What’s Next?

0

I was going to finish out this summer with Goodnight Kiss 2 and then take a little break, but the truth is my anxiety level has been so high these past few weeks, I’ve barely been able to do the things I have to do much less the things I do for fun on the Internet. Real life hit me pretty hard these past few weeks. My free time in August and September will be spent finding a place to move into and then moving, so I’d rather chill on this blog and come back well rested with brand new material. But I’ve accrued something of a following with this blog, and some of you have even been nice enough to send me donations for the next book. (Thank you, by the way! Nothing has thrilled me quite as much as receiving a message that says they love my blog and look forward to more!)

And since you, gentle readers, have been with me on this journey, I figure it’s time you got a say in what I read next. I made a list of ten potential books that would be interesting to get into next. The #1 on this list will be the next book I read (starting back in October), and any votes for the others will let me know I should be looking into next. I don’t know if these’ll be the exact next ten I read, but knowing what’s wanted and what’s popular will definitely push me towards it.

Feel free to add anymore suggestions in the comments! Like I said, I want to know what interests you. Thank you for your readership, and I will see you in October!

Fear Park: The Last Scream

0

The Cover

the last scream

This is the least inspired cover from the series (pulled from its Amazon page). I’ve enjoyed the mix of theme park imagery and screams, the two work well together, but this falls back on tired things. The best thing about it is Dierdre’s outfit.

Tagline

It’s closing time… for Dierdre.

Dull, boring, blah. There’s no menace to it. “Time for the last ride” might’ve been a better one. I don’t know. It’s not good.

Summary

We’re introduced to Dierdre dreaming about the Hatchet Show at Fear Park, and the text tries to fake us out where she thinks it’s a dream and then thinks it’s not but she wakes up. She reminds us of what happened in the other books, and she mentions the park is closed for a while since they’re doing more safety checks on it. Which is crazy. A literal bomb went off in the house of mirrors. It seems like it’d be shut down for the rest of the summer.

Dierdre goes downstairs and finds her dad choking and pulling worms out of his throat. We cut to Robin Fear, who is in his father’s study making worms appear in Jason Bradley’s throat. I’m realizing that Robin has near infinite power. He can cause people to murder each other, cause people to commit suicide, and make people explode from the inside out, and yet for some reason he just cannot get this park shut down. Anyway, Meghan comes in and asks him what he’s doing, and he tells her he’s casting a protection spell. Meghan tells him she’s tired of trying to keep the park safe, and she’s tired of being immortal, and I don’t blame her. It seems like she’s had a bum rap this whole time. Robin’s tired of her complaining and decides to kill her off as soon as possible. This starts a trend of Robin starting to choke people to death and changing his mind, having to play off his throat grabbing in an insincere way.

Dierdre and her father get to the park, with him exhausted and scared. He refused to go to the doctor, and she thinks it’s because he’s embarrassed, but he tells her he sunk all of his money into the park, every last scent of it. The money Dierdre’s mother left, Dierdre’s college fund, and took out huge loans to cover it. They’re broke. They’ve got nothing left. This is at least a reason for them to keep the park open. Dierdre promises to do what she can to help him out. Robin comes in, and she announces to him they’re doing everything they can to keep the park open. He’s clearly annoyed and tells her he has his shift at the Ferris wheel, and as he leaves, Dierdre gets a call warning her to stay away from Robin Fear.

Robin storms away and imagines straight up hitting Dierdre, which is maybe the most upsetting thing he’s done. He steps into his booth on the Ferris wheel and is so filled with anger that he yanks down on the speed control, sending it into a terrifying frenzy, which I’m not sure if Ferris wheels are made for. I don’t know if you’d build something like that and give it a speed control like that. A bunch of guards run up and reach for the control, but he tells them it’s stuck and they have to get Mr. Bradley. No one even tries to touch the lever again, and when Mr. Bradley shows up, Robin shoves him into the wheel. He reaches down again to strangle him to death, but then he remembers that there are people right behind him and maybe this isn’t the best time to do this. He’s more surprised when Meghan shows up. Shes asks him if he dies, if then the park will close, and Robin wishes that was true. As they leave, Robin sees a skinny, redheaded boy staring at him and feels unnerved.

Dierdre receives more phone calls as she leaves the the trailer to go see her dad in the hospital. She runs into Robin, who she acts coldly to, and she blurts out that they have no money and they have to keep the park open. She’s stopped by the same redheaded boy, and the text cuts back to Robin, who watches their conversation from a distance. It must be so difficult for Stine to keep a sense of suspense and mystery through the entire book. He sees the two of them talking furtively, and Dierdre looks unhappy to hear what he’s saying. for some reason this puts Robin in a panic, and he races back home.

He calls Dierdre under the pretense of asking about her dad, and she acts very distant and cold to him, refusing to talk to him. This convinces Robin that the redhead boy is an immortal. He goes to the park to work and sees Dierdre and the redhead kid there together. It’s very clear the two of them are on a date, and I’m sort of in love with the idea of a villain thinking their significant other is suspicious of them and not cheating on them. Though this does paint Dierdre in a bad light, as it’s clear she either doesn’t know how to break things off with boys or she’s uninterested in doing that.

He overhears her call him Gary, and he stalks them around the park for a while. He sees them get on one of those swing rides and starts to cast a spell to cause Gary’s swing to break, but gets distracted when a kid starts screaming. In the confusion, the ride starts up, and one of the swings breaks free, throwing itself off into a power line where the body is electrocuted. In his excitement, Robin runs up to it, realizing with horror that it’s not Gary at all! He can’t tell if dumb luck saved Gary, or if he’s an immortal who has magic of his own.

Dierdre goes to visit her dad, Robin unsuccessfully tries to strangle Mr. Bradley again, unsuccessfully tries to kill Gary again, Robin gets bullied by some rando, Meghan begs to grow old, and then in a strange scene Meghan and Robin get into an argument that ends with them literally tearing the flesh off each other’s faces. There’s actually a kind of nice scene between the two of them where Robin puts their faces back together with magic and they talk for a bit. He asks her if she remembers a Gary, and she says sure. Gary Barth.

Dierdre is at the park, and Robin finds her. He forces her to walk with him. She’s freaked out and uncertain and at some point just turns around runs away from him, framing it as just wanting to race. She buys some cotton candy, and Robin casts a spell that makes it stick across her face, choking her. He pretends to go get help, but thank goodness Gary arrives with a cup of water, which is all that’s needed to dissolve it. Robin runs up to them. Deirdre gets nervous and tells him that Gary was her boyfriend last year, and now that he’s back she wants to pick things up with him again. Robin thinks this is a ploy and she’s lying. I don’t know why he thinks this. He returns home and goes through his spellbooks, trying to figure out how to get rid of Gary. He finds a passage that tells him an immortal can only be killed by the dead, and he concocts a scheme, inviting Meghan to the park with him.

He gets Meghan, Deirdre, and Gary to meet him at the Hatchet Show. The lights dim, the four of them take their seats, and the actors walk across the stage. But when the actors turn around, they start screaming. They’re not actors at all! They’re zombies back from the dead! They crawl out to the audience, but instead of attacking the others, they drag down Robin, raising their axes, and chopping him to pieces. The girls cheer as the evil is defeated. They hug each other and thank each other for helping out with their plan. It was Meghan sending the messages, and it was Meghan who turned Deirdre against Robin, and they found the spell to bring the kids back to life and engineered a way to bring Robin here. They explain all this to Gary, who must be really confused but seems to just roll with it. The dead kids run off to enjoy the rides they died for, before disappearing forever.

Favorite Line

Robin smoothed the skin over Meghan’s cheek with two fingers.

“Like new.” She smiled.

“No–don’t smile!” Robin warned. “You’ll crease it.”

Fear Street Trends

Actual fashions this time around! It’s so weird to read about robin being in “baggy chinos”. All the boys are in baggy pants, Gary wears a muscle shirt, Dierdre wears a scrunchie (so 90s!), as well as pink crop tops with cut offs.

Rating

I’m torn on this one. I found this the most boring of any of the Fear Park books. It’s repetitive and there’s nothing that actually happens in it for most of the book, but the ending is probably the best in the series and a really good, satisfying ending to this trilogy, and it honestly ties everything in together. So I’m going to give it three throttled necks out of five.

