Recap #59: Freeze Tag by Caroline B. Cooney
Title: Freeze Tag by Caroline B Cooney
Tagline: Cold Hands Evil Heart… Tag you’re dead
Summary: Meghan and West, girl and boy next door, play an innocent game of Freeze Tag with their neighbour Lannie. But Freeze Tag is no ordinary game… when Lannie is playing. For when she tags someone, they really do freeze-like an ice blue statue-like death.
One that same day, ice hearted Lannie extracts a horrible promise from Handsome West: “You must always like me best…”
Now they’re older and Meghan and West are in Love. That one terrifying game has been forgotten… until Lannie reminds West of the promise he was forced to make all those years ago.
And if he refuses, she will freeze Meghan… to death.
Notes: Hello readers! I’m Tuesday and I’ll be doing the recap this week for Freeze Tag, I just want to give a huge shout out to Dove and Wing for giving me this opportunity and I shall try my hardest not to screw it up. I thought I’d start by introducing myself so: Hi y’all I’m Tuesday and this is my first recap, I adored Point Horror, Nightmare Hall, Fear Street and even Point Crime I can’t remember exactly how I got in to Point Horror I think it was a progression from The Babysitters Club to Sweet Valley High to Point Horror which my sister, Noodle, and I devoured. We probably read the books for far longer than we should have before making the giant leap to Karen Slaughter, Kathy Reichs, Stephen King, etc. and I blame Point Horror for my love of the crime, horror and mystery genre in fact I can’t read a book unless someone dies and there is a huge mystery to solve. So enough about me on to the recap… hooboy.
[Wing: Thanks so much for taking on the recap, Tuesday! We’re glad to have you.]
I remember reading this as a child and having lots of questions about the ending, about Lannie, about her ability to freeze people so it will be interesting to see if I have those same questions… and I remember enjoying the book but not loving it like I did some of the other Point Horrors. The story of a girl with the ability to freeze people always struck me as really cool way before anyone was into Frozen plus in this book No Singing yay! The cover of this book always creeped me out as a kid with the hands and the blood and the ice that looked like knives. As an adult it still creeps me out but for far more different reasons, I recently got diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes so those bloody fingers just remind me of what I look like after a blood checking session when my fingers don’t want to cooperate.
Update: I did not love this book nor did I enjoy it.
[Wing: I’ve never read this book before, but just from the very first page, I can tell it is written in typical, whimsical Cooney style, which rarely works for me in Point Horror. We’ll see how the rest of it goes.]
We begin with a prologue, when the characters are all young children, and an introduction to our characters. Our protagonist is Meghan Moore the romantic, sweet, kind, forgiving girl next door. Meghan is best friends with the Trevor Children: West, the tall, handsome, strong, friendly, popular boy next door who she has a crush on; his sister, Tuesday, Meghan’s best friend, who is funny, popular and tough; and the youngest Trevor, a little boy called Brown, and all we know about him is he is the youngest Trevor and loves TV. Ok so first of all these names!? West, Tuesday and BROWN!? That’s a colour! It’s like mum and dad Trever were Kimye before there was a Kimye. These names are ridiculous and are probably the reason the Trevor Kids have such ridiculous egos. Meghan adores the Trevor family they are loud, warm, loving, inclusive (unless your name is Lannie Anveill) and Meghan wants to spend all her time with them. Meghan wishes she had parents like the Trevor mum and dad because they were sensible enough to have more than one child. I’m from a very big family and I get a lot of only children telling me they wished they had siblings growing up and asking what is was like. I’ll tell you what it was like well its loud, over-crowded and basically it’s war. [Dove: Dove was an only child. The only reason she ever craved siblings was as an adult, to spread out the frequency of visiting family.] [Wing: I’m one of six siblings, though only two of us grew up in the same house. I love having siblings, but when I was younger, it was much more difficult. I always adored having the younger brother who grew up in the same house with me, but all of our relationships have been complicated. Still, I wouldn’t trade my siblings for anything.] Meghan also has a huge crush on West. They live across the street from Muffin Man: Lannie Anveill. This is not a spoiler she straight up tries to murder people from the prologue onwards. Meghan describes her like this:
Lannie was a wispy little girl. Even her hair was wispy. She was as skinny as a popsicle stick and as pale as a Kleenex. Meghan felt sorry for Mr and Mrs Anveill, having a daughter like Lannie buts she also felt sorry for Lannie, having Mr and Mrs Anveill for parents.
