Where evil twins and friends come together to lovingly snark Point Horror and other teen genre fiction
 

Recap #42: The Dead Game by A Bates by Dove

12
Sep 2016
The Dead Game by A Bates

The Dead Game by A Bates

Title: The Dead Game by A Bates

Summary: No-one was really supposed to get hurt. The Dead Game was something that Linnie, Ming and Jackson made up in their senior year to get back at all those people who really deserved it… the liars, the cheats and the bullies. To play the game, all they have to do is embarrass their chosen enemy in public.

But things start to go horribly wrong…

Their first “hit” ends up in hospital – and then someone dies. But when the three friends decide to stop playing, the dead game won’t stop.

Suddenly the rules have changed. How can they end the deadly game they have started…?

Tagline: Someone is playing for keeps

Notes: I will use “Bad Guy” throughout my reviews to refer to the anonymous killer/prankster/whatever. Doesn’t mean it’s a guy. I will now refer to the bad guy as “Muffin Man” because of The Mall.

Initial Thoughts:

I know I’ve read this. I bought it at the same time as The Cemetery, but I couldn’t remember a thing about it. In my mind, this book was some hazy combination of Freeze Tag and The Cemetery – something about being frozen in place while something supernatural hunted our protagonist and her friends. [Wing: I want to read the version that exists in your memory.]

As we have established, we cannot trust my memory. That’s not what this is about. At all.

Also, I read this about two weeks ago, and can barely remember a thing about it. It was ok, nothing so awful as The Stalker or whatever, but most of the plot points have vanished. Oh, this is the book where I used the “Parents? What Parents?” trope to figure out the Muffin Man.

[Wing: I’d never read it before. I quite enjoyed it, except for that ending. As usual, lately.]

Note: one of the leads is called Ming. I’m fairly certain that somewhere in here I will accidentally swap hers and Wing’s names over. Just go with it.

Also, I don’t know if it’s just me, but this whole process goes a lot better if you’re listening to Take On Me by Jeffster! (Vik Sahay makes everything better.)

Recap:

So we open with our characters, Linnie, Ming, and Jackson at lunch at school. Jackson eats whatever everyone else doesn’t. He brings his own lunch, but begs food from everyone else too. I kept thinking this was leading to a plot point, like he was being neglected at home or something, but no. He just begs food off his classmates because he has a big appetite.

Linnie has issues because she’s not going to get an A in Studio for her pots. And this ruins her career plans. How I don’t know. They’re not mentioned.

Ming has issues because she’s going to be graduating third in her class instead of first. The twins, Austin and Adler, transferred to their school and stole Ming’s rank. It’s not even because they’re smarter, it’s because their previous school offered Advance Placement and Honours courses whereas Hollander High doesn’t, so their extra work sends them ahead of Ming. They were ranked eight and nine in their previous school, so they hunted for a school that didn’t offer AP/Honours, so they would immediately slot in at the top without having to work for it. They are rich so they had the luxury of being able to do that. Shady. I’m with Ming here, I’d be pissed off.

By the way, I’m assuming Ming is Asian – possibly Chinese, I looked up the name origin – but the text doesn’t actually say so, just details her as having black hair. I’m shocked, a person of colour in 90s YA? Do I revel in a sighting of mild diversity? Or do I score it for being stereotypical with her being an Asian obsessed with being number one?

[Wing: Right? Torn on that. Loved Ming, though. She’s a delight.]

They joke about the twins being hit by a meteorite, and Ming grimly asserts the only way she has back to number one is to hope that someone kills them.

Linnie says killing them isn’t a bad idea.

End chapter, and I won’t score it, because Bates isn’t doing a Stine here, and picking up right where the chapter left off. Of course, Linnie won’t bother to clarify to her friends that she’s talking about the titular Dead Game, and are we supposed to think that Linnie went straight from lunch to homicide?

Whatevs. She’s now in studio class. She’s not getting along with her vase. (I suspect Wing will empathise here.) [Wing: I do not. She gripes about her vase, and then makes something great. Fuck off, Linnie.] Her teacher tells her she has “sausage fingers” and moves on. Next the teacher (completely unnamed, guess Bates couldn’t be bothered to make up a surname) goes to Brenda and encourages her. Brenda throws a diva fit and destroys her own work. The teacher near swoons at her “artistic temperament”.

