Friday, April 1, 2016

Point Thriller: Nightmare Hall #8: The Experiment (Diane Hoh)

The Experiment opens with the Professor sitting in his office and talking about some young woman. The Professor says she never even visited his office before and that she has no idea of the predators watching her every move. We then jump right into the action.

Professor Maximillion DeLure is the hottest teacher at Salem University. Caryl tells her best friend Anna all about how she thinks he's gorgeous, and Anna briefly mentions that there are some weird rumors about him on campus. We also meet Anna's love interest Nicholas and Carl who is the professor's assistant. Carl talks a little about the new class seminar called Poets and Scientists. Since Caryl really wants to be a writer, she wants in that seminar. She applied for a spot and rushes back to see if she got an invite.

When she reaches in her mailbox, a hand grabs her and starts tugging on her. Just as she starts screaming, she realizes it's the mail guy, Ben. Ben and Caryl have been dating, and he jokes for a bit before giving her the mail. She finds an invitation to the class and gets so excited that Anna takes her out for dessert to celebrate.

There, they run into Perri. Perri is apparently hot shit on campus. She's a gorgeous girl who every guy falls in love with almost instantly. Even the waiter rushes over to greet her and get her food as fast as possible. Perri reveals that she got an invite to the class and brags about how she's an awesome writer and way better than Caryl for a few minutes. She then acts super condescending about how Caryl obviously got in and decides to get some cute little treats to celebrate before flouncing away. She literally flounces!

Caryl hopes to find out a little more about the class and heads to the professor's office. She thinks about some of the rumors she heard, including that he murdered his wife and child and wrote a series of poems that have clues about their murders. Though his office looks empty, she lets herself in and sees a fish in a bowl going crazy. The professor's suddenly pops up, says something to the fish, and it stops dead in its tracks. He then starts screaming at Caryl that she needs to run, run for her life.

When she tells Anna what happened, Anna convinces her that it was just a fighting fish. Feeling better, she goes for a swim at the rec center but hears someone chasing her. Right before they catch her, she wakes up in bed. Caryl dresses up for her class and runs into Ben, who thinks she looks just awesome. She also sees Perri, who thinks wearing a six inch long skirt and a bodysuit is somehow appropriate for school. Perri has her eyes on Dare Winters, that is seriously his name. He's apparently the hottest guy in school.

The professor shows up, gives a short lecture, and then asks everyone to watch an animal in the wild for an hour and write a poem. No one in class understands the assignment at all, which makes me fear for the graduates of this school, but then Caryl explains it and everyone gets it. Dare chats with her, and when she tells him about the dog park nearby, he asks her to go with him.

Even though she's supposedly dating Ben, she totally agrees. Before their date though, she finds a dead fish in her mailbox and a bad yet threatening poem. She blames Ben, he says he didn't do it, and she decides that it was probably Perri. Perri actually shows up during their date to flirt with Dare. He spends most of the time flirting with Caryl and eventually refers to Perri as a friend before kissing Caryl and walking off with her. Buuuuuurn.

Caryl forgets about her next date with Ben until Anna reminds her. Ben, not realizing that she's losing interest, decides that this is the perfect time to announce that he loves her. When she turns him down and tells him that she hopes they can be friends (burn #2), he pretty much attacks her. She fights him off and runs off into the night with him chasing her down. Caryl manages to get to the nearest building, knock on the door, and get inside to hide from him. A girl named Giselle brings her a towel to dry off and gives her directions to the bus stop. When she goes to leave, Caryl turns back and sees Giselle suddenly changes into a bright white light and warn her that something is coming for her.

This should freak her out, but Caryl seems surprisingly okay with it. She takes a long hot bath, thinks about the weird thing with the fish, and decides that only Perri could write something so bad. Dare then calls and asks her out again. Caryl also finds out that the professor thought her poem was the best in the class and told a bunch of other teachers about her. One even suggests that she double major. Yes, because a double major in science and writing is oh so common.

Caryl decides that she can completely trust Dare and goes out with him to some random party. They do some more flirting and kissing before dancing. Perri interrupts them to taunt her about Ben in the hopes of making Dare jealous. When that fails, she announces that they once dated. He tells her it was in the past and that he doesn't like her now, which leaves her to hiss that Caryl is a teacher's pet before running away.

Anna doesn't know what to think about the whole thing. She does reveal that she was at the party on a blind date. Caryl then goes to class and gets asked to stay after. Nicholas, who is suddenly now the assistant, hangs around until the professor sends him away. He tells Caryl that she's one of the best students he ever had and offers to work one on one with her.