Yeah, Lannie gets the worst descriptions throughout the book she is constantly described as being wispy, insubstantial, unloved and unwanted. Lannie starts talking about freezing people and looks at Meghan who feels something bad is going to happen. Now the way Cooney writes and the language she uses its really obvious she is trying to create this mystical, ethereal world but throughout the book she never quite manages it. I got the feeling she read the original version of The Ice Queen or a bunch of children’s story books from, like, the 1800’s and decided to copy the language to give the story a sense of resonance maybe? But it just doesn’t work. The imagery is there, but the way she writes the descriptions — they are trying too hard to be magical when a normal description would work.
[Wing: “Trying too hard to be magical” is pretty much Cooney’s writing style in a nutshell. Sometimes it works better than others, but often — and for most of this book — it makes the story feel slow and stilted.]
Anyway Lannie the 8 year old ice queen wants to be invited to Tuesday’s sleepover but Tuesday invites Meghan only, leading Lannie to exclaim twice that she hates Meghan, and thus the seed of Lannie’s hatred and jealousy starts to grow. Lannie makes West give her a piggy back by threatening to Freeze Meghan and West complies, even though at this point there is no sign of her powers, so far she’s just a creepy little girl obviously suffering from some sort of neglect that no one wants to deal with. Lannie decides they will play Freeze Tag but the other children don’t like her and just wish she would go away. Lannie, somehow has the ability to command four children to do what she wants and they start playing with her as IT. Lannie catches the children and actually freezes them like statues. One by one she unfreezes them except Meghan, Lannie makes West promise that he will always like her best and only unfreezes Meghan after he promises. The children run away and apparently never discuss this again, which I’m sorry but no, I would want to know exactly how she did it and where she got her powers and I would make an effort to be her best friend ever so she would never freeze me again!
[Wing: I can see people trying to block it out for survival, but I would have a hard time forgetting about that time I thought I was going to freeze to death because of my neighbor!]
Fast forward seven years. West is 17 and Meghan is 15 and they have fallen completely in love, the type of love that makes parents worried about becoming grandparents 10 years too early. [Wing: Meghan’s parents have The Talk with her, and include Aids in it, which is a really unusual thing for a YA book to mention at the time, particularly a Point Horror, so kudos for that, Cooney.] Meghan and West are the ‘real deal’ and can’t stop gushing about each other, Meghan is also secretly gloating because every girl in the school, except Tuesday, wants to be with West – The Most Handsome Boy in the world. West “fell so deeply, completely, and intensely in love the truck hardly mattered.” Ah yes The Truck. So before we find out about Meghan and West’s Earth Shattering Love we find out that West has been given an old run down truck to work on that doesn’t have any inside handles that he loves more than anything until he falls In Love with the girl next door. The truck is super old and you can’t open the doors from the inside unless the window is down, so you have to reach out and open it from the outside. This may be important later one… but back to the love story.
