says he has to clean up his room, and HONESTLY, LYNNE, at this point you need to just take the hint that he isn’t interested! I’m not siding with a psychopath, but if he was just a usual guy this would be really obsessive stalking behavior and it’s totally inappropriate. Scott hangs up and his Mom calls him to dinner. She complains about the prank calls and says that he shouldn’t hang out with ‘a girl like that’, and now we kinda get a glimpse into where his psychosis comes from.

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Mommy issues are truly an old reliable in horror! (source)

As she scolds him he decides that her weird anger at him over a dumb prank call is all Lynne’s fault, and imagines her guts spilling out.

Sometime later Crystal is calling Lynne but not getting an answer. It’s really late and she wonders where Lynne could be. She goes up into the attic, as Melinda likes to read up there, and they have a sisterly heart to heart about how different they are. Crystal says she doesn’t get how Melinda can be so comfortable being alone, but Melinda says that she doesn’t need other people to feel comfortable with herself. I like Melinda. Crystal is so worried about Lynne she goes to her house to check on her. She lets herself in with a spare key, noting a strange smell outside, and goes upstairs. She doesn’t find Lynne, but she does find a suicide note in which Lynne says that she had been acting in a way that was ‘no way to behave’!!! She realizes that the strange smell was exhaust, and runs out of the house and to the garage. She hears a car running, but can’t get the door open! When she jumps up to look in the window, she sees Lynne in the running car, dead!

At the funeral Scott thinks it’s dumb that Crystal is crying about Lynne being dead. After all, Lynne is dead because she ‘couldn’t behave’. He forced her by knifepoint to write the note and then locked her in the garage. He doesn’t like Crystal still because she had been throwing herself at him, but now that she’s stopped she’s a little better. He DOES, however, like Melinda, because MELINDA DOES know how to behave. He’s so relieved that Lynne is dead because now he won’t have to kill anyone ever again! Unless, of course, Crystal can’t behave…

A while later Melinda and Crystal are having another sisterly heart to heart, spilling their feelings and working out their differences. Melinda admits that she was jealous that Crystal and Lynne were so close. They are considering going to Jake’s house for a party when Scott calls! Crystal answers and they chat, and he says that he’d really hate for what happened to Lynne to happen to her. Crystal chalks it up to him just being worried about her, but then she’s floored, FLOORED when he says he actually wants to talk to Melinda! So Crystal hands the phone off, and Melinda talks to Scott… He then asks her to come over to the party at Jake’s! Melinda is freaking out, unsure of what to do or how to act, and Crystal encourages her to wear something cute and not like her dumpy usual clothes. Melinda isn’t sure, but Crystal says she will get her looking good, what a good deed she’s doing! And under normal circumstances, yes, but…..

At Jake’s party Scott is disgusted by all displays of women feeling confident in themselves. And when Melinda arrives, he is horrified to see her in a SHORT SKIRT!!! SO EVIL! But he does like that she waits to be invited in, so her manners are impeccable and that’s enough to grant a stay of execution for now. Later that night when Melinda gets home Crystal wants to hear everything. Melinda says that he didn’t kiss her goodnight, but he DID tell her about his old girlfriend, and that she died. He even cried about it. And then he asked her out for a movie that Saturday night. Crystal is wary about this, and she wonders if she’s just jealous, or if something else is nagging at her…

That Saturday Crystal is ‘helping’ Melinda get ready for her date. Melinda isn’t interested in wearing fancy clothes or make up, and refuses to let Crystal put any on. When Crystal protests, Melinda says that this is the way she dresses and she doesn’t want to gussy up! Crystal forces some blush on her, and there’s no time for Melinda to take it off because Scott is there to pick her up. Of course, when he sees her wearing MAKE UP he is FURIOUS. He takes the highway to the movie, and considers throwing her out the door! He almost does it too, but then changes his mind because he REALLY likes her, so he’s going to give her one more chance! Ugh. When Melinda gets home from her date she laments to Crystal that Scott doesn’t like her because he was quiet the whole time. Crystal says that that’s because Melinda is giving him mixed signals! SHE NEEDS TO DRESS SEXY AND WEAR MAKE UP, DAMMIT!

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(source)

Guys, I’m so frustrated. Like, okay, Scott is disgusting because he is a violent misogynist, and girls can wear make up and sexy outfits because him valuing purity is ridiculous and it does nothing but reduce women to objects, and this objectification of them when they don’t live up to his standards allows him to see them as less than human, and therefore okay to kill. BUT IN THE SAME VEIN, if Melinda doesn’t want to wear sexy outfits and doesn’t want to wear make up, THAT IS OKAY TOO!!! Why are we trying to make this into a value thing by saying that ‘oh no, Crystal wanting to gussy her up is going to get her killed!’, when in reality SCOTT IS GOING TO KILL HER BECAUSE HE’S NUTS!? Fuck this book.

Crystal makes Melinda go to school dressed up in full makeover mode, and Melinda says she isn’t comfortable. Crystal brushes off her sister’s lack of comfort, and spots Scott down the hallway. When she approaches him he’s slamming his fist into his locker and screaming about ‘no way to behave’, but when he sees her he tells her that he forgot his combination. Crystal is relieved because she was certain he was losing it (YA THINK?!), and then drags him down the hall to see Melinda. She’s convinced that his sudden look of shock is a positive thing.

