Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fear Street: One Evil Summer (R.L. Stine)

One Evil Summer opens with Amanda Conklin stuck at the Maplewood Juvenile Detention Center. She’s completely unhappy and really, who can blame her? She wanders into the bathroom and thinks about how her life was once completely different. As the house mother type person yells at her to get ready for her psychiatrist’s appointment, she thinks back to Chrissy and where it all started.

Amanda is stuck in the backseat with her little brother and Kyle and little sister Merry. Mom is a freelance writer, who’s working on some big story about how teens deal with stress. They’re heading out to Seahaven, this small town away from Shadyside, to spend the summer and get some relaxation. Amanda accidentally mentions algebra and we learn that she’s enrolled in summer school after flunking the class. Mom is pissed because now they have to hire a baby-sitter/nanny.

Am I the only one who has a problem with this? Did mom just expect Amanda to spend the whole summer working for free and watching over the kids? They try to explain that she’s super busy with this article and I call bull shit on it. Look, I work full-time as a writer (yes I have a life outside books for teens) and I know a LOT of moms who work as freelance writers and have kids at home. You’re talking about people who do multiple articles a week (sometimes a day). They still have time to take care of their kids and work. I think Mrs. Conklin is just lazy!

Literally five minutes after getting there, her parents decide they need to get food and rush off, but they do take the kids. Amanda hears someone knocking and meets Chrissy. Chrissy read their ad for a nanny and decided to stop by in person and apply. Knowing her parents are so excited to meet someone (anyone apparently) she calls them and they come running home. She has to do it quick like because Chrissy has another appointment scheduled!

Um, if she had another appointment scheduled, why would she bother going there? Let’s say the other family desperately needs help and Chrissy is the only one who replied to their ad. She goes to another place, without calling first, gets the job and then just never shows up. Why do the parents not find this odd?

Before they get back, Mr. Jinx the family cat, comes across Chrissy and hisses like she’s a big ass mouse in disguise. Chrissy bares her teeth and hisses back, but then acts perfectly normal. Amanda’s parents love her and practically dry hump her in the living room. She said she worked as a helper before and lives just outside of town with her aunt.

Amanda’s mom calls to check her references, but one number is busy and the other number just keeps ringing. Amanda points out that she shouldn’t hire someone without checking their references, but mom just smiles and does it anyway. Chrissy even explains away the hissing as the cat smelling dead mouse on her.

Chrissy immediately moves into the house because she has her stuff with her and…why does she have her stuff with her? That seems kind of presumptuous. Anyway, Amanda spies a newspaper clipping, which sets Chrissy off. She eventually reveals the article is about a young girl named Lilith who went into a coma and is her twin. Chrissy doesn’t seem too heartbroken, saying her sis was evil.

Because this is a teen book, Amanda has to meet a cute guy (Dave) in her algebra class. He’s lived in town his whole life, but doesn’t know Chrissy or her aunt. Amanda gets home and sees Merry drowning in the pool and runs to save her. Turns out she was learning how to float. I’m not sure who’s the psychopath here. Not long after, a car careens into their house, nearly hitting Chrissy and the kids and kills Jinx. Poor cat. Chrissy smiles about the whole thing.

Amanda keeps noticing that Chrissy is acting weird. Like she sees her floating in her room, but then Chrissy pretends she was sleeping and that Amanda was crazy. Amanda then steals one of the articles from her room and discovers that Chrissy isn’t mentioned in the article and that it says her parents died from carbon monoxide. Yet Chrissy said her parents died in a car accident. Why lie about something like that?

Amanda calls her friend Suzi and asks her to check out the library in town and get info on Chrissy. The phone starts melting in her hand and she hears Chrissy’s voice on the other end. Of course the phone isn’t actually damaged. Then Carter Phillips (from The Cheater, yay for continuity!) calls and tells her that Suzi lapsed into a coma, while at the library. Oooh.

Since no one will listen to her, she talks to Dave. They go for a long drive/walk and he gives her this huge ass knife. He suggests slipping it in Chrissy’s drawer and making her parents think they hired a psycho. Dave also tells her that the address she gave is an abandoned house. They go home and when she calls her on this, Chrissy says they haven’t yet moved in.

Amanda sneaks upstairs to hide the knife, but it starts spraying her with blood. She runs downstairs and learns her pet birds were killed. The parents think that Amanda did it and tried to frame Chrissy. She ends up seeing a psychiatrist who thinks she has a problem with Chrissy and it somehow relates to her feeling like she disappointed her parents. Mm, k.

Amanda has to pretend like she’s fine and even apologize to Chrissy, just to go home. She finds a new cat and when Chrissy flips out, she lets it go. She decides to call the references again and catches one woman. The family who lived in the house all died a gruesome death and she warns her to get out of the house and to get away from Chrissy.

She runs downstairs and sees Chrissy slipping something into Kyle’s milk. When Dave shows up, she tells him that the other girl is poisoning her brother and he “accidentally” knocks the milk glass over. Turns out it was just chocolate powder. He then asks Chrissy to the movies, to get her out of the house. Amanda sneaks upstairs and discovers her dad’s name in some of the old articles. Chrissy shows back up and makes threatening comments, even though she can’t see Amanda.

