Fear Street Relaunch #6 – Give Me a K-I-L-L

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So I skipped a previous week, and it looks like my April is also going to be buck wild with how much I have going on. I think I’m going to hold off on updating this again until May or June while I sort some things out, but I sat down and read this book, so I’m going to give you the full review. I did write out which books I plan to do in the summer, and a brand new Fear Saga is set to be released in July with a dope cover, so don’t worry. I’ll definitely come back for that.

The Cover

give me a kill

The cover (pulled from its GoodReads page) isn’t bad. It’s sort of sinister. There’s a pretty girl on it. I’m so bothered by the silhouettes in the door because they look like they were taken from a stock image of space marines or something. You couldn’t have a cheerleader standing there? There’s a hint of a blood splattered gym floor, but overall it doesn’t do anything for me.

Tagline

At Shadyside High, cheerleading can be a scream!

Not bad not bad. It doesn’t give anything away, but it lends a little more to the plot than the title. Still kind of meh.

Summary

We meet Gretchen Page as she’s about to head off to Shadyside High. She just moved here after some mysterious incident, and she’s on the phone with her best friend Polly, who never really gets any dialogue. Immediately the fact that she doesn’t respond to Gretchen sort of gives away that she’s dead. Gretchen tells her imaginary friend about Shadyside and how nervous she is to join the team, since the Tigers were all-state last season. We also meet Gretchen’s mom, who’s divorced and kind of haggard, and the two do not get along. Her mom seems really against her being on the cheerleading team, which sets off Gretchen.

Gretchen goes to school on a Saturday to meet with the coach, and on the way she runs into the ridiculously named Sid Viviano. As they sort of flirt, they also run into Stacy, head cheerleader, who gets very territorial over Sid immediately. Gretchen hurries into Coach Walker’s office where Devra Dalby and her friend Courtney are hanging out. They make fun of her, and Devra lets Gretchen know the last spot on the team is already taken by her. They see Sid and Stacy kiss in the hall, and Devra gets real mad about it for some reason.

Coach Walker comes in and seems to be a reasonable authority figure. She watches Gretchen’s highlight reel of her cheerleading and decides to give her a shot. Both she and Devra can try out, and whoever’s better gets the spot. We get a scene with Devra and her dad, which is pretty much like Silent Night. They get on well but he’s very busy, and Devra complains that Gretchen stole her spot, so he offers to call the principal first.

Gretchen, meanwhile, is meeting her neighbors. Madison lives next door and plays violin in the school’s symphony orchestra. She describes herself as “some kind of prodigy”, so jury’s still out on Madison’s mental state. She asks Gretchen to go shopping with her, and they head over to the mall together. As Madison tries on a dress, Gretchen sees Devra behind the makeup counter, and her new friend lets her in on the fact that the Dalby’s own this store and are super rich. Madison calls Devra a psycho before wandering off, leaving Gretchen to walk straight into Sid. They exchange about two sentences before he pushes her up against a display table and makes out with her. Devra sees and is very angry.

The girls go to Lefty’s and talk to Rachel from the first book. They gossip about Devra and Madison says she and Sid might’ve been a thing, but now Sid’s attached to Stacy and are the perfect couple. As Madison rushes off to practice, Devra slides into the booth with Gretchen. Gretchen notices she has weird burns on her hands, and Devra plays it off, saying she was restoring old furniture. Devra actually seems to be playing nice, and she offers her a deal. Since Devra is a senior, this is her last chance to be on the cheerleading squad. Gretchen could be alternate, still be with the squad, and when Devra graduates, the spot is all hers. When Gretchen says she can’t just fail her tryout, Devra offers her five hundred dollars of credit at Dalby’s, then ups it to a thousand. Gretchen still refuses, and she snaps that she’ll let Stacy know about the scene with her and Sid. Gretchen says no, and Devra storms away.

Try out day. Stacy now seems super nice to Gretchen? She comes over to give her a pep talk and Gretchen wishes for her enthusiasm. Devra does a routine for them which is just okay. Gretchen is unimpressed. Gretchen gets out there and does some running cartwheels and power jumps and lots of other cheerleader terms. Devra clearly knows she’s outclassed and tries to weasle in more time. Coach Walker sends her off. Gretchen watches as Sid is clearly flirting with another cheerleader. She grabs her water bottle, and after a few minutes a wave of nausea comes over her, and she throws up. She’s in a lot of pain, and Coach Walker picks up her water bottle, saying it doesn’t smell right.

