I chose this book because it’s Halloween and I wanted something that had a ghost in it, but never ever could I have expected this book to turn out the way it did, and it allowed me to write my new favorite phrase over and over again.
This entry does feature a minor amount of discussion of sexual assault and rape. Feel free to skip this one if that’s not something you want to read about.
The cover (taken from its GoodReads page) is a hot mess. Why is everything so blue? The all denim outfit is straight from the book, but they could’ve popped in some color elsewhere. The perspective might be forcing it a little, but he looks tiny compared to Melissa. He’s also striking a pose which is hilarious, considering his bad boy nature.
There’s a prowler in Melissa’s room — but is he dead or alive?
It’s sort of long. I don’t hate it, but it’s missing the usual R.L. Stine punch. It also seems to postulate that having a prowler in your room is okay, but if he’s dead nah.
Melissa starts the book off by waking up screaming. She thinks she hears something outside her window, and her parents run in to check, but all they find is a tree tapping against her window. Apparently there’s been news reports about the Fear Street Prowler, who’s been breaking into houses, and Melissa’s half dream state made her imagine someone in the room. Her parents are surprisingly flippant about this. As her mother leaves the room, she tells her to keep her window open to let the air in, which is like insane when your daughter is having nightmares about a real actual person breaking into houses. Luckily, her dad has just the thing to make her feel safe. He takes her to his bedside table, where he opens the drawer to reveal a small silver pistol, so make sure to mark off loose gun in drawer on your bingo cards.
Luckily Melissa’s boyfriend is back from vacation. Buddy picks her up and takes her straight to a secluded spot near the river. He puts his hand under her blouse, which is graphic for a Fear Street book. I guess this is to set up that he’s not that great of a boyfriend, which will come into play later, when a sexy dangerous ghost shows up.
Melissa’s dad comes home early to give her a birthday surprise. He gives her a Pontiac Firebird, which I think her dad does to prove they’re rich. He tells a sad story about not getting birthday cakes on his birthday because they were poor, so he’s happy to spoil his daughter. She drives off to show her best friend Della, but on the way the steering sticks and then jerks wildly. She thinks she hears someone calling her name, and nearly hits a truck.
Instead of resolving that, Stine skips ahead to Melissa’s birthday party. Her car’s in the garage to see what the issue was with steering, and all her friends have arrived. She puts all their presents in one of the rooms to look at later. Her party is full of Fear Street favorites, including David Metcalfe. Buddy shows up late, but he has a special present for her. She promises to open it after the party, just the two of them. Again, the book gets a little PG-13, with the teens making jokes about “playing doctor” and references to Melissa and her boyfriend fooling around. Cake is had, and it’s time to open presents, but when Melissa goes to get them, they’ve all been torn open and scattered all over the floor. There was no way anyone at the party did it, all being her friends and all being in the room with her most of the night. Melissa goes to bed feeling disappointed, and she’s scared when she sees someone standing in her bedroom, whose face she can’t see. She screams for her parents, but when they run in he’s gone.
Melissa is convinced there’s something there. After her parents go back to bed, she looks out her window, touching the silver pendant her boyfriend gave her, when two invisible hands grab her and try to push her out the window. She’s scared but manages to go back to sleep. The next day she goes to see Buddy and tells him what happened. Buddy is not a very good boyfriend and mostly dismisses her.
Melissa, Della, and Krissie go shopping together at the Clothes Closet (definitely not a filler name). Krissie makes fun of a girl, and Melissa tells her “she’s just poor”. Krissie snaps at her for her anti-rich tirade, but lets it drop. Melissa drives herself home, and then the boy in her bedroom appears in the car with her. She’s so surprised she crashes into the car in front of her. The driver is surprisingly cool, since there’s very little actual damage to the cars, though he does shout at her for being stoned.
She tells her parents what happened, and they worry about her. Luckily, dad has to go to a convention Vegas and is inviting the whole family, making a long weekend of it. Melissa, for some unknown reason, decides she doesn’t want to go. She goes upstairs to get ready for her date with Buddy, and is surprised by the boy again, who shouts at her that she was the one who killed him. Melissa is confused by this, since she hasn’t killed anyone to her knowledge. The ghost admits most of his memory is gone, and he doesn’t know how or why, but she def did the deed. He tells her his name is Paul and yells at her for being rich. When he threatens to kill her, she promises to help him find his real killer, which he agrees to.
