Recap #63: Wickedpedia by Chris van Etten
Title: Wickedpedia by Chris van Etten
Summary: It’s the return of Point Horror for the Internet generation! Don’t open the door. Don’t answer your phone. And whatever you do, DON’T turn on your computer…
Cole and Greg love playing practical jokes through Wikipedia. They edit key articles and watch their classmates crash and burn giving oral reports on historical figures like Genghis Khan, the first female astronaut on Jupiter. So after the star soccer player steals Cole’s girlfriend, the boys take their revenge by creating a Wikipedia page for him, an entry full of outlandish information including details about his bizarre death on the soccer field.
It’s all in good fun, until the soccer player is killed in a freak accident… just as Cole and Greg predicted. The uneasy boys vow to leave Wikipedia alone but someone continues to edit articles about classmates dying in gruesome ways… and those entries start to come true as well.
To his horror, Cole soon discovers that someone has created a Wikipedia page for him, and included a date of death. He has one week to figure out who’s behind the murders, or else he’s set to meet a pretty grisly end.
[Note: There is no Greg. His name is Gavin. A+ editing there. 10 points!]
Tagline: COLE is about to go off-line… forever.
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.
I don’t wanna. I don’t wanna. I DON’T WANNA.
First of all, before we even start, let me just say that I’m not entirely enthusiastic that the new books have male leads (not all, but half). The last male lead was an obnoxious, hipster twat, with all the charisma of week-old semolina. Second of all, the new books are written – as far as I can tell – by people who don’t know what they’re on about regarding technology. For example, in Defriended the willful denial of catfishing was the only thing that allowed the story to progress – a quick watch of Nev and Max in action would have sorted the problem in 20 minutes.
And regarding wiki, the idea that these morons usually edit articles and they stay up long enough to fool everyone in school and bugger their reports: no. I remember when Randy Orton (from WWE and “RKO out of nowhere” meme fame) got new branding as the “apex predator”, someone went trolling on Wiki, and kept putting him down as an example on the apex predator page. A studious wiki editor was on that edit in seconds. And for the lolz, I screencapped it as it was happening. Who knew that five years later it would be handy? (Also, in 2014 either the same or a different joker tried again and got shut down just as quick.)
So tl;dr: I DON’T WANNA.
[Wing: I am no fan of the new Point Horror, but Dove’s hatred of them entertains me endlessly. We were actually on a call when she finished reading this one, and being able to see her expressions as she did so was by far the best choice I’ve made this year.]
(Here’s the podcast episode for this book.)
I can feel myself digging my heels in already. I DON’T WANNA is deeply etched into every single tensed muscle in my body. And the opening paragraphs just intensifies that feeling.
We open with Cole Redekker, being frightfully hipster, just like good old what’s-his-name from the other rotten book. He’s on a bus, thinking hipster thoughts about how he hates preppy Josh Truffle and Scott Dare, because they wear the same body spray (Axe Dark Temptation – I’ve never heard of it, but if this was the 90s, it would be Lynx Africa – Wing, go ask our intern whether Axe Dark Temptation is real, and if so, have people moved on to something else now? [Wing: Don’t have to ask, Dark Temptation is a real thing, and many Axe scents are still very popular in high schools around here. Also, in the 90s here, it would have been Polo Sport, probably. Mr Wing wore Fire & Ice, which still makes me fond when I smell it.]), and they play soccer and his mum likes them. On the plus side, at least they’ve kept the 90s trend of ridiculous names. It sounds like a cheesy cop show. Truffle & Dare! Book ‘em, Truffle!
Cole used to hang out with them in Junior High and played soccer as well, because his mum wanted him to stop cooking and go forth and be manly. His parents want him to get into an Ivy League school, and are shelling out hardcore pennies to prep – “an SAT tutor, a private admissions counselor, and a doctoral candidate hired to edit his college essays.”
Cole can’t wait to get away from his parents. Once at college he’s going to build an food empire and have loads of money and the adoration of girls, etc. I get the feeling that his parents are looking forward to having a lawyer or a doctor in the family, not a chef.
He has a best friend called Gavin (not Greg, as the summary above would like you to believe), who is a slacker, you can tell because he’s in a band and plays hackey-sack. His parents don’t approve of Gavin, but tolerate him, because despite his extra-curricular slacking, Cole still maintains his A-grades and all the other stress they heap on him.
