Friday, November 13, 2009

SWEET VALLEY HIGH #24: MEMORIES



Memories picks up with a scene that makes much more sense if you read the last one right before this, or at least had some idea of what happened. Steven was at a party and flirting with Cara, but then Betsy Martin showed up and flipped out at him because her sister’s only been gone for ten books! In Sweet Valley time that could be anywhere from a week to six years.

Steve runs home and cries himself to sleep, vowing to always keep Tricia in mind. Jessica tries to make him feel bad by pointing out how much Cara liked him, but he won’t listen. Liz is all heartbroken because Todd is back in Vermont and she can’t do squat without him attached to her hip. There’s also some charity volleyball game with a dance later (of course) and she’s upset that she won’t have a date.

Jessica turns all snoopy (big surprise) and hears Alice on the phone with Winston’s mom. She learns that his uncle is some hotshot movie director (who will never, ever be mentioned again) and decides that she has to get closer to Winston. They have to pair up with someone in school and do a report on a famous author. Lila wants to do Hemingway because he’s related to Murial, but she picks Winston who’s doing F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Steven continues to spend all his free time with Betsy and it makes me want to shake him. He comes back from school for days at a time, mopes around the house and basically does as little as possible. Meanwhile Liz sees a guy who looks exactly like Todd and becomes obsessed with him until she finds out he goes to Big Mesa.

Jessica and Liz also fight over Cara. Jess wants her best friend and brother to start dating and Liz thinks Cara is a huge gossip and basically no damn good. They even fight with Steve sitting between them because they forget he’s there and he has to break up the fight.

Jess starts hanging around Winston’s house all the time and even tries to convince him to take her to the dance, but he thinks she’s talking about Liz. Then she finally meets his uncle Marty and tells him they have similar interests so he tells her he’d love to talk to her about his work sometime.

The day of the game, Liz spends hours getting dressed up because Michael/Todd’s look alike will be at the game. Oddly enough, both girls end up looking exactly the same with some checked shirt and matching shorts. Steven’s friend from high school Artie shows up and convinces him to come to the dance later.

They get to the game and Liz starts fucking up because Michael is on the other team and he keeps looking at her. How can he resist a perfect size 6, California blonde? The rest of the team think she’s a moron, but Jess completely calls her on her shit. Jess then decides that to get the team the win, they need to count on a “special twin” play they used to do as kids where she hit’s the ball to Liz, Liz pretends to hit it back, but really hits it over the net. Um, that’s a regular play, you didn’t invent that and it doesn’t take twins to do it.

Sweet Valley wins of course and Michael comes up to Liz. He uses a few lines like, “I’ll be waiting for you” and she turns into a blathering idiot, drooling on herself. Jess gets Cara to talk to Steven at the dance, but he runs off with Betsy once again. Artie dances with Cara and asks her out on a date, which she agrees to because she can’t think of an excuse.

Liz spends time with Michael and decides he’s a jerk, nothing like Todd. He leaves his paper plate under his chair instead of finding a trash can (you ass, what do you think, that people actually clean up after dance? Lol), ridicules the sandwich setup Winston sat out for dance food and constantly talks about himself. He should realize that Liz only likes it when people talk about her. She eventually ditches him for Winston and later Jess does the same thing, which really pisses him off.

The next day Jess mentions that Cara doesn’t really want to go out with Artie and tells Steven that Car’s alive, unlike Tricia. He also has to sit through Artie getting help on planning his date. Steven finally decides to call and apologize and she confesses that she cancelled her date. Just as she’s about to hang up, he asks her out and they plan a special picnic. The date goes great, but he asks her not to talk about it. Yeah, because teenage girls never talk about their dates with their friends. Liz talks to Cara and tells her that she saw how happy Cara made her brother and realizes that she was wrong.

Steven asks Cara out for her birthday and lets her pick the place. He shows up with a book, how romantic and gets freaked out when she picks Valley Inn because that was where he and Tricia shared their last date, but of course he doesn’t tell her that. They have a great time together (order: prime rib, salad, baked potato…pretty fancy for a high school date) until Steven hears the band play Always, which was Tricia’s favorite song. He flips out and runs off while she’s still on the dance floor. Nice guy…

He apologizes yet again, but confesses that he’s not ready to date anyone else. Jessica sneaks over to Winston’s and meets with his uncle, but then learns that he’s a civil engineer. Turns out that the director got held up in London. Don’t worry though because she tells Liz she already put in all the hard work so she’ll stay close to him.

