Fear Street #50 – Best Friend 2

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The Cover

best friend 2

The cover (pulled from Amazon) is nothing. The only thing I like about it is that Fear Street has a logo on top, but that logo leaves no room for anything else.

Tagline

There isn’t a tagline, just a reminder that this book was written after they held a contest. Fans submitted what they thought should happen to Honey. I wonder how much of this book came from Sarah Bikman, or if she had the initial idea. The initial idea’s fantastic and I wish it’d carried through more of the book, but what’s a Fear Street book without at least three plot twists.

Summary

This book is separated into parts as well, though these parts actually seem helpful to the overall narrative. It’s all done in first person. I cannot remember if the original book was in first person or not, but it’s the only way this book would work. Becka’s now going to Waynesbridge, the town over from Shadyside. She’s nervous about her past following her, and nervous about not fitting in. She calls herself “full-figured” and not cute, but she’s starting to feel good about herself again.

Becka has to check in with a counselor first. It’s not the only counselor she’s seen in the past year since Honey ruined her life, but hopefully it’ll be the last. Miss Englund pulls no punches and immediately asks her about Honey. Becka proceeds to recap the previous book, feeling extreme guilt over Bill’s murder. She sees him everywhere, and makes a fool of herself throwing her arms around some rando. He’s nice about it at least and walks her to her next class. Here she’s thrown into a class with a teacher who lectures and never stops. A pretty redhead girl takes pity on Becka and tells her to write down everything he says, introducing herself under the unfortunate name Glynis. They don’t really get to talk during class, since their teacher drones on, and Becka distractedly writes down whatever she can, only to realize she’d written BILL BILL BILL across the page. This’ll happen a lot, so I’m only going to make this joke once.

The good news is, Glynis seems to want to be her friend. They chat a while about Becka’s old school until Frankie rolls up. He’s clearly Glynis’ boyfriend, but Becka can’t keep her eyes off him, and he can’t seem to do the same. He’s the one who invites her out to pizza with the two of them. As they eat, Becka sees someone she recognizes and runs to embrace Eric. You remember Eric, right? He was in the first chapter of the Best Friend only to be dumped? No? I didn’t either. He’s a little standoffish with Becka, clearly trying to get out of the conversation, but she follows him to his car anyway, grabbing him as they get in and making out with him hardcore, though she’s really thinking about Frankie. When Becka gets home, she’s excited, relieved, and bubbling with hope. She looks at herself in the mirror. Her hairs only a few shades darker than Glynis, and about the same length. If she straightened it, stopped chewing her fingernails, bought a matching nail color, she’d look just like her…

Becka gets a phone call and hears Frankie’s voice on the other end. He wishes that Glynis would go away so they could be together, and Becka realizes she’s imagining this. She’s acting like Honey. She remembers the party, when Honey showed up in a matching outfit after cutting her hair, right before she pushed Trish down the stairs. The moment of revelation goes away as she paints on the same nail polish that Glynis wears, only to realize the words BILL BILL BILL have been scrawled over her face in that very nail polish.

Becka spends more time with Glynis. She ends up trying on all her clothes and then tucks a handful of them away to borrow. Glynis takes her shopping and asks about the clothes, but Becka plays it off, saying she had a date and wanted to try them. They go to the Shadyside mall (a bad idea, Becka), and go into one of the shops where Eric happens to be working. Glynis and Frankie talk to him too before absconding to the food court, and Eric asks the question we’ve all been thinking: Why are they calling you Becka? Because it’s not Becka at all. Surprising no one, it’s been Honey the whole time. Honey loses her absolute shit, made worse when Eric points out the real Becka is standing the same store next to her. She grabs a necklace of glass beads and starts choking Eric. No one seems to do anything about this. It’s not a quick and easy process to choke someone to death, especially with a department store necklace, but Eric goes down, and Becka screams that Honey killed him. Honey pulls the usual “no you!” on Becka, but it’s clear it’s not working.

Smash cut to part two, now narrated by the actual Becka, who has remained in Shadyside, is still best friends with Trish and Lilah. They’re attending poor Eric’s funeral, whose only crime was to make out with a girl he had to know attempted murder in the last year. They discuss how Honey forged her way into Waynesbridge with fake documents, and now she’s disappeared. No one knows where she was living or where she would go. As they walk home, Becka’s two friends try to console her, and they both point out she’s been distant and refuses to talk about anything. They’re interrupted by BILL running up the street! He’s not dead at all! He survived his stabbing last year, though he and Becka are donesville. It seems like he’s gotten very close with Trish, which will be a plot point later. He tries to talk to her, clearly wanting to get back together, even though she has a boyfriend now, and Becka brushes him off. She tells him she can’t.

