Saturday, December 10, 2016

"And that's how I ended up with my own Secret Service agent." BSC Friends Forever #9: Kristy and the Kidnapper (2000)

I think every series has at least one of these. It's either the book that is so bad that you never finish it, or the one that it so ludicrous that you finish it and then go, "Why did I just waste my time?" (That was me with the entire Twilight series.)
Kristy, along with several other SMS students, goes to Washington D.C. to be part of a nation-wide debating contest. (Apparently, since this contest is mostly for fun and includes different ability levels, you can throw a team together at the last damn second and not have to go through any preliminaries to get there.) She's assigned to a three-person beginning team, and one of her teammates is David Hawthorne--better remembered by BSC fans as Terry Hoyt from M#10. David is Terry's given name, and now that his dad isn't tracking down counterfeiters any more, he's allowed to go places and join afterschool activities. Kristy recognizes David as Terry, but David puts her off.
Later, he admits to being Terry after Kristy witnesses someone attempting to kidnap him. Kristy's screams bring the hotel security guards, who rescue David but don't catch the abductor. Kristy agrees to keep a small part of the attempt secret from the police, while David tells his father, a Secret Service agent, everything. The two of them wind up with their own personal SS agents for the duration of the event.
The kidnaper comes back during the finals of the events, and Kristy recognizes him. Mr. Hawthorne tackles him and he's taken into custody. And Kristy gets to go to the White House!
In the B-plot, Abby and Kristy are super-competitive with each other as lead up to their two teams meeting in the finals of the debate contest.
Interesting Tidbits
I am not surprised in the slightest that Kristy and Abby enjoy debating. Not at all. I am just a little surprised that the ghostwriter (word!) felt the need to explain why 13-year-old boys think that the word 'rebuttal' is funny, though. And now all I can think of is Homer Simpson's rebuttal that brief moment he was on the debate team in high school.
Wait...there's something very wrong with this sentence: "She just folded them carefully and added them to the pile in my suitcase." That wouldn't be a problem if she were Mary Anne (neat and tidy) or Claudia or Stacey (fashion fiends), but we're talking about Abby here. The same Abby who packed for Hawaii morning of by throwing a bunch of shit in a suitcase.
Kristy has an inflatable chair.
OOH, Kristy and Abby are hanging out with Melissa from the Philadelphia field trip back in #97. (I think?)
The three girls are sharing a room, which has two double beds and a twin. When I was in college and would pay for my own events--unlike these middle schoolers--that space would have had at least five people in it. Probably more, because there would be room for someone to sleep on the floor in the gap between each bed. (Made a $200 a night room much more affordable.)
Melissa actually sneaks out of her hotel room again--think she would have learned her lesson on that last time--but this time, to meet a boy. And in my head, they are doing all sorts of naughty things together.
Kristy's other teammate is named Kai.
Kristy wonders if Mr. Hawthorne could possibly be a Secret Service agent like David said, stating that he's so normal looking. Well, what is a Secret Service agent supposed to look like? Have a tattoo that says, "I'm working undercover!"? Be green? Have shifty eyes or something?
Umm...I realize that the SMS chaperones have ten kids to supervise between two of them. But Kristy was just the only eye witness to an attempted kidnapping, and Mrs. Simon seems more concerned about getting back to supervise the dance than making sure Kristy is okay. She leaves Kristy with Mr. Hawthorne--whom she does not know is Secret Service--and doesn't really seem concerned. Nice.
"Who was I to question their outfits?" Normally I'd agree with Kristy on this one, but she's talking about the SS agents following her and David, whom she thinks stick out because of their attire. She's probably partly right (if 99% of the people at the hotel are casually dressed, they might be pretty obvious in their suits) but I think she's just of that opinion because the two of them are so obvious to her...because she knows they're there and why they're there.
Apparently Kristy and her roomies are allowed to have male guests in their room until lights out. There's a logical reason for that--private practicing and preparing--but at the same time, it seems like a recipe for disaster for people like Melissa and her one-true-love that she keeps sneaking out with.
David jokes that Kristy has a big mouth--while Kai has brains and he has charm--and for some reason, she thinks it's hysterical. (Yeah, I know Kristy admits she has a big mouth, and that he was joking, but I wouldn't think that was funny if he listed that as my only 'positive.')
Heh...the attempted kidnapers name is Lance Dibdin. Try saying Dibdin five times fast.
Turns out that flighty, flirty Melissa is actually amazingly good at extemporaneous speaking--which, for those who haven't heard of it, consists of being given a statement and asked to defend it, with no prep time. Basically, you have to be able to think on your feet. She ends up making it to the finals, versus her 'sweetie', and Kristy and Abby decide to explain to her that she shouldn't throw the finals just to make the boyfriend happen. Her response: "I plan to kick butt." Heh.
When Kristy and her friends return from a trip to the Smithsonian, they learn that David gave his SS agent the slip. Lucas (Melissa's boyfriend/David's friend) is more interested in whether the agent will get punished than the fact that David is missing.
"I imagined David on a plane to Mexico, drugged and blindfolded." Hope that's a private plane, because otherwise someone is going to notice a blindfolded kid on a commercial flight.
Melissa brings Lucas to the girls' after curfew, in violation of the rules. The four of them (M, L, A and K) start playing Scrabble--and then slang/rude word Scrabble. (This is always more fun, if you've never tried it. I got some serious points the time I managed to spell bastard.) They only get to play nerd before they get (almost) caught.
Did you know that the White House is where the President lives? Wow. (Even Kristy gets sarcastic when Abby points that out. I think there's a Karen book where she goes to Washington D.C. and wants to meet the President. [There is, and it's called...Karen's President.] This sounds like a line out of that book.)
Kristy wears a fanny pack. Heh.
Why don't they invite Kai to the White House with them? He was definitely involved in all the escapades. Maybe he'd left already, but he was from New Jersey, so he it's not like he had to make a plane or had a longer trip than the SMS kids.
David takes Kristy and Abby to find "Sparky," the President's cat. At this point, Clinton was still President, but I guess they wanted to make the book more relevant after he left office by not calling the cat Socks. (Although the two cats were similar in appearance.)
Kristy wants to come back and visit her SS agent, because she'll miss him. Groooaaaaan.
So why do I hate this book so much? Well, it's not really hate. It's just that the vast majority of the FF series is grounded in reality. Everyone can relate to fighting with a friend (Claudia and Stacey), or snooping in someone's diary (Kristy) or feeling like you're fading into the background (Mary Anne.) We may not all have dads we haven't seen in six years come out of the wood work, or have had our houses burn down or wound up dating the class clown, but you can understand the human emotions behind all of those things. This just comes straight out of left field and is so ridiculous.
On a final note: several times through the book, the brother-sister debating team of Alexandra and Scott Toombs comes up. I wondered if they were real, ala the Perkinses or Cary Retlin. I found an obituary for their grandfather, so yup, they're real. (Either that or it's a huge coincidence.)
Next: #10, which is the last BSC book I haven't read!

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