Liz visits Betsy and tells her that she made Tricia a promise she wishes she had stuck to. Back when Tricia was sick, she asked Liz to not tell Steven so he could move on with his life. She now realizes that if he hadn’t spent that last few weeks with her, he would have got over her a lot faster and wouldn’t have been hurt so much when she died. Sure…Betsy realizes that she made a mistake too, by forcing Steven to live in the past.

Steve gets a message that he has to meet a friend under the clock at Sweet Valley High and runs into Cara who got the same note. Teddy Collins rides up with a package for each one. Each gets a beautifully drawn picture of the other and Steve also gets a note from Betsy. Cara tells him that she’s still there if he wants her. The end.

Things I Learned:

If you act like a complete and total doormat and let a guy treat you like shit, he’ll eventually realize that he’s in love with you.

It only takes a few weeks/books to get over the love of your life.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

FEAR STREET: THE CHEATER (R.L. STINE)



Carter Phillips is one of those secondary characters who pops up in Fear Street books. In those she’s rich, blonde and slightly snobby. In The Cheater she gets her own story where she’s rich, blonde and slightly snobby.

Carter is moaning to her boyfriend Dan about how horrible her life is. Yeah, I really feel for you girl. She took some special math test and scored 500 something, but that’s not good enough for her dad. Judge Phillips wants his little girl to go to Princeton and insists she retake the test and score at least 700. Dan acts all uncomfortable because he’s a math genius who scored 715 on his test.

The head to The Corner, the local after school hang out and she “jokingly” suggests that Dan take the test for her. He gets all freaked out and she changes the subject fast. After he leaves, Adam Messner, a math genius from their school who works at the restaurant, approaches her and offers to take the test. All he wants in return is one date and she gets all excited, barely noticing a newspaper story all about her dad and some mobster.

She fakes going to the test, gets the call from Adam and he freaks her out by saying that they checked for ID and he got busted. Haha, turns out it was a big joke and everything is fine so they make plans for their date. I don’t know about you, but even when I read this book back when it came out, I knew that you needed picture ID for one of these tests…

Adam is kind of cool because he doesn’t take Carter’s shit, calling her a “North Hills princess” and asking her to dress down on their date. They go to some underground dance club where she knows no one will spot them and then he kisses her. His girlfriend Sheila jumps Carter outside her house, turning all “he’s mine, stay away bitch” on her.

Carter retreats to her fancy world with Dan and Jill Bancroft (who I’m sure is in other books!). She heads to the country club to meet Jill and is shocked to see Adam outside, fighting with security. She reluctantly lets him inside and lies to Jill about how she ran into him. They decide to play doubles against some Richard guy, who apparently wants to get in Carter’s pants bad. She and Adam kick his ass and they all have a good laugh, except Richard who runs off like a three year old.

In the locker room, she grabs her bag and finds a cow heart inside with a note telling her not to break daddy’s heart. She’s freaked out, but not so bad that she can’t go right back to making out with Dan. Of course they get the test results and “she” scored a 730 so daddy runs right off and buys her a pair of $3,000 diamond earrings. And in case you’re wondering about Mrs. Phillips, she’s all busy with planning some big charity event for the club.

Adam blackmails her into a second date, only he wants to set Jill up with his friend Ray. They meet at some club and Stine apparently has no clue about the opposite sex or what girls want because he tries to make Ray all disgusting, but he actually sounds kind of hot. Dusty black jeans, a black shirt, silver studs in one ear, a skull earring and a couple of tats. Mm…bet he has a motorcycle too.

So everyone is having a good time until Ray puts the moves on Jill. Then he passes her off to another guy and somehow the two girls end up in a circle of guys. Is this a gang bang in a Fear Street book? Adam and Ray lead the taunters (damn, no sex) until a fight breaks out and the girls run off. Carter tells Jill that she bet Adam he couldn’t beat Richard in sex and the date was their dare.

Dan finally grows a pair and confronts Carter, telling her that he knows she went out with Adam. She denies it and tries to make him feel better. Then they play this asinine game called “what would you pick?” where they point out a display and pick what they want. He points to a jewelry display and picks a random locket.

