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

Recap #142: Driver’s Dead by Peter Lerangis

Title: Driver’s Dead by Peter Lerangis

The Author:

A rather prolific author, Peter Lerangis has been writing for decades, although if you go to his website the farthest back you’ll find is his The Watchers series. No mention of his Point Horror writing that I can find. Seriously. Not even his Wiki page goes beyond his Watchers series. Don’t worry. I believe I’ve found them. Titles include DRIVER’S DEAD, THE YEARBOOK, and X-ISLE. Seems like he doesn’t want the taint, maybe? Or it’s just that his various other series have done so well there’s no need to put that retail work on his resume any longer. [Wing: Those the books I’ve found by him, too (with X-Isle being a two book series). He also ghostwrote some of the Baby-Sitters Club books.]

Anyway, he has a weird thing for the Vietnam War in this book, and I don’t know why. The premise seems to hinge on a “crazy” Vietnam vet and one of the characters being a refugee from the area and trying to find his parents. It’s just the date seems really off. The book was published in 1994. That’s a big, lingering gap for Vietnam relevance. It was just weird. It didn’t necessarily seem forced, but the timing was off enough that it really stood out.

Also every. Single. Chapter. Ends on a cliffhanger. All of them.

The Blurb:

Nightmare – dead ahead.

Kristen’s not a very good driver. And the driver’s ed classes aren’t helping. No matter how hard she tries, she just can’t get the hang of being behind the wheel.

Rob’s a very good driver. And he wants to give Kirsten a few tips on how to improve her driving. But after the first session, Rob turns up missing.

Kirsten is beginning to realize that this class may be a little more than she bargained for. A class that may drive her crazy – or to death.

#

That is . . . Really bad. One, it’s vaguely relevant to the plot. It just leaves out a whole shit ton of applicable details like Rob being a shitbag, the fact that he doesn’t turn up missing, but dead, and the story actually doesn’t center around the class itself. Driver’s ed precipitates a lot of the events, but the class is really more of a passing thing. The contest is really the driving force behind this (pun intended), along with, you know. Being haunted by a dead kid that’s screwing with her head.

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Recap #140: Nightmare Hall #10: Sorority Sister by Diane Hoh

Diane Hoh Nightmare Hall 7: Sorority SisterTitle: Nightmare Hall #10: Sorority Sister by Diane Hoh

Summary: When Maxie McKeon pledges Omega Phi Delta, she figures she’s got it made. She loves her new sisters. And everyone knows Omegas throw the best parties and go out with the cutest guys. But someone on campus isn’t crazy about the sorority. That person is just, well, crazy. And he – or she – is determined to destroy the house, and everyone in it. Joining Omega won’t change Maxie’s life. It will just shorten it.

Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 1 point. Right in the back cover synopsis! Although, to be fair, Hoh didn’t write the synopsis.

Tagline: None.

Notes: I will now refer to the bad guy as “Muffin Man” because of The Mall.

Initial Thoughts

I don’t remember ever disliking a Diane Hoh book, but Deadly Attraction and The Wish in this series have shown me they’re occasionally not as great as I recall (albeit a lot better than most of the YA thrillers at the time). This book has the misfortune of coming after The Night Walker, a tight, taut, complex little humdinger of a thriller that I could barely find fault with. So it has a lot to live up to. But I’m always optimistic when it comes to Hoh (unlike Nola Thacker), and I do have memories of this at least being fun. Note: I have no knowledge of how fraternities and sororities work, because we don’t have them in Australia. Any idea I have is based solely on books and B-grade movies.

[Wing: That cover makes me think of Dawn Schafer and Abby Stevenson from the Baby-Sitters Club, which cracks me up. I’d not read this one before, so had no nostalgic thoughts going into it, but I was a part of a music fraternity for awhile at university (yes, I said fraternity), but it wasn’t a social Greek organisation, and I assume much different than whatever we have going on here.]

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Recap #133: Fear Street #45: Cat by R.L. Stine

Title: Fear Street: Cat, a.k.a. “I Really, Really, REALLY Hate Barry Allen”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Bill Schmidt

Tagline: C-A-T- spells murder.

Summary: The cat came back… [Wing: Damn it, I have been earwormed.]

Marty never liked the cat – it always got in the way at basketball practice. But he never meant to kill it.