Ugh this is getting way too long. Basically Amanda discovers that her dad was a lawyer who helped get Chrissy dad convicted of something. He never recovered and after he died, she started killing everyone attached to the case. She was actually Lilith and when she woke up from her coma, she had these weird psychic powers.

Amanda runs off with Dave, but Chrissy makes the car crash and he dies. Poor guy. She runs home and tries to save Kyle and Merry, even though Chrissie can literally talk inside her head. Chrissy chases her on a jet ski type thing, with Kyle and Merry on the back. She catches her on this island, Amanda runs to a boat, they fight and somehow the boat hit’s a rock and Chrissy cracks her head and passes out.

Amanda manages to save the kids and even call the cops, but then Chrissy pops back up. She sets the house on fire, but the new cat shows up and trips her. She ends up dying in the fire, as it rages on around her.

Then we learn that Kyle lost his voice and Merry couldn’t remember/talk about what happened so they thought she set the fire and killed Chrissy. Her doctor reveals that Chrissy was Lilith and used the name Chrissy because it was the name of their cat. Kyle got his voice back, told everyone what happened and now Amanda can live happily ever after. My head hurts.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sweet Valley High Super Edition: Spring Break

Supposedly a bunch of Sweet Valley High kids are off to spend Spring Break in France. The only ones actually mentioned are the twins and Lila. Lila is off to spend a week with a family in the Riviera, while the twins are staying with this woman Avery and her son Rene. Her daughter Feney is going to spend a week with the Wakefield family. Poor girl. Liz is a little sad because Todd has just moved to Vermont and she thinks Rene looks cute in his photo.

Avery is super nice to the girls, but Rene *gasp* hates them. Hates them? Say it ain’t so! He actually hates all Americans and the girls learn that his father was American. He left when Rene was fairly young and so now he hates everyone from America.

On their first full day in Cannes, Jess meets a guy named Marc. He isn’t very cute, but he’s rich and drives a Porsche, so she’s all over him. Liz finds a random dog and takes it home. Turns out his owner is a wealthy countess and arranges to have her meet her grandson Jean-Claude. Jean-Claude is cute and rich, but Liz isn’t all that interested in him.

Jessica keeps spending time with Marc, but she can’t help wishing that he was just a little cuter, you know, more her type. Liz gets to spend one day with Rene and he basically treats her like shit. He takes her out to meet some of his friends and then starts speaking in French and using all these slang words she doesn’t understand. Then he asks the waitress to bring more ketchup because Americans drown their food in it. Eventually his friends tell him to lighten up.

Avery calls for Rene and Liz answers the phone because he’s gone. She needs someone to pick up medication from the pharmacy because she’s stuck with a patient (she’s a nurse). Liz volunteers to pick it up, even though she has a “date” scheduled with Jean-Claude. She leaves a note for him on the door, but gets stuck in traffic and shows up way too late.

Jess reads the note and when she discovers how cute Jean-Claude is, she just can’t stay away. She pretends to be Liz and they go out on a date. Liz gets home and thinks he stood her up. Jessica keeps pretending to be her twin and Liz keeps getting confused about why he won’t answer or return her calls. Poor Jean-Claude is confused too because Liz kind of spoke French, but Jess is completely inept at the language.

Jess told March she was sick to avoid hanging out with him and he pops in, wanting to check on her. Liz feels bad for him and they go out together. Rene shows up and knowing that Jess is out with Jean-Claude, starts in about them switching places to screw with each others’ boyfriends.

Liz doesn’t get it at all and goes out, but when she gets home Jess is still gone. When a storm comes, she really starts worrying. Rene feels bad that she’s so upset and reveals that Jess has been dating Jean-Claude. Liz calls the countess, who tells her that she (Jess as Liz) and Jean-Claude went sailing.

Rene offers Liz a ride on her motorbike and they head off. I can’t believe she would get back on one of those after what happened, no matter how much trouble Jessica is in this time. They find the two stuck on a sailboat in the middle of the storm. Jess falls overboard and Liz tries to save her, but she can’t reach her. Rene jumps in and saves her, even though he’s been afraid of the water for years. Apparently he watched one of his friends drown.

Liz and Rene kind of get together at the end, but it’s lame. He realizes that she isn’t so bad and she reaches out to him to contact his dad, who talks to Feney and has a new family. At least it’s not one of those things where he’s never mentioned again. He does show up in the werewolf books, but Liz is way past him by then.

The other story involves Feney. Liz finds a photo of her and shows it to Jess. They both freak out because she looks just like Tricia Martin (another doppelganger!). Of course neither one bothers to call and check on Steven or Cara for that matter.

Steven decides that Feney is the perfect girl for him and that he’s in love with her, despite the fact that they can’t carry on a conversation. She barely speaks any English and doesn’t even know the word for beach. And Rene is bitching because Americans don’t learn the language when they visit? She and Steve keep signing to each other and he thinks she’s super smart and cool.

