Friday, October 17, 2014

Fear Street Super Chiller: Broken Hearts (R.L. Stine)

Prologue: September

Josie and Rachel are twin sisters who look and act nothing alike. They and their best friend Melissa go horseback riding with their little sister Erica who is about to be a freshman at Shadyside High with them. Erica chickens out at the last minute and refuses to go riding. Rachel is fine with it, but Josie keeps snapping about how she's so lame and such a baby. They're in such a hurry to hit the trail that no one checks Rachel's saddle. A dog runs out in the middle of the trail, her horse rears up, and she falls off and lands on her head.

Part One: The Following February

It's been a few months and Melissa still isn't over what happened. She keeps having nightmares about that day, and she tells her mom that Josie blamed her for what happened. Not only do they rarely talk now, but she's also dating Josie's ex-boyfriend Dave.

Then we go over to the twins' house. Erica now gets stuck watching over Rachel, who has the mentality of a kid, all the time. Josie constantly makes up excuses for wanting to hang out with her boyfriend Steve or doing other things so she doesn't have to stay with Rachel. We also find out that Rachel's boyfriend Luke hangs around all the time even though she doesn't recognize him.

Josie gets a secret valentine in the mail that pretty much wishes her dead. Steve laughs it off, so she shows it to Erica. Before Erica can really say anything, Josie takes off again. The next day, Josie once again skips out on watching Rachel. Erica has an important tryout, but Josie doesn't care. Erica blames her for the accident right before someone nails her in the head with a snowball. You would think that's someone trying to tell her something, but she just runs off for another date with her boyfriend.

When she gets home that night, she finds Luke there. Luke pretty much calls her out on her crap. He tells her that she's conceited, selfish, and doesn't care about anyone else. He points out that Erica is the only one caring for their sister because her parents are apparently never home and that the audition was really important to her. When Josie snaps back at him, he stabs her through the heart with a letter opener. I wish. He actually just threatens her with it before slamming it into the desk and warning her that he almost did it. It doesn't help that she then gets yet another valentine in the mail.

Late one night, Josie hears Rachel calling her name over the intercom system in the house. Though she tells her to go back to sleep, she keeps calling for her. Josie sneaks into her room and finds her sound asleep. She later hears her calling her name again, but she once again finds her asleep.

Josie clearly doesn't care about making friends or keeping her old friends. She tells her teacher that Dave, Melissa’s boyfriend, cheated off her test. The teacher gives Dave a zero without you know finding any proof that he cheated. Dave ends up kicked off the wrestling team and loses his shot at a scholarship for college. Now we have one big suspect.

Back at home, Rachel calls for her over the intercom and Erica lets her know that their sister wants her. Instead of talking to them, she runs out of the house and meets up with Steve. They go ice skating, and she sees someone watching them. She shows Steven another valentine she got, but he laughs it off and acts like it's nothing. I would suspect him, but I've read this book before! Josie comes home later that night and found that someone killed their dog. This seems like it should be a big thing, but once the police comes, it really never gets brought up again.

Erica and Josie go shopping for valentines. They see Jenkman, Josie's old boyfriend. She thinks that he's the one sending her the valentines. Erica gets a little blushy and makes it cleat that she has the hots for him. They talked on the phone, he admitted to sending her some funny valentines but denied sending the threatening ones, and she thinks he's innocent. When he tries to talk to Josie and she flips out on him, he looks so mean that Erica starts to suspect him.

Josie starts talking about the valentines she got, which leads to Rachel singing about how someone hates her, someone really hates her. Yeah, and it's me. She storms out of the house despite Erica trying to call her back, claiming that she'll watch her sister the next night.

Erica wakes up after a nap and realizes that her sister still isn't home. She calls Steve, who admits that they had a fight and Josie took off with another group of kids but she should be home by now. Erica hears someone at the door and drops the phone, but it's the cops. They tell her and her mother that they found Josie's dead body earlier in the night.

Melissa gets a phone call from Dave telling her that he ran away. She runs off to meet him, and he tells her that he was the one who sent the valentines but that he didn't kill Josie. He decides to sneak into their house, find the valentines, and throw them away before anyone sees them. He finds the house completely empty and stumbles on something slick. Reaching for his balance, he accidentally grabs something in his hands. The cops suddenly show up and see him standing over a body with a bloody letter opener in his hands. It's Erica and she isn't moving.