The girls keep walking, and Trish speaks up. She tells them that Bill visited her in the hospital every day, that he was a good friend to her, and that Becka didn’t do any of those things. Becka tells her she was so messed up after everything that she couldn’t look at the people that were hurt because of her. She feels so much guilt over everything that happened. It’s why she can’t look at Bill anymore. But she promises to be a better friend.

Becka works at the Hacker’s Cafe (delightful) and her boyfriend Larry comes by to chat. She’s too busy to sit with him, and she has to do her job, but she tells him she’ll call later. As she leaves work, someone comes up behind her at her car, and she flips out, only to see Bill. He tells her he stills cares about her and bla bla bla. Knife victim, guilty conscious, boy that won’t take no for an answer. Becka’s rescued when Larry runs up. Larry seems to be one of those rare good boyfriends you can occasionally find in Shadyside. As he helps Becka into her car, she starts screaming, because someone’s taking a knife to the interior and tossed in a dead rat for good measure.

In a rare turn of events, Becka’s seeing a therapist and taking her meds. They aren’t doing their job of calming her down though, and she decides to investigate the house next door. Honey’s dad still lives there, and she wonders if there’s a chance he’s hiding her. But she’s interrupted by Lilah, who wants to show her something. They have a loud conversation outside the window, and that ends exactly as you’d expect it, with Honey’s dad looking outside. As soon as he recognizes Becka, he starts shouting at her, asking her where Honey is. The two girls run away.

Lilah tells Becka what she wanted to show her was a news article she found. It tells the story of Hannah Paulsen watching her father murder her mother and her brother before turning the gun on himself. Becka’s horrified, but Lila tells her they knew Hannah Paulsen. She was a total loser who followed them around in the fourth grade. They tricked her into embarrassing herself in front of the whole school, and soon after that she disappeared completely. And now she’s back. Hannah is Honey. Her “dad” isn’t her father at all, but her uncle.

Becka gets a few more threatening phone calls, because why not, and Trish tells her she’s hurting Bill more than getting stabbed ever did. She goes to her counselor and tells him about some of the stuff she’s learned. He asks if she’s gone to the police with any of this, and she admits no. He does the first responsible thing I’ve seen an adult do in these books, and tells her she has to tell the police about the phone calls, since they can probably track them. No stalling. Go there right away. She leaves, only to be attacked by Honey five feet from the door. As she wails on her, Becka tries to reason, calling her Hannah and saying she knows the whole story now, but Honey screams that she’s not Hannah and she’s not Honey because she’s Becka now! She continues to beat down on her, until all Becka sees is black.

But Becka wakes up again and realizes Honey must’ve stopped because she thought she was dead. She drives herself home instead of going inside the building full of adults, but her parents make her go to the hospital, and the police are called. Someone really should involve them at some point. Despite being beaten in the street, she still goes on her date with Larry, who’s pretty standoffish. Becka screams when someone accidentally pokes her with their umbrella, and at dinner flips out when she sees a waitress carrying a steak knife. Larry, to his credit, doesn’t want to leave her alone and offers to stay at home with her until her parents get in, but she tells him to leave. Listen, kids, neither of you are prepared for this kind of relationship. Don’t blame yourself if it doesn’t work out.

Becka refuses to turn on any lights when she gets home, which is stupid. She makes her way up to her room only to find her bed is full of blood and guts and someone’s etched THIS IS U into the wall. No one has Becka leave the house, or be put into protective custody, or her parents don’t consider moving for a while. Her friends offer to let her stay, but Becka says no. As she hangs around the house, she gets another a phone call, this one telling her that her best friend is coming tonight. Becka flips out when she hears someone at her door, but it’s only Bill. She screams at him what’s happening, and he tells her to get in his car, that he’ll take her to his uncle’s murder cabin in Fear Street Woods. The phone rings again, and Becka answers it in case it’s her parents. It’s Lilah, who tries to tell her something, but she hangs up on her.