Now Marty thinks he’s going crazy. He sees cats wherever he goes. He has nightmares about them. He knows they want revenge.

Too bad Marty doesn’t have nine lives. Because his first one is almost over.

Initial Thoughts

So, sorry there wasn’t a Fear Street recap in January. I realized too late I was a bit burned out from everything I worked on in December, and asked to put the Fear Street recap off til February.

Cat is another of those entries that sort of lurked in the background for me for a long time. I’ve only read it a couple of times but thought this one would peak Wing’s interest after reading some of her comments on my Goosebumps recaps. Although I was originally planning on doing a different book for her birthday with a similar concept, this one grabbed my attention for a reason I will get into during the recap.

This one was sort of weird for me, because I think the main character might seem the most human of the protagonists I’ve read in these books. He’s not entirely likable, but he’s not someone you hate with every fiber of your being.

And as always, watch out for some ableism.

[Wing: I’ve never read this one before, but based on that cover, I’m going to assume it involves cat shapeshifters, which is something I love. Shocking, I’m sure.]

Content: Obviously, some animal harm.

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Recap #129: Graveyard School #26: Little School of Horrors by Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. “The Most Popular Ghouls in School”

Title: Graveyard School #26 – Little School of Horrors

Author: Tom B. Stone/Nola Thacker/D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata

Tagline: N/A

Summary: It’s The Most Horrifying Time Of Year In Grove Hill – Back-To-School Time!

Back to school.

Ghouls rule. Teachers drool.

Dead things walking are nothing shocking.

Blue is new at Graveyard School. But he knows right away that he’s going to class at Creep Central. Just look at the teachers. The principal. Even the janitor. But worst of all, look at the kid who wants to be Blue’s best friend. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Welcome to Dead Kid 101.

[Wing: This summary made me laugh. I’m delighted.]

Initial Thoughts

Looking at the cover Wing you can guess why I picked this for your b-day month, and lucky for you this is also one of my favorite books in the series.

What’s weird about it is this book has got some world building shit going on, and the way it reads you’d THINK it would’ve been the first in the series. It gives a much better sense of how big the sixth grade class is, even for a small town, which puts it at odds with the Fear Street Seniors series for how it only focused on a handful of the 12th grade class and then made sporadic, frustrating references to all the OTHER kids in the graduating class.

But this is frustrating for me because this was the third to last in the line, and none of the other kids introduced in this book appeared in “Here Comes Santa Claws” or “The Spider Beside Her.” I can’t help but wonder what Thacker might’ve had planned for this series if #28 wasn’t the last. God knows I still have some notes from way back in high school on ideas I had for stories with these guys.

And we also get a look at racism through the eyes of a kids horror book!

[Wing: I do love the surprise on that cover, thank you! It’s strange that this isn’t the first book in the series, or that the world building here wasn’t included in the first book, at least. Though, I did like the pacing on the first book, and this information might have slowed it down.

No matter what, I’m super excited about this!]

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Recap #127: Goosebumps Series 2000 #17: The Werewolf In The Living Room by R.L. Stine, a.k.a. “Are You There God? It’s Me, Aaron”

Title: Goosebumps Series 2000 #17 – The Werewolf in the Living Room

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus [Wing: That is one of the creepier werewolves I’ve seen in cover art, and that includes on adult horror novels.]

Tagline: Home sweet horror.

Summary:

The creature had the face of a wolf. And the back and chest of a man.

He stared at me with those black, gleaming eyes. He curled back his thick lips. I stared in horror at long, curved fangs.

Then – before I could run – the werewolf leaned back on his haunches.

Raised his head in a fierce howl.

And sank his fangs deep into my skin.

Initial Thoughts

Surprise, Wing! It’s your favorite thing! WEREWOLVES. I know you mentioned reading “The Werewolf of Fever Swamp,” but I decided to go with one of the books you were less likely to have read before. At least, I hope so. [Wing: Good call! I’ve never read this one before, and I am so, so excited about it.]

