Recap #7: Dream Date by Sinclair Smith
Title: Dream Date by Sinclair Smith
Summary: Katie’s worst nightmare has come true… and she’s in it.
Shy, pretty Katie is dying to meet the perfect boy and fall in love. Then one night when she’s asleep, Heath Granger walks into her dreams. He’s handsome, charming and exciting. And if he’s a little bit possessive, so what?
He’s only a dream…
But soon, Katie is sleeping more and more, and Heath is becoming stronger and meaner. He doesn’t just want to be part of Katie’s dreams – he wants to visit her when she’s awake too.
Katie’s dream date is taking over her life and turning it into a living nightmare…
Tagline: Sweet dreams… and rest in peace.
Note: I will use “Bad Guy” throughout my reviews to refer to the anonymous killer/prankster/whatever. Doesn’t mean it’s a guy.
This is a book I actually bought recently, I found a copy on eBay recently and have been excitedly telling Wing (so much so that she’s got to the point where she just nods and says “yes, Dove, I know” when I bring it up) that I’m really looking forward to re-reading this book.
Why do I love it? Well, I have fond memories of it. And also, when I was a teenager, there was no greater movie series than A Nightmare on Elm Street, and this is like woobie fanfic of it written by the idiots who think Freddy is one of those nice murderous paedophiles who just needs a big hug from a nice girl who understands him.
It only showed up a couple of days ago, so I’ve been frantically scanning, cropping, editing, converting and html-ing the thing so I can quote great swathes of text, should I need to. Wing has not yet had chance to read it. And also, as I type, has no idea that’s what I’m recapping. I said I was doing The Diary (same author), so she’s gonna be ticked when she realises I’ve chosen another book. This makes me the evil twin, but I think I’ll let her think she’s the evil twin as a peace offering.
Let’s get this show on the road.
We start with Katie, our protagonist, wishing upon a start on the eve of her seventeenth birthday that her life will get more awesome. This is her wish.
“I’ll be seventeen in a few days, and I want my life to be different. I don’t want to be quiet Katie – the one guys talk to only when they need homework answers, or a pencil or a piece of paper. I want life to be exciting, and I want a boyfriend who’s wonderful. He’ll be charming, and gorgeous, and he won’t want to spend loads of time with the guys. He’ll want to be with me all the time.
Katie looked up at the stars and wished as hard as she could.
Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.
I want to say “the next day at school”, but weirdly her birthday is later in the book, which is just weird when you look at the prologue above, but anyway, at school Katie is a zombie because she hasn’t been sleeping well. Sometimes Katie gets insomnia for three whole days before it goes away.
I’m sure Wing is laughing long and hard about that one, I know I was. As well as being evil twins, we both have insomnia, and let me tell you, it bothers us for a lot longer than three days.
[Wing: Maybe the insomnia makes us evil.]
Katie is nice and sweet and good, but she wants to find herself. She also spends a lot of time thinking in italics, which was fun to format. Not quite as much fun as Trick or Treat, but nearly. She wants to be awesome and sexy and interesting and all that stuff. She also has a crush on Jason Miller and makes a fool of herself when he talks to her because when he asks how she is, she smells his shampoo and gets distracted and replies “smells great”. Her life is over.
Today she also meets Raquelle who gets a strange description:
Katie turned toward the voice and saw a girl with black hair and a bright red mouth opening the locker next to hers. She was wearing dangling earrings, a short skirt with an oversized bright red top and wide belt, and the most unusual shoes Katie had ever seen.
The “most unusual shoes”? Really? What’s so unusual about them? Are they any of these?
Seriously, don’t give me that tantalising description and then just mosey off. I need to know, damnit.
[Wing: That is seriously lazy writing. Also, if the author is worried that whatever shoes are described won’t be unusual to the reader, that doesn’t really matter. They’re supposed to be unusual to Katie, and we learn in the story that she has what she considers, at least, to be a very boring sense of style.]
Raquelle invites Katie over on Friday, and Katie accepts, then panics and plans to pretend to be sick to get out of it. This, Katie, is why you’re not popular. Now, either suck it up and go, or resign yourself to being unpopular. Oh, wait, she gives herself the same pep talk. Soz, Katie, my bad.
She gets the bus home to her house, she’s the last on the route except for two fat twins who are mean. Welp, that’s fatties for you. Her house is creepy too. And this information is completely irrelevant. The fat mean twins serve no purpose and the fact that her house is creepy and needs repainting (oh, they’ve just moved to town) is at odds with her parents, who we meet. Her parents are boring and neat and orderly and have no time for touchy-feely bullshit. They’re also going on holiday very soon, so they’ll also be absent.