They get to the murder cabin, and Bill goes to get some firewood. Becka takes advantage of the phone. She calls Lilah, who tells her that Honey’s been arrested. They caught her two days ago. It was upstate, and Honey was giving different names, so local police only just figured it out. Becka realizes this means that Honey couldn’t have messed up her room and couldn’t have called her. As she realizes this, Bill comes in, telling her to put the phone down. He lunges at her when she tries to call 911 and rips it off the wall. She asks him why he did it, sneaking into her room and calling her, and he says it wasn’t him. Then Trish walks in. Yup! You guessed it! Trish was the best friend the whole time! Trish tells her that when she was in the hospital, Becka never visited her, only Bill was so sweet, and she’d hurt him too, and she was being so selfish getting over the trauma of being gaslit and hunted and thought to have murdered her own boyfriend. She then pulls out a knife, and Bill says they were only going to scare her, not actually hurt her. Trish brings the knife down, and Bill tries to stop her, only to get stabbed once more in the abdomen. As Trish screams this is all Becka’s fault, Becka goes for the knife. The two girls wrestle, but Becka manages to cut her neck as sirens wail in the distance. Becka drops down beside Bill, holding him, and tells him she’ll be at true friend this time.

Favorite Line

I am my own best friend! I told myself. I have to be strong. I have to be my own best friend now.

Fear Street Trends

At least two girls are described as “like a model”, and Glynis is described as resembling Claire Danes (which is actually a pretty good pull). Larry is described as looking like Bugs Bunny (less good). Glynis paints her nails a chocolate brown and calls it “the flavor of the week”, sparking a conversation where Honey as Becka talks about licorice nail polish. Her “very slim and trim” look is a yellow vest over a white t-shirt and a short green skirt over brown tights. That’s so many layers! Were we doing that many layers back then! No wonder we wore basically nothing in the 2000s. I may also have to give you the full description for the Hackers Cafe:

It’s actually just a coffeehouse. But Mr. Arnold, the owner, put computers at the counter so that customers could surf the internet and send e-mail while they drink their coffee and eat their muffins and pastries. The cafe became really popular, especially with kids from Shadyside High and young adults who work in the neighborhood.

Love it, love it, love it.

Rating

I don’t know how to feel about this one. The twists were obvious from a mile away, but they were interesting at least, and the eponymous best friend switching from Honey to Trish isn’t bad. Still, no one’s motives make much sense, and Honey’s barely in it. I’ll give it three murder cabins out of five.

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Fear Street Seniors #1 – Let’s Party

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The Cover

lets party

The cover (pulled from its Amazon page) is less than nothing. What is this even supposed to be? A blank red texture, a knife, and a stock photo? Y’all couldn’t even try? Also it took me a while to notice that this is “episode one”.

Tagline

You’re invited to… DIE!

Y’all couldn’t even try. The ellipses aren’t even in the right place!

Bonus Round!

What? Does this book come with a fully stocked cast of characters page shaped like a yearbook???? You know it does! I carefully photographed them with my phone like a professional and put them below. Peruse at your own leisure.

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Summary

It’s the last day of junior year! Bell rings, kids get out, and they’re now officially seniors! (Is that how it works? I wouldn’t think they’re technically until school starts in the fall, but we have to get this party started.) This is where we meet our impressive cast of characters. Josh is our main, and he passes by Dana and Marla, Mickey and Gary, Matty, Debra and Clark. Mickey and Gary are bullies, as is Josh, who passively sits by and calls people nerds, and Matty’s the fat kid who makes jokes at his own expense to keep in with the cool kids. Marla and Dana are the hotties, and Debra is Josh’s girlfriend, who he sees necking with Clark, the local goth. He wears all black and keeps his hair slicked back, so everyone calls him Count Clarkula. This’ll be important when Josh goes off the deep end.

Josh walks up to his girlfriend as Clark descends on her neck. He shouts her name, and both of them turn around, looking super suspicious. Debra tells him Clark was only helping her get something out of her eye, the absolute worst lie anyone’s ever told, but Josh is willing to believe it. Clark stalks off, and Josh tries to talk to Debra, who’s clearly uninterested. Sorry Josh. Leave her to the goths. But Josh thinks Clark is too big of a geek for Debra to be interested in, so he let’s it drop.

