Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Prom Queen

#15 in the series. Lets start off with the cover:

Even if I hadn't seen this cover since I first read the book forever ago, I could draw this from memory. Why oh why do they re-do the covers? The new cover is a complete abortion, and I simply cannot have it disgrace this blog (so you can see it here).My guess is that this is Lizzie, our narrator. The caption: "She was drop-dead beautiful..." Really? First off, she's got a skull for a face (but has amazing cheekbones) and, I'm no fashion guru, but a puffy pink satin dress is not my cup of tea. Then again, it was 1992. Her dress looks like every bridesmaids worst nightmare. My only hope is that there was a HUGE bow on the butt. To my surprise, this scene semi-happened in the book, which was rare for the series...or am i thinking of BSC? I'm losing my memory in my old age.

Anywho..we open in none other than a steamy girls locker room, every boys fantasy. Suddenly the slow jazz in the background stops and we learn a girl was found MURDERED in the Fear Street Woods. With such an early death, it's safe to assume there's going to be a high death count. Now lets meet our lovely candidates for prom queen at the assembly. Hold up. They need an assembly to go over details for prom? Isn't that what morning announcements are for? Then again no one listens to those.

Lizzie McVay - our narrator aka the boring one. She seems pretty boring...why was she even nominated? Her only appearance description includes having "long, curly...light brown" hair. She has a boyfriend, Kevin, that lives in Alabama because his dad is in the army and apparently a "Major Bummer" bc he won't let Kev travel to Shadyside for prom.

Dawn Rodgers: The jock. Right off the bat, she's a bitchy, smart-ass, so she becomes my favorite. She's an "ace at tennis and every other sport, including boys." Yeah, I lettered in boys my senior year of hs too. heh. Very confident and claims "no one can beat me at anything". My guess is this is where Nik Caner-Medley got his inspiration from. OH...and she loooves fist pumping. Did I mention she's my favorite?

Rachel West: The poor ditz, literally. First words out of her mouth are "for sure" and I begin to feel stabby. She thinks having her parents buy her a dog will save her from a killer. Too bad her fam is poor, and she has to work at 7-11. Plus she has red hair (UGH ginger kids). She's currently dating Gideon, some fuckwad that likes to give back rubs and thinks egotistical is a big word.

Simone Perry - The actress. Dresses like a tramp, or a transvestite, whatever. She's been the lead role of all Shadyside High performances. Very insecure and crazy. Sounds like someone we all know and love right? She's also crazy possessive over her boyfriend Justin.

Elana Potter - The popular one. She's fully aware of it. However, instead of being "hot" she was pretty in an "old fashioned way". I feel like that's just a nice way to say fug. I'd like to imagine her as Farrah from Teen Mom. She's popular, but really unfortunate looking. Her family is rich, & she gets straight A's without even trying. Yeah, she's def. going to die.

So there you have your five lovely contestants. After they are announced at the assembly, some creepy teacher announces prom will be held at Halsey Manor House. Sounds either totally fake or totally creepy. And OH! its in the FEAR STREET WOODS (where they found that dead chick..try to keep up please). Everyone freaks. You know what, suck it up losers, my prom was held in the worlds crappiest school gymnasium. And the prom queen gets 3 grand?! Rachel better win so she can give her 7-11 job to a deserving immigrant that needs to support his 13 member family on a minimum wage pay (too far? whatever, i'm nice in real life).

School lets out, and the prom queen hopefuls (who I guess are all friends?) head on over to the local pizzeria, because its the early '90s and thats where EVERYONE goes after school. I guess Rachel works the midnight to 7 shift at 7-11. In the hours of waiting it takes to get a greasy crap-tastic pizza they discuss how they have to give 2 minute speeches in front of the entire school! Huh? I thought winning prom queen was determined by how easy/bitchy you are in high school, not your eloquence or verbosity (Gideon would think I'm a total geek).

Simone sees Justin looking at some girl, so she rushes out to lay the smack-down on him. The rest of the girls hop on the gossip train and we learn that Dawn, Elana, AND Rachel (but what about Gideon?!) all went out with Justin. Damn Lizzie is faithful to that army brat. Don't you know its not cheating if its in a different area code?

Later that night, we travel to theater rehearsal because Lizzie is a lame wad and paints the scenery, while Simone is the "star". BUT! Simone is no where to be found. My guess is, she's dead. Rehearsal is canceled, so lame Lizzie goes over to Simone's to get the scoop. Her parents are clueless and assume she's upstairs. Lizzie goes upstairs to find Simone's room torn apart....and a dark puddle of blood, but no body. Alas! She sees the guy that did it in the backyard. While she can't really give a description of the dude, just that he was wearing a baseball hat, and a satin maroon baseball jacket (like Justin's perhaps?) and carrying a person-sized bag. Jeez cops, is that not enough info for you? Get on the fucking ball here and find this guy!

Enter Lucas. Lucas is your typical creepy, cross-eyed psychopath. Yet, Simone dated him? But only to get closer to Justin since they are both on the baseball team. Wait...did you say baseball team? He MUST have a maroon satin jacket then. He's got to be the killer. Lizzie really should become a detective. I mean, cross-eyed psychopaths are allowed to wear maroon too, right?