Gretchen talks to Polly some more. Sid comes over and they make out some more. He also seems to think Devra did it. He tells Gretchen that he and Stacy have been going out forever and everyone expects them to grow up and get married, and he doesn’t know how to break it off with her. Some threatening text messages show up on Gretchen’s phone, saying SOMETIMES CHEERLEADERS DIE which isn’t really anything. I mean, it is a death threat, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not very clever. It also name drops GIVE ME A K-I-L-L.

Madison convinces Gretchen to show it to the principal. Gretchen takes them to Coach Walker instead, and she confronts Devra, who claims her phone was stolen. Coach Walker and Stacy go to talk to the principal about the cheerleading squad. Mr. Hernandez tells them that Devra’s father donates more than a third of their budget each year, and in order to keep him happy, they have to put Devra on the squad. Stacy is getting her first taste of the real world while Coach Walker protests, but they all realize Gretchen’s been listening in.

Gretchen spaces out talking about Devra with Madison and mentions a knife for some reason. They’re out, and they see Sid with another girl. He claims it’s a cousin, but we all know the truth. More threatening things happen to Gretchen, including getting attacked in the gym and her cheerleading outfit being filled with roaches, and then come the fire batons. There’s no way any school in their right mind would let them have fire batons, but this is Shadyside. As alternate, Gretchen is in charge of lighting the batons and handing them off, also a bad idea, since she’s brand new. They mention Sid did it before and I don’t know why he doesn’t do it now. Gretchen sets it up, and Devra is supposed to take the first baton, but she has a stomach cramp or something and walks away. Stacy takes the baton and goes to her position, only to be set on fire.

Gretchen gets questioned by the principal, and she mentions that Devra shouldn’t taken the first baton and Mr. Hernandez accuses her of attempting to set Devra on fire, which isn’t great principaling. At home, Gretchen and her mom don’t talk, and when they do, they fight. Gretchen gets a call from Madison saying she needs to tell her something urgent and can she please come over right now. Gretchen’s mom grabs her and makes her help her with some inane task that seems really easy to walk away from.

At school the next day, Madison is set to perform in front of the school with a live orchestra. Part way through her performance, she starts screaming and crying, and a wound appears in her neck, burning through her skin so that blood spurts everywhere. Madison is dead. Acid had been poured on her violin, tearing apart her neck. Gretchen remembers Devra saying she used an acid to restore furniture and is quick to accuse her.

Sid still hasn’t broken up with Stacy now that she’s in the hospital, and he gets serious when Gretchen asks him about his dad, who just lost his job. Courtney puts together a routine to highlight Gretchen talents but means Devra is the one who’ll be catching her. Devra does but it still freaks Gretchen out. Sid comes over to help Gretchen clean the garage, and they find sulfuric acid hidden in her backpack underneath some junk, which freaks Gretchen out. She decides the only way to prove she didn’t do it is to prove Devra did do it, so it’s time to break into someone’s house

They roll up to Devra’s and sneak over to the garage. They search it for furniture, but everything’s neat and put away. Gretchen thinks they might have a basement workshop for it, but if you’re working with acid and paint, I’d imagine you’d want a well ventilated place to trap yourself inside of, but whatever you crazy kids. They do in fact find a workshop and the cabinet Devra mentioned. They pick up a bottle, and it reads Muriatic Acid. Not what was used to kill Madison. Not the same as what’s in Gretchen’s garage. As they try to leave, Devra and Mr. Dalby come home, and they have to escape without being seen.

Still convinced Devra is a murderer, Gretchen piles into a bus with the team for their cheerleader retreat. Sid and Devra start screaming to each other on the bus, which is really the first time Sid has been anything other than chill. Gretchen’s mom is left home alone and starts picking up in Gretchen’s room when she finds her phone, accidentally left behind. She glances at the last phone calls made and becomes horrified. She calls the school and demands to speak to the principal, and you know what’s coming. Polly doesn’t exist anymore. She’s dead. Gretchen killed her.