It’s okay, because Josie, Josh’s step-sister, comes running into the scene to break the tension. She’s livid because she got a D in trig, even when she did a ton of extra credit. It’s mentioned here she needs to get on honor roll for her parents to get her a car, but later her teacher says she has Bs and Cs in other classes, and I’m like, Josie. Maybe you’re just a bad student. Josie screams that she’s going to kill him and then storms off to talk to him. Thanks, Josie, for your contribution to this scene. Then their friend Trisha runs up and immediately collapses in front of them. They both run over to help her. Trisha tells them she had “the most horrifying flash”. Yup. Trisha’s a psychic. She’s also super rich. Her dad built the mall in Shadyside, which I think how everyone who’s rich in Shadyside got their money. Trisha tells them she saw the whole of the Shadyside seniors laid down in their coffins, dying one by one. Debra tells her that’s not true, that she’s just stressed, but Trisha clearly believes it. Josh tries to lighten the mood by reminding them of the killer party Trisha’s gonna throw, and she tells them she’s canceling it. She had another premonition of a girl sprawled out on her floor dead during the party. Josh and Debra tell her it won’t come true, and Josh tells her to have the party anyway, that nothing bad could possibly happen.

There’s another scene with Josh and Mickey that’s really unimportant except it reinforces the whole “Clark might be a vampire” subplot and also I think Mickey’s like a little gay for Josh? Just a little? Much like in Goodnight Kiss, Josh comes to believe in vampires over something completely innocuous, this time a wire sculpture of a bat. Josh also gets a threatening phone call from someone saying they’re gonna drain him dry. I also forgot this book is separated into parts, even though they’re totally unnecessary. (Did I add that to Fear Street bingo? I don’t remember anymore.) Part One consisted of five chapters. Part Two takes place on the same day, now starring Josie, and also takes place over about five chapters, though it feels more like two thanks to the length of them. I know YA as a genre is still new and innovative at this point in our history, but considering some of the door stoppers destined to come out during the height of the YA boom, these books feel incredibly juvenile.

Josie goes to meet her teacher, Mr. Torkelson and ask about her grade. Josie came to state her case, but she pretty much stammers out complaints and tells him she can’t have a D. When he tells her he rechecked her exam grade three times, she shouts that she had the flu during the final. He points out that Marla Newman also had the flu during the exam and got a perfect score, and gently mentions that she probably should’ve just taken a make up exam. Josie goes into a blind rage hearing about her mortal enemy, the perfect and gorgeous Marla Newman, made even worse when he mentions her brother gets good grades in math, and she fantasizes about smashing him over the head. This scene is almost entirely lifted from Final Grade, and I’m starting to wonder how hard Stine was phoning it in this book.

Josie stumbles around the school, seeing Ds everywhere she goes. She runs into Deirdre Palmer and Jennifer Fear, her two BFFs. Deirdre teases Jennifer about being a Fear, saying she casts evil spells and she’s a witch and the usual. Jennifer is clearly pissed every time she does it and she does not stop, but don’t worry. They go over to Jennifer’s creepy old house across the street from the Fear mansion, which Josie thinks is definitely haunted with the ghosts of old Fears, and they go into a room full of books on witchcraft! Jennifer’s mom flips out later when she finds them with the books and tells Josie they’re dangerous, and it’s like why even have them? Get rid of them. Throw them in a fire. Josie pulls out a book simply called The Spell Book (catchy) and flips to a page called DOOM SPELL. Deirdre insists they try it on Torkelson. In a great bit of timing, Josie tells them they need black candles, to which Jennifer responds, where would we even get those? Luckily Dierdre finds them in a carton from one of the shelves. It’s said several times that Jennifer’s family renovated the house, so this spell room had to be left in on purpose.

They start the spell. They feel wind blow in, candles flickering out, cold pressing against them, and just as the last candle is about to be blown out, Jennifer’s mom comes in. Mrs. Fear apologizes for interrupting their seance, but she looks real nervous. Hey, Momma Fear? Maybe if you found your daughter practicing black magic in a family history of that sort of thing, you say something? The girls rush off, but Josie pauses. She finishes the spell, imagining Marla and Torkelson being affected by the spell. As the last candle goes out, a figure in a red robe moves towards her, the face beneath its hood only a skull with a two-headed snake slithering in its open sockets. It reaches out to strangle her, and she’s shaken from her vision by her friends. She quickly puts the book back.

