Vampires are so in right now.

Remember how lots of the teen horror books had parts of the covers that were raised off the front, to create a 3-d-ish affect? This one totally reminded me of that. Well, this is fitting, since everyone is all ga-ga about the Twilight* movie business.

Caroline B. Cooney, if she even exists as one person, wrote mediocre stuff, if you ask me. And you are asking me, because you are reading this. I think she did the Fog, Fire, Flood series which I barely remember. However, The Cheeleader is by one one of the best written thrillers I can remember reading. Perhaps it is even in Christopher Pike league? Dare I say.

Basic plot: shy, drippy Althea discovers a vampire in her house who strikes a bargain- he will take the “lives” of people in return for making her a popular cheerleader. He doesn’t kill them, but takes their energy, their livlihood, and basically their personalities until the person is a hollow shell. Althea, the character, struggles with the dilmena about ruining people’s lives versus making hers better. You are probably thinking this sounds like a shitty straight-to-video horrow movie starring Brittany Snow or something. But there are several reasons why it kicks ass and is not like all the other teen stuff at the time:

  • Althea is not decribed as unpopular, but just unnoticed. She kinds of drifts in and out without people noticing her. She had some good friends in junior high, but they drifted apart because they had better things to do. The way she was described really hit home for me and was pretty heartbreaking.
  • As the book starts, she had already discovered the vampire in her old house, so we get right into the action, so there is no build up or cliched introduction. This is pretty outside the norm of your basic storytelling, so it was pretty unique writing.
  • Althea’s parents and family are not even mentioned at all. We assume they exist and also live in this house, but never mentioned.  Which, is kind of weird, but I think also on purpose, to add to the sublimeness of the whole thing.
  • The struggle Althea has between hurting others and benefiting herself goes more complex than one would think: she thinks a lot about if she is popular because people actually like her for herself, or if they are just under the influence of the vampire, and ultimately, does that really matter to her? because it’s about he she feels? I have to say, a little shallow sociopathic side of myself thought that for me, it wouldn’t really matter to me, the attention would feel great.
  • Nothing is explained too much, which I love; not everything needs to be spelled out. We never know how or why the vampire is in her house, or how he influences her classmates to think she is popular, or even what happens to the people whose souls he takes.

I’d actually like to see this one as a movie, I think it could work, if it was done in a sublime way, not a teeny-bopper way.

Anyone else read this? Thoughts, opinions?

*Regarding Twilight: from all the hype and what I have heard about it, I hate it already. However, I am considering reading it and posting my thoughts here. Eventually. I don’t know. Like I said, it is already overhyped for me. Maybe it’s too built up.

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66 thoughts on “Vampires are so in right now.

  1. maybeimamazed02 says:

    I haven’t read it, though I did like Cooney’s The Face on the Milk Carton (though the sequels kinda blew) and Operation: Homefront (about three kids whose mom was a soldier, pretty touching). This one sounds interesting, though.

    I’d like to hear your opinions of the Twilight series. IMO, it IS way overhyped, Meyer’s writing is not great, and Bella pisses me off more often than not. Oh, and I like Jacob (her friend) way better than Edward (her omg true LURVE).
    However, the story is compelling at times, and I do like the movie’s casting. Just don’t read Breaking Dawn, aka Hours of My Life I Will Never Get Back.

  2. Miz Odd says:

    The first book in the Twilight series is okay in a fairly bland and inoffensive sort of way. From the second book on, however, they just get painful. The “heroine” is whiny, unlikeable, and so boring that it’s hard to believe she’d capture the devotion of an AV club geek, much less two powerful creatures of the supernatural. Of her suitors, one is a prissy drama queen and the other’s practically a date-rapist. but we’re supposed to think they’re all that and a bag of O+ or something. Don’t even get me started on the way every adult is addressed by their first name (doesn’t anyone call their parents “mom” or “dad” anymore?) or how her father congratulates her “best friend” for forcing himself on her. I can’t believe people are paying money for it.

  3. MsBleuGenes says:

    I just reread this one. The only thing that pisses me off about it is that Althea doesn’t stand up to him until he asks for “perfect” Constance. I like the scene in the pizza place where Althea can pick out the future popular girls because they’ll show off and dance to the jukebox.

