A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
What's the story?
First Chris and Matt steal the Cataluna off the used-car lot. They can't control it and, as it speeds off the highway, they jump and are killed by a truck. Later, Bryan loses his job and his chance of earning money to buy the Cataluna. He becomes so obsessed with the car that he begins stealing money.
Meanwhile, flashbacks to New England in 1698 tell how Catherine is ostracized by her town. She seeks refuge from a strange woman in the woods, who tells Catherine that she is her mother and that both are shape shifters. Catherine is caught and hanged, but she changes to a mouse and jumps down the throat of the village elder to choke him.
Back in 1995, Bryan finds that his friend Alan has bought the Cataluna. He beats Alan up and steals it, but after a wild ride, he screams himself to death.
Is it any good?
Stine's writing wouldn't get him out of ninth-grade English; his sentences are choppy and often incomplete, and the story has no depth or characterizations. But young reluctant readers who enjoy gruesome supernatural thrillers love it. This kind of book fills the bill for large numbers of kids who don't like to read.
It requires little effort to understand what's going on, though the time switches make it marginally more challenging than most of Stine's books. Everything stays on the surface. The story moves quickly, keeping readers' interest high and not wasting any time on such traditional aspects of storytelling as descriptions (except for the gore), characters, or emotional depth. The grisly plot appeals to many young readers: It's purely pulp fiction, meant for entertainment only.