Well, sort of. There was a car accident, and Gretchen had a head on collision with a van, and Polly wasn’t wearing her seatbelt. She went straight through the windshield. Gretchen started living in her own little reality after that, and even when she seemed to get better, she started picking on a girl by making herself look like the victim. Gretchen hurt herself and blamed it all on one girl. And not long after that, they found a knife in her room.

The book gets real scattered here, and I think it’s just racing towards the ending. Gretchen gets to her cabin and her mind starts racing. She lifts up a knife from her bag. Meanwhile Mr. Hernandez and Mrs. Page are racing towards the camp. They see Gretchen running with a knife in her hand and hear Coach Walker yelling for someone to stop. Then it cuts to screaming in the mess hall, where Sid is standing with Devra, a knife pressed to her throat. He admits he lit Stacy on fire, assuming Devra would grab the torch, all because Devra ruined his family when his dad was fired. He’s been the one torturing Gretchen to show Devra that he was in charge?? His motive is a little muddled. He also killed Madison because she had a video of him putting kerosene on the baton, and really this is Madison’s fault for a) not showing it to the police, b) not showing it to the principal, and c) not texting it to anyone else. Gretchen tosses aside her own knife and charges him, knocking him down so hard his head hits the table. As Sid lays bleeding out and the girls get over their traumatic experience, Gretchen and Devra share a good laugh over how Gretchen saved her life. All is well. Gretchen goes to the doctor to presumably get back on her meds, and her phone goes off. A text. YOU KILLED ME, GRETCHEN, BUT I’M NOT GOING AWAY. GFF. POLLY.

Favorite Line

Now she was starting at Shadyside High, ten times the size of her old school, and how could she compete? There wasn’t even a Sephora in Savanna Mills!

Fear Street Trends

A surprising amount of old classics return! Devra compares her dad to George Clooney which is kind of a weird thing, but I’ll let it slide. Some kids sing “a rap song that Gretchen had heard on the radio”, which is nice and non-specific. The “rap style cheers” return as well. The cheerleaders seem kind of 90s in hair style, with bangs, crinkly hair, and side ponytails. Gretchen’s mom wears white tennis shorts. Courtney also has a nose ring which would not fly in any American high school. Lots of crewnecks and skirts over tights. Star Wars and Hello Kitty get a shout out. A bit of technology marching on, including Madison listening to “a classical music Pandora station”, and a description of Coach Walker pulling out a CD drive to plug into her computer, since we all know modern ones don’t have that anymore. Gretchen’s mom also has to go through a metal detector to get into school, which she comments on, “In MY day…” Though this is while she’s racing to school to explain that her daughter might have a knife she’s planning to use so maybe don’t get so high and mighty, my dear.

Rating

I’m… a little disappointed. It looks like this is the last of the first relaunch wave, so it couldn’t get into all the evil and history and all of that. I knew going in it wouldn’t be supernatural, which is my favorite kind of Fear Street book. It really is more of a reboot of Silent Night than the Cheerleaders series, which isn’t strictly speaking bad. The twist still felt extremely generic, though I guess it’s a double twist, which is fine. The stuff with Devra was actually fairly good, but I feel like there’s a handful of extraneous characters that don’t add anything to the story, and Courtney felt like a gun that wasn’t fired. I still want to like it, so I’m going to give it three acid soaked necks out of five.

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

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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 Relaunch #1 – Party Games

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YOU GUYS. I didn’t realize until it was too late, but I have been doing this blog for an entire year of my life. For something I did only to indulge my nostalgia trip, it’s been a fun ride. I was debating what to do to celebrate a whole year of self-indulgence, but with the knowledge that another Cheerleaders story might be coming out soon, and putting off reading the re-launch until I got to a point where I could remember enough about this series to properly examine a reboot, I decided to look at something brand new.

The Cover

party games

This cover (taken from its Amazon page) is pretty good. Better than the cover redesigns of the books I’ve been reading for sure. They reintroduce a painterly style, and the sharp contrast of the light an ddark work well to create a growing sinister feeling. The deflated balloons work as well. The weird green overlay feels a little strange, but it’s a solid cover.