Melissa drives to her boyfriend’s house and along the way just proves herself to be a general bad driver. She goes through a red light and a four way stop. It’s entirely possible she just ran over Paul at some point and never noticed. Buddy’s waiting for her at his house, and she tells him she needs to talk. Buddy drives her car, which is such a straight people thing oh my god we noticed this in our rewatch of the Twilight movies and I can’t imagine letting someone else drive my car when I am perfectly capable why is this such a thing. She tells him the whole story about Paul and everything, and he clearly doesn’t believe her, but she convinces him to come back to her place to see (wink wink). When they get to her house, her parents are out, but they’re surprised by her housekeeper, and she teases Buddy a little for being scared. They wait for the ghost to show up, and Buddy makes a move on her. While they’re kissing, Paul appears behind him, but Buddy can’t see or feel him. Melissa flips out, and Buddy gets very concerned. Paul calls him a bad boyfriend. He tells her “this isn’t some stupid TV sitcom” which means Stine completely whiffed a perfectly serviceable “This isn’t some horror book” line which enrages me.
Buddy leaves, and Paul is still there. He talks more smack about rich people, and then more smack about her boyfriend. She sleeps, somehow, in her room in which a teenage boy ghost is constantly watching her, and the next day goes to the library where she gets the newspapers from the last six months. She can’t find any information about Paul or any deaths, which seems weird considering Fear Street’s reputation. These stories don’t seem that far apart in time, though I guess these kids live in that nebulous TV time, where the seasons may change and time may pass, but they and their problems are eternal. Anyway, Melissa runs into Della, and Della tells her that her cousin Tracy goes to “South”, which I guess is the high school for poorsies. They go meet Tracy, who tells them someone did die last spring, but it turns out to be a boy named Vince Alexander.
Melissa goes home, confused and dejected, but when she gets to her front door she sees that it’s wide open. Bravely, she goes into the house, but it’s only Buddy, who’s just hanging out alone in her house, not weird at all. He invites her out to the Red Heat, and they go dancing. They get into a fight because she mentions the ghost again, and she storms out. In an insanely realistic moment, the guy at the front calls out that she’ll need to get stamped to come back in, and it’s this one little comment but it totally sells and I love it. She’s marching around the parking lot, when she sees a couple delinquents laughing and drinking and, to her surprise, one of them is Paul! She tries to talk to him like he’s the ghost, but he doesn’t know her, and he gets aggressive, grabbing her and insinuating a lot of terrible things. She runs back to the club, and they chase her, though they seem to let up as she gets to the entrance.
Despite the fact that Melissa is living with a ghost who may also be a terrible living person, she still doesn’t want to chill in Vegas with her parents, and instead is staying over at Della’s that weekend. Her parents try to convince her, and she says no. She drives to a local grocery store, where she sees one of the boys who was in Paul’s gang, and she tries to talk to him. Frankie is nervous to be around her and sort of apologizes for his friends, saying he doesn’t usually go through with the stuff Paul gets up to, which bodes well for our ghost. She asks when Paul died, and he tells her he talked to Paul that morning, that he’s alive, and this dame is crazy.
Melissa isn’t sure if she’s cracking up or not, especially when she sees the living Paul, and he grabs her shoulder. She again tries to talk to him like he’s the ghost!Paul, and he’s a huge creep to her. She runs to her car, and he takes her keys. Luckily a cop car pulls up, though he kind of gives Melissa a hard time, especially when she’s clearly in distress. The cops drive off, and Paul shouts at Melissa some more. She drives home, and when she sees ghost!Paul there, she flips out on him, shouting at him to leave her alone.
Ghost!Paul is confused by all this, even though every single time they’ve talked he’s threatened to kill her. She asks why he was such a jerk in the parking lot, but he doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She mentions Frankie, and he starts to remember things. Melissa paces the room, trying to figure out what this means. Paul is alive right now, but she’s talking to his ghost, and they are the same person, which means ghost!Paul is a ghost… from the future! It explains why she doesn’t remember killing him, and how he could be in two places at once, though they don’t really get into the how or why. She promises to take him to the living Paul in order to warn his current self about his impending death.