Fear Park: The Loudest Scream

0

The Cover

the loudest scream

I like the cover (taken from its Goodreads page). It reminds me of that weird cover I found of Goodnight Kiss, with the sinister merry-go-round. Like many things that evoke a childlike innocence, it’s pretty easy to make them creepy, and I’m fond of this image. It’s unclear what the girl on the cover is screaming about, and her outfit looks a little old fashioned, so I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be Meghan or Deirdre.

Tagline

Buy a ticket to terror.

That is a good tagline. Thematic, sinister, but no spoilers. It’s what would be on the movie poster.

Summary

We open about where we left off. Robin and Deirdre have just attended Paul’s funeral after his unfortunate accident at the Ferris wheel. Deirdre is very sad about this for good reason. She’s the one who found him after all, and they were dating, except she was cheating on him with Robin, which makes his appearance at the funeral a little crass. Robin tells her that Fear Park is cursed, that Nicholas Fear cursed it all those years ago, and that maybe her father should consider giving up on building that park. As Deirdre babbles about her father’s dream and how sad she is about her dead boyfriend, robin considers killing her as well, but not before a phantom walks out of the graveyard, someone who looks just like Paul. Only it’s not. Jared is a year younger than Paul, and Deirdre warns us he’s “kind of wild”. So just like every guy who attends Shadyside.

Jared snaps at Deirdre when he sees her, though he doesn’t bring up her bringing her new boyfriend to her now dead boyfriend’s funeral. He’s instead more concerned about her father, who’s still going through with building Fear Park. Robin is delighted by his anger. Jared threatens to go down to Mr. Bradley’s office himself and have it out, and Deirdre is worried about any trouble he might bring. As she and Robin walk away, he catches his reflection in a car window. Half of his face is fine, but the other half has sunken in, turned purple and grey, and started to rot. He quickly ditches Deirdre and hurries back to his manor.

He goes into his father’s library and finds his books. At no point does he explain why he’s remained immortal since seventeen, so pretty soon after the last book, and his father didn’t, or what happened to his mother who returned as a skull-faced ghost and then promptly disappeared from the story. He chants, channels some of that purple smoke, and fixes his face, only to be interrupted by a noise in the house. He goes to investigate and finds Meghan waiting for him. Meghan, for the most part, seems unbothered by anything she’s learned about the Fears. Robin tells us that he told Meghan he wanted to stay immortal to stop the Fear curse, rather than cause it like he’s actually doing, and he took her along in his journey. It seems all Robin has done with this is lock her in the manor. It’s been about sixty years since this would’ve happened, and Meghan seems only mildly annoyed that she has to stay inside while Robin gets to go out and play. We don’t see a ton of manipulation from him, which would’ve made for some good villainy, and it’s unclear why she agreed to this or how she feels about all this witchcraft nonsense. When we do get her perspective later on, it’s all about how jealous she is of Deirdre. Typical girl stuff amiright.

Deirdre goes to visit her father at his office in Fear Park and finds Jared there instead. He stammers through an apology and tells her he needs a job for the summer, that he could take over for Paul. He’s doing this as a ploy, of course, hoping to get on the inside so that he can cause trouble from there. Mr. Bradley walks in, and Jared has trouble keeping his cool, but when Mr. Bradley explains that all the positions are filled, he snaps at him and puts the blame for Paul’s death at his feet. He storms out where his friends are waiting, picks up a rock, and tosses it. They hear a shriek , and Jared realizes he accidentally he hit one of the monkeys in the park’s zoo portion. I’d always gotten the impression that parks are stocked with rides and things that any teenager could pick up the controls on without causing horrible death or mild inconvenience, and the animals they keep are better suited for a zoo. Honestly if I went to an amusement park with a lion preserve, I’d be worried about those lions.

Anyway, he gets into it with the animal keeper Gunther, who threatens to have them removed, and the boys walk away. Robin sees them and catches up, telling them he knows exactly how they can get even with Gunther. He leads them through the woods until they come to a cliff. It’s unclear how tall this cliff is, but it doesn’t really match my geography for the Fear Woods. But the story needs it. Robin says that Gunther feeds the lions from this cliff, and they can see them below. This seems exceptionally unsafe. If nothing else, there shouldn’t be an overhang where any old child could slip and fall to be mauled by lions. There would at least be a railing, but again, amusement parks seem like the kind of place where they would cut costs like this. Robin tells the boys he’ll let them in, and if they want to come along and scare Gunther when it’s feeding time, he won’t say a thing.

The boys lie in wait for Gunther, discussing how this might maybe be a bad idea, but then they see him walking up the trail to the cliff. The boys flank him as he comes to the feeding spot, and they do the whole song and dance of “I’m gonna push you off the cliff”, and as they threaten him, a strange purple smoke spills over the cliff. The boys start to back off, and this is where I wonder why Robin needed these punks at all. What happens is Gunther becomes possessed and just walks off the edge, falling into the lion pit below, where he is torn apart. This required no witnesses, and no one starts to suspect someone pushed him. Later when the police arrive, it’s an accident. It would’ve been far better if the boys became possessed and started tearing at each other like the kids with the hatches, sending all but Jared over the cliff. But, no. Jared and co. run away, even running into some security guards, and at no point is it brought up that they might be the culprits.

Deirdre and Robin find the body, the police are called. The lions get shot with tranquilizers because they’ve tasted human flesh and now want more, which is really kind of big-headed of us to assume that we taste so darn good it makes carnivores go into a feeding frenzy. As they walk away, Robin almost decides right then and there to smash Deirdre’s head in with a hammer but is stopped when a few workers come by. We cut to the next day, where Robin tells Meghan he has to go to the park to make sure nothing happens. Meghan, being trapped alone in the house for the past sixty years, her anxiety gets the better of her, and she decides to go the park. It’s actually kind of a nice scene, where Meghan marvels at the modern fashions and new electrics, and her heart is warmed to see Fear Park operational. Until she sees Robin, making out with Deirdre. She runs back in tears towards the mansion.

Robin and Deirdre, meanwhile, are enjoying their break from work as they walk around the park. He tries to convince her to go on the Ferris wheel with him so he can push her off the top, but she’s nervous because of that whole dead boyfriend thing. He tells her when you fall off a horse, you have to get back on, which I’m not sure is the exact same as the trauma of seeing your boyfriend sliced up by a machine meant to bring joy. She tells him no, and he goes back to his shift.

Jared and his buddies are watching the news, trying to figure out what to do about Gunther. They’ve figured out no one’s coming for them, but they do know there’s a loose end: Robin Fear. They decide to go to Fear Park and see what he knows, which may be the worst idea this gang of bad ideas has come up with. They go up to the ticket counter, where they are appropriately asked for tickets, and Jared flips out, saying he just needs to talk to someone. He gets so angry about being asked to pay entrance into the park, he grabs the man through the booth and starts shaking him violently. When security arrives, Jared has now changed his tune and says they can’t kick him out if he pays for a ticket, which is obviously wrong. Jared and co. quickly back away and find another entrance, sneaking into the Hall of Mirrors through the emergency exit. Robin sees them and starts to follow. To compound their mischief, the guys plant firecrackers along the route. Jared sees Robin watching them, and Robin quickly ducks out, delighted at this turn of events.

Robin finds Deirdre and points her to the Hall of Mirrors, telling her to take her turn. It’s great, he tells her, she’ll have a hoot. She turns around, telling him she’s got to get something to her dad first, but she’ll meet up with him later. Only slightly disappointed, Robin begins to do a spell, and possibly for the first time in this series, the magic words are written down. “Jadot kalisto,” Robin whispers, and “Exto denota.” I’m guessing this is some modified Latin, but I can’t tell you what it’s supposed to say. The air vibrates, and from within the Hall of Mirrors comes an explosion. A body with no head lands at Robin’s feet, and it seems to be raining body parts. I’m not an expert in explosions, I’ve only watched every single episode of Mythbusters, and I’m not sure if this is how that works? It makes more sense to see splattered and burned meat than say severed limbs, but maybe in the Fear Street universe people are built like those robots in the World’s End. Robin also watches Jared and his friends react with horror and then bolt. Bradley comes running up, presumably with firefighters in tow, and Robin grabs him, telling him he saw exactly who did this.