Josh, Mickey, and Josie go to the mall and run into Marla, who’s snide and condescending towards Josie. Josh gets distracted as they walk past a CD store and see Debra and Clark together. He walks up to them, and Debra quickly makes excuses, but Josh turns on Clark and asks if he’s behind the threatening phone calls. Clark tells him no, of course not, before skedaddling. Josh asks Debra what’s going on, and she tells him vaguely that she’s “drawn” to Clark. When Josh points out that they’ve been together a lot, she snaps that she’s not his property, and she can talk to whoever she wants, which is true. But, Debra, dear, your boyfriend getting jealous because you have a male friend is a little different than your boyfriend getting jealous because you’re dating someone behind his back. One of these is valid.

Josh wanders out, thinking about how Clark is so goth, and when he gets home he gets another threatening phone call. Now there’s a shadow outside his door, and it is Clark. Returning a sleeping bag. Lame and random. Moving on. Josie wakes up the next morning thinking about how she has to find a job because Marla stole hers. Her friend gives her a call to meet her at the school to retrieve a sculpture project she left behind. When she gets there, Clarissa is nowhere to be seen, but she does see Mr. Torkelson driving towards her. He holds his hand out the window to wave right as a delivery van rams straight into him. He’s slammed into a wall, and blood is pouring out of the car like a fountain. She runs towards the wreck and screams when she sees what’s lying on the ground. His hand, severed, blood spewing from it like a river, and its fingers still reaching to her.

Josie tells her friends that she finished the spell, and now she’s a murderer. Jennifer reminds her that magic isn’t real, and Deirdre tells her it was just a goof. Josie tries to call Marla to warn her, but Marla plays her off and hangs up on her, leaving Josie alone with her guilt. Meanwhile, Josh is hanging outside the movie theater, waiting on his date. Debra stood him up. He tries calling her house. No answer. He drives around and decides to go to Clark’s house. This puts things in a weird perspective. Clearly Josh and Clark know each other well enough that they know where they live, and also borrow things from each other. But Josh treats Clark like some weirdo he never talks to. Inconsistent writing or a character history being hinted at? You decide. He parks down the street and can see the two of them in the window. At first it looks like Clark might be biting Debra’s neck, but they’re just making out. He watches for a long time, which is weird. He knows vampires aren’t weird, but Clark’s so weird, and also Debra’s been pale and tired lately. Probably from all the sneaking around.

He leaves after Debra does and finds Mickey and Matty. He’s pretty sure vampires don’t exist, he tells them, and Mickey decides they need proof. That’s right, folks! It’s time to break into someone’s house again! My only explanation for Shadyside being the way it is has to be the evil has contaminated the water supply for so long. They drive back to Clark’s house, now empty and quiet, and sneak in through the window. The evidence they find is: a black cape, a book titled Lives of the Vampire, and dirt spread across the bed. Josh is now convinced he’s a vampire. He returns home, to hear his phone ringing again. He braves up and answers it, only for Trisha to be on the other line, calling from her cellular phone (fancy), to tell him the party’s back on! After hanging up on her, the phone rings again, and this time it’s Debra, yelling at him for spying on her and thinking he owns her. Again, valid complaints under normal circumstances, but she’s leaving out the fact that she ditched her boyfriend to make out with someone else. Josh tries to tell her Clark’s a vampire, which she doesn’t believe, and she breaks it off with him. What you should’ve done forever ago, Debra.

Party time! Finally! Josh drives up to Trisha’s mansion, complete with gate and security guard. There’s food and music and the grounds are huge. He sees Mickey with a girl, tall, beautiful, redhead, but the two of them are arguing. She shoves him hard, and he shoves her back. They seem to be getting into a physical fight, and Josh starts towards them, only to be interrupted by Pheobe Yamura. They have a quick conversation, and when he turns back around, the two are gone. Well, no need to break up that domestic dispute. What a good friend Josh is. Trisha is dancing with bad boy Gary Fresno, who is also someone else’s boyfriend, and then the redhead is next to Josh. She gives him a shove, ans asks if he’s Mickey’s friend. The two flirt for a long time, and she introduces herself as Saralynn. His eyes catch Debra and Clark in the crowd, and he decides to spend the whole party with Saralynn, making her jealous, and immediately forgetting that she and Mickey are clearly a thing. What a good friend Josh is.

It’s fine, because a thunderstorm sends a downpour over the party, and they all race inside. Trisha announces this is perfect, because now they can play a murder game! She hands them all cards, either a victim, a suspect, or an investigator. Marla draws victim. Josh and Phoebe get investigator. Mickey stumbles into the party, blood marring his face. He tells them all he tripped and slammed his face into his car by accident, but Josh can’t help notice that they look like scratch marks. He thinks about his fight with Saralynn. Then does nothing. What a good friend Josh is.