Also, if you’re English, you probably can’t help but refer to him as Gavlar.
I think I could get into these books a lot quicker if the first few paragraphs weren’t designed to be so artfully hipster and nihilistic. I can already tell that Chris Van Etten is going to be the hipster version of Cooney, so much prose that just makes you want to beat your head against the wall until you’re nothing but grey matter and broken skull fragments.
So, onto honours history taught by Mr Drick, which is the only class that Cole and Gavlar share. They see Josh and his girlfriend, Winnie, having a long and sloppy snog before class. This is particularly galling for Cole, because Winnie is his ex. She dumped him via… I’m not sure, a gossip blog? – Are we in New York? Are Blair and Serena about to rock up? xoxo Gossip Girl – and, to heap class upon class, this was the night before the SATs. Winnie confirmed the dump in person right before they sat the exams, which threw Cole off his game. [Wing: I think the gossip blog/gossip person broke the news before Winnie had the chance to tell him, not that she intended to break up with him via the blog, but still, pretty shitty.] Gavlar reads out Josh’s essay (not sure how he grabbed it, but whatevs) and mocks him for it, and then suggests to Cole that Josh cheated to get an A. Everyone knows that Josh gets favourable grades because he’s a superstar jock, but Cole is shocked at the allegation of outright cheating. Seriously, Cole, it’s gotta be really easy to cheat on your essays nowadays – I mean, someone used one of our articles on this site as their book report. We know this because she emailed us to thank us for the good grade. [Wing: Wait, did she actually use it as the full book report? I thought she just used us as her Spark Notes, basically.] [Dove: Honestly? Unsure. Too long ago for me to recall exactly.]
In the library, Cole hears someone crying. (Or “choking on a tongue ring” – the text then goes on to say that Cole doesn’t actually know what that sounds like, so stop wasting our time with it this bollocks, Cole. Also, as someone who had a tongue piercing, mostly you just swallow them when they fall out, or you crack your teeth on them while chewing, but you don’t choke on them.) [Wing: I’m wondering what exactly he thinks a tongue ring looks like, if you can choke on it.]
At first he thinks it’s Winnie, but she never cries. It’s her friend Andrea. He catches his name in their conversation.
He strained to listen but caught only snippets from Andrea’s half of the conversation. “… you don’t know how it feels …” “… can’t let anyone find out …” “… especially Cole …”
From this, he immediately deduces that Andrea’s in love with him. I’m already assuming that Josh is up to something and Winnie had to dump Cole for Josh, because… reasons.
Also, my hate just lessened enough for my neck muscles to unclench because of this:
And absurd. Andrea hated Cole, and the feeling was mutual. This was not Hollywood hate, the obvious kind that meant they were fated to fall for each other. It was the real deal. Besides, among the few assumptions Cole felt reasonably confident making about girls was the hunch that one would never, ever express interest in her best friend’s ex.
1) kudos for acknowledging Hollywood hatred; 2) double kudos for making girls not fight over a boy. Perhaps all the rage on this blog has gotten us somewhere.
Before Cole can hear any more, a German-speaking person rocks up and asks if he likes Goethe. Andrea and Winnie see him, despise him, and move on, leaving him to speak to German Chick. She’s dressed in stripey knee socks, a skirt and yellow cardi over, and he thinks she looks “positively Dr Seussian.” Still in German, she informs him that she loves Faust. Then she leaves. Was this scene here just so those of us who scraped through GCSE German could feel as if we can translate like a pro? [Wing: Manic pixie dream girl: check.]
When Cole gets back to the desk he was studying at, Josh is there and gives him the standard super-possessive “get the fuck away from my shiny object woman now” speech. Cole remembers Gavlar telling him that the reason Gavlar provoked Josh was because Cole doesn’t have the nerve to stand up to him, so Gavlar has to to keep things even. Inspired, Cole basically points out that Josh treats Winnie like an object. Josh feigns like he’s going to push Cole’s books off the desk, but doesn’t have the nerve to actually do it. Cole asks him if he’d like to try again, since he missed.
