Tuesday, 24 March 2009

The Body - Carol Ellis

No, your eyes do not deceive you...it really is a new entry. And this time I've gone for an author I have never covered before, the gloriously named Carol Ellis with her magnum opus The Body.



First things first, the silver snake stick on the front cover is bitchin.’ It’s pretty much the perfect finishing touch to my pimp suit.

So, this basically a book about tapping. Tapping and Jane Eyre. I shit you not. A significant portion of this book is passages directly quoting Jane Eyre. Hey, guess what Carol Ellis? If I wanted to read Jane Eyre, I’d have read Jane Eyre. Or maybe watched the TV serialisation.

ANYWAY, Melanie is our heroine and she’s new to town and therefore has no friends (apart from Trina but she’s boorrrriiing). Melanie gets a job reading to Lisa – Lisa is an invalid who lives in a super creepy mansion. Lisa is the same age as Melanie but she’s paralysed, confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak after a cliff falling accident she had a few months ago or whenever.

Lisa’s dad is kind of an absentee father and the housekeeper Ms Hudson is a massive bitch and she only started working at the house after Lisa had her accident. I reckon that Lisa’s dad is secretly boofing the housekeeper, you read it here first.

Melanie decides to read Lisa Jane Eyre. Here begins the wholesale copy and pasting of Jane Eyre to reach a minimum word count. Nice one, Ellis. Melanie read out the bit where Jane Eyre suspects someone is plotting against Rochester after the fiery bed incident (SPOILER ALERT!) and Lisa manages to move her arm and narrow her eyes at this passage. I fear this is going to be a very slow paced book.

Melanie discovers that the house is riddled with CCTV, so at any point, pretty much anyone could be watching them. This is probably important. Melanie also meets Jeff, Lisa’s buff gardener. He’s also new to town. HOW CONVENIENT.

Jeff tells Melanie that Lisa had the accident by falling off a cliff. But he acts all weird and shifty about it and won't go into detail. Like, yawn.

On her way out, Melanie nearly collides with another car in the driveway. The driver is Garrett, and he’s Lisa’s boyfriend. Naturally, he is also super cute. Jeff and Garrett evidently hate each other, but I sense some sexual undercurrents between them.

Melanie goes to see her boring friend Trina in the diner where Trina works. (ps, I HATE this name, every time I type it out my spell check changes it to train. CURSES.) Trina is good for something and tells Melanie that Jeff was the one who discovered Lisa. Oooh, secrets and lies.


Garrett arrives at the diner with his crew. The only other important ones are Neil and Kim, who are a couple. Neil is a jerk and he makes a big deal out of flirting with Melanie and Kim is blates jealous and staring daggers at Melanie.

Melanie finds out one more important tidbit of information from Trina – last year this college guy backpacker called Peter passed through town and indulged in some light flirting with Kim – the goss is that Neil flipped out with jealousy and punched him. Oh, and this Peter kid also had a walking stick with a silver snake curled on the top – JUST LIKE ON THE COVER! (hehe, I almost typed “snail” instead of “snake” – now that would be pretty sweet.) Anyway, I cant believe these kids still even remember this one random dude. Also, Lisa’s accident happened whilst this mysterious Peter was in town.

Next day, Melanie is back at Lisa’s place reading Jane Eyre to her. Again, Lisa starts flipping out at one of the passages, Well, I say “flipping out”. For Lisa, flipping out pretty much consists of slightly moving her hand. Which, frankly, is less exciting than it could be.

Melanie and Lisa also work out a code: Lisa will blink once for yes and twice for no. When Melanie starts blabbing to everyone she knows about the code, Lisa’s friends fail to believe it. In fact, Garrett seems pretty pissed off about this whole communication thing and basically tells Melanie to back off.

Melanie agrees to go get something to eat with Jeff. Like, a DATE! And because of some stupid dream she had that I didn’t bother to bore you with she feels like she’s doing something incredibly dangerous and exciting.

Jeff tells her about when he found Lisa after her fall off the cliff. How romantic. It’s pretty standard, but Melanie is sure that he’s holding something back.

Later that night, Melanie gets her Jane Eyre on again and marks the passages in the book where Lisa was trying to communicate with her. Oh God, please don’t make me describe them.

