Teen

Flat-Out Love

business. Not that there isn’t business to get into, what with the youngest daughter carrying around a cardboard cutout of the eldest brother, Finn, since he’s traveling in Africa. Meanwhile, the parents are totally checked-out and most of the responsibility of taking care of Celeste falls to their middle, college-aged son, Matt. Everyone refuses to tell Julie anything about why Celeste needs Flatt Finn, and Matt tells her to leave it alone, but leaving things alone is beyond Julie. She starts talking to human Finn on Facebook, but he is equally unhelpful. Meanwhile, Julie decides to mess with Celeste by using Flat Finn to manipulate her into doing things outside of her comfort zone. After some confusing shenanigans involving a fear of heights, or possibly just escalators and elevators, Julie dumps her perfectly nice barista boyfriend because she’s falling in love with Finn on Facebook, something which is clearly a good idea. However, the family’s big secret around Flatt Finn will shake Julie to her core, only not really since it’s pretty obvious and also not really terrible or shameful, but since everyone in this book kinda sucks (except Celeste and Flatt Finn, who only gets a pass because he’s cardboard) there is, of course, drama. So join us for a book that begs the question: Why are there two more sequels, and when can we read them?

Be sure to check out I Drink Your Podcast, especially the Into the Wild episode featuring Danielle. You can find them on Twitter @IDYP_Podcast, Instagram @idyp_podcast, and listen wherever you get your podcasts.

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer

In the finale of this year’s Spook Retorts, Danielle shares the 1998 movie I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. If you remember anything about the first I Know What You Did Last Summer, it’s about a hook-wielding fisherman seeking bloody revenge against a group of teens that hit him with a car and left him for dead. For this sequel, just forget all that, it’s doesn’t matter. Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) is now at college and trying to put the trauma of the previous summer behind her, despite her boyfriend Ray’s (Freddie Prinze Jr.) best efforts. However, when she wins a radio contest for a free tropical vacation in the middle of hurricane season, she brings her friends along to a deserted island hotel. People start predictably being murdered and Julie catches sight of the hook-wielding man who is now, for some reason, killing random people who didn’t hit him with a car. A hurricane rolls in trapping everyone on the island, and while the hotel knew this was coming, it is inexplicably still open. The murderer also demonstrates some hitherto unknown hacking powers on a karaoke machine for the sole purpose of spooking the teens, because apparently revenge is the last thing on his mind just behind pranks. Predictably, the bodies pile up as Julie and her friends try to survive and as Ray somehow magics himself onto the island to help. There is a particularly dumb twist at he end, but Sam is really more interested in the story that isn’t being told: An average day in the life of the hook-wielding murder.

Wolves

In the penultimate Spook Retorts episode of this year, Sam brings the fanged action with the 2014 movie Wolves. Cayden is your average teen living an idyllic high school life. He’s quarterback of the football team, has a great girlfriend, and rad parents. Unfortunately, after having some nightmares, he finds himself turning into a werewolf and attacking his girlfriend before blacking out and apparently murdering his parents. Now on the lam, Cayden seeks answers as to his wolfy origins. Cayden is led to the very subtly named town of Lupine Ridge, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s just chock-full of werewolves. It should be pointed out that these are less werewolves and more wolf-transformers as they seem the be able to change at will, and none of the werewolf lore applies to them, much to the consternation of Danielle. Anyway, Jason Momoa plays the also subtly named Connor Slaughter, who’s been terrorizing and dominating the town for years, and takes an instant dislike to Cayden. But Cayden can’t leave yet because there’s a pretty werewolf girl with the extremely subtle name of Angel whom he just can’t stop thinking about. Anyway, when another wolf, Carter, tries to warn Cayden to leave, Connor has Carter killed and eaten for revealing too much to Cayden. At this point there are so many C-names in this movie neither Danielle nor Sam can keep them all straight. All that is before we even get to the twisted family tree that relates all these people and seems to defy comprehension. Rarely has a move had so many werewolves in it, and yet has so much non-werewolf relationship drama. So stick around to hear about Cayden’s true origins, and allusions to much more interesting sounding , but sadly never seen, imperialist werewolves. Oh, and also improvised manure mines, because there’s a little Home Alone in every werewolf, apparently.

