Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Chain Letter - Christopher Pike

This next one is from Christopher Pike, and has a similar premise to I Know What You Did Last Summer. A group of friends who did something naughty are now paying for it sometime later. I feel like I'll enjoy this!

The book introduces our main girl Alison, who's with her friends Brenda and Fran at Fran's place. They're all part of the school play, Fran doing special effects, Alison the star, and Brenda with a lesser part. These two both need a scholarship to attend college, where they wish to study drama, and there's maybe a bit of resentment from Brenda's side. Ooooh tension. I'm calling it right now that Brenda is the killer.
A letter arrives addressed to Fran, who never gets mail or dates. This sends us into about 70 paragraphs of descriptions of the girls; they're all attractive but Fran is high strung, Brenda is your typical pretty girl (this is why she didn't get the lead role), and Allison has a unique look (of course), meaning the latter two get asked out all the time.
Fran doesn't want to open the letter in front of the girls and Brenda snatches it to try read it herself before Fran wrestles it from her. Alison mentions she'd like to know who it's from, as there's no return address, which prompts Fran to open it. Apparently, according to Alison, Fran is always trying to please her. This Alison must be some kind of girl!
The letter is signed at the bottom from The Caretaker, and tells Fran that he has been watching and due to her sins, it is time for her punishment. Kinky! Hehe. I've attached photos of the letter so I don't have to explain it myself and forget important parts.

We don't know the full story about the previous Summer, but we know this group of seven on the list may have killed someone. They weren't sure if he was dead already, so they could be innocent! But they buried him anyway. 
They check the classifieds and Fran's task is to paint a goat's head over the painting of their mascot's (a koala) head on the school gym. Easy!
Brenda and Fran, who are always arguing, fight about who sent the letter. Brenda thinks that it was one of the other people on the list, and Fran seems to think it's the guy they may have killed. Back from the grave, spooky!
They decide it's not Kipp, Brenda's boyfriend and apparently smartest boy in school, or Tony, the school quarterback that Alison has a crush on, or Neil, Fran's crush, bc they're all too kind. They decide it's not Joan, the queen of the school, even though she's a bitch. They deduce that maybe one of them accidentally told someone who is now using it against them. Or maybe it's Brenda!
Alison the level headed one, decides to talk to the rest of the group before they make any decision to go along with the tasks, and ponders what the other 2 columns are for.
Next we meet the boys, who are having a meeting in Tony's room to discuss the letter, which Alison had told them about, and without the girls.
We learn that Tony is insecure and not really the jock type mindwise, and has mixed feelings about Alison who he knows has a crush on him, 1; bc she doesn't know the real him, only the superstar quarterback image she sees at games and stuff, and 2; bc Neil has a crush on her. But Fran likes Neil!
Love trianges/squares, just what I like.
Anyway, Kipp thinks that Fran spilled their secret, while Neil thinks that someone in the group is posing as The Caretaker.
Joan, who'd been out of town, calls and asks what the go is about the letter. The boys tell her Fran will paint the mascot and pass the letter on, so they have more time to figure things out. We also learn that Joan and Tony have gotten frisky a few times, but never all the way. Cute!
They hang up and like the girls, the boys toy with the idea that the guy they buried wasn't quite dead, but quickly dismiss it. He had no pulse after all. The boys depart and Tony falls asleep.
We flashback to the previous summer and the boys accompanied by Joan and Brenda are leaving a Beach Boys' concert. Coooooooooool. Brenda and Kipp have had a bit to drink and Joan and Tony are all over eachother and poor Neil is dateless. What a weenie!
There's a long line to drive out of the function carpark and half an hour later the group is still trying to get out. Allison knocks on their window with Fran complaining of car troubles and the group offer them a lift much to Joan's dismay. What a bitch!
The Gang ends up drinking on their way home and get lost. Uh oh. Tony is driving but he hasn't had much and Alison is attempting to direct him with her map and flashlight but she's no use at all the dumb bitch!
