Friday, January 4, 2013

Point Thriller: Double Date (Sinclair Smith)

The book opens with a prologue where Tracy is hanging out at a Halloween party. Her friend Tina shows up dressed as a witch and gets her alone. Tina points out this guy Travis and makes a rude comment about how they shouldn’t let everyone into the party before asking if Tracy is going to go out with him because she heard a rumor. Tracy denies it and repeats that she will never, ever go out with him only to discover him standing behind her. Travis says that if she’d rather die then go out with him, she will die and he slashes her throat…

Years later, Tracy runs into Travis again only now he’s all grown up and super hot. They do a little flirting at the popular hangout before her boyfriend Kyle shows up. The two guys start fighting and threaten to take things outside. It turns out that it was all a joke they concocted, which Tracy explains to her friends. She also complains about Kyle always planning their dates and never letting her have a say, which leads to her friend telling her to do what she wants.

Kyle knows that she’s getting sick of double dating every week with the same couple, so he arranges for them to go out with Travis and his girlfriend Christie. Christie is naturally a great looking woman who seems a little weird. Travis starts speeding really fast, and Christie mentions that she has a computer scholarship and works at a nursery school, but then she stops talking about her life.

Travis stops to get a snack, and Christie asks him for some mints. He comes running out of the store with the shop owner following him and screaming about him stealing. They start arguing and when he gets back in the car, Christie rushes out of the car, screaming and tries to throw a rock through the window of his store. Christie starts giggling, and Travis reveals that she does that kind of thing a lot.

They hear gunshots and Travis slumps over in the car. Tracy gets out and starts running, but he catches up to her and tells her that it was just a tape he made. They all laugh at her, and Christie says that he fooled her once using the tape too. They drive off to a restaurant that he knows about, which is actually a pool hall/bar. Travis and Kyle get into a fight with some guys over a game of pool, and Travis pulls a knife. Tracy storms over and grabs the fake knife from him, reminding him that he used it on her once as a kid.

Even though she really wants to go home, they convince her to finish off the date. Travis starts driving again and tells them about a prank he and his brother pulled on a friend. They lived in an apartment over a funeral home and when he fell asleep, they carried him downstairs and stuck him in one of the coffins. After finishing the story, he pulls into the driveway of an old abandoned building and tells them that his brother bought it and wants to turn it into a ski lodge.

After realizing that he forgot the keys, Travis disappears around the side of the building and comes back to help them all climb through an open window. Once they unload their snacks and drinks, he shows them a hidden room behind the bookshelf. The original owners of the building used it as a speakeasy during the prohibition days.

Travis also tells them the story of what happened there. A former worker went crazy and murdered guests by stabbing them with scissors or strangling them. After it happened several times, the lodge finally closed down. They try to relax and have fun, which leads to the two couples dancing. Tracy starts dancing with Travis and he reveals that he still has a crush on her. To distract herself, she takes an old newspaper from downstairs and walks upstairs.

While reading it, she learns that it was his grandfather who murdered the people in the lodge. Then she notices blood dripping from the ceiling and starts screaming. The others run upstairs and Kyle realizes that it’s actually rusty water. Tracy points out the newspaper, and Christie tells Travis to tell them all the truth. She is actually his cousin and came along to help him get his “revenge” on Tracy for turning him down.

His brother is only a construction worker, so they actually broke into the lodge. He set everything up to get back at her, but he realized that he really did like her and tried to calm things down. They hear someone screaming, which is actually a tape that he set up earlier. He goes to fix it and completely disappears. They decide to make him think they’re leaving and go out to the car, but it won’t start. Christie looks under the hood and says that it’s missing an important part and they head back inside.

While looking for him, Christie disappears too. Tracy wanders downstairs and hears a scratching sound coming from the hidden room. When she opens the door, a raccoon runs off and she sees bloody scissors. She grabs Kyle and takes him back, but the scissors are now gone. Kyle convinces her that it’s all part of Travis’s big joke. They cuddle for awhile and then Kyle heads outside to look around.

Tracy notices dark shadows on the wall. One of the shadows suddenly forms the shape of a man holding a pair of scissors. The figure comes after her and tells her that she’s dead. It talks about how it had to keep killing people because no one believed. When the shadow abruptly disappears, Tracey decides that she must have just had a very vivid dream. She hears a noise in the basement and goes to investigate, thinking that it might be Kyle or Travis. While standing in front of the closet, something pushes her from behind and everything goes black.

She wakes up to find herself trapped in the closet. After fumbling around in the dark, she finds someone there with her, but the person is dead. Tracy bursts out of the closet and runs back upstairs where she finds the hidden room open and her friends tied up to chairs inside. A man comes out of nowhere and starts rambling. It turns out that he’s an escaped convict who escaped an institution with the other man.

His name is Laughing Bill, and he tells her that he didn’t kill his friend. The man started screaming and clawing at his throat like someone was choking him before he fell over dead. He makes her listen to the radio until they hear an update about him. Hearing a description of him, he takes a razor blade to his head and chops off all of his hair. Then he comes up with a new plan to escape. He will take Tracy with him and drive into Canada, saying that she’s his daughter. He cuts her hair super short and leads her outside where he reveals that he has the missing car part.

Tracy brings along a sharp piece of glass, and when they start driving away, she stabs him in the cheek and he crashes into a tree. She runs off, but he catches up with her. Suddenly Travis pops up and hits him with a shovel. They fight, and Bill gets the shovel and hits him several times until he passes out. Tracy runs inside and they fight some more. She hits him with a footstool and he trips, slams his head into the fireplace, and passes out.