  4. Biff BULLETS! says:

    Caroline B. Cooney totally exists. She came to speak at my junior high when I was in eighth grade. This was, of course, a huge deal preceded by mandatory reading of The Face On The Milk Carton and some book about a (brunette, brainy, maybe a little chunky) girl entering a beauty pageant (thereby learning valuable life lessons and growing as a person).

    Even as an impressionable youth I remember being profoundly underwhelmed. But, uh, she did kinda snark R. L. Stein during her speech, and talk about pizza toppings. Anyway: not just a brand name. Lame. Looks like your friend’s mom.

    I had to de-lurk just to mention that, and also to say that I am totally in love with this blog. It’s as addictive as the works of Christopher Pike and scrunchie socks combined so, you know, keep up the awesomeness.

  5. Taren says:

    I actually really liked Twilight. It’s the sequels that bug me. In my opinion, Bella wasn’t as whiny and unlikeable in the first book. It’s the piss poor fan fiction that passes itself off as three legitimate sequels that ruins the characters. Don’t even get me started on the supposed “leak” of Stephenie Meyer’s latest book. Her drama queen behavior makes Bella look positively likeable.

  6. badenbaden says:

    I just finished Twilight. Let’s just say if you value good writing, you might start pulling your hair out. However, the last third of the book is pretty gripping. But, there are serious writing issues, huge gender-ing issues, and a vague religious undertone that leaves me uncomfortable.

    I think I’m mixing up this book, btw, with RL Stine’s Cheerleader series, which I just re-purchased and have yet to re-read.

  7. perfectsize12 says:

    I read this book and I loved it! I actually wore out my copy re-reading it so damn much as a kid. Did you know that there were two sequels to this one? I remember the first sequel – it took place years later. A high school-aged girl moves into the house with her family, discovers the vampire, makes a wish, etc. However, she doesn’t wish for popularity. She wishes for beauty, because she feels plain and relatively average. Once she gets beauty, she becomes greedy and wishes for brains, athletic ability, etc… The vampire takes these things away from her classmates and she finally realizes it’s wrong, blah blah blah. It wasn’t as good as the first book, but it wasn’t too bad. The third book took place years after the second book and involved a group of kids making wishes. All I remember about it was that the kids discovered that there were two vampires in the attic – one between the shutters and one under the floorboards. I think the vampires ending up battling it out or some such nonsense. I don’t think I liked it!

    I also wore out my Face on the Milk Carton books with all the re-reading!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I felt the same way about Twilight. I wanted to hate it. The taglines for the movie are kind of lame. No one can write better teen horror than Christopher Pike!!!

    But I kind of got sucked in anyway. I think it’s at least worth a read.

  9. Diana says:

    No amount of hype can prepare you for how bad Twilight is. Really.

    I’m currently on the second book and so far I actually think it’s better than the first. Better pacing and not as much constant repetition of how hot Edward is and what a klutz Bella is. WE GET IT, Steph. WE GET IT.

  10. Genevieve says:

    I read this one multiple times as a kid, I found it really creepy. Totally in Christopher Pike’s league. And you should do “Die Softly” sometime, speaking of Christopher Pike, because who doesn’t love teen books with a little voyeurism and sex talk?

    Anyway. Twilight was ok. The way Bella felt about Edward in the first book and when he left was exactly how I felt about my high school boyfriend and when we broke up, so I related to that and liked it better than most people. (I’m still dating my high school boyfriend, we broke up for a few years and got back together.) Anyway. I liked them all pretty well, even the last book that was generally reviled. Not great literature, but a nice way to spend a weekend.

  11. Deathy says:

    I never read this one though I did read the sequels. I liked the Return of the Vampire but really hated the third one. I wore out my copies of The Perfume, Freezetag, and Twins, though. I always liked Caroline B. Cooney’s writing style. Simple but interesting. I might have to read this one. ^_^

    I read Twilight recently just to see what all the hype was about. It’s worth reading if only to snark. ^_^

  12. muriel mercurial says:

    I agree with you about the Twilight series. I haven’t read it, and I don’t plan on it because it’s hyped up so much. I’d rather not read a book that glorifies being subservient to some controlling man. Unless it’s 80’s Y.A. Lit.

