Recap #9: The Lifeguard by Richie Tankersley Cusick by

4 August 2014
The Lifeguard by Richie Tankersley Cusick

The Lifeguard by Richie Tankersley Cusick

Title: The Lifeguard by Richie Tankersley Cusick

Summary: Kelsey’s summer should have been paradise: An invitation to rich and famous Beverly Island, complete with sun-drenched beaches and three gorgeous lifeguards on duty. But Kelsey’s summer is the opposite of paradise. It starts with the note under her pillow from a girl who’s missing. Then there’s the crazy man in the lighthouse who won’t leave Kelsey alone. And there have been a number of suspicious drownings… At least she has the lifeguards around to protect her… Poor Kelsey. Someone forgot to tell her that lifeguards don’t always like to save lives.

Tagline: Don’t call for help… he may just kill you.

Note: 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 refer to the Bad Guy throughout as “Justin” because it’s fucking obvious it’s Justin. It’s never been so fucking obvious ever before. Seriously, the Bad Guy is fucking Justin and I’m on page five. It’s fucking Justin, ok?

[Wing: WUT? NO! How dare you spoil it for me! I really thought it was Isaac Skip Neale Kelsey’s dead dad come back to take vengeance.]

Initial Thoughts:

Right, so I must have read this at some point because it’s in the box that came from my mother’s house. Also, it’s stamped with “Property of Sackville School” on the sides, which means it came from my home town. (No, I didn’t steal it… wait, I’m the evil twin, I totally stole it from a very posh public* school.) I have no recollection of ever reading this. Ever. So let’s just say I hate the cover and that’s all I’ve got.

*I’m English, so if you’re American, I mean private. Either way, a posh, pay-for-your-education-and-associate-with-toffs school.

Recap:

First things first, since it’s Cusick, the punctuation will be abused so here, have some stats:

Ellipses used: 691
En Dashes used: 764
Appropriate usage of the above: less than 10%

Yeah. This pisses me off on an epic scale. And not just because I had to format the fucking thing for my Kindle. Why can’t we use commas, semi-colons and full stops? Why… is it… always… ellipses – well, except for when – to be dramatic – we start – needlessly – using – wait for it – en dashes. *sigh*

To illustrate just how often they showed up, I created a worldle.

The Lifeguard - Wordle

Yes, she uses these more than the protagonist’s name

Ok, so we open with the prologue, and it’s our FAVOURITE THING EVAH, it’s a Bad Guy POV. Well, not exactly a POV, it’s third person, but whatevs. Basically, he’s just killed someone he really liked but has boo-boo face over it, but he had to do it because she’d come to him and told him she was gonna tell.

Mwahahahaha! 1

Then we meet Kelsey Tanner, and this is basically the same opener as Trick or Treat. A spoilt, annoying brat, is travelling with a parent to a house owned by the parent’s new partner, and the new partner’s family is going to be there, and everyone is happy except Kelsey, who grouses about it while parent gives us exposition. Minor changes from Trick or Treat? Parent is female, partner has three kids, not just one, and it’s day and they’re heading to an island. Aside from that, the same vibe.

[Wing: ALSO, same flirtation between protagonist and new semi-siblings. INCEST IS BEST, Y’ALL.]

In a minor turnabout, the parent is as big of a dickhead as the protagonist. While travelling on the boat to the island, Kelsey dreams about her father drowning. I don’t know if it’s bad writing or meant to be mysterious, but we’re not really told that her father dies, but it’s PH, so he totally did.

[Wing: I think we’re meant to assume her father tried to drown her. Oh, we’re not? Because I did.]

And we have this exchange with her mother, about the fact that being on a boat (I’m on a boat, mother fucker) has triggered her dreams about his death:

“Kelsey,” Mom said quietly. “Honey, I’m sorry. I thought it’d be good for you to have a vacation. Make new friends. I… guess I thought…” her voice sank to a whisper and trembled, “maybe you could forget…”

She trailed off, but Kelsey’s mind raced on. Forget? How in the world would she ever be able to forget? When every sight of water reminded her? When the same nightmare kept coming back? When every time she looked in a mirror, the reminder was always there: her father’s black eyes snapping back at her, her father’s black hair, wavy and wild… his nose his chin… his olive complexion… how could she ever forget when he wouldn’t let her?