It kind of reminds me of the art classes in Ghost World. (Also, if you haven’t seen Ghost World. Go. Watch it. It’s awesome.)

She mentally adds Brenda to their kill list, and with that happy thought in mind starts producing better work. Wing, do you find murder thoughts make for better pottery? (Seriously, I want to stroke every project Wing shows me. It looks like it wants to be touched.) [Wing: I do not know, but I am going to try during my next studio session. I’ll report back. And thank you.]

After school, Jackson and Ming are ready to stage an intervention to prevent Linnie from going all Dexter on the mean kids’ asses. She’s all “lol, you thought I was serious?” Then she explains herself.

Her sister used to play a game where everyone involved knew they were playing – everyone had a target, everyone was a target, and you had to get your target alone and say “You’re dead” then you took the name of their target and tried to “kill” them, all the while someone’s hunting you.

I have to say, this game sounds awesome. I wish I’d paid attention to this book in my teens, because that game pitch would have beaten everything on our horseback games ideas. (Actually, no it wouldn’t, because it came from me, and boo hoo, my teen years sucked.) (Fuck it, Wing, we’re playing this in Vegas next year. You, me and the Misters, all running around our hotel.)

[Wing: I’m down. It sounds like an excellent game, and I wish I’d read this in high school, because we definitely would have played it.]

Actually, I think Gossip Girl did an awesome version of this game, where everyone was wearing laminates on lanyards around their necks and you had to steal each other’s before they stole yours. Once you got a kill, you took all of their laminates, most laminates at the end of the game wins.

I WANT TO PLAY.

Oh, right, recapping.

Anyway, Linnie suggests they modify the game. They need to dent the public images of the twins to win. Ming says she’ll steal his letter jacket, because he’s really proud of it.

End chapter. Yeah, I’m now on Chapter 4 without any counters.

At lunch, Ming is upset because she stole the letter jacket, but Austin is still wearing it. Ming says she stole the jacket while Austin was making out with Brenda, then she hung it over a tombstone in the graveyard.

Everyone assumes that he found it and is wearing it now. I suppose it occurs to nobody that the twins could have the same jacket even if they don’t both wear them, and Austin is wearing Adler’s? Apparently they have oodles of cash, so shelling out for a couple of letter jackets, even if one child isn’t that fussed is probably no big deal. Of course, since I don’t know how you obtain a letter jacket, I could be wrong. I bet I’m wrong.

[Wing: Well, generally you have to earn a letter in some sort of sport and activity, but otherwise, yes, just shell out the money for letter jackets. And I am not surprised that Adler doesn’t want to wear his. It would be weird to wear one from your old school at your new school. Random Wing fact: I still have my letter jacket and most of my letters. Maybe all of them, but I eventually ran out of room on my jacket and I think I might have lost some of the loose ones.]

Fuck, let’s google this shit. Oh, right, so you have to be part of the varsity team and have good standing. Ok, alright, I’ll concede that it’s not immediately obvious. However, if the kids wanted to graduate at the top of the class, presumably for college applications, it’s not unlikely both would be on a team.

[Wing: Google has failed you. I mean, being a part of a varsity team is one way to get them, but there are schools that give them for other things, too.]

So, they go to the graveyard to check, and the jacket is still there. OMG, HOW FUCKING MYSTERIOUS. [Wing: I really like these kids, but their logic has failed them when it comes to this jacket trick.]

Ming’s disappointed that the hit didn’t work. They have to run back to school as the sprinklers come on, and they run up some steep concrete steps (gosh, I wonder if the combo of steep hard steps and water will lead to an accident in the future?).

They meet up again to discuss how to make better hits. The rules they agree to are: the goal is public humiliation; and the hits can only be people who are cheating or faking in some way.

