Fear Street #20 – The New Boy

The Cover

the new boy

The cover (pulled from its GoodReads page) is okay. It’s not sinister enough for me. There have been other covers that have done more with the interplay of sex and death, and this one just feels a little flat.

Tagline

He was a hunk of trouble…

God, I love this. This is what every Fear Street tagline should be. It’s punny, it’s indicative of the book without being spoilery, it’s so good.

Summary

Janie is hanging out in the hallway when she first gets a glimpse of the new boy. She sees him from a distance, and he’s brooding and dreamy. Her thoughts are interrupted by her two BFFs Faith and Eve. Faith is a rich girl, while Eve’s family struggles to make ends meet, much like her boyfriend Ian who’s working about five jobs to pay for his college. They all worked to plan the school dance and now have to count the money from it. Of course, her friends are more interested in gossiping than doing their job. Eve does a mean prank on Janie, making Janie think they lost the money, and Faith brushes her off for it. They all three see the new boy walking towards them, his arm bleeding, and when they rush forward he tells them he was helping someone with their bike and accidentally sliced his arm on the fence. He introduces himself as Ross Gabriel, and Faith and Eve help him go to the nurse’s office, leaving Janie behind, who pouts that she saw him first.

The girls return to help Janie, who lets them know she’s interested in Ross. The others tease her and discuss their own boyfriends. The boys themselves, Paul and Ian, show up and start goofing around with the girls, joking they’d steal the money and tossing stacks of bills at each other. Their interrupted by Mr. Hernandez, their principal, who at first threatens to suspend them, then lightens up and let’s them know he’s joking. They finish counting it to a little over twelve hundred dollars, and Janie goes to tell Mr. Hernandez the final count while the other two leave. She forgets the amount, returns to the drawer where the money is, and finds that it’s missing for real!

Janie goes over to Faith’s a few days later, still stressed out over the missing money, but relieve the girls aren’t suspects. She sees Paul at her house, and they all have kind of a tense conversation. After he leaves, Faith asks Janie if she’s going to ask Ross out, or if Faith herself will do it, dismissing Paul when Janie brings him up. They make a bet: ten dollars to the first girl who asks out Ross. They even call Eve, and she agrees to play the game.

Ross is Janie’s chemistry partner at school, and he plays it cool and funny when he’s with her. He lets her know his old school was way a head and he’s done this experiment before, and then he drops in some wrong ingredients, creating a stink bomb. He plays dumb in front of the teacher, saying he made a mistake, and the teacher takes the test tube out of the room. The other kids are grateful for his disrupting class and removing the teacher in one move. Ross says, “I like to mess people up.” It’s so strange, and even Janie’s like, what, but the bell rings. As they leave, she starts to ask him out, but he sees someone in the hallway and quickly bolts. It’s okay though, because Eve runs up to Janie and proclaims herself the winner of the bet.

On Friday night, Janie and Faith are talking about how jealous they are over the phone. Faith says she could call Ian right now and let him know Eve is on a date, but Janie tells her not to. Faith worries a little her parents might be divorcing, since they’re no longer in the same room at the same time anymore, and she’s extra annoyed that Paul asked her for three hundred dollars to fix his car, and she’s pretty sure he only goes out with her because she’s rich. Janie invites her over to watch a movie, but Faith tells her she just wants to stay in.

We cut to Eve in the car with Ross, and they’re making out. This is paints Eve in a pretty poor light, especially because later we learn Ross agreed to go out with her because she promised him half of the bet money, which makes it sound like she pretty much only did this to win ten dollars. We don’t really see her and Ian together at all, and so it’s unclear if she’s interested in fooling around, or if she’s lonely because Ian works so much. It doesn’t matter much, because she and Ross walk into the Fear Street woods, and she does not walk out again. Janie gets a call Saturday morning from Ian, who tells her Eve never got home last night.

Janie calls Eve’s mom, who lets her know Ross is missing too. Ian comes over to Janie’s, and he asks if they can drive around, since he’s too nervous to sit still. Ian kind of accuses Janie of knowing Eve went on a date last night, and Eve deflects. Ian slams on his breaks as they near Fear Street, claiming he saw a dog, and they both see something in the woods. Getting out, they find Eve’s body. The police arrive, and Ian’s clearly a wreck. Janie tells him they can go now, that the police are handling it, and he tells her he’s certain someone killed her over the money. At first she thinks he’s talking about the bet, but then he clarifies: Eve stole the dance money. He then demands to know who Eve went on a date with, and she tells him the truth, that it was all a stupid bet. He flips out and tells her to get out of the car, and she’s afraid he’s going to do something stupid, so she steals his keys and tosses them into the grass. The paramedics take Eve’s body away, and Janie worries that Ross is lying dead in these woods too.

Janie and Ian are called into the police station to answer more questions, and they see Ross being brought in by two officers. Janie’s excited to see him alive at first, and he told her Saturday morning he went with his parents back to his old town bright and early, meaning he didn’t even know what happened until they got back and the police were waiting for him. He lets her know he dropped Eve off at home and watched her go up to her door. She was safe, as far as he knew. He asks if she believes him, and she hesitates. Ian makes it clear he doesn’t.