A few days later Melinda is getting ready for her date with Scott, asking Crystal for advice on clothing. Now she’s apparently into fashion. Crystal is taking her sister’s relationship with Scott like a champ, and is going out with a friend that night to take her mind off of it. But she keeps thinking about ‘no way to behave’, because that was the phrase Lynne used in her suicide note, how weird! YES CRYSTAL, IT IS WEIRD! Meanwhile, Scott is pissed that Melinda is so dressed up, and she can tell that he’s upset. She tells him that she and Crystal have been trying to hard, what with her new look and all, and then Scott realizes that it’s CRYSTAL that’s been making her change her look! He tells her that he likes her the way she was, and that this is all Crystals’ fault! So now he thinks he has to kill Crystal! Melinda gets home and yells at Crystal about all the clothing, certain that Crystal was trying to sabotage her, and when she uses the phrase ‘no way to behave’, Crystal FINALLY gets it! She tells Melinda she thinks there’s something VERY wrong with Scott, and reminds her of the locker thing and the fact his girlfriend died, but Melinda doesn’t want to hear it and locks herself in her room. Crystal goes to HER room and looks out the window at Scott’s room, and sees him with a knife in his hand! She turns off her light so he doesn’t see her, but then he’s gone…. and heading outside and towards their house through the rainstorm that’s going on outside!! He rings the doorbell, and Crystal tells Melinda not to open it, but Melinda doesn’t listen and lets him inside. He then proceeds to chase Crystal up the steps, knife in hand!! He tackles her and is about to stab her, but Melinda at the bottom of the steps claims that THAT is Melinda he’s attacking (see, they look a LOT alike now that she’s all made over and shit). Scott is confused, but falls for it, and goes back DOWN the steps, now chasing Melinda! He attacks her, but Crystal smashes a vase over his head. The phone is dead because of the rain storm outside, and so the sisters run up to the attic. They hide in the steamer trunk, and Scott comes up into the attic. He realizes they have to be in the trunk, and knocks it over. They fall out, but he can’t tell them apart in the bad light, so he’s going to just have to kill them both…. but before he can he falls through the attic floor (I guess it was established earlier in the book that there was a hole, but I missed it). We get one more jump scare with him grabbing Crystal’s leg when she goes to investigate, but then he passes out.

Three months later Melinda and Crystal are thick as thieves. Melinda is still wearing cooler clothing, but is also still true to herself because she still likes books or something. Scott’s parents moved away and he’s locked up in a mental institution. As the sisters are getting ready to watch an old movie, they notice that a moving truck has pulled up to the house next door. A cute boy jumps out of the car. Melinda says that she ‘saw him first!’ The End.

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Gross. (source)

 

Body Count: 3, kinda. We got Dana off page, a dog, and Lynne.

Romance Rating: Zipola. Fuck that.

Bonkers Rating: 5, mostly because Scott’s psychosis was all over the place.

Fear Street Relevance: I’ll give it an 8! Both Scott and Crystal live on Fear Street and lots of the important action takes place there because of it.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“She tugged open the door. Saw someone standing there. Saw someone staring back at her. And started to scream.”

… And it was a mirror!!!

That’s So Dated! Moments: Well Stine is making references to Demi Moore movies again, since Crystal thinks that if she makes her voice husky like Moore she’ll be more desirable. Also, she and Lynne think that Scott looks like Keanu Reeves, but honestly I’m looking at that cover and I am NOT seeing that at all.

Best Quote:

“‘I’m not like you,’ Melinda told her. ‘I’m quiet. I don’t want to go out just to go out. If I enjoy someone’s company – great. But I don’t want someone around whose main purpose is to keep me from being alone.'”

That is actually the most introspective moment I’ve ever seen in a “Fear Street” book, so props to you, Melinda!

Conclusion: “The Boy Next Door” wasn’t exactly promoting violent misogyny, given that Scott is clearly the bad guy in this, but it was still a little too hard to read given the higher awareness of violence towards women because of ideas of purity and chastity and owing men things simply because they’re women. So this is a hard, hard pass. Next up is “Night Games”. 

A Revisit to Fear Street: “The Confession”

2870109Book: “The Confession” (Fear Street #38) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1996

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: Five close friends…one murderer.

All Julie’s friends hated Al. They all wished Al were dead. But that doesn’t mean one of them killed him. Julie knows her friends. She knows they are innocent…

Until one of them confesses.

Julie and her friends promise to keep the killer’s secret. After all, they know he would never kill again.

Or would he?