Seeing that Josh is unable to bully at full capacity, Scott takes over, and gives a long-winded metaphor about an annoying kid winding up a dog and how everyone feels a bit sorry for the kid when it gets bitten, but mostly they feel that it got what it deserved. Also, he uses the phrase “little bugger”. It just sounds weird seeing a very English swear in the middle of a very American book. I guess Spike has made our swears accessible, but it still sounds weird in an American accent. Also, this is very eloquent for a bully. I’m put in mind of the wonderful Harley Keiner and his associates, Joseph “Joey the Rat” Epstein and Frankie Stecchino from Boy Meets World. And I think I’m going to watch some BWM to help this along. [Wing: … I don’t think you taking breaks to watch BWM is helping this along as well as you think it is. 😀]
Before this can escalate, the assistant soccer coach (what is he doing in the library?), Mr Chetley aka Chetley aka Chet (and now we have a character called Chet. I’m on a roll with BMW references) says that the bell rang, time to move on, and asks what happened to Cole’s books, was it cola? I don’t know, Chet, it wasn’t covered in the narrative. At all.
The bullies move on and Cole moves over to the computer Josh and Scott was using, and goes through their cache, which, disappointingly does not contain pornhub or piratebay. He pulls up the wiki entry they were on and a paragraph in there is identical to Josh’s essay.
Next chapter starts with an IM session, and as Wing pointed out in an unrelated conversation a few months ago, that’s more our generation. This generation skypes, snapchats, facetimes, etc., rather than using forums or IMs. [Wing: Right? Intern is basically on a video chat 95% of the time he’s home. It’s delightful. Oh, and he definitely texts more than IMs. Sometimes a group messages via Facebook or similar.] Anyway, Cole is having an IM session with Gavlar, who can’t be bothered to come over and talk to him. Then Winnie IMs Cole, and Gavlar tells him not to reply, and he’ll be over as quick as he can to save Cole from himself.
Winnie suggests he drop German and take up Mandarin or Arabic like her. Also, Andrea was crying because her dad died in a freak accident. And while we’re on the subject of non-sequiturs, she misses his Rice Krispie cakes. Then she asks Cole to stop threatening and harassing Josh. Cole tells her that Josh started it. He always starts it. And if Winnie doesn’t believe him, then she should probably write off all of her Ivy League aspirations because being around Josh has dumbed her down.
Gavlar reads the IM transcript and says it’s obvious that Winnie’s over Cole. And I’m saying it’s just as obvious she’s not. If this was 90s PH, she’d be a Black Widow type – a dickhead who is trying to keep two boys fighting over her, but since this is New PH there’s some deep dark conspiracy that she needs a boy to save her from.
So Cole lays out his plan to Gavlar. Josh appears to have an RSS feed set up to email him every time there’s an update to pages he’s following on Wiki, so if they edit wiki two days before his oral report, then Josh will spurt out nonsense during the report.
Except: no. See above for evidence re: edits on wiki.
Also, Gavlar gives more details on Andrea’s dad’s death:
Her dad the weatherman died a month ago. He got flamed on Wikipedia and had a nervous breakdown on live TV. Then out of nowhere he got his head caved in by a falling light or something.
Smooth explanation about his job, Gavlar. That’s in no way clunky. Also, “flamed”? I really haven’t heard that term since the 90s. I’m not down with the kids, but even I know that “flamed” when the way of Angelfire and Geocities. Van Etten, are you my age? You are, aren’t you? *one quick google later* Well, I can’t find exact age, but he’s been doing screen writing since 2003, and he probably had a whole bunch of not-screenwriting jobs before that until he broke into it, so I’m going with yes, Van Etten is roughly the same age as Wing and me.
[Wing: That must have been some serious levels of hate for him to have a breakdown on live TV.]
So we move on to the day of Josh’s oral report, and to celebrate the pending downfall of Josh, Cole makes the Rice Krispie cakes that Winnie loves so much. Josh asks what’s going on, and Cole says it’s a peace offering. Josh says Winnie will spit it out as soon as she can because she’s watching her weight. Hi, Josh, I hope you die soon.
Cole deliberately tanks his own presentation – usually they’re bells and whistles for this Ivy League wannabe, but this time he just drones at the class, so that Josh will be over-confident. Josh gives his presentation about serial killers, peppered with names like Captain Crunch, Trixie Rabbit, etc, but nobody picks up on these hilarious names, so Cole has to question him until he pulls out more names. Then Cole makes the serial/cereal killers comment and Josh says that’s it’s all true, because it’s on Wiki. And then he gets a lecture for using the internet from his teacher. As they class leaves, Cole gets the impression that the teacher wants to know what role Wiki has played in his previous reports.
