Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fear Street: Lights Out (R.L. Stine)


Lights Out starts with a letter from “Me” telling someone named Chief that he/she will get even with the people at Camp Nightwing. Then it jumps to Holly, who recently broke up with her boyfriend and got suckered into helping her Uncle Bill run his summer camp. Something terribly happened the year before and he desperately needs help, though I’m not sure why given that he has a whole bunch of counselors.

After meeting up with her friend Thea, she learns that this girl Geri is at camp. They were once good friends until Geri wanted her to cover for her while she went out with an older guy her parents didn’t like. She didn’t lie very well, the parents found at the truth, she got grounded, and she blamed Holly. While hanging out, they hear someone crying for help and find Bill buried underneath a pile of sports equipment.

He tells them that the wall cabinet fell over despite being screwed into the wall, and he got trapped under all the crap that fell out. They help him up, he looks at the cabinet, and complains about needing to talk to the handyman. He also calls Holly princess, and she reminds him that they don’t want anyone to know that she’s his niece. When he walks off, she sees a red feather tucked into one of the holes in the wall.

Holly meets Debra the head counselor of her cabin who seems like a hardass. All of the counselors get together for a hot dog roast and Bill has them introduce themselves. This guy Kit stands up and comes right at her with a huge knife, but it turns out that he’s just a horror movie fan who likes practical jokes. Thea sticks around to hang out with John, he summer love from last year, but he doesn’t really want anything to do with her.

The next day, Holly decides to go for a swim. She runs into Mick, the requisite hot guy, who walks with her. They find three of the camp canoes laying on the beach with huge holes in the sides, and she finds another red feather. She goes back to the cabin and has a run-in with a bat, which leads to Debra yelling and Geri laughing at her.

The kids finally arrive and Debra leaves her to gather up their kids and take them back to the cabin. Two of the girls fight over who gets the top bunk, and when one girl climbs on top, the bunk collapses on the other girl. Debra comes back in and starts screaming again, claiming that Holly can’t do anything right.

She calms the girls down and Geri looks all super smug. She asks Debra not to yell at her in front of the campers, which leads to the woman screaming again, and she tries to talk to Bill who basically tells her that he doesn’t have time for her with so much other stuff going on. Oh, and she finds another red feather tucked inside the bed.

Kit follows Geri around like a little lost puppy dog. He wanders into the cafeteria screaming in pain with a snake wrapped around his arm. The tosses it onto Holly’s table and she screams because she has a massive fear of snakes. Naturally it’s fake, and Thea thinks that he did it because Geri told him too. It also leads to Debra screaming at her again for not taking care of the campers.

She sneaks out that night to meet Thea by the lake, and she talks about how much Geri hates her. She decides to head back, but Thea sticks around in case John shows up. She finds two girls walking in the woods and make them go back to their cabins. She also runs into Mick, who grabs her arm and acts kind of rude before suddenly feeling bad and running off.

The next day, she talks with this nice and cute counselor Sandy and he actually seems to understand what she’s going through. Things keep getting worse though. A camper knocks over one of Debra’s vases that she’s holding and she gets yelled at. She also finds a snake hidden underneath her pillow and Debra yells at her about that too because it’s a little nonpoisonous snake.

Then, she has a run-in with Kit and Mick. They hold her arms behind her back and Geri comes out of the woods. The other girl tosses a bucket of leeches on her, then grabs her and pushes her into a creek. While laying there in the mud, Geri tosses more leeches on her.

Holly thinks that she sees Sandy in the woods but he disappears. The little trio are real dicks who basically shout and tease her. Mick gets bored of it, but he won’t even help her out of the creek. Once they leave, she hears someone yelling in the woods and goes to help, but only finds John. He acts a little embarrassed and then accuses her of spying before storming off.

As a kicker, she goes to the arts and crafts cabin and finds the walls covered in blood and someone slumped over the wheel. It’s Debra, and when she gets closer, she sees that the girl’s pendant got stuck in the wheel. She rushes outside and runs into John who comforts her before running off to find Uncle Bill. Just as he leaves, she finds another red feather.