They add Brenda to the list, and someone called Karl DeBerg, who won the seventh grade science fair with his sister’s tenth grade project (talk about holding a grudge, isn’t seventh grade around thirteen, and these guys are near graduation). Next up is John Stalley, who’s a major sleaze, he threatens to spread rumours about girls if they don’t go out with him, and then spreads them anyway, even if they do. He sounds like a fucking delight. I hope he’s the death that’s been promised. He spread rumours about Ming. He said that if she didn’t go out with him, he’d tell everyone that she kissed up to teachers to get her good grades.

Cheer on the killer: 1

Ming, showing a tonne of common sense not usually present in PH, says, “whatevs, bitches, tell them. They’ll just test me, I’ll ace it, and you’ll look like a dickhead.” Still, the rumours did go around about her.

Jackson then says that the rumour about Price (no first name) is true – he’s roiding.

They add Price to the list, then Jackson says he wants to add Rafe Gibbons and Julie Clay – but he doesn’t want to say why.

(Also, I was thinking that Rafe was an Indian name having worked with someone of Indian descent with the same name. I thought I’d better research before I expressed displeasure about a PoC being the bad guy. Having done some research, it’s a version of the name “Ralph” and it’s from English/German/Scandinavian words, and used predominantly by Christians – and here’s why I’m sharing it – Wing, it means “wise wolf”, so bring on the “needs more werewolves” tag.)

[Wing: Why is Stine the only person writing werewolf Point Horrors? WHY? Though I guess I can’t complain much, because his aren’t actually PHs, I don’t think, so I might as well throw in some other werewolf books, too.

Also, I was just assuming Rafe was his Bad Boy nickname for Raphael. I’m impressed by your dedication to research.]

Here are the finalised rules of the Dead Game.

– Pick a name from a hat.

– You have approximately two weeks to do your hit.

– If you can’t do it within a reasonable amount of time, put the name back and let someone else try.

– A successful kill is a public humiliation.

– The more appropriate the humiliation, the more humiliating and the more public, the better the kill.

– Work alone. No telling whose name you have. No help from the group, no telling the game to anyone else. You can get help from others outside the group, but only if you do it without letting anything slip about the game, the purpose, or the group.

– After everyone’s been hit, we’ll vote on the best kill and treat the winner to something.

Linnie’s meant to be doing homework, but instead she’s working on her kill. She’s been given John, the sleaze – she dated him previously because she was scared of the rumours he would start. Afterwards he said she didn’t know how to kiss, and she was too ugly to fancy, and she cried when he took her home. Good god, just kill this asshat already.

Cheer on the killer: 2 (+1)

Also, there’s some vague mutterings about how her sister always humiliates her.

Linnie drives to the next town to buy a teeny-tiny microphone/recorder. And she lies about using it to take notes in class. I love it when people lie properly in books. I hate awkward lie fails. It just annoys me.

Ming’s home alone, parents are out as usual. She’s drawn Rafe. She’s not sure how to go about that – how can she punish him when she doesn’t know what he did? Good point, Ming.

Parents? What parents?: 1 (They’re in fucking Europe. They’re always in fucking Europe.)

Jackson has drawn Brenda’s name. He’s also being yelled at by his half-brothers, aged five and three and a half. One says that his dad (Jackson’s step-dad) says Jackson isn’t smart. Nice. He then beats himself up for not being exceptional at anything – cleverness, sports, being a son, step-son, brother, etc – and then helps his mum by putting the kids to bed. Jackson, you’re a better person than I. I’d be out of there in a heartbeat. LOOK, WING! I’M BACK TO PROJECTING MY ISSUES ON THE CAST! Jackson tells the kids a story about Brenda, “a pretend person who thought she was real and spent all day bothering people so they would notice her.

[Wing: Siblings are so awesome. I’m sad you don’t have that.]

Lunch the next day, they all say they’re having fun putting their plans into motion and stalking, and I kind of love them, and want to be friends with them.

Ming has a stalking diary, cataloguing Rafe’s moves on a daily basis. She even makes a graph. Just FYI, if things with Tawney don’t work out, I’m totally dating Ming. She’s adorable.

[Wing: Ming is a joy and a delight forever.]

Linnie listens in on – and presumably records – John hitting on a sophomore and badmouthing Brenda, a girl he’s dating. (Brenda was snogging one of the twins before – I guess they’re not exclusive then.)