And honestly, wtf? Everyone should be using the internet for research in this era. I’d find it weird if they didn’t. It is a bit odd that Josh takes an entire wiki article verbatim as his homework because I find that a wiki page doesn’t read well as a stand-alone article, it makes much more sense as a part of something bigger. And also, in the case of an oral presentation, what’s the harm in having pulled from the internet? At no point did Josh stumble over his presentation, he had an answer for every question asked – no need to consult notes – so really, the only lesson Josh needs is to get a second or third source to back it up. He clearly read the hell out of it in order to be prepared.
[Wing: Well, generally, Wikipedia isn’t considered a trustworthy reference, so while they can use it for base information, citing it as a source is not allowed in many places. It’s not so much that they can’t do online research, more that they have to learn to separate good sources from bad, and learn how to accurately summarize, quote, and cite, depending on the circumstances. What he’s doing sounds more like verbatim copying, at least in the written part of the report.
How no one in the class caught the fucking cereal mascot names, I have no fucking idea. Van Etten, you are forcing characters to do certain things to push your plot rather than writing realistic human reactions.]
[Dove: Agreed – we have a firm policy at work not to use anything from Wiki, but it’s a good jumping off point for information. Has all the important players in whatever you’re looking up, then off you run to real websites for information. Also, unrelated but utterly joyous: Wiki have refused to accept citations from The Daily Mail (a fear-mongering, hateful shitstorm of alleged news picked purely to upset the white middle and upper classes so they want to “make Britain great again”) because, wait for it, it is too “unreliable”.]
Cole feels moderately smug at this turn of events. And then he sees Winnie crying.
Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 1 (Cliffhanger endings of chapters for no reason other than to build false tension and piss Dove and Wing the hell off.)
Cole and Gavlar go to Benito’s for pizza to celebrate (there’s an aside where Cole saved Benito’s from going under when a coffee shop set up next door with free wifi, but Cole suggested a new crust and all was saved, and I just want to punch him in the throat for this). Chet, the football assistant, joins them and says that the football team lost, because Josh didn’t play because he’s on academic suspension (he does acknowledge that he shouldn’t share that information, but still he does, because the plot requires it), and Josh wasn’t talking to Winnie after the game.
[Wing: How come you are using “soccer” sometimes and “football” other times? #recappingtherecapper]
[Dove: Because I literally could not give a fuck.]
As Cole leaves, we cut to omniscient third, instead of close third in Cole’s POV, and are told that someone is watching.
Someone watched Cole from the shadows. Someone with a plan. And if that plan came to pass, Cole’s hands wouldn’t just be dirty.
They’d be bloody, too.
Mwahahahaha!: 1 (Bad guy POV. Double points if the bad guy actually does an evil laugh.)
Next chapter is short: Cole goes to the tennis court, gets knocked out, wakes up with his head in German Chick’s lap, she speaks German to him, basically asking how he is and all that; Winnie and Andrea are there. They reiterate that Winnie is still dating Josh and she’s never going back to Cole. And also that it was Scott’s genius idea for Scott to copy-paste from wiki.
The following chapter wastes needless time by taking place over instant message, because the author, much like myself, is stuck in an era that simply won’t go past 2002. But long story short, Gavlar drafted up a Josh wiki page. They then get together and make pages for Andrea, Scott, Winnie, and Mr Drick. Just before they go up, Cole makes a final edit. He writes up their deaths, all suitable to their characters.
The next day at school, they’re utterly gleeful, and can’t wait for all the dramatic reactions. Except nobody knows about the new pages, because nobody on the planet anxiously checks wiki to see if new pages have been added. Well, maybe like three people do. But none of them goes to school with Cole and Gavlar.
Cole finds a note in his locker that reads “Here’s a preview of a story that will hit later today. Hope you like it. Still standing by you. Alles liebe, WW.” It will be published in… I don’t know. It’s called “Muckraker”, and I feel like it’s a school newspaper, even though current technology demands it’s a blog or social media account. [Wing: Schools definitely still have newspapers. There are still competitions for it and everything. Probably both an online and print edition, but they do still exist.] The author an alias by the name of Walda Winchell, this school’s version of Gabby Gums or Gossip Girl, depending on which fandom you prefer. Apparently nobody knows who she is, but if I’m reading the above correctly, then she signed it with a German sign-off, so it’s Lila, the girl who has been EXCLUSIVELY SPEAKING GERMAN in each of her two scenes.