Cara tries to talk to Steve and of course he won’t listen. She mopes around the whole book, even seeing them out on dates and still doesn’t grow a pair. Steve finally gets a friend of his to go on a date with them and translate. Turns out that Feney isn’t anything like Tricia. He thought she wanted to be a scientist, but she just wants to create makeup. She’s only interested in boys, clothes and makeup. He kind of apologizes to Cara, she forgives him and they live happily every after until the next time he cheats on her.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sweet Valley University #31: The Truth About Ryan

The truth about Ryan is that he’s kind of a dick and I don’t get why everyone wants him. Is that him on the cover? If so, he kind of reminds me of the stereotypical douche bag lifeguard. The one that really belongs in some Baby-Sitter’s Club book.

So when we last left Liz, she was stuck on the side of the road and crying her eyes out because she was missing a date with Ryan. She’s now stuck in a garage, waiting for the Jeep to get fixed. The mechanic tells her that the Jeep overheated and broke a fan belt, probably because she was driving too fast in the heat. Liz gets pissed because he makes a sexist comment about how she was probably in the beauty parlor, until she realizes that he was right.

Ryan meanwhile is nursing a hangover and avoiding the ringing phone because he knows that it’s Liz. He keeps drinking whiskey and blaming her for his drinking. Jessica shows up, trying to escape Ben and Priya and has a little flirting with Ryan. Liz shows up and Jess runs off, but then Liz and Ryan have a fight. He accuses her of being too serious and not wanting him to have any fun. I’d agree with him, except that he just wants Liz to let him drink.

Believe it or not, Nina is kind of the big story of the book. She’s super happy with Stu, but feels bad about going out with him so soon after giving up on men completely. She decides not to tell anyone that they’re dating, but Winston figures it out and then agrees to keep her secret.

Ryan decides that he can’t work as a lifeguard anymore because it’s interfering with his drinking, his words, not mine. He gives the job to Nina, who naturally flips out because (a) she’s not ready for all that responsibility and (b) she doesn’t think she can cut it. I love that Ryan quit/walked away from the job twice now and yet they keep giving him the job back.

Liz tries to talk to him and when he won’t listen, she runs to Nina. They have a huge fight because Liz can’t understand why her friend only wants to talk about how his quitting affects her and not what happens to Ryan. Nina shouts at her (rightly so) that Liz only cares about how it affects her and not what it means to the rest of the team.

We also have some random woman stalking Nina. Nina goes up to her room and finds all of her bathing suits shredded. The person then whacks her over the head. Later the woman makes Nina think a baby is drowning in the water and basically makes her look like a moron. Eventually it comes out that she has a thing for Stuart and wants Nina out of the picture.

The mystery woman sends Stu a love letter, which Nina finds him trying to hide. She freaks out on him because once again, in Sweet Valley, if you ever dated someone once, you can never date anyone else. He tells her that it wasn’t a relationship, but he did have a one night stand with some girl, who immediately turned obsessive. Like he came down the next morning and found her rearranging his furniture and talking about their future.

Instead of kicking her out or telling her off, he just disappeared for a month. Not long after he came back, he met Nina. He reveals her name was Rachel and Nina immediately thinks of Rachel Max. Of course it can’t be her because his Rachel was a blond and Rachel Max had dark hair. Okay Nina.

Winston is still concerned about Wendy because she wants to divorce Pedro. He starts taking her to a bunch of psychic healers, trying to find someone who tells her not to divorce him. Every time they find someone that picks up on the Pedro thing, Wendy runs off. Eventually she confesses that she’s in love with Winston and made the wrong choice. He makes her promise to see one more healer and then decides that he needs to do something drastic…

Liz spends the whole book moping over Ryan, who spends the whole book drinking. Jessica starts crushing on him because he’s acting fun and not so serious and he keeps flirting with her. After him and Liz break up, she thinks about going after him, but then decides to talk to Liz. Liz acts like it’s not a big deal, so she goes for it.

Basically Jessica still wants Ben, but he makes it clear that he’s with Priya. Like Jess tries to give him a backrub and he walks off. It makes her feel bad about herself. Her friend gets asked to model in a runway show and she’s shot down. Then she makes a save and Priya gets credited with it. She finally dresses up in some hot outfit Liz owns, but hasn’t worn. Ben makes a snide comment, while she’s trying to sneak out of the house and Priya acts like she’s pathetic for trying to steal another girl’s boyfriend. Oddly enough, she’s not trying to right now.

Ryan sees Jessica coming and gets all excited because he thinks she’s Liz. He’s less excited to see that it’s Jess, but he’s been drinking so it’s all good. They do some flirting and he comes on to her. She can’t resist him and agrees to sneak off to his bedroom. But of course they’re only going to kiss. Right.

Liz goes to see Ryan and give him one last chance to fess up and talk to her. She hears moaning and thinks that he fell down, hit his head and is in pain. Um okay Liz, I’m pretty sure you can tell the difference between someone moaning in pain and someone moaning in pleasure. She sneaks into his room and finds him in bed (making out of course) with Jessica and runs off in tears.

Nina and Stu come face to face with the woman who’s been stalking them: Rachel Max. Apparently she’s dyed her hair since Nina saw her last. Rachel drops a bombshell: she’s pregnant with Stu’s baby!