While the park is cleaned up, Deirdre goes home, exhausted, afraid, and defeated. She finds tucked in an envelope a news article from 1935 with a picture of the kids before the massacre happened. A picture of Robin Fear. Robin gets home after telling the police a description of four boys, and Meghan comes running at him with a knife. She plunges it into his chest, and he pulls it out, blood free, no damage. She tells him she saw him with another girl, and he tells her that girl is Deirdre Bradley. That he had to get close to her to make sure the park was running smoothly. That Meghan is the only girl for him. She seems to believe him, though he’s not sure and starts planning her demise.

Jared and co. are having a real rough day, and are trying to figure out what to do about it. One of the boys suggests running, but they know there’ll be police on the roads. Jared figures Robin Fear saw them, and he saw them planting firecrackers, which may be enough to clear them. They decide to go to him and get him to tell the police they’re innocent.

Deirdre sees Robin too, and she holds the news article in his face. He’s confused at first, and tells her that he looks a lot like his grandfather. She’s obviously embarrassed, and I’m not sure what she was accusing him of in the first place. I guess with a surname like Fear you get that sort of thing a lot. Robin immediately storms home and demands to know from Meghan why she sent that, and she’s confused. How could she give Deirdre the article? This is more concerning to Robin, because it might mean someone else followed him from 1935.

He leaves the house, only to get nabbed by Jared and co. They show him the sketches, and he plays innocent, telling them he hasn’t even seen them yet. Robin sneaks off, pretending to talk to the police, and when he returns he tells them that they refused to listen, and they have orders to shoot on sight. The boys panic, and Robin tells them they have to make the police listen. By taking a hostage. By taking Dierdre as hostage. The police are just human, he reasons to them. Surely once they hear what you have to say, all this explosion and hostage-taking nonsense will be forgiven.

Robin leads Dierdre to possibly the stupidest boys in any of these books. As soon as he walks through the door, he’s knocked out, and Jared grabs Deirdre and knocks her out. She comes to in room, Robin on the floor, with the boys arguing in the next room about what to do. She immediately searches for something to cut her ties with and sees some shears. She inches toward them, and Jared comes into the room. They all start to argue as purple smoke fills the room, and one by one, the boys explode. Robin grabs Deirdre and tells her it’s the curse as they watch them all pop, and then the smoke disappears without harming either of them. They stand up in the horror show, and Dierdre says she has to convince her father to abandon this project, and Robin promises to help her.

Favorite Line

“I’m giving you a two-man escort out of here. We only do that with our VIPs–Very Import Punks!”

Fear Street Trends

Not too many. Jared, of course, as a bad boy, has one ear pierced, and as Meghan wanders through the fairground she sees girls in short skirts and jeans, marveling that even old people wear sneakers. I’m hopeful Meghan and Deirdre interact in the next book, with some contrast between the two of them.

Rating

I cannot imagine reading these as three separate books. There’s no separation between them. At least this one felt like it might have an actual plot, but it still feels incomplete. The only real addition to the story is the return of Meghan and the mysterious voice. Nothing else went anywhere. I’ll give it two hungry lions out of five.

Fear Park: The First Scream

0

The Cover

 

I get what they’re going with in the original cover (stolen from its Amazon page), but considering the park isn’t even built until the last ten pages, it seems a little baity. Still, I like the imagery of a haunted amusement park a lot, so I’m willing to be nice. The boy leering over the scared girl is a nice touch too. I think it’ supposed to be a Ferris wheel because there’s not track underneath, but I don’t see any structure to support it.

The second cover is the collector’s edition (stolen from its Amazon page), which I’m reading out of. I actually do like this a lot. The amusement park with the sinister face leering over it is perhaps more apt to the story, especially since it seems to take place over decades. I like them both.

Tagline

Are we having fun yet?

I actually really like this one? It’s what these books need, something indicative of the danger inside, without revealing too much, and giving us a sense of foreboding. This one nails it.

Summary

Part one puts us in 1935, a few years after the stock market crash has plunged us into a depression, though besides a few people talking about “bringing more money into the town” it doesn’t really feel like the Depression. Not that I’m an expert, but everything seems pretty much the same.

We’re introduced to Meghan Fairwood, fiddling with a fountain pen her parents purchased her, thinking about her boyfriend Richard Bradley, football player and bully. She notices someone watching her, a pale solemn-faced boy with a familiar name. Robin Fear. Her magazines fall out of her locker, and he helps her pick them up, noting Clark Gable on the cover. They have a friendly conversation over their favorite movies and radio shows when Richard comes marching in, scooping her up in a kiss. Meghan’s a little annoyed that he does this without asking, and then he sneers at Robin, telling him to step off. He does some basic bully work, and Robin stutters away. He trudges home, so mad he couldn’t stand up for himself in front of his crush. He goes to his home on Fear Street, not the long abandoned mansion but a newer home. It seems the Fears have held onto their money somehow. He looks for his dad, opens the door to the study, to find a strange sight.

Nicholas Fear is floating in the air surrounded by purple swirling smoke like he’s doing light as a feather stiff as a board. He’s chanting something to himself, and Robin quickly leaves. He knows his father’s study is full of books on the occult. This apparently has never raised his suspicion before. I don’t know why the Fears don’t indoctrinate their children. Raise them on the black arts. Make them do their first blood sacrifice at five years old. I’m not saying you’re raising healthy children, but you don’t get situations like this.

He hears a soft thud in the library, which makes me think Nicholas stopped chanting and fell to the ground. The doorbell rings, and Nicholas emerges, telling his son to go answer it. Four men are there, one of them Jack Bradley, Richard’s father. Nicholas invites the men into his sitting room, and Robin peeks in from the doorway. His dad is pretty rude to these men who take it very kindly. Jack Bradley discusses Coney Island, and tells us that the town of Shadyside currently has little income thanks to the stock market crash. Most of the men in town are unemployed. Bradley has an idea to build an amusement park in Shadyside, offering work to the unemployed and bringing in tourism. But he needs land from Fear Woods to do so. They already have approval to start building. All they need is Nicholas to say yes.

Nicholas obviously says no and starts shouting at them. He tells them to get out, and Bradley won’t take no for an answer. He says he’ll send him the plans, that he needs to say yes, and then suddenly the men start choking. He’s pulled a Darth Vader on all of the men present, and Robin watches in horror as they start to collapse to the ground. He runs into the room shouting for his dad to stop it, and suddenly Nicholas pulls back. Nicholas plays dumb and says there must be something in the air, can I get you a glass of water, are you okay? But it’s clear what just happened.

I went back to my other recaps of the Fear Saga, because I remembered them saying the Fears had no money and I thought their land was forfeit too, but I forgot about Nicholas. I assume it’s the same Nicholas that showed up to claim his birthright, who went to one of the town leaders and ended up with a job, and who married his daughter after she killed everyone else around him. Book two in the sagas never revealed what happened after he decided to pledge his life to evil, so I’m assuming this is the definitive version. Nicholas is now completely evil. Ruth is now dead (don’t worry, we’ll see her soon), and all the land her father owned is now in Fear hands again.

After all this, Robin decides to get out of the house. He starts to leave and runs into his father, who offers to join him. Robin asks if he had to say no to those men (and if he had to murder them), and Nicholas tells him he’s a Fear, and the Fears stand apart in this town, they’re better. As they walk, they run into Mr. Bradley, holding a surveying tool in his hand. Nicholas calls him out for trespassing, but Mr. Bradley tells him the town council will back him on his plans. We’ll later learn that Mr. Bradley is on the town council, which suddenly makes this all look like a deeply unethical use of funds to put back into the pocket of Mr. Bradley himself, but I’ll forgive him because he’s not going to survive this book. Anyway, Mr. Bradley tells the Fears the town council is going to allocate part of the woods for the project. I’m not really sure how that works legally, though it’s possible the Fears don’t own all the woods, since that wouldn’t make much sense. I don’t think we’re ever shown the full extent of the woods, but they seem pretty large. It looks like that whole corner of Shadyside is mostly undeveloped.