Jackson sees Brenda steal something while shopping.

Linnie again listens to John hitting on someone, badmouthing Mary Ann for being a little girl, and this girl’s a woman. The girl offers to go to a party with him, and he’s all “we’ll see” (urgh, my teen self used to actually take “we’ll see” seriously, I feel for this girl).

Cheer on the killer: 3 (+1)

Linnie decides to edit John’s greatest pickup lines into a single file and play it at the party.

Jackson follows Brenda as she invites people to her party, then retracts them in a spiteful way (“You didn’t get accepted at Yale, after all,” or “I forgot you can’t dance.”), and then she turns her charm on him, only he rejects her invitation before she has a chance to take it back.

Ming finally gets her hit. She bumps into Rafe at lunch and slops BBQ sauce down his shirt. Only several people behind him surge forward, knocking him to the floor and in the surge he gets crunched and Ming thinks she sees someone kick his head.

I’m kind of imagining it like the stampede that killed Simba’s dad in The Lion King, but honestly, how can you get people at lunch to surge? Our lunchroom wouldn’t have offered space for a surge. Even if it did, people aren’t wildebeest. I’m not sure how our external party is making bad things happen here, but whatevs.

[Wing: Oh, cafeterias here definitely have space to surge, and while I’m not completely sold on the lunchroom crowd, I’ve seen high school crowds surge before in ways that would absolutely have smashed him.]

At home, Ming’s alone again. Her parents work in the city but wanted their kid to grow up in the suburbs, but they spend all their time in the city, not just working, but shopping, theatre, etc. The last time she had a conversation with them longer than five minutes was her twelfth birthday.

Way to parent there, Ming’s parents. Parents? What parents?: 2 (+1)

[Wing: Ming does say that she’s exaggerating even to herself for effect there, but they are still pretty terrible parents.]

Linnie calls her and invites her to the party, Ming agrees because she’s not in the mood to party, but she’s even less in the mood to stay home alone.

At the party, Jackson gives Ming a hug and a pep talk. He’s in love with her, by the way. I haven’t mentioned it before because it’s just kind of sweet and backgroundy. Linnie’s lost her tape with John’s pickup lines on.

The next morning the tape is played over the PA system. The teacher (again, unnamed, why bother naming them, right?) says that someone’s probably tapped into the system and they can’t shut it off. Everyone laughs, it’s a big hit.

Ming checks up on Rafe, but there’s no change in his condition, but she didn’t know what his original condition was. God, I love her. She’s so logical. She has to go home sick because she feels so guilty.

[Wing: I am not sure I believe she was able to call and get an update, but I suppose healthcare privacy was slightly less developed back then. Maybe. I don’t care enough to check publication date and then the version of the privacy laws available at the time, though.

And the fact that I’m not feeling the research angle is a strong sign I’m having a bad time of it, mental health-wise.]

Jackson drops by to check on her. He reassures her that Rafe is getting better and it’s not her fault – if anything it’s his, because he nominated him. He was mad at Rafe for dropping out of track and after that the team didn’t place. Nice, that’s a great reason to put a hit on someone, because they lost interest in a sport you do and the team suffered. So what? Why should he have to do something he doesn’t want to?

Lunch again, a few days later – oh, the joyous cycle of lunch and discussions about hits. Brenda’s being mean again, ragging some girls for having a sleepover, accusing them of being childish. Jackson goes over to their table and shows them a drawing he did of Brenda stealing something.

[Wing: For all that he’s down on himself for never excelling at anything, HIS DRAWINGS ARE REALISTIC ENOUGH PEOPLE USE THEM TO HUMILIATE BRENDA. That is some impressive drawing talent.]

The sketches get passed around, everyone laughs, Brenda sees and runs out.

Remember those steep stairs? Brenda fell down them. She’s dead. No, I’m not kidding, she’s actually dead.

After school, Linnie coaches Jackson on what to say, so it will seem less of a malicious prank. To be honest, the story isn’t that much different from what really happened.

[Wing: Right? Like, as long as he stops saying that he killed her, his story is already pretty sound.]