Uncle Bill decides to put Geri in her cabin as the new head counselor because she has more experience. When Holly tries to tell him what happened, he flips out and threatens to send her home. He also points out that no one else has as many problems with others as she does. The whole group goes to another bonfire, and she decides to sneak away and go through their cabins.

She manages to check out Kit’s area and find nothing, but she does find a small key and a locked box near John’s bed. Just as she starts to open it, he comes walking into the cabin. He accepts her apology and takes back the box, but warns her that if she doesn’t stop snooping, he will make her pay. Just before going back to her cabin, she sees a decoration of Mick’s that has red feathers on it!

Suddenly it’s a new day and everyone is getting ready for an overnight. The first day is fine except that Geri yells at her and no one else really talks to her. That night, she hears someone crying in the woods and goes to investigate. John steps out of the shadows with a knife, but before he can do anything, a girl walks out. Her name is Courtney and she’s a camper. They dated and her parents disapproved so they snuck off to be together at camp. Since Uncle Bill is smart and doesn’t want a lawsuit on his hands, he forbids counselors and campers from dating so they had to sneak around. She promises not to tell on them and they apologize for John being a dick.

She wakes up the next day to find Sandy waiting for her. He suggests they go for a canoe trip and she heads off with him. Not long after getting in the water, he starts pointing out things he shouldn’t know and reveals that his brother was the one who died there the year before. He goes a little crazy, and when they reach the rapids, he throws his paddle over the side. They start fighting and she whacks him in the head with her paddle.

After jumping over the side, she starts fighting with the current and watches Sandy and the canoe head off. Holly manages to get through the water and get to the shore where she runs through the woods until she sees Sandy step out from behind a tree. They fight some more and he rambles about how Debra was the reason his brother died, and now that he killed her, he wants to bring down the entire camp.

Holly gets away and starts running with him right behind her. She sees a small cave and sneaks inside but it’s filled with snakes. Sandy grabs her ankle and starts dragging her out, so she grabs a snake and jams it in his face. She hears him scream and roll down the hill, and when she peeks out, she sees his white face laying at the bottom of a hill. Mick shows up then and she flips out, thinking that he came after her too.

Actually, Mick has a crush on her and decided to follow her and apologize for being the biggest dick in the world. He gets her help, and suddenly she’s laying down in bed with Uncle Bill apologizing for putting her in such a bad position. After recovering, she goes walking through the woods with Mick. A snake comes out of nowhere and she casually picks it up and tosses it over her side, saying that they don’t bother her anymore. Then Mick puts his arm around her and they totter off together. Why does Stine keep letting girls wind up with these guys who are complete and total dicks?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sweet Valley High #37: Rumors


It’s time again for the Bridgewater Ball, which actually means nothing because I think it only gets mentioned three times in the entire series. Jessica complains that it’s a bunch of stuckup people, but when pressed, she admits that she would go if someone invited her. Lila wants to go too, and she’s pretty annoyed that no one has asked her yet.

She also finds out that big time director Jackson Croft is coming to town to cast his next movie. Jessica thinks that it’s her chance to become a star. Elizabeth reads about how his son was killed by a drunk driver who hit his family, and she wants to interview him for the paper. She thinks that it will get kids interested in learning more about SADD.

The real story though is Susan Stewart. She’s a beautiful and popular girl who always dresses well, but no one knows where she came from. Her Aunt Helen is her guardian and the woman kept her mother a big secret. The rumor is that her mom was some heiress or model who couldn’t keep her child. Helen works constantly, but her mother sends money to support Susan.

Susan is also dating Gordon, this total douche bag who is rich. His parents love her so much that they invite her to play golf with them at the country club, and they encourage him to ask her to the dance. Lila keeps seeing her around the club and gets so jealous that she makes up a rumor about Susan. She tells Caroline and Cara that Susan’s mom is in a mental institution. The rumor spreads fast, and people stop talking to her when they hear that her mom killed someone. One of her Bridgewater friends even breaks plans with her for no reason.

Liz sees Allen moping over Susan and realizes that he has a crush on her. After seeing Susan crying in the library and having no friends, she talks to Allen. Allen ends up comforting her and telling her that he doesn’t believe the rumors. He gets up the courage to ask her on a date, and she accepts because Gordon not only broke their plans for the ball but he also dumped her.