Anyway, Nicholas storms back to the house, and Robin continues walking. He runs directly into Meghan. She says she comes to this spot in the woods because it’s her secret place. He calls the woods his backyard, probably showing off a little, and Meghan reminds us there’s a bunch of scary stories about the Fears, though she doesn’t name one. They make a little small talk, and then Meghan shouts because she got something in her eye. This is supposed to be the romantic moment where the love interest sees an eyelash on their face and leans in to get it off, fingers brushing against their face, eyes meeting, the protagonist vulnerable. But in this instance, there’s a dust mote in her eye, and Robin is described as touching her eye gently, which no. No. That’s not how anything works. He invites her inside the house for a drink, when two rough hands grab him. Guess who’s back! Richard is livid, thinking he saw Robin kissing Meghan. I actually love Robin’s internal monologue during these segments, because he’s always like “am I going to have to fight? Can I fight? This dude’s so much bigger than me.” Meghan shouts at Richard to stop, and he steps back, busting out laughing. He pretends it was all a big joke, and when he asks Robin if he really thought he was going to punch him, Robin’s like “Yeah dude.” It’s pretty clear Richard is covering up his anger after Meghan got so mad. Richard pushes Robin out of the way and starts making out with her.

Robin runs home, feeling empty inside. He pushes open the door and finds his father collapsed on the floor. He doesn’t seem to be breathing, and he shakes him, only to notice the purple smoke emerge again. Slowly Nicholas wakes and pretends he just fell. But once Robin gets him into the chair, he admits he was practicing. “Practicing what?” Robin asks, and Nicholas asks him if he saw his mother. Robin reminds him that she’s dead, and he insists that he could still see her. But they hear something at the door, and a figure floats into the room, veiled and surrounded by purple smoke. Nicholas rises from the chair, proclaiming, “It is she!” Robin can’t quite tell. It looks like a woman, yes, but more like a shadow or a flame. He tries to remember what his mother looked like, but he was so young when she died. Ruth leans forward, and her veil slips away, revealing a skeletal face of grey-green bone and rotted skin. Worms crawling across her face. Robin screams and doesn’t stop screaming for two full days.

He wakes in bed with a nurse over him and his father looking concerned. He’s told he had a nightmare, that he’s been in a “deep sleep” for several days. He tries to remember what he saw but can’t. Nicholas is raging because the council voted to take part of the woods away, and again I can’t help but note that Bradley is said to be on the town council.

We cut to Bradley himself with a handful of men who are getting started on the work. They’re doing some survey work and getting the land ready for when they have to build. Bradley says he doesn’t believe in all those stories, but he doesn’t want to stay past sunset either, and so they hurry. Or, they try to, until one of the men drives a wooden stake through his foot. The others take him to the hospital, and Bradley finishes up. As he’s working, he starts feeling itches on him from bugs he can’t see. He’s swarmed by them, his whole body now being bit and him scratching at it. He scratches the skin off his neck and chest but they’re still coming, and he can’t stop.

Meghan is wandering into the woods again to meet her boyfriend. Isn’t there a backseat of a car these kids would rather be in? He shows up late, and they walk and talk. She’s clearly annoyed at him, clearly more interested in Robin, but she isn’t sure she wants to give up the perks of being a sportsman’s girlfriend. Richard trips on the rope they were stringing up, and they notice what they think is a deer far away, but as they approach, it’s clearly not. It’s the skeleton of a man, but don’t worry. His head is intact. Richard drops to his knees when he sees it, the head still staring up in horror, but his skin and bones and muscle completely eaten away from the rest of him. It’s less a horrifying image and a more comical one, but it works.

Smash cut to a few weeks later, after Bradley’s funeral. The police don’t know what caused his death, but Robin does. His father is to blame. He hurries to his father’s study to confront him and hears voices. Multiple voices. Women’s voices. He pushes open the door, but it’s only Nicholas Fear, sitting in a chair, with a book in his lap. Robin asks him pretty directly if he killed Jack Bradley, and of course Nicholas says no. Robin, of course, does not believe him.

At school Meghan sees him again and chases after him. They talk about nothing at all, an then Meghan just kisses him. She has no impulse control. And, of course, Richard comes charging out of nowhere to punch Robin in the face. He wails on him for a while, and Robin’s only concern is that he’s not fighting back, that he looks like a wuss in front of Meghan. Robin runs all the way home. That night, Meghan gets a call from Richard who wants to apologize and she hangs up on him, only for him to show up at her house. He seems less bothered that she was kissing another boy and more that she was anywhere near Robin Fear. Meghan refuses to break up with him, and I guess after seeing his temper I would be too, but she never thinks that. She just doesn’t stop dating Richard. And when he tells her they’re going ahead with plans to build the park, she’s excited for him. Richard tells her that they’re asking all of the teenagers, even the girls, to come help clear stumps for a dollar  a day. I went to an inflation calculator to see what that was, and it’s equivalent to about $17 of today’s money, which doesn’t seem like a ton but it’s the depression. She’s very excited about this.

Meghan sees Robin at school and asks him to meet her. Robin asks if she wants to meet in the woods, but she’s still scared after finding Richard’s dad, so they go get a malt together instead. It’s not very sneaky, even with Richard at practice, considering all their friends are probably also there. They got to the malt shop and listen to Cab Calloway on the radio. Robin is nervous, and Meghan at first thinks he’s going to ask her out, but instead he blurts out that his father is evil and might be doing something to stop construction on the amusement park. Meghan is confused, and when he tells her he’ll be on the work crew, she’s not sure it’s a good idea. He seems to realize this isn’t going the way he wanted, and he adds that he mostly wants to join the work crew to be around her. She kisses him again.

Once the school year is out, work begins. They’re all given extremely sharp hatchets to chop stumps with, and Robin shows up a few hours later, helping Meghan with her work. Someone takes a photo for the paper, which seems like a bad idea if Robin’s sneaking around, but whatever. Suddenly Richard comes rushing forward, axe in his hand, screaming at Robin to stay away from Meghan. Robin manages to avoid the first swing, and several kids grab onto Richard to get him to stop. Unfortunately, it means Richard slices open one of the other boys in response. Another kid strikes Richard down for it, and suddenly all the kids are doing it. It turns into a full on Battle Royale. They all start killing each other, and Robin grabs Meghan, pulling her away from the fray. She runs home, looking behind her to see the purple smoke rising up through the trees.

Robin also runs home, desperate to find his father. He runs into the room and tells him it worked perfectly, exactly as expected. He’s a real Fear now.

But that’s not all! We’re sent hurtling into “This Year” (publishing date looks to be 1996). Here we meet Dierdre Bradley hanging out with her boyfriend Paul. Paul is working at the newly built Shadyside amusement park all summer, which Dierdre’s dad owns, after spending so many years trying to get it built. The first week is free and open to the public to drum up publicity.

Dierdre’s a little guilty because her boyfriend gave up a better job upstate to stay in Shadyside with her, and when their date is over, she sneaks off with some other guy. She’s also worried because there’s been so many accidents building this park, but so far, on opening day, there’s been no problems. They go on some rides, and then he has to get to work. She goes off to meet her other boyfriend, Rob. I think this is supposed to be a reveal, but Stine didn’t even change his name.

She gets away from her second boyfriend and finds her dad speaking with some TV crews. Part of the park is a reenactment of the hatchet incident. Her dad says this is in honor and remembrance of those that died, but that’s a lot of horseshit. When they sit down to see it, it’s realistically done, from the sets to the limbs flying off. Which, there’s also barely any acting in it. A narrated tape is played over the action. The kids walk into the woods to clear stumps, and then they just start murdering each other. Limbs are flying, blood is gushing, and the reporter tells us it looks so real. This isn’t a way to honor anyone. This is gratuitous. But the kids get up once they’re done and take a bow, all except Paul. Dierdre runs up to the stage, but it’s just a cramp. She kisses him and realizes Rob is in the audience, watching them.

She sees Rob later and asks him why he was at the show. He’s mostly annoyed about her other boyfriend and brushes her off. She tells him goodbye and goes to meet Paul, only to find him crushed beneath the Ferris wheel. The park is shut down again, looking unlikely to reopen, and the workers have split. Dierdre’s dad bemoans his lot in life, but Robin arrives and offers his services. DUN DUN DUN.