Had I Read This Before: No

The Plot: We meet Julie, our first person narrator, and she immediately starts waxing philosophical about what you would do if a friend of yours confessed to killing someone? Would you call the police? Tell his parents? Try to convince him to tell his parents? Tell your OWN parents? Or keep his secret? After all, at seventeen she thought she knew all the answers, but now, she sees the world is a bit more nuanced than that (and Julie, if you had seen ALL Twitter takes on the day of John McCain’s funeral, you’d realize that adults ALSO have a terrible time with nuance, so don’t get excited for knowledge with age). We then jump back in time to May, when it all began. Julie was hanging out with her friends Hillary Walker (intense, kind, smart) and Taylor Snook (new girl, cultured, a total bitch) at Julie’a house, sitting around the table drinking Mountain Dew, eating chips, and gossiping about boys. There’s Vincent, another member of their friend group, whom Julie has a HUGE crush on, and has for a long time… But that’s another story, she says. Then there’s Sandy, another friend who is a bit quiet and geeky, but whom Taylor has been dating (which is why they are friends with Taylor now). No one knows why Taylor likes him so much, but apparently that TOO is another story, and I get the feeling that they are going to be stories within this story. Then the final cog in this friendship machine, Al Freed, barges into the house and starts irritating all of them. Al USED to be friends with them, but then he started dressing in black and hanging out with some “hard dudes” from Waynesbridge (NOOOOO), who drink beer and cause trouble. Hell, he even brought a beer to her house! He starts berating Julie for twenty dollars, and when she says no he threatens to tell her Mom that he saw her smoking at the mall that past weekend. This is especially bad because Julie promised her Mom she’d never smoke in high school again, and her Mom bribed her with a thousand dollar reward if she kept that promise (DAMN, are we in North Hills?!). Apparently she gave him twenty dollars previously to not tell. He threatens to burn a hole in the table with his cigarette unless she coughs up the money, and when Hillary speaks up he threatens to tell the world that she cheated on an exam (an exam HE gave her the answers to, mind you) unless SHE gives him twenty bucks, and she hands it over. UMMMM, honestly girls, if this kid has such a bad reputation, why not just say that he’s lying? Do you think people would believe that kid who dresses in black and hangs out with those hard dudes from Waynesbridge of all places? As Al is leaving Julie’s Mom comes home and finds Al’s beer can in the sink and finds his cigarette on the floor, and so she grounds Julie on the spot, which means Julie can’t go to a hot party. This seems a bit unfair on her Mom’s part, since Al is out of control and Julie doesn’t seem to be able to control if he walks in and out of her own home, but oh well.

According the Hillary the party was amazing, much to Julie’s chagrin. A week later, though, as they are meeting their friends at Sandy’s house after school, Hillary is telling Julie that Taylor was being very cruel to Sandy during said party, barely paying him any attention as he fetched her drinks, and making out with other boys when he wasn’t looking. Hillary’s afraid that Sandy is going to get hurt, but Julie still thinks that they make a good couple (?????), and thinks that Hillary is jealous. They go to Sandy’s house, and Hillary confesses that she lent Al her car because she’s afraid he’ll tell about the chemistry exam, and Julie agrees that they’re in the same, blackmail-y boat. But honestly, Al is doing this like a chump, he should have taken tips from Adam from “The Cheater”, oh, but wait, that creep is dead, rightfully so. Julie says that he’ll eventually get bored with blackmailing them, and listen Julie, that’s not how blackmail tends to work. Sandy lets the girls into his home and asks them if they heard about Al, and Taylor tells them that Al was suspended! Apparently he picked a fight with one of the school wrestlers, and lost. Vincent says that if Al’s gonna mess up someone’s life it may as well be his own. As everyone is basking in Al’s downfall, Taylor (who oddly had time to change clothes, according to Julie) asks why they ever hung out with Al, and then proclaims she’s hungry, so Sandy hops to it to get her some chips and salsa (though he can’t open the lid, and Hillary has to do it. Instead of her just being naturally stronger we find out her Dad has a LOT of work out equipment in the basement). Then there is a pounding on the door, and Al is demanding that they let him in. He’s also super drunk (or ‘skunked’, or ‘totaled’, as the slang is here), and throwing himself against the door. Instead of calling the cops on his violent and drunk ass, Sandy lets him in. He goes straight for the fridge, and starts looking for more beer. Sandy tells him to stop, but Al goes on on all of them, asking why they think they’re better than him, and saying that Taylor only pretends to like them. Sandy tries to get him to leave the fridge, but Al starts roughing him up. Luckily, Hillary is ready for a fight, and SHE is the one to knock some sense into him. Al, drunk and humiliated, leaves.

Al is suspended for two weeks, and Julie is happy that she doesn’t have to see him in the halls. She’s meeting Vincent at his house to work on a chemistry project, sporting a cute new outfit, but Vincent is too wigged out to notice. He tells her that he lent Al his mom’s car, because he’d taken the car out that previous Saturday night without permission, and got a speeding ticket! And who had seen the whole thing go down? Al. And Al threatened to tell. Now he’s late bringing the car back. And when he DOES bring it back, it has been crunched up in the front! Al says that it wasn’t his fault, he didn’t see the stop sign because of the leaves on a tree! Vincent snaps, and attacks Al, and after Julie pulls him off Al runs away.