Part Two: February, One Year Later

It's now one year later. Erica survived the attack but spent a lot of time in recovery, and her parents still expect her to take care of Rachel all the time. Melissa and Luke are now dating, but when Luke stopped going to see Rachel, she had some kind of a setback. Oh, and Melissa got a bad valentine too. Dave, who probably didn't kill anyone, got a bad reputation and his parents sent him to a military boarding school. He sent her a letter, which brought back all the bad memories in her head.

While talking to Rachel, Erica is shocked when her sister asks for Luke. She reminds her that he's now with Melissa, which leads to Rachel screaming that she hates her former friend and attacking a teddy bear Luke gave her. The phone rings, and it's Steve asking her out despite not talking to her once after her sister's murder. He tells her that she deserves to have a life and hangs up. After getting off the phone, she realizes that her sister is missing. She finds Rachel outside making cryptic comments again.

Cut to Melissa and Luke. She got another valentine and wonders if Dave is behind it. They make plans to find the originals and see if the handwriting matches. Before they can make any further plans, the phone rings. It's Dave's mom calling to tell her that Dave ran away from his boarding school. He's been talking a lot about the last year and about Melissa, and she's worried he's coming home.

Erica hears weird noises a few nights later and finds Luke sneaking around their house. He says he just wanted to drop off a valentine for Rachel and disappears again. Dave shows up at Melissa's house and tells her that he finally figured out who the real killer is and that he wants to clear his name. She asks him for more information but he runs away.

She then goes to see Rachel. Since Erica had a play rehearsal, she agrees to watch her for a few hours. Rachel says she likes to go outside and makes some more weird comments. When Erica gets home, she finds that someone sent her a threatening valentine, which leads Rachel to singing that someone now hates her. She also says she likes going outside and goes out by herself, and when Erica says she isn't allowed outside by herself, Rachel goes quiet. Melissa wonders what the hell is going on when she sees someone who looks like Rachel running across her lawn in the middle of the night.

Since the weird noises she heard also wake her parents, they all try to figure out what happened. Melissa makes it clear that she saw her former friend but they say it's impossible. The police then randomly show up and think they called because of what they saw outside. They ask about the body of the teenage boy in the driveway, and Melissa starts screaming about Luke.

The police go to Erica's house and tell her parents, who are actually home for the first time in this book, that they need to talk to their daughter. They say that they need to question Rachel about Dave's murder, so we now know who was in Melissa's driveway! Their parents say it couldn't be Rachel because she isn't allowed outside by herself, but Rachel smiles and says she goes outside alone all the time.

A few days later, everything is kind of okay again. The police realized Rachel couldn't be a killer. Melissa seems to have gotten over her ex-boyfriend's death fairly quickly and is looking forward to moving on at an ice skating party with Luke. Erica plans to go too, so I guess her parents are finally letting her out of the house. Melissa stops by her locker and finds a bloody note warning her that she's next.

No worries though. She ends up at the party with Luke. Someone freaks out because the ice is cracking, but that doesn't bother Luke. He pulls her to a secluded place and gets little rapey but then settles down and tries to kiss her. Since he's such a good skater and she isn't, she tells him to go have fun and let her practice a little. As soon as he leaves, she realizes that the lake is the biggest lake in the world and that she's miles away from the other guests.

She notices someone skating quickly towards her and then sees a knife in the skater's hand. When she sees red hair, she thinks it's Rachel, but it's really Erica. Erica stabs her, but since she's wearing her dad's heavy coat, it misses her. She then flips out and screams about how she did it all for Rachel and to pay back everyone who hurt her. She also says that she saw Dave sneaking into the house that night and stabbed herself to frame him and that she killed him when he figured it out.

The two of them start fighting over the knife. The ice cracks and they both go under, but Luke gets to her and pulls her out of the water. They keep looking for Erica, but then they see her body under the ice. Luke realizes that she doesn't want to save herself.