Later, Caryl goes to the coffee shop, opens her notebook, and finds that someone slashed her work. They left behind a threatening poem that called her a teacher's pet. She once again blames Perri before deciding to talk with the professor. Since he's not in the office, she lets herself in and finds a door she never noticed before. It opens and she finds a dark room filled with tarantulas, warning signs, and other weird stuff. Just then, the door slams shut behind her. Though she screams and throws herself at the door, it won't open.

Dare shows up to save her, and both the professor and Nicholas show up too. The professor is less than happy that she sneaked into his office. He tells her that she found his laboratory and that the lights are on a timer. Also, the door locks automatically to keep people from stealing his work. Nicholas tells her that she's lucky because one of the spiders in the room is the most poisonous one in the world. When she tells the professor about the threats she got, he takes the pages from her notebook and tells her that he'll personally take care of the problem.

This all leads up to Nicholas stopping by to see her and asking her to come with him. He says that he found something weird that he wants her to see. Nicholas takes her to the professor's office and shows her a picture of herself. It turns out that it's actually the professor's daughter Claire and according to Nicholas, the professor killed his own daughter. Caryl rushes off and hides out in her room. She also hears about the ghost of Nightingale Hall, which is the same building where she saw Giselle, and learns that Giselle is a girl who killed herself there and now haunts the dorm.

Anna wakes her up the next day to tell her she has a phone call, which is odd because Anna doesn't live with her. She says its Nicholas on the phone and keeps trying not to call. Nicholas wants her to meet him again to talk things through. Anna then explodes on her about how she keeps all these men for herself and can't even stay away from someone her best friend liked. Caryl tries to talk to her later, but Anna won't come to the door or answer the phone.

Nicholas tells Caryl that he did some research and found that the professor really did kill his daughter. It was supposedly an accident but the professor blamed himself for what happened. Nicholas believes he picked Caryl as his favorite student because of how much she looks like Claire.

Cut to their next class. Caryl is so worried about who's been stalking her that she spends the whole class thinking about all the suspects like Perri, Dare, Ben, and even Anna. When the prof calls on her, she can't answer because she wasn't paying attention. Then Perri starts screaming and literally falls out of her chair. The professor gets close to her and sees one of his tarantulas crawling on her. He pulls it off and orders Nicholas to call for an ambulance. Caryl suddenly realizes that Perri was sitting in her usual spot and that if she had sat there, she'd be lying still on the floor.

While asleep that night, she hears someone who sounds suspiciously like Anna whispering to her about spiders. She wakes and notices that her roommate is awful still in bed. When she pulls back the covers, she sees her dead roommate and a fat spider on her face. Just as she starts screaming someone pounds on her door, and she realizes that it was just a bad dream. That drives her to the realization that she needs to find out who is behind all this before she goes crazy.

Caryl gets yet another note that says she'll be the next one to die. Though she thinks this means Perri died, Dare shows up and tells her that Perri is actually okay. They hang out for a bit before he tells her that he's beginning to think what happened to Perri wasn't an accident. When he leaves, she calls and leaves a message for the professor to get in touch with her as soon as possible, which means she thinks it was him all along.

When he doesn't call, she goes to his office and finds his dead body sitting behind his desk. Nicholas then pops up and reveals he was behind everything. He tells her that he was a college professor who fell in love with the professor's high school daughter. As if that wasn't icky enough, they started sneaking around behind her dad's back. The professor followed them one night, Nicholas drove too fast to get away from him, and he crashed their car. He was disfigured, got reconstructive surgery, and looked so different that no one knew who he was. Nicholas stalked the professor and set him up as pay back. Nicholas tries to strangle her, but the professor comes to life and attacks him.

Caryl wakes up to see the prof and Dare standing over her. The prof tells her that he suspected Nicholas for a long time and set it up so the other man would think he was dead. Dare suspected him too, which is why he showed up at the office. Oh, and to cap things off, Nicholas was so shocked by seeing the professor come “back to life” that he fell into a catatonic state and may never wake up again. No worries though. Dare kisses her and apparently everything is fine!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sweet Valley High #14: Deceptions

Hey, remember that time when Elizabeth was “kidnapped” by that guy who just wanted to stare at her hair and watch her eat pancakes? Well, this book comes right after that one. She's now back home, so SVH decides to celebrate in the only way it knows how, with a party.