They're basically out in the middle of nowhere and possibly heading in the opposite direction of their destination.
That'll teach them for drink driving.
After a while they're all mucking around, and Kipp, apparently a master at imitations, plays a cassette tape of Joan getting in on with the coach from school. Of course it's just him nailing his impressions, but everyone. Joan is screaming for them to turn it off, but Fran is screaming for them Tony to turn off the car lights! (I don't get why). Suddenly Joan reaches over from the back and turns the lights off (again not sure why?!) just as Tony is swerving around a tumbleweed which causes him to lose control on the isolated road.
Eventually the car comes to a stop but not before hitting something. Uh oh.
The group susses it out and finds a man that looks in his 30s laying in the road, blood trickling from his mouth. They can't be sure he wasn't already dead, and Kipp checks the bumper of his car, informing them there's a dent but that's always been there. Tony's not so sure though.
The man doesn't have a wallet or ID on him, further encouraging the idea he was already dead and prompting the group's decision to bury the man and not turn themselves in with the body. Neil places is crucifix with the corpse and I feel like this will come back to bite them, and then the group manage to get home.
The next day the school is circulating with the news of the goat head over the mascot. Fran had done a good job it seems!
At lunch time, Joan storms over to Fran and Alison are and demands to know where Tony is. Of course Alison doesn't know and acts like a smart ass to the bitch, which I love. Joan leaves after threatening Alison to stay away from Tony. Not that Tony and Joan are dating but you know.
As soon as she leaves Tony and Neil approach, followed by the principal who wants Fran to redo the mascot painting since she was the one who painted it originally and offers $200 for the job. Woo!
Fran follows the principal to sign some papers and Neil excuses himself leaving Tony and Alison alone. Ooh lala! They go have lunch together, cute!
A week later, Kipp, Brenda, Neil and Tony are in the school car park discussing Kipp's task from The Caretaker. He was to flunk his calculus exam, but of course he got an A. A week later and nothing has happened, yet.
The topic then turns to the play, and Kipp mentions how talented Alison is before adding that Brenda is great too! Hahahaha shit.
Brenda storms off in a huff, refusing her usual ride home with her boyfriend Kipp, and Neil, who has a cartilage damage (and diabetes btw) in his knee and has to limp everywhere, takes her place to avoid the walk home.
Tony heads to football practice and is greeted by Joan who wants to arrange a play date! Joan you slut!
Before she can finish her sentence they hear a crash, and Tony runs over to the source to find Kipp's car at the bottom of a hill crashed into a brick wall.
Both Kipp and Neil are fine, although the latter has peed his pants a little. Aw. Tony quickly inspects the breaks before an audience appears and finds the lines covered in fluid. It seems they've been punctured! Uh oh.
Kipp tells them he'll flunk the second calculus exam the next day before heading home on foot.
Tony tells Neil how lucky they both had been, and Neil points out how lucky Brenda was that she wasn't in the car.
That's exactly what I was thinking!
Next, it's Brenda's turn, and she is to tell the director of the play that he's the worst director in the world in front of everybody, which results in her getting kicked off the play and being grounded for 2 weeks. Suck shit Brenda. I still think you're the Caretaker though! You're not fooling me!
Tony asks Alison on a date and that Friday night they go out to dinner. They have dinner and fly a kite afterwards at night which sounds really cute and I wanna go on a date now. No one loves me though, waah.
He drops her home and they kiss in the car and again it's all very cute but then he goes all distant and Alison is all wtf? He says he really likes her but that then going on another date doesn't depend on either of them.
Does that mean it depends on the CARETAKER?! No. We find out later he meant bc of Neil, who's crushing on Alison.
Neil is next to get the letter and his task is to become sick in class. Easy peasy. He fakes a fainting spell and blames it on his diabetes. Clever!