Next time at Lisa’s, there’s a message inside Jane Eyre: “If you want to keep reading, be careful who you talk to.” Maybe it’s from Charlotte Bronte and she’s pissed that her novel is being used in this shitty little book for teenagers. But Melanie reckons it's Kim, the jealous girlfriend. Melanie also finally realises that whatever Lisa is trying to tell her, Lisa needs it to be kept secret.

Just before going on a bowling date with Jeff, Melanie goes through the Jane Eyre clues AGAIN, using her mad sleuthing skillz to figure out that Lisa was trying to tell her that a stranger with large black eyes had plotted against her and frightened her. Melanie decides that this may refer to Jeff. Melanie sure is keen to write Jeff off.

At home, Melanie gets a crank call from the note writer. The voice starts off high, thin and breathy like a little girl, before becoming deep and guttural. That’s so hot.

Jeff picks up Melanie up and Melanie is shitting herself that he’s going to kill her because of the random crappy little clues that she’s managed to use her one functioning brain cell to string together.

Back at home there’s a message for Melanie painted in red nail polish across the door: “Be careful Melanie, I know what you’re doing.” Naturally, despite worrying that the mystery author MAY ACTUALLY STILL BE IN HER HOUSE, Melanie doesn’t call the police. And she still thinks Kim is responsible.

Melanie sees Kim at the diner and confronts her. Kim does not appear to know what the hell Melanie is talking about.

Melanie tells Trina that Lisa is trying to tell her a secret, private message. Gee, for something that’s so private and secret, Melanie sure does tell an awful lot of people about it.

Later, at Lisa’s house, Melanie and Lisa sit outside and through the power of blinking, Lisa confirms that She DOES indeed want to tell Melanie something, and that it IS indeed top secret information. Melanie realises she’s left her book in the car and runs back to get it. And a tree branch nearly falls on Lisa that Jeff is sawing down. Melanie only just manages to move Lisa out the way. Umm, that was lucky I guess.

Jeff is all, ooooopsie, sorry, I was up the tree with the chainsaw and I didn’t see where the branch was going to land. This shit is like catnip to Melanie.

Garret shows up, as usual and Melanie is all, why do you always show up during reading time? Maybe YOU’RE the one leaving all these hideoso messages. Garrett denies it convincingly, and points the finger of blame towards Jeff. Because Melanie is incapable of thinking for herself she decides that Jeff is suspect number one.

At home, Melanie read though the Jane Eyre quotes again. AGAIN! FUCK!

On her way home from a babysitting job, someone tries to run Melanie over. Tragically, they fail. Trina shows up and once again Melanie confides in her. Trina comes up with a plan for Melanie to get more info AND foil the security cameras – tape some questions inside a magazine and show them to Lisa, then let the blinking do its magic. The first question she has is “Was there a crime?” That is such a dumb question that I think it’s actually just given me renal failure.

Next day, there’s a mudslide by the cliff (?) so Melanie has to go some weird long way around to get to Lisa’s house. Her car breaks down and she decides to walk through the forest to the house. As you can no doubt imagine, it is a jittery journey. Eventually Melanie comes to a clearing and finds the remains of a campfire, which is evidently where that guy Peter with the silver snake stick camped.

Melanie realises this as she finds the silver snake stick. Melanie reckons that Peter must have been killed and he’s buried somewhere round here. Well, I guess that’s as good a hypothesis as any. Melanie figures out that Lisa had been running from something in the forest when she fell off the cliff. I sure am glad that the police obviously did such a thorough examination of the area where Lisa was found. Oh wait a minute. This is a Point Horror book. Who calls the police?! Losers that’s who! Losers and fatties.

Melanie arrives at the house and Garrett is there. In the room with Lisa and Garrett, Lisa starts frantically doing her tapping thing and Melanie realises that Garrett is the one that Lisa is afraid of. Garrett basically admits that yes, he is the villain.

Garrett tells Melanie that after Neil punched snake stick Peter, Lisa offered to let him sleep on her property since its so big and all. Garrett and Neil went to visit him to try and get him to leave. Neil was still angry about Peter flirting with Kim and Garret was in a lousy mood since Lisa had told him that she wanted to break up with him. So Neil and Garrett ended up beating Peter to death. Oh Peter, we barely knew ye.

Lisa witnessed Garrett deliver the fatal blow with a rock, and Garrett needs to make sure she keeps her damn fool mouth shut.