So intense and beautiful is their true love that all the girls are jealous but no one hates them because they are just so beautiful and perfect together. When I read Point Horror as a kid I was always fascinated by these super grown up intense relationships all the teenagers had and I couldn’t wait to fall in love like that however in reality I went to a British, private, Catholic school from ages 6-18 and the only boys I knew were the same boys I’d known all my life and by the time I was ready to fall in love they were most definitely in the love him like a brother zone not to mention the fact that my huge family all went to the same school and my older brother’s super hot friends wouldn’t go near me thanks to the Brother’s Little Sister reputation. Damn you giant family! I never got the teenage first love, I did get my first love in my 20’s but he turned out to be a lying asshole whole broke my heart. [Dove: I also attended a religious school, but it was all-girls, as was the norm for our neck of the woods. We only met boys if they were somehow related to one of the girls. Meeting a boy was a Very Big Deal for us.] [Wing: I’m still with my high school sweetheart, but we are pretty much the antithesis of Meghan and West and their lovey dovey ooey gooey crap. Also, I just choked calling Mr Wing my high school sweetheart.]
ANYWAY Meghan is still best friends with Tuesday but her love for West is so encompassing and his for her that they can’t eat unless they are beside each other, they can’t walk down the halls unless they are walking together, they can’t be near telephones without calling each other, they can’t sleep at night unless they have snuck out to kiss each other good night. They sound incredibly co-dependent. [Dove: Their TWOO LUV is absolutely sickening. I was rooting for them to break up by the end of Chapter 1. Megan is insufferably smug about it, she’s almost Bella Swan. Why does so much of Cooney’s work make up the groundwork of Twilight? Inquiring minds want to know.] [Wing: Well, Meyer only claimed to not have read vampire fiction before, not Point Horrors. Make of that what you will.]
One day while they are holding hands and “admiring each other’s beauty” — Really, Cooney? — Lannie appears and starts walking with them, Meghan is shocked because “There was a certain rule of etiquette, and one was that you did not join a couple who were linked body and soul.” Seriously Cooney!? Lannie tells them it’s time, but neither West nor Meghan know what she’s talking about so she tells them they will be reminded. Meghan is kind of an ass to Lannie here, she looks down on her for being unloved, unwanted and unpaired, and feels superior because she is pretty and in love. Meghan, I know the kid is kind of creepy but she has FREEZE POWERS! Be nice to the little troll doll!
The next day Meghan is having a great time she aced her Spanish test, had a good history lesson, and West is there waiting for her and they are just so in love and he grabs her waist and she loves the feeling of being possessed. Ok Meg that’s kind of weird. They go to lunch and Lannie freezes some poor girl who happens to be standing by. They see Lannie standing by the window and West has an odd reaction: he shoves his hands in his pockets and stands away from Meghan. Meghan is aware of a deep disappointment in him, because he would rather stand by and hope everything goes away than deal with it. I have to admit I did love how throughout the book Meghan actually grew from a lovesick teenager to her own person while West the brave, handsome heart throb is actually the weaker character. [Wing: Same! I really like how adversity strips away the lovely surface level from everyone and you really see their true selves, which is super realistic.] Lannie tells West he must always like her best and they all remember the time she froze them when they were children AS IF YOU COULD FORGET BEING FROZEN BY THE CREEPY NEIGHBOURHOOD ICE QUEEN! Lannie wants to know if West and Meghan talked about her the night before and his promise to her but Meghan dismisses her saying they had better things to talk about than silly Lannie. Meghan realises when she says this that Lannie is hurt and for the first time realises that Lannie actually has emotions. West and Meghan argue with Lannie trying to make her unfreeze the poor student, Lannie tries to freeze Meghan so West plays into her game and tells her he likes her, he gets her to unfreeze the student and they have lunch together.