Gavlar says “You can’t trust a German,” and despite the fact that WWII happened, that’s still racist. FYI, the only acceptable target is the French. And that’s only if you’re English. I don’t make the rules, I just live by them. [Wing: Not racist so much as xenophobic. And the day you live by the rules….]
Racism: business as usual: 1 (If you’re lucky enough to see a person of colour in any of these books, they’ll be stereotyped to the hilt.)
Cole figures out that Walda is German Chick and tracks her down to the girls’ loos. She tells him her real name is Lila and she speaks English. And this scene clarifies that the article was about Josh being suspended and Winnie being snivelly, and then Cole shows Lila the wiki pages he “found”. To be honest, this whole passage was a bit confusing. Van Etten was too busy amusing himself with Gavlar’s blather to explain anything clearly.
In class, Josh punches Scott and yells that Scott set him up so he’d get caught cheating so Scott could take his spot on the team.
Next chapter, and we’re in Scott’s head, and he’s having an internal moan about how greedy Josh got – instead of copying, but making a few mistakes, never hitting higher than a B, Josh went for the A grade. When the rest of the team finishes their practice on the field, Scott stays behind to practice harder. A few minutes in, the field lights go out, and after a few panicked minutes he’s knocked out. He wakes up wrapped in a football goal net, and an unnamed person – who Scott knows – gets the ball pump out, jams it in his neck and pumps air into him. And yes, he is quite dead.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Scott Dare is an American high school student, soccer player, and Grade-A moron. He gained notoriety at Springfield High School for setting up his best friend, teammate Josh Truffle, in a plagiarism scandal that saw him removed from the team, only to be replaced by Dare himself. Dare self-identified as the school’s star striker, though the consensus deemed him middling at best.
Fittingly, he died of a swelled head.
I’m going to give this book a grudging point. It had the nerve to do what most PHs don’t. It killed someone, and I’m pretty sure the rest of the wiki entries they made will cause deaths, with the exception of Winnie, who will be saved at the last minute.
So, yay book. Bring on the body count.
Next chapter, and Cole’s in shock that they joked about Scott’s death and then he obligingly dies. Gavlar, true to PH BFF form, is dismissive that the death had anything to do with their prank. And in the middle of this maudlin angst from Cole, we have a most peculiar sentence.
Cole (Lightning in a Bottle) and Gavin (Cool Tsunami) dressed after a dodgeball game, notable for the listlessness of its participants.
What’s with the cool “funny” nicknames in the middle of SRS BSNS paragraph about death. The text doesn’t even bother to explain why they need these nicknames (are they team names? We used to do that in the Brownies, if we played games, we’d pick a theme and then make up team names to fit). After that it just carries on about how weird it is that he’s dead. [Wing: They’re body spray scents. Or cologne scents, I guess. It’s a reference to how they can’t shower because the showers are closed off due to Scott’s death.] [Dove: Way to make a great universal reference, van Etten.]
During one of Cole’s lessons taken by Chet, Gavlar points out the hypocrisy of the student body, most of whom couldn’t give a stuff about Scott when he was alive, are all over him now he’s dead – wait, I thought Mr Drick’s was the only lesson they shared together? So is Cole present for this, or is this just sloppy storytelling?
Anyway, this reaction is about right. Back in 1998, someone I knew from school died – hit by a car, I think – and I remember receiving a call from one of my closest friends informing me that she thought I was a heartless fuckhead for not going to the funeral. When I pointed out that I barely knew the dead girl – she’d once lent me a biro in 1992, and that was it – I was told that I deserved to be alone. When I pointed out it was my eighteenth birthday was the day of the funeral, and I didn’t want to go sit in church and mourn a person I’d barely met on my eighteenth birthday, I was called a “selfish bitch”.
So yeah, people get really excited about deaths. They love the celebrity-like feeling it brings to be seen crying over someone they barely know.
There’s a news reporter called Spring Showers (and I thought Gale Weathers was a feeble name) and she’s utterly clueless on how to report. She tells the school over lunch that Scott’s death was too weird to be ruled accidental, and then drops the coroner’s report as she and her crew flee before they’re caught filming on school property. Cole picks up the report and realises that he wrote Scott’s death.
Cole sees Josh and says he’s sorry about Scott, and it’s all very civil. Then Winnie and Andrea rock up, and it kicks off that Cole had talked to Winnie without Josh’s knowledge. And I literally don’t care.