At the end of the book, they both go to see Rachel. She talks about how much she likes school and drawing and that she wants to show her drawings to Erica. She also says that she wants to get better and go outside by herself. They wander off and think about everything that happened and decide that instead of celebrating Valentine's Day, they'll just celebrate Groundhog Day from now on.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Baby-Sitters Club #87: Stacey and the Bad Girls

It's now summer for the 976th time in Stoneybrook, and Stacey is a little sad because she's no longer friends with the BSC. Luckily, she now has Andi, one of Robert's friends. Unfortunately, Andi is about to take off for some family vacation. Stacey calls and asks her to come over and that she'll call the other girls. There's Sheila, Jacqui, Mia, and Heather. They all have fun, but one of the girls snoops in her room and finds a letter that Robert wrote to her jokingly calling her Toots.

Since Stacey has the house to herself all day, the girls start coming over every day. They hang out, watch U4ME some new boy band, and eat a lot. Robert stops by one day after working at his painting job. Maureen comes home to find everyone lounging around the house, a plum stain on the wall from where one of the girls threw one at Robert, and food everywhere. After the girls leave, she demands that Stacey find a job.

Stacey looks in the paper but all the jobs are for full-time or adult workers. While thinking about what Kristy would do, she decides to check the grocery store for fliers. She calls a woman about watching her mother, but the woman snaps at her for not having any experience. She calls about a dog walking job and the woman wants someone older, and she calls about models needed. The modeling job is a bust, but she does find out that some kids center needs help. After that fails, Maureen comes home and announces that she got her a job at the Bellair's kid center.

After one meeting, Stacey gets the job. Not long after starting, her new friends start showing up every day. Stacey thinks it's a little weird that they always want to shop at the same place, but she doesn't think it's weird that they wait until she's distracted talking to a worker and run off without her. She doesn't even think it's strange when she sees workers stop some shoplifters and her friends take off.

They eventually ask her if they can use her discount to buy some stuff. She hesitates, they do the whole peer pressure thing, and she agrees. They all buy a bunch of fancy stuff: a silk robe, an ostrich feather hat, a sequined dress, and calfskin gloves. The next day, they have a ton of money and take her out to eat. They admit that they returned the items without receipts to make some extra cash. She would freak out but they find out that U4ME announced a show in Stamford and they can all get tickets.

A few days later, she's getting ready for the concert and thinks about what happened when they bought tickets. After a few minutes of waiting in line, the other girls pretty much just ditched her. They gave her money for their tickets and took off, leaving her alone in line. She gets over it, because hey, it's U4ME. Maureen drops them off and embarrasses Stacey by asking about her injection kit.

Stacey notices security guards checking kids for alcohol and sees a sign warning against smoking and drinking, but she ignores it. The other girls then all reveal that they sneaked in their own alcohol. It doesn't take long before they are all drunk and want her to drink too, but she can't because of her diabetes. They all smoke too, get caught by security, and removed from the concert.

The guard finds a bottle hidden in her sweater, and no one will believe her when she pulls the diabetes card. Another guard says that she has to call their families and everyone has to have a parent pick them up. Maureen shows up, flips out, and snaps about how even a "sip of alcohol" would cause some massive reaction. The guard assures her that it's okay and that Stacey isn't the first girl to hang with the wrong crowd. Maureen doesn't ban her from seeing them but makes it clear that it's not okay.

In the midst of all this, Sharon has some big news for Richard, Dawn, and Mary Anne. Her cousin stopped talking to her because he disliked her husband so much, but now he wants them to be a family again. Conveniently, he and his wife are also planning a two week trip to England and want to leave their daughter with them, which she thinks is a great idea.

Amy absolutely hates everything about Stoneybrook. She spends all day in Jeff's room, only comes out periodically, and cries a lot. No one can get her to have any fun. Dawn and Mary Anne invite over some of their charges, but the kids wind up taking off and saying they'll never come back because she's so gloomy. One day, Amy announces that she wants to play hide and seek. When they finish counting and look for her, they realize that she's gone.

Stacey is working in the kids center when a woman comes in with two kids but only one is hers. She realizes that the other is Amy because Claudia kept her up to date on everyone. Stacey calls them, they rush down, and she sees the two and talks to them for the first time in months. The more she thinks about things, the more she realizes that she misses the BSC.