Meghan spends her lunch and study period going through what she knows about Lannie and it’s a sad tale. Lannie’s parents never seemed to touch her or show any love and affection Meghan thinks it’s because there is something about Lannie that turns people off her and everyone felt sorry for her parents for having such a weird kid. Lannie never seemed to age but just look dusty and unused like an old doll, she never seemed to be loved or wanted. She was pale with bleached out eyes and her hair was wispy like straw. God why hasn’t anyone called social services? This kid sounds malnourished and unwashed. When Lannie was 10 her dad left her mother for his mistress, Nance, who once remarked, “I don’t love Lannie but I wish she would brush her teeth more often.” Gee Nance you sound like a peach. Of course Lannie heard this remark. Lannie’s mum married a guy called Jason and they got a dog, an Irish setter that they obviously loved so much more than they loved — or even liked — Lannie, so Lannie froze the dog and killed it. [Wing: Lannie has this really bad habit of taking out her anger not on the people who hurt her but on the people they choose over her, which is pretty much bullshit all the time, but especially with the fucking dog![ One day Lannie’s mum crashed her car and died, and Lannie went to live with her dad and Nance. Her dad decided he couldn’t handle being a parent so he left, and Nance took Lannie back to live with Jason, her stepdad, and dumped her there before Jason could think of an argument. At least with Jason Lannie looked like she had clean clothes and occasionally washed her hair. Seriously why didn’t anyone call social services? Lannie has lived with Jason for the last two years. Is that how custody works? It sounds like he married her mum pretty fast then she died so does Lannie even really know Jason? Is he able to raise a kid on his own? Doesn’t her dad have to pay some sort of child support? Doesn’t social services have to at least check on the family situation to make sure Jason has the financial and parental resources to raise a kid he barely knows? [Dove: I did some digging about fostering a good five years ago, and one thing that kept popping up was the fact that a lot of kids that should be registered as under foster care and checked in with by Social Services are not. They’re living with parents’ friends, or their grandparents/relatives, etc (but not but the adults are not official legal guardians), and apparently this should be logged with the powers that be, but most people don’t. So I doubt anyone has really checked in on her. But you would most certainly hope that someone in Meghan’s “nice” neighbourhood might have asked Lannie if she was ok.]
Meghan waits for West after school to drive home but when they get to his mother car Lannie is already waiting in it. How did she get into the car? Did he leave it unlocked? Is this a thing? Do Freeze Powers give unlocking powers? [Wing: In a neighborhood like this, at the time, yes, it probably was unlocked.] They drive home and see Tuesday getting off the school bus Lannie threatens to freeze Tuesday if West doesn’t start going out with her. Meghan asks Lannie if she froze her mother and killed her in the car crash and Lannie says she did. West chooses his sister over his girlfriend and Meghan is half heartbroken and half relieved that Tuesday will be safe. Meghan goes into the Trevor house were Mrs Trevor wants to know why West is driving with Lannie and then goes on to talk about how she never saw a child more unloved or neglected in her whole life “… she never had any (love). I’ve never seen a child so thoroughly abandoned. Why, even when her mother was alive, I never saw anybody pick Lannie up, or kiss her, or hug her. She put herself to bed, nobody ever tucked her in. She ate alone. Nobody ever shared a meal with her.” [Dove: So why didn’t Mrs Trevor check on her if it bothers her that much? She has the rest of the neighbourhood in her living room 24-7.]
OK so how do you know all this Mrs Trevor? Where you hiding in her house watching her be neglected? And WHY DIDN’T YOU DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!? This is what drives me up the wall about this book, there is a child who is so overtly and obviously neglected and unloved that the whole neighbourhood knows yet nobody does anything to help her! Even her teachers move her up a grade because they don’t want to deal with her. Mrs Trevor the ‘neighbourhood mum’ who all the kids adore and supposedly adores all the children has watched for 14 years while this kid has been abandoned and neglected but does nothing. God even an anonymous call to child protection might have helped. Instead we’ve got to deal with a kid that doesn’t know personal hygiene and freezes people to get what she wants. Meghan wants to tell Mrs Trevor everything but thinks she won’t be believed. Plus in the warm glow of the Trevor household everything seems silly and unreal. This actually annoyed me throughout the book the Trevor kids and Meghan are terrified when they are with Lannie — and being frozen is described as terrifying — but as soon as they get within the confines of family life they brush it off as no big deal. It is a big deal guys you keep harping on about what a big deal it is until you get in your house then it’s all ‘Oh freezing people oh la-di-dah how silly’ it’s either terrifying or its nothing but it can’t be both. [Dove: Agreed. I could see them forgetting if that was part of her powers, to know that Lannie unnerved Meghan, but she didn’t know why — or to know she did something awful once — and might again — but Meghan can’t remember what it was, that would be something strange, and scary, but also shrug-offable. If you have no memory of a terrible thing, you can just tell yourself you’re being silly. To have the memory and still shrug it off, makes them look like idiots.]