We head hop into Andrea, and it’s not very interesting. She’s actually not that upset about her dad dying, but she knows people expect her to cry, so she has an eye-dropper medication that cures dry eyes. She’s just received a new shipment, and she applies it and her eyeball melts.
Andrea Henderson is an American high school student best known for being the daughter of Cal Henderson, a fat, crazy, crazy-fat weatherman who died live on camera. Andrea is also noted for her inability to go a single day without crying over something.
She died crying her eyes out.
[Wing: Oh, good, what this book needed was a dose of body shaming for humor. I am excite.]
[Dove: I was so pissed off I gave up on the counters.]
She doesn’t die, so we’re back to “kill the first one, and after that we can keep the rest alive”. Also, at this point I think Chet is doing it. I neither know nor care why – but it makes sense, he keeps getting screen time and sharing too much with our intrepid morons leads morons. And he visits Andrea at the hospital.
Cole navel-gazes a bit and wonders if the magical power of wiki is making things happen or if the accidents are just Final Destination ripoffs, which is actually a good comparison (for once). [Wing: I don’t know a single teen who watches that franchise. The early ones came out too early, and they’re not interested in watching older horror. I’m sure that’s not every teen, though. I still consider it a franchise for people who were in their late teens and early twenties (or older) in the 2000s.] [Dove: Good point — the first one came out when I was 21] He then cleanses all the profiles, takes out all the snark and bitchery and leaves a short, dry, facts-only articles in their place.
However, by the next day, they’re back and as spiteful as they originally were. He finds this out by looking on Chet’s computer – Chet handily has all of the profiles open on separate tabs. And they’re editing as Cole’s username. I can’t even be bothered to explain why he uses Chet’s computer. Also, Lila is in this more than this review would have you believe. However, she is just there for Cole to have half a conversation with before he runs off and does something plot-related, so mostly I just skip it, because I’m at 5,000 words and am only a third of the way through the book.
I’m so magnificently bored, I’m now challenging myself to summarise the remaining 17 chapters in a single sentence:
- Cole skips history; Josh gets a bad grade and tips Drick’s desk over in anger (then cries and apologises).
- Cole and Gavlar have an incredibly tedious IM session, and Gavlar thinks Winnie is the killer.
- Mr Drick gets stabbed with a red sharpie/knife hybrid; Cole and Gavlar get to school, just in time to find Chet standing over the body. Ok, so I’m wrong about Chet, he’s too obvious at this point. I’ll move my guess to Lila.
Arnold Drick is an American teacher of history. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from Amherst and a Master of Arts in teaching from Brown. During his career as an educator at Springfield High School he failed on average five students every year. His fickle method of grading contributed to countless others not receiving admission to their college of choice.
He lived by the red pen, and he died by it, too.
- Gavlar is a callous asshat over what just happened; the police tell them not to talk to the press; Lila blackmails Cole into giving an exclusive interview for Muckraker otherwise she’ll tell the police about the wiki pages – but, on a more interesting note, other people before Scott had their deaths predicted on wiki, according to Lila.
- Shit goes down on Twitter but, while striving for authenticity, someone decided to put the tweets in chronological order, newest at the top, just like real Twitter. [Wing: Isn’t that reverse chronological order? If it was chronological order, we’d read starting from the beginning and go to newer.] [Dove: Yes, reverse. My brain was dead at this point in the review.] Which means that, if you’re on a kindle with a small screen, you read them newest first, then you reach the end, and work backwards to understand what’s going on chronologically. What happened? Chet’s been released, I think, but MOAR IMPORTANTLY: Winnie’s being trolled. By two tweets: 1) asking what’s going on; 2) implying that Josh might be involved. That’s not exactly troll level: epic, is it?
- There’s a substitute teacher in history; Winnie and Cole get talking, and Josh rocks up, all jealous and demands that Winnie leave school with him. Cole punches him – and gets a concussion for his trouble, but Josh left without Winnie.
- Cole gets concussed as fuck and wakes up in the school sick room. He’s having problems with key words in each of his sentences – called Winnie “Whitney”, even when she corrects him and he tries to repeat it back, and this is where he title drops – “wikedpedia”, instead of wiki. And I’m pretty sure this scene was inspired by the lengthy chapters in Duma Key by Stephen King, where the main character does exactly the same thing (“chum” instead of “chair”, and when he fails to correct himself, he starts cycling through words meaning “friend” instead of different words for “chair” – “the buddy. The pal.”). Only in this book, it only lasts for three sentences. Winnie tries to kiss her way back to being his girlfriend, but Cole asks why she broke up with him in the first place.