Melissa manages to find where Paul lives through his friend Frankie, and I gotta say, she’s being incredibly brave and stupid to go to this guy’s house when he’s physically threatened her so many times, all for the future ghost of a guy who’s been nothing but a dick to her. Paul gets a wave of memories back as they drive through his old neighborhood, which is derelict and has ladies in leather jackets arguing in the street, so you know it’s poor. Melissa waits outside as ghost!Paul floats up into his house. He sees living!Paul on the phone, calling Melissa’s house like a creep. Ghost!Paul tries to talk to him, but living!Paul can’t see him.
Living!Paul goes to the local liquor store and gets a six pack for his buddies, all with ghost!Paul floating behind. Melissa has completely disappeared, with good reason. He and his friends talk trash for a while, and then Paul drives them along Fear Street, where he reveals that he’s the Fear Street Prowler. He’s been breaking into houses for some extra dough. Ghost!Paul realizes his death comes from breaking into one of these houses.
Ghost!Paul returns to Melissa’s bedroom, where he both gets defensive and apologizes for being such a dick. Melissa is sad to learn ghost!Paul couldn’t speak to his living self, and she offers to go talk to living!Paul for him. Melissa drives back to the neighborhood until she finds Paul and his friends. He’s clearly drunk, and when she tells him to stay away from her, he grabs her and starts dragging her away. He tells her he knows where she lives. She warns him never to come to her street, which he takes as condescension at his poorness and gets more aggressive. She gets away from him, knowing she wasn’t able to get through to him.
Melissa’s parents leave for Vegas. She’s unable to stay at Della’s like she planned thanks to her getting caught up in a family thing. She chills around the house, feeling paranoid, as anyone would with the future ghost of a teenage boy hanging around. She falls asleep and wakes up around midnight, when she hears what sounds like someone trying to break into her parents’ bedroom. She goes in, and living!Paul is waiting for her. He tells her “Tonight’s the night” and lunges at her. She’s torn momentarily between her desire to not be the one to kill Paul and to not be attacked in her own home, and she goes for the gun in her dad’s bedside table. He challenges her to shoot him, and when she doesn’t, he knocks it out of her hand. They both grapple for it, but he gets it and points it at him. Before he pulls the trigger, ghost!Paul shouts that he can’t let him do this, and manages to control living!Paul enough that the gun is thrown from his hands. Melissa grabs it, and the gun goes off. Paul is officially dead.
Ghost!Paul tells Melissa not to feel guilty for shooting him, though he doesn’t really apologize for breaking into her house with the intent to assault her. And despite being physically attacked by living!Paul this whole time, she still kisses ghost!Paul as he fades into the nether. Buddy comes running in, sees the dead body, and goes to phone the police. No one is traumatized, and everything is okay forever.
“What if you are a ghost from the future?”
Fear Street Trends
I have so many fashion trends tabbed in this book holy hell I even had to google some of them. All the bad boys are wearing jean jackets and all jean ensembles which is hilarious to me. Half of them are long haired, and some of them have “spiky flattops”. Buddy’s hair is described as “down to his collar” which is such a grunge look I love it. Melissa and her friends are described as “preppie”, wearing chinos, polo shirts, straight legged corduroy jeans, fringed sweaters, “501 jeans” (I had to look this up), and a cool younger girl has spiked hair. Krissie makes fun of a girl for wearing “plastic pedal pushers”, which was the craziest phrase I’ve ever read. I guess they’re capris, but who wears plastic? Buddy at one point is wearing tennis shoes without socks while doing physical labor which is actually the craziest thing I’ve ever read how did he survive?
Melissa can’t imagine what she wants for her birthday and considers a new Walkman, and her friend jokes aobut getting her a Weird Al CD. Tom Cruise and Paul Newman get namedropped. I stopped bothering to google to see if these were real movies. I’m gonna go with no.
This book is rated PG-13 and is one of the most risque of the Fear Street books, and the others do go there on occasion. I absolutely hated being asked to sympathize with Paul, who is an actual rapist, but I liked interactions with ghost!Paul. Still, most of the characters were inconsequential and I felt like her boyfriend was put in to be forgotten. I’ll give it two future ghosts out of five.