Kate’s Review: “Clueless: Senior Year”

34623127Book: “Clueless: Senior Year” by Amber Benson, Sarah Kuhn, Siobhan Keenan (Ill.)

Publishing Info: BOOM!Box, August 2017

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: Haven’t got your hands on the newest installment of this 90’s teen phenomenon? As if!

Your favorite girls from Beverly Hills are back in an all-new adventure! It’s senior year and Cher, Dionne, and Tai find themselves in a bit of a crisis of self… Where are they meant to go, and what are they meant to DO after high school? Luckily they have all year—and each other’s help—to figure it out!

Review: One of my all time favorite movies is “Clueless”. When I first saw it in fifth grade (my mom brought it home for us to watch together), I was immediately drawn to Cher Horowitz, our well meaning but flawed protagonist. I wanted to be her, wanted to live her life and be as clever and kind as she was. As an adult I still aspire to live up to her standards, so when I saw that a new graphic novel about Cher and her friends was coming out, I really could have only one reaction.


The story picks up shortly after the movie ends. Cher, Dionne, and Tai are starting their senior year of high school, and Ms. Geist challenges them and the other students in her class to determine what their post high school goals are by the end of the year, and to figure out what they want to be in the world. After this, we follow not just Cher, but also her best friends on a journey of self discovery that was both incredibly charming and completely empowering. In spite of my excitement over this book, I was also nervous because I hold this movie so close to my heart (and “Emma” as well, the Jane Austen book that it takes inspiration from). I was worried that it was going to perhaps rehash the movie in some way, or throw in drama for drama’s sake. But I am very happy to report that Amber Benson and Sarah Kuhn absolutely did justice to the film and it’s characters.

I first want to talk about the characters and the arcs themselves. I worship Cher Horowitz, but it’s important to remember that even though she gets her life together at the end of the movie, she’s still a teenager who is going to have moments of stumble along with moments of triumph. I was very worried about her relationship with Josh, the Mr. Knightley analog who is played by Paul Rudd in the movie. Cher and Josh are perfect together, but happy bliss usually means no conflict. And hey, I am aware that stories need conflict (even if that’s an easy grab for conflict). But I am happy to report that while I do wish that Josh had been around a bit more (but that’s all I will say), Benson and Kuhn took their relationship on a trajectory that felt realistic for the characters, but didn’t completely decimate the lovely romance that lives at the heart of it. And it was done in a way that we got to focus on Cher learning how to define herself without  basing it all on Josh and his needs. But the thing that caught me the most off guard in the best way possible was that we got similar treatments for both Dionne and Tai, Cher’s partners in crime but sidekick status only in the film. Dionne starts to suss out what it is she wants to be outside of a good friend and girlfriend, and gets interested in civics within the high school by running for class president. And Tai has a tough decision to make when she is accepted to art school, but a family tragedy makes her second guess what her priorities should be. This enabled them to move from “The Best Friend” (Dionne) and “The Ditzy One” (Tai) and become well rounded, three dimensional characters just like Cher. The justice given to these ladies was so, so satisfying.

The power of female friendship at the forefront! (source)

A number of tributes to the movie are sprinkled throughout the comic, which varied from being absolutely adorable to kind of ham fisted and distracting. The not so good were the kind of glaring references that didn’t feel like they really belonged (yes yes, Cher does wear Alaia in the movie during the robbery scene, but referencing Alaia in the way this graphic novel did was kind of awkward), or were misused completely. But smaller Easter eggs were far more entertaining (Dionne’s campaign signs saying that Murray is ‘toe-up’, for instance), and I liked seeing them. I was also a bit sad that so many classic characters from the movie were missing. Mel, Christian, Lucy, Mr. Hall, and Elton were no where to be seen, and given that I love ALL of the side characters in the movie I was sad when none of those arguably important faces could even muster a cameo.


I really liked the artwork for this book too. Not only did Siobhan Keenan really capture the styles and imagery from the movie, be it through outfits, faces, or background, she brought a fun and bubblegum pinache to the illustrations. With some potential manga influences as well just for funzies.


Bottom line is that if you like “Clueless” the movie, this graphic novel will never meet your standards of perfection. But it comes pretty close, and does a great job of carrying on the stories of these excellent teenage girls. I would say that it definitely improves upon the characters of Dionne and Tai, which is so excellent to see. Definitely check it out. If you miss it, I assure you, you’ll be totally buggin’.

Rating 8: A fun follow up to one of my very favorite movies! The nostalgia is great, and the characters are all fleshed out with a lot of positive girl power messages.

Reader’s Advisory:

“Clueless: Senior Year” isn’t on many Goodreads lists, but it is on “Black Girl Comics”, and I think that it should also be on “Girls Read Comics”.

Find “Clueless: Senior Year” at your library using WorldCat!

Kate’s Review: “Take Your Medicine”

38492306Book: “Take Your Medicine” by Hannah Carmack

Publishing Info: NineStar Press, March 2018

Where Did I Get This Book: I was sent an ARC from the author.

Book Description: Alice “Al” Liddell is from Echola, Alabama. She leads the life of a normal teen until the day she’s diagnosed with vasovagal syncope – a fainting disorder which causes her to lose consciousness whenever she feels emotions too strongly.

Her mother, the “Queen of Hearts,” is the best cardiothoracic surgeon this side of the Mason-Dixon Line and a bit of a local hero. Yet, even with all her skill she is unable to cure her daughter of her ailment, leading Al into the world of backwater witchcraft.

Along the way she meets a wacky cast of characters and learns to accept her new normal.

Take Your Medicine is a southern gothic retelling of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Review: I want to extend a very special thanks to Hannah Carmack, who was kind enough to provide me with an ARC of this novella! Keep your eyes out for a guest post from Hannah that I will be posting next week!

So maybe you’re asking yourself ‘Fantasy? Isn’t that Serena’s wheelhouse?’ And yes, this is true, but I do enjoy a fantasy story every now and again! I especially like stories that make reference to “Alice in Wonderland”, as that is one of my childhood favorites. With its nonsense adventures and kooky characters, that book has had a place in my heart for a long, long time. So when Hannah Carmack asked if we would read her book “Take Your Medicine,” I kind of jumped all over it. It had been since I’d played “American McGee’s Alice” in high school that I’d encountered an adaptation of Alice that I’ve really, deeply enjoyed.

