Wednesday, 24 December 2008

The Snowman – RL Stine

I chose The Snowman thinking it would be an extravaganza of Christmassy good cheer ...boy was I wrong. And I think this is one of the more popular Point Horrors but I’m almost certain I’ve never read it before, what can I say, I don’t follow the herd, I beat to the sound of my own drum and I am definitely not a sheeple (sheeple are the worst.)

Our illustrious heroine is Heather, an orphan who lives with her aunt and uncle. Heather absolutely HATES her uncle, in fact the book opens with Heather having a little fantasy about killing him. Of course, you think it’s real and you’re all, wow , there’s something actually happening in the first chapter, but then Stine does his usual thing and opens the next chapter with ‘oh, but it was just a dream.’ ANYWAY, this doesn’t exactly give me a great first impression of Heather. Although to be fair, her uncle is incredibly mean.

You know you’re just gagging to find out what Heather looks like, right? I aim to please:

“She knew she was pretty. Wither her golden hair, which she usually swept straight back into an off-centred ponytail, her creamy, pale skin and high cheekbones and her dark blue, almost violet eyes”

Hmm, sounds like Heather has a real boner for herself. Also, off centred ponytail??? That’s just a fancy way of saying SIDE PONY Right? Heather also just knows that she could be really popular if she wasn’t so shy and if her uncle let her do more stuff. And if she wasn’t such a miserable whining douche bag. OK, I made that last one up, but you know it makes sense yo.

Obviously, Heather has a boyfriend who adores her (Ben) and a less attractive best friend (Kim). As well as having a “horse, squeaky voice” (?!), Kim is “short and a little chunky” Every time Heather talks to Kim she has to make mention of her weird voice, eg: “her hoarse, scratchy voice sounded even more comical so early in the morning.” This hoarse voice business had better turn out to be highly relevant. I’m going to stake a guess right here that Kim is the killer and she was in some horrific accident/fire that damaged her vocal cords and was all Heather’s fault. She’s poss even a man in disguise? Haha, also Kim is always visiting Heather at work, where her boss is called...Mel. Well, I think we all know who RL Stine’s favourite sassy 80s pop twosome is now.

At work, Heather meets a boy who has pure white hair, hey, remember Eerie Inidana? I couldn’t find a picture of the grey haired kid but I’m sure some of you are with me on this one...right...anybody?

Anyway, this guy is imaginatively called Snowman, and “he had the most adorable cleft in his chin.” Chin cleft huh. Hey guys, remember chin clefts? You don’t really see chin clefts anymore do you. Anyway, despite the fact that Heather was making out with her boyfriend Ben like ten minutes ago and thinking about how much she loved him, she’s instantly all over this handsome white haired, be-clefted stranger and even agrees to go out with him on a date.

Of course, Heather doesn’t tell Ben about her hot date on Saturday night. She makes up some lame excuse, I quote “’We..uh…have to go visit these people.” That’s gold dust, I’m going to remember that one for myself.

I normally strongly veto irrelevant dream sequences from my recaps, but I have to include this one. Heather has a super creepy dream about going sledding with her uncle, and he’s all clinging on to her waist and they’re speeding through this “wet and ice hard snow”, speeding out of CONTROL, man, and I am flipping through my Lil Book of Freudiansisms in an absolute frenzy, this shit is HOT and oh, the dream climaxes with Heather killing her uncle. Phew. Did I mention Heather really hates her uncle?

Uncle James gives Heather shit about going on her date on Saturday but she doesn’t really care. Uncle James meets Snowman before the date and is ridiculously rude to him. Hehe, sweet old Uncle James, he’s so grouchy! He calls Snowman an albino and a mutt and basically laughs in his face. Snowman tells Heather that his dad is dead, but he was like Uncle James, only a lot worse.

On the date, Snowman freaks out in the car thinking that they’re being followed. But they’re not. That sure was exciting though. I think RL Stine is running out of ideas for suspenseful chapter breaks and he’s resorted to basically lying.