So, yeah, her father spitefully gave her his genetics, then his own life to save her, just so he could totally fuck her up about it. What a bastard.

Also, why on earth would her mother want her to forget her father? Honestly, a quick edit would have made that a little less tactless, using “move on” instead of “forget” would have clarified her mother’s meaning. Unless her mother actually does want her to forget. And given the usual characterisation in these books, it’s not completely unlikely.

Cheer on the killer: 1

Dickhead Mom gives us the role call:

Justin Connell: HE DID IT! HE DID IT! HE DID IT! (He’s cute and popular and awesome, etc.)

Neale Connell: He’s strange and withdrawn. We’re supposed to believe this makes him a killer. He’s not. I bet he’s trying hard to figure out who the killer is. (Hint: it’s Justin).

Beth Connell: Adorable 13 year old who worships her older brothers (Justin and Neale) and is really nice. Also, she’s missing.

Skip Rochford: Cute boy Kelsey meets on the boat. He had a date with Beth the night she went missing. He’s not the killer.

So, Beth’s missing, they found her towel and sandals covered in blood at the beach. In response to the news that Beth is missing, we get this gem:

“What?” Mom’s lips moved, marionette-like. “What—”

Like, what does that even fucking mean? Lips moving marionette-like? I get a physical motion being jerky, but lips just leaves me baffled. Oh, I can already tell this is going to be a really long recap.

Anyway they all get settled. Kelsey was supposed to share a room with Beth, but since she’s missing, she gets a room to herself. Win. Well, no, it’s really awkward because Beth’s stuff is everywhere, including a cute little note that Beth left her saying that she’s really excited Kelsey is here.

She gets talking to Justin (THE KILLER! HIM! HE DID IT! RUN AWAY!) about stuff. There’s beaches on the island, East Beach, which is private and safe, and West Beach, which is also safe, but it leads to the cove, which has a wicked undertow and evil rocks, so you’re pretty much dead if you go in the water.

“They found some of her things at the cove,” Justin said quietly. “Beth liked to take walks by herself… go off alone and think.” He smiled remembering. “Sometimes she’d come back with these stories — she wanted to be a writer — so half the time you never knew if what she said was real or imaginary.”

And there’s a big flag – implying that Beth is a lying liar who lies (well, imagines) so if she ever mentioned that JUSTIN KILLS PEOPLE, they can write it off as a wacky writer’s imagination. I was about to be all scathing about how writers are so stupid they can’t tell the difference between fiction and reality, then I remembered anne rice (she gets no capital letters, and if she objects, I shall tell her she is interrogating the text from the wrong perspective).

[Wing: You owe me a new laptop. I just spat tea all over this one.]

Kelsey then meets Neale, who gets described in a way that makes it clear that (a) Kelsey is attracted to his looks; (b) she is frightened by how intense he is; and (c) we will spend the next 200 pages watch Kelsey treat him with suspicion and mistrust despite the fact he is clearly the good guy who she will inevitably snog after he saves her from Justin. *sigh*

He’s the killer! He’s the killer! He’s … my LOVAH! 1

[Wing: Hot, intense, silent — I want to snog him.]

MOST. POINTLESS. BOOK. EVER.

[Wing: But … Neale….]

Just FYI – I’m on chapter 2. I’m not usually great at whodunits, even the really simple ones like Point Horror, and yet this one is so painfully obvious I can’t help but call everything before it happens.

Ok, so introductions and exposition over, Kelsey heads upstairs and finds another cute note from Beth. And then a less cute one.

Kelsey,
I think someone is going to kill me.