Don’t EVER speak to me about this whole train wreck. (source)

So “Take Your Medicine” was a breath of fresh air for this Alice fiend. What I liked the most about it is that while it’s not a direct adaptation of the Alice story, it takes great influence from it and peppers homages throughout the narrative. Alice ‘Al’ Liddell is not a girl from the English countryside who falls into an alternate world of Wonderland; she is a teenager living in Alabama who has been dealing with vasovagal syncope her entire life. VVS causes her to have fainting spells in moments of stress or high emotion. The ‘Wonderland’ she encounters is near her rural home, and it involves some teenage witches named Rabbit and Kat, and her own mother, a surgeon known as the Queen of Hearts. What I loved the most about Rabbit and Kat is that while they are analogs for the White Rabbit and The Cheshire Cat, Carmack was very clever in her homages. It wasn’t like Rabbit was constantly checking her watch and freaking out about time, nor was Kat grinning like a fiend all day long. Instead the similarities were more based in subtleties, like Alice being drawn to Rabbit and attracted to her, and Kat being hard to read, motivation wise. And while I was worried that Al’s Mom, being the Queen of Hearts stand in, was going to be cruel and controlling, she was definitely more loving and understanding than I expected. Her strictness and control was born of out love for her daughter, and I thought that was a poignant choice. I loved looking for the other Wonderland characters within those that Al encounters throughout the novella.

The setting is just excellent. I love a good Southern Gothic novel, with sweeping and haunting vistas in backwoods and swamps in the American South. Moving an “Alice in Wonderland” adaptation from England to the American South works so well, because the landscapes and environments are dreamy and mysterious in their own right. I could totally imagine the characters walking through the backwoods, with the heat and the sounds of birds and insects permeating my imagination. I loved the descriptions, from Rabbit and Kat’s trailer to Al’s mother’s rose garden to a backwater dance party. They always felt very surreal and whimsical, and I was completely drawn into it, as I was in Wonderland so many years ago and so many times before.

Finally, as someone who is a big believer in the importance of diversity and representation in literature, especially juvenile and young adult literature, I was VERY pleased to see the diverse cast of characters in this book. Not only is Al a POC character who is living with a chronic illness, she is also exploring her own sexuality and her attraction to Rabbit. Carmack herself lives with an auto-immune disease, and so her story and the character of Al lends a voice to other teens who are living with chronic illnesses. Within the diverse books movement the Own Voices movement is super important, so I love that this book is out there removing stigma or confusion about what it can be like to live with a chronic illness.

“Take Your Medicine” was a highly enjoyable novella that did a spot on job of adapting “Alice in Wonderland”. I completely recommend that if you like the Alice stories you should go and get your hands on this novella.

Rating 8: A unique and sweet retelling of an old favorite. The fun characters and the diverse  cast made for a very enjoyable read.

Reader’s Advisory:

“Take Your Medicine” is new and not on any relevant Goodreads lists yet. But I think that it would fit in on “Best Retellings of Alice in Wonderland”, and “Best Southern Gothic Novels for YA”.

Find “Take Your Medicine” at both NineStar Press and Amazon.com.

A Revisit to Fear Street: “The First Evil”

107928Book: “The First Evil ” (Fear Street Cheerleaders #1) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1992

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

Book Description: “Give Me a D-I-E!”

Newcomers Corky and Bobbi Corcoran want more than anything to make the cheerleading squad at Shadyside High. But as soon as the Corcoran sisters are named to the team, terrible things happen to the cheerleaders.

The horror starts with a mysterious accident near the Fear Street cemetery. Soon after, piercing screams echo through the empty school halls. And then the ghastly murders begin…

Can Corky and Bobbi stop the killer before the entire cheerleading squad is destroyed?

Had I Read It Before: No.

The Plot: Oh man guys!!! The infamous “Cheerleaders” series!!! I never read them because I was so anti girly girl things I immediately wrote these books off as dumb just because they had cheerleaders in them. How wrong I was! Now as an adult I know that cheerleader stories bring the BEST kind of drama!!!

You know what the GIF theme for this review is going to be!! (source)

Bobbi and Corky Corcoran are sisters/BFFs, and when we first meet them they are putting a toy rat outside their little brother Sean’s door because he’s terrified of them. They then go join their parents for breakfast, and we get some exposition right out the gate. The Corcoran Family has just moved to Fear Street, and both Bobbi and Corky are already making jokes about their house being haunted and someone being murdered in Bobbi’s room. Bobbi and Corky are not twins, but apparently they look like it with their ‘lively green eyes, creamy, pale skin, and high cheekbones like models’. Oh boy. Bobbi is older but shorter, Corky is younger and lanky, blah blah blah, and poor Sean, recently freaked out by the fake rat, joins them and is inconsequential. We find out that cheerleader tryouts are that day, as Mrs. Corcoran has VERY strong feelings that her girls should be cheerleaders because they were just the best back at their old school, practically carrying the rest of the team to finals. Bobbi and Corky don’t know if they will be allowed to try out since the team has already been picked and it’s up to the cheerleaders, but since it’s clear their mother’s affection is based on their cheer status they better hope an exception is made. Apparently their alliance due to a stage mother only have certain limits, as Bobbi plays her own trick on Corky and pretends she’s dead just for a little bit. Ah, sibling love.

Now we meet Jennifer Daly, cheer captain and all around perfect girl who is described by Stine has having ‘full, sensual lips’. Huh. Jennifer is super slim and super nice, and her best friend/assistant Captain Kimmy Bass is….. not. She’s frenetic and ‘chunky’, so I guess she’s probably going to be the mean one. Kimmy is the one who doesn’t want Bobbi and Corky to try out, as the team has been built already, but Jennifer thinks that the Corcorans are SO good that they would be an asset. Miss Green, Cheer advisor, agrees, and Bobbi and Corky are told they can try out. The Corcorans do a routine that involves the chant ‘first and ten, do it again!’ and ‘Go Tigers!’, and I don’t know what all these movies are that Stine is describing but apparently it’s awesome because they are totally on the team now! Of course, Miss Green points out, that means that they have to cut someone. Jennifer targets the Frosh, Ronnie, to be bumped down to alternate, and Kimmy is livid at the injustice of it all. Kimmy, Ronnie, and some chick named Debra all convene in the locker room and bitch about how unfair it all is. Kimmy then gets burned in the shower, which is an excuse to 1) have a cliffhanter chapter ending, 2) mention Simmons, the stoner handyman who also drives the team bus, and 3) show off Kimmy’s necklace that has a megaphone pendant. Checkov’s pendant…..