  13. Eli says:

    Zomg, loved this book. I remember being totally creeped out when she described the vampire’s skin as being like mushrooms.

    And also, LOVED Face on the Milk Carton…even the totes craptastic movie adaptation with Kellie Martin and Sharon Lawrence.

  14. Erica says:

    I used to love Caroline B. Cooney. For some reason Face on a Milk Carton was a biiig fav with me and my friends.

    As for Twilight…I can honestly say that its the kind of book one should read only to mock. And the sequels only get worse. Like I read them hoping maybe there would be some magical moment where it got really good but…nope. I especially hate that the main female character lets her man rule her whole world.

    Great website by the way.

  15. Melissa says:

    I remember this book. LOOOOOVED it and want to make you a friendship bracelet for mentioning it here.

    In regards to “Twilight”-don’t. Just. Don’t. Edward the omg hottie true luuurve vampire is a dullard control freak and Bella is the least likable character I’ve read in a long time. She’s supposed to be so spunky and independent but she can barely stand upright without the love of a good man.

    And don’t even get me started about the whole no sex til you’re married subplot…..

  16. The Black Sheep says:

    I read this one as well as the first sequel. I’ve never really liked vampire books. Is the face on the milk carton like ‘the voice on radio’? About a girl called Janie who was abducted or something?

  17. Loretta says:

    Oh my god, I loved Caroline B Cooney growing up. I read all her books, from her horror ( I read a lot of horror- anyone remember Diane Hoh and D.E.Athkins?) to her Girl Growing Up Discovering Stuff books- I reread most of them a million times. I can admit SVH is bad in retrospect, but I can never dislike CBC.

  18. ktcheval says:

    Caroline B. Cooney wrote one of my favorite books ever, Among Friends. I borrowed it from the school library in 4th grade and never gave it back– I paid them to keep it. I lost my copy before I left for college and I just bought it Amazon as sort of gift to myself after the bar exam. It STILL makes me cry.

    But anyway– I did read this one and the sequels. This was always my favorite of the trilogy, though. I always thought it was weird that CBC never mentioned Althea’s family but I realize that it makes sense now– they really weren’t that important to the story.

  19. Susan says:

    The next Teen Read Week theme is “Books With Bite” or “Books That Bite”. We ordered a TON of new vampire books… maybe I’ll let the teens read them, after I’m done of course

  20. Cassie says:

    Oh, I remember this book! I LOVED Caroline B Cooney’s book I’m Not Your Other Half, I really identified with the feminist message in it.

    I agree with Genevieve about Twilight – not great literature but fun and entertaining. You have to read it just so you can get to the hilarity of the 4th book!

  21. Stacey says:

    Do you guys remember “Saturday Night” , “Last Dance”, “New Years Eve” and “Summer Nights” by Caroline B Cooney?

    Those books changed my life, I am not even kidding! Each book took place on the night of a big (usually formal) dance and the characters were just amazing.

    I just re-bought them at a used store in brand new condition. I can’t wait for my step-daughere to read them. I was her age when I did, but I don’t feel like she is mature enough for some reason.

  22. I_ate_my_twin says:

    I’m ashamed to say the Twilight books are my favorite guilty pleasure – I even hide them from my husband.

    The Twilight books are entertaining, addictive, in fact, but we’re not talking literature. Bella is not and should not be a role model for any young woman but she does remind me of myself . . . when I was 12

    After I read the last one, I plan to donate them to a used bookstore to get rid of the evidence.

  23. nikki says:

    Read Twilight at your own risk. I got the first one (Twilight) out of the library just to see what the hype was about. I thought it was fair, at best. Should have been completely forgettable. But for some reason I was absolutely COMPELLED to go out and read the next two. I just finished Breaking Dawn, but I had to interrupt my own reading to post a blog about how much I hate Bella Swan.

    If you do want to read it, make it into a drinking game! Every time Edward’s body is described as like marble, take a shot. Wait….that’s not a good idea. You’d be dead of alcohol poisoning after a few chapters.