[Wing: Oh yeah, those fatties, so mean and stupid. However do we survive?]
Basically, her house is old and needs repainting and rewiring, but her parents are very dull and boring and like things to be orderly and have routine. I just can’t see them wasting their money on a fixer-upper, they’re the kind of people who would get something smaller that needs less doing. And yes, I have now just spent more time analysing Katie’s parents’ motivation than the author did.
[Wing: But you’re right. Her parents would want something pre-fab and something that matches every other house in the neighborhood. She’d be living over by the mall. Wait, doesn’t she say both Raquelle and Jason live over there, in a nice neighborhood, but later they are supposed to live in opposite directions?]
Katie goes upstairs for a nap and dreams she is outside of her house in the summer, wearing a white lacy dress. She meets Heath Granger, a bad boy on a motorcycle.
She immediately saw that he was terribly good-looking. His thick, dark hair was windblown from the ride, and he had very dark eyes that made a person feel he saw a lot more with them than just the way somebody looked.
Just a shade above what was considered short, he was extremely muscular.
It wasn’t his looks – impressive as they were – that made the impact, though. Katie could tell that much immediately. It was something about him… He was hypnotic.
He’s all dark and sexy and animalistic, “like a panther stalking its prey”, and he says that she wants more out of her life and he’s going to help her find it.
Katie wakes up the next morning having slept all the way through, thinking of Heath and his compliments, she leaves her hair loose and wears a sexy dress instead of her usual boring Elizabeth Wakefield style attire.
Feeling almost daring, she put down the hair clip, and shook out her pale gold hair. Then she “scrunched” it with her fingers to make the curl stand out.
Scrunched does not need speech marks. Scrunching was big in the 90s (I myself had scrunched curls on a regular basis). I particularly like that she felt almost daring as she put down the hair clip. Oh, Katie, get down with your bad self. What’s next? Lightly tinted lip gloss? Clear mascara?
[Wing: Scrunching is totally a valid styling choice for curls. I still scrunch often. Though up until this point, I’ve been picturing her with stick straight hair.]
Also, it’s her birthday today. I’m assuming the prologue happened off screen between her napping and waking. It’s still weird to have a prologue set between chapters 4 and 5, although I suppose it is a good way to start a book.
Katie’s all shades of popular today, and she has witty retorts for everyone, and guys flirt with her. It’s a wonderful day. Her mom also hands her a credit card and tells her to treat herself to some new clothes. She can’t wait to dream of Heath and tell him, but instead she has a nightmare where everyone at school tells her to go back to the library and wear her boring clothes instead. Then the mob gets scared and Katie looks down and realises that’s she’s wearing the lacy dress with a Carrie-esqe twist, she’s covered in blood.
[Wing: Don’t forget, her mom also tells her not to buy things that are as tight as the sexy sweater-dress she wore to school. Nice, Katie’s mom. Nice.]
After a few days she dreams of him, and realises he smells of something like burning wood or leaves or something else (could it possibly be burning human being?). Then the smell goes and she decides he smells better than any boy evah. For some reason, Heath attacks some rose bushes, Katie tells him off and he hands her the roses and she’s all charmed, especially when he calls her “my special girl”. He says that he will be seriously pissed if his special girl cheated on him, and Katie promises she won’t.
She then wakes up and gets a call from Heath. Then wakes up again. Has she never seen Nightmare on Elm Street? Clearly not because she decides that if it wasn’t a dream then she’s crazy.
Katie goes to Raquelle’s house and spends her time talking to hottie Jason. We don’t see it, she just relives it in the shower, where the water gets ridiculously hot and nearly scalds her as she’s thinking about how she’s got a date with Jason on Saturday. She has to fight to get out and when she does there’s a message written in the condensation on the mirror:
WAITING MAKES ME VERY ANGRY
(Also, Jason is best friends with a guy called Freddy. Sinclair Smith is a horror movie fan.)
Later Katie goes back to the bathroom, the water is still running and it isn’t even warm and there’s no message on the mirror.
The next slew of chapters pretty much reiterate the same thing. It goes thusly:
- Katie enjoys being with Jason, her real life boyfriend.
- Heath resents her for it and starts invading the real world, like with the message on the mirror.
- Katie dreams of Heath, and he bounces between three personas which she names “Mr. Wonderful (incorporating Mr. Mysterious and Mr. Tough Guy), Mr. McNasty, and The Poor Little Boy.”
She tries a couple of things to prove she’s not crazy and Heath is real, she asks for a love letter to bring out of the dream, and tries to record a conversation between them, both times the items burst into flames on waking and Heath is very angry.
He reacts dramatically:
“I don’t want you playing tricks on me – trying to take things out of the dream ever again. EVER EVER! Do you understand?”
