A Fate Totally Worse Than Death

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9781564026279: A Fate Totally Worse Than Death
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An outrageously wicked parody of the typical teenage horror novel evokes screams of terror and hilarity as it chronicles the fortunes of Cliffside High when the cruel clique, the Huns, get their comeuppance from Helga, the Norwegian exchange student.

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About the Author:

Paul Fleischman is one of America's leading writers for young people and has won many awards, including a Newbery Medal (the US equivalent of the Carnegie Medal). He lives in the US.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

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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Fleischman, Paul
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