Tagline

Are you dying to play?

For all my lamenting of average taglines for the Fear Street, I actually really like this one? It takes an overused pun, but there’s no dramatic ellipses or dashes. I approve of this.

Summary

This book is twice as long as any other Fear Street novel, which means it’s a little over 200 pages, but goodness I started to lag in the middle. I’m an adult now with a very short attention span and I don’t have the time or energy to read books over a hundred pages long.

This book opens with an introduction, which I was actually happy to read, because it reintroduces us to this newer trendier Fear Street. Fear Street is on the east side of Shadyside here instead of being on the west, something that is totally unimportant but I do actually spend a bit of time looking at the Fear Street map. Again we’re told the story of two girls who were found in the woods with their bones missing, something we knew not to be true in the Fear Street Saga, but who knows in the universe.

We’re introduced to Rachel Martin who works at Lefty’s, a diner. She sees Brendan Fear with a few people from school. Brendan is a big nerd who not only plays World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto (I’m going to keep a tally of modern references), but mods and designs games as well. He’s surprisingly casual for a Fear descendant, and in this continuity it seems like the family is still around and fairly prominent. I’m interested in how this continues to play out in the rest of the re-launch. Anyway, Rachel has a major crush on Brendan. Her BFF Eric is also there, and he’s super annoying, a kind of Ricky Schorr remake. They invite Rachel to Brendan’s party, an all-nighter on Fear Island at Brendan’s mansion. Rachel is happy to be invited, especially because Brendan pulls her aside.

Rachel’s grabbed by her friend Amy who tells her not to go with Brendan Fear. Amy gives us the run down on the Fear history. We also know the Fears are still rich, though Brendan’s dad is an investment banker rather than a black arts. Amy also asks about Rachel’s boyfriend Mac, who’s described as angry and aggressive and is the average love interest in these sorts of stories. Rachel does say she was worried he would actually hurt her.

Rachel gets home, finds the door wide open, finds her parents asleep in bed, and then goes up to her room where she finds a dead rat in hers. She thinks its Mac, but she doesn’t want to get into it. She goes to school the next day, and Mac finds her, pulling her aside. She confronts him about the dead rat, but he’s confused. He tells her not to go to the Fear Island party, that he’s heard some rumors, and she tries to get him to open up. He exhibits plenty of violent and abusive behavior, and she tells him goodbye before driving off.

Rachel packs an overnight bag and puts on her party outfit. She drives out to the boat launch and sees a bunch of kids from school, as well as two strangers in brown leather jackets. We’re also introduced to an explicitly black character named Robby Webb, who goes as Spider Webb. There’s some shenanigans on the boat, and as they leave, Rachel thinks she sees Mac watching her. As they ride to the island, they’re warned there’s no WiFi and no phone signal, which is a little alarming, but a decent excuse not to have phones in the mix. When they get there, everyone files off, and the boat pilot trips and falls. The kids freak out as they see blood in the water, and two workers pull him out, promising he’s okay. Rachel knows the workers are lying, but they’re led away by more workers. They’re led to the mansion, and the girls and boys get rooms where they’re paired up. Rachel talks to April, and April mentions she got a dead squirrel in her bed. A bunch of the girls also say they got roadkill in their bed.

They go downstairs, where Brendan greets them. He gives a welcome speech and mentions he can buy beer at eighteen, which would really narrow down the location of Shadyside, but I don’t think any states have that law any more. He also introduces the two strangers as Morgan and Kenny Fear, his cousins. They seem pretty unimpressed to be here. Brendan invites everyone to get trashed, and they snack down on pizza and drinks. Brendan pulls her aside again, and they flirt. Rachel goes off looking for the bathroom and thinks she hears someone calling for help. She runs into one of the hired help and is turned away, and she goes back downstairs and is instantly swallowed up by the party. Brendan tells them about the ghosts that haunt the house, and Delia, who has shades of Suki Thomas with her bleach blond hair and her flirtatious persona, tells Eric she loves Ghost Hunters and invites him to explore the haunted attic with her. It’s actually a cute moment, especially since Eric flirts with everyone, and the second someone flirts back he’s a little dumbstruck. Like in the Halloween Party, Brendon gives them a scavenger hunt list, and they team up to hunt through the house. Brendan picks Rachel to go with him. The girls jump up to confront Brendan about the dead animals in their bed, and he flips out, telling them about his Great-Aunt Victoria. She collected dead animals and taxidermied them by the hundreds, and died by taxiderming herself, which doesn’t make a lick of sense but it’s a fun story.