A few weeks later the team is on the bus heading to a game in a huge rain storm! Bobbi and Corky have been pretty much accepted by everyone but Kimmy and Debra, and so many peppy cheers are flung in the bus. But oh no! Corky realizes that she and Bobbi left the fire batons at home! Annoyed by their irresponsibility by blinded by dreams of State Championships, Jennifer says that they can detour to Fear Street to get them. But the storm is super bad, and for some reason Simmons seems to lean into the storm and drive fast. As they are going down Fear Street, and after he inexplicably opens the doors to the bus, Simmons loses control! Probably too much reefer. The bus crashes, leaving all the girls in a heap. Bobbi, Corky, and the others manage to get out, and realize the bus crashed right smack dab into Fear Street Cemetery. They realize Jennifer is missing, and Bobbi remembers that right before they crashed, she had flown out the side door of the bus that was mysteriously open! They find her sprawled across the tombstone that belongs to Sarah Fear, who died in the 1800s. And she’s dead. An ambulance arrives and EMTs are immediately at Jennifer’s side. They pronounce her head, but then SURPRISE! She opens her eyes and it’s some kind of miracle! They load her into the ambulance, and Kimmy makes it VERY clear that she blames Bobbi and Corky for forgetting the fire batons and causing this detour.

I promise it won’t just be SNL cheerleaders, but this was too good. (source)

So the bad news is that Jennifer has been paralyzed and can’t walk anymore. This means that the squad needs a new captain, and Kimmy is convinced that she has it in the bag since she was assistant captain. Miss Green is holding a huge pep rally to make the announcement. Jennifer makes a speech about how grateful she is, and then Miss Green takes the stage and says that she’s so proud of the fighting spirit her cheerleaders have, and that she’s made her decision on who will replace Jennifer as captain, with Jennifer’s input. Kimmy is thrilled….. until Miss Green names Bobbi Corcoran!! So, okay, we are supposed to probably think that Kimmy is a poor sport in all of this, but I’m super empathetic to her. I’ve MULTIPLE times been in a situation where I have worked my butt off, paid my dues, been pretty damn good at something, and then instead of being rewarded (be it promotion or a starring role in a school play), a brand new person with not as much experience and work done but perhaps a tiny bit more pizzaz has been rewarded instead. I’ve been there. It FUCKING sucks. So I gotta be me, which means I gotta be Team Kimmy here, even if Bobbi is one of our main characters. Kimmy, abjectly humiliated, breaks from the celebration routine and runs out of the gym sobbing.

Bobbi is the new belle of the Shadyside High Social Hierarchy Ball, and is having many congratulations thrust upon her. Not only are a bunch of plebs she doesn’t know fawning over her, she is approached by CHIP CHASNER, quarterback for the Shadyside Tigers football team!!! If that doesn’t sound like royalty waiting to happen, I don’t know what does! They flirt a little bit, and he asks if she’s seeing anyone. She says no, and tosses the question back, and he gets a LITTLE skittish but says that he isn’t seeing anyone anymore, and suggests they go out for pizza after practice. Bobbi says yes, and it walking on cloud nine when she meets up with Jennifer at Jennifer’s home in North Hills. Apparently they were BFFs now, and I again feel for Kimmy because she and Jennifer were besties before now. Jennifer tells Bobbi she talked to Kimmy, and Kimmy will stay on the team, but she’s not happy about it. Bobbi, obtuse to the weird politics at play here, is relieved that Kimmy is coming back even though Kimmy hates her now, and Jennifer says that she better get used to it. Changing the subject, Bobbi tells Jennifer that Chip asked hr out on a date. And then Jennifer notifies her that until VERY recently, Chip was Kimmy’s boyfriend. Fucking Bobbi.

At cheer practice awhile later, Bobbi is having a hard time with her new captainly duties. The girls are out of step, Kimmy is still shooting daggers at her, and their routine of “Steam Heat” is a serious dud. Side bar: “Steam Heat” is from “The Pajama Game” and I remember watching that movie over and over and OVER as a kid. Doris Day for the win, bitches. Bobbi dismisses them for a dinner break before the game, and is bummed that only Corky is trying hard. Bobbi tells Corky she’ll meet her at home because she has to get her stuff. But while she’s in the hallway, suddenly all the lockers start opening and slamming shut. As she runs through a sea of lockers, a girl’s scream starts up too. Bobbi runs back to the front hallway of the school, it all stops. When she gets home and tells Corky, Corky thinks it must be the stress making her nuts. At the game things are going pretty okay, but then Chip has a weird episode where he totally freezes instead of throwing a ball, and gets creamed by the other team. He doesn’t return for the second half, and Bobbi is so distracted the cheers are lackluster and the Tigers lose. She meets him after game and asks what happened, and Chip confides that he doesn’t really know. He says that it felt like he was dead, and he didnt’ really have control of his faculties and doesn’t know why he didn’t throw the ball. They kiss, but he’s pretty shaken up.

At school, Kimmy confronts Bobbi about Chip. Kimmy makes it sound like she still thinks that she and Chip are dating, and Bobbi mocks that HE asked HER out.


A catfight ensues. Miss Green breaks it up and reminds them that they have a new routine they have to work on together. Kimmy reattaches her necklace (foreshadowing?), and refuses to apologize. When Miss Green threatens them with team suspension, they change their tune. Bobbi then starts to explain part of the routine, or has Corky do it since she technically created it. It’s long and complicated and the only thing relevant to this review is that it involves Kimmy dropping and Bobbi catching her. So when they go to run through it, all is well….. until suddenly Bobbi can’t move, just like Chip! And then Kimmy thuds to the floor and smacks her face on the wood, as well as her arm. The other girls say that Bobbi didn’t even TRY to catch Kimmy, and Bobbi runs away. Chip catches her in the hallway, and she tells him the same thing that happened to him happened to her. He’s skeptical, though, as HIS is a muscle thing, or so his doctors say. What a dingus.

That night Bobbi is talking to Jennifer at Jennifer’s house, telling her about what happened at practice. Jennifer tells her that she heard Kimmy’s wrist is broken, but will heal. They talk and Jennifer doesn’t do much to assuage Bobbi’s guilt. As Bobbi is leaving, she looks back through the curtains, and sees the shape of someone walking around the house. But Jennifer is the only one home! Is Jennifer walking?! She walks back up to the house and opens the door, but Jennifer is indeed in her wheelchair. Bobbi is convinced that she is cracking up, but goes home and talks to Corky about it, who is skeptical. Bobbi calls her a traitor, and they fight with Corky thinking about how much she hates Bobbi. And we are informed that this is the last night that Corky will ever spend with her sister. Aw shit.