The Goosebumps 2000 books were Scholastic’s attempt to revitalize the series for the new century, even though they were published three years before the actual millennium. [Wing: … strange.] The books definitely have a tone and feel independent of the original series, but overall were a bit disappointing compared to the first 62 books. They were more heavy on stuff like blood and vomit, and many of them were broken into separate parts. They got two Slappy books, an official sequel to “One Day at Horrorland,” and a spiritual sequel to “Ghost Camp.” Two books, “Bride of the Living Dummy” and “Cry of the Cat” were adapted into TV episodes, and “Invasion of the Body Squeezers” got a follow up under the “Give Yourself Goosebumps” line. The last book in the series, “The Incredible Shrinking Fifth Grader,” was cancelled before it got released, and R.L. Stine re-purposed the script for a separate book. Thankfully, Tim Jacobus sent the Goosebumps wiki the unused but completed cover art.

The 2000 books as a whole have largely been ignored following the revitalization of the franchise, with one or two exceptions. The Body Squeezers, the Haunted Car, and the Graveyard Ghouls were featured in the movie, so the books including the latter two got reprinted in the “Classic Goosebumps” line. Meanwhile, “Creature Teacher” got a sequel in “Goosebumps Most Wanted.”

So why did I choose this for you, Wing? First off, admittedly, it’s a seasonal thing. One winter a couple of years ago I began acquiring more entries in the 2000 line, this one, “Full Moon Fever,” “The Haunted Car,” “Horrors of the Black Ring,” and it sort of, I dunno, I get comfortable reading them during the last week of December and the earlier weeks of January. Beyond that, well, before you walk into this unwarned, there’s plenty of talk about how one of the characters is crazy. I know you won’t like that, but I really think you’re gonna love the implications of the ending.

[Wing: We will see. I am damn excited about the werewolves, though. I’ve never read any of the Series 2000 books.]

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Recap #124: Nightmare Hall #8: The Experiment by Diane Hoh (Nola Thacker)

cover of Nightmare Hall - The Experiment by Diane HohTitle: Nightmare Hall #8: The Experiment

Summary: Professor Maximillian DeLure. Award-winning poet, scientist, and professor at Salem University. Dark, sexy, attractive…dangerous. Caryl Amberly is excited to be one of the few students specially selected for his new seminar. Until she finds out what his previous students think of him. Everyone says he’s a real killer. And they’re not talking about his exams….

Tagline: None.

Notes: I will now refer to the bad guy as “Muffin Man” because of The Mall.

Initial Thoughts

I’ve been procrastinating when it comes to this recap. We’ve once again got Nola Thacker doing ghost-writing duties, and I’m simply not a fan of her work in this series so far. Possibly in general. Sigh. Here we go.

[Wing: Normally, I try to go for the original cover, but I’ve been dreading this cover, which has a spider in that window frame part. So … have this cover instead. I couldn’t handle seeing the other one over and over. Sorry.]

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Recap #116: Class Trip II by Bebe Faas Rice

Cover of Class Trip 2 by Bebe Faas Rice, shows an open door and a traveling bag on a porch in a sliver of lightTitle: Class Trip II by Bebe Faas Rice

Summary: Hallie and her friends are lost, stranded in Holyoake—a small town deep in the mountains. A town isolated from the rest of the world. A town that time has forgotten.

At first, Hallie is charmed by Holyoake’s odd customs and old-fashioned ways. [Wing: LIES.] The townspeople are warm and friendly, and they’re eager to make Hallie and her friends feel right at home. They want to make sure that Hallie and her friends stay in Holyoake. Forever.

Tagline: Pack your bag…

Initial Thoughts

Way back when I first recapped Class Trip, I talked about how I’d read Class Trip II and really enjoyed it, but had never read the first book. Had never even considered finding the first book, despite the fact that Class Trip II is very clearly the second book in a series.

So finally, years later, I read Class Trip. I enjoyed it — sort of. And now I’ve come back to Class Trip II, which I loved when I was a teen. Here’s hoping it holds up. (I’m reading an updated version, I think, so who knows how that will compare.) [Wing: Note from the future, I didn’t actually notice any differences, because I was so enthralled.]

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Recap #112: Nightmare Hall #7: Pretty Please by Diane Hoh

Title: Nightmare Hall #7: Pretty Please by Diane Hoh

Summary: Johanna Dunn is strikingly beautiful, just like all her friends. Until the accident. Now her perfect face is scarred and bandaged. She’s embarrassed by the strange looks she gets on campus – even from her closest friends. A pretty face isn’t everything, is it? Somebody thinks it is. Some thinks she’s plain old ugly now. Too ugly to live…. [Wing: Well damn, that escalated quickly.]