Meghan goes home as Tuesday and her mum are talking about the Cheerleading slumber party Tuesday is hosting — Meghan, not being a cheerleader, isn’t invited. Meghan waits for West to call, but he never does, so she calls him and arranges to meet at the broken truck to talk. They meet and West is creeped out and tells Meghan that Lannie is jealous of her because she has everything and Lannie has nothing. (Except awesome powers, imagine if she went public with her powers? She’d have her own TV show!) Lannie hates Meghan, and hates the Trevor family, for all having love in their lives and people who actually want to be with them, and care about them. West says he has to keep hanging round with Lannie because he is scared of what Lannie might do, then he laughs at Meghan for trying to storm off (West is kind of a dick), and they start kissing until Lannie appears and freezes them mid kiss. That girl sure picks her moments.
Meanwhile Tuesday knows something is going on — maybe she has some brother psychic connection? — and gets Brown (BROWN!!?) to go with her, they find Lannie chilling in the freezing snow — oh did I forget to mention this book takes place in winter? Well it does, and there is snow everywhere and the truck is sort of hidden between the two Trevor and Moore houses, I really couldn’t picture Cooney’s description of where the truck actually was because she was trying to make it sound super mysterious and wintery and ethereal and I just switched off. So they see Lannie being all happy that she has frozen two people who could possibly die. Lannie lets West unfreeze, but is happy to leave Meghan to die in the cold weather. Tuesday promises she can come to the cheerleading party, but Lannie is still too angry at West for seeing Meghan, so West calls her bluff and takes his siblings to their home leaving Lannie and Meghan. Meghan can hear all this by the way and is terrified that her best friend and the love of her life have left her alone with Lannie. Lannie freaks that West would rather leave Meghan to die than date her (Lannie), so she unfreezes Meghan but makes the Trevor kids stick to their promises.
From that point on Lannie takes Meghan’s place in the Trevor household she is with West, and best friends with Tuesday, while Meghan is all alone. Everyone at school can’t believe West downgraded from Meghan to Lannie. Meghan feels frozen out. Oh, Cooney, you are hilarious. The entire school is in a state of shock. Hey, assholes, Lannie might have an amazing personality or a kickass sense of humour. It’s not like any of you took ten seconds of your lives to even bother to find out, so less of the nasty chat, ok? I mean, we all know she’s a Napoleonic power monger with a penchant for freezing people to death, but they don’t. Meghan likes hearing that people are shocked because who doesn’t love hearing their ex is dating someone less hot than you amiright!?
Meghan is so depressed she starts hanging round with her own parents, who genuinely seem like lovely people. Meghan has a really nice moment with her mum. They cuddle on the bed and she learns that her mum and dad used to want to have all the kids at their house and would buy popsicles, ice cream, and cookies in the hope that they would come to the Moore house and not the Trevor house, but they understood that Meghan was a sociable child and loved having friends. Meghan feels really loved and understands that this is something Lannie never had. That’s actually kind of heartbreaking that there was this little kid who never even cuddled with her mum or dad, and doesn’t understand love, so her heart froze and she began to be able to freeze people. It reminds me of that Buffy episode in season 1, there this girl played by Clea Duvall who was constantly ignored until she turned invisible so she wreaked havoc on the popular kids until the CIA took her away to a school with other invisible people. I bet she’s a really awesome spy now. I hope she was the most popular invisible girl in her class, do you reckon invisible kids see each other in full colour or are they all just invisible so they never see each other? I bet lunch was tough what with trays floating all over the place, people bumping into each other dropping cake everywhere. I bet the CIA cafeteria has great cake. I miss cake. [Dove: So many things I want to agree on there. In short: Poor Lannie. Fun Buffy ep. Excellent visual. Everyone loves cake.]
