A Fate Totally Worse than Death

A Fate Totally Worse than Death

3.5 4
by Paul Fleischman, Jeff Wack

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"This takeoff on teen horror novels is funny, mocking, and a surefire hit. . . . Should have teen-horror fans screaming with laughter." — SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review)

In Paul Fleischman’s hilarious parody of teenage horror novels, Danielle and her friends from Cliffside High’s cruelest clique — the Huns — set

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"This takeoff on teen horror novels is funny, mocking, and a surefire hit. . . . Should have teen-horror fans screaming with laughter." — SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review)

In Paul Fleischman’s hilarious parody of teenage horror novels, Danielle and her friends from Cliffside High’s cruelest clique — the Huns — set out to crush a ravishing exchange student from Norway. Will they go as far as murder? They have before. But as they plot and plan, they start to realize that something ghastly has started to happen to them, something they would no doubt describe as a fate totally worse than death!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The versatile Newbery Medalist sets off on a different-and wacky-tack with this spoof of young adult horror novels. Lavishly dosed with comic hyperbole, his plot is good for some chuckles-and many groans. Here goes: physically flawless Danielle, thoroughly vacuous Tiffany and their lumpy sidekick, Brook are all "Huns," those privileged students at Cliffside High whose parents have struck it rich enough to reside in Hundred Palms Estates. The ruthless trio has already dispatched one outsider: the year before, Charity Chase (a non-Hun) cozied up to Drew (a hunky Hun on whom Danielle has designs), and sent her scurrying off a cliff... to her death. Now Helga, an ethereal exchange student from Norway, has the misfortune to catch Drew's eye. Meanwhile, the three vain girls are experiencing horrifying symptoms of accelerated physical aging. Is Helga the ghost of Charity, returned to avenge herself? What could explain the girls' deterioration? Fleischman's take-off is clever, but its humor is strictly one-note. Ages 14-17. (Oct.)
Publishers Weekly
A trio of vain overprivileged high school girls experience horrifying symptoms of accelerated aging when they try their usual nasty tricks on a beautiful exchange student. PW described this spoof of young adult horror novels as "lavishly dosed with comic hyperbole." Ages 14-up. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-This takeoff on teen-horror novels is funny, mocking, and a surefire hit. Cliffs, murder, ghosts, and revenge form the core of the plot as three teen girls at Cliffside High draw a bead on Helga, the ravishing Norwegian exchange student who has captivated Drew, a boy whose father is a millionaire. Danielle, Tiffany, and Brooke are convinced that Helga is the avenging ghost of a girl whose death they caused the previous year. As their efforts to dispatch her escalate, the girls of the ruling clique suddenly find themselves rapidly aging with all of the common debilities of arthritis, liver spots, gray hair, hearing loss, and sagging breasts-hence the title. A clever twist at the end delivers a befitting resolution. The fun is in the vapid thinking of the girls, the trendy teen scenes, and the parody of YA actions and dialogue. This hilarious farce should have teen-horror fans screaming with laughter.-Julie Cummins, New York Public Library
Stephanie Zvirin
Fleischman has written a funny, clever book, and he's not too shy to admit he had a great time doing it: "I had so much fun . . . that I'm already at work on a parody of the Sweet Valley High books. It's called "Bleak Valley High"." Teenage boys receive their share of pointed barbs, but it's girls who take the brunt of the sarcasm in the offbeat mix of horror story and satire. Fleischman's star performers are a thoroughly obnoxious trio of rude, self-centered, beauty-conscious, rich girls. When attractive exchange student Helga arrives at Cliffside High and bewitches every male in "exclusive Hundred Palms Estates," Danielle, Brooke, and Tiffany decide to teach her a lesson, much as they did poor Charity Chase--who plunged off a cliff. Unfortunately for Danielle and company, Helga has an unsuspected ally in elderly Mrs. Witt, who knows a perfect, totally terrible way to stop the girls in their tracks In typical horror story fashion, the grim reaper will out, but not before the girls discover who has really been swinging the scythe. Using a combination of wicked wit and old-fashioned physical comedy, Fleischman manages to make the abhorrent triumvirate's coping with the ravages of old age (including everything from sagging "tits" to incontinence) ludicrous enough to be laughable, and his characters are true originals: among the best are entrepreneurial Jonathan, who'll sell classmates anything from condoms to cake out of his many school lockers, and Tiffany, who talks in questions and videotapes her tush so that she can see what others see when her back is turned. Not everyone will appreciate the mockery, which has a strong bite, but there'll be plenty who'll love it and be sorry when the rapid-fire high jinks are over and repugnant Danielle is well on her way to her just reward.