Tagline: None.

Notes: I will now refer to the bad guy as “Muffin Man” because of The Mall.

Initial Thoughts

Love the cover of this one, with the bandaged face looking back out of the mirror. Once again, I remember the identity of the Muffin Man all these years later. The concept of a killer going after a person they consider “ugly” may sound thin, but I think it’s quite unique, living as we do in a very looks obsessed society. Diane Hoh usually delves deeper into hot button issues than other YA thriller writers did at the time, so I’m hoping she finds some time for some light social commentary in amongst the thrills.

[Wing: I’ve never read this one before, but I like the idea that Hoh is going to take on the power of beauty in our society. I hope this goes well. And I don’t think it’s too far fetched for a killer to go after someone they consider ugly; just look at how fat people, for example, are treated. People casually call for their deaths all the time.]

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Recap #103: Nightmare Hall #6: Guilty by Diane Hoh

book cover with window looking into white girl in blue bathing suit drowning in waterTitle: Nightmare Hall #6: Guilty by Diane Hoh

Summary: Katie Sullivan has everything – nice roommate, cool friends, and a great guy. Until the day she and her boyfriend are out on the river and their canoe overturns. She survives. He doesn’t. Katie can’t stop thinking about the accident, weighing the evidence, wondering if it was her fault. But someone else has already reached a decision about Katie. The verdict is guilty. The punishment is death.

Tagline: None.

Notes: I will now refer to the bad guy as “Muffin Man” because of The Mall.

Initial Thoughts

Thankfully, we’re back once again to a Nightmare Hall book actually written by Diane Hoh. Though none of the books so far have been as good as I remember, once again, I have distant memories of liking this one back when I first read it, especially the climax. [Wing: I love the window book covers for Nightmare Hall, but this one cracks me up. Is she drowning inside a room at Nightmare Hall? How is that even possible? If an actual pool, why does the pool have a window? Oh, cover designers. So delightfully ridiculous.]

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Recap #100: Halloween Night 2 by R. L. Stine

cover of Halloween Night II by R L Stine, has three figures dressed in skeleton outfits and black cloaks in front of a Halloween night backgroundTitle: Halloween Night 2 by R. L. Stine

Summary: Brenda isn’t really looking forward to Halloween this year. After all, it was only twelve months age that her best friend tried to kill her at a Halloween party and she’d rather not be reminded of that. [Wing: I’d rather not be reminded of that recap either.]

But her friends persuade her to take part in a Halloween revenge prank, guaranteed to scare the victim to death. And soon Brenda realises that she is never going to leave the terror of Halloween night behind…..

Tagline: Trick, treats and…death

Initial Thoughts

Hey guys, how’ve you been? I’m good thank you, a little under the weather-sore throat, headachy that sort of thing but nothing too serious just a typical change of weather cold. Speaking of, the weather has been great here, perfect Autumn weather very mild and breezy, some rain, the type were you can throw on a lovely warm jumper and go for a walk around the Common drinking a hot chocolate or snuggle up in bed with a good book and light rain tapping on the window. Work? Yeah work is going well thanks, except for the ridiculous amounts of stairs I have to walk up and down but at least my ass and legs will get toned-Amirite?

Huh? What’s that? Am I mindlessly rambling on about my daily schedule in order to avoid recapping this book? Now why would you suggest such a thing!? Questioning my work ethic and dedication? Well, yes you’re right I’m doing exactly that. This. Book. Gah. I only vaguely remembered this book before I read it. I don’t know what I was expecting but in retrospect I should have reread Wing’s awesome review of Halloween Night BEFORE I read Halloween Night 2: The EXACT Same Story But Suckier. Everyone in this book is insufferable and Stine has never met a cliff hanger he didn’t want to take behind a shed and get pregnant. That being said, lets all work together and power through. [Wing: NO. I refuse. I did my time. (Seriously, I’m grateful that Tuesday took this one on, because I could not do a repeat of the first book.)]

[Wing: Happy 100 recaps! You, our readers and podcast listeners, are the best part of recapping. You’re smart and funny and engaged, and we appreciate you so much! I’m thrilled we’ve made it this far, and I look forward to 100 more.]

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