Dexter would not pull this shit: 1

Kelsey dithers about the note, she decides to call her BFF, Jenny to get advice on whether she should, you know, submit the fucking evidence she’s found in Beth’s room. However, she can’t find a phone. Or something. IDK. She has her angsty fucking dream again, wakes the house up by screaming, goes to the French doors and sees someone out there and screams again.

Neale was the person at the doors, and he and Justin basically have an argument over the etiquette of responding to a scream in a pitch dark house at two am.

Kelsey then goes for a walk, finds a lighthouse, and goes inside. She hears a creepy laugh and falls over.

Here she meets a red herring named Isaac.

With a scream, Kelsey jumped back, eyes riveted helplessly on his ghastly appearance. He seemed a giant skeleton, tattered clothes billowing from his lanky frame, a moth-eaten cap pulled low upon his brow. He was dressed like a fisherman, yet the hands that dangled from his frayed cuffs looked like they could crush effortlessly with a touch. But it was his face — sun-wrinkled, wind-weathered — that filled her with such loathing. The leathery skin was covered with moles, and where his right eye should have been there was only a filthy black patch. His left eye, narrowed and slanted, was tinged with yellow, and spit clung to the sprouting of whiskers on his chin.

He’s basically wearing a sign that says “I might look like it, but I’m clearly not the killer!”

Red Herrings: 1

I have no idea why, but Isaac talks about himself in third person at times. I think it’s meant to be creepy. I find it endearing. He mocks her for coming to an island when she’s scared of water. But says that she’s smart to stay away from it, she might stay alive that way. She feels threatened by him, and says it was mean that he tried to scare her with the creepy laugh in the lighthouse. He says it wasn’t him. Which we can be certain of, because JUSTIN is the killer. Of course, Kelsey’s an idiot, so her takeaway is that Isaac is evil. She decides to run away from him, and tumbles off a cliff.

Neale saves her life (called it), and then shouts at her for being an idiot, pointing out a “No trespassing” sign that she waltzed by. She says the gate was unlocked and the sign wasn’t visible when she walked through. Neale thinks she’s a moron. He’s right, she is, but she’s also not lying on this.

He’s the killer! He’s the killer! He’s … my LOVAH! 2

He then takes her down to the cove, which is all rocky and trés threatening. Kelsey decides to walk back to the cottage. Neale’s all, “whatevs, moron.” At this point, she bumps into Skip and a girl called Donna (hate that name). Neale and Skip snark, accusing each other of caring the least about Beth being missing. Skip clarifies that he was only meeting Beth to talk. Good. She was thirteen, he’s… I dunno, old enough to drive, so at least sixteen. That’s not a healthy age gap. Oh, and Skip’s rich. Like his grandmother was the Beverley of Beverley Island. And Donna’s totally hot for him.

[Wing: Wait, at one point, weren’t we told Beth was going out with Skip?

“She was going out that night,” Eric said “With a local boy she really cared about. Skip Rochford.”

SEE! Tell me that doesn’t read like it’s a date. She’s THIRTEEN. Skip, you are a creep.]

Last year a lifeguard called Rebecca drowned, she heard someone in trouble, took the emergency phone off the hook (to alert everyone necessary) and drowned. No other body was found. Neale took her job. Probably to keep tabs on Justin. Who clearly killed Rebecca.

[Wing: Whatever, Neale is the killer. Obvs.]

She goes home, and they’re calling off the search for Beth on the assumption she’s dead. Then Donna shows up again. Donna reveals that even snarky Neale was nice to Beth, and she spent all of her time with Justin. Once more proving that she was on to Justin and Neale is livid that his only friend is missing, hence all the snark. For fuck’s sake, people, pay attention.

He’s the killer! He’s the killer! He’s … my LOVAH! 3

They mosey down to the beach and Skip is “charming” (read: obnoxious) and invites them to a party tonight.

All my friends are a bag of dicks: 1

They walk back up to the lighthouse and find a body. Nobody is sure if it’s Beth’s or not.