Later that week Julie calls Vincent to see if he’s going to the Roller Rink, as he’s a goof on skates. I totally, totally get why Julie has a crush on this kid, the descriptions that Stine gives him make him sound like the most appealing guy that he’s ever created. Gangly, kind, funny, awkward, I love Vincent as much as Julie does! Sadly, he can’t go, as he’s been grounded because of the car. Not only is he grounded, he has to work off the money it’s going to take to fix the car, and that means that he won’t be able to apply for his dream job this summer, which is, get this…. SUMMER CAMP COUNSELOR! He wants to help kids have fun this summer!!!

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High school Kate would have been in love with this kid! (source)

Julie and Vincent are both bummed out that he can’t go, and Julie says goodbye. When her other friends pick her up, she relays what happened. Hillary and Taylor are infuriated, but Sandy is oddly quiet… They get to the roller rink, and Sandy is doting over Taylor and her skates because she can’t figure out how to lace them (seriously?), and Julie is further saddened that Vincent isn’t there because he would have made a funny joke about it. They skate awhile, but eventually the group tapers off; Taylor and Sandy go off somewhere after making out, and then Hillary runs into some friends from Waynesbridge (who AREN’T hard dues, I assume), so Julie decides to skate awhile longer before bussing home. She cuts out through the back alley, as it’s a shortcut to the bus stop, but when she gets out there she sees Al. And someone has strangled him with rollerblade laces, AND shoved a rollerblade INTO HIS MOUTH!!! Julie freaks out, and as she’s standing over his body some shrimpy brats she used to babysit for see her and scream that she must have killed him!

Well the police don’t think she did, of course, but they still have to question her at the station. The lead detective doesn’t understand why Al was murdered, as he doesn’t see a motive as he wasn’t robbed. When he asks Julie if Al carried large sums of money that could have gone missing, she tells him no, he was always bugging her for cash (her parents are there, rightfully so, and they are surprised by this revelation). The detective asks her who might have had a grudge against Al, Julie DOES bring up the Waynesbridge creeps he’s been hanging out with (good, good), but then also says that Al was irritating to ALL of her friends (BAD, BAD).

At the funeral there are lots of rumors swirling around, and Julie is certain that none of her friends could have done it. Afterwards, the friends all go back to Sandy’s house to try and relax, have time together, blah blah blah. Vincent offers to get everyone sodas from the kitchen, and Julie follows him. He asks her how SHE is doing, since she was the one who found the horrifically brutalized body, but before she can really get into it Sandy calls everyone into the living room. Once everyone has gathered, he says that he has something to tell them: he’s the one who killed Al! Taylor starts to scream, insisting it isn’t true, but he says that it is. Hillary is mad that he told them, because now he’s involved all of them in it, and Hillary, if Vincent is the nicest coolest boy Stine has ever written, you are probably the most pragmatic and excellent girl! Sandy is pissed that she’s pissed because he did it ESPECIALLY for her, he says, and points out that they ALL hated Al and he did them a favor! Hillary says that now they are obligated to tell on him, and Taylor says NO WAY, and Julie tends to agree with Taylor, because Sandy is their FRIEND, and his life shouldn’t be ruined over this. Because HEY, if you murder someone you don’t LIKE, it’s TOTALLY okay, right?

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Detective Tutuola would like a word… (source)

Julie is having nightmares about Sandy now, and at graduation rehearsal she tells Hillary that she’s having second thoughts, and wishes that he hadn’t told them at all. Hillary agrees, as she feels especially bad because Sandy thought he was doing it for HER. They then realize that Taylor was watching them, and as she walks away they wonder if she heard them expressing their doubts. As they are walking back to Julie’s they are paranoid that someone is following them, but they don’t see anyone. What they DO see, however, is the police cruiser in Julie’s driveway, and it’s Officer Reed, the detective to questioned her the night she found Al’s body. Julie wants to run, but she and Hillary walk up to the door calmly. Julie, having no chill, blurts out that her parents AREN’T HOME, even though they totally are. Officer Reed says that he has a couple more questions for her. And then her Mom pops her head out the door, so there is no excuse not to have him question them. He runs some names by Julie and Hillary, but the girls pretty much remain clamped up, even though they WANT to confess. Eventually he leaves, and the girls look out the window and see SANDY HIDING BEHIND A TREE! Was he the one following them earlier?! They try to confront him, but he runs away before they can.

Later that week Sandy is still acting funny. He and Vincent get into a huge fight, and Julie is convinced that they will never look at Sandy the same way again because of what he did. That Saturday Hillary and Julie are going to go to the new Jude Law movie (though I hear tell in the original printing it was Keanu Reeves, which has funnily enough become more plausible again!), and Julie calls Vincent to see if he wants to come, He says that he can’t, and Julie is sad that their group is falling apart! She gets to the theater a little late, but Hillary has her ticket ready to go. Julie tells her to save her a seat, she wants to stop at the bathroom. She then bumps into Taylor, who starts to berate her for being such a bad friend, because Sandy is NOT a killer and he’s hurt that Julie has turned her back on him. Julie asks Taylor if she overheard what she and Hillary were saying at graduation rehearsal, and if she told Sandy. Taylor denies it, but Julie doesn’t believe her.