Trisha tells the suspects and the victim to go into the next room and make up a scenario. They have to choose how the victim died, and who did it. So it’s less of a game and more of a theater workshop. After a while of waiting, they hear noises from the other room, and Josie screaming help. Josh immediately rushes in, and they find Marla on the ground, dead. For reals. Trisha flips out, because her vision came true. Hey, Trisha, why did you plan a murder game at your party where you had a vision of someone getting murdered, Trisha? They all panic, trying to think of who could’ve murdered her, and Josie belts out that she did. It’s all her fault. She tells everyone about the Doom Spell. Jennifer tells her it’s not her fault and tries to get Josh to comfort her. They try to call the police, but the phones are dead. Trisha’s cell phone is in the car her parents took. They agree to go to a neighbor, or maybe just leave, and they all head out into the rain. But as soon as they get to the gate, it’s padlocked. They’re locked in.

They make it back to the house. Josh notices some people are missing, including Clark and Saralynn, and as they walk back into the dining room, they find Marla’s body missing. As they try to figure out who moved it, Josh also notices Mickey. He’s dry while the rest of them are soaking wet. He points that out, and Mickey tries to make excuses, just as Jennifer sees a dark red stain against the closet door. They open it, and Saralynn falls out, also dead. They quickly turn on Mickey, who announces he did kill them, and he’ll kill again, before he grabs Josie and drags her into the next room. Josh races forward, knocking Mickey to the ground. They rassle. Mickey gets real close to Josh’s face, and I’m like are they gonna kiss? But no. Mickey starts laughing and announces that he can’t do it anymore.

Saralynn gets up and Marla pokes her head in, asking if the game is over. You guessed it, folks. It’s another of those classic “pretend there’s a murderer on the loose” games Shadyside kids like to play so much. Trisha announces the joke is over, and Josie’s livid. Marla laughs and asks her if she really cast a spell on her. Josie darts off, just as Clark descends the stairs, floating, cape out, fanged teeth grinning. Trisha tells him he’s too late, that the game’s already over. He’s disappointed after he did so much research and even tried to get into character by sleeping in dirt.

Josie doesn’t hear any of this. She’s in the bathroom, calming herself down. She can leave, she thinks, and be a laughing stock, or just party on. Reapplying her lip gloss like armor, she steps out into the party. Josh tries to talk to her, but she tells him she’s fine. Then the doors swing open, and a red robed figure floats in. People notice and start to congratulate Trisha on another prank, but the figure looks at Gary and tosses him against the wall, where his head splatters. Some R-rated gore and violence happen in this chapter. Trisha gets her head squeezed like a grape, Marla gets punched in the chest and her heart just falls out, Phoebe gets her head twisted off, and Josh’s arms are ripped right off.

Josie runs for it. She gets in her car and drives all the way to Fear Street, finding Jennifer’s house. She knows it’s too late to save them, but she has to try. When Jennifer’s mom opens the door, she makes up an excuse about needing a CD and sneaks past her to the library. She tries to find a reversal for the Doom Spell, but finds something else entirely. Time Spell. It can help her go back in time and stop this from happening. It’s only an hour, but it’s an hour she needs. She performs the spell and finds herself back int he bathroom, right before everyone’s dead. She tries to think of how to get everyone out and knows she can’t convince them. She goes to the doors, where the red robed figure makes its appearance, and she does, well, she does nothing. It looks at her, taps the glass, and then leaves. Cool.

The only mystery left is who made those phone calls? Josh goes up to Trisha, and she tells him it was Matty, duh. He told everyone. Josh is reasonably embarrassed by this, and he walks back to the food spread, before he treads on something. He lifts it up, showing it to Trishsa. They’re the plastic fangs Clark was supposed to wear. Never opened. He turns as Clark walks out the door with Debra. Smash cut to black. Credits. Music.

Favorite Line

“Know who else has a crush on you? Her sister Deirdre.” Josie slapped her hands over her mouth. “Oops. Forget you heard that. It just slipped out.”