When Skip comes to investigate, the body is gone. And I have to wonder, what the fuck is up with Point Horror murderers? Why do they always leave shit around, and then rush back to clean it up. Dexter would not pull that shit. If they actually wanted to get away with it, they’d spend less time playing silly buggers.

Dexter would not pull this shit: 2

Naturally, because this is a PH, Skip thinks they’re joking around. Because, seriously guys, when a thirteen year old girl is missing, there is literally nothing funnier than pretending to find her corpse. BEST. JOKE. EVAH.

Oh you wacky kids, with your hi-jinks and your pranks: 1

Donna then brings up the Brookfield Murders (they have capital letters because they are Important). It happened where JUSTIN (THE KILLER) went to school, he roomed with Skip. Neale didn’t go to the same school, the boys don’t get along or something. They say murders, but the bodies were never found, so actually it’s a swarm of unresolved missing teenage girls. No suspects. Which is weird, because IT WAS JUSTIN.

Oh, and I’ll paste this in so Wing can rage about it:

“No, and I guess they thought of everything, too. Even checked out the local mental hospital to make sure none of the patients had escaped. A mental hospital in the same town as the school — I find that extremely appropriate somehow.”

[Wing: OF COURSE THEY DID. CRAZY PEOPLE ARE DANGEROUS. I HATE THIS BOOK. THESE CHARACTERS. THIS AUTHOR. BURN THEM ALL WITH FIRE. FEED THEM TO THE SHARKS.

Except for Neale. I still want to snog him.]

Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 1

Then we get a Bad Guy Justin POV. Basically it confirms that it wasn’t Beth, it was a runaway (… a runaway who moved to an exclusive island? Ok then). He has blackouts, he has to leave early in the morning to go killing, then he forgets, and now he’s grumpy because Kelsey and Donna found her. Then abruptly he does an evil cackle. Mwahahahaha! Seriously, wtf? Are we supposed to believe he’s “crazy” because this barely makes sense? “Crazy” being the PH definition, which means that they are bad people and motives are irrelevant.

Mwahahahaha! 2

[Wing: I HATE PH TOO.]

She goes home and talks to Justin, and it’s more of the same, pointing fingers at Neale because he’s rude. Because that’s what killers are: obnoxious. They like to stand out as socially inept, because when someone dies… oh, wait, that would be counter-productive. On second thought, maybe a killer would be sweet and kind and try to blend in, LIKE JUSTIN DOES! OMG, THE KILLER IS JUSTIN.

He’s the killer! He’s the killer! He’s … my LOVAH! 4

Anyway, she calls Jen, her BFF, and tries to tell her about the note and the killing, but Jen’s all “OMG, Kel, my dad is shouting at me and we’re just about to go out, I have to go…” (and in the background we can hear that this is true). Kelsey won’t let her get off the phone. I hate it when this happens, when you’re genuinely in the middle of something, and the other person is all like “Yeah, I totes get that you’re busy, but one more thing…”

“Jen — Jen — please —”

Okay, I’m coming!” Kelsey, he’s ready to kill me — you know how he gets. Look, I’ll call you when I get back.”

I find the “you know how he gets” line to be incredibly sinister. I worry about Jen. Which is interesting, because I don’t give a rat’s ass for anyone else in this book.

Anyway, short version: Kelsey tells her everything, even though Jen’s too busy to listen, and can barely hear her because of the echo on the line, which I take to mean that Justin is listening on another extension.

[Wing: Wait a minute. When was this book published?

“Kelsey, I can hardly hear you! What are you on, a twelve-party line? There’s this echo—”

Ok, 1988. While party lines were on the way out by then, they still existed in the USA. I’ll give her this one.]

I was going to miss out this whole bit where Kelsey gets out of the shower and finds wet footprints on the rug, because, like, who cares, it’s fucking Justin again, so I’ll just up the count and move on.

