PHBC – The Cheerleader by Caroline B Cooney

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#PointHorrorBookClub was created by author Juno Dawson in 2013. Juno announced in 2015 that she was no longer able to carry on so, with her blessing, I took over the reins.

So why not grab a copy and join the discussion with this months #PointHorrorBookClub

The Cheerleader by Caroline B Cooney

Are the Point Horror books we loved as a teenager still our favourites on a re-read? Have they not stood the test of time? After a hit of nostalgia? Or are you new to Point Horror and want to see what its all about?


Want to explore previous #PointHorrorBookClub posts? I’ve got you! Head to the main page here


Beware…….Spoilers Ahead


Cheerleaders are beautiful, popular and exciting – girls that Althea longs to be. But Althea is nobody – she gets no phone calls, shares no laughter and has no friends. Then one day she meets him, a vampire who offers to make her a cheerleader in exchange for a simple bargain.

The Tagline

She wants it all. But he wants blood…

Okay ….so…What’s It All About?

Well it all starts in a dark and chilly November. Pizza Hut is the hip place to be! And Althea wants herself a slice!

Well Pizza Hut is rather yummy! Nom!

Well you will be straight on the line ordering a double Peperoni by the time you finish this book as its mentioned so much!

Anyway *coughs* back to the summary….

Althea wants to be popular! Nobody has ever entered the shuttered tower room in her house until Althea opened the shutters and released a living person in a locked coffin!

What?! Dex from The Boyfriend has crossed over into The Cheerleader?!

Oh my gosh! No silly…… a Vampire!

GASP! *Chomps on fourth slice of Pizza*

As long as Althea does what he asks he can make her popular!

Wow! Being popular must really mean a lot to Althea!

Well basically it means visiting McDonalds and Pizza Hut and getting to sit in booths….oh and getting on The Cheerleading squad!

Go Varsity!

But Althea soon discovers that there is a price to being popular….. surely handing over one victim will be enough to keep the vampire happy won’t it? Or will Althea have to lose everything for her to have something?

The Girl

Poor lonely Althea! All she wants is to popular like she was in middle school, be a cheerleader and date someone on the basketball team. Those silver horseback riding ribbons ain’t gone win themselves are they?!

Sixteen years old with gentle sweet features, a demure posture, a distinctive whispery tremor of a voice and with a dislike for shutters lol (The shutters in the shuttered room stay shuttered.)…..but don’t be fooled considering she didn’t like to lie she sure threw some “friends” into the vampires dark path didn’t she?! Luckily for Althea she wasn’t actually in the vampires dark path…..but only if she does his bidding finding his victims!

I quite liked Althea. She lives in this spooky house …. no parents in sight! Where were they?! I mean I Iove a good Point Horror with absent parents but they at least get a mention! Did the vampire migrate them?!

Altheas indecision about who she fancies more Michael or Ryan, her focus on her first house party in her spooky house, her thinking she could bash the vampire with a chair (has she not seen like any vampire movies…any?!). Althea doesn’t even like her own name – odd and stodgy but as she became popular it started to sound beloved and welcome.

I did feel sorry for Althea in the end…..she just wanted a friend – “Friend is a nice word, but best friend is beautiful”. There was a while scene where Althea is eyeing up Celeste’s neck for her vampire only to then go oh but as we are becoming friends… It really made me laugh. But I can’t forgive her for her pink walls, peach carpet and quilted chair….was this so 90’s?

And what was with Altheas normal fingernails one minute to be cruelly taunted by the vampire changing her fingernails to blood red claws! Was Althea really the vampire herself? Did she imagine the vampire? Was she an unreliable narrator? Or was she really under the vampires control? Sooooo many questions!