After another graduation rehearsal, Julie gets home late, and when she gets out of her car and closes the garage door, she sees someone duck under and inside. It’s Sandy. He asks her why she’s been talking to the police. She says that Officer Reed just showed up, and why was he following her? He says he just happened to be in the neighborhood, but Julie calls out that blatant lie. She says she thinks the police are close to solving it, and he freaks out on her, saying not to believe that. He then says he wants things to go back to how they were, and that he’s having a pre-graduation party at his house that next Friday, and that she better come, or else. When Julie confides in Hillary about it the next day, Hillary says that he threatened her too. They deign NOT to sit with Sandy and Taylor at lunch, and Vincent sits with them, saying that he was threatened by Sandy as well. Sandy and Taylor stare menacingly at them the entire time, which no doubt makes for an awkward meal.

Taylor confronts Julie and Hillary again, and this time she and Hillary come to fisticuffs. The fight ends with Taylor vomiting all over the place (why?!), and Hillary getting scratches on her neck. They never thought that Taylor cared about Sandy so much, but Hillary says that she’s done, and she’s going to tell the police everything. Julie tries to convince her that Sandy’s life will be ruined, but Hillary shuts that shit down. She points out that Sandy didn’t HAVE to confess to them, but he did because he wanted them to admire him for it, and because he wanted to impress Taylor. Julie says that he won’t kill again, but Hillary isn’t convinced, given his new predilection for threatening them. Hillary thinks on it a bit, but then says that she wants to talk to Sandy before she goes to the cops, and asks Julie to drop her off at his house. Julie obeys (ARE YOU NUTS?), and Hillary tells her to go home, she will call as soon as she is done. Julie is tempted to wait for her, but decides to do as she’s told.

Julie waits impatiently for Hillary to call, and gets even more nervous when Hillary’s mom calls asking her if she’s seen Hillary. Julie says no, and they hang up. She is now convinced that Sandy did something to Hillary. But Hillary does call a few hours later. And when she does, she has her own confession. SHE KILLED SANDY!

Julie drives to Hillary’s house, and when she gets there she finds Taylor and Vincent are there as well. Hillary tells Julie that she hasn’t told them yet, and then has them all gather so she can tell them everything. As soon as he confesses, Taylor loses it. Hillary says that she went to confront Sandy, and he attacked her. She hit him with a sculpture in self defense, and it killed him. She says that she’s going to turn herself in now. Taylor screams at Hillary asking her why Sandy had to die? Because Sandy didn’t kill Al!! TAYLOR DID!!! Because she had been going out with Al BEHIND SANDY’S BACK! And apparently she stole some money from her parents to give to him, and he started blackmailing her over it. They got in a fight behind the skating rink, and he got rough with her, which made her snap. She ran to Sandy, and he said that he would confess for her. So now she’s enraged that Hillary killed an innocent man!! But wait, what’s that? A ring of the doorbell? Who could it be? When Hillary opens the door, it’s SANDY!!!!!! When Hillary confronted him that afternoon, it wasn’t about going to the police, it was because she’d figured out that he was covering for Taylor!! And they thought that the best way to get Taylor to confess was to fake his death!

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(source)

A couple weeks later, Vincent and Julie are walking home. He then says he has a confession to make: he’s had a crush on her since they were in third grade. Julie screams with glee. The End.

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Not bad, Stine! Not bad! (source)

Body Count: 1. And no one was sad.

Romance Rating: I mean, it averages out to a 5. Julie and Vincent are adorable when they finally get together, so those marks are high. But Sandy willingly throwing himself under the bus for Taylor were low marks to be sure.

Bonkers Rating: 4. It wasn’t totally crazy, outside of a rollerblade shoved into Al’s mouth, because OUCH.

Fear Street Relevance: 2. Julie lives there, but this fact is thrown in haphazardly near the end of the novel.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“The next night – Friday Night – I killed him.”

… Except no she didn’t, and she explains

“Well, SOME people thought I killed Al…  But of course I didn’t.”

Oh fuck yourself, Julie.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Well for one thing, look at that RAD ROLLERBLADING ENSEMBLE on the original cover! For another, Julie says that her Mom says that she looks like Demi Moore.

Best Quote:

“‘Why’d they suspend him?’

Vincent grinned at us. ‘Al rolled up his English term paper and smoked it in front of Mrs. Hirsch.’

Hillary and I both gasped. ‘You’re kidding!’ I cried.

Vincent’s grin grew wider. ‘Yeah. I’m kidding. He got into a fight.'”

Vincent is the best.

Conclusion: “The Confession” was actually pretty okay!! I kind of figured out the ending but I loved the way that it was executed, and I liked the characters in this one more than I have in other “Fear Street” books. Next up is “The Boy Next Door”!

 

 

A Revisit to Fear Street: “The Perfect Date”

656718Book: “The Perfect Date” (Fear Street #37) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1996

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: Brady Karlin is getting on with his life. The memory of his girlfriend — killed in a gruesome sledding accident last year — is beginning to fade. Now he’s met Rosha Nelson, the girl of his dreams. And he’s never been happier. 
Until Brady starts to see a strange figure — with a terribly scarred face — following him everywhere. Until the horrible accidents start happening — every time Rosha’s around. 
Has dating Rosha made Brady’s dreams come true? Or brought his worst nightmares back to life?