Dexter would not pull this shit: 3

Then Skip gives us this gem:

“You’re just like Donna — two crazy females! You really expect us to believe that? Look here, Kelsey, if you didn’t do it, then who else could have? I mean, who’d be wandering around the island going into girls’ bedrooms and making puddles, huh? Was anything missing?”

And this is Skip’s way of talking about women. Isn’t he charming? So witty and funny and in no way sexist.

Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 2

[Wing: I want to like Skip and Donna’s flirtation, because I enjoy snarky, fighting as flirting, but NO I HATE YOU SKIP, YOU SEXIST ABLEIST ARSE.]

“Maybe it was a ghost,” Neale said, glancing at Justin. “Maybe it was Beth coming back to see who was in her room.”

The sudden silence was painful. After several seconds Neale turned and walked toward Skip’s car. Skip coughed uneasily. Justin sat down on the step, looking disgusted.

“Don’t listen to him, Kelsey. He’s just in his usual good humor.”

This is Neale accusing Justin of murder, and nobody cares.

He’s the killer! He’s the killer! He’s … my LOVAH! 5

They all go to Skip’s party. Justin and Kelsey go swimming (read: she repeatedly says she doesn’t want to, he talks her into it, and because she fancies him, this is acceptable. Everything she says is a variation of “No” or “I don’t want to”. Not ok, writer.) and a wave separates them, and Justin goes missing.

I beat you because I love you: 1

But panic not, he’s the killer, so it’s all a fake-out. Kelsey thinks she sees a shark.

He’s dead! He’s dead! HE’S FUCKING DEAD! … oh wait, he survived: 1

They find Justin fine and sprawled on the beach. He wants to know where Neale was when he went into the water. Because he’s the killer, and he’s trying to point fingers. Again.

[Wing: This book needs more sharks.]

Back at the house, Kelsey sulks in one room while everyone else socialises in another. Then Neale comes in, asks a few questions and Kelsey gets defensive.

“…You think maybe Justin just washed himself up on the beach to scare us all to death?”

Yes, Kelsey, that’s exactly what I think. And so does Neale, because we’re smart. Or, at least, not as thick as you. Also, he wants to know if she’s sure about the shark, and she claims it bumped her. Neale reasonably points out that a shark’s skin is rough and would have scraped her. She wants to tell the world that MAN EATING SHARKS ARE ON THE FUCKING PROWL, and Neal’s all like “chill, we’re not telling anyone until someone with a brain sees a shark”.

DED FROM STUPID: 1

Then she bumps into a drunk Skip who tries to red herring us by talking about how he really loves hunting things. And then he has a poor little rich boy moment. And I don’t care.

Red Herrings: 2

[Wing: I like to call this exchange with Skip the SLEDGEHAMMER OF RED HERRINGS. Also, Skip drives them home. Drunk Skip drives them home. DRUNK SKIP DRIVES THEM HOME. I hope you all die. Even you, Neale.

No, not you, Neale. Still want to snog you. Wing is feeling shallow today.]

The next morning she has a conversation with Neale where Kelsey is horrified at how calm Neale is in the face of the tragedy of Beth’s demise. He says he has accepted it, and he’s sorry for everyone, but he does it without emotion. Why do all protagonists in PH have such issues with people who don’t weep and wail? Some people are naturally private about their feelings. I fly off the handle and rage and shout; Wing, on the other hand, is incredibly reserved in public. Both our emotions and reactions are valid. You are allowed to be deeply hurt by something without having a meltdown every 20 seconds to prove it.

[Wing: *preens*]

He’s the killer! He’s the killer! He’s … my LOVAH! 6

Then Kelsey has a conversation with Donna. She recounts everything that’s happened, only with a decidedly pro-Justin slant. Donna suggests that the killer is after Kelsey because she has the note from Beth, which is proof. Except in the same conversation a few moments ago, they both agree that the note is not proof and the local police will think they’re “crazy”. Also, the note has been removed, so Kelsey has no proof anyway… I… no, I can’t keep up with the stupid logic of this entire fucking book. KILL IT! KILL IT WITH FIRE!

