The Mall was first published in 1992 and really, it’s a story that could only have taken place in the early 90s. Why is that? Well, there’s a couple of reasons:
First off, it not only takes place in a mall but it also takes place during a time when everyone’s life revolved around the mall. You can’t just order stuff online in this book. Nope, you have to physically walk from store to store. Sometimes, you even have to ride an elevator. If you suggested to anyone in this book that they should just order something off of Amazon, they’d probably complain about having the pay the international shipping.
Secondly, this is a book in which characters regularly find themselves in situations where 1) there’s no escape and 2) there’s no one around to call for help. Today, of course, anyone who gets stuck on an elevator can just call the cops on their phone. By that some token, if you’ve got some weird stalker constantly calling you, you can just block him. But, in the world of The Mall, there’s no way to block (or trace) a caller who uses a pay phone. And, if you’re stuck on an elevator …. well, you’re just stuck there until your stalker decides to toss a dead body in there with you.
Anyway, this is one of those books that opens with a prologue in which a stalker stares at the object of his lust and spends a lot of time thinking about how she will eventually be his, though only when the circumstances are just right. Apparently, because he’s obsessed with a teenage girl who works at the mall, the stalker spends a lot of time pretending to be a mannequin which …. agck! I mean, c’mon, that is definitely a creepy image.
Trish Somerfeld works at the mall, with her best friend Nita. Trish is employed at …. I kid you not, Muffin Madness. Nita works at a clothing store called The Latest Trend (no seriously). Nita is a little bit creeped out by the fact that another girl who worked at the mall recently disappeared. The rumor is that the girl was murdered though it’s possible that she might just be out of town. Trish, on the other hand, is disturbed by the fact that she keeps getting calls from someone who has a “womanish voice” and who says things like, “I’m eating your muffin right now.” The stalker soon becomes known as the — *ahem* — Muffin Man.
Who is the Muffin Man? Could he possibly be the cute guy who is always hanging out the mall and seems to be particularly interested in Trish? (I mean, he winked at her!) His name is Storm Reynolds and …. what? THAT IS TOO HIS NAME! DO YOU THINK I’D MAKE UP A NAME LIKE THAT!?
Where was I? Oh yeah. So anyway, Trish is totally being stalked and she knows it but, at the same time, she doesn’t really do much about it. Even when she comes across a dead body with an ice pick in its head, she declines to let anyone know because she doesn’t want to get one of the mall security guards in trouble. Anyway, Trish eventually is forced to deal with her stalker and the revelation of his identity is not really that much of a surprise.
It’s a dumb book but it’s also a fun book, largely because Richie Tankersley Cusick takes so much delight in describing life in the mall. Because it’s a book that was written for 90s teenagers, the lead character can get away with doing a lot of dumb stuff and, as dense as Trish might be, at least she has two good friends, Nita and her twin sister, Imogene, who have always got her back. Storm Reynolds is a bit of a jerk and you cringe when he’s set up as a love interest but, at the same time, his name is Storm so I always giggled whenever anyone talked about him.
Plus, how can you not enjoy a book where the main villain is known as the Muffin Man? Seriously….
As far I know, Lifetime never did a film version of The Mall. That’s a missed opportunity on their part, if you ask me.