An extra special chiller for Valentine’s Day by the author of the Cheerleaders series. Josie and Melissa are frightened when they begin receiving threatening valentines. Then the murders begin. Who is sending these horrible valentines to the girls of Shadyside High? And who will be the next to die?
I would hate to get a Valentine like this:
“ROSES ARE RED.
VIOLETS ARE BLUE
ON VALENTINE’S DAY
JOSIE WILL BE DEAD.”
Oooh scary. Not. ‘Cause the sender is not even trying. Seriously, wut?! That’s not threatening at all. I hate it when my stalker-secret-admirers don’t put any effort in the death threats they send me. How about something like:
I await with glee the day I cut you open and use your intestines as jump rope.
P.S. That would probably be on Valentine’s Day.
Sure it doesn’t rhyme, but goddamn, that would scare me.
The recipient of this awful Valentine is Josie. Why did Josie receive such a gem? Because Josie is a jerk and a self-absorbed twit (which, I’ve noticed in the R.L. Stine books, seem to be a trend with the teenage female leads). But here is why Josie is a jerk and rightly deserves all the awful Valentines in the world: she, her BFF Melissa, her twin Rachel, and her little sister Erica decide to go horse-back riding one fine sunny day. Erica is a bit of a nervous nelly, so she doesn’t want to even go near a horse, so Josie derisively makes fun of her. Rachel comforts Erica and tells her to just hang out at the ranch while the three of them ride for a bit and they’ll be back for her. Obviously, Rachel is the nice twin. While readying her horse, Rachel asks Josie for help with the bridle; Josie impatiently helps her and calls out to Melissa to check if she put it on right. Melissa, eager to get going, dismissively says yes, fine, let’s just go. I think you know where this is going. Rachel’s horse gets spooked and throws her off, which prompts Josie to scream, “She landed on her head! She landed on her head!” at the end of the prologue.
I knew who the killer was by the end of Chapter Two. Damn it.
Rachel received brain damage for her trouble. While outwardly, she looks exactly the same–pretty, willowy, serene–the Rachel we knew for only a few pages is gone forever. She now has the mind of a child and cannot function on her own. The family can’t afford to hire a caretaker for Rachel, so Josie and Erica are forced to take care of her. Of course because Josie is a selfish asshole who would rather hang out with her new boyfriend–who she’s been with for all of five months, which is a record for her since she usually dumps guys after a couple of weeks– all the babysitting falls on Erica. Erica, the youngest of the three sisters, just really, really, really wants an awesome high school experience. She wants a boyfriend, wants to land the lead in the school play, and just… really wants for someone to care about what she wants, goddamn it. Oh, WANTS. YEARNS. It’s always Josie, Josie, Josie. Why does Josie always gets what she wants? Why is Erica always stuck taking care of Rachel? Why doesn’t anyone care about Rachel but Erica?
But Josie is such a jerk that everyone wants to shove her down a deep, dark manhole and fill it with cement. Even Melissa, her former best friend, is baffled by her awful behavior. One leading candidate is Rachel’s boyfriend (ex-boyfriend? If something gets shaken loose in your brainpan and you become stuck in the mindset of a five-year-old girl forever and you never got to break up with your boyfriend, is he still your boyfriend until he dumps you? And who would dump someone who suffered something so traumatic? Awkward.) whose name I can’t remember and can’t bother to look up now. Josie thinks he’s “creepy,” but we’ve already established that Josie is a douchebag. Anyway, Rachel’s boyfriend still comes around the house to visit Rachel even though she no longer responds to him and has the attention span of a cucumber with ADHD. He’s a nice guy and doesn’t want to be known as the asshole who dumped the brain-damaged girl. Josie, of course, hates him and doesn’t understand why he keeps hanging around. Still, Erica is stuck doing most of the babysitting since Josie always seems to be in a hurry to get away from Rachel (she knows, deep inside, that Rachel’s accident is partly her fault and being around her creeps Josie out). Erica even misses a crucial audition for a school play because Josie blows her off and hangs out with Steve, instead.
Hmm… maybe Steve is the killer. Maybe he is Rachel’s secret lover and now he’s planning on getting back at Josie by making her his girlfriend, then taking her to the prom, and spilling pig blood all over her head while she’s on stage, getting crowned the prom queen.
But before Josie met Steve, she was a bit of a player and treated guys like chewed-up gum stuck to the bottom of her shoe. She has one ex following her around like a creep and begging Josie to take him back and another ex, now dating Melissa, who also hates Josie and spends half the time talking crap about her and how she’s gonna get it. Dudes, get a hobby. And I don’t mean stalking Josie. Heck, read a book.
And then Josie starts getting the badly-written Valentine odes, threatening all kinds of death and bad stuff. Josie laughs it off because honestly, who can take that shit seriously? “Roses are red, violets are blue… I’M GOING TO PULL YOUR SPINE OUT OF YOUR ASS AND BEAT YOU OVER THE HEAD WITH IT!!!” (Shush, it’s a kid’s book… of course it doesn’t say that on the note) Instead, she continues to ignore Rachel–who seems to be stalking her on the intercom, asking her to come up to her room and brush her hair, only to find her blissfully asleep by the time Josie gets there–blow off Erica, and go ice-skating with Steeeeve. Meanwhile, Rachel continues to creep everyone out by saying nonsensical things in a sing-song voice and staring unblinkingly at people. And Erica is getting MORE MAD than Josie keeps eschewing her babysitting duties in favor of being an outright selfish douche-canoe. Why would Erica want a social life anyway? She’s only 15! On the exes-who-can’t-let-go front, there are muttered threats and whispers that Josie is a jerk and she’s sooo gonna get it.
And she does! Josie gets stabbed in the back with her ice-skating blades. Bad news bears. Melissa’s boyfriend, as it turns out, is the one sending her the “creepy” Valentine’s messages because he’s still bitter about Josie dumping him. He becomes convinced that Josie is hiding the letters in her house somewhere, so he breaks in–as one would do–so he could steal the letters back lest the cops find them (mmmmmotive!), freaks out in the dark, and accidentally stabs Erica, who probably heard some noise that she just had to investigate.
End of story. Or… is it?
Now Melissa, whom dead Josie blamed for Rachel’s accident–she should have checked the bridle, goddamn it–is getting the awful notes. Her boyfriend Dave is shipped to some juvie detention place and she’s now dating Rachel’s boyfriend. God, does Melissa just wait like a hungry dog for the scraps from Josie and Rachel’s table? Her crazy ex-boyfriend, the one who “killed” Josie, has escaped from the pokey, telling Melissa that he’s innocent and he can prove it. And then he gets STONE-COLD KILLED, yo. I guess he’s not the killer. Oh, and by the way, Melissa has been seeing Rachel–or is it–running around the neighborhood. Wait a minute… she’s not allowed to go outside!
So who’s sending the notes? Who killed Josie and Josie’s ex-boyfriend? If you say it’s Rachel and she’s suddenly okay again and now she’s out for revenge, that’s… a good guess. Why wouldn’t she want to go after the two bitches who contributed to her accident and made her spend an entire year as a turnip?
But you’d be wrong.
Final Word: There is not one likable character in this story. The whole time I was reading this book, I kept thinking to myself, “Oh my god, what an incredible bitch,” and I could have been talking about anybody. The motive of the killer is flimsy, but understandable. Vintage R.L. Stine, but pretty standard stuff. These books always seem to be about punishing pretty girls for doing shitty things and none of the deaths have any impact. Someone died? Ohmygosh, so sad, but hey, I got math homework. Still, the Fear Street series is kid-cocaine and this one is no different.
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