Thursday, November 22, 2012

New Fear Street #2: Camp Out


Maria knows next to nothing about camping and she’s terrified of the woods, but she still agrees to go camping with her friends. Ellen is an outdoors nut who loves rock climbing, while Beth loves rock climbing but is more fond of boys. While shopping for supplies at the sporting goods store, she runs across football star Brett. He nearly cuts her head off with an axe, and he follows them on their trip, nearly forcing their car off the road.

When they stop to grab some snacks at the mini mart, Beth meets a group of hot guys. Will seems to like Maria, Daniel is all about Beth, and Andrew likes Ellen. They want to team up for the weekend, but Maria is still reeling over her boyfriend dumping her and she just wants to spend time with the girls so they begrudgingly agree. The guys walk with them into the parking lot, and Maria freaks out when she sees a gun. It turns out that it’s just a flare gun, but it still makes her feel uncomfortable.

After hiking through the woods, they hear a gunshot and freak out. It’s just two hunters in the wood shooting at animals. They go a little further, following the map to a small creek that they need to cross to reach their campsite. It’s rained so much though that the rain made the creek a rushing river. While trying to figure out what to do, they hear a ferocious growling in the woods. Just as they get ready to wet themselves, the guys rush out of the woods laughing.

They decide to work together, mainly because the guys have a raft. Maria and Will go across the river , while the others hold a rope attached to the raft. The rope gets dropped and they barely manage to get to the shore before the raft takes off down the water. Everyone gets across safely and they start hiking, but Maria trips and severely sprains her wrist. Will makes a tourniquet and they start hiking again, but Daniel keeps getting pissed that she needs to stop and take breaks because of her wrist.

Maria finally gets to the point where she wants to turn around and head back to get to a doctor. Her friends are fairly annoyed because they like the hot guys, and Daniel claims that they are really close to a great campsite he knows. It turns out that the spot is on top of a sheer rock face. The guys climb to the top and lower a rope down for Maria. She’s a little nervous but agrees, and just as she gets to the top, they drop the rope and she starts dropping.

No worries though, the guys were just adjusting the rope. She finally gets to the ledge where they want to camp and they get their stuff ready. The guys offer them some beer, but Maria just wants to sleep and the other girls agree. She wakes up to hear someone crying out, and decides that it must be the guys picking on them again. The next morning, they discover that Will is missing.

Daniel says that they had too much to drink and he wandered off. Ellen gets too close to the edge of the ledge and sees Will’s body on a lower ledge. She goes down to check on him and realizes that it wasn’t an accident. He has large bruises all over and Daniel’s walking stick is broken under his body. Daniel admits that they argued and Will hit him, so he hit him back and maybe hit him a little too much.

Ellen wants to go for help, which leads to a new argument. Daniel eventually tells her that if she goes for help, he will throw Maria off the ledge. When Ellen gets back to the top, Andrew starts flipping out. Daniel wants to kill all three girls and leave them there, but Maria convinces him that someone will find them and go after the guys. She offers to rent a raft for them using her mom’s credit card. He threatens to kill Ellen and Beth before they leave.

He finally agrees to take the three girls and rent a raft, but he will leave them tied up in the raft when it goes over the massive waterfall. They hike to the rental place and he lets her go in alone. She signs the credit card receipt with a message asking the clerk for help. Daniel walks in and kind of forces her out, and the clerk puts the receipt in the register without looking at it.

They get into the boat and tie up the other two girls. Maria kicks Andrew in the head and knocks his glasses off, but he still grabs her. Before he can tie her up, they hit some rough rapids and get tossed around the boat. Maria realizes that her friends cannot survive being tied up in the rough water and she grabs Beth when they hit a rock. Ellen flies out of the raft, but Maria grabs her leg and pulls her back into the boat.

She jumps out of the raft and starts swimming for shore, and Daniel takes off after her. She gets out of the water first, hears a car, and takes off running. The person driving the car is Brett, and she begs him for help. Daniel is right behind her, and it turns out that the two know each other. He tells Brett about killing Will who he also knew, and asks Brett to help him. Brett shoves Maria in the car and drives them both down to the water.

Brett pulls a backpack out of the back, telling him that he has something for her. They get to the river and Andrew has the raft tied to the shore. They toss the paddles into the water and prepare to tie her up. When he pins her down, she kicks him again, but the guys get her under control. Brett says he knows what she needs and pulls the axe out of his bag. He goes to cut the rope on the raft, but turns and hits Andrew instead.