Adam turns up and tells Carter that he wants $1,000 in return for his silence. At this point I’m wondering why the heck she doesn’t call his bluff. If they didn’t ask for ID at the test center, how would they know who really took the test. Instead she pawns her precious earrings, gives him the money and tells her dad that they’re getting repaired.

A car tries to run her off the road and she gets home, she sees Adam outside. He says it wasn’t him, but does demand more money. She sells a bunch of her jewelry, but only makes $200. Dan then confronts her and figures out what happened, which leads to a breakdown. She goes to Adam’s house and then comes home to find Dan, just as the cops arrive to inform her that Adam was shot and someone saw her car out front. Luckily Dan acts as her alibi, but then stays the hell away from her.

Her parents head out for the night and she starts hearing noises, even seeing shadows and the phone is disconnected. A guy jumps her, the cops show up and *gasp* it’s some total stranger. Papa Phillips shows up just in time to recognize the guy as someone who works for the big mobster. He was trying to get to the judge through his daughter!

All’s well in rich-ville until Sheila calls and demands $500. Turns out that Adam told her what happened and she claims to have proof that Carter killed him. Frankly I’d call it a day and tell her to fuck off, but she sells her expensive stereo. She gets the evidence and calls Dan to tell him that she’s ready to confess to her dad, but wants him there for support.

Carter and Dan sit down with her dad and she tells him about the cheating, then confesses to killing Adam. The judge gets all stern and starts to call the police, even though Dan tells him that he needs to help his daughter. Ooh, hard ass. When he refuses, Dan confesses that he killed Adam and Carter tells her dad that she knew he’d do the right thing.

She confesses that she figured out the truth when she got the “proof” from Shelia: the gold locket she pointed out to Dan earlier in the book. Dan says it was an accident and the gun went off when he was fighting with him. Judge Phillips offers to help and apologizes to Carter for putting so much pressure on her. At the end of the book Carter and Dan sit down to a game of chess, claiming that she’s done with cheating. Aw…

Things I Learned:

Money can buy everything. Seriously, Dan kills a guy and he doesn’t even get a slap on the wrist! Two pages later they’re playing a game and joking around. Also Carter’s dad isn’t even upset that she pawned all her shit and lied to everyone. Ugh, apparently Carter is the Fear Street equivalent of Jessica Wakefield.

On another note, Jill was dating Gary Brandt in this book. I think that guy turns up in every single book! I need to start paying better attention…

Sunday, November 8, 2009

THE VISITOR (CHRISTOPHER PIKE)



The Visitor opens with a high school student named Mary trying to get over the loss of her boyfriend Jerry who died a month ago. She started smoking after he died and she doesn’t seem to care about much, which worries her parents, but not enough to make them cancel a trip out of town. Seems like a running theme with Christopher Pike: get rid of the adults as soon as possible.

Jerry’s best friend Savey stops by to pick her up and take her to a party at Pamela’s house, a cheerleader who used to date Jerry and now has sex with everyone. Savey’s band plays the party while Mary sits in a corner and drinks and entire bottle of wine. She’s momentarily interrupted by Jerry’s brother Tom who just wants to know the truth about what happened to his brother. She runs from the party after he suggests they hold a séance, but later agrees to stay as long as Savey is there.

At the séance they contact some weird spirit who claims someone at the party drew him there, but he won’t say who because it will upset the person. He then admits that it was Mary and that she lived before and thought she was a god. He also claims to have some connection to Jerry, but Mary leaves before he says anything else.

She heads home with Savey and when he makes it clear that he wants to sleep with her, she turns him down. She does however take a long shower and then let him give her a naked rubdown in front of the fire. Way to turn down a guy! She rebuffs him again, saying that she feels nothing and they would make nothing by having sex.

Mary heads to Jerry’s grave and lays nearly naked on top, where she remembers what happened the night he died. The two had broken into the high school to count the votes for homecoming queen and of course Mary won. The security guard at the high school, who just happens to have a gun, just happens to show up and catch them. He pokes Mary, Jerry freaks out and accidentally got shot in the arm. Then Mary attacked the guard, he freaked out and shot Jerry in the head. Mary then fought with him and twisted his arm until he shot himself in the head. Jerry died, but not before calling her Clareesh. She ran off and never told anyone she was there, so the cops think the guard shot himself after seeing what he did. Apparently CSI doesn’t run in the town. Um, but why do guards have guns when there’s like 300 people total in town?