Fear Street Trends

There’s a good bunch of trends here. Debra’s described as “a clean-cut Kate Moss.” Who’s like a model. I’m not sure how much more clean cut you get than that. Marla and Josie where vests over t-shirts, pretty fashionable, and Debra wears a blue crop-top with blue shorts on her date with Clark (very matchy matchy). Mickey and Matty are playing Madden ’99, such a pull that I’m assuming that’s something Stine’s son played at the time. My favorite description is of Josie when we first meet her: “She wore a short black skirt over black tights and a black vest over two t-shirts.” Was that a thing in ’98? Were we wearing two t-shirts at the same time? And, of course, Trisha is shown to be rich and cool by having her own cell phone, with terrible reception.

Rating

This book seems pretty generically Stinian. A lot of it feels pulled from other books, from the vampire subplot to the curse ghost, to the party games. Probably the only thing new in it is the time travel, though last Halloween we saw a time traveling ghost, so even that I’m not sure. I will say Final Destination came out in 2000, while this book came out in 1998. Make of that what you will. I’ll have to give it two Mortal Kombat finishes out of five.

Fear Street #43 – All-Night Party

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I’m still playing a bit of catch up right now, but hopefully I’ll be back on track after this week. If you’re looking for something to read between books, my writing blog is updating with short stories about vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and monsters. The first is already up, and the second will go up tomorrow! I’m trying to get back on a regular schedule with this, so bear with me while I finish sorting everything out.

The Cover

So I found three covers for this book. The first (found at this Goosebumps fan site) is pretty good. There’s a danger element to boys and the girl looks suitably nervous. The girl peeking over the shoulder of her date to watch also adds a creepy element. I think the colors are pretty passive, though I do actually like her blue dress, and maybe something bolder could’ve been added, but this is nice.

The two revamp ones (found through Random Blogger and Amazon) are not good. There’s no danger to them. The silhouettes look bad. The colors are bad. They don’t have any danger element to them at all, and it feels very generic.

Tagline

Party till you drop… dead.

Not bad, not bad. Very generic but it gets across a danger that I appreciate.

Everyone is dying to be invited.

Also not bad. Kind of nothing, but it works for what it needs to do.

An exclusive invitation… to die.

Bad. Bad bad bad. It’s the worst of the three.

Summary

We’re introduced to Gretchen as she and her friends are on their way to Cindy’s house to surprise her for her birthday. More specifically, they’ve decided to Jawbreaker style kidnap her, take her to Fear Island, and have an all night party. Gretchen is new to Shadyside, having only livedĀ  here six months, but she fits right in with this bad plan. Hannah says it’s “just what Cindy deserves”, which probably hints at the larger problems in the group. Cindy is blond, beautiful, and always gets what she wants. She’s also described as a huge tease a large number of times, which isn’t completely inaccurate.

They march into Cindy’s house and storm into her bedroom. Gretchen and Hannah blindfold her, and then Patrick pulls out a fucking gun and puts it to her head. Everyone reasonably flips out, and Gretchen asks why he even brought it. Patrick tells them that his dad, a police officer, told him a convict escaped and is hiding on Fear Island. He was put away for killing three girls, and his dad gave him the gun for protection. It’s not loaded at the moment (at least he practices gun safety?? kind of????). They agree to go out anyway, assuming anyone escaping probably wouldn’t stay in one place too long.

They row out to the island, and the teen drama starts coming to the surface. Hannah comes with her boyfriend Gil, who is also the ex-boyfriend of Cindy, who still flirts with him a lot. They broke up because her parents told her too, and it’s obvious the two are still into each other. Hannah’s very annoyed by this. Also with them is Jackson, who stares at Gretchen a lot and is kind of a creepy dude. He says a lot of weird stuff and otherwise does not talk at all. Cindy asks Gretchen where her boyfriend Marco is, and Gretchen admits she’s been looking for a way to break up with him. He’s a dangerous dude with one earring and a motorcycle. Typical Shadyside guy. Gretchen didn’t invite him, but he shows up anyway, letting her know he found out through her mom. At least these kids were responsible and told their parents where they would be.

The party is kind of lame with only eight people in attendance. There’s some cattiness between Hannah and Cindy as they argue over who knows Gil better. Gretchen tries to get as far from Marco as possible, but it’s not really a good scenario with nowhere else to go. Hannah storms into the kitchen, and Gretchen follows. Hannah tells her that Cindy got a scholarship she’d applied for, even though Cindy’s parents could pay for her college and Hannah needs it. Hannah says loudly that she wishes Gretchen was dead. They go back into the room and open presents, which Cindy kind of tosses aside. She tells everyone thanks but seems really unenthusiastic and doesn’t really care. They put on some music and dance, but Gretchen really wants to get away from Marco, and she makes an excuse to go outside.