The Vampire

Yes our Vamps gets a heading all to he little dark self! With his promise to make Althea popular, his slow talking voice (like antique silk all thready and sticky and occasionally like soft clouds?!) , his mushroom coloured skin like fruit that is going bad, his smell of rot and decay, his glittering fangs and grey like foil fingernails……for me he was an old fashioned classic style vampire. Don’t get me wrong I love a good old classic vampire but I prefer my blood suckers more on the hotter side….. think vampire diaries/ buffy style……one I wouldn’t mind letting his teeth sink into me ….. I mean imagine trying to kiss this old vampire with his tongue tolled up as if in a can … ewwwwwwww. He reminded me of Dark Shadows Barnabas Collins.

Considering his love for dark drapery clothing and goth look he really bloody hated loud rock music didn’t he…… not a sound of joy for this vampy and definitely no dancing (I’m looking at you Ryan! More on this later).

All in all his presence was as sinister as you would expect from a vampire and I loved the descriptions of him fleeting around the house and just appearing as quickly as he disappeared and the whole dark shadows looming in the trees…. it was all pretty scary and really really well written. You felt an unease whenever he was on the page. The description of his laugh like the curve of the moon that seemed detached really gave me a shiver! Also they way he invaded Altheas thoughts… “I made you, I will unmake you!”… totally creepy! I kind of liked the way you never know how the vampire drains his victims…..its all done off the page which makes it even more sinister.

I mean you have got to feel a little sorry for him…. how many years was he stuck up in that attic locked between the shutters he was probably just thankful to stretch his little bat wings to be honest! Only to be taken down by a sixteen year old kicking his black cape and stomping on it!

Also I’m sure times he tried to be a clever rhyming Vampire – “When I see upon whose shoulder your arms rests I will know who follows Celeste.” …. accidental or clever?

The Love Interest

Oh Ryan, Ryan, Ryan…… he gets Point Horror points just for that dance by the car! Hello swaying hips!

Sweet, funny, muscular, cute, bright, bouncy and his love for food and rock music hold no bounds…. he was our classic point horror love interest but also interestingly a bit of a geek.

I loved Ryan as much as Ryan loves his astronomy and his “telescope” and not forgetting the way he can name every muscle in his weight lifters body by name! He thought nothing of smashing out three Big Macs in four bites (how is even possible….I would have sauce every where!) and his dodgy car made me laugh! Only one working door out of four and to get in and out you had to use the passenger window….classic!

He was totally obsessed with Altheas Tower Room and getting his telescope erected up there! For stargazing…..gosh you are all so dirty minded!

The Gang

The Cheerleaders – The Varsity Squad. Slim blondes and sparkly brunettes make the perfect victim for any blood thirsty vampire!

Victim 1 – Celeste – Fourteen years old and hugely popular who had made Varsity as a freshman. More romantic dream than scream with soft golden hair, sparkly eyes, pale pink nails and a pretty giggle that made her bite her lower lip and make others tremble delight apparently. Basically she was extraordinarily beautiful and once she was in her Cheerleader uniform it transformed her and she shimmered like a mirage and became a star! Who ever new her swan like long neck and her living miles away and unable to drive would be her down fall!

Victim 2 – Jennie Marsden – poor old Jennie…..she didn’t really get her chance to shine did she? Altheas closest best friend before high school where they used to have sleepovers, giggle and gossip and were inseparable ….until Jennie ditched Althea at high school. But such fond memories come flooding back of going to the petting zoo, jelly doughnuts, buying spring hats and being to shy to wear them, cutting each others hair (did Cooney actually predict Lockdown 2020?). Althea “accidently” turning Jennie over to the vampire by hugging her…..was it really any accident Althea? I think Althea was tipped over the edge by that jelly doughnut story personally!

Becky – an early worm with black hair, a bouncy ponytail, pixie ish smile and a she’s a hugger. She was apparently bunny rabbit like and the best Cheerleader even though it made her slightly breathless and her parents basically let her do anything she wants. Becky loved talking about her hair didn’t she? But her hair came second priority over finding a boyfriend. Becky seemed to change over the course of the book…. we find out that she didn’t get migrated by the vampire but in a kind of way I think something happened……she was the popular bitchy one who turned into the nervous needy one…. was this the effect of the vampire and Altheas increased popularity like the board game analogy Althea mentions and whipping ahead or did something sinister really happen in those bushes?