Tracy runs into the speakeasy and finds Kyle and Christie. They head back outside and help Travis, but when they come in, Bill and Christie are both missing. She says that she’s going to find the police, and Bill rushes out screaming about how she isn’t going anywhere. Christie jumps on his back and starts hitting him, and he knocks her across the room. Just as he starts to escape, he begins grabbing his face and choking.

Now that he’s dead, Tracy goes outside and tries to walk to the highway. She starts to pass out and feels something squeezing her throat. Suddenly, it’s a month later and she’s sitting at home with Kyle and a friend. She talks about how she passed out a few feet from the road and the police found her. Travis is still recovering from what happened, and Christie pretends like nothing happened.

They all laugh about how Tina is now hardcore chasing Travis even though she once thought he was a loser. Tina calls her for help, and she tells her no, saying that she finally learned how to stand up or herself. Tina comes to the house and she still turns her down. After they leave, she tells Kyle that she believes something supernatural happened at the lodge. He denies it, but when she asks him to explain what happened to Bill, Kyle finally admits that he can’t explain it and that maybe there was something else there.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Sweet Valley Twins #116: Jessica Takes Charge

Jessica is upset because Lila always gets whatever she wants. She dreams about a bracelet she saw in the mall, only to have Lila show up wearing the exact same one. The principal calls a special assembly and lets everyone know that SVMS is starting a new program where all the kids have to do volunteer work. Both she and Lila want to work in the mayor’s office, but all of the jobs are randomly assigned.

Jessica winds up with the health trailer and Lila gets the homeless shelter. Jessica discovers that Elizabeth got the mayor’s office and doesn’t want it, so she offers to trade. Lila shows up and they all start arguing over who she get which job. Jessica offers to do all of her chores, but Lila offers her a limousine ride. Lila finally offers her $200 for the soup kitchen, and Elizabeth makes the trade, which pisses Jessica off because it proves that Lila can buy anything.

The health trailer is naturally boring. The nurse in charge keeps yelling at Jessica for screwing things up, and Winston who also volunteers there isn’t any help. The nurse gets ticked when Jessica dares to eat a candy bar, and she assigns her the task of creating a display on the lungs. One of the pieces is missing and the nurse claims that she must have lost it because no company would ever forget a piece. Then she tells her at the last minute that she needs to give a speech about the lungs to a bunch of kids.

Lila gets off on the wrong foot at the mayor’s office because she pulls out the “I’m a rich kid” card. She gets stuck doing jobs like folding brochures, but it’s okay because she meets a cute high school guy named Paul. She brags to Jessica about how he’s super cute and really likes her even though he basically never says a word to her.

Elizabeth likes her job the most. She gets discouraged when she learns how many people use the soup kitchen and she wants to help, so she gives her boss Andre the money. He starts dreaming about all the things he can do with it before heading to the health trailer for Jessica’s demonstration.

Jessica completely messes up by claiming that you breathe through your stomach. The kids go all squirrelly and the balloon shoots off the display and flies around the room. It all gets captured on video and shown on the news, so everyone starts making fun of her. Right before the demonstration, she overhears two men talking about Paul and how he was a delinquent who was forced into doing volunteer work. She also sees him pick up a brochure, smile, and put it in his pocket.

The next day, everyone descends on the health trailer because Andre lost his money. He tucked it into a brochure and it went missing, but they never find it. Elizabeth starts thinking about how one of the women she works with told her and her grandson that people used to keep money in their cookie jars, and Mandy mentions seeing the same boy near a cookie jar. Conveniently, there’s a rummage sale going on to raise money.

Jessica tells the adults about Paul, and he loses his position. Lila tries to give him the $200, but he refuses to take it because he didn’t do anything wrong. Everyone shows up for a big health fair and Elizabeth realizes that the little boy probably took the money. She tells Lila and they run to find the cookie jars, but someone already bought it. Lila tracks the man down and offers him $600 for the jar.

The mayor overhears their conversation, and Lila tells her what happened. They open the jar and find the money inside. The mayor is so happy that she gives Paul his job back and tells the whole group to go out for ice cream. They all head off together, and Paul calls Lila a kid, making it clear that he isn’t really into her.

*Elizabeth describes all the food in the soup kitchen and then Andre tells her that it will only last for one day. At one point, they have 30 big boxes of dried pasta, but it’s only one meal. Then again, the meal consists of soup, bread, two sandwiches, fruit, cheese, drinks, dessert, and a casserole, so maybe that’s why they go through so much!

*Elizabeth naturally comes across as a bit of a bitch in this one. She keeps bragging about her work and how everyone should work in a soup kitchen, but it doesn’t really seem like she does much.

*There’s an article in the paper about how citizens want the city to stop spending money on useless projects like student internships. Um, does it really cost the city anything to have middle school kids work for free?

*This is supposedly a school wide thing, but the only time they mention people working, it’s all sixth graders.

*I thought Sweet Valley was the best place in the world, so why do they need free daycare, soup kitchens, etc.?

*Oh, and if there’s free daycare, then why in The Unicorns do parents not have anywhere to take their kids?

*You have to love the clearly Photoshopped cover on this one!

*Lila wears a silk button up shirt and a wool skirt for her first day in the mayor’s office, which once again does not sound like something a 12-year-old should wear.