At practice the next day, its official that Bobbi has no control over the squad anymore, as they all refuse to practice until Miss Green shows up. When Miss Green does, she asks to see Bobbi in her office, and then asks her to step down from the squad after the accident the day before. She’s lost the confidence of the team, and that just won’t do. Bobbi, devastated, goes to the showers to try and calm down. As she’s showering, though, the water suddenly gets VERY hot, and it won’t drain! The steam and the hot water are too much, and Bobbi is suddenly overcome. When Corky arrives, fashionably late, she finds Kimmy’s pendant necklace on the floor of the locker room, but no one else is to be found. She goes into the shower room and finds her sister, dead on the floor.

Some time later, Corky is walking through Fear Street Cemetery, reminiscing. She ends up at the grave of Sarah Fear, and a number of other Fears who died the same year as she did. She thinks about the bus crash, and her sister, and the funeral, and it’s all very sad. She talks to Bobbi’s grave, telling her that Kimmy made captain and everyone expected her to freak out, but she doesn’t care about anything anymore now that Bobbi is dead. The police said that Bobbi died of a seizure or something, but Corky doesn’t buy it. And in that moment, she realizes that she has Kimmy’s pendant, and that KIMMY had every reason to want Bobbi dead. She runs to Kimmy’s house and confronts her and the other cheerleaders about finding the pendant, putting her at the scene of the crime. Kimmy tells her that she hasn’t had her pendant in weeks, and in fact she had given it to Jennifer before Bobbi died! Debra confirms this, and Kimmy says that while she resented Bobbi, she wouldn’t kill her, and that Jennifer couldn’t have either. But Corky points out that Jennifer NEVER changed in the locker rooms anymore, so how did the necklace get there? She goes to confront Jennifer.

Corky gets to Jennifer’s house and it looks like no one is home. She stakes out the place, and sees Jennifer drive up in her car. She decides to follow her, and follows her all the way to the cemetery. She watches as Jennifer STEPS OUT OF THE CAR and WALKS into the cemetery. Corky continues to follow, and watches her dance through the headstones like Linda in “Evil Dead 2”. Corky confronts her by Sarah Fear’s grave, asking what the hell is going on, and Jennifer tells her that she is NOT Jennifer, and makes a dirt tornado from the grave that surrounds them both in a suck zone like HELL. She says that Jennifer is dead, and that she died WEEKS ago when she landed on Sarah Fear’s grave. This evil spirit inhabited Sarah Fear’s body, and was waiting for a new one to inhabit, and now Jennifer’s enemies will pay the price! Corky looks into the grave and see’s Sarah Fear’s body all wormy and bug ridden and the spirit says that Corky is going to  end up in there too. The spirit shoves her in (as the other cheerleaders are coming to help), but Corky is a CHEERLEADER, and does a bunch of cheer moves to save herself and pull herself out of the grave as the dirt tornado starts to settle back into the pit. Corky and the spirit struggle, and the spirit starts to blow nasty air in Corky’s face, but as Corky turns it around it starts to vacate Jennifer’s body and falls back into the grave, the coffin lid shutting and trapping it inside. They all look at Jennifer’s corpse, and it has deteriorated as it would have when she originally died.

When Corky gets home, feeling good in the fact she vanquished the spirit that killed her sister, she suddenly realizes that there’s a pennant that wasn’t there before. And it says Jennifer’s name on it. And Corky starts to scream. The end.


Body Count: 2. I liked the curveball of killing one of the POV characters!

Romance Rating: 2. There wasn’t really much in this one, except that creep Chip dumping Kimmy for Bobbi and then not even really mourning Bobbi’s death. Punk.

Bonkers Rating: 8. Mean cheerleaders, possession, a the very CONCEPT of Jennifer’s body going from ‘alive’ to WORM FEAST the moment the First Evil left her, oh MAN was this stellar on the crazy scale!

Fear Street Relevance: 10! This gets a perfect 10! Bobbi and Corky live on Fear Street,  the bus crashes into the cemetery, and the ghost that had also possessed Sarah FRIGGIN’ Fear is the villain!

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

” ‘Let’s give them something to stare at,’ Bobbi replied, grinning. ‘Break a leg,’ Corky said.”

…. Well, that’s not even a cliffhanger. That’s just a sister wishing the other sister good luck!! You’re losing your touch, Stine!!

That’s So Dated! Moments: One of the characters is told that she looks like ‘movie star Julia Roberts’, and I suppose in 1992 that would have been an age appropriate comparison. Also the stoner bus driver ALWAYS has his Walkman tape player attached to his ears.

Best Quote:

” ‘Fear Street,’ one of the policemen had said grimly, shaking his head. ‘Fear Street…..'”

If that isn’t a “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown” moment, I don’t know what is.

Conclusion: “The First Evil” was bonkers and bananas and the cheerleader drama gave me all the things I needed!! I can’t wait to move on to “The Second Evil”!

Kate’s Review: “Friend Request”

33785151Book: “Friend Request” by Laura Marshall

Publishing Info: Grand Central Publishing, September 2017

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: Maria Weston wants to be friends. But Maria Weston is dead. Isn’t she?

1989. When Louise first notices the new girl who has mysteriously transferred late into their senior year, Maria seems to be everything the girls Louise hangs out with aren’t. Authentic. Funny. Brash. Within just a few days, Maria and Louise are on their way to becoming fast friends.

2016. Louise receives a heart-stopping email: Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook. Long-buried memories quickly rise to the surface: those first days of their budding friendship; cruel decisions made and dark secrets kept; the night that would change all their lives forever.

Louise has always known that if the truth ever came out, she could stand to lose everything. Her job. Her son. Her freedom. Maria’s sudden reappearance threatens it all, and forces Louise to reconnect with everyone she’d severed ties with to escape the past. But as she tries to piece together exactly what happened that night, Louise discovers there’s more to the story than she ever knew. To keep her secret, Louise must first uncover the whole truth, before what’s known to Maria–or whoever’s pretending to be her–is known to all.

Review: I joined Facebook back in the day when it was still reserved for college students and your networks were categorized by what school you were going to! Why I had friends from the U of MN to Berkeley to some school out in England (who this person was, I don’t remember, but I remember being super smug about it)! But as it’s grown and changed it has become not only about keeping in touch with people in your life, but also about putting your entire life on display for everyone to see if you so choose. I know and accept the problematic aspects of Facebook, but at the same time I do check it multiple times a day, almost as a reflex.