After speaking to the police, he can’t work out why Brenda was so upset. It seems out of character, she should have bitched and bluffed instead of running away in tears.

Later they all decide to quit the game, and they’re relieved that it’s over. Linnie mentions that her sister always blamed Linnie for any mistakes, she was the scapegoat.

There’s a memorial for Brenda and nothing really happens except Jackson has guilt.

Ming and Jackson are kind of zombied out over the death. For the second time the book mentions that people who are mean often put others down to make themselves feel better and it’s really sad. I didn’t mention it the first time, but is this the moral of the story? To hug a bully and feel their pain? I’ve read too many Cooneys of late to take another anvilicious story.

[Wing: I don’t think that’s the moral of the story, I think it’s just a point Bates is making.]

A week later, Linnie’s on her way to class when she overhears that Austin or Adler got caught cheating. Whichever twin it was dropped his books at the top of the stairs and there was a copy of a test in there.

Next up Price gets disqualified from all sports, not for ‘roids but drinking.

Linnie sat down next to Jackson. “That’s actually better, then, isn’t it? The whole team won’t be under suspicion if Price didn’t have any steroids with him. The coach won’t be investigated for contributing. Price will get the counseling he needs. I mean, I’m sorry. I’m especially sorry it’s going to be so hard on you. But it kind of sounds like what you were wanting.”

Heartless, Linnie. Later it’s revealed that it sounds like a setup, he’s not sure where the booze came from.

Next day they meet up, and they’re relieved that nothing else has happened. They read The Vine, the school newspaper with the Senior Will in it. This is how it reads.

Julie Clay leaves Rafe Gibbons and jumps on the back of Karl DeBerg’s motorcycle. It looks as if she’s left Rafe for dead and gone after the guy with the biggest bike. Once a flake, always a flake. But will she will her flakiness to anyone? Will Karl leave his sister’s science fair projects to anyone else, or is he the only one who gets to use them?

Jackson says maybe now the game will stop, since everyone got hit. They suspect each other for all of two sentences before Ming points out that they’ve not exactly been careful. While they’ve not openly told others about the dead game, they’ve talked out in the open where anyone could hear, so maybe someone overhead and kept playing. They wouldn’t have had to hear every single conversation, just one or two and watched them stalk their hits.

I’m going with no. We don’t know of any other characters. It’s one of you three.

That night Ming calls Linnie to say she’s thought of something and it’s bothering her. Brenda would have heard the sprinklers, and she wouldn’t have run towards them, she’d have gone in any other direction to keep her hair dry.

Ming wakes up in the middle of the night, sure she’s heard something. She did, it was a rock being lobbed through her window with a note that reads “BACK OFF. DROP IT.” (Wing will be delighted that it doesn’t rhyme.)

Jackson is woken by his brother complaining that someone broke a window. Another rock, another note. “FORGET IT. IT’S NOT YOUR PROBLEM.

Linnie wakes up to find her parents complaining that vandals broke a window. She notices the note and pockets it. It says, “YOU DON’T NEED ANYTHING MORE TO WORRY ABOUT.

[Wing: Thank you, Muffin Man, for avoiding the damn rhymes.]

They meet up to discuss, and again reiterate that the game is still playing.

This recap is sponsored by the WWE: 1 (Recap! Recap! Recap! Something happened last chapter. Tell us about it! Tell it again. Then tell it one more time. Because otherwise we’ll forget.)

They decide that Brenda may have been murdered, because she should have run to her car, not towards the sprinklers.

Linnie blames all this on her sister. When they were kids, Linnie’s sister broke a vase and blamed it on Linnie. Later she stole money from their mum for the sole reason of planting it in Linnie’s socks to get her into trouble. By the way, I’m not being lazy, Bates really won’t give names until he or she has to. Anyway, the Dead Game is Sister’s fault too. Yes to the first two, but no, you played this game, Linnie, Sister doesn’t even know.

[Wing: I was really hoping that Sister did know, and that Sister was the Muffin Man. Alas, it’s been pretty clear for the whole book that Linnie is the Muffin Man.]