Jessica, surprisingly, does most of the planning and hard work. Liz eventually meets Nicholas Morrow, the hot new guy who Jessica is in love with at the moment. While Liz thinks he's just being nice to her because he wants to make new friends, he asks her to dance with him several times in a row. Nicholas spends most of the night following her around like a little lost puppy dog, while Liz spends most of the night avoiding Todd and wondering if she should talk to him.

Meanwhile, Jessica really, really wants Nicholas to ask her out. Every time she finds him though, he makes up an excuse to walk away so he can trail after Liz again. When it finally comes time to leave, he gets her alone. Nicholas tells Liz that he thinks he's falling in love with her and that he wants to take her out. She tells him that she has a boyfriend, but Nicholas says she's too young to get serious with anyone. He keeps begging her to go out with at least once until she finally caves and agrees to go out with him when Todd goes out for his mom's birthday.

Liz initially plans to tell Todd about the date but can't work up the nerve. She starts to tell him that night, but then he starts talking about how she ignored him all night to hang out with some other guy. When she goes to tell him again, she briefly mentions the name Nicholas and Todd flips out. While she does tell Enid everything, she doesn't tell Jess because of how her twin feels.

Speaking of Jessica, she decides that she should learn more about computers. Nicholas is taking a year off school to work for his dad's computer company before going back to school and one day taking over the business. If she wants to be his perfect match, she thinks they should have something in common. She turns to Randy Mason for help. Poor Randy thinks she actually has an interest in him.

Randy shows her how to run programs on computers and how to use a floppy disc (ha!). When he shows her how he can get into other computer networks, she convinces him to break into the school's network. She then gets him to change her math grade so that she's no longer failing. Randy thinks she might like him now, but she just says she has to go.

He keeps freaking out over what they did and finally calls her. Liz answers the phone, he confuses the two of them, and tells her the whole store. Pretending to be her sister, Liz says she'll go with him when he tells Chrome Dome what they did. She then forces Jessica to go to the school and tell the principal what happened. Cooper is so pissed off at both of them that he threatens to suspend them until Liz speaks up and begs them for a second chance. He basically lets them off with a slap on the wrist, changes Jessica's grade back, and lets them go.

The twins run into Nicholas at the mall. Liz freaks out because she worries he might reveal their plans. All he does is talk about how he hopes to see her again, which leaves Jessica thinking that he's talking about her. She rambles on and on about how he's clearly in love with her. Liz just changes the subject and worries some more.

On the day of their date, Jessica goes to see Cara, which leaves Liz grateful that she can get out of the house. When Jess shows up early, Liz pretends that she's just going to see Enid. She drives to meet Nicholas at some very expensive and exclusive restaurant. Their date goes okay, but she decides that she really does only like him as a friend and that she really is in love with Todd. Too bad that Todd and his dad took his mom to the same restaurant for her birthday.

Liz sees Todd before he sees her. After some thought, she decides that she'll just pretend to be Jessica. Todd approaches her and flips out until she does her twin's hair flip and teases him about mixing them up. Even his parents laugh at him. Liz then worries to Nicholas about how she hated doing it, and the jack ass tells her that she did what she had to do in the moment.

Todd feels so bad that he rushes to the Wakefield house as soon as he gets home. Jessica opens the door, and he kisses her because he assumes it's Liz. When she reveals which twin she really is, he told her what he saw before storming off. Liz gets home to find Jessica pacing the house and getting more and more pissed off. Jessica explodes at her for stealing her boyfriend and tells her that she probably lost Todd for good. If only.

Todd basically ignores her all day at school on Monday. When she does try to talk to him, he kind of tells her off before walking off. She cries to everyone who will listen about how she loves him, even though she did just cheat on him. The only good thing is that Jessica makes up with her after realizing that she doesn't actually like Nicholas all that much. When John gets sick, Mr. Collins assigns Liz the article about the championship game that night.

Liz winds up sitting with Enid and some friends at the game. The team does okay but without Todd at his best, they naturally can't win. She runs into Nicholas and cries to him a little, which makes him realize that you probably shouldn't go after another guy's gal. He goes to see Todd at halftime, apologizes for going after Liz, and tells him that Liz still loves him. That revitalizes Todd to the point where he goes out, kicks ass, and they somehow come back from like 30 points behind to win the game.

Todd goes to Liz, apologizes to her for not believing her in the beginning, and they get back together because he is clearly a moron. The twins head to some random party for the basketball team and get a call from their mom. Tricia, remember her?, is in the hospital yet again. They're pretty sure this is the end, so everyone has to run off to say goodbye to her.