Oh no! Dawn gets the crap kicked out of her at the movies. Is no where in Shadyside safe anymore? God, she just wanted to get her Christian Slater fix. Luckily she's not killed and still in the running for prom queen. PHEW.

Its dark and stormy (perfect killin' weather if you ask me) and Rachel calls Lizzie sobbing and oopsie..the phone line goes dead. Detective Lizzie assumes she's being murdered so hops in her tercel (yeah, thats a toyota) and drives to the bad side of town by the woods. As it turns out, she's not being attacked, but Gideon broke up with her (probably bc she's a slut and went out with Justin). But wait! He's leaving her for Elana. But who will Rachel go to prom with now?! I guess Lizzie and Rachel will have to lesbo it up since it seems you can't go to prom without a date.

But OH NOES! Rachel is suddenly found dead! Who will be Lizzie's date now?! Now her and Dawn are paranoid and Lizzie has a weird dream of all the girls at prom wearing red dresses and their faces are "corpse like" (I guess the inspiration for the cover...close but you took it too far illustrator).

There are only 3 girls left. Elana deserves to die for her use of the word "scrungie". Its "scrunchie" you fucking moron. And she does! That'll teach her. Get your 90's clothing accessories straight. Only 2 girls left, Lizzie and Dawn. Lizzie still needs a date and has decided to not be lame and...wait for it....take her cousin to prom. But he's from another town, so its not weird. Except for the part that she's telling people she's bringing her cousin to prom.

In the long awaited climax, Dawn gets stabbed and almost dies. Lizzie watches the whole thing happen but doesn't seem to really do much because she's probably thinking of getting busy with her cousin (sicko). And Mr. Stine finally reveals the killer.....SIMONE. But wait, what? She's dead (haha..paper, snow..A GHOST!)

Nah, she staged her own death...and proceeded to go after the others? No, because that would just make too much sense. Instead she's suffering from the "no one cares about me" blues and decided to off anyone that went out with Justin. My main question is...why not kill Justin cause he sucks and cheated on you. I guess you really don't hate the player, hate the game (ephiphany!). But her delivery seems totally oscar worthy, so I'm all for it. They engage in an erotic scuffle and paramedics come to the rescue!

This waste of literature finally ends at prom. Lizzie's long lost boyfriend got to go to her prom (too bad for her cousin). Dawn survived and is beating off the boys with a stick (heh). It's a little unsettling though because I'm unsure if Simone died or ended up in jail or the nut house. Lifetime really needs to jump on board and make a movie to tie up the loose ends for me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Let's Start at the Very Beginning...The Stepsister

This book is actually #9 in the series, but
The Stepsister was our first Fear Street book, and it's an excellent place to start. The cover on the left is the one I'm familiar with, but it's since been updated. The newer cover is definitely sleeker, but nothing tops the 1990 original:

Sure, the new cover features an actual human looking girl and the more interesting tag of "Some families hold deadly secrets." But Fear Street books aren't supposed to be cool or sleek, so I much prefer the original cover with glowing mirror girl, and the comparatively lamer tag of "When she moved into Emily's room, the terror began..."

The plot revolves around Emily Casey (never trust the judgment of anyone with two first names) and her growing fear of new stepsister Jessie. As the book opens, Emily is hanging around with her biological sister Nancy (seriously, what were their parents thinking with these names?), waiting for the new family to arrive. Nancy is the cool one, and Emily the awkward loser. We know this because Emily spends the first few pages whining about her shitty hair and extra girth, while Nancy casually flips through a back issue of
Sassy magazine in her green turtleneck sweater.

I incorrectly assumed that
Sassy was just another Cosmo type mag, but a Google search showed that it was actually a kickass magazine for teenagers that went defunct in 1996. Perhaps Nancy was perusing this May 1990 issue featuring none other than:

Talk about staying power. At any rate, Nancy is too cool to give a shit about her new step-family, while Emily is creaming her panties in excitement. Sure, what 15-year old wouldn't be happy about sharing her room with a virtual stranger?

The step family arrives and includes:

  • Hugh Wallner, described as a "stern, private man" with a "dour face" who is prone to indigestion, which is R.L. Stine-speak for "Hugh Wallner is an asshole"
  • Rich Wallner, awkward 13-year old Stephen King enthusiast and lover of heavy metal music
  • Jessie Wallner, Emily's new roommate and potential murderer

Jessie acts just as gushy and annoying as Emily in front of the adults, but once they're alone in their bedroom her true colors show. The room is too small, Emily's mom is too bubbly, she hates ginger kids (who doesn't?), she misses her friend Debra, and her mother doesn't want her. Jessie's really starting to grow on me, until Emily's beloved dog Tiger jumps on Jessie and she flips the fuck out. Dislike of dogs is something I simply cannot forgive.