I really loved how Cooney, with a few characters in the Cheerleader….set them up to be a certain Point Horror stereotype and then pulls the rug and goes ha ha your wrong! Shout to Becky’s lavender wall paper, dark violet bed sheets, tiny violet guest towels with lace fringes , violet bath towels and a shower curtain embroidered in violets……can we guess what Becky’s fave colour was anyone?!

Michael …. now I could have put him up with the love interests as Michael is who Althea was originally pining after and I even wrote him down as the love interest in my notes….but CBC proved me wrong and took a turn for Ryan as mentioned above … I was shocked. Michael was apparently athletic perfection, like Ryan but more so. With his new car for his 17th birthday, fine smile he was apparently brotherly, welcoming and sexy and also dating Constance. Apparently all he gives to his friends is Pizza and rides *coughs* car rides….. get your minds out of the gutter lol. I loved his mourning of Ryan’s dump of a car…. “gone to that great car dump in the sky”, his bromance with Ryan and the way they bounced off each other and his passion for getting an A for really tough essay topics like “what do I give to my friends?”

Kimmie-Jo – hand clapper extraordinaire who made all the tv cheerleader announcements. She was a stunning, sultry bubble head who hated fruit and veg, liked pretty clothes and was always the football captains fave…..I’m half surprised she didn’t get hadn’t over to good old vamps to be honest with you! And lets not forget her top 90’s advise for talking for hours on the phone…

  • Have a really long cord so you can walk around while talking- get those steps in!
  • Have some nice nutritious snacks to keep up your strength – Jelly rolls or brownies are essential
  • Don’t sit in one position for too long and cramp up – big no no

Then we have Constance … Michaels girlfriend. Dashing, romantic, mysterious, a beauty queen, funny and sweet, brilliant at everything, lovely, willowy, strong, interesting and with a passion for scarves *takes big breath*…..omg could she be anymore perfect!!!! We get it okay! There was not an activity she did not shine, not a subject she did not excel in……hand her over to that bloody vampire Althea how was she not your first pick?!

Shout out to the Z list Cheerleaders who didn’t quite make the full Point Horror cut and only appear as extras. Dusty, Scottie, Jo and Katya who apparently looked like an Ethiopian Princess. Oh and not forgetting Brooke who gets an honourable mention for basically backchatting Coach Roundman and telling her her schedule was full! #MoreBrookePlease

Also quick shout out to badass cheerleading coach Mrs Roundman! Wow! She was deliciously cruel! Apparently nicely named. Small, slightly chubby, pink cheeked, relentlessly energetic. She reminded me of Coach Beast from Glee. I loved her. I love how when Celeste was so poorly / drained of energy that she couldn’t walk Mrs Roundman could not care less…. get off her team and don’t bother her! Some say this was the influence of the Vampire…. I say this was allllll Mrs Roundman lol

Fashion Faux Pas

I noticed lots of white cotton turtle necks, white silk blouses and crimson sweaters in this one…..all very Interview With A Vampire!

Also being called The Cheerleader lots of letter jackets, but other than that this one seemed to pass for fashion faux pas!

Dialogue Disasters

It was really hard, as always, to find actual dialogue disasters in Cooneys 90’s writing but these made me chuckle…..

“She slipped down those words, as if on a waterslide at an amusement park”

Weeeeeeeeeeeeee

“We’ll give you rides when you need one”

Is that with your telescope or without ?

“What is cheerleading – an activity for melted marshmallows?”

“You act as if you’d run out of energy spreading peanut butter on Wonder Bread!”

Wow! Coach Randman means business! *licks peanut butter*

“I was able to migrate within Celestes boundries”

Is this a Point Horror or…….?