Oh, I’m done being coy. Linnie is the Muffin Man. I was convinced as soon as I realised that she has no interaction with her parents – Jackson and Ming have home lives (however barren) that ground them, Linnie does not, making her an unreliable narrator.

There is so much non-action in the final chapters, it’s really annoying. Just pages of sitting in class thinking about the game, and blah, blah, blah. This recap is sponsored by the WWE: 2 (+1)

Ming adorably tries to puzzle it out like an equation.

The original victims were: Rafe, John, and Brenda. The intended action (Ia) was complicated by either coincidence (C) or by the action of the possible unknown or unknowns (X, maybe Y). Ia + Rafe X C, or Ia + Rafe x X + Y. Which one?

Jackson mentions that Austin found his jacket in the graveyard, and was shocked. Also, he has been wearing Adler’s jacket since he lost it. Well, all’s well that ends well. Let’s get out of here.

Oh shit. There’s more? But I don’t care!

The twins were cleared of cheating, when the teacher made copies of that test, the twins were in the counselor’s office.

They decide to go to the police tonight at ten to tell them everything about the dead game.

Linnie’s sister is in town. Guess what? She still doesn’t have a name. If I’m supposed to take her seriously as the exterior force making the game deadly, it would be nice if she had a name. But she doesn’t. Fuck you, Sister and your lack of name!

That night, Linnie drives to meet them at a gas station, so they can go to the police station together. She gets there early to scope the place out and see if anyone else is watching them. Linnie, you know they’re not. It’s you. You’re the Muffin Man. She looks around and the text wants us to believe she’s being attacked, BUT SHE’S NOT, SHE’S THE MUFFIN MAN. I WILL NOT TOLERATE THIS SHIT ANY LONGER.

Ming and Jackson show up, they notice Linnie’s empty car and start to look for her. They separate, because reasons.

Jackson gets knocked out. FAVOURITE TROPE EVER! Head injury? Walk it off: 1 (Because a concussion is a mild inconvenience, not a medical situation and it can be cured by grit and determination.)

Ming gets hit on the side and also passes out. Head injury? Walk it off: 2 (+1) She also gets what I guess is a broken arm as well.

[Wing: She seriously thinks that the blow that breaks her arm tore it off at the shoulder, and I cackled with laughter. Oh god, Wing, pain is not that funny, chill.]

She wakes up as Jackson is being pulled away from her – this is some truly awful description. It’s so light I can’t place anything. I don’t know where this is happening, where Jackson is being dragged to, nothing.

[Wing: Isn’t this all happening next door to the damn police station? The description is crappy, so it is hard to tell, but surely SOMEONE SOMEWHERE SAW SOMETHING, COME ON.]

Linnie says she has to do this because they were going to tell.

Ming makes herself a sling and follows Linnie. She gets into fisticuffs with Linnie and guess what happens to Linnie? She gets a fucking head injury and goes limp. Head injury? Walk it off: 3 (+1)

Ming drags Jackson away from Linnie, but she’s exhausted and one-handed and in a lot of pain. She makes it to a phone box to dial 911, but guess what happens?

Head injury? Walk it off: 4 (+1)

Give it twelve hours and the concussions will kill all three of them.

Ming manages to remain conscious (she’s had two head injuries in the space of ten minutes, give the kid an impact test and put her on 24 hour observation) and asks why.

Linnie was serious, wanting Ming to understand. “The fake people will win in the end if we let them because the real people have soft hearts. They’ll never rise up and stop the Austins and Adlers. Real people can’t hate!” She shouted the last three words, then went on in a softer voice, “But I can. I can hate.” She smiled. “I’m flawed. It’s okay. If I were a fake person I’d be just like my sister. If I were a real person I’d be a victim like you and Jackson. I’m not really one or the other, and that’s why I can do it. I saw that someone had to do it, and I’m the only one who can.”

Linnie was going to keep playing by herself, but she was going to let them think it was over, but Jackson kept pushing. She’s going to have to kill them.

Linnie trashes the phone, then leaves to take care of Jackson.

Ming drags herself on to save him. Ming is concussed as fuck, barely able to understand what she’s doing. Linnie seems to have walked her injury off.