Katie is aware enough to note as Heath cycles through his personas:
First I get bullied by Mr. McNasty, then I’m supposed to feel sorry for The Poor Little Boy and let him have his own way. And if I’m lucky, Mr. Wonderful (definitely the best of the three) will come out and play.
Katie tries to go outside of the usual dream area, basically to cross the road outside her house and the dream vanishes, leaving only darkness. And I wonder why she doesn’t do this every night.
She starts hallucinating while awake, she sees herself melt and bugs crawl over her and things like that. She also becomes bitchy and paranoid.
Somehow despite her losing her temper, Raquelle always comes back and accepts Katie’s apologies, so that’s good. I wanted to make that sentence not sarcastic, but it doesn’t work, no matter how I word it. Katie always apologises without prompting and we give Sinclair Smith props for making a protagonist that doesn’t suck.
[Wing: While I was surprised that Raquelle is always so forgiving, I have to admit, it’s pretty awesome to see a friendship that withstands fighting, even if it does seem like a terribly rushed friendship in the first place. All the relationships in this one are rushed, so it fits, I guess.]
Anyway, Jason is going to come over and watch a movie with Katie, and Katie invites Raquelle and Maxx (yes, two Xs in his name, also, he’s in a band called WAXX). We never meet him, but I like to believe that Maxx broke free and became a one hit wonder with “Get Away”.
[Wing: I can’t even deal with Maxx. At least Rachel added lots of letters to become Raquelle.]
Maxx can’t make the date, but Raquelle comes over like a third wheel, and they watch some horror movies. During this the TV changes and Heath threatens Katie through the screen.
“Katie,” he said again, his voice holding her name in a death grip. “You shouldn’t be letting him kiss you. You shouldn’t be letting him touch you.” The voice sneered. “You belong to me. You’re my girl – my special girl.”
Raquelle and Jason do not notice. During the infamous shower scene, Jason yawns and Katie wonders how he can be dozy during one of the most iconic moments in horror movie history. He says that he’s been staying up late talking with his uncle or something and been skipping on sleep. [Wing: Yeah. Talking. Hey, I had to get the incest in here somewhere.] [Dove: Thanks, I knew the incest was in there somewhere.]
Katie naturally worries and tries to encourage Raquelle to give him a lift home. Both Raquelle and Jason refuse, because they live in opposite directions and also because they both think Jason and Katie might want some time alone.
Katie, sweetie, you’re seventeen. Have them both stay over. Having them both stay does not threaten your virtue and your parents are out of town, so there should be plenty of room, even if you were in a two bedroom house. Naturally, this never occurs to anyone. And naturally Jason gets in a car wreck on the way home.
She goes to see him with Raquelle in the hospital. He fell asleep at the wheel.
Katie has a lot of stupid thoughts and some of them are really eye-poking in how silly they are:
Katie looked at Jason, lying in the hospital bed. He was handsome even now. The tender line of his mouth told so much about him, she thought.
What. The. Fuck.
Katie then stays over Raquelle’s house, where Raquelle shows Katie her older sister’s yearbook and guess who’s there? Heath – damnit, I always want to say Slater. Heath Slater is the greatest Heath in the world.
[Wing: Bull. Heath Ledger was also pretty damn great.]
Katie asks about him, and Raquelle says that he was kind of a legend. He was a bully but a cutie. She describes how he was charismatic and always knew which role to play to get people to like him, which is interesting, since most PH writers just describe their bad guys as bullies or thugs, but some stupid girl still finds them attractive.
“At first, everybody liked him. He was very charming, and just seemed to know what would make each person like him. He was kind of a rebel, too, and I guess girls who didn’t know any better thought that made him more exciting – more romantic.”
Katie was glad that Raquelle wasn’t looking at her as she could feel her face redden. She knew she had been taken in by Heath’s flamboyant manner at the beginning, too.
Flamboyant? Really? *raises the people’s eyebrow*
[Wing: For a PH bad guy, Heath is actually a fairly nuanced bad dude. He’s manipulative and knows when to turn on the charm, and this is far more realistic than the one trick pony we normally see in PH.]
[Dove: Whenever I see “PH” I always read it as “Pyramid Head”. Take what you will from that comment.]
Anyway, Raquelle’s sister banned him from the house after he killed a kitten. Yeah. A kitten. It fell out of a tree and landed on his back. He shook it to death as punishment.
Heath started dating Raquelle’s sister’s friend, Cindy. He picked on a kid before they went in, so Cindy ditched him and went by herself and found another guy to dance with. The guy was a big burly footballer, so Heath decided not to pick a fight with someone who could fight back.