“How demented Althea thought. Running five miles when you could be laying in bed”

I feel you Althea! I feel you!

“I have a telescope you could learn on”

Oh Ryan…….you could bring your telescope to my tower room any day !

“I’m still waiting to be allowed to use my telescope in your tower room”

Alright Ryan…calm down!

“We could play telescope together”

Oh not again Ry……wait BECKY?! Ohhhhhhhhh

“Her dancing style was completely different. She flung herself forward, flung herself back, and launched toward him again”

Ryan and Altheas dance off took a whole new crazy turn!

“Althea raised her chin, flipped her hair and thought cheerleader thoughts”

Like which bitch am I gonna hand over to old Vamps today ? No?

Body Count

So technically zero…..but Celeste and Jennie became shells of their former selves and we don’t exactly know if they returned back to normal at the end of the book or if they stayed like that…..maybe the sequel holds the answers?

Also who knows how many more victims the Vampire claimed….

Is it scary?

What I’ve grown to love about Cooney that I didn’t appreciate as a teen was how she scares you without even realising ….her writing is full of imagery which really pulls at your imagination and is quite creepy. I think this is quite chilling in its own unique way which Caroline B Cooney, for me, is so good at!

Did the best friend do it?

It depends how you look at it …..technically no as none of Althea’s best friends caused her any harm….. BUT Althea caused harm to her “best friends” by handing them over to the vampire! So in a round about way we could say yes but not in the traditional Point Horror sense.

Some Mild Peril?

I would one hundred percent say a random vampire in my Tower Room is in itself mild peril! Also being the potential victim, dark shadows looming in the darkness and Ryans car!

Also a set of parents not being mentioned until p116….. as well as Altheas absent parents…… letting poor old Althea get up to all sorts in that Tower Room!

Is it any good?

I actually really liked this one. Its classic Point Horror. The cover is iconic. Vampires! Cheerleaders! What’s not to love! As I have mentioned before I don’t feel in my teens I gave Cooney enough of a chance…. I was all about the stalking babysitters… so I am so glad to rediscover her as an adult and realise what I was missing out on!

Final Thought

Where the hell were Althea’s parents?!?! I’m not over it!

Over to you!

  • Explain where Altheas parents were?
  • Where do you think the Vampire came from?
  • Which Point Horror character from any book would you turn over to the Vampire?
  • McDonalds or Pizza hut?
  • #TeamVampire or #TeamAlthea
  • Give the vampire your best vampire rhyme…teach him your ways!

Cover Wars

I actually couldn’t find that many different The Cheerleader covers….I love the classic UK cover but that American Point cover is well creepy!

Live Event

Want more The Cheerleader? Check out these fab Podcasts!

Or looking to buy Point Horror check out Welcome To Point Horror – I highly recommend!


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Or

Use the #PointHorrorBookClub on Twitter on Instagram, follow PHBC on Instagram @talespointhorrorbookclub or even follow me @chelleytoy … lets have a good old Point Horror chat!

Want to explore previous #PointHorrorBookClub posts? I’ve got you! Head to the main page here

Thanks for joining in…..

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talesofyesterday@live.co.uk'
I am often known to be a bit clumsy and a little loopy! Book loving (obsessed), theatre loving, slasher film loving csi geek!
Winner of UKYABA Champion Newcomer 2015 and nominated for Champion of Social Media 2016 and Blogger Of The Year 2016!

© 2014 - 2021 Michelle Toy All Rights Reserved
 

4 Responses

  1. cmilton81@gmail.com' Cazzy

    April 2, 2021 8:39 am

    This was my favourite PH as a kid! I remember being 13 when I read this, still not quite sure where I fit in at senior school and this book resonating with me. I also loved the film Heathers around the same time!

    One question I always had, was how far did the Vampire’s powers go? Does he make it possible for Althea to speak with Celeste in the first place, because it seems they had the potential to become friends and that Althea possibly could have avoided all the handing people over to a vampire business!

