Fear Street is an ancient institution (it’s from the 90s y’all) and thus some of the early books are not in print anymore, or just can’t be found. You’d think, being a librarian, I’d have access to all the books, but I actually had to Interlibrary Loan this puppy, which means I read an actual physical book this time around (crazy, I know). I’m probably going to have to turn to this for several others in the series. Apologies in advance to our ILL librarian.
It’s not beautiful. It’s pretty good. I like the idea of it. But that orange/blue contrast is at its highest, and the imagery isn’t too creepy. I do appreciate that Suki is rendered fully on the cover.
They shared her terrible secret — but could they get away with murder?
What to say about that. Pretty blah. Gives you a neat summary of the book without giving too much away, but my spine isn’t tingled.
Della is excited to go on an overnight camping trip with the Outdoors Club, which consists of Ricky (the joker), Suki (the slut), Maia (the complainer), Pete (the nice guy), and Gary (the leader). She and Gary broke up recently, and she’s hoping to use it as a chance to get back together, before Suki can get her press on nails in him. Too bad their teacher has to cancel the trip thanks to a family emergency. The club is distraught! They all wanted to go! After some discussion, they agree to go anyway, without telling their parents it’ll no longer be supervised, and on Saturday they take canoes out to Fear Island, the exact sort of place six teenagers should spend an unsupervised weekend hanging out in. Slasher movies have been invented at this point. Honestly everything that follows is their own fault.
Arriving on the island, things aren’t going so great. Gary and Suki are already making out, and Ricky’s ruining everyone’s good mood. Maia keeps freaking out about her parents, and Della is honestly just bummed. Ricky pulls out a flipping gun, which was a jarring sentence to read, but they’re not real. He carries ZAP guns with him (There’s no way that’s a real thing. Is that a real thing? It’s a very specific real thing if it is.), which are just paint guns, sort of. They split up into teams, boys vs girls, and play a game of war. Della goes off on her own out of poutiness, and she ends up running into a stranger. At first she’s into it. He’s maybe twenty, a little older, handsome, but he seems frantic. After a minute of talking, he attacks Della, and it seems like some unsavory business is about to go down, but in the struggle she shoves him off, and he lands in a ravine, seemingly breaking his neck.
Della flips out. She tries to find a pulse on the man, but he doesn’t have one. Her first thought is that she has to protect her friends, and so she starts hiding the body. Unfortunately her friends show up, and they’re understandably freaked out to find the scene. She explains everything that happened, and they agree to keep the secret and help her hide the body. They kind of make Della do it, which is fucked up. For a lot of the rest of the book, she has to do everything to fix what she started, which is partially fair, but she also got attacked and traumatized, and no one seems too sympathetic to her except for Pete (described in book as “too perfect”). She buries the body. They go back to camp and decide against going home immediately, worried it’ll tip off their parents, and they spend a soulless evening sleeping out. In the middle of the night, Della thinks she hears someone, but with no evidence that anyone is there she returns to sleep.
There’s only one fakeout scare in this book, which is baffling. R.L. Stine has built his career on fake out scares. Every other Fear Street book has chopped up chapters designed to end on a scream so the nine year old reading the book can’t find out what happened because it’s his bedtime and no you can’t stay up late young man you have school in the morning. They think their canoes have been stolen, but it turns out Ricky just moved them because he’s a pile of dicks. They return home unscathed.
Over the next few days, the kids start getting vaguely threatening messages. Della is sent a skull from the necklace of the man she killed with a note that says “I SAW WHAT YOU DID”, as does Gary. Pete and Della are nearly run off the road after exiting a teen club, which is a thing that exists in books but I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen in real life. Someone stalks them at Della’s house, and they figure out the person they saw on the island was one of two thieves who’d tried to steal from an old man previously and gotten away with nothing. Now they’re worried the man’s partner is after them, or trying to extort money.
Their teacher comes back and tells them he’ll take them to the island for reals this time the next weekend. At first the kids protest, not wanting to go back so soon after the murder, but Della realizes she left one of Ricky’s guns, and he’s sure if the body’s found it’ll lead the police to him. So they go with their teacher back to Fear Island. Della and Pete try to sneak off to find the gun but keep getting caught. Finally their teacher is bludgeoned by the man who’s been stalking them, and Della is confronted in the woods, where it turns out it’s not the partner but the man himself! He wasn’t dead at all! He was going to blackmail the kids, but now he seems out for revenge. Della fights him off again, and she runs back to the camp where the police are waiting, and they arrest him. The secret is out, but no one’s a murderer, and it seems like everyone’s okay and her parents trust her even after all of that just happened. The end?
He had such perfect teeth, she thought. Too perfect.
Fear Street Trends
So many! This book introduces Suki, who’s outfits are described in every scene she is in. I didn’t realize she was a punk kid, but she has bleached hair that is spiked, but she also seems to be fashion forward? This book came out in 1989, so that doesn’t seem like a real thing. Mostly she has multiple piercings, and she seems to wear skirts and leggings even camping in the woods. I assume she only joined the Outdoors Club for the amount of opportunities she had to sneak out into the woods and makeout with a cute boy. Pete wears Ralph Lauren polos and pleated chinos like a fucking nerd. Della is gorgeous, but she is not described as any sort of movie star.
A Polaroid camera is a plot point in the middle of the book, which practically makes this thing retro as that’s coming back in style. Some of the language is very strange, but my favorite has to be this exchange:
“I like your hair,” Mrs. O’Connor said to Suki. “How do you get it to stand up like that?”
“I use a gel,” Suki said, trying to figure out if Della’s mom was putting her on or not.
“It’s very… what do they call it? Very… rad,” Mrs. O’Connor said.
Someone at some points says, “What’s all this rap about communicating?” and “Cool your jets” is used. The language felt a little more old fashioned than I was used to with these books, but I’ve also been reading a lot of the updated versions.
It should not surprise you in the slightest that I do actually take notes when I read these books, and my Kindle versions are filled with highlights. Unable to do that with a library book, it ended up looking like this:
Though I may have been looking for an excuse to use my kitty tabs.
I actually enjoyed this book way more than I have a lot of the ones I’ve read. It seems to have a lower rating than I’ve seen on a couple of these books, but it was honestly very good. The scene with Della and the stranger is tense, I sort of liked the teen drama playing in the background, everyone seemed traumatized by what happened, and it was a good, solid read. I sort of arbitrarily assign these things ratings based on my nostalgia, the actual content of the book, and its level of readability within the other fear street books, but I’m willing to give this one five accidentally murdered strangers out of five.