Joan is next and she needs to come to school dressed like Bozo the clown. But Joan isn't having any of that, she doesn't want to ruin her punk image. Cooooooooool. She got her task a week ago, but she decides to hold a meeting with everyone, which they do at Fran's house. This is the first time they're all together at once.
Apparently in bed the night before, Joan's window had exploded inward. As she got up to turn the light on, she found tonnes of cockroaches all over her room. She's scared of insects, naturally!
The group deduce that the Caretaker is targeting things that are important to them (finally I mean it's been obvious since the first task) and they all kind of thing Joan is lying despite the cuts on her arms bc she won't take off the bandage on her foot to reveal a bigger cut. But they get over this pretty soon I think.
Joan also brings up Tony and Alison's date in front of everyone, much to Neil's shock.
Turns out Joan decides to dress up as bozo, and 3 days later, Tony's task appears in the classifieds. At the next track meet that day against a rival high school, he is to come last i'm both races he's in. If Tony loses, his school loses, so he knows he has to win. Uh oh!
He briefly talks to Neil, apologising for not telling him about Alison, but Neil doesn't want to stand in the way and seems happy for him. I think...
After drinking a bottle of his fave lemonade Tony JUST manages to win the quarter mile race, but his body feels all weird and he's struggles a bit. He still has the half mile race and although he's suddenly exhausted he wants to show off for Alison, even though he knows she doesn't care about the football superstar side of him. Ok?
In the second race, he's coming last surprisingly, and realises he must have been poisoned or something, and ends up collapsing.
As it turns out, his lemonade had been spiked with codeine. Oops! He recovers nicely though.
On the opening night of the school play, Friday, Alison's task is to stuff up her lines. She's so serious about acting I feel like she won't do it though. And of course she doesn't, at least not willingly.
Following the script and before the end of Act I, she leans on the set wall slightly, careful of the amount of pressure she's putting on the prop. But it falls back and she goes with it, a set light snapping and heading towards her face. She blocks it with her hands and arms and is cut a fair bit, and I'm pretty sure by the description that she's electrocuted too but it doesn't say it in those words so I can't be positive.
On Monday Fran receives a new letter from the Caretaker, but with their names in the same ordered listed in column 2. More tasks, yay, but now in the papers in a secret code, yay! It also states that the Caretaker is not one of this lucky group of 7, but I still reckon it's Brenda!
Fran's new one is to streak naked at lunch. Hahahahahaha I hope she does it.
Alison suspects Fran of wanting to go to the police and is outraged, suggesting that Fran go see her sick relative for a while instead and not tell anybody.
With Fran gone, Alison and Tony are necking in the car when Tony brings up Kipp's task: to announce that he cheated on the aptitude test for college. This leads them to discuss the possibility of the Caretaker being one of their friends and why, before going to meet the rest of them.
Fran bc she wasn't upset about having to repaint the mascot and she had the props for the play until the night of the play.
Kipp bc he's super smart and was wearing a seatbelt when he crashed, something he never does.
Neil bc he prepared the drinks in the cooler the day of the race, and is very introverted.
Brenda bc she refused to get in the car the day Kipp crashed, seemed to enjoy her task and Alison thinks she heard her laugh at her accident.
And Joan bc she's a bitch. Hahahaha yeah.
They also discuss that although the Caretaker says he's not one of them, this could be a lie, or even a bend in the truth. For example, he could be TWO of them. Ooooo00000Oooh!
At the meeting, Joan suggests Kipp just admits he cheated, which she believes due to his perfect score.
Tony also tells them that he went to the paper to see if he could suss out who was sending in the ads, but had no luck.
Brenda and Neil accidentally reveal that they know where Fran is, at her grandmother's, horrifying Alison. Brenda said she heard it from Fran's parents which is really suss bc like a second before that she was all "where's Fran why isn't she here?" She's being so SUSS goddamn it Brenda I know you're the Caretaker!
Alison uses a pay phone to call Fran's grandmother and comes back to reveal that Fran had disappeared. She wasn't there when the woman woke up, and she wasn't at home.