There’s a river at the end of the street, behind a wall leading to an embankment where Linnie is looking for a rock to bash in Jackson’s head and float him down the river.

Ming is a badass and jumps off the wall, using her weight to knock out Linnie.

She wakes up in the hospital. It’s Monday and they decided to go to the police last Wednesday. Holy snotwaffles, are we seeing actual response to Ming’s head injury?

Jackson’s there, and he explains what Linnie did. The surge was accidental, she pushed forward to see what Ming was doing and when Rafe got injured she realised she could bolster their hits.

She faked losing her tape for effect. She’s not sure about Brenda. She told Brenda that someone had a tape of her doing something illegal, then when Jackson passed the pictures around she freaked. She thinks it was an accident – she and Brenda argued and there was some shoving, and then Brenda was at the bottom of the stairs.

She set up the twins with the science test and set up the booze in Price’s car and made an anonymous call.

“Why did she do it?” With everything Linnie had told her, and all that had happened, Ming still didn’t know the answer to that question.

Jackson shrugged. “Who knows?” He tapped idly at the edge of Ming’s hospital bed. “I only know all this because Linnie’s parents told me. They talked to me for an hour, trying to explain what Linnie had told the police and the psychiatrist. They told me he said things about paranoid delusions, delusions of grandeur. It all boiled down to Linnie feeling persecuted, and thinking she could save the world, and being… like two people in one.

Basically, she did it because she was “crazy”. Just because this isn’t quite as horrible as some of the other PHs, which have glibly thrown around “Oh, crazy people don’t need a reason, they just do bad things because they’re crazy”, doesn’t mean I’m not going to score it.

Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 1 (Essentially, “crazy” is a blanket term for a bad person with no qualms about killing anyone and everyone. Often because they are “crazy”. Because that’s how mental health works.)

[Wing: Rescoring, because also, there’s that sly dig at multiple personalities without actually name it:

Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 1 billion

Fuck you, Bates. Fuck. You. She could have been doing this because her parents are terrible to her, because her sister tormented her until the cycle of bullying found a way to continue, because she’s just a murderer at heart, but nooooooooo, always go for the crazy, that’s the easy thing to blame. Fuck. You.]

Oh, and Jackson and Ming have a moment. There’s no goofy “let’s date lol” scene, just those two eyeballing each other and feeling fond.

[Wing: I love them.]

Final Thoughts:

Ok, what do I think about this? I’m not sure.

In some ways it feels more like a Nightmares than a PH, because it hasn’t got that goofy vibe that PH has, where everything is campy and silly (as evidenced by the low counters).

What annoyed me was the lack of names (the teacher, my sister, the principal, the coach) and the shoddy description. I spent my first reading of this convinced that Price was their coach (also, what’s his first fucking name, Bates?). The description of the alleyway scene was just confusing.

I did like the romance between Jackson and Ming because it was sweet, not the point of the story, not a red herring and it just ticked along in a nice fashion. Ming is awesome. I kind of want to read more books about her. I wish she’d been in a better book.

Overall, it didn’t suck. It just wasn’t awesome either.

[Wing: I really, really liked it, and didn’t mind so much about the lack of names — if they’re not going to be a major part of the story, I don’t really need name soup thrown at me, though I agree her fucking sister should have had a name, considering — but that just  made the ending feel more like a punch in the face.]

Final Counts:

Cheer on the killer: 3

Head injury? Walk it off: 4

Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 1 1 billion

Parents? What parents?: 2

This recap is sponsored by the WWE: 2

I am the evil twin. I'm in a feud with Richie Tankersley Cusick, and I'm waging a war on over-used en-dashes and ellipsis. All of these things are related. I worship at the altar of the ISUZU TROOPER, BITCHES.

 Category: Point Horror Recaps

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8 Comments

  1. Mimi
    Posted 12 September 2016 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Wow….that seemed like an excessive amount of head injuries. “Concussed as fuck” is my new favorite phrase. Too bad there are so few situations that warrant busting that one out.

    Wing was right about Google failing you. I never played a sport in my life, but I lettered in Scholar’s Bowl. I know people who lettered in Band.