Had I Read This Before: Yes (and after re-reading it I’m thinking this was when I gave up on “Fear Street” as a whole)

The Plot: We start with another prologue, but this one isn’t vague at all. Brady and his girlfriend Sharon Noles are going sledding on a snow day. Brady, after commenting on Sharon’s cute button nose, says they should go sledding down a huge, ice covered, ski slope of a hill. Sharon is skeptical and suggests the smaller kiddie hill, but Brady, speaking like a true Kennedy, says he’s more interested in the dangerous one. So Sharon agrees, and he promises they’ll go down it together and that nothing will happen. Since we as women have been conditioned to be polite, Sharon agrees, and they climb the hill and start the slide down. And, surprising no one, it’s a terrible idea. Brady bails out, but then watches Sharon hit a tree and go flying into some thorn bushes. When he runs to her, he turns her lifeless body over. Not only is she dead, but her face has been totally torn up by the thorns.

FLASH FORWARD to a year later. Brady and his friend Jon are having a pizza lunch, and Brady is telling Jon that he DID ask Lisa if Lisa was interested in Jon, but she’s actually interested in HIM. Apparently Brady has all the girls fawning over him, and revels in the attention in spite of the fact he has a new girlfriend named Allie. Not only is the cashier flirting with him, he also has caught the attention of a pretty girl sitting a few tables over. Brady decides that she’s SO pretty that he HAS to go talk to her, and brushes off Jon’s protests about the fact that he has a girlfriend. What a catch this Brady is. He goes over and introduces himself to the pretty girl, and she says her name is Rosha Nelson. He asks her about her name, and she says that her Mom is obsessed with romance novels and named her after some obscure protagonist. He then asks her out, and she suggests Saturday. He offers to pick her up, but she says that they can just meet at the mall at 6 since she’s going to be there to do some shopping for her Mom. She then accidentally spills hot coffee on his hand. She apologizes profusely, and they part ways. Jon suggests that Brady do something about his hand, but Brady doesn’t care.

At school the next day, Allie asks Brady what happened to his hand and he deflects. She asks if he wants to go out for pizza that night, but he says he has to study. She then asks him what time he’s picking her up for the game the next night, but OH NO, that’s the night that Brady has a date with Rosha! So Brady says he has to babysit some random made up cousin who is VERY sick, and Allie falls for it, poor thing. They agree that they’ll meet each other for a study date on Sunday, and part ways. Brady feels a little weird lying to his GIRLFRIEND, but is SO entranced with Rosha he doesn’t really care. He then thinks about Sharon (yes, it took this long to even acknowledge the girl he had been dating who died horrifically), and all he really thinks about is how awful her face was when he found her.

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(source)

Brady goes to the mall and worries that Rosha isn’t going to show, but she is there and she seems as happy to see him as he is to see her. She suggests that they go to Waynesbridge to go see the new Brad Pitt movie, and he thinks that’s a good idea because that means their chances of running into Allie’s friends are low. He then asks where her shopping bags are, since she’s supposedly shopping for her Mom, and she claims she didn’t find anything her Mom would like.

They go to the movie (it’s described as some kind of horror film so I GUESS these guys are seeing “Se7en”?), and Rosha cuddles up to Brady the whole time. WHen the movie is done they walk to his car, and he talks about how he feels like he knows her so well already. She says it must be fate, and they continue walking. As they do, however, Brady sees a strange girl watching them. A girl with ugly scars all over her face, and she is staring at them. Brady is a little freaked out, but forgets about it when Rosha asks if she can drive his car. But it’s his Dad’s precious Oldsmobile Cutlass, a car that Brady had to PROMISE to be extra careful with because it’s SO important (BUY AMERICAN, FOLKS!). Rosha sulks, and her petulance convinces Brady that yes, she should absolutely drive his car back to Shadyside. Rosha, of course, drives like a lunatic, and after pulling some kind of Evil Knieval bullshit she crashes the car and sends Brady smacking into the windshield. He’s a bit dizzy, and Rosha freaks out saying that they HAVE to switch places because she doesn’t have her license yet. Brady agrees, and they switch seats. When the police come, Brady turns to reference his date, but Rosha has disappeared.

The next day Brady and Jon are walking up to Allie’s house. The car is totaled and Brady took the fall, and has a huge lump on his head. Jon thinks that Rosha is bad news, but Brady defends her behavior. At this point I decide that this must have a supernatural element to it because unless she has some kind of thrall on him, there’s NO WAY THAT HE WOULD WANT TO SEE HER AGAIN AFTER THAT. He also reminds Jon that Allie think he was babysitting the night before, and Jon agrees to cover. Allie asks him why he was taking such a FANCY car to go babysitting, but Brady says he thought the tires would be better. Brady is also sad because, even though he has a lovely and kind girlfriend, he doesn’t have the phone number of the girl who berated him into handing the keys over, crashed the car, and then ditched out. But he DOES have her last name! While Allie goes to check on Jon, Brady skims the names, finding a whole lot of Nelsons. He says he isn’t feeling well and leaves, determined to find Rosha.

