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mr mitford

The Face (Corbet-Singleton)

The Face is a horror novel written by Australian author Paul Corbet-Singleton. It was published in 1997 by Scholastic Press.

It tells the story of Gibson Carver, a fifteen-year-old boy who is struggling to adapt to life at a new school, all the while having strange nightmares concerning Cosmic Park, the sinister amusement park located near where he lives. The story is set in early 1993.

The Face is Paul Corbet-Singleton's first novel.

Story in detail

Gibson Carver is starting his first year at a new school, Mailer High. At first he has trouble adapting, as when it is revealed that he has been to many schools before, rumours start to escalate against him by other students. His only friend in the school is Julie Conrad, the only girl in his roll class.

A mysterious student, Carl Rider, arrives late in the roll class one day, and Gibson takes an instant dislike to him, as he acts overly casual and disrespectful towards the students as well as the teacher. Soon the teacher is injured in an apparent car accident, and Carl Rider is placed in charge of the roll class.

Meanwhile, Gibson is troubled by a very bizarre, recurring dream - he is on a roller coaster ride called "The Big Dipper" in Cosmic Park, when the roller coaster suddenly accelerates out of control and crashes to the park below. The dream is always very vivid, always leading him to believe that he is really dead, before he wakes. Strangely, he always wakes from the dream at the same time - 12:15 am.

Gibson notices that Carl Rider has a strange fixation with the concept of enemies - while in charge of the roll class, he always talks about it with the class, asking them who their enemies are and what they want to happen to them. The class, especially Gibson and Julie, are wary of this, but only Gibson realises that something is not right about Carl Rider.

Gibson begins to really like Julie Conrad. While in the library one day, Gibson gathers the courage to strike up a conversation with Julie, and she asks him if he would like to walk home with her that afternoon. Gibson agrees, only for there to be revealed that Carl Rider and his friends have been eavesdropping on them, and Gibson is so embarrassed by this he storms away.

That afternoon after school, Gibson walks home with Julie. He tells her that his mother died when he was young, and that his father is overseas - job forces him to move around a lot, which is the reason why he has been to so many schools. He now lives with his grandmother.

While they are walking home, Gibson suddenly falters - his recurring dream comes back to him in a waking vision. He comes out of the vision to find Julie shaking him, alarmed. He then sees a figure walking on top of The Big Dipper, who waves to Gibson and walks into the tunnel on top of the ride. Upon seeing this, Gibson faints. When Gibson wakes up, Julie is peering down at him, worried. She asks him what happened, and Gibson, in his state of shock, can only think to tell her the truth - he saw somebody on The Big Dipper. Julie finds it difficult to believe somebody would be there, as Cosmic Park is closed. Gibson then tells her about his recurring dream and how he had experienced it again before he fainted. Julie walks Gibson home, and Gibson scolds himself for giving Julie such a scare.

At school, a bully named Marne Wolfe constantly taunts Gibson whenever their paths happen to cross. Gibson is frustrated when on two occasions, Carl Rider shoos away Marne Wolfe, humiliating Gibson and making him look weak in front of the other students.

Gibson notices that Carl Rider never seems to have a life outside of the roll class. Gibson has long grown suspicious, and investigates Rider by following him after school. He soon realises Rider frequently goes to the Face, goes into the closed Cosmic Park, and never comes out. Gibson does not tell Julie this, out of fear that she would think he was crazy.

Suspicious events start to occur, which at first sight, appear to be accidents. Wozza Marsden tells Carl Rider that he has an enemy named Steve Collins - soon after, Steve Collins crashes his bike because of a faulty brake. Scott Camden tells Carl that he has an enemy named Harold Lambmeyer - soon enough, a bomb explodes in Harold's locker after he had opened it, despite Gibson and Julie's attempt to warn him. It even turns out that an enemy of Joe Jordan's was Mr. Grassthorne, who had been absent from school because of a broken leg from a car crash. Every time somebody complains about someone to Carl Rider, something happens to that person. Gibson is the only one who notices this, and he vows to find a way to put a stop to it somehow. Julie, however, still believes that the accidents are a coincidence.

Gibson soon finds out that Cosmic Park will re-open one weekend, and Carl Rider and his gang intend to go. Gibson wants to go there as well, so he can investigate Carl. He and Julie enjoy the attractions of the park, including the rides and sideshows, and Gibson is revealed to get ill easily after fast rides. Gibson spots Carl Rider in the crowd, acting suspiciously, but he is gone before Gibson can get to him. After a while, Gibson and Julie go on a ride called the "Tunnel of Love". It is here that they share their first kiss.