To those who have unplugged, I salute you.(source)

I think that one of the main ‘thrill’ or ‘chill’ factors of “Friend Request” is that it is supposed to make you feel like social media like Facebook makes you all the more vulnerable and unsafe in this fast and cutthroat techy world. After all, you can’t see who is on the other side of the computer screen when you interact with them. So when Louise starts getting mysterious messages from long forgotten (and long thought dead) Maria Weston, these fears come to life on the page. What I liked about Louise is that while she’s definitely a protagonist you see a lot in these kinds of stories, the ‘woman with a dark past’ trope to be sure, her personal moral dilemmas and inability to really know just what she was actually dealing with made for an interesting enough and solid mystery. A former mean girl turned repentant single mother, Louise is still wracked with guilt about what she and her friend Sophie put poor nonconformist Maria through before she disappeared, and it has basically stalled her life and stunted her self worth. She’s your usual unreliable narrator, but it’s hard to tell if she’s unreliable because she’s deceptive or because she’s warped her entire view of herself. The only person who knows her dark secret is her ex-husband Sam, a boy from those days who assured her that he loves her in spite of her involvement. Louise was a mess, but she wasn’t an unlikable mess. I was rooting for her the entire time. By showing who she was in high school and juxtaposing who she has become, I feel like we got not only insight into her mind and character, but also some small insights into those in her life that play large parts in this story.

The mystery itself had a lot of balls it was trying to keep up in the air all at once. The main mystery, of course, is who sent Louise this friend request and the messages, but then a number of other bits branch out of it. The list of suspects if a large one (Maria’s brother? A mysterious man that Sophie has been dating? Maria herself?), and they all come with their own baggage. I will admit that I found myself fooled a couple of times, which is always a plus in books like this, but as it all came together there wasn’t really anything that really stood out or blew me away. In fact, I felt that a couple of the solutions that did come to fruition were a little too out of the blue, even if they did have some pretty good build up and solid groundwork laid out beforehand. I don’t know, I just don’t know how many times we can have similar solutions play out in these books. I was more interested in the questions that this book did raise about the ways we make ourselves vulnerable through our social media. I do my best to keep privacy filters pretty high on my Facebook, and to keep my posts on other social media vague and unspecific, but this story did make me think a bit about what I do put out there even when I think I’m being guarded.

“Friend Request” was a quick and fast read that I enjoyed in the moment, even if it didn’t stand out too much from others in the genre. I think that if you have travel coming up for Spring Break this would be the perfect yarn to take with you for a long flight or the pool or beach. It just may not leave much of an impression.

Rating 6: A by the book thriller with some fair questions about the social media age.

Reader’s Advisory:

“Friend Request” is not included on many relevant Goodreads lists, but I think it would fit in on “Books Involving Stalking”, and “Fiction Involving the Internet”.

Find “Friend Request” at your library using WorldCat!

Kate’s Review: “Batman: Nightwalker”

29749090Book: “Batman: Nightwalker” (DC Icons #2) by Marie Lu

Publishing Info: Random House Books for Young Readers, January 2018

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.

One by one, the city’s elites are being executed as their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he’s forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most brutal criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce’s only hope.

In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.

Review: Now it is very true that both Serena and I are big Superman fans here, willing to stand for him and stand up to anyone who would wish him ill or call him anything less than great. And we were solidly Team Superman in the most recent DC movies that involved him. But I do have to admit that even though I want to smack Batman upside the head a lot of the time, especially in his most recent iterations and interpretations, there is a very special place in my heart for him. I will openly concede that I love him, darkness and all. What can I say? I am a true, true sucker for the emotionally unstable messed up problematic loner guy in my fiction. Bruce, take your place alongside J.D. from “Heathers”, Kylo Ren, and Bobby Briggs.

Oh and who could forget this fella? (source)

So you KNOW that I was all about reading “Batman: Nightwalker” by Marie Lu, the second book in the “DC Icons” young adult series. These books tend to take the teenage selves of these superheroes/heroines and give them something of an origin story, or at the very least an early foray into their ultimate heroic destines. I read “Wonder Woman: Warbringer” by Leigh Bardugo last fall, and was very excited to see what the next in the series had to offer. Marie Lu herself has become a bigger and bigger name in YA, with her previous book “Warcross” getting a lot of buzz for its sci-fi and techno thriller premise. So giving her Batman was a natural choice, with his love for tech.

The Bruce Wayne that we meet in “Nightwalker” is not Batman yet. He’s still a teenager, recently turned eighteen and trying to keep going in spite of the loss of his parents, a trauma that still haunts him. Lu’s Wayne feels more like the teenage self of Michael Keaton’s version of Wayne. He is damaged and sad, but he still wants to see the best in those he cares about and wants them to be safe. There isn’t any disproportional arrogance here; he’s reflective and cautious, and has genuine connections and affections for the important people in his life. He also is fully aware of his own privilege in this world, and Lu takes many opportunities to address that his wealth and skin color has given him all the advantages that other people in similar situations just would not have (more on that later).  It’s a characterization that I found refreshing, and one that has been sorely missed ever since Bale took the cowl over and Affleck went from there. Lu does a very good job with Bruce, and with most of the other characters she writes, both familiar and original ones.  Alfred is a properly dry but loving guardian to Bruce (and yes, he’s still a bit too permissive, but then Alfred would kind of have to be for Bruce to turn into Batman later in life). Lucius Fox is a gadget fanatic but has some other background and abilities, mentoring Bruce in his love for all things tech. And my favorite was the appearance of Harvey Dent, who is one of Bruce’s best friends. I don’t know what it is about so many newer stories framing Harvey as a good person who’s turn to villainy as Two Face is steeped in tragedy (probably because of “The Long Halloween”), but I am HERE for it and I have to say that Lu has written the best one yet. There is no hint of what’s coming for him in the future, there is only a moral person and a wonderful friend who cares deeply for Bruce. Whenever Harvey was a perfect cinnamon roll of an individual (so pretty much ALL THE TIME) I just whimpered and clutched the book to my chest.

WHY, MARIE, WHY?! (source)

The original characters, however, did not fare as well for me. Okay, let me rephrase that. Most of them did. I liked Detective Draccon, who puts Bruce on the Arkham community service beat, though she wasn’t really doing much beyond being Gordon before Gordon was around. I REALLY liked Bruce and Harvey’s bestie Dianne, a smart and empathetic brain who is fiercely loyal to her two main dudes. I had a harder time believing Madeline, the antagonistic (or IS SHE?) criminal genius who may or may not be connected to The Nightwalkers, who are targeting and killing the rich in Gotham. While I liked that she was super intelligent and super morally ambiguous, I felt that the forced star crossed lovers sort of vibe that she and Bruce gave off was unnecessary. I didn’t really need their empathy and understanding towards each other to turn into a romance that couldn’t be, I think that it would have been just fine if it was left platonic. I felt that by making her pine for Bruce undermined her own agency and self-actualization. Also, their constant “do I trust you or should I not because there’s this sexy charge between us but you are on the other side of this big long conflict” dynamic was WAY TOO Batman/Catwoman, and that just will not do. There can be only one Selina Kyle. The Nightwalker concept itself did feel very Batman villain-y, and also brought in some interesting questions about capitalism and wealth distribution in this country. I greatly enjoyed that entire aspect and how Bruce approaches it, and explores it just beyond the black and white morality and fully into the greys of capitalism’s winners and losers.