    BTW, I didn’t read this Caroline B. Cooney, but I was obsessed with The Face on the Milk Carton. A book which I’ll be blogging within the next month or so 🙂

  24. ihatewheat says:

    you’ve peaked my interest. Maybe I’ll do a play by play of my reactions as I read Twilight.

    I totally remember Face on the Milk Carton too. Wasn’t it that the gal’s original “mother” was in a cult and kidnapped her from a yuppy family, so the cult gal’s parents were noe raising her? Apparently they were redheads and I remember the Kellie Martin movie they all had bad wigs/bad dye jobs.

  25. Stacie says:

    OK, I read this book about 10 million times and I loved it. (And I would totally read this and Face on the Milk Carton today if I still had them.)

    I remember that in the 6th or 7th grade my English teacher wouldn’t let us buy Caroline B. Cooney books from the Scholastic monthly book club thing. I’m sure it had something to do with the mentions of sex. Which, of course, made us read them quicker.

  26. Sue says:

    ktcheval, I totally came on here to say how much I loved Caroline B. Cooney for “Among Friends”! It’s weird, CBC wrote a lot of crap, but she also wrote some really good YA fiction as well. Among Friends is really well written (all of those different perspectives in the “diaries”) and has a great, interesting story of what happens to three best friends when one becomes a shining, overachiever and starts leaving the other two average girls behind.

    Stacey, I also love the Dance books – I just re-read them earlier this year, and they’re still great, in a cheesy, YA low-class paperback kind of way. Although a warning for any re-readers or your stepdaughter: the fourth book is pretty awful. The first three are pretty consistent, and then the fourth book seems to forget everything that came before: the introduction of a major new character, relationships formed at the end of the last book, etc.

  27. Chris says:

    I don’t remember this Caroline B. Cooney book, but I so loved “Operation Homefront”! And of course “Milk Carton”. Especially the made for TV movie of “Milk Carton” which, incidentally, I just watched again a few weeks ago.

    My absolute fave CBC book was “Flight 29 is Down” about a plane that crashes in this rich girl’s backyard. I swear I remember every passenger’s touching background story. Especially the little girl with the quarter band-aided to her hand.

  28. Layla says:

    I don’t remember this one, but I loved “I’m not Your Other Half”. I just read “Twilight” and it did make me nostalgic for Point Horrors, so I might re-read some of them soon.

  29. Cyanne says:

    Speaking of CBC did anyone here ever read “Freeze Tag.” It had a dumb premise but got hella trippy toward the end; it was about this girl named Lennie who nobody liked cause she wore second hand clothes and was weird or something. But when Lennie grew up she developed this power to literally freeze people, and she started working her way through the neighborhood kids who had teased her. The best part of it was that it was written from the perspective of one of her victims!

    Anybody??

  30. Chance0508 says:

    Wow – I just found my copy of this the other day! I went through a phase where I collected all the Point horror books. Does anyone else remember The Ghosts of Departure Point? Anyone read Richie Tankersly Cusick’s The Lifeguard? How about the Twilight…Where Darkness Begins series, or the Dark Forces series? I still have all of mine, and reread them every few years.

  31. Lucy Honeychurch says:

    I loved “Among Friends.”

    I also loved the Fog, Fire, Flood series, mainly because of its setting. The idea of living on an island appealed to me. For years I wanted the tricolor hair she apparently had; I thought it sounded so great. Now I think it probably looked rather appalling.

  32. Elizabeth says:

    I used to love CBC–especially Face on the Milk Carton and Flight 116. I’ve never read this one though, I will have to look for it.
    As far as the Twilight goes–I admit it, I’m kind of obsessed. I think if you take it for what it is–an escape that is a bit of a guilty pleasure–you can enjoy it more. It is admittedly snarkable, but I really liked it. Of course, I liked the Face on the Milk Carton, so I’m not sure you want to trust my judgement.

  33. Cyanne says:

    oh…and about the Twilight books…there’s nothing wrong with a little chick lit now and then. Beach reading. Airplane books. Fluffy but enjoyable and somewhat addictive. Nothing to be ashamed of, ladies 🙂

    (I read the second one on the bus to and from work over a week or so…and I’m 30)

  34. JordanBaker says:

    Among Friends is so good that it holds up even 15+ years and several advanced degrees in English after my first reading.