- Chet, who is in the next bed, hidden behind a curtain, says it’s behaviour like this that drove her away – acting like he was less than her instead of an equal, and I’m thinking no, it’s that Winnie’s a bit of a cow and Cole’s an angsty womble. The school nurse explains that Chet’s there because he had an emotional breakdown in the staff lounge, crying and “blubbering”. Way to be professional there, school nurse. Even if school nurses don’t have to adhere to patient/doctor confidentiality, any sensible adult with a job knows that you never let the outside world (clients, students, etc) know things are even slightly wrong, even if everyone’s locked themselves in the staff room and are taking turns to give themselves electro-shock with the canteen toaster. Chet says he knows about the wiki pages and we fucking know this. This is not a big fucking reveal. We knew that when Cole used his laptop to look them up.
- Cole has an IM session that lasts an entire chapter: Gavlar is a boring dickhead; Winnie invites him over (she’s home alone); and he was meant to meet Lila, but blows her off to visit Winnie.
- He goes over to her house and gets no answer when he rings the bell. Nobody’s home, so he lets himself in, and Winnie is sat at the computer, dead, strangled by her own hair, which is wrapped around her neck three times. Now, did anyone study Porphyria’s Lover by Robert Browning? If so, then the first thing you did after reading that poem and discovering Prophyria was strangled with her own hair, wrapped three times around her neck, was either check how many wraps you can do with your own hair, or ask a friend with longer hair/try to strangle your long-haired friend. Nobody in the class could get their hair more than one and a half wraps (sure, you can get those few oddly long strands to one-and-three-quarters, maybe two, but I’m talking a nice strangly rope of hair). If her hair was long enough to do that, it would be down to her knees. I know this because my entire English class was angry about this. I know you guys are now undoing your hair and counting the wraps. Let me know in the comments. (Also, if you liked the theme of that poem, go listen to/watch Where the Wild Roses Grow.) [Wing: I did not try to strangle myself or anyone else the first time I read it.]
Winnie Hoffman is an American high school student, tennis player, and faithless girlfriend. She is best known for her academic prowess and ability to bring about the ruin of star students with the wink of an eye. 1 She might have landed valedictorian and gone on to big things and bigger boyfriends at Harvard, but she was undone by her vanity. Winnie Hoffman died before she could be accepted to any school, her big brain not quite big enough to figure out that her habit for betrayal might catch up to her one day, wrap itself around her neck, and squeeze the life out of her.
1 See articles on Josh Truffle and Cole Redeker.
This article about a high school senior who broke hearts and had her own neck broken in return is a stub. You can help Wickedpedia by expanding it.
- Josh shows up, assumes Cole killed Winnie and spears the pair of them through her window.
- Cole wakes up in hospital. He’s ok (ish), but Josh is in ICU. Then we get some completely irrelevant information that makes me hate Gavlar even more – Cole remembers someone who was in a wheelchair at school, and Gavlar was jealous that the kid got to leave class two minutes early to get to his next class. I hope Gavlar is the killer, because he’s a massive dickhead. Also, he’s more likely than anyone else to know Cole’s login/password. Cole, despite being concussed as fuck, recalls the exact wording of the wiki entry that was open on Winnie’s computer when he found her:
Cole Redeker is an American high school student of little significance. He thought he was smart. He thought he was talented. He thought he was entitled to a bright future. He was wrong. He died stewing in his own juices.
- Cole’s date of death is a week from now on Wiki page.
- Cole has to speak to a detective about what happened and by the end of the interview it is revealed that Josh isn’t the only suspect, Cole is too. (I think it’s Gavlar.)
- Before he leaves hospital, several days later, Cole sneaks in to see Josh in ICU. Josh thinks Cole is the murderer, and doesn’t realise it’s Cole that’s in the room with him. It’s actually quite sad that he’s so lonely and upset and doesn’t want his visitor to leave. As Cole leaves, he knocks over some magazines, and picks one up (Teen Vogue). It has Andrea’s name and address on it. (But why is that so spooky? The poor girl lost an eyeball, she was in ICU, and possibly her parents or a friend brought in her magazines to read to her, and left it there after she left hospital.)