Brendan and Rachel go off to search the upstairs, taking an elevator up. They kiss. The doors open up, and they find themselves in a dark hall, where they’re attacked by bats. She loses track of Brendan and runs back to the elevator. Somehow she pulls herself together, but when she gets to the elevator it doesn’t work. She throws open a door hoping for a staircase and screams when she sees the body of a boy hanged from the ceiling, a pithy note attached. Brendan runs up behind her, and when he sees it, he seems genuinely freaked out. It’s a mannequin dressed in his clothes, and he tells Rachel someone is threatening him. They’re distracted when they hear screaming downstairs, and they look for the others. They find Patti on the floor, twisted up, another cute game themed note attached to her dead body.

They realize there’s an actual killer in the house, and Kerry starts shouting that the Fears are cursed. Apparently legend states the house was used when the Fears would hunt their servants. Brendan goes off to call the police, but he reminds everyone there are no bars on the island, and the landlines are shut down. They decide to walk out to the boat, and Brendan tells them there’s no pilot, that the workers went to bring in a second pilot. As they debate what to do, the lights go out. They go get some flashlights, sticking with the group, but they find the flashlights missing.

The lights come back on, and Brendan takes them to see the security cameras to see if they can figure something else. They find video of masked men with hunting rifles breaking into the house. They decide to go for the boat anyway, since there’s a radio on it they may be able to call for help. As they make it to the dock, they see the workers leaving, taking the boat with them. Brendan’s confused and doesn’t know why they took off. A storm is rolling in. The kids head to safety.

There’s more talk of the ghosts of the Fear family. Spider and Eric get into an argument, and Eric declares he hopes he’s the next victim since Spider will miss him so much. Brendan makes them hot chocolate, and they notice Kerry is missing. They search the house for him, and Rachel looks outside to see Kerry crushed beneath a pile of stones, with a note about Jenga attached to him. They discuss breaking into another house to get a canoe, or if they should wait for a new boat pilot. Rachel gets distracted and walks into a study, where she sees a woman in gray mist. She’s completely gray, no color at all, and on the table are animal parts. There’s stitching on her skin, and she’s holding thread in her hand. She calls Rachel forward, and Rachel gets the fuck out. She finds the others, and when they return to the room, the ghost is gone. When she thinks everyone is calling her crazy, she runs down the hall and thinks she sees Mac. When she turns the corner, a man in a black mask grabs her.

But it’s not a man in the mask, she’s just panicking. Brendan holds her and tells her she’ll be safe. They hear another scream and find Eric draped upside down on a ladder, with one more note attached. Rachel flips out again and runs out of the room. Now she’s grabbed again, and it’s Mac. He tells her to come with him, that things are going down. She asks if he knew about the murders, and he seems confused for a minute. She starts screaming for help, and he tells her he has a canoe, that he can get her out of there. She refuses to go with him. He runs off, and Brendan calls Rachel’s name.

Brendan leads the group to another room that has a small stage in it. He pulls the curtain, and they see the bodies of their friends piled on top of each other, and they start to move. All the kids start laughing about the dead rising and asking if the other kids were scared. Brendan declares them the first contestants in his game Total Panic. Everyone is righteously angry and start shouting at Brendan, and even his cousins tell him it was too scary. Rachel’s especially hurt, worried his flirting was also a game. He brings out his cousin Karen, dressed like Victoria Fear, and apologizes to Rachel, telling her everyone was supposed to see the ghost. She tells Brendan that she’ll never talk to him again, right as some masked men bust into the room. Brendan starts laughing, saying he forgot about those guys, and then they hit him with the butt of their rifles. It’s clear this is no longer a game.