    I think she also wrote one I haven’t seen in years but loved at the time–The Girl Who Invented Romance.

  35. Deathy says:

    CYANNE: I looooooooooooved Freezetag. It is kind of a dumb premise but I thought it turned out to be very well done. Lannie (I was never sure how her name was supposed to be pronounce) was truly creepy.

  36. WickedWonder says:

    I remember really liking this book, especially Althea realizing she didn’t want to break up the popular couple because they were good for each other- something I thought was a rather mature way of looking at it. Looking back, I was a big CBC reader. The Fire, Fog, blah books rocked me- I wanted to be Christina.
    As for Twilight, I just read the whole shebang- if you like your brain thoroughly disengaged while reading, go for it. If anything, once you start you have to know what’s next.

  37. Beth says:

    Wow! I soooooo remember this one!! The thing that creeped ME out the most was her “blood red, pointed fingernails”! And, what’s up with the name Althea? It is really …….odd. And why am I recalling hemlock…….Anyways- I loved the “Face on the Milk Carton” so much that I started rifling thru my parents papers, even tho I look just like my maternal aunt- Doppelgangers, almost.
    Haven’t gotten into the “Twilight” series, mainly cuz my SIL (the Drama Queen who coined the term Drama Queen is sooo in lurve with it). Good luck on that one, IHW!

  38. TDB says:

    I’d love to see you rip Twilight a new one, but I wouldn’t wish the torture that is reading the book on anyone. So, only if you’re feeling masochistic one day… I’ll eagerly read the review as I know it’ll be awesome.

  39. Lila Fowler says:

    Lucy, I also longed for Christina’s tricolored hair. At the time, I thought it sounded so cool.

    Twlight is the perfect guilty pleasure read. The story is compelling and good… but the writing really isn’t. For some reason it seems like most of what I like to read is a guilty pleasure. haha. With that said, I can’t wait for Midnight Sun.

  40. BartTempleton says:

    Murial Mercurial: “I’d rather not read a book that glorifies being subservient to some controlling man. Unless it’s 80’s Y.A. Lit.”

    You rule.

  41. mtolivepickles says:

    They’ve repackaged all of these books into one volume–I bought it a few years ago and remember burning through it.

    I loved CBC’s books for a while, and I thought her time-travel books were epic. Anyone else read those?

  42. Taren says:

    Lila Fowler, you haven’t heard about Midnight Sun? Someone “leaked” some of the chapters and Stephenie Meyer got mad and threw a tantrum and said that if she was going to go back to writing it now she’d just kill off the characters because she was so mad. So she’s putting it on hold indefinitely. You can read the chapters on her website, though. I’m of the school of thought that thinks she leaked it on purpose to get some attention and pity from her worshipful fans after the negative reaction Breaking Dawn got. But whatever.

  43. Jade Wu's Toe Shoe says:

    This is yet another case of, “Wow, I totally read this book! And then blocked it out!” 😉

    As soon as I saw the cover, I remembered two things – 1) the scene where Althea is leaning out the attic window, screaming down to her “boyfriend” to turn on the radio in the car, which was going to keep the vampire at bay . . .

    and 2) that I kept wondering when a mention of even one parent would pop up. I can literally see the text in my mind near the ending that said, all mysteriously, “The house is still there, although Althea moved away,” and I was all, “ON HER OWN?! But where are her Mom and Dad?!”

  44. Lila Fowler says:

    Taren, yeah I did hear that. And I read the leak of Midnight Sun… of course it stopped right at the good part. Stephenie’s being a baby about it. You’re probably right about her doing this for attention after the Breaking Dawn flop. That book got really creepy in the middle and the end.

  45. Rhiannon says:

    Just read Twilight on Wiki. It saves you brain and you still get the whole WTF crap going on.

    I’ve heard it was a crappy series but I seriously didn’t believe until I read **SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER** the DEAD vampire knocks up the human. Seriously, even death isn’t a 100% guranteed method of birth control. Sheesh.