DED FROM STUPID: 2

Oh you wacky kids, with your hi-jinks and your pranks: 2

They both agree that the killer is obviously Isaac.

Donna and Kelsey are the most stupid human beings in the world.

DED FROM STUPID: 3

Donna reached out, her cold fingers clamping around Kelsey’s wrist. “But you said he denied killing her, even though—”

Because he didn’t do it. And if he did, and wants to get away with it, why wouldn’t he deny it?

Also, we have yet to come up with a motive beyond “he’s a bit odd looking, so I think he’s a murderer”. I mean, yes, we’re very clear on killing Kelsey for the ridiculous reason about the note, but why did he kill Beth. Oh, right “crazy”.

DED FROM STUPID: 4

Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 3

Red Herrings: 3

Next chapter is a Bad Guy Justin POV. He didn’t want to hurt Beth, but she knew he was a killer, and confronted him. So, now we have a motive. And also, wow. A thirteen year old decides to confront a murderer. That’s somewhere between “brave” and “assisted suicide”.

[Wing: She loved him. She thought she could fix him. *gags*]

Mwahahahaha! 3

DED FROM STUPID: 5 (possibly literally in Beth’s case)

Next up, Kelsey decides to break into Isaac’s houseboat where she finds a knife and a scarf (Beth’s) and then Kelsey sees a rat and runs for her life.

At home she gets a call from her mom to say that Justin and Neale’s dad has collapsed, a minor heart problem, and they’re keeping him in hospital a few days. So, that conveniently removes any parent figures that might be of use. Also, conveniently, Kelsey doesn’t even have to tell the boys personally, even though her mother asks her to. She runs into Skip and he takes care of it.

Parents? What parents? 1

Then they go to a beach party, Kelsey tells Donna about breaking into Isaac’s houseboat and the girls are suitably horrified, but the boys (including Skip) overhear and shoot their theories down in flames – a knife? He fishes. A scarf? Yes, because there’s only one red scarf in the world.

Then a Bad Guy Justin POV in which he is sad because he now has to kill Isaac, because Isaac knows who the murderer is.

Mwahahahaha! 4

Donna borrows Kelsey’s jacket, and gets thrown off a cliff because Bad Guy Justin mistook her for Kelsey. Oops. I bet she survives but with either be unconscious or have convenient plot amnesia, in order to drag out this “mystery” further.

He’s dead! He’s dead! HE’S FUCKING DEAD! … oh wait, he survived: 2

Kelsey finds a letter from Neale to Beth, it reveals he was the one staying in Brookfield Psych Ward. OMG reveal. It implies suicide attempt. Also, it’s on headed paper for the hospital. Seriously, wtf? Who on earth gives patients headed paper to write on? I’m certain that in real life they either give you blank paper for free, or make you pay a small fortune for it from the shop they run there. If I was given headed paper, I would run amok pretending to be a doctor and giving false diagnoses.

[Wing: I bet they let patients play with their prescription pads, too.]

Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 4

The next day there’s a massive storm (please god, let this be a sign that we’re nearly at the end), and Donna’s not picking up Skip’s calls. There’s also some really clumsy misdirection about Skip’s keys or something, which the reader is supposed to take as ominous, but we all know the killer is JUSTIN, so it’s barely worth mentioning. He and Kelsey drive over to Donna’s and get in a car wreck. Kelsey is thrown from the vehicle in the crash, she heads back to it and Skip isn’t in the car. For some reason, this is really fucking ominous, even though Kelsey was thrown from the jeep. You know, the car with no roof or sides, as it careened out of control.

Red Herrings: 4

She also finds Isaac’s dead body in the road, he’s been strangled by the red scarf. Kelsey’s all, oh, thank god, we’re all safe, because the murderer has committed suicide… by strangling himself in the middle of a road with a red scarf and stabbing himself with a knife. Then she finds a key in his hand, and is ready to move on to blaming Skip for the murders.