Allen encourages her to talk to Helen and even drives her home from school. Helen tells her that she just can’t tell her the truth and leaves in a hurry. A few days later, she writes Susan a letter and breaks down in tears. It turns out that she’s actually her mother. She got pregnant by a man who couldn’t commit and moved to Sweet Valley to start over again. She tears up the letter and hears someone knocking on the front door.

In walks Jackson Croft, wanting to talk about the past. Yup, he’s tots Susan’s dad. They were together for awhile, but he was about to leave to film a documentary overseas. They broke up without her telling him she was pregnant. She wrote him one letter and then never wrote him again. He tells her that he wants to know his daughter and help them out more but he can’t promise anything else.

Helen tells him to leave and let her think about things, but then Susan gets home. She takes one look at them and knows something is going on. Helen rushes off, but Jackson tells her that he is her dad. He suggests that she move to Los Angeles to live with him and his wife, but all she wants to know is her mother’s identity. Jackson realizes that she doesn’t know and Helen rushes off in tears.

Susan finally puts it all together and breaks down in front of him. He basically tells her that she should talk to her mother and she finally goes into her bedroom. She tells Helen that when she was a kid, she always wished that she was her mom. They cry together and decide to start over again.

Jessica decides that Gordon is her ticket to the ball. She starts dressing more like Liz to show her demure side, but Lila is always by his side. When they go to the casting call, she learns that he asked her to the dance. Elizabeth gets her interview, and Susan shows up unexpectedly. When they learn her identity, Jessica immediately runs off to tell everyone that she sees.

Winston decides to throw a party for the “poor people,” and everyone shows up. Gordon asks Susan for a dance, and she comes back excited that he just asked her to the ball again. Lila gets pissed because he never broke their date, and Liz is sad for Allen. Susan thinks that he only asked her out of pity, but when he shows up filled with excitement, she realizes that she was stupid. She “breaks up” with Gordon in front of everyone and runs off with Allen. Lila tosses a glass of water in his face and storms off too.

The B-plot is that the twins think their mom is pregnant. She suddenly has weird cravings, has a doctor’s appointment that she doesn’t want to talk about, gets sick in the morning, and seems moody. Jessica finds a bag of new baby clothes hidden in her closet, and Alice starts talking about baby names. She calls Steven who comes back to help.

They start talking about how much they love families and babies. Steven offers to drop out of school and help out around the house. After their parents not saying a word, they finally sit them down for a family meeting. It turns out that Alice bought the clothes for a family friend, and that they were talking about leaving the twins alone while they went on a one-month vacation. Oopsie.

*Jessica is astounded that last year’s ball had $5,000 worth of flowers. Am I the only one who thinks Lila probably spends that much on flowers for a party at her house?

*A really annoying scene at the beginning has Liz reading an article in the paper and nodding her head in satisfaction because it is so well written. Yes, because a professional journalist needs the approval of a Wakefield twin.

*Bill Chase isn’t sure if he should go to the casting call until Liz talks him into it. And yet he never had a problem with it back in the early books.

*If the clothes were just a gift, why the heck would she hide the bag in the back of her closet and under stuff? Plus, she was literally rubbing her stomach and smiling at one point, very odd.

*So, Jackson was so into his work that he couldn’t settle down like Helen wanted. It apparently didn’t take him too long to change his mind, since he and his wife had a 14-year-old son and Susan is only 16. Looks like he was already married or dating someone when she was born.

*The book kind of makes it seem like he only came to see her because his son died. He always knew she existed, but he couldn’t make the trip from LA to check on her even once.

*UM, since when do directors host casting calls? I know that directors will sometimes pick the lead roles, but he’s casting non-speaking football player type background characters.

*Unbelievably, Jessica doesn’t get a callback, but somehow she’s perfectly fine with that.

*The big time director is not only willing to give Liz an interview about drunk driving, but he decides to do it right there. That’s pretty good given that the book makes a point of how he won’t even talk about that night or his son to anyone.