Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sweet Valley Twins #3: The Haunted House

This is the one where we learn Jessica was a total bitch and sheep when she was a sixth grader. See, there’s this new girl who just moved to town, but she lives with the creepy people in the Mercandy house. Elizabeth and Jessica see her one day and do stupid pre-teen shit to hang around and watch her, like pretending to drop their books and tie their shoelaces.

Elizabeth decides not to say a word, but Jessica runs off to tell everyone. Okay, so she really just calls Lila, who then decides that she should call Janet. Jessica caps off the day with a dip in the swimming pool, but oh noes! The pool heater was turned off. Jessica gets sick and has to skip school the next day.

Elizabeth sees the same girl again because they’re in gym class together. Her name is Nora and she reveals that her parents both died so she has to live with her grandparents. She’s also super poor and can’t afford a gym uniform, but Elizabeth offers to give her one of the twins’ extra ones until she can get one.

The next day, Elizabeth is sick and Jessica is well enough for school. Naturally, Jessica goes along with the crowd, picking on Nora and making her feel like shit. Nora can’t figure out what’s going on because she doesn’t know that her new friend has a twin. Jessica tells her that she forgot the uniform and explains that she’s Elizabeth’s twin before running off. Lila thinks that Nora wants their uniform so she can put a spell on it.

Lila really comes off as a little spoiled bitch in this one! She gets paired with Nora during a tennis lesson in gym class and decides to make a bet with her. When Nora turns out to be better and wins the match, Lila gives her an expensive pen. Then, she tells their teacher that Nora stole it. The principal calls them into his office and basically lets Lila off, but lectures Nora about betting against people.

Elizabeth finally tells Nora that people think her grandparents are weird. She doesn’t tell them the rumors that her grandpa is a vampire or that her grandma is a witch though. Nora decides to invite the Unicorn club to her house so they can see how she lives. Jessica pretty much blackmails Liz into giving her a bunch of shit so she can con the Unicorns into going. They show up with Bruce and a few other guys, but Nora’s grandfather comes out and makes some weird noises and they run off screaming.

By lunchtime the next day, everyone thinks that a zombie attacked the club. Lila blackmails Nora into becoming their slave. She tells her that if she doesn’t go along with them, she’ll tell the principal that Nora stole her wallet, stick it in her locket, and have Ellen and Jessica back her up.

Within a few days, the Unicorns make Nora their best friend. They eat lunch with her every day, take her to the Dairi Burger, and treat her like a queen. They even convince her to come to Lila’s Halloween party dressed as a witch, which is what they wanted all along. Bruce and his little gang have a plan to wreck her house during the party.

Everyone shows up at the party and has a blast. Bruce’s group sneaks off, and the girls get really snotty to Nora. They tease her and call her a witch, and she runs home in tears. Elizabeth runs after her and a bunch of people follow. Jessica is scared to death, but she runs in after her, which leads to a bunch of other people following.

Nora starts crying, but her grandmother walks in. They notice posters on the wall for this famous magician, and it turns out that it’s her grandfather. She does a few tricks and saws Elizabeth in half. Everyone feels kind of bad for teasing her and she suddenly fits into the group again. Oh, and the Unicorns are ready to start holding tryouts for the Boosters.

*Jessica dresses like a hula girl with Ellen and Lila, wearing a long black wig, halter top, and grass skirt. She loses an eyelash in her toast, which I find funny.

*Elizabeth and Amy make matching clown costumes. I guess it’s cute, but I can’t imagine sixth grade girls actually sewing their own costumes.

*Am I the only one who thinks it’s weird that they didn’t go trick or treating? They were only 12, which is still acceptable.

*Ellen mentions that she has an older brother who plays for SVH. Is this the first continuity error in the series? In just a few books, she only has a younger brother.

*Lila has her music blaring and Jessica says that they can’t listen to music loud enough for people to hear it outside their room. Ned and Alice obviously forgot about this rule in SVH.

*Rick Hunter has the hots for Nora, and Lila has the hots for him. I don’t think it ever came up in other books, but he did get mentioned as one of the hot guys in school.

*I forgot to mention, but Nora’s grandpa gave up his magic stuff when he had a horrible stroke, which explains why he couldn’t talk to them.

*Bruce mentions TWICE that he needs 30 minutes to take care of Nora’s house. He tells them not to let her leave until he’s been gone for 30 minutes. Jessica asks if he left yet, Lila says he just left, and they immediately turn nasty to her. Nora runs after him and they’ve already thrown toilet paper and eggs at her house. Either Bruce can run like the wind or Nora is the slowest person in Sweet Valley.

*One of the bitchiest things that Lila does is switch her name and Nora’s name on a math quiz. Nora gets a D and Lila passes with flying colors. Not only does the teacher not find this odd, but Nora decides that it would just be too much hassle to tell on her.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Magic Fire (Christopher Pike)

I originally started this blog to recap the horror stuff that I loved when I was younger, but I recently realized that I haven’t done any Christopher Pike stuff in years. This is one of those that came out after I stopped reading his stuff. In fact, this one came out when I was in college, which suddenly makes me feel old.