*If Liz is too young to be serious with anyone, why would Nicholas take her out? If she's too young for someone her own age, she probably wouldn't do well with someone a few years older!

*Jessica says Nicholas is so rich that he can drive around in a Jeep instead of a fancy car, which kind of made me laugh.

*There is NO WAY IN HELL that Jessica should have gotten away with the grade change crap. They illegally broke into the school system! The fact that Liz just bats her eyelashes and gets them off really pisses me off. Suspension isn't enough either. If that happened today, they would both get kicked out of school.

*This is one of those books where Jessica isn't allowed to drive because she racked up so many tickets. Is there ever a book where they say that she can officially drive again?

*Liz says she rarely wears jewelry and hardly wears any when she goes out with Nicholas, but she actually wears a necklace, bracelet, and watch. That sounds like a lot to me.

*Jessica clearly has no sense of shame since she opens the door in her bathrobe. Who does that?

*Liz's date outfit is a beige/tan silk dress the color of her hair, all those accessories, and matching shoes.

*This book really pissed me off, maybe even more than any other Sweet Valley book. Nicholas basically hounds Liz into going out with him even after he finds out she has a boyfriend, and she mopes around the whole book because she doesn't want to go or doesn't know if she should go. No, when you're dating someone seriously, you DO NOT go out with anyone else. It's that simple.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #3: The Big Camp Secret

The twins and all their friends are getting ready to go away to camp for the first time ever. They all go to the mall to do some shopping and run into Grace Oliver. She tells them that she was supposed to go to camp but now can't and then runs away crying. Liz chases her down, shoulder pats her, and finds out that Grace's parents are fighting a lot and considering a divorce. They decided to take separate vacations to make a decision and send her to her godmother's house instead.

Liz convinces her that she should talk to her parents and tell them that she really wants to go to camp. Grace agrees, but comes home to find them shouting at each other once again. Worried that telling them how she feels will lead to an even bigger fight, she just runs away and hides in her room. And Lila shows up at the mall to announce that she's not going to camp anymore because she's now going to Paris and possibly London with her grandmother.

The twins arrive at camp and find out that they're in a bunk with Amy, Ellen, Kimberly Haver, Kerry Glenn, and some random girl named Nancy. This mean counselor named Tina bosses them around and has them make all the beds. Jess short sheets the counselor's bed because she thinks they're stuck with Tina, but their counselor is actually a nice girl. Luckily, she thinks the whole thing is funny.

At the campfire that night, the counselors take turns telling them some scary stories. The head of the camp then tells them the legend of Crying Moon Mountain, this tiny nearby hill with a little cabin at the top. It's pretty much your classic Native American tale of a princess falling in love with a warrior from another tribe. Her people caught her lover and killed him, and now she haunts the hill. Jessica swears that she sees a light in the cabin, and when Elizabeth and Amy make fun of her, she dares them to sneak up to the cabin the next night.

Neither one really wants to do it, but they sneak off anyway. Jessica shows up, scares them, and they all get scared when they hear noises coming from the cabin and see a dark shadow. It turns out that it's just Grace. Instead of going to her godmother's house, she got on one of the camp buses and has been hiding out in the cabin even since. They decide to sneak her into a bunch of things and keep her hidden with the help of the other campers.

We also meet a bitchy little girl named Barbara. She winds up getting assigned to their group during a scavenger hunt. After finding the first clue, she suggests that they just steal from the other teams. While this sounds like something Jessica would totally do, they act all shocked and decide they don't like her.

Everyone has fun hiding Grace. She gets to go on nature hikes, join their swimming group, and even take arts and crafts lessons. Each cabin must put on a show one night, and Grace takes part in theirs. Barbara comes up to Liz later and asks about the new girl. Liz pretends that she has no clue what the girl is talking about.

During movie night, they almost get caught sneaking in until Barbara steps up and saves them. The next day, she comes over and tells them that she had so much fun, sarcastically of course, that she wants to join their cabin. If they refuse, she'll tell everyone about Grace. She refuses to do any chores, makes them give her their snacks, and acts like a massive brat. Grace starts worrying and wondering if she should just go home.

Since Jessica can't go six seconds without a guy noticing her, she decides that they should hold a dance with the boys' camp across the lake. After getting most of the girls to sign a petition, Kimberly points out that she should ask the guys too. That leads to Jess and Grace sneaking a canoe across the water. While the Sweet Valley guys could care less about a dance, some new guy named Sandy thinks Jess is hot and agrees to get their signatures.