Daniel and Brett start fighting, and she manages to get away. She unties her friends and sends them out into the woods. The other two guys keep fighting and Daniel knocks Brett out. He jumps into the raft to grab her, but she gets out and manages to cut the rope, sending him down the falls. A ranger suddenly appears, telling her that the clerk finally saw her note. Brett tells her that he went along with Daniel to help her and she thanks him. At the end of the book, Maria goes home to find her parents getting ready to take the family on a two-week camping trip!

*Maria claims that the guys were going to “get trashed” because they had three 6-packs of beer. Yeah, I took more than that just for me the last time we went camping.

*I’m not sure what’s up with Brett. In the beginning, she says that he got into trouble in another town for having knives and stuff and hanging out with a bad group of guys. I assume that group included Daniel and Andrew, but I have no idea why he would turn on him later.

*I wonder why the New Fear Street series didn’t last very long. This book was a lot better than some of the books in the original series.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Baby-Sitters Club #93: Mary Anne and the Memory Garden


It’s just after the 400th Christmas in the series, and Mary Anne is missing Dawn a lot. Luckily, she has a new school project to take her mind off things.  She, this guy Gordon, and best friends Amelia and Barbara get assigned to the same group. They decide to talk about their Shakespeare project after school, and they start working on making an era-appropriate newspaper. Amelia leaves early to have dinner with her friends and everyone takes off.

The next day, Mary Anne is running late and as she meets with her friends, she hears that a 13-year-old girl died the night before. They keep running into other people who have more news, and she starts worrying that it might be Kristy. It turns out that it was Amelia. Her family was hit by a drunk driver, but everyone else survived. They hold a funeral for her, and Mary Anne breaks down because she realizes that she will never learn more about Amelia.

Kristy kind of loses her marbles after Amelia’s death. She keeps breaking down and crying because it isn’t fair that someone so young would die. When Logan mentions SADD, Kristy thinks it’s a great idea. She tells a teacher who immediately calls the organization. They start papering the school with information and Kristy takes control over the group during their first meeting.

Mary Anne can’t come to grips with her feelings so she goes to see Dr. Reese again. The doctor makes her realize that she needs to deal with her anger and unhappiness before she can get over her friend’s death. In the end, she decides to create a memory garden for Amelia and put a plaque on a bench for the girl, and the school agrees.

Meanwhile, Dawn is having problems in California because of an abandoned lot in her neighborhood. When one of her charges gets hurts, she decides to clean up the lot. She writes a letter to the owner of the lot, but then does the cleaning before she gets a response. They end up turning the lot into a garden, and the owner finally shows up. He warns them that it’s still his property and he can do anything he wants with it, but agrees to let them keep working on the garden.

*Mary Anne says that she heard the sirens from the accident after everyone left, but she made dinner, ate with her family, did homework, and wrote most of a letter to Dawn. Would it really have taken that long for Amelia’s family to eat at a restaurant?

*The group has enough money in the treasury to pay for flowers to send to the funeral. Given how expensive those flowers cost, they must have a ton of money.

*Kristy says that Dawn and Amelia were the main organizers of the Earth Day event. Um, wasn’t Dawn kind of thrown off that project?

*Their chapter is Students Against Driving Drunk, but the name was actually Students Against Drunk Driving. How did the editors miss that one? Apparently, SADD is now Students Against Destructive Decisions, which lets them cover more topics.

*Claudia gives Mary Anne the “great” news that Peaches is not only pregnant but six months along. That’s pretty good given that she had a miscarriage at some point in the last less-than-six-months.

*Dawn sends a letter to the lot owner in Tucson and expects a response by that Friday. She literally tells everyone to show up and start cleaning before he ever responds. Then, she doesn’t realize that he owns everything they put on the lot.

*Dawn is kind of a bitch though. She supposedly knew and worked with Amelia, but all of her letters to Mary Anne are about her new project.

*I don’t remember Amelia, though I know she was in some other books. It’s just annoying that she is supposed to be one of Mary Anne’s close friends.

*Speaking of annoying…Can anyone else in the club function as a leader? Kristy goes from depressed and crying to the leader of SADD in a few pages.

*There is one mention of Abby’s dad dying in a car crash, but Kristy is the one who is the most upset. It would make more sense if Abby was the one who got so sad/depressed, not because she was a good friend of Amelia’s, but because it reminded her of her dad.

*No one knows what to say to Amelia’s brother Josh when he comes back to school so Claudia reminds them of what people told her when Mimi died. I know that she and Mimi were close, but losing your grandmother is a lot different than losing a sibling.