Uh ohhhhhhhhh. I hope she's dead, hehe!
That night Alison is awakened from a recurring nightmare by A phone call from Tony who's at Kipp's house, who tells her something has happened to Kipp.
She rushes over there and Neil and Tony fill her in.
The two boys decided to watch Kipp so nothing could happen to him when Brenda came over with some beer. (Drugged I bet, aye Brenda?) She left not long after while the three boys got drunk, and Kipp dismissed them to go home before going to bed.
Cue Kipp's mother being woken by a truck starting up, she goes into Kipp's room to find a blood soaked mattress and a trail of red leading out of his window, across the lawn and to the street.
Since the other two boys were the last to see him, they were called by detectives to assist.
Tony tells Alison how he nearly told the cops everything but then found a note from the caretaker, reading "if you are not certain that they are dead, do what you know you shouldn't, and be certain".
I don't quite understand what this means but I'm thinking the Caretaker is challenging them to go the police, and if they do then Kipp and Fran will definitely turn up dead. So maybe try are alive! Who cares I didn't like either of them much.
Brenda's task is to tell ever teacher in school to go to Hell (how easy) which she does until one of them marches her to the principal where she gets expelled. And just before graduation!
Then Neil's task is to burn down the school (what?!). He can't do it, even though Tony offers to help and even do it for him, but Neil says no.
Neil seems kind of defeated, and since they received the first letter he seems like he's been deteriorating. Tony gives him one of his dad's guns for protection, but it's to no avail, Neil perishes in a house fire while he was sleeping. Arson is ruled out, and it appears the fire started in the kitchen and spread fast, Neil wouldn't even have woken up.
After the funeral, Neil's mother drops a bomb on Tony and Alison when she says the fire was a blessing in disguise. It turns out Neil didn't have diabetes or cartilage damage in his leg, but had cancer instead! He was a very proud man and chose not to tell his friends because he didn't want sympathy or them to worry or anything! Damn it Neil! This makes me sad.
Before he died Neil asked Tony to do 2 things for him if the Caretaker should get him, and the first is to give Alison the beautiful ring he was always wearing. It's slightly warped from the fire, but otherwise fine.
We don't find out what the second thing is yet bc old Pikey wants to keep us in suspense. Coooooooooool.
Joan's task is next and she is to tell everyone that she is a lesbian. Not wanting to ruin her reputation, of course she doesn't do this.
Maybe it's because I'm gay myself but I feel like if I was straight and I had the choice between being killed and telling everyone I was gay, I'd tell everyone I was gay. Joan ur a dumb cunt I hope you die for this.
Not sure if I mentioned this before already but Alison's family moved into a new area before the book begins, about 40 minutes away from where her school and friends are. Her family is the only one who has moved into this new housing tract in the middle of the desert (of course) so she's pretty isolated, surrounded by empty houses.
Anyway, her parents have now gonna away on a business trip, leaving her all alone, and Brenda and Joan are supposedly on their way to stay the night when Alison has like a 70 page encounter with the caretaker.
The power goes off three times in her ordeal And of course there's a fierce storm going on, her arm is cut by a broken window, she fires a shotgun twice and misses both times apparently, and I'm pretty sure she pisses herself. "What was left of her courage ran out the bottom of her feet, collecting in a sticky puddle on the floor" THAT'S PISS RIGHT?
She briefly thinks the Caretaker is Joan bc both she and the Caretaker have said "Remember you've been told" in person and a letter respectively.
She manages to escape to a house that sounds like it's full of people having a party but when she bursts in its all an elaborate trap and only the Caretaker is inside. They briefly struggle before Alison manages to flee outside, catching a glimpse of the Caretaker's face in a flash of lightening but of course the chapter ends without revealing who she saw.
I say Brenda!
As she turns to run away from the house, she slips and falls, knocking herself out by hitting her head on a brick planter wall. Goddamn it Alison!