Overall, I found “Batman: Nightwalker” to be a pretty fun book. I would absolutely recommend it to any fan of Batman, especially those who may need Batman with a little more hope.

Rating 7: A fun early Batman adventure with some familiar faces and a likable Bruce Wayne. I didn’t approve of the need for a love interest, but it was a fast and fun read.

Reader’s Advisory:

“Batman: Nightwalker” is included on the Goodreads lists “Super Hero Books (Not Graphic Novels”, and “2018 Retelling Releases”.

Find “Batman: Nightwalker” at your library using WorldCat!

Kate’s Review: “13 Minutes”

32768519Book: “13 Minutes” by Sarah Pinborough

Publishing Info: Flatiron Books, October 2017

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: Natasha’s sure that her friends love her. But does that mean they didn’t try to kill her?

Natasha is the most popular girl in school. So why was she pulled out of a freezing river after being dead for thirteen minutes? She doesn’t remember how she ended up in the icy water that night, but she does know this—it wasn’t an accident, and she wasn’t suicidal.

Now Natasha’s two closest friends, who are usually her loyal sidekicks, are acting strangely. Natasha turns to Becca, the best friend she dumped years before, to help her figure out the mystery.

At first Becca isn’t sure that she even wants to help Natasha. But as she is drawn back into Natasha’s orbit, Becca starts putting the pieces together. As an outsider, Becca believes she may be the only one who can uncover the truth…which is far more twisted than she ever imagined.

Review: One of last year’s runaway thriller hits in this country was “Behind Her Eyes” by Sarah Pinborough. Yes, it’s on my pile, I’ll get to it eventually. Even though the U.S. didn’t get their sights set on Pinborough too much until this book came out, she has many, MANY books under her belt. One of those books is “13 Minutes”. So of course once “Behind Her Eyes” got the attention it did in the U.S., the same publisher brought “13 Minutes” on over too. So THAT is how I read that one before the megahit. And I must say, even though I went in without any expectations (I didn’t realize they were written by the same author until I had already started it), I can see why people are kind of obsessed with Pinborough’s thriller writing right now. Because “13 Minutes” really sucked me in.

“13 Minutes” pretty much takes “Mean Girls” and throws it into a British crime procedural, a mix that is of course super tantalizing to the likes of me. There’s something about a Queen Bee ending up in a freezing river and then having to solve the mystery of how and why she got there. This story is told in a few different ways. We get straight up third person narrative, some first person POV, and then texts, diary entries, psychiatric notes, and news reports. These are all pretty standard these days when it comes to thriller fiction, but I liked how Pinborough carefully crafted it all together and took you down a path with lots of twists and surprises. I will happily report that a few of them actually caught me off guard. I even got that moment of ‘okay, this seems wrapped up, but there’s so much story left, so what’s going on OHBOYOHBOY’, something that I just delight in when reading a thriller novel. I feel a bit sheepish that I was so easily tricked, but Pinborough combines meticulous clue hiding and just enough unreliable narration on ALL sides that I’m not even mad that I was so totally thrown off the trail, especially since the stakes became quite high quite quickly once I realized I’d been duped.

The characters themselves, however, kind of fall into tropes that are all too familiar these days. Tasha is the mean girl who may have more depth than we expect of her. Becca is a brooding loner who tries to be aloof, but is still desperate for the affection and acceptance of her former best friend. Hayley and Jenny are both nasty and poisonous, but are also victims of Tasha’s scorn and their own insecurities. I didn’t really feel like the wheel was being reinvented with any of them, and while I was attached to Becca at least and wanted everything to be okay for her, I knew that I wouldn’t be horribly upset if it wasn’t. I wasn’t really in it for the characters as much as I was the plot and the mystery. That said, I do think that Pinborough did a pretty good job within those characterizations. I was especially taken with her writing of Tasha, who did feel like the most of complex of them all. I did also like that the book addresses that for many people the need to be accepted can make you do things that you aren’t proud of, and that being a teenager as well can make things especially messy.

But if you are in it to be taken on a fun and wild ride, “13 Minutes” will probably be a good match for you. I read it in about two marathon sittings, and I probably could have done it in one if I had the chance and time to do it. Now that I’ve found out what the big deal is about Pinborough’s thriller writing, I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for any future works that she may be bringing to the table.

Kate’s Rating 7: Though the characters were fairly standard and trope ridden for the most part, the plot and mystery itself kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat.

Reader’s Advisory:

“13 Minutes” is included on the Goodreads list “Young Adult Contemporary Thrillers 2016”, and would fit in on “If You Enjoyed ‘Gone Girl’, You Might Also Like…”.

Find “13 Minutes” at your library using WorldCat!

A Revisit to Fear Street: “Wrong Number 2”

19900200Book: “Wrong Number 2” (Fear Street #27) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1995

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

Book Description: Don’t answer that phone!

“You’re not safe anywhere. I’ll get my revenge!”

Can it really be Mr. Farberson on the line? He has to still be locked up after trying to kill Jade and Deena last year. Maybe the calls are just someone’s idea of a sick joke. But who else could possibly know the things the caller knows?

Then they realize that someone is nearby, watching them, close enough to know their every move. Someone who desperately wants revenge. Someone who wants to reach out…and kill them.

