Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Cataluna Chronicles: The Dark Secret, or “Why Not a Time Traveling Car?”

So, the second book in the Cataluna series, and happily, we get all the answers we are looking for re: time traveling car. Right? Just kidding. This book is SO effed up, I put it down when I was done and just stared at it suspiciously for awhile, eyes narrowed, wondering what the fuck just happened. So I’m writing this for you, but please keep in mind I remain as confused as you.

Once again, this book is divided between the past, and the much more recent past (1995). This time we follow William through the early Americas, on his journey of revenge against Bad Luck Catherine. Once again, a prologue where some teenager is having a wet dream over this car. His parents bought him a Cataluna for his birthday, and this kid just wants to fix an oil leak. When he tried to do so, the car spurts boiling oil, melting his face off. Whatever the fuck this car is, that was unnecessary.

West Hampshire Colony, 1698

William is tracking Catherine along her trail of destruction, because apparently wherever she goes, fields are struck by famine, livestock mysteriously die, and people end up as piles of corpses. I don’t know why, that’s just how it is. William is attacked by a black snake and he tries to throttle it to death (the most effective way to kill a snake?) The snake bites him and turns into Catherine, and she runs away laughing. William overcomes his fatal bite wounds by the power of his vengeance, and vows to destroy Catherine even more. In case you were wondering: yes, that entire part had zero point.

Shadyside ‘95

We go to our ‘modern’ day story, about two stepsisters – Lauren and Regina. Uh-oh, I’ve read about stepsisters before, I bet this doesn’t end well. Regina is pretty, popular, and has a badass boyfriend Justin – who looks like Christian Slater! Sadly, I remember a time when I wanted a boyfriend who looked like Christian Slater, I feel pretty aged right now. Justin is mean to their dog, so I think he’s a douche, and a good potential victim for car evil-ry. Lauren is the ‘ordinary’ looking one, probably because her hair isn’t red. Or, would being brunette actually make you a minority in Shadyside? Anyways, Laur doesn’t care about her appearance, doesn’t wear makeup, and is probably dumpy as well. No doubt she will be killed off, we can’t have ordinary girls running around, can we?

The girls are given a car for their birthday, a sporty white car that no one has ever heard about it. Every time Regina gets behind the wheel, she goes nuts and almost runs over children and stuff on purpose. The Regina gets all surly and bitchy and Lauren has no clue what’s going on with her. It’s like she’s been possessed … by a teenage girl with PMS. Let’s not overreact, Lauren.

West Hampshire Colony, 1698

William is found starving and dying from snake venom by a beautiful girl, Evie. Evie takes him home and nurses him back to health. Will is accepted by her father, who wants him to stay on and help him with his farm. But things aren’t quite that easy for William – despite his love for Evie and the happiness he’s found at the homestead, dangers abound: recently, all of the crops and livestock have died, for no apparent reason. Evie’s cousin Jessica is a quiet mysterious girl who always wears a floppy bonnet and glares a lot, and their black cat has weird human eyes and keeps on trying to suffocate William when he sleeps. Hmm … Evie keeps on forgiving Will when he periodically tries to kill her cat, but her forgiveness runs out when he “accidentally” chops off her father’s hand while cutting wood. According to Will, he is possessed by some power that takes over his actions. Oops! Now Will is on the run from some angry townspeople who appear out of nowhere and try to hand him. How does it feel, William?

Shadyside ‘95

Regina has become even more surly since she was grounded for sneaking out with her boyfriend. She’s locked herself in her room and appears alternately angry or haunted. So she’s really boring, let’s look at Lauren. Lauren is behaving much less boring. Like when Justin hides in her car and then jumps her (like a creepy RAPIST), she makes out with him. Because who can resist that? Very naughty, Lauren. But then Lauren starts to find blood on the fender of the Cataluna, and there is a spree of pedestrian fatalities caused by hit-and-runs. Lauren realizes Regina is the hit-and-run driver because she’s all spookily possessed by the car, and Lauren tries to be a good stepsister and hides the evidence. She gets the creepy feeling she’s being followed, though. By creepy rapists, maybe? It’s likely.