Favorite Line

Wisps of purple smoke floated into the living room, carrying a sweet-sour odor. Spicy with a hint of decay.

Fear Street Trends

The fashions of the 1930s segment comes straight out of a magazine, with Meghan’s knee socks and Robin’s brown trousers. When doing work, Meghan wears men’s clothes and feels a little nervous about it, but so are all the other girls working. Nothing much from the modern sections, though we spent so little time there.

Rating

This first in the Fear Park series is pretty meh. There’s no real plot here, and no real climax. It’s all prologue, and if it’d been self-contained to just the 1935 segments, I think an actual story could’ve been built there. I think the idea is good, though as a late addition to the Fear mythology, it seems strange that something like that hatchet murders aren’t mentioned more often, especially since we’ve spent a lot of time in the Fear Woods at this point. I think I’ll like the concept a lot more once we spend time in the actual amusement park. Two hatchet mutilations out of five.

Fear Street Superchiller – Goodnight Kiss

0

I said I’d be back June 4 but that was a lie. Summer is the craziest time of year for me, so I took my day off to relax with the Fear Street summer books I accidentally missed last year. Let’s get to some motherfucking vampires.

The Cover

I managed to find three images for this! The first is the original cover (borrowed from this Fear Street blog), which I go back and forth on. The bat looks goofy, and the sexy lady on the beach is both interesting and not. It’s just not very dynamic or interesting. Her skin is the same color as the sky, and the blood dots look glued on. The concept of vampires on the beach could be a fun one, and they gave a fairly generic cover.

The second is the edition I’m reading, the collector’s edition (borrowed from its Amazon page). It actually got donated to my library and I snagged it right up. The cover is actually holographic and really ridiculous looking, but I like how shiny it is. It’s more sinister than the original, but those goofy fangs have got to go.

The third I found completely by accident over on Paperback Swap and my goodness. My. Goodness. It looks like the Hungarian version of the book or something. A carousel is mentioned in the book and there’s a kind of creepy horse on it, but it does nothing and they do nothing with it. Still, I love this. It’s just so weird and goofy.

Tagline

Their first kiss could be her last…

I like it. It’s not particularly exciting, but it plays into the title, adds a sense of danger, without revealing more than it has to. A solid addition.

Summary

We meet Jessica as she walks around the shops in Sandy Hollow. She goes into one shop that has a sign “Bikinis Half Off”, which lets you know this is a PG-13 Superchiller. Jessica sets herself up as a townie, who’s recognized by people in the show, which adds a layer of confusion once we learn more about her. She chats with Lucy for a minute, who keeps telling her how beautiful she is. Jessica mentions she’s going on a blind date. The summer’s started, full of new people and exciting things, and she’s ready to go out.

She goes to meet her date, and we’re introduced to Gabri Martins, who’s tall, thin, and pale. He’s got very intense black eyes that effect every woman that talks to him. He shows up very late to the movie, and she’s a little annoyed but pleased at how handsome he is. They sit through a comedy for like half of it, and then he leans over and asks if she likes it, to which she responds no. They ditch. It’s kind of a power move from Gabri. They walk along the beach instead, and Jessica tells him she wants to run. She takes off, Gabri following behind her, and they tumble together in the dunes, rolling around, breathless, looking into each other’s eyes, and Gabri leans close to her, mouth opening to reveal long fangs that plunge into her neck.

Jessica immediately starts laughing and tells him she’s an “Eternal One” too. Their response to their respective blind dates being ruined is amazing. Jessica mutters that she bought a new dress and everything, and Gabri complains that she wasted his whole night. He groans about “the nectar” and needing it and how hungry he is. Gabri and Jessica have a good back and forth and I’m a little disappointed the book doesn’t end with them killing all the humans and getting together.

They both turn into bats, and Gabri attacks some girls on the beach. Apparently bats are common here, all coming off an island off the beach, implied to be where several Eternal Ones live. Jessica (still a bat) pushes Gabri off the girls, and they transform back on the beach, where Gabri yells, “What is your problem?” They argue some more, and then Gabri proposes a bet. He decides they need to figure out who’s more appealing and more attractive to humans, and they each find a boy or girl to seduce. The point isn’t to drain their blood, but to take “three small, measured sips” to turn the human into an Eternal One as well. Jessica agrees, but only if they pick out who the other has to seduce.

Smash cut to April, visiting for the summer with her family. She has to babysit her twin little sisters during the day, but at night she’s free to run around on her own. April’s coming from Shadyside, as is her boyfriend Matt, who her parents clearly dislike. She characterizes herself as a pushover, with her family trying not to argue, with her sisters pushing her around, and with her boyfriend, who’s pretty neglectful. She meets up with him and Todd on the beach. Matt does a classic Shadyside prank by grabbing her from behind, while Todd is quiet and doesn’t say much.

Matt is fairly immature, and they come across an arcade that he clearly wants to play at. April tells him she’d rather walk around the beach, and he gets a little pouty over it. He’s also very into horror movies. They wander around, see the carnival setting up, the Living Dead marathon at the movie theater, and a bonfire a bunch of townies they recognize have put on. They run into Ben, Matt’s actual love interest, who immediately invites him to the arcade and Matt nearly goes with him until he remembers April. Todd is clearly uncomfortable in the group, but they make space for him.

Jessica and Gabri have been watching the bonfire, and Jessica points to April. Gabri’s not happy that she has a boyfriend already, and complains that she’s making it harder. Then he points Todd out to her, which is maybe the dumbest mistake Gabri ever made. The nerdy awkward guy being propositioned by a beautiful eternal vampire? Jessica might as well waltz away with the prize right now.

And just like that, Todd is walking alone on the beach by himself. He recognizes how awkward he is and worries he’s a weird loner, and then a beautiful girl approaches him. She tells him she’s lost, batting her big eyelashes, and he just points and tells her where the summer houses are. She presses a little more, asking if he can show her, and he finally takes the hint. Todd gets lost in his own thoughts as they walk, wondering if he could even bring up the nerve to ask her out, and then she grabs him and kisses him. Question answered. She goes for the neck, and he sinks into darkness.

Meanwhile, April is hanging out by the arcade, waiting for Matt to show up. Getting bored and frustrated, she wanders off, hoping to find him, and runs into Gabri instead. He offers to walk with her until they find Matt, and for a while they walk and talk, April wondering if she’s attracted to him or just mad at her boyfriend. Gabri is getting hungrier and hungrier and decides to just nab the nectar while he can. He reaches for her as a bat flies in her hair, and she flips out, screaming and running. She runs directly off the beach into Matt’s arms. He asks her what’s wrong, and she tries to explain, but Gabri is already gone. He’s yelling at Jessica for stopping him, and she reminds him their bet isn’t that he can drain a girl. He has to make her desire him. He tells her he’s ready to play dirty.

The next day Matt calls Todd, wondering why he didn’t see him at night, and Todd’s dead tired and fast asleep. He tells him about the girl he met, and Matt’s proud of his boy for getting out there, and at night they go on a double date. Jessica’s strategy is clearly just to make out with Todd as much as possible, again a poor choice by Gabri. If some beautiful girl had come up to me in my awkward phase in high school (see: all of high school), I wouldn’t care if she was a vampire. Honestly it would have been a bonus. They go get pizza, because it’s a vampire book. Jessica refuses to eat, and then they run into Gabri, who flips out when April grabs the garlic. She shares the story of how they met and realizes Matt is jealous, which probably makes her feel pretty good. Jessica decides she wants to leave, and she and Todd go for a walk on the beach.

Jessica almost gets a second bite out of Todd, when Gabri as a bat scares a girl nearby. Again this shows Gabri as a poor tactician, as Jessica immediately starts playing up her fear and gets Todd to take care of her. Really, Gabri, this is your fault for making a bad bet. You’re just denying yourself now.