Rachel recognizes one of the men, though she can’t place him. The masked men declare this a kidnapping, and they drag off Brendan and take Rachel too for some unclear reason. The leader that Rachel recognizes shouts about how Brendan’s dad is a creep who fired him and then screams at Rachel. Mac comes running in, and a rifle goes off. He falls to the floor. In the confusion, Brendan and Rachel take the chance to run. They make it to the elevator, which sticks, and they have to clean out. They make it outside to the woods. Somehow they get separated, and Rachel hears a gunshot and the men talking. She remembers the story of the Fears hunting their servants, and falls into a pit. It’s filled with bones, ribs, and skulls, presumably humans. She tries not to scream but is overcome with horror, and she uses the bones to climb the dirt wall out of the pit. She runs to the dock, hoping to find Mac’s canoe and finds it empty.

Rachel tries to figure out how to get out and get away. When she hears people coming closer, she launches into the water, clutching to logs to stay, and she’s pulled out by Mac. She’s shocked to see him alive, and he tells her he played dead. He also has his canoe on the other side of the island. They run through the trees, and Rachel is confused, since they’re heading away from the water, and he leads her right to the gunman.

The gunman is Mac’s dad, which explains why Mac knew something was going down this weekend. He was here to help Rachel, but when she recognized his dad, he knew he had to protect him. The gunman start planning to kill the teens, and Mac’s dad tells him to go home. Rachel manages to escape again and is chased after by Mac’s dad, but when he raises a gun to her, she steps to him, telling him he won’t shoot. He does, she drops to the ground, but the shot misses. She has a sudden fantasy where she picks up a rifle and shoots him and then declares open season on the other gunmen, which is random and pretty much only used as a cliffhanger. She’s dragged back to the house, where Brendan’s being held in the ballroom.

Brendan’s trying to convince them not to shoot them, saying his dad will pay, and they won’t tell. The door to the room bursts open, and police officers come in, guns drawn. The kidnappers put down their guns, and Brendan tells them to call his dad and take the gunmen on their boat. They handcuff them and drag them away, and Brendan starts smiling. Rachel asks how the police knew they were there, and he says they aren’t police, he hired them. Rachel calls him insane, and he just wonders what he’s going to do for a party next year.

In a weird turn of events, this book has an epilogue where it deals with what’s transpired. Rachel mentions vivid nightmares, and Mac is stuck waiting to see if he’s going to be tried as an adult or not. Rachel gets the news that the police dropped the charges on him since he tried to stop his father. Amy talks to Rachel about Brendan, and Rachel admits she still has a crush on him. Brendan takes her back to the island since she lost her favorite jacket there. She wanders up to the bedroom and sees a figure standing there. A tall woman with white hair, wearing Rachel’s jacket, and her face is only a skull. She takes a knife and stabs a squirrel’s body with it. Rachel runs, straight into Brendan, and when they return to the room, it’s empty, with her jacket folded on the table.

Favorite Line

Like hello–it’s the twenty-first century. Geeks rule.

Fear Street Trends

You guys! This book was a breath of fresh air! Rachel looks like Reese Witherspoon, Mac looks like Brad Pitt. Fashions everywhere. Brendan’s a huge nerd who loves trendy video games. So much Facebook talk! Rachel changes her status to “It’s Complicated”. Amy wears a shade of red that’s referred to as slutty. Lots of skinny jeans, army jackets, and bright colors. The word ‘orgy’ is used. Lots of Disney talk too, which makes sense the original books might not have thought about that. Ghost Hunters is mentioned, and I’d love to see a ghost hunting team at this school. The amount of up to date references were amazing. I am absolutely going to read more of these books.

Rating

I was kind of expecting to not like this book at all. Most of the things I like about Fear Street are driven by nostalgia, and I was worried with a new series I’d be disinterested for the most part. But I liked this book. It wasn’t better than the old Fear Street books. I think Stine’s writing has definitely improved, though it feels almost exactly like reading a Fear Street book, perhaps with some dressing up and modernizing. I liked this book. I liked the characters in it. I appreciated that we were given a real epilogue, and I liked seeing the changes in the universe as well. I don’t know if it was a good book, but it was a book I enjoyed, and enjoyed in the context of the Fear Street books. So I’m giving it four crushed bodies out of five. I’m kind of excited to read more.