Oh, clumsy plot device alert: Heather has a good luck charm that her father left her. It’s a lighter. Hmmm, and this ‘novel’ is called The Snowman,. I wonder if this lighter will turn out to be an incredibly important clumsy plot device.

Snowman tells Heather how poor he is, so she agrees to pay for half the date. This guy is such a skeeze. The date is soooooooo amazing though and they like totally connect.

Monday morning at school Heather tries to find snowman at school but nobody has heard of him. And Ben has found out about Heather and Snowman because Uncle James told him, which okay I admit that is a pretty dickish thing to do. Heather’s really angry because she didn’t want Ben to find out, and she was only planning on going on one date with Snowman. Okay, I guess you could argue that that is equally dickish, being a dick probably runs in this family.

A sidenote, if you will forgive me. Heather kind of reminds me of Lauren Conrad (yes, I will happily admits to being disgustingly addicted to The Hills even though it’s no Laguna Beach), all Heather does is huff around feeling sorry for herself and listing the ways people have wronged her and all her conversations are about all the ‘drama’ in her life, she really couldn't give two hoots about anyone else.

So, Heather calls Ben and tells him she wants to go out with him AND Snowman, like he should be grateful, luckily Ben calls her on her bullshit and hangs up, way to go Heather.

Heather goes to meet Snowman at Swan Park and on her way, some mystery car starts following her again...she can’t see the driver, but Ben’s car is missing from his driveway. Gah, get over yourself Heather (people should use the word ‘gah’ more often)

Its super snowy at Swan Park and they build a snowman. Snowman takes Heather to a ‘secret place’. Why is there ALWAYS a secret place????!!!!!1111 This time, it’s a secluded clearing in a forest, what no haunted shack? Heather feels someone watching them. Heather and Snowman kiss ‘hungrily’.

Heather has Snowman round for dinner and Uncle James makes a bunch of digs at how much Snowman is eating. Like, this dude doesn’t even bother to pretend to be polite. I sorta like him. This is Uncle James’s big crescendo...

“Don’t get any serious ideas about her...because Heather is going to come into a great deal of money someday...And believe me , Burt or Bill, or whatever your name is, sh’es going to end up with someone from her own class. Not some white-haired freak whose mother can’t even put dinner on the table.”

Awww, hes protective, how sweet.

This is enough to make Snowman leave and Heather runs out after him. Snowman’s pretty calm, and he’s all chill out, it’s just words. Snowman says he has other problems – his little brother’s sick and needs an operation but they can’t afford the two thousand dollars. UH OH, looks like Uncle James was right. It starts out innocently enough with a plate of french fries here and splitting the bill on a date there but where does it all end. Naturally, Heather offers to lend him the money. Oh, Heather. Snowman protests etc etc but eventually he accepts it even though he acts all embarrassed and upset.

Ben visits Heather because he misses her (why) . Heather thinks about how she hasn’t seen or heard from Snowman in weeks and she doesn’t even have his telephone number, AND she’s never seen him in school. Oh honey, if you only had a brain.

Although, after work that day though, Snowman is waiting for her. He’s all happy and jubilant and when Heather asks why he’s like, ‘you did me a favour, I do you a favour, I killed your uncle for you.’ And Heather’s all UmmmMmmMMMm WTF. And I’m all, ‘FINALLY!! SOME MURDER.’

Snowman implies that he’s done quite a lot of murders in his time, and explains that he killed Uncle James by strangling him with the red scarf that he is now wearing, saying it will look like a heart attack. Yeah, because the police always get strangulations mixed up with heart attacks. Boy, you sure can tell that this book was written pre-CSI.

At home, sure enough there’s an ambulance parked outside and her dead uncle is lying on a gurney. Sure enough, the ambulance people think Uncle James had a heart attack. Umm, does he not have like massive strangly marks all over his neck or something?

Snowman acts all concerned to her aunt whilst secretly winking and nudging at Heather and Heather’s being all LC about it and just freaking out in her head but not saying anything out loud. I bet she’s letting one perfectly angled tear run down her cheek as we speak. I’d totally be like fuck it and just go all Mallory Knox and go on a killing spree, slaughtering innocent people with Woody Harrellson.