Had I Read This Before: No

The Plot: So given that R.L. Stine had taken Deena Martinson, his main gal in “Wrong Number”, and put her in a number of other “Fear Street” cameos, I shouldn’t have been surprised that his first sequel book was going to be “Wrong Number 2”. I don’t think that Deena is a particularly compelling heroine, but the dude sure seems to fixate on her, and that’s why we are here now. We start with Deena having a flashback to the night that Mr. Farberson, the man she crank called and therein she found out killed his wife, tried to kill her and her best friend Jade with a chainsaw. All because her rotten half brother Chuck (fucking Chuck) who did the prank call in the first place. But Deena reminds herself that Mr. Farberson is in prison and won’t be getting out. The next night in her friend Jade’s bedroom, the two girls catch us up on what’s been happening since book 1. Rob and Deena broke up, she’s thinking of asking out the hot Australian exchange student Steve, and Jade is dating a guy named Teddy who’s on the basketball team. Deena finds a letter from Chuck to Jade, as they had been going out before he went off to college. Apparently he’s staying out of trouble, but we’re reminded that he’s a ‘hothead’. I recall him being a total cock, but whatever. Jade says she’s been seeing other guys because Chuck is off at school, and I say good for her. Deena worries Chuck may lose his temper over it (asshole), and Jade shrugs is off and leaves the room to find some chips. Then her bedroom phone rings. Deena answers and it’s someone saying that ‘this is your wrong number, and I’m coming to get you REAL soon’. Deena is convinced it’s Mr. Farberson, but Jade reminds her that he’s in prison. That night when Deena goes home, she also gets a similar call.

The next day at school Deena is having a hard time focusing. Even when she bumps into Steve (who literally says ‘g’day’ to her), and she makes a bad joke and immediately regrets it. When she and Jade are walking home she tells her about the phone call, and Jade thinks that it has to be someone else since Farberson is in prison and probably isn’t calling them at all hours. They notice a strange car following them, and when it speeds up to match their pace they make a break for it towards Jade’s house. They lose the car, but are certain it wasn’t following them just to ask directions. The next day at school Deena sees Steve walking with Bree Wade from “Double Date” (you know one of those badass twins who humiliated a misogynist), and decides that she couldn’t possibly compete with her. She and Jade go to the basketball game that night, and Deena notices a strange guy in an orange hunting cap who appears to be watching them. Because orange hunting caps are super incognito. Teddy throws the winning shot, and the Shadyside Tigers are victorious!!! Later that night Teddy drops them off at Jade’s house and he and Jade make out while poor Deena just kind of stands there. They eventually go inside the empty house (as Jade’s sister is at a friend’s and her mom is at a ‘hairdressers party’, whatever that is). Jade confides that Teddy is a fun distraction while Chuck is away. Then there is a tapping on the window, and since they’re on the second floor they both freak out. They open the curtain, expecting I don’t know what, but it’s even worse. It’s Chuck.

I mean, I knew he’d be back. But I don’t have to be happy about it. (source)

He was the one in the ugly baseball cap at the game. They let him in the window and he and Jade fall right back into their old romantic interactions, and I’m missing the basketball player. Deena asks why he’s home a week before winter break, and he tells them that he dropped out of school because a couple of professors were ‘giving him a hard time’. He tells them that he’s decided to move to L.A. and break into show business. He just needs to get some money, and NO, DEENA, he isn’t going to tell their Dad and Deena’s Mom! He then tells Jade that he saw her kissing Teddy at the basketball game, and Jade basically tells him that she is always going to go out and have fun with boys but will always wait for him. Deena sends him on home with her key, telling him that Mom and Dad are gone on a trip so he can rest easy for now, and she stays the night at Jade’s. The phone rings in the middle of the night, and Deena answers. It’s the mysterious caller, and he asks them if he remembers the closet they hid in.

The next day Deena gets home to find her parents yelling at Chuck. They argue about him dropping out, and he runs off, saying that he’s going to L.A. at the end of the week. Deena finds him at Jade’s house that afternoon, where they are watching a movie and he’s trying to convince Jade to come to L.A. with him. Jade says that she’s still in HIGH SCHOOL, dummy, and Deena points out he has no money. Chuck says he’ll get it, and tells Jade that she’d be safer if she came with him, as she told him about the calls. The doorbell rings and Jade goes to answer it. Outside she finds an envelope, and when she opens it has a letter that says “YOUR TURN NEXT”, as well as a crudely drawn bloody chainsaw. Deena points out that prison mail is censored, so it couldn’t possibly be Farberson, and Chuck suggests that they go drive past Farberson’s house to see if someone is there, in case he got out somehow. So that means we’re driving to Fear Street.

They drive to the ol’ Farberson house, and it looks ramshackle and abandoned.. Except for the FLICKERING LIGHT IN THE UPSTAIRS WINDOW. Chuck, being a total fucktruck, decides that he’s going to check it out and hops out of the car! I personally say they should let him die. As he heads up the porch, the light moves to the downstairs! Jade jumps out to warn him, and then the sound of an engine comes from behind the house. Chuck goes to check that out (goddamn I hate him), but Jade pulls him back to the car. She manages to slip in the snow and hurt her ankle, and Chuck guides her back, just as a car comes out of the Farberson driveway and takes aim at Chuck and Jade. They manage to get into the car, and a car chase begins. It’s a dicey one, but they manage to get away as the other car crashes into another one. When they get back to Jade’s house, Deena says that it was a WOMAN driving the car coming after them. Deena and Jade think they should tell the cops, but Chuck balks, saying that the cops will accuse them of ‘looking for trouble’. Deena says they should tell their parents at least, but Chuck says that they will be grounded. Yeah, these are definitely just as bad outcomes as being horrifically murdered. Jade says that the woman following them and calling them MUST have been Farberson’s girlfriend from the first book! Deena reminds her that the caller is a man and Jade tells her that she has ‘read about a little electronic gadget that can make a man sound like a woman or a woman sound like a man’. And this is even before “Scream” used this to it’s full effect!!!

Someday I will tell you all about my deep, deep, DEEP love for this movie. (source)

They remember her name is Linda Morrison and Jade finds her address in the phone book. She suggests they pay her a visit the next day to show her they aren’t afraid of her.

The next day Deena wakes up to the sounds of Chuck and her Dad fighting again. Chuck runs off and while I do feel that their father completely failed him in life by leaving his mother and starting a new family right away, I can’t really blame Mr. Martinson for his ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’ approach at the moment because Chuck is THE WORRRRRRRST. Jade shows up in super adulty business clothes, telling Deena’s parents that she and Deena are helping out at a ‘business’ party her mom is throwing, and they fall for it. Upstairs Jade tells Deena she has a plan to confront Morrison without being familiar: she saw a ‘for sale’ sign on Morrison’s house, and so they are going to pretend to be real estate agents who can help her find a buyer. Her aunt, you see, is a realtor so Jade knows how it works. She also got some wigs and some make up to disguise them. So they go off on this Lucy and Ethel-esque scheme, all dolled up and totally unrecognizable. They go to Morrison’s house, and Linda lets them in. When she insists on seeing a business card, Jade has one she took from her Aunt. Always thinking, that Jade. When Linda leaves them to ‘take measurements’, Jade and Deena snoop. They find a key to Farberson’s house (with a keychain that says ‘Farberson’, how convenient) and a drawn diagram of the Farberson house. But then Linda confronts them, saying she called the real estate firm and that they aren’t who they say they are, and she remembers them from the unpleasantness from the year before. She asks what they want, and Jade asks why she has been calling them. Linda says she hasn’t been calling them, and admits to following them the night before but only because THEY had scared HER. Because she’s been told that Farberson may be getting out of prison on a technicality! She was at Farberson’s house because he’d stolen a bunch of money from his restaurant and was convinced that Linda had taken it, even though she didn’t. She was searching the house because he said he’d hidden it there, and was scared he’d kill her if she didn’t produce it. She then accuses Jade and Deena of taking it, but Jade shuts that shit down right away. She tells them that they should be careful in case Farberson gets out.