April is ready to meet Matt for another date, but he’s too busy playing video games with Ben and they’re going to see a triple feature of Friday the 13th. April calls the movie sexist and storms off, which is amazing. Immediately she runs into Gabri. He asks if she’s with Matt, and when she gets annoyed, he invites her to the carnival. April is clearly looking to make Matt jealous and goes along with it. They walk around, pointing at the various rides and the carousel, until April drags him through the house of mirrors. What you gonna do, Gabri. He solves this problem by falling very far behind. April gets lost, which I don’t think mirror mazes at pop up carnivals are actually meant to be like dangerous or easily lost in, if nothing else because they have to keep a good flow going, but April manages to hurt herself getting around. April does catch a glimpse of him and wonders why she can’t see his reflection. He uses the maze to get behind her and creep forward. He reaches for her, ready to drink, and hits glass instead. They meet again, and she does the disassociating thing the vampires force them to do, wondering aloud about his reflection, though he comments that it’s too dark. He starts to lean towards her, when they’re interrupted by a child crying. Gabri quickly absconds.

Gabri’s a little distracted as they keep walking, since he knows Jessica is way ahead of him and will soon win. April tries to talk and flirt with him, but he’s nonresponsive until they get to the Ferris wheel. As soon as they’re high enough, he takes a bite.

There’s a few scenes of Matt being told by others that April was out with a boy, and Todd sleeping through the day, and an interesting scene with Jessica where she notes that after becoming a vampire she doesn’t have any memories, something Gabri also mentions in another scene. The vampire lore is actually really interested and shared in small bits and I want to know more. Jessica goes to meet Todd, kissing him, when she sees a bat flying towards them and assumes it’s Gabri about to fuck up her whole night. She gets overexcited and drains Todd too much, and he falls over dead.

Matt takes his morning jog and finds Todd’s body in the ocean. Jessica goes to see Gabri in his home on the island, which is said to be claimed by him by spreading burial dirt, and he rests his coffin in a house. He tries to get her to concede, and she tells him the bet isn’t over yet, because she’s going to try it on Matt next.

Matt struggles a bit after finding Todd’s body. He dreams about him, and a cloud of bats descending on his best friend, which makes him think vampires are the reason he’s dead. I mean, he’s not wrong, but it’s a weird conclusion to make from a dream. He immediately runs to April and tells her this, and April gets angry, telling him that stuff isn’t real and treating their friend’s death like a horror movie is sick. He leaves, dejected. He held onto Todd’s lighter and is playing with it when he runs into Ben, who he also tells his theory and who immediately makes fun of him. Storming off, he runs into Jessica, who starts working her mojo. She pretends to be distraught, though she also pretty much immediately kisses him. Todd’s been dead like four days.

There’s a scene where Gabri wakes and composes himself, his face revealed to be ancient upon waking and he uses vampire powers to make it young. Also super interesting. Jessica comes, mocks him, and Gabri runs off to finish off April. In a weird scene, he hangs out with her family and even gets along with the twins. April shows him the cross necklace her dad bought her as an early birthday present asks that he clasp it on for her. He pretends to and lets it drop.

Matt is dead tired from being with Jessica and collapses in his bed, when he gets a strange visit from his bloated corpse of a friend Todd. Todd warns him about the vampires, and when Matt wakes again, he isn’t sure if it was a dream or not except for a foul stench left behind. He tries to warn April, but she isn’t responding to him. To convince her, he takes his dad’s camera and follows her to the carnival, where she is with Gabri. He realizes he’s supposed to meet Jessica but decides against it on account that she’s a vampire. Of course, after stalking his ex-girlfriend all night, it’s too late to get the film developed, and when he goes the next day the machine is down and he has to wait until seven to pick it up. Luckily when he does, the film shows exactly what he expected: April alone in all the shots, talking to an invisible partner. He runs to find April and runs into Jessica instead. She pulls him in, and for a minute it looks like she’ll win, until he sees April in a rowboat with Gabri heading towards the island.

He follows in another rowboat, getting to the island and searching for her in Gabri’s house. He finds her in a chair, slumped over, seemingly out of it, and Gabri appears behind him. He lunges, and Matt takes his only weapon–an oar from the boat–and manages to accidentally stab him with it. It’s like in Buffy when sometimes a vampire trips and falls on a fence post and dies. Of course, it being an R.L. Stine book, the end is much more gruesome.

And as Matt stared in horror, Gabri’s body collapsed to the floor, folding like an accordion. His eyes stared lifelessly up at Matt, and Gabri’s face began to crumble, the skin drying and peeling, flaking to powder until the entire skull was revealed.

And then the skull too disintegrated.

He manages to wake April, and then Jessica arrives. She lunges at him, bites down, and he’s prepared to die until April lifts herself off the chair and fights Jessica back. Jessica manages to pin April, and then Matt pulls out Todd’s lighter, using it to catch Jessica’s hair. Her death is equally as gross.

Matt and April stared in horrified disbelief as the flames raged over Jessica’s head, as she slowly melted, her skin sagging, dripping, wet chunks dropping off under the heat of the flames.

Jessica’s outraged expression disappeared as her face caved in. Her skull was aflame, melting as her face had, and the fire spread to her shoulders, cracking loudly.

The fire spreads, of course. They manage to escape off the island, leaving the horror behind them. Story’s not over yet though! A few days later, Matt meets April, and they discuss what happens. He finds her silver cross on the ground and starts to return it to her, but she tells him no, revealing herself to now be an Eternal One. Her fangs extend, and she bites into Matt. Smash cut to credits.

Favorite Line

“But I need the nectar!” he cried, turning to her. “Without the nectar, I’ll perish.”

“Where’d you get that line? Out of an old horror movie?” Jessica joked, shaking her head.

Fear Street Trends

Usually summer Fear Street books are full of bikinis and swimsuits, but luckily these kids remember their fashions. Lots of cut offs and shorts on the boys. It’s general beach wear, so breezy shirts and neon colors. In the first scene, Jessica picks up a glow in the dark swimsuit and immediately rejects it.

Rating

I’m going to be frank here: I love vampires. I love vampires so much I think half the stories on my writing blog are about vampires. And this was a pretty solid vampire book. Honestly Stine stepped up his game here. There’s several descriptions and paragraphs that were genuinely well written, and the opening scene set up to reveal is fairly well done. I loved Jessica the snarky vampire and there’s some lore written into it too. Sometimes these books are a slog to get through, but this one I liked. I’m giving it five melted vampires out of five.

Fear Street Relaunch #2 – Don’t Stay Up Late

0

Sorry, guys! I meant to post this last week, and I got very, very sick so I ended up posting none of the things I meant to. But I’m back now! After really enjoying the first in the Fear Street relaunch, I decided to give the second one a try, and let’s just say this one shows a little more of R.L. Stine’s traditional style.

The Cover

don't stay up late

Here’s what I like about the cover (stolen from Goodreads): it plays into the central conceit of the story, which is It’s Scary to Be a Babysitter. I like the pop of red from her sweater, I think the colors are spooky, and while there’s still a weird filter over it, I overall enjoy this. I think the figure at the window is the least scary thing they could’ve chosen, especially because the weird brick wall behind it is distracting and looks like they paid a dollar for it off Canva. I don’t feel like it captures the tone of the book, which is not clueless babysitter is unaware of the danger she’s in. Lisa is constantly on edge and constantly feels like she’s in danger when everyone tells her she’s not. But otherwise a fairly good cover.

Tagline

In the dead of the night, the evil one awaits.

Um. I feel like my complaint about the taglines was heard too clearly. This is not your generic tagline. This is very specific, and it still doesn’t really have anything to do with the story. I guess it kind of does, but you don’t figure out who “the evil one” might be until after you’re led through six other red herrings. It feels more like Satanists are going to come after her or something. I guess they tried. I’ll give them points for that.

Summary

We are introduced to Lisa in the worst opening line ever not written by a thirteen year old goth girl:

My name is Lisa Brooks and I’m a twisted psycho.