When Brady gets home, he finds a cop car parked outside his house. He panics, thinking that maybe they found out he wasn’t driving, but the cop instead shows him that they found a purse underneath the front seat of the car. It’s Rosha’s! Brady, wanting to explain away her fleeing of the scene of an accident, says that she must have left it in his car after he dropped her off on a separate occasion. Plus, now he can look at her ID (not a driver’s license though, brainiac) and get her address that way. But when he takes the purse up to his room, he finds that it’s completely empty. Which makes little sense, because wasn’t she shopping for her Mom??? The phone rings, and it’s Allie, not only checking in on him, but also telling him that she copied all the notes that she and Jon took and that she will give them to him tomorrow. But Brady is still thinking only about Rosha.

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It bears repeating. (source)

She then brings up the fact that they’re going to Mei Kamata’s ice skating party the next Saturday, and he says sure before making an excuse to hang up so he can start calling all the Nelsons in the phone book. He doesn’t get far before his phone rings again. He thinks it’s Allie, but no. It’s a strange voice telling him to stay away from Rosha. Perhaps it’s his common sense giving him a ring.

The next day at school Brady gives Allie the brush off again and tells Jon that they’re going to St. Ann’s, the school that Rosha said she goes to. Jon says that he has work, but Brady tells him that he has PLENTY OF TIME and should totally risk his job for his would be girlfriend, were Allie out of the picture. Jon declines, expressing his disapproval again. Brady goes to St. Ann’s, but no one has heard of Rosha, by name or description. One guy Brady is convinced is lying and he starts to wail on him, but then thinks he sees Rosha and runs for her. But it’s the scarred girl! Disgusted and disturbed, Brady rushes off, and then DOES see Rosha across the field. He asks her about the scarred girl, but Rosha says she doesn’t know anyone like that. He says that no one at St. Ann’s knows who she is, and she blows up at him, saying that she’s a brand new student, so of COURSE they don’t, and also is he spying on her?! She tells him to go, but he begs her to stay, apologizing for checking around the school about her. She then apologizes for ditching, and says she’d love to help pay for the damages but if she tells her Dad he’ll be angry and won’t let her see him again. And since they can’t have THAT, Brady agrees to keep quiet. He gives her her purse back, and asks why it was empty, and Rosha says that she was SO excited to hang out with him she grabbed the wrong one. She then asks if he’ll go out with her again that Saturday, and even though he has Mei Kamata’s party with Allie, he agrees. That night when he gets home he gets another mysterious phone call from a strange girl saying that she saw him with Rosha. He figures out it’s the girl with the scarred face. She tells him to stay away from Rosha, and he tells her to leave him alone.

At school the next day  while they are lifting weights, Jon asks Brady about the party, and Brady says he broke his date with Allie in favor of dancing with Rosha, claiming that he’s grounded until he can get a job to pay for the car repairs. Jon says that he should really just dump Allie if he’s going to keep doing this, but Brady is dragging his dumb ugly feet, and then tells Jon about the scarred girl and the phone calls. Jon thinks it’s weird too, and as Brady keeps lifting weights above his head he glances out the window and sees the scarred girl! He’s so startled he drops the weights on himself, and as Jon helps him he tells Jon what he saw. Jon looks out the window, but says no one is there, and suggests if there IS a scarred girl Brady is probably upset because she reminds him of Sharon. Brady says he has to go find Rosha and see if she can remember anything, and Jon says that he doesn’t really KNOW anything about her, but Brady isn’t concerned. He grabs the phone number and address she wrote down for him, and finds a pay telephone to call her. But the phone number doesn’t work! So he looks at the address, 7142 Fear Street, and decides to go to her house. But when he gets to Fear Street, there are no more houses above 7136!!

The next day Brady is at home OBSESSING over Rosha, when she arrives at his door! He’s SO happy to see her, and invites her inside. They trip over the rug (gee is THAT going to be important later?), and he leads her into the living room. She picks up a letter opener (and is THAT going to be important later?!), and asks her about her house. She says that she does so live on Fear Street, and when she looks at the napkin she says that it’s CLEARLY a 1, not a 7, and he must have driven right past. He’s not sure, and asks about the phone, and she says that it was working that morning, and what is this, a ‘court-trial’!? She asks why he’s so suspicious, but before they can really hash out her lies, they hear a car door slam! Brady looks out the window, and it’s ALLIE!! He asks her to make herself scarce, but as he’s shooing her away she trips on the rug and impales Brady with the letter opener! Allie rushes inside and demands to know who Rosha is, and Brady passes out as they are trying to take him to the hospital.

Brady wakes up in the hospital, and his parents tell him that he’s going to be fine. When they go to the cafeteria to get some coffee, Brady tries to sleep. But he opens his eyes and sees THE SCARRED GIRL! She tells him that she didn’t come to hurt him, but the warn him about Rosha. But before she can, a doctor comes in and tells her that she has to leave. So she does before she can tell Brady what’s going on.