- At home, Cole speaks to Gavlar and the following happens: Cole says he thinks Josh isn’t the murderer; Gavlar invites Cole to a party; Cole finally realises Gav’s an insensitive dick and probably the killer because the troll that was harassing Winnie was using the username @ABrindleDocent and the account name Rabid Doc Lenten, which are both anagrams of Benedict Arnold. [Wing: Oh, wait, together they become an anagram of Benedict Arnold. Which would still make more sense if Cole had ever shown any sign of being good at puzzles or symbol recognition, etc.] This is proof positive because Gavin did a report on Benedict Arnold. This is further compounded by Cole reading the Teen Vogue and finding the answers match a joke that Gavin made earlier.
- The Muffin Man gives a little old lady the wrong medicine in the hospital in order to distract the cop guarding Josh, so he can kill him.
- Cole speaks to Lila, who gives him a recording device before they head off to a party, armed with Rice Krispie treats. He speaks to Gavin who takes him off to a pre-setup kill room. Gavlar monologues on his motivations: he couldn’t be bothered to study, so he decided a killing spree, framing his best friend as the killer would be better. Also, he was secretly dating Andrea, and when her dad insisted they break up, they killed him. He plans to write an awesome essay about how he had to kill his best friend, the murderer, to save everyone. While Gavin is between Cole and the door, and armed with a knife, and Gavin clearly has the upper hand, Cole decides to reveal he’s been recording this conversation, as if it’s a big a-ha, I have you now moment.
- Cole makes a break for freedom and gets knocked out. He wakes up at Benito’s with his tongue in a vice, and Lila is tied up on the counter with her hair in the pasta mangler. Andrea is there as the co-murderer. It all looks very dire until:
- Cole distracts Gavin by playing his monologue where he admitted that he burned Andrea’s eye and Andrea freaks out, so Gavin kills her. The girl he killed a man so he could date. Really?
- During Gavin’s final villain monologue, he breaks off to eat some of the Rice Krispie treats Cole made. Thankfully, they’re laced with peanut butter, and Gavin has a strong allergy (THIS IS BRAND NEW INFORMATION).
- While Gav flails around dying, Cole cuts off the tip of his tongue and escapes the vice. He frees Lila and Gav is still dying, trying to get to his epi-pen.
- Cole smashes the epi-pen. OUR HERO, LADIES AND GENTS.
- Cole and Lila live happily ever after.
This was stupid. The whole premise falls apart if you think about it for even a second, and I go on about this in length in the podcast but short version:
- Gav loves Andrea enough to kill her dad so they can date, but at the first sign of disagreement, he kills her.
- All this for a fucking college essay?
- Cole is insufferable.
- Women only come in the following categories:
- Slutty heartbreaker
- Crying attention seeker
- Sexy moron
- Irritating/hipster as fuck but weak and feeble and needing a man to save them.
[Wing: The book is terrible, the premise falls flat all the time, all the characters are smug asses, and I’m so angry that we get even shittier representation of teen girls in the Point Horror of the 2010s than we did in the fucking 1980s.]
Racism: business as usual: 1
Excuse my language, but the Point Horror relaunch really pissed me off! Firstly, the book covers – every single one of them – got the plot wrong! In this case, even the character names! It’s like they didn’t even care! If the publishers don’t give a shit about what they’re putting out, why should the reader care about what they’re reading? It’s infuriating.
I actually thought this one was the best out of all the relaunch titles. “Defriended” was a close second. The two by Anna Davies were utter dreck. I hated them. The publisher’s misguided mandate to tell scary tales about modern technology actually served to date these new books even worse than the 80s and 90s entries. It was a real missed opportunity.
Given how much I swore through that recap, you’ve no need to apologise for your language. I was particularly impressed that the summary gave the wrong name. Utter fail.
I think the worst one was Identity Theft, which I still haven’t finished and have no intention of finishing at all. I don’t even care if Wing’s going to recap it, I’m still not re-reading that nonsense.
The worst thing about these “up to date” stories is that they don’t work as published fiction. If I opened a fanfic with an author’s note that read “This takes place in a universe where catfishing never became a mainstream concept,” then I’d probably think “huh, not likely,” but give it a pass because it’s fanfic, and sometimes in fanfic, you make a bargain to accept one thing in favour of getting a story that has another thing you like in it.
But this is not fanfic, and I’m not even getting something enjoyable in exchange for my suspension of disbelief.