I guess Lisa’s supposed to come off as sardonic and slightly broken from her ordeal. She’s a bit of a bad girl in the not-prologue, meeting up with her friends when she’s supposed to be home studying. She’s not even doing anything bad, but her parents treat her like she broke a covenant. Anyway, we’re introduced to her friends and boyfriend, Nate, who’s an acrobat much like Corey was. He’s into scary movies and talks about his friend Saralynn a lot. Both of these things will come up later. They’re served cheeseburgers at Lefty’s by Rachel from the previous volume, restarting the ancient Fear Street tradition of recycled extras. She and her friends do a weird ritual where they pile their phones on the table, and the first one to ring has to pay for dinner. I’m not a hip cool teen, but do teenagers call each other anymore? Isn’t all texting and snapchatting? I do like the line where Lisa complains about her parents leaving her voicemails, because who listens to voicemails?

Saralynn mentions she has to do a video for a class, and she asks Nate if they can use all his horror stuff. He’s a huge movie buff and lists Evil Dead II as his favorite of all time, which I actually agree with (fight me nerds). Their friend Isaac, who’s in a Metallica cover band, offers to get blood from his cousin who works in a medical lab. They’re interrupted by Lisa’s parents showing up, and her dad demands she comes home with him right now. It’s mostly regular concerned parent stuff, but he does take it a little far dragging her out of the booth. It’s unclear if Lisa’s ever done anything to deserve this. She says she dated a guy with tattoos, but that doesn’t seem enough to warrant this. Anyway, he drives her home, and the whole family argues, until dad careens into another car and is instantly killed.

Lisa does not do well after the accident. The family dog ran away, and she has hallucinations sometimes, as well as vivid dreams. She runs outside at night thinking she hears her dog and sees a strange inhuman monster, but her mom pulls her inside and tells her she was sleepwalking. Concerned, her mom sends her to Dr. Shein. On her way to her appointment, Lisa thinks she sees the creature again, but it’s only Nate in a costume “used in an old Universal horror film back in the fifties”. Which, like, if this kid actually has the costume from the Creature from the Black Lagoon, a) his family is probs rolling in it, b) this kid’s horror credentials went through the roof, and c) why the flip is he wearing it outside? The kids are nice to Lisa, clearly aware she’s still struggling, and they invite her over to watch horror movies, though Lisa declines. Isaac asks her if she wants to see his band play, and Nate and Saralynn share a weird moment that makes Lisa a little jealous.

Lisa goes to see her doctor, who tells her that hallucinations after the accident aren’t uncommon, especially since she might have a minor amount of brain damage. Dr. Shein affirms that she is making progress, even though Lisa feels like she’s getting worse. Doc tells her to go back to school, thinking it’ll help her get re-adjusted, and she sets her up with a babysitting job so her off hours are taken up too. Lisa’s happy about this, until Dr. Shein mentions the house is on Fear Street. You don’t have a problem with Fear Street, do you, Lisa?

Lisa goes to Isaac’s band rehearsal, and it’s cringe worthy. He warns her away from Fear Street, and mentions they’re taught about the Fear Street curse in sixth grade history, which isn’t totally bonkers but is a little weird. Suddenly he kisses her, and she pushes him away, right as Nate walks up. Nate just tells Lisa they need to get going, and never mentions the kiss. Lisa knows he saw it, but she doesn’t know how to react to his no reaction. Nate doesn’t buy into the Fear Street paranoia and even mentions that Brendan Fear is a cool guy. They come up to the house, and Lisa goes in for her job interview. She meets Brenda Hart, who seems a little tired and a little young. She tells Lisa that for three days a week, she needs someone to pick up her son Harry and stay with him until she comes home after 9. She offers to pay Lisa three hundred dollars a week, which is a major red flag for me. Lisa mentions that she’ll have to work to earn her way into college, especially after the bad luck that’s been following her and her mom around. Brenda takes her to meet Harry, who’s a sweet looking boy with curly blond hair. He begs Lisa to let him stay up late, and she amuses him, but as Brenda takes her back downstairs, she warns her never to let Harry stay up late.

We cut to Lisa and Nate making out as Lisa recounts the story to Nate. The doorbell rings, and Saralynn and Isaac walk in, Isaac complaining about his band. There’s still some tension as Nate and Isaac joke with each other, neither acknowledging the obvious elephant in the room. The phone rings, and Lisa picks it up to hear Summer Lawson on the line, a previous girlfriend of Nate’s. She tells Lisa she’s in major trouble, and she has no idea about Nate, and then she hangs up.

Babysitting goes well. Harry loves having Lisa around, and he’s a pretty easy kid. After putting Harry to bed, Lisa chats with Nate, who’s kind of vague, and she wonders if he’s thinking about Isaac kissing her. She hears a noise and goes upstairs to see a monster darting from the house. She flips out and runs to Harry’s room to see if he’s okay. He’s nowhere to be found, and she starts tearing off his covers and looking under the bed. She finds him in the closet, and he tells her that someone came into his room. Lisa lies and asks him if it was a nightmare, and that seems to calm him. She gets Harry back to sleep, and Brenda comes home. Lisa doesn’t tell her what happened. Like a dummy.

Lisa tries to tell her mom what happened, but it’s clear her mom doesn’t believe her, and when Lisa accidentally knocks something over while she tries to convince her, her mom says she’s out of control. I’m starting to suspect Lisa didn’t have very good parents in the first place. Lisa returns to Dr. Shein, who suggests medication, and she continues to say this isn’t unusual, which sounds like a lie. Lisa gets a happy moment with the return of her dog, though, so maybe things are looking up.

The gang goes to the club to see Isaac play with his band, and again mention is made that you can be eighteen or older to buy beer. I’m completely certain that every state now has the drinking age to 21, but what do I know. The teen club is called the Hothouse now, though it sounds more like they let under eighteen in until a certain point. Nate goes to buy them drinks with a fake ID, and Saralynn offhandedly mentions he got caught last year, and says to Lisa that she doesn’t know everything about Nate. Lisa is mildly weirded out by this, if only because it makes Saralynn sound jealous. Isaac and his band go on, and they are terrible. Lisa goes to get another drink and runs into Summer, who she describes as “beautiful, like a goddess”. She warns Lisa that she’s in trouble, and when Lisa tries to get her to say more, she disappears into the crowd.

Lisa goes to babysit Harry again, and while she’s reading up on her science assignment, she gets a call from Summer. She lets it go to voicemail and tries to get back to her homework, when she hears a thud. She goes to the kitchen and finds Nate standing there. He says he was on his way to pick up his brother and decided to swing by, offering her a ride home. She hears Harry calling for her, and he’s crawled out of bed. She puts him back to bed, comes downstairs, and Nate is gone, but she hears noises again. She sees the creature on the staircase. She screams at it, it spits at her, and she charges it. She thinks she chased it out of the house, and then she hears a high, shrill scream. Lisa runs outside, sees nothing, and then runs back upstairs to check on Harry. He seems to be asleep. Brenda comes in, and Lisa debates telling her what happened, when Harry appears on the stairs, announcing that he stayed up late by faking sleep. Brenda is annoyed but sends him upstairs, asking Lisa if she’s okay when she sees her trembling. For a moment, she considers telling Brenda what she saw, but Nate honks his horn outside. Nate has scratches all over his face. Suspicious. He tells her he fell into a rose bush. They see something weird across the street, and Lisa goes to inspect it, discovering the body of a dead girl. Summer Lawson.

They’re brought to the police station and questioned again. They meet Captain Rivera, another striking move for diversity in the Fear Street series, tries to be friendly with the teens. Lisa’s mom tells him Lisa has “emotional issues”, and again, I’m starting to think Lisa just has bad parents. The media is calling it the Cannibal Killing, since apparently Summer had bits of her chewed up. Lisa admits she heard a scream that night, but her priority was on Harry. Her mom demands she tell the police about the creature she saw. Lisa admits to the police what she thinks she saw, and Captain Rivera isn’t a jerk about it. He asks her if it was a movie she saw, and when Lisa’s mom mentions the accident, he’s sympathetic.

Saralynn texts Lisa, but she ignores her. She’s a little suspicious of Saralynn’s relationship with Nate, and why Summer was out on Fear Street, and she’s thinking about Nate’s horror movie collection. At school, she sneaks out of study hall with Nate, and she tries to talk to him about the monster. He clearly doesn’t believe her, and he offhandedly mentions something Dr. Shein told her, making Lisa feel more suspicious. She remembers how Nate was all scratched up. But Nate interrupts her by asking about Isaac, and he tries to bring it up, but she dismisses it immediately. He offers to help her babysit on Friday to make her feel safe, and then offers to bring Saralynn too, which makes Lisa more suspicious. They run into Saralynn, who agrees to come over. Lisa walks away, not before hearing Saralynn say they should tell Lisa the truth.