Garret pulls out a knife , forcing Melanie to wheel Lisa outside so he can push them both off the cliff. Melanie outwits him outside by braking the wheelchair on the slope above Garrett and whispering to Lisa that she needs to release the brakes when Melanie tells her to. Melanie walks further away down the hill and tells him she’s not willing to cooperate in her own murder. Lisa is behind Garret on the hill and at Melanie’s command she releases the brakes and goes zooming towards Garret in her wheelchair. Wooo hoooo! This speeding wheelchair is probably the most exciting moment thus far. Mainly because it reminds me of that scene in The Witches with the speeding buggy. Let's just take a moment to picture it.

Anyway, Garrett gets knocked over and Melanie grabs the knife.

Conveniently, Ms Hudson and Lisa’s dadda show up with two policemen, which dad explains by saying he was worried because he tried calling and didn’t get an answer. Wait, you call the police for THAT? Oh well, its pretty handy anyway. Everything is happily resolved and Melanie completely forgets about all Jeff’s weird mood swings and suspicious behaviour that made her think he was a psycho and decides that he’s The One.

From this book I mainly learned that a stick with a silver snake on the top of it is a highly fashionable backpacking accessory. And that Jane Eyre is a much, much better book than The Body.

I must admit that one of the main reasons I chose The Body was the glowing reviews it received on Amazon. Glowing! You let me down Amazon, you let me down. But then one of the reviewers does spell the word "psychotic" as "cycotic" so perhaps I shouldn't have been too surprised when this wasn't a great piece of literature, like, say, hmmm....Jane Eyre?

I haven't decided what to do next time yet...any excellent suggestions? I really need a good one, preferably involving ghosts/zombies/icky monsters.

7 comments:

Whitney G said...

Wow. Picturing the wheelchair zooming down the cliff made me laugh out loud for reals.

If you're up for recapping a short story anthology, I recommend "13 Tales of Horror," which has stories by Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, Caroline B. Cooney, and all the other Point Horror greats.

Other suggestions: "The Mummy" by Barbara Steiner, "The Claw" by Carmen Adams, "Krazy 4 U" by A. Bates.

Anonymous said...

This mostly sounds really flat and cookie-cutter. In fact, I'm fairly confident Stine's used a near-identical plot in a Fear Street book; I remember the recap.

Hahaha, there was actually a book called "Krazy 4 U"? Excellent. Oh, I wish I remembered more of Point Horror, but it's been so many years... I still have a couple in my house, but they're in taped-up boxes in the attic.

poppet said...

Yay, thanks for an awesome recap of a snoresome book.
I think i remember hating The Body with a passion. Though I also hated Carol Ellis with passion too.
Hmm, i agree with the 13 Tales of Horror! i actually plan to buy that again soon...though who knows if it is quite as awesome now!
Or maybe The Cemetary by D. E. Athkins.
Were there any icky/monster P.H's?!

The Babysitter said...

13 Tales of Horror sounds like a stellar choice, thanks Whitney G and Poppet, I'll go get my Amazon on!

Although I also do NEED to read Krazy 4 U at some point soon, if only to marvel at its wonderfully prescient use of text speak.

In terms of icky monsters, I guess The Yearbook has always been one of my favourites, and that definitely involves a monster. Although I don't know that the monster could rightfully be described as "icky". I think the only word to truly desribe that particular monster would be "huh?"

Anonymous said...

Oh, the screwy books are the best. Pick that one. If not next, then soon.

Whitney G said...

Yeah, "13 Tales" was one of those books that I kept re-reading. Pike's short stories ("Collect Call" and "Collect Call II") are OK but pretty generic Pike, and Stine's "The Spell" is good for Stine, which...still isn't saying much. It's the less popular authors whose stories really shine. Caroline B. Cooney goes uber-weird with "Where the Deer Are," and Diane Hoh's "Dedicated to the One I Love" features an awesome death by common household object. And Jay Bennett's "The Guiccioli Miniature" is actually pretty damn intelligent - always a pleasant surprise in Point Horror fare.

As for "Krazy 4 U"...I don't remember much about it except that it's about a stalker, but damn I love that title.

Sati said...

I kinda like Carol Ellis, but this was definitely not her shining point. I just finished "My Secret Admirer" - that one was pretty cool, in a low-key way. Not quite a Cooney or Cusick, but pretty cool.

And you had to know that Garrett was the bad guy as soon as you saw his name. Garretts are always bad guys. Look at Swan's Crossing.