While on an overnight camping trip, the girls want to sleep outside but Barbara refuses. Jess, Ellen, Amy, and Liz are the only ones who stay out. They hear some weird noises in the woods and get freaked out until the guys come running out and give her the petition. Jamie, their counselor, catches them but decides not to punish them for completely and totally breaking the rules. Right before she goes to present the petition, Barbara shuts her down and makes it clear that she'll tattle if they go forward with plans for a dance because she doesn't like dances.

Grace spent a few days working on a sculpture of her favorite horse. She wants to enter it in the arts and crafts contest but can't so she feels super crappy. The night of the contest, Liz finds out that Barbara entered the sculpture. Word spreads around camp, and when Barbara wins, no one applauds. Barbara tries to defend herself, only to have Jessica totally shut her down.

Barbara spends a good portion of the book disappearing and no one knows where she goes. She comes back one day with a note for the twins from Grace that says she decided to go to her godmother's house. Since there's a storm coming, they want to check on her. Tina grudgingly lets them use the phone when they claim they forgot their mom's birthday, but when they call the station, they learn Grace never showed up. After talking it over, they go the head of the camp and tell her what happened, which causes her to spring into action.

Meanwhile, Barbara goes to the cabin, which is where she's been going all along. How she never ran into Grace is something we will never know. She pulls out some letters from her parents, and we learn that they're in the midst of a messy divorce and keep putting her in the middle. Grace comes out from the bedroom and tells her that she had to turn around because of the storm and hurt her ankle. She also reveals that she read the letters and knows what Barbara is going through.

They argue a little, Barbara cries, and then lightning hits the cabin. She runs outside and plans to run back to camp before remembering that Grace hurt her ankle. Barbara runs back in, wakes Grace up, and practically drags her out of the cabin. They then run into the head of the camp, some counselors, and Grace's mom who was just a few hours away. Grace tries to thank Barbara and tells everyone how the other girl saved her.

Grace's dad also shows up. They have a long talk about all the fighting and suddenly realize how their daughter must feel. They still haven't decided whether to get a divorce but agree to stop putting her in the middle. Her dad gives her the option of taking a vacation together or going back home, but she decides to stay at camp.

When Barbara gets back to the cabin, she and Jessica have a major confrontation. The other girls leave, and Jessica starts tossing all of Barbara's stuff outside. Grace shows up and tells them everything that happened, and Barbara tells them that she only entered the horse sculpture because she thought Grace deserved to win. After everyone makes up, they get to have their dance. Everyone is suddenly BFFs with Barbara, and Jerry McAllister from Sweet Valley even develops a crush on her.

*Quick question, since when does Lila have a grandmother? I'm pretty sure she never gets brought up again.

*I love that the parents send sixth grade girls out to do their own shopping before going to camp, especially since Alice later takes the twins shopping before another trip.

*Did anyone ever go away to a camp like this? The camp sends a bus to pick everyone up and drive them to camp, just like in the BSC camp book.

*The cabin thing is weird. They have one empty bed because Lila didn't show up, but they still have six girls from SV there and one other girl. Wouldn't they try to mix things up so kids get to know new people instead of hanging out with the exact same people they always do?

*The scavenger hunt makes no sense either. Each group starts out with a clue that leads them to another clue, etc. etc. until they get to the very end, but each group starts at a different spot. Each spot also only has one clue, so it seems like whatever group gets the clue closest to the end will automatically win.

*Also, Barbara winds up on their team because Tina says they had too many teams. Uh, why didn't they count the cabins before setting things up? They literally have to take a girl from that cabin and put her with another cabin because they have too many teams.

*The camp runs for like two weeks or less and yet has its own newsletter. Liz is naturally in charge of assigning stories and editing it.

*Tina acts really mean about them using the phone, but the camp has its own frigging pay phone. Why have a phone if no one can use it?

*Ellen and Jessica both get letters from Lila who hates her trip. Her grandmother keeps taking her to museums and boring stuff, and she complains that she hasn't met a single cute guy.

*The cabin that Grace stayed in actually burns to the ground while they're waiting for help to arrive.

*I'm so tired of books where the bitchy little girl has some hidden reason for being bitchy. Barbara is supposedly so upset over her parents' divorce that she can't handle being around other people, so she just sits in the cabin and reads their letters over and over again.

*What type of camp just lets a kid take off too? The head of the camp tells the counselors to just let her do whatever she wants.

*Jessica brought up the dance on the first night, the camp head said she would think about it, and then nothing happened. The guys, not knowing that the petition was secret, told their counselors who called her for the details, which is why they ended up having a dance.