Bury Me Deep

It’s Sam’s turn in the Great Switcheroo to share the 1991 Christopher Pike book Bury Me Deep. Jean is your average horned-up teenage girl who was written by an author who’s definitely human and totally understands how human girls work. Jean is excited for a trip to Hawaii with her friends, but finds herself delayed a few days for reasons too stupid to be real. Finally on the plane to Hawaii, the boy, Mike, in the seat next to Jean dies violently, leaving Jean shaken. But there’s no time for trauma when there are cute boys giving scuba diving lessons at the hotel, so Jean puts aside her experience and tires to enjoy the time with her friend Mandy and also Michelle, the random girl who just invited herself along on the vacation and now spends all her time locked in their shared hotel suite bedroom having sex with Dave, the older of the two diving instructors. Jean starts having spooky dreams about Mike, and is drawn to a particular underwater cave off the Island of Lanai. When Jean recklessly dives to the cave alone she finds a human skull and promptly freaks out. Neither of the cute instructors, Dave or Johnny, believe she saw the skull, and upon investigation Dave can’t find it in the cave. Is jean falling apart from her traumatic experience? Are Dave and Johnny more than simply cute dive instructors, and what happened to their missing partner Ringo (yes, Ringo)? What does any of this have to do with Mike? Will Mandy ever be treated with respect in this book? Help Sam solve this mystery (spoiler, it’s not that mysterious) in the conclusion of our first Great Switcheroo!

Vampire Academy

This week Danielle brings a little Halloween in July with the 2014 film Vampire Academy. Rose Hathaway is a teenage Dhampir (mostly human vampire) and is guardian-in-training for her best friend Princess Vasilisa (Lissa) Dragomir, a Moroi (pacifist full vampire). They have run away from their titular school after a deadly car accident left Lissa without her family. They are soon tracked down and returned to school, because they’re teenagers, where they arrive in the middle of a Strigoi (evil, non-pacifist vampire) attack at the school gates. At this point, Sam has reached his limit of nonsense fantasy words and exposition, but the movie, and Danielle, aren’t even close to done. Back at school there’s some sinister force harassing Lissa who uses her magic powers (of course she has magic powers) to manipulate everyone into liking her and becoming like, so totally popular you guys. There are some dreamy, broody vampire (and half-vampire) boys, of course, but none of that really seems to matter. In fact, none of the plot of this book really seems to matter as it serves more as a vehicle for vampire world exposition. And boy, does Sam have questions about that vampire world, questions for which Danielle has too few answers. Lissa’s life is eventually endangered in a predictable twist, there’s some almost sex that is surprisingly responsible in terms of power structures, and something called Psi Hounds make an appearance, which are basically just regular dogs with glowing eyes that are psychic in ways that are subtle and irrelevant. So listen and enjoy as both Sam and Danielle examine the finer points of vampire caste systems and reproductive habits. We could seriously use a biologist, and maybe a sociologist, to help figure this one out.

Agent Cody Banks

This week Sam brings Danielle back to the heady days of 2003 with the movie Agent Cody Banks. Cody Banks (Frankie Muniz) is your average 15-year-old boy, except he was scooped up, in what has the be the most slipshod CIA training program ever, to become a youth agent. Why was Cody chosen for this prestigious role? We don’t know, and neither does the CIA. Nonetheless, when the evil organization E.R.I.S. is planning on using the nanobots invented by Dr. Albert Connors for…something evil probably, the CIA taps Cody to foil their evil plan. Using all the suave and subtlety of a teenage boy, Cody is to befriend Dr. Connor’s daughter Natalie (Hilary Duff) to secure an invention to her upcoming Las Vegas themed birthday party and attempt to…talk to Dr. Connors? Honestly, all the plans in this movie are as straightforward as an Escher drawing and not nearly as well composed. Now Cody must overcome his greatest weakness, talking to girls, and become the top agent the CIA has been training him to be for all of the past two summers so he can save the world (or something).

Correction: Hilary Duff did not appear in the sequel Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London. We regret the error and apologize to Ms. Duff and her family for any pain this characterization may have caused. Our bad.