[Wing: This is the point where the book started to turn around for me. Cooney’s descriptions are still often trying too hard, but I guess I started to get used to them, because I was able to focus more on the interesting character work she’s doing — and it is pretty great! I love that scene between Meghan and her mother, and especially the detail about how her mother used to stock treats and hope the kids would come hang out their house sometime, too, but they never did. It’s all so gently heartbreaking and warm and loving, and really nicely done. I was left feeling deeply for Meghan’s family and for Lannie, whereas until this point, I hated pretty much everyone.]
Meghan decides she needs to be strong like her mother told her to, and goes to the Trevor’s house. Tuesday is so excited to see her and explains that West doesn’t speak to anyone anymore and spends all his time with Lannie. The Trevor parents believe West is lovesick over Lannie, and don’t believe Tuesday or Brown (BROWN!!?) when they try telling them Lannie is the evil one. Mr Trevor tells Meghan he’s sorry West have got a new girlfriend but it takes two to tango. Mr Trevor also sounds like an ass. Tuesday and Meghan come up with a plan. She hides in Tuesday’s room and tells her parents she’s having dinner there. West comes home from his date with Lannie and Tuesday surprises him with Meghan and they still love each other — oh the love is still there! [Dove: Sickening. Why does Lannie want this tool of a human being?] Tuesday and Brown (BROWN!!?) join them and they try to think of ways to get Lannie to leave them alone, but they don’t come up much. West tells them how Lannie keeps threatening to freeze innocent people if he doesn’t do what she says. So now he’s not only responsible for keeping his siblings and Meghan safe, but also for keeping random people safe. That’s a lot of pressure on a 17 year old. Tuesday declares that West should just tell Lannie he isn’t going to date her anymore. Yeah, Tuesday, that’s going to work.
The next morning they all go to get in West’s car with Lannie watching, so she goes to a group of little children waiting for the bus and freezes them. Lannie makes West promise her his heart, which he does, and she frees the little children. Meghan realises there is no hope and she can’t put other people in danger just because she wants West to date her. Nice little growth there Megs.
[Wing: That is such a creepy little scene, too, Lannie moving so casually through the kids, leaving them frozen behind her. In a moment, their lives could be gone. And Lannie makes for a pretty good sympathetic villain at this point.]
A few days later Meghan’s dad realises he hasn’t seen Jason, Lannie’s stepdad, in a while, so make Meghan go ask her about it. Meghan really doesn’t want to but her mum guilts her into it. Meghan sees Lannie, and she looks like she has no eyes and has tiny teeth. This kid sounds more like a demon with every description, can’t they just call a priest? Meghan asks Lannie about Jason and Lannie shows Meghan that Jason is in the garage frozen behind the wheel of his car. I absolutely love that Meghan’s first thought it how Lannie will pay the bills and how she will survive without money. Meghan is kind of my hero in that moment so logical as well as horrified. Lannie says she has shown West Jason’s body so West does whatever she wants now.
Meghan and West have met in his car but it’s no longer a lovers’ rendezvous. West is consumed with thoughts of how to “End Lannie” and Meghan is horrified. West can’t understand how she doesn’t want to kill Lannie, and Meghan can’t understand how West can suddenly talk about murdering a 14 year old. West tells her that he imagines driving his mom’s car so fast into a wall to kill himself and Lannie, and Meghan realises her lovely, sweet, caring boyfriend has been turned into a monster with a frozen heart just like Lannie. They go to the Trevor house and Tuesday and Brown join in adding ways in which they would kill Lannie. Meghan realises in that moment she doesn’t love West anymore, and is scared at what he has become. YES MEGHAN! This is character growth! Thank you Cooney.