Skip was systematically disposing of all possible witnesses — and if Isaac was dead, everyone would think the mystery was over. Except that she had seen Isaac now, and she knew better, knew that he’d been strangled before his body had ever touched the water.

I’m calling bollocks on that. I know it’s the nineties and we’re not quite at the high tech CSI stage, but even so, Isaac is white, so I’m going to say that if he was strangled, there would be bruising. Also, he’s been stabbed. You can’t really blame those two things on drowning. He looks like he’s been murdered. Justin would have been better off drowning him in his own bathtub and throwing him off the houseboat, they could have chalked it up to him being a drunk. Seriously, how stupid is everyone in this book?

Red Herrings: 5

She heads towards the lighthouse because she hears Donna calling out for her, and falls into a cave beneath it or something. Then the voice changes and it wasn’t Donna, it was the killer. Seriously, Justin can perfectly mimic Donna’s voice? That’s quite a talent.

Beth’s alive, btw. She’s in the cave. No idea about Donna. It’s not been covered, but this is a PH, so it’s not like any of the named cast can die.

He’s dead! He’s dead! HE’S FUCKING DEAD! … oh wait, he survived: 3

However, Justin (even though we’re still pretending it’s Skip) says that these caves flood at high tide or storms and they’re going to drown. Right. So Beth’s been down here a week at least. High tide hasn’t happened for a week on Beverley Island? Ok then.

“Kelsey — Kelsey!”

And she went icy all over, recognizing the voice now — that deep, emotionless voice that she had feared all along—

She had been wrong.

The murderer wasn’t Skip.

It was Neale.

It’s not. IT’S FUCKING JUSTIN. I DON’T KNOW HOW THE READER IS SUPPOSED TO THINK ANYTHING ELSE.

Red Herrings: 6

So, Kelsey drowns, thinking Neale’s killing her. Except he’s clearly saving her. He even says “Don’t struggle” just like her dad did. FFS, book.

[Wing: I still think all the struggle talk has shades of murder to it, personally.]

He’s dead! He’s dead! HE’S FUCKING DEAD! … oh wait, he survived: 4

WOO! Wrap-up chapter!

Kelsey wakes up in the hospital. Beth’s fine, Donna’s fine, and we finally clarify the killer was Justin. Seriously, book, I was there at page 5. Keep the fuck up. Potentially he drowned in the caves, Neale tried to save him, but failed.

Kelsey asks Neale why he was in a psych ward.

“No, it’s okay,” he brushed her apology aside. “Not terribly intriguing, I’m afraid. I was depressed, and I didn’t know what to do with my messed-up life. The usual stuff. Except I didn’t have anyone to talk to… so I went kind of crazy. Even thought of doing myself in.”

“You tried… to kill yourself?”

Another nod, this one regretful. “Stupid. Stupid thing to do. It happens when you think the world’s against you. I know better now, of course.” He shook his head slowly. “I thought I was the only one with problems. I wish I’d known about Justin…”

“Then you didn’t suspect him?”

“No. When things kept happening around the island — I thought it might be Skip.” He looked so sorry, and Kelsey’s eyes blurred.

“And your dad — he didn’t suspect anything, either?”

“I guess it’s hard to suspect someone who’s so perfect. Perfect grades. Perfect looks. Perfect personality.” He dropped his eyes, his face sad. “Perfect disguise.”

I SUSPECTED HIM FROM THE GET GO!

[Wing: IT IS ALWAYS THE PERFECT ONE! DON’T YOU PEOPLE KNOW ANYTHING?]

Anyway, Kelsey’s now in love with Neale, and no named character died, so everything’s fine now!

He’s the killer! He’s the killer! He’s … my LOVAH! 7

You know, except for all the girls who went missing when Justin was at school. And Rebecca, the lifeguard from last year. Oh, and also, Jenny, Kelsey’s BFF from home, I’m still worried about her relationship with her dad. But aside from all that shit, everything’s great.