They reconvene with Chuck and get him all caught up, and he says he thinks that Linda has the money and was lying. And then he thinks that the money is rightfully theirs!!!! After all, they went through so much the year before, they’ve EARNED it, obviously. Jade seems to agree with this assessment.

God I hate him. (source)

Chuck says that he’s going to find that money, and goes out the door, but then is attacked by a strange man dressed in black! Turns out it’s Teddy, who has mistaken Jade yelling at Chuck for something criminal. They fight, and when Chuck tries to attack him he miscalculates his attack, falls, and cracks his head on the ground. An ambulance comes for stupid head, and Jade tells Teddy that she’s seeing Chuck and she’s breaking up with you. You chose poorly, Jade.

They visit Chuck in his hospital room, and he confesses to them that HE WAS THE ONE WHO MADE THE PHONE CALLS TO THEM. And he’s been doing this because he literally wanted to scare Jade into dumping Teddy and follow him to L.A. so they could live happily ever after. He was also the one who scared them to death by following them home from school in a weird car the other day. But it’s just because he doesn’t want to lose Jade, guys.

Fuck this guy. Seriously. (source)

AND THEY ARE COMPLETELY OKAY WITH IT. THEY ARE COMPLETELY OKAY WITH IT, GUYS. This is how I am feeling about all of this. But at least Farberson isn’t out.

Things start looking up and Steve asks Deena out, and just as she’s feeling better about everything, a news report comes on the TV a few days later. Turns out, FARBERSON HAS BEEN LET OUT AFTER ALL. And the Jade calls and tells Deena that Chuck checked himself out of the hospital, and he left a message for JAde telling her that he was going to go back to the Farberson house to look for the money. Deena tells Jade that Farberson is out, and they realize that he could find Chuck there, and I say LET HIM DIE, GODDAMMIT. But no, they decide to bus over to Farberson’s house (no cars tonight apparently). Jade says that Linda’s phone number has been disconnected and they figure she’s blown this pop stand. They get to the house and find the backdoor open. They go inside, and search for Chuck. They search all the rooms but don’t find him anywhere, but they find his hospital ID bracelet on the floor. They also find blood. THEN they find him in a closet, a wound on the side of his head. He tells them that he found the money, but then someone hit him on the head and took it. Deena thinks it must have been Farberson. They try to leave, but they hear someone opening the door to the kitchen. They dive out of the light, but see Mr. Farberson there. They rush to the basement looking for an escape, but Farberson finds them.

He ushers them back down to the basement and pulls a gun on Deena. He then demands that they hand over the money. Chuck says they don’t have it. Farberson doesn’t believe him, and he makes Deena tie Chuck and Jade up. He then ties  her up, asks where his money is, and grabs his good ol’ chainsaw!!!!! He says he’ll cut them up if they don’t tell him where the money is. He starts to move in on Deena, but before he can do anything of the sort Chuck says he’ll talk. He admits he took it, but that someone else took it from him. Farberson isn’t convinced, but before he can cut Deena up, SURPRISE!! Linda Morrison is at the top of the steps with a gun!!! Linda says she’ll shoot him if he doesn’t put the gun down, and they start a showdown. He lunches at Linda with the saw, but he trips over some garbage, drops the saw, and FALLS ON IT, dying. Wow!!! Deena, Jade, and Chuck think they’re safe now…. But nope. Because Linda had planned from the start to kill Farberson, and she has the money!!! And she’s going to burn this place to the ground while they’re tied up. And let me tell you, she does it in the most Cersei Lannister kind of way, as she dumps a bunch of gasoline covered rags all around them on the floor, and lights a FRIGGIN’ CANDLE to burn down and set it all alight. She leaves the basement, and the teens have to figure out how to get out. Jade throws herself on the floor, shoves Farberson’s body off the chainsaw, and FUCKING CUTS HER ROPES ON THE BLOODY BLADE because she is a BADASS. The fire lights and Jade is able to untie Chuck and Deena. They rush up the steps but the door is locked! They break the door down and escape.

As an epilogue Deena, Steve, Jade, and Chuck are watching an old Alfred Hitchcock movie. It’s six months later, Chuck’s back in school, and since they helped catch Linda they got a monetary reward. Chuck jokes that they should do another prank call for old time’s sake, and Deena doesn’t know if he’s joking. The End.

Get this away from me. (source)

Body Count: 1, and again, I want to point out that he FELL ON A CHAINSAW.

Romance Rating: 2. I cannot BELIEVE that Chuck and Jade are back together, and I miss Deena’s old boyfriend Rob, but she’s dating an Aussie so to her I say GET IT.

Bonkers Rating: 3. Not too crazy, in all honesty, chainsaw death aside.

Fear Street Relevance: 7, as we go back to the good ol’ Farberson house on Fear Street.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger: 

“A deafening squeal. A long skid. The crunch of metal. The high tinkle of shattering glass. Then everything went dark.”

… And they weren’t actually in a car accident after all, just the two cars behind them.

That’s So Dated! Moments: The most glaring was that Jade makes mention that if she dyed her hair blonde, she would look like Sharon Stone. This is peak 1990s, y’all.

Best Quote:

“I know you kids think this is some kind of Nancy Drew adventure story, but it’s not. It’s all real. And if I don’t get my money, I’m really going to hurt you.”

Linda Morrison speaking to every “Fear Street” reader out there, saying they better not make the same dumbshit decisions that Chuck, Deena, and Jade make.

Conclusion: As a sequel, “Wrong Number 2” is much of the same, except Chuck is even LESS likable this time around. You probably don’t have to read the first one to get caught up, but just know that they’re both equally lame. Up next I’m going to divert from the original “Fear Street” series and start the “Cheerleader” Trilogy!!!!