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.