Next, Tony is at the site where they buried the man the previous summer.
He needs to prove what he already knows; that the man isn't there anymore.
Remember how I mentioned the tasks for column 2 were all in a secret code? Starting with the first letter, every third letter would make the message clear. Tony had studied Fran's task and realised that working backwards, starting with the last and every third letter there on, was another message, urging Tony to go to the police, and signed not from the Caretaker, but from Neil! Neil! It was the man's body that perished in the fire, not Neil's!
Tony's first hint as to the identity of the Caretaker came when he gave Alison Tony's ring, and she asked if his mother minded Alison receiving a family heirloom instead if it returning to the family, and Neil's mother hadn't even known about the ring.
In his deranged sickness, Neil, the only one who seemed to care about the man, who thought about him constantly, considered him family. The ring had belonged to him, and Neil had snatched it during the burial. This night is full of revelations!
Next, Alison wakes up upstairs in the house down the street from hers that had seemed so safe a few hours before, to find all her friends tied up along side her. Fran and Kipp are alive, and well, living off apples apparently, and Kipp mentions he lost no blood the night he disappeared, so where did it come from?
Neil had drugged them both before kidnapping them, and had flagged Joan and Brenda down on their way to Alison's before pulling a gun on them. Apparently Neil's plan is to take them to that fateful highway and run them over in a repeat of what happened last summer.
Neil arrives and tells them Tony is dead, that he'd killed himself. Uh oh.
Alison stalls him a bit before he can sedate them, snatching his gun while he was distracted. But she gives it back to him in and attempt to gain his trust and I hope she has another plan bc she might have just killed all her friends.
We cut back to Tony who figures out that Neil is probably somewhere around Alison's after he faked his death bc he once referred to her as heaven and you go to heaven when you die. Clever!
He finds Alison's place empty besides all the signs of a struggle, and realises the house down the street that had made him feel uneasy the night of his and Alison's first date must be where Neil is hiding out!
He sneaks in, grabbing a set of keys on the floor next to a makeshift bed, and listens at the door upstairs to Neil and Alison's conversation.
He figures out that Neil must have seen his cancer as punishment for his sins, and wanted to punish the rest of them before he died, for the man.
He bursts into the room upstairs just as Neil is stabbing Alison with a hypodermic needle to sedate her.
Neil lunges back, holding Alison by the neck and pulls out a switchblade which he presses to her throat. Uh oh. Unlocking Fran's cuffs, who if you remember had a crush on Neil, and is the only one who never used or manipulated the poor boy, Tony sends her to fetch Alison from Neil, knowing he won't hurt Fran.
He releases Alison and is about to attempt suicide when Alison and Tony convince him not to. He collapses, and Tony leaves with him.
About a week later Tony reappears and helps Alison assist her new neighbour in moving in, in the same house where everything happened.
It's after graduation, and herself and Fran accepted Tony and Neil's diploma's respectively. Cute!
After helping the neighbour, they go for a walk and Tony tells her that he rented a cabin up in the mountains, where they just hung out and talked about old memories and stuff, completely disregarding the Caretaker business.
Neil eventually succumbed to his illness, and we find out that before he faked his death, the second thing he wanted Tony to do should the Caretaker get to him was bury him next to the man.
This time however, Neil makes him promise to bury him in the man's grave, and that way Tony can't go to the police and turn himself in over guilt without having to explain the whole long drawn out story.
The book ends with Alison and Tony being all lovey and gay.

I really liked this book towards the end, like I couldn't put it down, which makes up for how boring it was at the beginning. I didn't really start getting interested until Fran disappeared.
It was very "Pretty Little Liars" too, but that's ok I like PLL.
Despite there being no real murders among the group of friends, I'm still very satisfied! And I was wrong about Brenda!
There's a sequel to this book so I bet she's the Caretaker in that one, hehe!
I'm never wrong (except when I am).

6 sticky puddles of courage collecting at Alison's feet on the floor out of 9!

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