He spent the night drinking with some friends of his, and the more he drank, the meaner he talked. He said nobody dumped him, and he was going to make Cindy understand that… even if he had to kill her.”
Katie gripped the edge of the table. “Did he hurt her?”
“He wanted to. Some time in the early morning after the dance, Heath got on his motorcycle and roared out toward Cindy’s house but he never got there. His motorcycle exploded in flames about a quarter of a mile away. It must have burned for a long time because the body had turned to ashes by the time the accident was discovered.”
Anyway, Cindy moved away because she was having nightmares about him, and now Katie lives in her house. Cindy was seventeen at the time it happened. I don’t know why the age matters, I should imagine the location is the important thing.
When Katie next dreams she pretends to be all sweet and docile to find more about him/not anger him. She does a lot of thinking in italics, which was a pig to format.
Katie has another stupid eye-pokingly silly thought:
Just look at you strutting and preening, Katie thought. If you had brains, you’d be dangerous. That’s my problem, though. You do have brains – and you are dangerous.
Anyway, she notes a medallion he’s wearing with some sort of growling cat on it. Maybe it’s the soul of the kitten he killed. I don’t know.
[Wing: And it’s the mix of multiple big cats, like a lion and a tiger or something, I can’t be arsed to check the specifics. Why not just one or the other? I don’t understand.]
[Dove: You “can’t be arsed”? Wing, did you just turn English?]
Then comes Heath’s plan: he’s going to swap places with Katie. She’s going to essentially be dead, just about alive, but no vital signs, while Heath takes all of the useful stuff and lives his life. Katie worries that she’ll be cremated, and Heath says if that looks like it will happen he’ll give her a little jolt and wake her up a bit just for awhile. I guess he won’t bother if she’s buried alive. What a guy.
Also, he’s not dead either. He’s “too mean to die”.
Jason takes a turn for the worse somewhere around here, but I stopped caring. Now he’s in a coma. On the way out of the hospital, Heath’s voice comes out her mouth. When it happens at school, she decides it’s time to drop out. She now dreams awake. The book reads as if months have passed, but her parents are still on holiday, which means this happens in a two-week period, I think.
Finally, it’s time for the ultimate showdown of ultimate destiny.
Katie makes a deal with him: let her have an hour as herself, then she’ll give up and let him do what he wants.
Heath is dumb as a box of rocks, because he totes agrees to it. They meet in the dream (she really hates that white lacy dress). She plays all sweet and submissive, and he preens a lot. She asks if she can wear his medallion, and he hands it over without a second thought. She then says she’s going to check herself out in the mirror inside the house and, again, Heath (idiot that he is) is fine with that.
[Wing: I love how he ends up acting so dumb right after she talks about how very smart he is.]
Katie goes into the house and immediately breaks into a run, dashing out through the back and across the field, heading towards the main road where Heath had his accident, the road he couldn’t cross.
He catches sight of her and for a second she thinks she’s got a reasonable head start, then she remembers he’s got a motorcycle. Oh noes!
Heath’s so pissed off he wants to run her down, again, stupid. Heath, you need her! Bad guys are stupid.
And this is how it ends:
With a jarring thud, Katie hit the road and rolled, the medal still clutched firmly in her hand. The last thing she saw were the wheels of the motorcycle directly over her face.
Then there was only an orange rush of flame all around her as the motorcycle leapt over the road and landed on the other side. She heard Heath screaming, as if from far away.
So, the bike leapt the road and landed and… I don’t know. I’m being slack. I’ve had a stressful week. But the bike jumped and landed? Ok then.
[Wing: Ooooh, maybe his motorcycle was pissed off at him treating it badly too, and helped destroy him.]
Finally we have a diary entry that gives us an update. She put the medallion in a box under her bed and has never opened it. She kept her friends and boyfriend, so they weren’t Heath’s doing. She’ll never open the box just in case there’s nothing there.
Did this live up to the fond memories? Yeah, pretty much. I thought that some bits were just filler, nothing new seemed to happen, but overall, generally good. I still think this is based on a romanticised Freddy Krueger (dream guy: check; threateningly sexual elements to their relationship: check; burnt to death: check). I don’t know where Heath was going to get his body from if his plan panned out. I remembered it as he was going to steal Katie’s (Nightmare on Elm Street 2), which would have brought up some interesting questions.
[Wing: That’s a good point. Heath-in-Katie’s-body would have put some interesting twists on things.]
Next up: Wing recaps 13 More (which I can’t wait for) and I tackle… I have no idea what. Something by Richie Tankersley Cusick, because I had a lot of fun ripping Martha to shreds.
Man, that’s one dreamy cover…