After her outburst Jessie proceeds to rip the head off of Emily's teddy bear, hence that chapter's title of "Teddy Dies". Jessie claims it was an accident , but I have seen all the evidence I need; clearly this girl is capable of anything.

Emily's not buying it, and her uneasiness only increases when a shadow falls across the room, caused by "clouds covering the sun outside the bedroom window". Thank you for explaining how clouds and shade work, Mr. Stine. Luckily Nancy comes in with some cassette tapes (!) and breaks the tension. She mentions that her date for the evening was canceled, and then Emily reveals to Jessie that she's dating Nancy's ex-boyfriend Josh.

WHAT?! Emily justifies it by explaining that Nancy was tired of Josh and was going to dump him anyway, but...WHAT?! You don't date your sister's ex. And Emily is supposed to be the protagonist that we root for in this book? Whatever. Boo, you whore.

Another revelation soon follows at the family dinner. Brace yourselves, people. Hugh Wallner. Doesn't. Wear. TIES! He manages a furniture factory and is like, so blue-collar compared to dead Father Casey, who was a pediatrician. Add snobby bitch to Emily's list of personality traits. We then segue into a flashback explaining Mr. Casey's death during a family camping trip.

The powerboat he and Emily had been riding in capsized and he drowned, although Emily was unfortunately uninjured. She yelled out "Daddy! Daddy!" over and over, to no avail. Can we all just agree that no girl over the age of 10 should be calling her father daddy - it's creepy.

A few days later and it's the same old, same old. Rich is sullenly reading Stephen King books and Hugh is verbally abusing his children and new wife, after which he usually says something along the lines of "It was a joke!" or "I'm just teasing!" Emily goes nutty when she sees that Jessie is wearing her sweater, an allegation Jessie denies. Later, Emily is finishing typing up a school paper when she takes a break to get an apple. We are informed that it was "crunchy and fairly sweet".

You can probably see where this is going. She returns to find Jessie at her computer, and suddenly her 14 page paper is gone, "gone forever". She screams at Jessie and then basically starts to beat her senseless. No one believes Emily's claims that Jessie purposely deleted the paper. I don't believe that Emily is putting this much effort into a high school paper, but maybe Shadyside High's academic standards are higher than at my alma mater.

Emily seeks solace in Nancy's room and learns that Jessie has been seeing a psychiatrist for quite awhile, due to some serious trouble at her old high school. Later that night we finally meet Josh, the boy who's simply irresistible to the Casey girls. Josh has dark hair, is an inch shorter than Emily, and possesses a trapper-keeper. Who wouldn't want this kid? The chapter ends with Emily overhearing Jessie telling an unknown person on the phone that she could "really kill her". Cliffhanger!

The next day at school we get a cameo from a couple of SHS regulars, including Ricky Schorr from The Overnight. Emily searches for Josh and is shocked to find him conversing in the hallway with Jessie and laughing. She immediately assumes they're laughing at her, and thus Emily's downward spiral continues. Let's take a quick look at what happens over the next several chapters to contribute to Emily's fragile mental state:

  • Her shampoo is replaced with bleach, causing it to be streaked with yellow and orange. Heh. Good one, Jessie.
  • She discovers Tiger's dead body in their kitchen, stabbed to death. That actually would be horribly traumatic, but since it's Emily I can only muster a half-hearted "meh".
  • She very cravenly steals Jessie's diary and finds out that Jessie may or may not have killed former friend Jolie.
  • Tiger's dead body is stuffed into her backpack. Gross.
  • Someone sets the school bathroom on fire with her in it. She survives.
  • Someone pushes her down some stairs. She again survives. Come on Jessie, close the deal already!
  • She totally catches Jessie and Josh steamin' up some windows! Perhaps now she can understand how Nancy felt...

Aha! But of course, it was Nancy all along. Everything is revealed during a family camping trip, when Emily falls into an open grave and is nearly beaten to death with a shovel. Gotta watch out for those open graves. And seriously, Nancy? You concoct an elaborate plan to frame Jessie for everything and you have your sister lying in an open grave, yet you still can't finish her off? Frankly, you don't deserve to successfully murder Emily.

But why was Nancy tormenting and trying to kill her sister for 153 excruciating
pages? Anger over losing Josh? Bitterness over having to drive a Chevy Corsica?

Partially, but mostly because she blames Emily for their father's death. I do have to agree with her there. Why was Emily able to escape drowning but Mr. Casey wasn't? This girl has nine lives.

So yada yada, Jessie risks her own life to save Emily from Nancy even though Emily's been nothing but a bitch to her from page 13. Nancy's shipped off to the nut hut, Rich starts reading Hardy Boys mysteries, and Emily and Jessie become best friends. Huzzah, all is right with the world.

The Loose Ends:

  • It wasn't Jessie making out with Josh in the was Nancy desperately trying to get him back. How sad for her.
  • Jessie's late night phone buddy was her secret boyfriend Darren.
  • Jolie's death was indeed an accident.

So there you have it. The book ends with the three sane children sharing a good laugh over a Hardy Boys joke while Nancy languishes in a mental institution. What a lark!

Get another take here.

And one more here.