Friday, March 29, 2013

My Bloody Valentine (1995)

By: Jo Gibson

Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Mystery

It’s February at Hamilton High and Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Amy Hunter and her friends are planning a big Valentine’s Day dance, complete with the crowning of the King and Queen of Hearts. However, someone doesn’t like this idea, and one by one the girls in the running for Queen die in mysterious “accidents.” As the dance draws closer, it appears Amy might be in the lead for the Queen, and that puts her life in jeopardy.

While this was a quick read, I never really found myself that engrossed in the story line. I think my main problem was the characters; they are all very one dimensional with no memorable personalities. Amy is our heroine: the good girl, sweet, and virginal, who gets good grades and is class president. Colleen is her brainy best friend. Tanya is the snooty, popular, beautiful head cheerleader. Gail is a pretty blonde who dumbs herself down to gain male affection. Jessica and Michele are nobodies until it’s their turn on the chopping block, and then they are just irritating.

All of the girls were unlikable. Colleen and Amy are the only ones who seem to have an ounce of human decency in them. Tanya is the typical, backstabbing, gossip queen, and Gail follows right in her footsteps. Jessica becomes a hateful person and tells Michele she doesn’t need her as a best friend anymore, making Michele cry in the school hallway. I felt bad for Michele, until she was walking her dog, and hoping he would keel over and die so she wouldn’t have to walk him anymore. (A dog that loves her and tries to protect her, I might add!) 
Aside from Amy and Colleen, these girls are just useless human beings, and I was honestly rooting for the killer to take them out.

Amy wasn’t exactly likable either, but that is because she’s such a boring cliché. I enjoyed reading her experiences with her first date and first kiss, and I liked how she realized who she really wanted to be with had been right there the whole time. She is also kind of dumb at times, but she pulls off a pretty smart move at the climax, which surprised me.

The dialog was awkward. I know I was just a little kid when this novel was written, but I don’t believe that high school girls talked the way these girls did. Their conversations were used to provide a lot of exposition, and that is exactly how it reads. These girls are just talking to push the plot forward, the author is talking through them, they have no distinct voices of their own.

Speaking of the plot, I find it hard to believe that after the first two accidents, the school wouldn’t call off the King and Queen contest. How can the Sheriff not suspect foul play when all the girls are wearing the same half-heart pendent? When all of the girls received threatening Valentine’s cards? I know the principal really wanted a new collection of science books (the money from the dance/contest was going to his book fund), but I highly doubt he’d risk the lives of his students for it. Also, Amy’s mother is more worried about a dress that Amy’s boyfriend picked out for her than the fact that girls are dying all over town? That makes no sense.

The killer was fairly obvious. There were three prime suspects and two of them seemed like red herrings to me. The writing itself wasn’t very good either. As I said above, the dialog was awful and the characterization was poor. The descriptions of the deaths were clunky and amateurish – there’s no suspense (which could be because I didn’t care about the characters), and wording is ridiculous. [Paraphrasing:] “A heavy beam fell from the rafters, smashing her into oblivion.” I hate the way this reads and sounds in my head. I felt like the description was similar to how I wrote in junior high – and believe me, those stories were nothing worth publishing!

This was honestly a rather silly young adult horror novel - basically the teen fiction equivalent of a poorly written, goreless made-for-television slasher movie. The characters were dull, clichéd and often mean-spirited, and the plot doesn’t seem very well thought out. Still, it kept my attention, and I cared enough about Amy to see her through the ending and root for her and Danny, so the book wasn’t terrible.


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