Summer continues in one of the most boring reads I’ve ever forced myself through. Get ready for a dull ride.
The cover (taken from its Amazon page) is okay. It’s a little unclear what exactly is happening here, and they tried to put in a lot of elements from the book that I think muddy it. You could probably do something a lot more dynamic with the drowning girl and make it clearer that you were saving one and not the other. Also the smoldering David Duchovny-esque lifeguard is a little out of place in what should be a tense scene.
A lifeguard’s job can be murder…
I think they could’ve tied in a little more to the high tide element of the title, but this is serviceable.
Adam and his girlfriend Mitzi are on a water scooter out at the beach. Adam’s a lifeguard, and when Mitzi goes overboard, he turns around to save her, but unfortunately the bladed bottom of the water scooter lops her head off instead. Still, he tries to carry her off, but the scooter keeps coming back again and again, slicing at Adam’s legs and body and sending him drowning into the sea. I started laughing uncontrollably at this part because I just kept imagining a ski doo going in circles, slicing up his leg every time it made a pass. Luckily Adam wakes up from this horrifying nightmare thanks to his roommate Ian. It turns out Mitzi did drown on an accident with a water scooter last year, Adam being unable to save her, and he’s been haunted and guilty ever since. He sees Dr. Thall for his psychiatry, who Ian mentions is known for going on talk shows and has unorthodox methods in therapy, so I immediately assumed Dr. Thall was going to be our major villain. Adam hallucinates that his legs are missing and goes to see his doctor.
Dr. Thall doesn’t seem to say anything that wouldn’t have already been discussed after a year of therapy, but he tells Adam his nightmares are most likely coming from some subconscious thought or fear. Dr. Thall gently suggests that maybe he shouldn’t still be a lifeguard when he’s suffering hallucinations related to beach deaths, but Adam insists he needs to get over this. Adam leaves the office and runs into his “girl [he’s] going out with this summer” (and his ambiguity will come into play later). The talk a little, and Adam hallucinates Mitzi with a skeleton face, an image that is favored by Stine.
We skip over to Sean who is using his lifeguard position to spy on a girl named Alyce. He sneaks up behind her, grabs her by the waist, and kisses her, which pisses her off, and Sean tells her she loves it when she’s clearly upset, so I was happily awaiting his timely death. Alyce tells him she has a date, and he threatens to kill the guy. Adam shows up, and he and Alyce are flirty. Sean gets pissy and tells Adam a story about a girl he was seeing in high school who snuck out on him (constantly spelled as “sneaked” which bothered me to no end but I double checked with Grammarist who validates Americans). Sean found the guy and constantly sent him threats until he thought he’d never act on them, and then he dragged the guy into the woods and beat the shit out of him. Adam asks him why he would tell anyone that story oh my god why and Sean says what’s actually a pretty good line, “Because I saw the way you were looking at Alyce.”
Adam goes back to his apartment with Ian who is getting ready for a date. Ian borrows Adam’s car and clothes and food. Adam’s also about to out on a date not with Leslie, and Ian warns him Leslie’s been known to get really pissed at even a hint of infidelity. I feel like this is kind of an old school idea, that you were dating and you could date several people until you were “going steady” or something whereas my generation you just hang out until you decide you’re dating but I don’t know I’m an old person it’s just a weird thing that pops up constantly. Anyway, Adam thinks he sees Ian’s dead body, but it’s another hallucination. Leslie calls and he lies to her before going out on his date.
Sean meanwhile is showing up at Alyce’s place uninvited because he thinks his molestation and then demanding a date from her won him a place at 8pm, but her roommate tells him she’s already out with a guy. Sean drives to the movie theater to find her, nearly beating up like three guys on his way there because he’s so angry. He sees her with some unnamed guy who we’re supposed to assume is Adam, because Leslie is there and sees it too, and is clearly upset. Sean is so mad he drags a guy into the alley and punches him bloody until Leslie stops him. The next day he sees Adam on the beach and is antagonistic towards him.
Adam doesn’t notice at first, since he’s reconnecting with two friends from Shadyside High, of which they are all alumn. Joy and Raina joke about how they both used to go out with Adam (see: one date). Adam makes plans with them and heads back to the lifeguard stand where Sean is mean to him. Adam hallucinates someone crashing a water scooter, someone he thinks is himself. He goes to his therapist to talk it out. Dr. Thall is convinced there’s something buried in his mind that he’s trying to remember, mentioning some experimental treatments that are worth trying.