She confesses to her mom that the other girls probably shoplifted, and Maureen encourages her to tell the store. She does, but they decide not to go after them. They also talk about changing the receipt policy when she tells them the rest. After giving it some thought, she calls Claudia and tells her that she wants to join the BSC again. Claudia talks to everyone and they invite her to their next meeting.

Stacey kind of apologizes for being mean to the girls in the past. Most of the girls agree to let her back, but Kristy points out that she called them babies and Dawn asks about Robert. Stacey says that they're still together but that she can do her job without him getting in the way. A job comes in, Mary Anne asks her about her work schedule, and she says she quit the kids center to focus on the BSC. Way for indoctrinating yourself back into the cult kid!

*The kid center she originally applied at had a bunch of applications on file, and the guy said he might call her as early as September for an interview. Why would you put out fliers and look for workers months before you even need to hold interviews?

*I really hate how these girls act in these books. During her interview at Bellair's, Stacey wanders off to play with a little girl while the interviewer is still talking to her. She then comes in and sees the woman putting together a tricycle and has to point out that she put the handlebars on backwards.

*The girls keep going to some Chinese restaurant named Ed's or something like that, and it's described as a fast food place. It really made me miss Panda Express. I can't believe the closest one if 45 minutes from me!

*The kids they check for alcohol are all punk. WTF? U4ME sounds like some boy band, so why would older punk kids even want to go?

*This book came out in the mid-90s, so it surprises me that the venue banned smoking inside. In my late 90s/early 2000s college days, my roommate and I were frequent concert goers, and I remember smoking (and drinking) right on the middle of the floor.

*Okay, so Stacey says that each bottle is the size of cough syrup. They haven't even each drank a full bottle by the time the warm up bands are done, but she says they are completely drunk. How?

*Mary Anne and Dawn both cry when Amy flips out about her parents leaving. She's like throwing herself at the door and on the floor. It's supposed to be sad, but it would probably make me scream in real life.

*Jeff gets pissed off when he finds out that they changed his room for Amy. Hm, maybe you shouldn't have moved across the country then?

*It's actually kind of cute when Mary Anne and Dawn come to the kids center. Stacey gets the tissues ready for Mary Anne without even thinking.

*This is the book where Dawn starts missing California. Sunny calls to tell her that her mom has lung cancer, and she really wants to be there to help her. It's funny that in the next book when she actually leaves, they say she's been missing "home" for a long time when it's kind of only one book.

*Sunny asks Dawn if she remembers when her mom smoked, which seems to indicate it was more recently since they met later in life. In Dawn's Portrait book, she claims that Sunny's family were hippies. Not many hippies I know smoked cigarettes.

*U4ME is a horrible band. They canceled all their Midwest shows because they had "too much fun on the West Coast," they once canceled a show in NYC because the lead singer took off to go skiing, and they announce the Stamford show less than a week in advance. The girls think it's soooo coooool, but they guys think it's stupid and irresponsible. I agree with the guys.

*Robert hangs out with Marty Bukeman in this book, and they even have a handshake they make up. In the book where he cheats on her, Stacey freaks out when she hears he's with Marty because they never, ever hang out.

*I have no clue which girl is which on the cover except for Stacey. The book describes one (Shelia) as a goodie-goodie cheerleader, one has red streak in her hair, one is into grunge, and another dresses in almost all black and wears black lipstick. They all just look like mid-90s girls to me.

*Robert comes over and hangs out with the girls in the living room. But in other books, he's only allowed in one specific area when her mom isn't home.

*Let's talk about the diabetes/alcohol thing for a minute, shall we? I'm a diabetic, and I've been known to drink on occasion. Oh, who am I kidding? I've gotten trashed off my ass dozens of times (maybe even hundreds) in my life. Somehow, I managed to do it without killing myself. My cousin, who is a serious diabetic, also drank in the past. I've seen her down multiple sugary alcoholic drinks without dying.

*I also love that Shelia even wants to be friends with Stacey after that whole article she and Robert wrote on how athletes are bad.

*U4ME brings back memories for me. I actually saw New Kids on the Block when I was 10, 11, something like that. Also, when I was crazy about hard rock and saw Disturbed, Godsmack, and bands like that, my roommate and I took a break to see NSYNC.