Soon after, the Tunnel of Love mysteriously catches fire, and Gibson and Julie barely manage to escape. Gibson is sure that Carl Rider started the fire - and he becomes convinced beyond doubt when a victim of the fire turns out to be a girl named Helen Flett - Jason Hornblower's enemy, whom he had complained about to Carl Rider.

The next day at school, Gibson receives a terrible shock - Julie tells him she can't see him anymore, because her parents think he is a bad influence. This puts Gibson in a panic, which leads to their first argument. On top of this, to make things even worse for Gibson, Mr. Mitford, the school principal takes Gibson out of class and accuses him of every crime that has been committed, including a recent brutal attack on Marne Wolfe, his enemy at school. Despite Gibson's vehement attempts to convince him of the truth, the principal remains absolutely convinced that he is the culprit. Just when things can't seem to get any worse, the principal suspends him from school.

Despite Gibson's suspension, Julie remains on good terms with him, even though they get very limited opportunities to talk, having to resort to secret meetings in private places in order to discuss ways to figure out the meaning behind the terrible events that are unfolding. Julie researches the history of Cosmic Park in the public library, and tells an anxious Gibson what she unearthed - there has been a pattern of accidents on the Big Dipper, occurring every fifteen years since Cosmic Park opened in 1918. Unsettlingly, the accidents always occurred on the same date - the twenty-third of April. Gibson realises that it is now fifteen years since the last accident, and the twenty-third of April in the present year is approaching. He knows that he has to figure out what to do before the next accident happens on the Big Dipper.

Now that Gibson is out of school, Carl Rider begins to fraternise with Julie during school. This unsettles and frustrates Gibson, as he worries that Carl would try to turn Julie against him too.

One day, Gibson and Julie decide to meet at the local shopping mall. When Gibson sees Julie standing where they decided to meet, he sees Carl Rider approach and converse with Julie. They start to walk away, and a very confused Gibson hurriedly follows them. Julie and Carl end up going into the cinemas to see a movie. Gibson is now suspicious of Julie, and does not know what to make of what she did at the mall.

That night, Julie calls Gibson, who angrily inquires about why she went off with Carl Rider at the mall. Julie is unable to explain, saying that he must have some sort of persuasive power, and that it was like she was in a trance the whole time she was with him. Gibson, in his desperation to keep Julie away from Carl, tells her of how he continually saw Carl Rider underneath the Face at Cosmic Park. Fortunately, Julie does not think Gibson is crazy for this, and is now more wary of Carl.

Gibson sees Marne Wolfe in the hospital and interrogates him about who beat him up. A crying Marne admits that it was Carl Rider. When Gibson is on his way back, sees Carl Rider walking to Cosmic Park. Seeing a possible chance to thwart Carl's dangerous actions and prove his own innocence, Gibson follows him to the park and goes inside. He finds a trapdoor leading to the interior of the Big Dipper roller coaster, the ride that mysteriously haunts Gibson's dreams. Once inside, he finds a room that looks as though somebody is living there temporarily. He finds a diary on the floor, and when he reads through it, he finds all the names of the "accident" victims in it, written in red pen on the days their respective incidents happened - then Gibson reads his name, with "R.I.P" under it, then Julie Conrad's name in a love heart. Gibson figures out that Carl Rider wants him out of the way so he can have Julie.

Characters

Gibson Carver - The protagonist. A teenage boy who has horrifying visions of a roller coaster crash in the local fun park. 15 years old. Has dark hair. Presumably Australian. Lives in the suburb of Bayside with his grandmother.

Julie Conrad - Gibson's best friend, a girl in his roll class who soon begins a romantic relationship with Gibson. Has long brown hair. Assists Gibson with investigating the mystery of the amusement park. Lives with her parents.

Carl Rider - A strange classmate of Gibson's, who acts menacingly towards other students. Has blonde hair and blue eyes.

Marne Wolfe - A fat boy who constantly bullies Gibson. Calls him "Gibby" mockingly.

Warwick "Wozza" Marsden - A boy in Gibson's roll class. Is the "class clown", and has a very loud laugh.

Scott Camden - In Gibson's roll class. Plays basketball, has a long nose and is very tall.

Nigel Neeson - In Gibson's roll class. A timid boy with red hair and a red face.

Walter Mellow - In Gibson's roll class. Is considered the class nerd.

Jason Hornblower - In Gibson's roll class. Short and pudgy, has asthma and plays the saxophone.

Joe Jordan - In Gibson's roll class. Is very quiet, and has a grudge against the roll class teacher, Mr. Grassthorne.

Mr. Mitford - Mailer High School's principal. Seems antagonistic towards Gibson.

Mr. Grassthorne - Gibson's roll class teacher. Carl Rider soon replaced him as head of the class.

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