Lisa goes to pick Harry up and asks about his sleep. Harry’s aunt tells her that he has a form of epilepsy, and if he doesn’t get the right amount of sleep, he could have seizures. Lisa is startled by this, but she’s promised so long as he gets his sleep, he’ll be fine. She takes Harry home. She tucks him in on time and amuses herself by flipping through the family photo albums. Photos of Brenda and her husband, family reunions, picnics, and then Lisa sees two familiar faces: Nate and Saralynn. Immediately Lisa calls Nate, but he doesn’t pick up. Brenda comes home after ten and asks Lisa how she’s doing. She wonders if Lisa is thinking about quitting the job with a murder happening so close, but she says Harry loves her, and Lisa admits she’s fond of him.

Lisa goes home and manages to get Saralynn on the phone. Lisa asks her about the photo, and Saralynn says, yeah, she told Nate to tell her, but the three of them are related, distantly. Brenda, Saralynn, and Nate are all vaguely second cousins or something. She says it was Nate’s idea to keep it a secret, getting more and more vague by the second. Lisa isn’t sure she can trust them, but Saralynn insists they want to help.

On Friday, the whole gang shows up to help with Harry. They all play Harry’s Xbox game and turn the sound down when Harry goes to bed. Lisa confronts Nate about hiding his blood relations, and he doesn’t say anything convincing. They study for a while, and Nate notes that Isaac hasn’t answered any of his texts, despite him supposed to be coming over as well. He decides to go pick him up. The girls chat for a little while, until Lisa gets up and sees the monster on the stairs. She screams and points to it, but Saralynn can’t see anything. Lisa has a total breakdown, realizing she is crazy, and Saralynn offers to call her doctor, but Lisa insists she has to check on Harry. When she gets upstairs, Harry is gone. They search the house, finding nothing, until Lisa hears something outside. It sounds like a fight, and some hissing, and general monster noises. Lisa goes outside and finds Isaac on the ground, dead.

They’re taken to the police station again. Nate says he was hunting for Isaac all over, but couldn’t find him, giving him a pretty good alibi that no one can back up. Rivera brings up her hallucinations again, and Lisa’s mom is no help. River than says he’s not accusing Lisa, but also is it possible that she’s the one doing all the murders? Lisa insists what she saw was real, but as soon as they leave, she breaks down again, saying she needs Dr. Shein, because she might actually be crazy.

Lisa gets put on medication, avoids Nate because she thinks he might be the killer, and doesn’t go back to work until Brenda calls begging her to come over, that she’ll pay her double, because she needs a babysitter. While babysitting, Lisa goes through the albums again, looking for any clue. She finds a picture of Harry with another girl in a blue sweater that’s only labeled “Joy”, though considering how unhappy the girl looks, it’s a poor description. Tucked into the pages is a letter from Joy, saying though she loves Harry, she can’t keep the job as his babysitter. The nightmares are too bad. There’s an address attached, and Lisa writes it down, determined to find Joy.

Lisa manages to borrow her mom’s car and drive out to the address. A woman answers the door, and when Lisa asks, she screams that joy is in the state hospital up in Martinsville. Lisa drives over there and sees the plaque that says the hospital was built by Jacobus Fear in 1911. I honestly adore the far reaching Fear family. It’s a little refreshing from the first run of the series, where they’d all disappeared. It’s a really bad depiction of a mental hospital, with people shouting random crazy phrases, sad moans everywhere, and a man licks her hand. Your usual description written by someone who’s never actually been to a mental hospital. She tells the nurse she’s Joy’s friend, and they let her in to see Joy. Lisa starts to ask her about Harry, but Joy flips out and calls him a demon and a monster. Lisa thinks she’s talking about Nate, but we all know the truth.

Lisa tries to get more information about Nate from Saralynn, who remains useless. Still, she goes to get Harry from his aunt’s house and walk him home, but she stops halfway there when she realizes his backpack is gone. She tells him to stay there and she’ll grab it, which is dumb, but it leads to Lisa going back to the aunt’s house to hear strange howls. When she opens the basement door, she sees three strange creatures that are almost human like, but hideous and malformed. She escapes, runs with Harry back to the house, and she calls the police, trying to play it cool the whole time. She gets Captain Rivera and convinces him to meet at the aunt’s house to search the basement, but, of course, when they get there, it’s empty. Lisa sulks as she goes back to Harry, who convinces her to let him stay up late. He asks her if she can guess why he likes staying up late so much, and he tells her it’s because he gets to change. She asks what that means, and then he does. He becomes that hideous monster she’s been seeing and snaps at her as Brenda comes in, shouting at the both of them.

Brenda scoops up the monster, that turns back into regular Harry. She tells Lisa she can’t leave, now that she’s seen Harry like this, and tells her it’s her fault that Isaac and Summer are dead, since she couldn’t do her job right. She monologues for a minute and then tries to stab her with a kitchen knife, and then Nate runs in and saves her. He attacks Harry, and Lisa runs for it. Apparently she does nothing about this new information until the next day, where she goes to Dr. Shein’s office. I guess she didn’t try to call Nate to see if he was okay, or ask Saralynn what she knew, or try and get the police again. She tells Dr. Shein everything, and Dr. Shein decides to put her in a hospital like the one Joy is in. Because it turns out Dr. Shein was in on it too! Lisa is calm though, because she lifts up her phone and reveals that she was FaceTiming this whole conversation to the police! How modern! The police arrest the mad doctor, and the day is saved, kind of.

Apparently the police kept the arrests and mad scientist business out of the papers, which seems ridiculously bonkers. Lisa takes up a job at a daycare center, appreciating how busy it is and how many kids she sees in a day. She’s a little sad about Nate, who did save her life, but is happy now that she’s not babysitting a literal monster. She’s introduced to a new kid, Sam, who is just Harry, who begs to be able to stay up late.

Favorite Line

“Dr. Shein, do you see this phone in my lap? It’s connected to an app called FaceTime. Do you know what that is?”

“Yes, I know what FaceTime is,” she muttered.

Fear Street Trends

These kids get more and more fashionable. I guess because Isaac’s a musician, Stine actually googled some popular bands, so Vampire Weekend and Daft Punk get a shout out, as does a fake psychobilly band. Previous folks get a cameo, including Kerry Reacher and Rachel Martin. Lisa and Harry watch Kung Fu Panda 2 on Netflix, a weirdly specific choice, which makes me imagine Stine had to watch it with his grandkids, and Harry plays an Xbox game called “Candy Catastrophe” which is clearly Candy Crush, but on a console I guess? Lisa’s dad looks like Clint Eastwood, and her mom is a Denzel Washington fan. Harry reads a story by Willa Cather, who I googled to see if it was symbolism. I can’t tell.

Rating

Um… I don’t know? Admittedly it took me a minute longer to read this one, and the fatigue set in earlier, unlike say Party Games, where I at least felt the characters were doing something the whole time and not just milling around until the story caught up to them. It made very little sense, and it’s honestly nonsensical ending (how did the aunt move all those monsters?), I feel compelled to give it a low rating, but I’m also the one who constantly wants actual supernatural things to happen in these stories. It felt a lot more Goosebumps-y than Fear Street, which may not be a bad thing to the right person, but the thing I’ve enjoyed about Fear Street is it’s more thriller style nature, versus the kid vs monster style of Goosebumps. The death of the dad added almost nothing to the character and was only there to service the plot, and bad therapy is a major part of the Fear Street series, but it was egregious here, though I guess on purpose? I’m still going to give it two shapeshifting children out of five.

As a note, I’m taking a short vacation from this blog while I sort out the many, many projects I’ve given myself and prepare for summer reading. There will be no new reviews posted in May, and I currently have a plan for June, so we will see if that works out. I will tentatively say the next review will go up June 4 (my birthday!). Tentatively. See you then!

Fear Street #20 – The New Boy

0

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.