    This book seems less irritating than I’m used to but also less fun. I don’t know what that says about me.

    I don’t know if I misunderstood something you said, Wing, or if you’re having a rough time. If you are, I just want to say I hope things get better soon.

    • Dove
      Posted 12 September 2016 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

      I think you’re right, Mimi, about this being less fun, despite being less irritating. Sometimes I crave ranting with furious joy at the absolutely breathtaking stupidity of the lead character and her friends. I like it when they’re all “someone threatened to kill me, so I’m gonna stay home alone over halloween in a haunted house with my ex-boyfriend who I dumped for his violent ways.” It gives me purpose. When they go around acting reasonably, I’m not sure what to do with that.

      I will give it props though. I never thought I’d get to use the head injury trope four times in a single chapter. That’s up there with SURPRISE PIRANHAS or something.

    • Wing
      Posted 26 September 2016 at 1:11 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Mimi. I have bipolar disorder, and have been having a rough time of it lately. New meds, though, so we’ll see if that helps. I appreciate your kind words.

      I got to tell someone in real life about how serious concussions are, and then got to tell them about how it is Dove’s pet rant. Good times.

  2. Paul P
    Posted 13 September 2016 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Not the most exciting Point Horror, is it? The most I remember about this was how the action pretty much ground to a complete halt in the second half as they moped waaaaay too much about Brenda’s death and The Game.

    A lot of Point Horrors seem to leave out necessary description at the points they’re needed most, such as the climax. Anna Davies did it with her horrid Point Horror reboot contributions. God, she’s an awful, awful writer. I honestly think she killed the reboot.

    • Dove
      Posted 13 September 2016 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      You’ve nailed it. It was chugging along at a pretty good pace and once Brenda died it ground to a halt and would waste pages upon pages as they all gathered furtively to tentatively suggest that the game was still playing and ooooh, isn’t it terrible that our game killed someone.

      I think PH paved the way for a lot of fanfic reading for me. I’d read the first few chapters, very much enjoy it as characters were put front and centre and plot was hinted at, and then reach a chapter where nothing really happened, or no effort was put into it, and at that point the fanfic would stop, occasionally with an author’s note saying that they weren’t feeling it any more. PH kept going because they were paid to. But you can feel the love of the story draining away. Cusick usually dissolves into blundering word soup with her final few chapters.

      Oh god, Identity Theft by Anna Davis is the reason I haven’t read the other reboots — I own them, I just haven’t hated myself enough to read them yet. I’m astounded that it has so many favourable reviews on Amazon (although amusingly the top one has the title “What would you do if [REVEAL OF PLOT TWIST]?”). I got to the reveal and then I texted Wing and asked if I had to finish it, and she said I didn’t. She’d finished it and was enraged. So I don’t really know how it ends, but I know it annoyed Wing.

      • Paul P
        Posted 13 September 2016 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know how it ended either, because Davies never bothered to describe anything properly! It stumps me how some of this stuff gets past the editors. The reboots were a strange kettle of fish….most of the plot descriptions are wrong, and one even gets a character’s name wrong! Lack of caring, indeed….

        I don’t pay much attention to 4 or 5 star reviews on Amazon. 90% of the time they got a copy of the book for free in advance.

        There was a recent interview with Cusick at the Tales Of Yesterday blog. She actually seems like a really awesome person in real life. There’s an interview with A. Bates on there as well, where she interestingly says that Stine and Christopher Pike killed the genre by being able to pump out so much material at such a fast pace.

  3. Posted 26 October 2017 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Finished this this week. I enjoyed reading it, it didn’t irritate me and yes, Ming and Jackson were cute. Linnie’s motivation was all over the place. I can’t think of much funny to say about it. I loved the detail about Jackson eating everything. I knew so many lads like that at school. Boys who would go up to every single person on a bus and ask, “Do you have any food?” My brother used to eat twelve brown bread rolls with cheese and made salad in a mixing bowl. He would eat that while watching match of the day.

    • Wing
      Posted 30 October 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      The story about your brother and the bread rolls just made me laugh out loud enough that people are looking at me funny.

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