Brady gets home from the hospital on Saturday, and Allie comes to visit him. Allie, who had come to visit him, and cared about him, and worried about him. But he wants ROSHA, who…. hasn’t been seen since. As he and Allie talk, she reveals that Rosha told her EVERYTHING, and she dumps him. GOOD. FOR. YOU. GIRL. That night, Jon calls Brady, and says that the girl with the scars is at his house and has told him stuff about Rosha, so can he please come over? I think that maybe Jon should go to Brady, since Brady just got discharged from the hospital, but what do I know? Brady gets another call, but no one is on the line, so he switches back to Jon, who is no longer answering. So Brady decides to go over there to see what’s up. But when he arrives, there are emergency vehicles!! And Jon is DEAD! His throat has been crushed with a marble candlestick! Brady is questioned by the police who are on the scene, and after they’re done he wonders if the girl with the scars killed Jon, since she was supposedly there. But then, what did he want to tell Brady about Rosha??? When Brady gets home, he finds a message from Rosha on the answering machine, seeing if they’re still going dancing that night, and suggesting that he meet her at the park. Brady, now wanting answers, tells himself that he will be there.

He gets to the park and doesn’t see Rosha anywhere. Also, it’s super cold and windy, because of course it is. Thinking that Rosha may be at the top of it, Brady climbs up Miller Hill, and then sees Rosha approaching him. He meets her, so totally happy to see her, and she is happy to see him too. She says that it reminds her of the day that they went sledding together. Brady, confused, says ‘huh?’ and she tells him that he couldn’t have forgotten, becaus after all, that was the day that he KILLED HER!!

And this, my friends, is where it all. Falls. Apart.

She says that she isn’t Rosha, she’s Sharon! When Brady expresses his confusion at this, she says that DUH, ROSHA NELSON IS AN ANAGRAM OF SHARON NOLES. And as if a goddamn ANAGRAM is going to explain how Rosha is Sharon in spite of the fact 1) Sharon is VERY dead, and 2) Rosha looks NOTHING like Sharon, we get a lesson in what an anagram is. She says that she blames him for her death (valid, kinda), and she’s still so incensed that she came BACK FROM THE DEAD to get her revenge. How, you ask? WHY, BY ‘BORROWING’ A BODY! And how did she ‘borrow’ this body?

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(source)

We aren’t told how. We’re just told that she did. And then she starts to strangle him. And Brady is convinced that he’s dead. But NEVER FEAR!! Because Scarred Girl shows up, and she’s ready to throw down!! Apparently, it is HER body that Sharon ‘borrowed’, and she wants it back! But Sharon says that she’s keeping this body and too bad, because now Scarred Girl is dead and just a shell, and Scarred Girl says that no, she has been gathering strength and she is now strong enough to fight her for it!

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WHAT. IS. THIS. MAGICAL. SYSTEM. (source)

We are NOT given any explanation as to how any of this would work. Not even given some kind of magic spell, curse, hex, or whatever. Instead, Scarred Girl and Sharon start fighting each other over Sharon’s stolen and ‘beautiful’ body (yes, Scarred Girl, who is NEVER actually named, refers to it as her ‘beautiful body’), and they wrestles each other. Scarred Girl rips Sharon’s arm off, Sharon rips Scarred Girls legs off, more limbs are torn away, and then they rip each other’s HEADS off and tumble down the hill, disappearing when they hit the bottom. SO WAIT, I’M SORRY, was Scarred Girl’s body Sharon’s old body?! Wouldn’t Brady have recognized SOME PART of that, even if her face was horribly scarred? Was her body decomposed and THAT was the problem, not a bunch of scars?!? WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED HERE?!?!!?

Brady drags his sorry ass to Allie’s house. He surprises her on the back stoop, and says that he came to apologize and ask her to take him back. She says yes, and they go to embrace, and she remarks how cold he is. He tells her that he has to talk to her about that. See, he’s dead. Sharon killed him on Miller Hill. But he still wants her back, and moves his dead ass corpse in on her as she starts to scream. The End.

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That’s all I have to say about THAT. (source)

Body Count: 3? 4? I don’t even know.

Romance Rating: 1. Brady’s a cheater and he’s also a prick who pressured his girlfriend into performing a feat that killed her.

Bonkers Rating: It gets a 9, but not in a good way!

Fear Street Relevance: 3. Rosha sends Brady to Fear Street and we got a new rundown of the mythology. But none of the real action really happens there.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“Then the pain hit him. A searing, sizzling pain. His hand. His hand was on fire!”

…. IT’S JUST COFFEE, ASSHOLE.

That’s So Dated! Moments: This was an updated version of this book so nothing was really glaring, though Brady does use a printed White Pages phone book. OH, there’s also the Oldsmobile CUTLASS, the pinnacle of modern American engineering.

Best Quote:

“‘Whoa!’ Jon’s voice cried. ‘Major disaster with the nacho chips in here!'”

That, to me, is one of the most dire of disasters.

Conclusion: THIS. MADE. NO. SENSE. “The Perfect Date” was lazy and shocking for the sake of being shocking without having any reason to it. I know I read it and remembered not liking it, but I must have blocked all the nonsense out. PASS. Next up is “The Confession”. 

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”.