[Wing: Love this part a lot, and it works pretty well as a mirror for how abuse and neglect can become a cycle and can infect other people, how hate breeds hate, etc.]
At school the next day Meghan tries to talk to Lannie about what she has done to West, and Lannie tells Meghan that she has frozen his heart. Meghan asks her history teacher about the soul and love verses evil but gets fobbed off. Meghan goes to the Trevor house and West and Lannie arrive. Lannie is nervous and Meghan understand that it is because she knows no one likes her. Meghan describes her as being as small as a kindergartner clinging to West. You know when they described Lannie as never aging I didn’t realise she literally never aged or grew. The image in my head is so weird right now. Brown (BROWN!!?) repeatedly insults Lannie to her face then offers to date her so Meghan and West can get back together, then he just watches TV. I love Brown (BROWN!!?). Girl with freezing powers is in his kitchen, and all he does is tell her how horrible her hair is. West tells Lannie he will take her ice skating, and tells Meghan never to touch him again because Lannie gave him her power and now he can Freeze people. Ok so this power is transferable? Can West unfreeze people too? Did Lannie give him this power by turning him so cold and freezing his heart? If he has the power can he figure out how to stop it? Can he stop Lannie?
[Wing: I love how this plot point gets introduced in a [somewhat] dramatic way, and then completely dropped. Thanks, Cooney.]
The weather gets worse and Meghan is once again at the Trevor household. She and Tuesday are cooking dinner and it turns out Meghan is a terrible cook. They are having a great time cooking and making cookies when Lannie turns up. Meghan hides. Lannie is looking for West and Tuesday tells her he has gone to get parts for his truck and he will meet her in the truck. Tuesday is quite insistent that Lannie should wait in the truck, so Lannie heads out into the snow to wait in the truck. For a second Meghan wonders if it’s too cold for Lannie to wait in the truck but then checks herself and forgets all about her. All the family arrives and they have a wonderful dinner and West and Meghan seem to be back together then Meghan remembers Lannie is in the truck. She waits for Tuesday to tell West, but instead she sees how happy the Trevor siblings are — even Brown (BROWN!!?) — and it dawns on Meghan that they all know where Lannie is, they just don’t care. Meghan thinks about the truck and how it won’t open from the inside so Lannie is trapped, and unless someone gets her she will freeze to death. Meghan has to make a decision will she stay with the Trevors who she has always adored or will she be the person she wants to be who is good and kind and believes in love and forgiveness over hate and revenge. Meghan leaves the house and fights her way through the snow to the truck she pulls the door open and Lannie falls out, Meghan tells her to “Come to my house where it is warm.” Lannie doesn’t answer maybe because she was cold or “perhaps… she had waited her whole life to come in to where it is warm.”
Ok so… what happens next? Is Lannie affected by the cold like everyone else? I thought she was in control of the cold and it didn’t affect her the way it affected other people. Does Lannie continue to freeze people or did Meghan break her powers? Does Meghan ever tell anyone that Lannie murdered her Mother and her Step Father? Does Meghan tell anyone that the Trevor children tried to kill Lannie? Can West still freeze people? Does his heart stay frozen? Where does Lannie go to live now everyone related to her either left or were killed by her? SO MANY QUESTIONS!
This was an interesting story I loved how there was actually a supernatural element but the style and the language were so off-putting. There wasn’t really very much in the way of character. We are told that Tuesday and Brown (BROWN!!?) were going through a terrible teenage phase, yet there wasn’t any evidence to suggest they did. West was perfect until he wasn’t. Meghan did actually has some character growth, which was awesome, but I really wanted more from the ending. It felt like Cooney got bored so just finished it.