Heather angrily whispers to Snowman that he won’t get away with killing her uncle. You know what you could do instead Heather? Just call the police, I hear they’re pretty good at this sort of stuff. Being a Grade A psycho, Snowman genuinely doesn’t see that he did anything wrong. And he tells Heather that she totally can’t call the cops because he has the check she wrote him for two thousand dollars so it will look like she paid him for a hit. Of course he doesn’t really have a sick brother, so he isn’t going to cash the check but keep it as evidence. Mmmm, that isn’t exactly concrete evidence, I reckon I’d still take my chances with the police. Also, why on earth has Snowman bothered to set up this elaborate plan to kill Uncle James? I guess that’s just what psychos do.

Remember that car that was following Heather and Snowman? It pulls up into her driveway, and out jumps...the FBI! Of course they do. They question Heather about Snowman. Like an IDIOT she pretends not to know him beyond a passing encounter in her diner, even though she knows that the FBI car has been following them together. This is because she’s still scared he’ll use that stupid check as evidence. The big end chapter cliff-hanger is that they are looking for Snowman for murder...he killed his father....which would probably be more tense if it hadn’t been so heavily signposted throughout.

Now that Uncle James is dead, Heather has control over her money so she quits her job. Only, Snowman shows up. Sigh, that Snowman. He wants money, two thousand smackeroos will do. Heather stupidly gives him a check. (This book sure is full of checks...hey guys, remember checks? I don’t). Snowman whines a bit about how his dad used to beat him with a bicycle chain, gee this guy has a real chip on his shoulder.

Heather gets back together with Ben, at least until the next blackmailing psychopathic con man shows up I guess.

As a lovely surprise, Aunt Belle invites Snowman round for dinner. Heather is less than thrilled. Snowman wants more money, he promises to DEFINTELY disappear after getting the money this time – five thousand big ones in cash. They arrange to meet the next day by the bank. (hey guys, remember banks? I don’t).

Heather gives him the money and she’s all ‘phew, now he’s out of my hair forever’ although if I were Heather I wouldn’t be speaking too soon. Getting home, Heather discovers that Aunt Belle has rented the spare room out in the garage to...Snowman. Now that’s a DOH moment if ever I saw one.

Heather tells Ben the whole sorry story. Ben decides that they need to steal the un cashed check that Heather wrote out to the Snowman, so Heather will be free to go to the police/FBI without fear of being arrested*rolls eyes.*

So they creep into Snowman’s room together. Snowman’s there lying in wait for them with an iron tire jack (hey guys, remember iron tire jacks...oh, never mind) in his hand and wallops Ben before grabbing Heather and forcing her into his car. He takes her to Swan Park, to their ‘secret spot.’

Heather wakes up all tied together and wrapped up inside something hard and cold- A SNOWMAN!!! Yay, the end, Merry Christmas everyone!

Oh wait, there’s still a few more pages left, sigh.

This piece of prose struck me as particularly tense and thrilling:

“I’m a living mummy. A living snow mummy.
But not for long. Soon the air will be gone. Soon I’ll be a dead snow mummy.”

For some reason I had to type that out like six times because I kept writing money instead of mummy.

Oh yeah, remember that lighter that I guessed would turn out to be an important plot device? Well, what is more useful than your dead dad’s heirloom lighter when you’re trapped inside a snowman?! NOTHING you idiot, that’s the whole point! Heather burns her way through....and the real Snowman is standing there waiting for her. So Heather sets him on fire. Because he’s poor, his coat is probs made of some nasty super flammable synthetic material.

The police arrive and rescue Heather and put Snowman out, all thanks to Ben, who admits that he DID follow Heather on her date with Snowman, oh Ben you silly little stalker. Also, the check that was in Snowman’s shirt has luckily been burned up from Heather setting him on fire (I’m going to remember that one for the next time somebody tries to blackmail me.) Heather says she was cold with hatred but now she’s thawing?!?!?!? And this time it really IS the end.