Anyway, this book takes place in the not too distant future. The only difference is that fewer people drive non-electric cars, which is fine because it means that our main guy Mark can still buy gasoline. That’s good because he’s a huge pyromaniac. Basically whenever he gets upset, he sets something on fire. Since his mom is in the hospital dying of cancer, he always wants to set stuff on fire.

He goes to the high school play, but only because he wants to watch this girl Jessa. He goes to her dressing room afterwards and she talks to him while half-dressed. He doesn’t think that she’ll even remember him, but she comes up to him in school the next day, smoking and drinking a beer.

They skip school, go swimming, and he tells her that a friend of his got paralyzed after a rogue wave hit him while body surfing. She makes a rude comment about his friend being a vegetable, but she’s hot so he ignores it. She convinces him to try this new drug MAZE once they’re alone. He thinks he doesn’t feel anything, but he notices that time seems to slow down, like he thinks a short commercial is a movie.

After stopping by the hospital and discovering that his mother died, Mark goes back to see Jessa. They go for a drive, and she confesses that she knows all about his pyromania side. She convinces him to set a fire with her there and he briefly wonders if he’s still under the influence of the drug. The fire goes wrong and he just barely manages to drag her into a rain tunnel, but not before she suffers severe damage to her leg.

He passes out, and wakes up in a hotel room. Both of them are bandanged up and Jessa is asleep, so he makes himself a sandwich. This guy Mr. Grimes walks in and basically tells him that aliens are attacking and that his dad could start fires with his mind. Grimes smears some cream on one of his burns and it almost instantly disappears. Mark begs him to give some cream to Jessa, but he refuses to offer any help unless Mark agrees to help them by starting fires with his mind.

Mark finally agrees and Grimes introduces him to Dr. Brain. They take him into a room and he manages to set a newspaper on fire. He keeps saying that he feels like he’s still on MAZE, but the veil lifts and he realizes what’s going on. Jessa is working with them and has been the whole time. They put the cream on her leg to heal her, and she claims that she really does love him.

Jessa reveals that aliens invaded a decade ago, but she keeps contradicting herself. Mark goes to another room with a bunch of remote viewers, which is what Jessa is, and he gets to see the alien ship himself. He suddenly realizes that the ship is full of human brains in big jars. Jessa finally tells him more of the story, which is that the aliens started life on earth, but came back to harvest our brains.

Here’s what I don’t get--> the aliens waited until humans reached a certain point and them came for us. But, it took them over 400 years to get here. So they came for us in the 1600s? What exactly were we doing back then that was so great they wanted to come get us?

Anyway, Dr. Brain gets him alone. Grimes wants him to blow up the aliens’ machines by setting fire to them with his mind. Brain realizes that this will actually kill everyone. I’m starting to get a Matrix vibe from this book! Brain wants him to convince/blackmail the aliens into letting them go. Brain thinks that they can make new bodies for some people, and he wants to be one of the people to repopulate the earth. When he turns him down, Brain attacks and Mark kills him by setting fire to his mind.

This leads to Mark and Jessa projecting themselves into the aliens’ home. They manage to kill two of the aliens and take over their bodies. Mark doesn’t want to do it, but he lets Jessa convince him, just like she convinces him to set massive fires and burn down their ship, killing a ton of aliens and all the human brains.

After getting away, they find themselves in the home belonging to the two aliens they took over. Jessa is so relieved about escaping that all she wants to do is have sex. Mark is more concerned about the little girl living with them who was the daughter of the aliens. Jessa devises a plan to get away from the alien planet, but she wants to live the little girl behind. Mark finally agrees to her plan, but only if they take the girl too.

They basically take one ship and then send out an SOS signal. The ship that stops to help them is full of aliens that Mark kills. They transfer to the other ship and set its course for earth. They all climb into these little pods that let them sleep for 400+ years until they get home. It’s now the 30th century and pretty much everything is gone.

Part of California is now an island, only animals are left behind, most houses are in ruins, and the only canned food they can find is completely rotten. Mark has fun wandering around with their daughter, while Jessa just goes off on her own. She also starts smoking again, telling him that she found a few good cartons.

Jessa and the little girl head off on an adventure one day, and she comes back holding the girl’s body. She tells him that the girl fell off a pier and a rogue wave slammed her head into the concrete support. After burning her body, Mark finally snaps and tells her that he knows exactly what is going on.

Everything that happened was in Jessa’s mind. She made up everything and added a few elements from his life. He begs her to come back with him, but she just shakes her head and tells him no. When he wakes up, he’s in a Mexican hospital hooked up to a machine next to Jessa.

His sister is there, and she asks him what happened. He explains that Jessa was a rich girl who he actually met after she acted in a high school show. She introduced him to cigarettes, and she became completely obsessed with MAZE. She paid her entire inheritance to get hooked up to a machine that lets her stay in a drug state 24/7. The doctors hooked Mark’s brain up to hers in a last bid effort to get her out of the state.

Mark and his sister get in the car to go home and he mentions their mom who is very much alive. He realizes that his sister looks like the little girl in Jessa’s mind, and that he brought some of his memories with him. His mom is alive, which makes him realize that Jessa killed off everything he cared about to keep him for herself. At the end, he goes to light a cigarette and suddenly remembers that something Jessa told him about the aliens altering anything they wanted. And then the book ends, leaving it open as to whether it all happened in their minds or if it really was aliens.