The Eternal Enemy

Danielle digs deep into the 90s’ well with the Christopher Pike novel The Eternal Enemy. Rela is just a normal girl who loves boys, cookies, and VCRs. Her life goes off the rails when the VCR she just bought turns out to be recording TV shows from the future! This doesn’t really matter as Rela is more interested in the cute boy, Chris, at her school. However, Rela does record a future news broadcast where she’s murdered by a weird stalker, but she decides her best course of action is to go about her daily life, as one would. Sam is already confused about what’s going on, and that’s before the stalker turns about to be Rela’s grandfather from the future trying to preserve the robot takeover of Earth. There’s a lot moral waffling about what has a soul and if humans should be replaced by cyborg hybrids, but Sam is firmly on the robots’ side in all this despite the best arguments to the contrary. If you think the philosophizing is confusing, wait until all the weird time travel paradoxes rear their ugly heads. So enjoy Blockbuster, VCRs, and startlingly fast adoptions in this 90s fueled sci-fi drama!

The Arm of the Starfish – Part 2

This week Danielle has the thrilling conclusion of Madeleine L’Engle’s The Arm of the Starfish. Adam finally learns a bit about the experimental work of Dr. O’Keefe, and Sam is aghast at the reckless disregard for safety and scientific rigor. Adam seems less bothered by this and is ready to commit to O’Keefe and his work, but O’Keefe, inexplicably, insists that Adam go on dinner date with Kali at her father’s hotel first. Before leaving for the date, Poly has a premonition and insists Adam take a switchblade syringe filled with shark tranquilizer and conceal it in his swimming trunks for when he and Kali inevitably go swimming. It’s difficult to convey how truly crazy this is, and it’s even crazier that they are indeed attacked by sharks but are saved by the kinda psychic dolphin. After that incident, O’Keefe gives Adam the assignment to slip some secret papers about his work to his friends in the embassy right under Typhon Cutter’s nose. It’s a plan that is far too unnecessarily convoluted to get into here, but there are complications, backstabbing, mortal peril, and some truly hilarious attempts at cloak-and-dagger shenanigans. Also, just when this book should be over, there are more shark attacks. Seriously, for a book titled The Arm of the Starfish, there are way more sharks than you’d think, and and way fewer starfish.

The Arm of the Starfish – Part 1

This week Danielle breaks out the Madeleine L’Engle classic The Arm of the Starfish. Adam is your typical-sixteen-year old biology prodigy on his way to Lisbon to work with superstar biologist Dr. O’Keefe. While being held up at the airport because of fog, Adam is approached by the attractive Kali who warns him not to trust the O’Keefes. Adam is perplexed by this encounter, but shrugs it off as he jets off across the Atlantic, before making an unexpected stop in Madrid due to yet more fog. While there, a friend of the O’Keefes, a priest named Canon Tallis, is escorting Poly, the twelve-year-old daughter of the O’Keefes, back from a vacation in the U.S. Tallis asks Adam, the teenage boy he just met, to take over the escort duty of this young girl while he does some business in Madrid. This is the first of many bafflingly terrible decisions every character seems to make. On the flight from Madrid to Lisbon Poly is immediately, and expertly, kidnapped. Fortunately, Dr. O’Keefe is nonplussed by the loss of his daughter when Adam arrives. Later, while recuperating in a hotel Adam is magically found by Kali, who just happens to be in the neighborhood and who insists on taking him to meet her mega-rich-totally-not-evil businessman father Typhon Cutter. Typhon has just so happened to have found Poly and is returning her to the O’Keefes on the condition Adam reports to him on the super secret, world changing work Dr. O’Keefe is doing. Sam is annoyed that Typhon gives up a perfectly good kidnapped hostage to instead rely on a stranger of a teenager to get his information for him. Adam, meanwhile, must wrestle with the most difficult question of who to trust: The world famous scientist he’s going to work for, or the kidnapping businessman who wants him to spy on the O’Keefes. Also, there aren’t really any starfish in this part, but there is a kinda psychic dolphin, so that has to count for something.

Book Reshorts: Partial Recall

In this week’s Book Reshorts, Danielle puts Sam’s memory skills to the test! This time she challenges Sam to recall everything he can about Sweet Valley High and Margo’s murder spree from all those months ago. However, he struggles to remember the names of everyone, or that there is, in fact, more than one cute but otherwise nondescript boy in the book. See how well he does, and if you can do better, in Partial Recall!