Finally, enough is enough, Lauren confronts Regina, demands they go for a drive to talk. Lauren lets Regina drive, which is pretty risky considering she thinks Regina is possessed and killing people with her car. Regina drives crazy through the woods, then they jump out of the car. Lauren accuses her of being the hit-and-run driver. Regina’s all: no, psycho bitch, you’re the hit and run driver.

West Hampshire Colony, 1698

William is fleeing from angry townspeople, when he’s found by a musket-wielding Evie. She forgives him for chopping off her father’s hand, and just wants him to come home and kill her cousin Jessica. All their bad luck started when Jess showed up, and she has a mysterious crescent-shaped red birthmark on her forehead. William rushes off to kill Jessica, after making out with Evie a little bit. We leave him standing in the moonlight, knife raised over Jessica’s sleeping figure. Oh, the drama!

Shadyside ‘95

Lauren conveniently “remembers” that she is in fact the hit and run driver, and has been suffering psychotic blackouts. Lauren jumps behind the wheel and tries to mow down Regina, who is right in front of the car, and yet somehow magically misses her. Then the car drives into Fear Lake, and Lauren is stuck to drown.

But Regina dives in after her and saves her, then the car is pulled out of the lake without a scratch on it. Lauren’s all: no, bitches, leave it in, but it’s clear from their shushing noises she’s about to be put away. One more victim of the Cataluna.

West Hampshire Colony, 1698

William stabs Jessica in the heart while she’s sleeping, and he starts laughing crazy that he defeated Catherine. But then, he couldn’t find the moon birthmark. Oops. Turns out Evie is actually Catherine, and she goaded William into killing an innocent girl. She had been covering her birthmark with flour and water. Did he not notice the lumpy clump of white on her face while making out with her.

William and Catherine get into a chase, and hold on to your seats, because this is where it starts to get weird. They stumble across the random white car in the 17th century. Has it been following them? The car talks to Catherine with her mother’s voice, telling her it is a machine from the future. Dear lord, it is a time traveling car! Apparently the witch went back in time when she discovered she was pregnant, because she felt it would be better to raise a child in the 17th century. Apparently there was a man who would hurt her. She could think of no better place to hide that early colonial America? Whatever. The car tells Catherine to get in, and William jumps in through an open window of the “metal dragon”. They travel into the future, and immediately get into a car accident, killing them both instantly. Good plan. William reveals in the epilogue that both their spirits survived. Catherine became the car (haha – I was right!) and Will’s still kicking around, although his identity remains a secret. I imagine that will be the big reveal in the last book!

Whatever. This book was fucked, with no redeeming qualities or scariness. And yet – I still really want to know how it ends. I hate it when crappy books pull you in so you HAVE to know the ending, no matter how poorly written. I give this 1 flour covered birthmark out of 12.


A. M. Stine said...

So Catherine's mother thought 17th century America was a GOOD place to be a witch? I'm guessing she didn't read "The Crucible" in English 10...

Seriously, like ANY OTHER TIME is great for witches EXCEPT 17th century America.

Anonymous said...

That was so incredibly weird that it's awesome. I mean, come on, time-travelling witch ghost car? It's ridiculous, but where else can you go for that sort of crack other than a terrible book?

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, and what is that tagline? I can't read it but I am anticipating that it is terrible.

L. K. Stine said...

Oh sorry, I thought the tagline wasn't as awesome as it should have been: "Don't tell a living soul - or a dead one" But the line on the back of the book lives up to my expectations: "License to Kill..." It also includes the line "Because in this car, evil is always in the driver's seat", so the back of the book is definitely awesome!

LAK said...

Their souls poetic?

Lord knows, when I come back I want to be a car. Because, after being a human with wicked cool powers of transformation, that is of course the first thing I look forward to being. Not a butterfly, (no one suspects the butterfly!) or some woodland creature. A car. yeah.

What will William be? A pick up truck?

L. K. Stine said...

...and then the car and the pick up truck will realize all their fighting has been for nothing, and underneath it all they're perfect for each other? I think it could work as an ending - probably makes as much sense as what was ACTUALLY written.