Initial reaction: crushing disappointment that my speculation about Heather’s best friend Kim turning out to be the killer was wildly unfounded as Kim failed to even be a vaguely interesting or important character beyond her weird hoarse voice. But Snowman as the villain in a book called The Snowman just seemed..too obvious somehow, more fool me. Oh, also, I hate Heather. And I still don't really get why Snowman bothered to kill Uncle James in this first place.

But who cares about me, what do my lovely friends over at Amazon think?

"There are some good descriptions such as 'his dazzling white hair'. This makes you think about a snowman."

I can't disagree with that. Althoug to be fair, the reviewer does go on to suggest that perhaps Stine should hire a good ghost writer to 'help him along.' Hah, couldn't put it better myself.

Next time...I'm away for New Year in the back of beyond with no internet or phone access so I'll be back with you again in two weeks...have a spooky Christmas and a spine tingling New Year...


Fear Street said...

"Hey guys, remember chin clefts?"

I must say I love a good chin cleft.

This book sounds like every other Stine book ever written. I really like the cover, though, for some reason.

Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

This sounds terrible. It's everything that's bad about Stine's books.

...Nonetheless, I am looking forward to the next installment. Maybe it'll be Blood Sinister? I have that on my bookshelves and it's not a Point Horror edition and I remember nothing about it, except for things which might be from a completely different book.

Tom said...

so the deal with this book, which is why i obsessed over the possibility of it being 'next up on the felch-spoon', is, as you spotted, the GENIUS of having a book called the snowman, with a murder-y front cover about a snowman, in which the villain is just the guy called snowman ... wonder how long it took to write. this reminds me of that godawful shite movie called Valentine with the guy from buffy in it, and we're supposed to be in utter suspense all the way through as to who the killer is - but the killer is obv male and there's only one guy in the whole movie. ipso facto, cogito ergo sum, it's definitely him. which, sure enough, it turns out to be. soz if anyone hasn't seen it but it's a shitstain of a movie anyway i'm doing you a favour.

The Babysitter said...

Yeah, OK, I'm willing to concede that chin clefts probably rule. They're right up there with supersoakers and rollerblades in my top 10 things about the 90s.

Anonymous - the next book may well be Blood Sinister. In fact it almost definitely will be since I actually have that one in my possession.

Tom - hate to break it to you, but doesn't the killer in Valentine turn out to be the fat girl that nobody liked? Or there may have been a twist where youu think it's her but then the REAL twist is that it's Angel after all? I tend to switch off after too many twists. How do I even remember this? You're right, it is a shocking film.

zanne said...

Heather does sound a lot like Lauren Conrad!

Yes, obviously this book (and many others) were written pre-CSI (or pre-Forensic Files). Who would mix up a heart attack and strangulation?

Tom said...

IT WAS ANGEL ALL ALONG! with the nosebleeds and everything. doesn't he kill denise 'the monkey' richards with an electric drill in that movie?

Whitney G said...

The Dead Snow Mummies is totes going to be the name of my prog-rock band.

Also, seriously? Encasing her in a snowman? Who thinks this is a good idea? The logistics are unbelievable. First, you've got to wrestle the dead weight of the unconscious person into a position that's amenable to building a snowman around it, which can really only be accomplished with at least three people and a crane. (Not that I've tried this before, but that seems reasonable.) Then you have to hope that the person STAYS unconscious while you pack the snow and build the snowman. And of course there's the whole problem of HOW HARD CAN IT BE TO FREE YOURSELF FROM INSIDE A FREAKING SNOWMAN? Like, try moving your body, Heather. See if that works.

Whitney G said...

Although, to be fair to this book, I do love the whole bit about Snowman killing Uncle James because Heather kept bitching to him about how horrible her uncle was and how much she wanted him dead. There's a lesson to be learned here, kiddos. And that lesson is "don't gush on and on about wanting your uncle dead to just any cute guy, because that cute guy could be a raging sociopath." And I for one think that's a lesson worth learning.

Sadako said...

Haha, it's like Strangers on a Train for teenagers.

Also, how do you trap someone in a snowman?

Also, how do you set someone on fire with a mini lighter--eh, I'll just stop. Hilarious!