Anyway Mary sees an alien crawling on Jerry’s grave and later spots a saucer in the sky. She tells her boss at the movie theater about it and he knows she’s telling the truth because even though he’s blind, he can totally tell when people are lying. She keeps seeing the odd little visitors and finally her boss tells her what he experienced.

He tells her about the old days when he used to have eyes (he’s got glass ones now) and chased a fox through the woods. He saw an alien crawling out of the ground and the thing searched his mind for all pregnant women in the area. He flashed on one woman who wasn’t pregnant and *gasp* it was Mary’s mom. He then tells her that he doesn’t think she’s an alien, but he does think she’s connected to what happened. Oh and the site where the alien crawled out of the ground? That’s totally Jerry’s grave.

Pamela confronts Mary with news that there’s a new guy named Tom and he’s totally hot because he has white-blonde hair so Mary has to keep her hands off. Let’s pause to point out that the book description is all about Tom, the “new kid” and yet he doesn’t turn up until around page 70...of a 162 page book.

Mary of course seeks him out and decides that he’s hot. After following him for a few days, she offers him a ride home and they end up at Denny’s. He acts completely serious and doesn’t really laugh so naturally she takes him home and has sex with him.

Then Mary learns the story of Clareesh, an alien that came to earth with her partner Klaxtor. The two were supposed to observe humans, but she decided to help because she thought women should be treated equally. Klaxtor disapproved of her, but didn’t say much. She took the form of a slave named Phairee, who later became her number one helper. Phairee got pissed off though because she kept getting older and Clareesh stayed the same and wouldn’t share any of her secrets. I’d be pissed off too if I was working for someone who was the spitting image of me 30 years ago! Clareesh took a lover named Jarteen and was eventually captured by Phairee and some guards. They killed Jarteen and tossed Clareesh in a black tomb with him to spend the rest of her days.

Big shocker, Tom turns out to be Klaxtor in a human form. She learns this after seeing him bring a fox back from the dead and forces him to bring Jerry back. He claims she won’t be happy with what happens because Jerry was gone for so long, but she doesn’t care. He brings him back and Jerry is in immense pain (getting brought back from the dead after an autopsy will do that to a guy). Klaxtor uses the last of his life force to bring Jerry back and now can’t call for his ship so he lays down next to the grave and waits to die.

Jerry turns out to be a huge pain, leaking embalming fluid into the bathtub and crying about his pain. She realizes he needs a blood transfusion and calls Pamela for a meeting. She then smacks the girl with a gun and drags her home. After locking her in the garage, she takes some of her blood and gives it to Jerry.

Savey and Tom show up, wanting to know what she did with Pamela who told Savey about their meeting. She plays dumb, but not before they smell the embalming fluid on her. After Jerry keeps crying and refuses to leave the house, she takes him back to the cemetery. After a long talk with Tom/Klaxtor, she shoots Jerry in the back of the head and drops in his original grave.

She summons her last drop of strength to call back the spaceship and then crawls into the grave with Jerry. Klaxtor covers the grave with dirt and she remembers her life as another being. She then realizes that she never left the original tomb and that her life as Mary was just a dream.

The epilogue picks up with Jerry attending a party at Pamela’s house and laminating the loss of his girlfriend Mary. The same people gather together for a séance, the same being says the same things and Jerry breaks it up the same way she did at the beginning. That night he heads to Mary’s grave and remembers what happened the night she died.

The couple broke into the school and read the ballots, which Mary once again won. The guard showed up, poked Mary, Jerry attacked and the guard shot her in the arm. They struggled, the gun went off and both ended up dead. He sits next to her grave and wishes that she would come back to him. He hears a moan and walks off, thinking he imagined it and missing the moans that came later…

What the hell was The Visitor about? I really have no idea what the hell happened here. Was it all a dream in her head? Did Jerry imagine it? Who really died? Who was the alien? I never read The Visitor originally because in 1995, I was “too cool” for Christopher Pike and this one kind of makes me glad I missed it…