[Wing: PH means when the text tells us over and over someone is dead, they’re really alive. I’m definitely seeing all sorts of “horror” in Point Horror. All sorts of “point” to the stories, too.]

Final Thoughts:

To reiterate: MOST. POINTLESS. BOOK. EVER.

It has taken me months to get through this shite.

[Wing: It took me less than an hour. The only reason I finished it is because Dove had written this recap, and I needed to add my comments. This book is so bad it’s hard to snark. Woe.]

Final Counts:

All my friends are a bag of dicks: 1
Cheer on the killer: 1
Dexter would not pull this shit: 3
DED FROM STUPID: 5
He’s dead! He’s dead! HE’S FUCKING DEAD! … oh wait, he survived: 4
He’s the killer! He’s the killer! He’s … my LOVAH! 7
I beat you because I love you: 1
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 4
Mwahahahaha! 4
Oh you wacky kids, with your hi-jinks and your pranks: 2
Parents? What parents? 1
Red Herrings: 6

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.

Categories: Point Horror Recaps
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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13 Comments

  • Gemma says:

    You’re back! I only found this blog recently and started following it, even though the last post was over a year ago.

    And now you’re back with my first ever Point Horror. I was 11. I think I suspected Neale. Duh.

    • Dove says:

      Wing and I have had a really busy year, but we kept meaning to come back to this. Lifeguard has actually been in the drafts folder for weeks now, but we haven’t been motivated because I kept pitching it to Wing as “You have to read it, it’s AWFUL! It’s completely POINTLESS! I hate everyone in it!”

      On reflection, that may not have been the best way to encourage her to read it.

      We’re now slogging through the Nightmare Inn/Arcadia series, but after that, any preference from our book list? You’re our one and only reader, you should abuse this power by making demands!

      • Gemma says:

        Ha! Oh, wow. I remember loving Teacher’s Pet (again, 11) and I thought the 13 Tales books were actually properly creepy.

        I haven’t read the Arcadia books but I did enjoy that first post yesterday!

        • Dove says:

          We have 13 More scanned in, but not the other 13s. 13 More was (and still is) one of my favourites. I gave it a genuine recommendation when I passed it to Wing. I know how to make her want something — “Here, read this… you might want to start with ‘The Cat-Dogs’, it’s as close to werewolves as we’ll get.”

    • Wing says:

      Thanks, Gemma! Glad to provide new content. I’d never read this one before, so it was an interesting experience, especially with Dove telling me how great it was all the time.

      Hope you enjoy the recaps to come! There’s one scheduled for next week already.

  • Cate says:

    Freeze tag and The Boyfriend please 🙂

    • Dove says:

      We have the rest of Arcadia scheduled (probably one a week), but I will get scanning this weekend, so that when we’re done with that, we can move on to the requests! I haven’t read either of those books since the 90s!

  • Gemma says:

    WAIT WAIT WAIT. You have Room 13 by Robert Swindells. I read that once when I was about 9 and I thought it was SO GOOD. I don’t know if it would stand up to 32-year-old me though. I am going to try it.

    • Dove says:

      Gemma, both Wing and I will absolutely stake our entire website on the fact that Room 13 is EXACTLY as good as you remember. Room 13 by Robert Swindells is better than any Point Horror. EVER. (The sequel “Inside The Worm” is not. Don’t even bother. I gave a copy to Wing with the warning that she shouldn’t read it.)

    • Wing says:

      I read Swindells’ Room 13 for the first time as an adult, and I freaking love it. I wish I’d had it to read as a kid. So much love for it.

  • Snow says:

    I actually liked this author and even though I always knew who the killer was I would hope to be wrong because the killer was invariably the most appealing guy. Anyway, I thought I remembered that at some point Kelsey was putting on suntan lotion and there was some sort of mild acid in it. Did that happen or am I inventing false memories??

  • Nora Goode says:

    I actually thought this one was rather exciting… Oh well, it was some years ago.

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