    As an adult, I found it interesting that Althea isn’t a nerd or bullied, she’s simply ignored and ambitious. It reminded me of the murder of Kirsten Costas in the 80s – a cheerleader who was murdered by a class mate, Bernadette Protti, who had an unhealthy obsession with popularity and success, and felt that she was lacking, despite not being bullied and being well-liked, albeit by the ‘wrong’ people. The case was made into a the Lifetime movie, A Friend to Die For. I wondered whether the case had any influence on CBC, or whether both the real life case and this book are just both reflections on the 80s/90s preoccupation with popularity, cheerleading and ‘all American’ pursuits.

    Explain where Altheas parents were?
    Where the hell are they?! Do they avoid the house like the plague because they know what goes on there? Has some mishap befallen them? I have no clue! There’s a really dark analysis I heard on a Podcast, that the vampire is actually an abusive guardian and the victims are girls who Althea has groomed for him. As deep as this book is for a PH book, I think that might be an over-reach.

    Where do you think the Vampire came from?
    We know it’s an old house and Althea’s ancestral home, so I’m guessing there’s some dark, secretive past.

    Which Point Horror character from any book would you turn over to the Vampire?
    Brenda from Halloween Night – and I’d feel no remorse!

    McDonalds or Pizza hut?
    Pizza Hut. No-one dances in McDs

    #TeamVampire or #TeamAlthea
    #TeamVamp – I really wanted to see how far Althea could have gone

    Give the vampire your best vampire rhyme…teach him your ways!
    Poetry in not my strong suit!

    Reply
    • talesofyesterday@live.co.uk' Chelley Toy

      April 27, 2021 4:14 pm

      Ohhhh I’ve not heard of Kirsten Costas… I will check that out! It would be so amazing to know of that case did have any influence as there are some striking similarties for sure!

      I love how we are all like – where the hell are the parents! lol

      Also loving Brenda from Halloween night being handed over to Vamps lol ….. I hard agree on this and this made me lol

      Team Vamp….. oh thats so interesting… but I think I’m with you again on that too!

      Sorry for delay in responding…..my emails did not notify me of the comment…..maybe the vamps got them! Thanks for stopping by!

      Chelley x

      Reply
  2. hellodanieljohn@gmail.com' Daniel John

    April 4, 2021 11:45 pm

    This was memorable as one of my all time favourites from Point Horror as a kid and it really held up the test of time when I read it again recently.
    CBC is also one of my top Point Horror writers and its especially clear with this one.
    As everyone comments – it is a bit distracting how there’s literally no mention of the parents, which I half expected to be a plot twist towards the end of the book somehow. I know we often get absent parents, but to have no mention at all is odd … but maybe that’s what helps keep the story ~mysterious~
    The writing and descriptions in this book is just pure perfection and works so well building the images in my mind as I read.
    I liked how the book just gets right into it. No explanation of the Vampire or his powers – he just appears.
    Now I’m not going to spoil the following two titles in the trilogy – but I was hoping to learn more about his past in the other titles, but instead Return is just a poor reboot of this story and IMHO, Promise is just a chaotic cluterfudge of characters.
    I loved Althea as a character, and the choices the Vampire has her make and how much we really get to know and understand her.
    I’m a huge Vamp-fan and loved how this title completely changes up the usual Vampire lore which was a refreshing twist.

    5/5

    Reply
    • talesofyesterday@live.co.uk' Chelley Toy

      April 27, 2021 4:18 pm

      I agree I thkink it has held up to the test of time for sure! I never gave CBC enough credit when I was a teen thats for sure! Why weren’t the parents a plot twist though?! That would have been super cool! CBC took absent parents to the extreme! lol

      I’m intrigued to read the other two in the troligy but I will brace myself! lol

      Thanks for stopping by lovely x

      Reply

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