[Wing: I agree, it left us with tons of questions. I think that ending scene is really well done, and the last lines amazing, but Cooney sacrificed storytelling for surface flash there.
And yes, while Cooney succeeded in making Lannie sympathetic, she is still a murderer! Headed toward being a serial killer at that. Not really leaving any room for a happy ending there with her still wandering around free, and the Trevors more than willing to become killers themselves.]
Thank you for reading my first recap I hope it’s not too long (It is massively too long) and if you have read it all the way through you rock!
[Wing: Nobody is more long-winded than I am in recaps, so of course it’s not too long. Thanks so much for doing this, Tuesday!\
My first recap! Thank you so much! X
Thanks again for guest recapping for us!
I agree with the flowery prose and the surface flash in that ending, but the fact that I read this for the first time as an adult and actually really enjoyed it says a lot. Most times when I read a 90s YA I’ve completely forgotten it a week later.
This one visits Cooney’s recurring Christian theme of the “Good Samaritan”. I’m an atheist myself, but I love the idea of a person choosing to be a good person, rather than just following a set of rules laid out to them, or following others around them. I don’t think Megan is justifying or excusing Lannie’s actions, but rather showing compassion because “eye-for-an-eye” is wrong, according to her own developed set of morals.
The fact a short little Point Horror book brings up so many possibilities for philosophical discussion is quite a feat in itself. It’s become one of my favourites. Thanks for the recap!
That’s a really good point RE Cooney’s “Good Samaritan” theme. I, too, love it when a character chooses to do the right thing not because of peer pressure (or parental or religious pressure) but because of her own self. There’s actual character growth in this, and it’s one of the better Cooney’s that we’ve recapped so far on the site. (I quite like some of Cooney’s work, including the first two of the vampire books, but some of it falls super flat for me. This did not.)
I agree with your critiques of Cooney’s writing. The whimsy mostly amused me, reading this now, I almost wonder if Cooney was mocking the nice suburban fantasy.
Reading your comments I realize that what I probably liked most about her work is that an ordinary, usually underestimated, girl always rose to the challenge and discovered her strength/smarts/trust in herself. If there was a boy at the beginning, he was always shown to be the weaker character. The Face on the Milk Carton series did the same with Janie and Reeve. There is something to be said about how she starts whimsical and romantic, then rips it down, but
Also, her wheelhouse was thrillers, many of which touch on difficult topics, so maybe she added the frills on to make her work palatable to a teen publisher? Or I’m just working to defend my favorite preteen author 🙂
What’s interesting is that I LOVED The Face on the Milk Carton growing up (and some of the rest of the series, though I haven’t read all of them), but I had a much harder time with her Point Horror-style work. That was unexpected because I (a) LOATHE secret adoption tropes and (b) love teen horror. Who would have guessed?
We always welcome other opinions about books and authors! Defend away. You make a good point about how the underestimated girl rises up to take care of business.
I adored The Face on The Milk Carton, I actually had no idea Cooney write that series too.
That’s a really interesting take, as especially in the book we see the perfect suburb but Lainey is hiding her step dads body in the garage, this total undercurrent of nastiness and ‘dirt’ under the pristine exterior.
My favourite thing about this book was the protagonist sort of ripping the veil away from her boyfriend and the family she adored to realise they weren’t who she thought they were and finding her own strength and independence. I really love a well written female character and I have to give Cooney a bit of credit here in how Megan goes from lovesick teenager to Independent woman
I’m hoping that Cooney intended those messages instead of backing into the a la Joss Weedon.
I remember reading this one when I was a kid and it’s always stuck with me for some reason. I only ever read it once, but the freeze tag plot really was pretty unique, and that’s probably why I’ve remembered it all these years.
It is unique, and I can see why it stuck with you!
I think I’ve figured it out: Lannie was a changeling but didn’t know it (and the Trevors were always self-serving and heartless, having been utterly spoilt all their lives).