  46. maybeimamazed02 says:

    Rhiannon–RIGHT? What also cheesed me off royally was that **SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER** even after Bella got married, she got to enjoy sex for like a minute before a) Edward got all violent, and b) she got preggers. Stephenie’s moral of the story? Sex is only for procreation, otherwise it’s BAD BAD BAD! Ugh.

  47. calico drive says:

    The Perfume scared the crap out of me. i was 13 and i was in the USA and i was like cool i will buy books i cant get in australia! and holy crap The Perfume gave me nightmares! twins was good too:)

  48. Zoe! says:

    I totally loved this book when I was in junior high – the bit his skin being like mushrooms fully creeped me out.

    I also liked the Face on The Milk Carton, The Girl Who Invented Romance, and one that no one seems to have mentioned yet: Face The Music. About a girl whose older sister had one hit single then bombed out of her music career, consequently went a bit nuts and ended up admitting herself to a mental institution at the end. The sister was called Ashley, though I can’t remember the name of the narrator, although I distinctly remember how she hooks up the cool bad boy who makes music and has curly eighties hair. Love it!

  49. Enid Rollins says:

    I don’t mind these high-schooly books (I read SVH for Chrissakes), but I want them to be fun and\or exciting, even if they don’t have meaning. But ‘Twilight’ was like one big sleeping pill. I love Edward. I hate Forks. My life sucks. Edward’s gorgeous. End.

  50. bookslide says:

    Among Friends is awesome. I still have a copy. I also ABSOLUTELY LOVED the Christina trilogy, which was later given a trilogy name: “Losing Christina,” maybe? I remember this one a bit, because there was something different about it…something weird and off. Like her horrifying story about the deer…

  51. Rhiannon says:

    Enid, just think in about 5-10 years, teenagers will be doing the same thing we’re doing only their blog posts are going to be so much shorter and less snarky because, well, they ain’t got crap diddly to work with.

    Start
    Middle
    End

    And I wasted my teen years reading this shit?!

    heh.

  52. Rei Ant says:

    Oh wow, I re-read the sequel – “Return Of The Vampire” all the time, I didn’t realise it was part of a trilogy. The things you learn. “Return Of The Vampire” is one of my top 5 Point Horror books, so I’m def. going to check out the other books in the series. That book had some nice/odd names in it too…

  53. Kat says:

    Actually, there are a few Caroline B. Cooney books I really liked. When she wasn’t writing suspenseful thrillers or sappy time-travelling romance for teens, there were some more realistic novels. “Family Reunion” and “Burning Up” (it has a hint of mystery) are good, and one of her more thriller-like ones that I still enjoy is “Mummy”. The main character in that one is interesting, and I was obsessed with all things Egyptian when I was younger, so…

    I’ll add my voice to the chorus here: no Twilight. If you want to read it and snark on it for us to enjoy, then yes.

  54. Kristin says:

    I read “Twilight” and was totally sucked in, even though I found it offensive on multiple levels (quality of writing, gender dynamics, etc). I also agree with what badenbaden (don’t I know you from Jezebel.com?) said about the weird religious undertones. There is a ton of sexual tension and imagery in the novel but no actual sex. It reminded me of the Christian college I went to where everyone was obsessed with sex but claimed not to be having any.

    In short, it was engrossing rainy-afternoon reading, but I am embarrassed to have read it. That said…I will probably read at least one of the sequels.

  55. Cortney says:

    i just discovered your blog – I read all these books back in the 80s/early 90s… but i can’t remember the Sweet Valley plotlines or BSC characters. When i scrolled down and saw “The Cheerleader” cover, i gasped! Of course i haven’t thought about that book in years, and remembering that i LOVED it made my day! I am a sucker for nostalgia, so i’ll definitely keep reading!

    I don’t know if you have ever written about this book, but one of my alltime favorites was a book called “Friends Forever” – i think? it was a stand alone book about 3 best friends… it was a bit longer than the typical series books, and i read it over and over. i just tried to search for it on the internet and didn’t have any luck….do you remember it?

  56. olla says:

    OMG I did read this, oh so good. When I was younger, I was really creeped out by all the things they didn’t say… my mind would go bananas. Oh, and I hated going to peoples houses that had shutters open because of this book.

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