Janie meets up with Faith, and they’re both miserable. They agree not to tell anyone that Eve stole the money, a bad idea, and they’re interrupted by Ross. He sits beside Janie, and Faith gets openly hostile, something he picks up on. He wants to know if she’s thinking he’ll kill her too, which sounds like a threat, and he starts screaming at her, again, not a good look. Faith runs away as she sees Paul and Ian, but Janie hangs behind. She tells Ross she does believe him, and this is where he admits he only went out with Eve because of the bet money. He mentions something that went down in his old town, and Janie asks about it, but he brushes her off.

Her friends are still suspicious of Ross, but Janie isn’t so sure on them. Paul mentions he found the money to pay for his car, and she starts to wonder if Faith gave it to him, or if he got it on his own. Ross comes over to her house to work on French homework, driving her to a restaurant, where his car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, which gives Janie a lot of anxiety. He lives on Fear Street too, and he runs inside his house to grab his wallet. This is all set up for after he drops her off back home, and she has to return his text book. She arrives at his house, and an old woman answers the door, telling her no one named Ross lives there. She’s worried she’s falling for a murderer, and her friends are disdainful of the relationship. Faith mentions she overheard some rumors about Ross from his old school but refuses to elaborate. The rumors at their school circulate that Ross was arrested for the murder, but they see him in the cafeteria, where he kind of flips out that everyone is accusing him. Janie asks him about the old woman, he tells her his grandmother is senile. She forgets things, including her grandchildren, and sometimes her own son. He also says Ian told the police about the stolen money, surprising Janie, but the money wasn’t found at Eve’s. He then starts to hand her a scarf, which Janie thinks is Eve’s, and she flips out and runs away.

Janie runs to the parking lot only to see Faith and Paul having a huge fight. She decides not to tell them that Ross has Eve’s scarf, since they’re in the middle of something. After school, she goes to the mall to see Ian, and he talks about his many, many jobs. When she gets home, Faith is calling her, and she tells her she has something really important to tell her about Ross. Suddenly she gets another call, and she goes quiet for about a minute, then returns, asking Janie to come to her house. Janie asks why she can’t just tell her over the phone, but Faith insists. When Janie gets to Faith’s house, the door is ajar, and she smells something burning. She runs into the den to find Faith on the ground, struck by a poker. She calls 911 and thinks she hears someone in the house. The operator tells her to leave calmly, but Janie’s so disoriented that she locks herself in the den. Then someone comes up behind her, and it’s Ian! He tells her that Faith was going to tell him something about Ross, and when he sees the body, he starts to freak out and blame him again.

A funeral is held. Ross is missing. Everyone is sad. Janie runs into the girl who scared Ross off before, and she spills everything. That at his old school, his name was Robert Kingston. He went out with a girl for a few months, and after they broke up, her body was found in the woods. He was questioned but not arrested. Robby hung around with some bad boys too, and his alibi was that he was in a stolen car. Now knowing this, she runs into Ross that night and is terrified to be near him. He’s getting unhinged, it seems, and demands she get in his car and talk to him. He then tries to give her scarf back to her, and Janie realizes it is hers, not Eve’s, and she flipped out over a misunderstanding. She refuses to go with him, but she says she’ll meet him at the pizza place at eight tonight, promising. That seems to satisfy him, and he drives off. Janie gets home and tries to call the police so they’ll know where Ross is, but a storm has knocked out the phone lines. Her parents are out late, and she’s getting anxious alone in her house, and around eight-thirty, Ross comes a-knocking.

Ross is clearly angry, but he tells her the truth. He didn’t kill that girl. He found her body, and the police took him in for that, but the rumor mill wouldn’t stop. He wasn’t even in town when Faith was killed, but the police are still picking him up to ask questions. He gets aggressive with her, and then a pair of headlights come up the driveway, chasing him off.

The kids at school get more aggressive, and Paul and his friend start to beat up Ross when they see him talking to Janie. Janie herself is skipping class and hiding out to avoid him. Ian finds her and tells her he has proof that Ross killed Faith. As usual, he says he can’t tell her here, and he drives her out to the woods. They park across the street from Ross’ house and go into the trees. He has with him a baseball bat, and once they’re far enough, he starts to threaten Janie. He tells her he knows Faith told her everything, that she’s a loose end, and Janie has no idea what he’s talking about. It turns out Eve stole the money for him, but when he heard about her date with Ross, he got jealous and angry. He killed her there with the bat in a fit of rage, and then drove her body to the woods, where he led Janie the next morning. Janie screams that Ross is right behind him now, and he tells her he’s not stupid, only for Ross to grab him and be rewarded with a hit of the bat. Janie flips out and attacks Ian, pinning him to the ground and pressing the bat to his throat to choke him. Ross gets up, holding Ian down, and tells Janie to run to his house and call the police. She agrees with a smile, happy that she’s no longer in love with a murderer.

Favorite Line

“I usually don’t put a move on a girl the first date.” He shrugged. His eyes locked on hers. “I usually wait until the second date!”

Fear Street Trends

We get to see Corky and Kimmy out of a Cheerleaders book, which is a delight! Deena Martinson breaks up with Gary Brandt, and Ricky is still the class clown. There aren’t a ton of fashions, but my favorite is Eve’s sexy red denim jeans she saves for hot dates, worn with a blue blazer borrowed from Janie. Blazers are such good date wear.

Rating

More than usual, this Fear Street book felt especially cookie cutter. Cute boy, dangerous love interest, murder, murder, plot twist, two characters who should no longer trust or like each other get together at the end. I’ll give it two stolen money bags out of five.

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