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Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.75(w) x 8.61(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Danielle despised waiting in lines. Mixing body mechanics and brazen gall, she edged past a bent-backed, blind woman and her dog, then two tottering veterans of San Juan Hill, then a mother with triplets, and squeezed onto the bus. She saw the sign above the seat reserving it for senior citizens. She also saw that it was the last seat left. She grabbed it, pretending not to notice the parade of the old and infirm shuffling past. Last to board, the blind woman halted directly before her and groped for a handhold. Just my luck, thought Danielle. Helen Keller has to stop next to ME. She felt poison-tipped glances thrust at her by her neighbors. . . . Danielle rolled her eyes, unzipped her pack, pulled out PROM NIGHT MASSACRE, and opened it in front of her face. Cross-eyed, she flipped through the pages to her place.

Her father. What a loser, thought Tanya.
A SCULPTOR! Not that he ever managed to sell any of his weird creations. . . .

Danielle smirked. She'd come across characters like this, in books like this, plenty of times. Ambitious. Unrepentantly selfish. Materialistic. Like me, she mused, but with a difference: THEY usually paid for their sins by being stalked, sliced, or sautéed in the end. She lowered the book and looked around with relief. This, thank God, was the real world, where the sharp and unscrupulous got a seat on the bus. Through this world, she knew well, she would waltz unscathed.

She rang for her stop, gathered her things, and ran the gauntlet of stares toward the rear. . . .

Passing the Cliffside, California, Public Library, she inventoried her image in its windows. Legs: terrific. Bust: classic beach bunny. Hair: blond, straight, faultless. Face: Pepsi-ad quality. She threw herself a smile. This would be the year she'd hook Drew. She felt sure of it. They were both seniors now, both tall, blond, beautiful, and rich-fabulously rich in his case. He'd had all summer to forget about Charity Chase. He needed someone in the passenger seat of the new BMW his parents had just bought him. Together, they'd be shoe-ins for Prom King and Queen. They'd be the envy of all the Huns-the name proudly worn by those students living in exclusive Hundred Palm Estates. Though the Huns ruled Cliffside High's social life and student government, Danielle dreamed of more: ruling the Huns. . . .

She was jerked out of her reverie by the sharp scent of disinfectant, then remembered why her feet had led her there: Community Service. She released a long sigh of martyrdom. An hour a week of unpaid labor, which the school district claimed would provide much-needed aid, increase student sensitivity, and build bridges between youth and community, a program instituted over the objections of the horrified, Hun-packed student council. Gritting her teeth, Danielle entered Driftwood Manor Convalescent Home, wove her way around obstacles human, inanimate, and indeterminate, and found her way for the second time to the room of Edwina Witt. . . .

Collapsing into a chair, she pried off her sandals with her toes and extended her feet onto Mrs. Witt's bed. . . . She tilted her head up toward the wall-mounted television and gazed blankly at Mrs. Witt's news program. Bending forward with a groan, she snatched the remote control . . . and found the music video station. Bleeding Ulcer, her favorite group, was on. She leaned back, tossed the remote on the bed, then spotted Mrs. Witt's hand crawling toward it.

"Now, now." Danielle nudged it out of reach with her foot . . . then jumped at the sound of two raps on the door.

She shot to her feet and scrambled to find Mrs. Witt's program on the TV. "Just a minute," Danielle crooned . . . then opened the door. On the other side stood her friend, Brooke. . . .

"Have you seen the new exchange student?" asked Brooke. . . . "The guys were practically glued to her. Gavin. Rhett. Jonathan. Drew."

"Drew?" Danielle strained forward at the name. . . .

"Probably no one explained to her that the Hun guys all belong to us. . . . Kinda like Charity Chase," added Brooke.

Grimly, Danielle exhaled. "Maybe we'll have to give her the same treatment."

Alarm in her face, Brooke gestured toward Mrs. Witt.

"Don't worry about her," said Danielle, "She can't talk. Or write either. . . . "And what have we got to hide, anyway? Charity fell off a cliff."

"After we chased her. Straight toward the edge."

"WE didn't make her trip on that stupid rock."

"But we DID write a phony suicide note. Or have you forgotten?"

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