Fear Street #2 – The Surprise Party

This book was an absolute delight to read, being the second in the series, because so much time is devoted to calling back The New Girl. It’s another one I had to get a physical copy of, which mean I read real words on real paper and my cats kept eating my tabs out of it, so hopefully I don’t forget anything!

The Cover

the surprise party

I really like this cover (pulled from this website). It’s ominous, I like the use of green, the figure is threatening, but doesn’t reveal too much. I’m a big fan of this.

Tagline

It was just another party– until the threats began…

Much more decent than the average Fear Street fare. Still doesn’t reveal any more than the title does, which is good.

Summary

One year ago, Evan is mysteriously murdered in the woods. The only witnesses are his girlfriend, Ellen, and Brian, our main character’s weird cousin who’s a LARPer. Everyone is traumatized from the event, and Ellen moves away. This is told to us in a prologue where a mysterious shooter enjoys killing Evan, because of some girl who is described two separate times as “baad”, so I don’t know if it’s a typo or a terrible stylistic choice, though it does give us some insight into the eventual killer.

The time is now, and Ellen is coming back, at least to visit. Meg, our protagonist, decides with her friend group (which includes Tony, her boyfriend, Shannon, her best friend and Evan’s sister, and Brian) that they should throw a surprise party for Ellen. It’s super unclear why it needs to be a surprise party, since it’s stated that she hates surprises. It seems like a totally normal party where all guests know that they are going to a party seems fine, but whatever. Also sort of part of the friend group is Lisa Blume and Cory Brooks, now dating with no trauma from that time a ghost girl tried to murder the both of them. Lisa is at several points consulted on the mystery and seems to have forgotten anything even happened to her in the past year.

The minute the word is out there’s a surprise party, Meg and Tony receive threatening phone calls. Neither decide to go to the police about it for reasons, but Meg is undaunted. She puts together party invitations during study hall but gets called away when someone leaves a message for her at the office. But when she gets there, there’s no message at all. She returns to study hall only to find her invitations torn up! Who could it have been?!  She’s left another threatening message, and honestly it seems like Meg does not give a fuck. Now she has to throw this surprise party, because some boner out there wants her to stop.

Meg makes a list of potential suspects, which puts Shannon, Brian, and Ellen herself at the top of the list. She calls Ellen, who sounds happy to talk to her, and they have a good chat. Once Meg hangs up though, she realizes Ellen was too enthusiastic, which bumps her up the suspect list for sure. She asks Lisa what she should do, and Lisa’s like “who knows what would happen if I was threatened” and I’m like, Lisa, you were literally mailed a dead cat in the last book there’s few things less threatening than that. But Meg decides to confront Shannon directly, who gets mad and storms off. Immediately after, Meg goes to get her lunch, but when she reaches inside it’s filled with blood! And then it cuts to the next chapter like “ho ho remember that time I found blood in my lunch lulz” and I have to wait at least ten more pages before someone mentions that it’s fake blood. Stine, I got mad respect for you, but you gotta stop this “jumping around because I don’t want to deal with the consequences of my cliffhanger” nonsense. Just do it. Just get good.

Things escalate. Meg is nearly run down, as is Tony. Tony and Brian disappear into the woods, and Meg is woken in the middle of the night by Brian’s frantic parents demanding to know where they are. Meg goes to the woods to help search for them, and she’s threatened again at close range before finding Brian and Tony beat up in a ravine. Only, a chapter break lets us know it was Tony all along! He killed Evan in the woods a year ago, and he worries Brian’s now revealed everything to Meg, and he’ll have to kill her. He invites Meg to a party where he plans to push her off a ravine.

(Shadyside is so full of convenient cliffs to throw people off of. It shows up several times in these stories and you think they would’ve put in railings by now.)

They go to the party. Shannon is cornered by her stalker Dwayne, who said some garbage earlier about how he was glad Evan was dead because he was totally into Shannon, but he’s a mega creep. Tony and Meg go walk to Lover’s Leap, and he decides against killing her, choosing instead to kill Brian and Ellen, the only two witnesses to his crime. Meanwhile, Brian is bedridden thanks to his injuries, and he’s been ranting about how he’s going to be a Fourth Level Wizard and bring Evan back from the dead.

The night of the surprise party actually comes. Meg grabs Ellen and takes her to the manor in Fear Street, which is a terrible idea because the Fear Street Woods is where her boyfriend was hella murdered, but whatever. The surprise happens, Ellen seems delighted, and then Brian shows up, ranting about his wizard powers, with a person who looks just like Evan in tow. Tony flips the fuck out and pulls out a flipping gun, confessing that he killed Evan. The boy turns out to be Shannon’s half-brother Mike. But then, Dwayne wrests the gun away from Tony and takes both Meg and Ellen hostage. He admits that he was the murderer all along! Tony and Ellen had been dating each other behind their significant others’ backs, and when they went to confess to Evan, Evan pulled a gun on them. He and Tony fought, and Tony thought he shot him. Brian and Ellen ran away, as did Tony, keeping the terrible secret to themselves. But Dwayne saw it all, and he snuck in, finding that Evan wasn’t dead at all. He hadn’t even been shot. So Dwayne took the opportunity to kill him, thinking it would make going out with Shannon all the easier.

Hearing this baffling news, Ellen and Meg manage to distract Dwayne, and Meg whaps him with a frying pan. They run away, all guilty parties are arrested, and they get ready for summer vacation, with Mike asking Meg out at the very end of the book, ensuring a happy ending of everyone who matters.

Favorite Line

The grip on her shoulder tightened. She felt hot breath against her cheek. She smelled onions and french fry grease.

Fear Street Trends

Lisa and Cory basically have starring roles in this direct sequel. I find it very amusing that Lisa seems to be in just about every Fear Street book. Her and Corey’s relationship does not seem to be going well, though. They should just stay friends.

Mostly people in this book wear sweatshirts and jeans, and the ladies wear miniskirts when appropriate. It’s not quite the 90s yet when this book came out, but some of it’s starting to leak through. Brian plays Wizards and Dungeons, which is supposed to be a DnD expy, but he’s very clearly a LARPer. He and Dwayne go out in the woods all the time and play this game which means they are live action role playing which means they are big fucking nerds. I also don’t know the history of LARPing, and for some reason I thought it was a more recent thing, but I figured RenFests have been going on for at least twenty years so probably not as new as my brain thinks it is.

Rating

I actually really liked this one. It’s weird and goofy like all Fear Street books, but the second Dwayne pulls a gun on everyone else and you find out who the real killer is, combined with a sudden forced melodrama, I was into it. I’m going to give it four 4th Level Wizards out of five.

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