Adam, Raina, and Joy go out and dance. They seem to be at some shmaltzy seaside bar. Leslie shows up, clearly pissed that he’s out with ladies tonight and the lady he was out with the night before. She chews him out in front of everyone and dumps him. Back on the beach the next day, Raina and Joy joke with him about it, especially since she threatened him. A high tide is coming in, so he tells them to be careful and stay in the shallows of the beach while he goes to set up the warning flags. His warnings are for nothing though, as he sees both girls caught by a current and being dragged out to sea. He’s alone, and he grabs a life preserver and dives into the ocean. Raina seems to be unconscious so he focuses on getting her out fist, but Joy doesn’t want to be left behind, nearly drowning all of them in the process. Adam promises to come back for her, brings Raina to shore, and then Joy disappears, apparently drowned.
Adam wakes up, hoping it was all another bad dream, but Ian confirms to him that Joy drowned but Raina survived. This is clearly traumatizing for poor Adam as it’s the second girl he feels he killed. He stays home and mopes around until the phone rings and someone threatens him. He thinks it might be Leslie, still mad. He goes for a walk, and in the fog he thinks he sees Joy, who tells him he let her drown. When he runs up to her, she’s gone, but there are footprints in the sand. He has another dream about Mitzi on the water scooter, and he realizes it’s not him riding on the scooter with her. Ian wakes him up and tells him to go see his therapist, which he definitely should do.
Adam goes out instead and runs into Leslie. They talk for a bit. She’s still mad that he lied to her, and he tries to explain about it, but she makes it clear she’s not interested. He then tells her he thought she’d be a little more sympathetic since the drowning, but she has no idea what he’s talking about. She shows him the newspaper, which has no mention of someone drowning.
Adam’s confused, but he knows Ian confirmed for him that it really happened, it wasn’t a hallucination. He sees Joy’s ghost again and tries to call out to her. He goes home and finds his jacket wrapped around a mutilated seagull with the note YOU’RE NEXT. Adam seeks out Raina, but she can’t talk to him and tells him to meet her that night at the dock.. He tries to ask Sean if he left the seagull for him, but Sean is distant as well. Adam has no idea what’s going on and wanders around for a long time before going home, where he sees a man broke into his home and is wielding a knife. Adam chases him, tackles him, and it’s Sean (no surprise). It turns out Ian is the one who went out with Alyce, and since Ian is constantly stealing Adam’s things, he assumed Adam’s room was Ian’s. Adam manages to calm him down. He tells him to go talk to Alyce without acting violently, and Sean goes on his way. He waits for Ian to come home, warning him to stay in tonight in case he runs into Sean, and then he runs off to the dock. He shows up, where he sees Raina and Joy, both alive and well.
Raina and Joy explain Dr. Thall approached them to try a radical treatment. He wanted them to fake a drowning so Adam would have another traumatic experience, hopefully shaking his repressed memory loose. He’s understandably mad, they try to apologize, and he runs off, grabbing a water scooter and riding out into the ocean. But he finds a memory does shake loose when he relives the event, and it’s not him driving the water scooter, it’s Ian!
This raises so many questions. First of all, deeply unethical. Fire that therapist. Bad, bad therapist. How did Dr. Thall know about Raina and Joy? How did he convince them to fake drown? How were the police not involved? And it’s implied that the Joy apparition was actually Joy who didn’t actually drown so why was she blaming him for letting her drown when she didn’t drown. Your dumb therapy is terrible and everyone involved should go to jail.
Ian shows up on a water scooter of his own, because he’d assumed Adam’s memory had come back. Ian let Adam think he was the one who killed Mitzi because it got him off the hook, and now that Adam remembers, Ian has to kill Ian for reasons? Even though at worst it’s manslaughter? They have a water scooter fight, but Adam manages to pull Ian off his, and when his leg is sliced, Adam swims him back to shore where the police arrest him. He also sees Sean and Alyce who have decided to give it a shot even though Sean is a terrible, terrible person oh god Alyce please don’t date this man, and Leslie makes up with Adam, so it’s happily ever after except for Alyce who is stuck with violent abuser Sean.
That was the worst, thinking a fish had eaten the eyeballs out of my head.
Fear Street Trends
There’s not a ton going on in this book. None of the names popped out to me, and like with the other summer books the kids are mostly described in their swimsuits and by their hair color. The idea of a psychologist on TV does feel very topical, but I think it’s more a way of introducing extreme therapy rather than poke fun at anything.
It took me a while to get through this one just because nothing happened the whole time and when stuff did finally happen it was nonsensical. In the end I’m supposed to forgive Sean even though he’s literally the worst person in this book in a book where someone tries to commit a murder. I’m giving it one decapitated beach babes out of five.