Hannah and Gil go with her to find a private spot to neck, and they disappear. Patrick stays inside, as does Cindy, and so does Marco presumably. Jackson continues to watch Gretchen, who heads to the shed beside the cabin. Inside the shed, she can hear voices in the kitchen. Voices that sound like Cindy and Jackson. She hears a sharp slap and then silence, but decides it’s none of her business. As she walks around outside, she hears someone behind her, and it’s Marco again. Gretchen tells him point blank she didn’t invite him because she didn’t want to go out with him anymore. He takes this well by pulling out a switchblade and hacking up the tree beside her. They walk back to the cabin together in probably the most awkward silence there ever was, and it’s empty. Gretchen goes into the kitchen where she sees the mess from their cake making earlier, flour all over the floor, and something red spilling everywhere. It’s Cindy. Dead.

Gretchen staggers out of the kitchen feeling sick. Marco runs over to her, and she tells him what she saw. She tries to run outside and runs straight into Patrick, whose shirt is covered in blood. He tells her he cut his hand on the upstairs window. Everyone else is coming in to as Patrick surmises that it’s he escaped prisoner that must’ve killed Cindy. Gretchen says they have to go to the police, and he insists no. There aren’t any phones in the cabin. There aren’t any phones on the whole island. They’re trapped. Until dawn. (dun dun dun)

It doesn’t take long for the panicking to set in. They decide to stay in the cabin and wait until their parents notice they’re missing, but someone points out the murderer could still be in the cabin. They decide to search the cabin. Gretchen thinks she sees someone outside only to run into Jackson, who tells her he’s worried. She thinks about the argument she heard and considers asking him, but he walks away. As they come back together, they consider the possibility that their friend Patrick is covered in blood and insists they shouldn’t go to the police and also has a gun with him. Gretchen looks at Hannah, who’s sobbing, and remembers her saying she wants Cindy dead. And then Gretchen tells everyone about the argument.

This is a good set up, and should devolve into them screaming and stabbing each other. Gil screams at Hannah that he was going to break up with her anyway to get back with Cindy, Hannah is a mess convinced the killer is going to come back for them, and Jackson tries to keep them together and insists they look at the body one more time. Now Gretchen has time to actually look at it, and they all notice something. A red baseball cap in her hands. It’s Patrick’s. They argue over whether he was wearing it or not, if Cindy put it on herself, if anyone else did, and Patrick says if he did kill Cindy he wouldn’t shot her instead of using a bread knife, which causes everyone to point a finger at him, because how did he know? Patrick points out that it’s missing from the knife holder. But there are footsteps in the flour, and Gretchen goes to get everyone’s boots and see which have flour on them. Guess who does?

They tie up Patrick, and then they go through his things. And they find everything! A note from Cindy saying she isn’t going to keep his secret, a bread knife wrapped up and stuffed into his sleeping bag, along with all of the other evidence. They bring it all to him and ask him to explain, and he tells them he’s being set up. He tells them if he did kill Cindy, he would’ve hidden the evidence instead of leaving it lying around. They discover that the note is forged. As they decide maybe Patrick isn’t the murderer, they notice that Hannah is missing. She ran off, leaving a note, which makes Gretchen suspicious that she may have done a murder. She goes outside to look for her, and Jackson follows, telling her he needs to confess something. It turns out the reason he’s a big creep is because he has a big ol’ crush on her. His choosing this moment to tell her reinforces that he’s kind of a big creep. But Gretchen seems sort of into it? She admits to him that she and Marco broke up, and after the conversation decides she feels safe with him. Sure. That’s how that works.

They hear Hannah screaming and find the other boys pulling her back inside the cabin. Gil tells them that he and Hannah separated for a bit while they were walking in the woods, meaning she could’ve gone back to kill Cindy, meaning Gil also doesn’t have an alibi. Gretchen finds a note in her pocket, and she realizes immediately who the killer is. The handwriting of the note matches the handwriting of the forged letter. It’s Patrick. He’s still the killer! Patrick framed himself, which is kind of silly because he’s also the one who had to convince his friends he was being framed. He tells everyone Cindy was a tease and loved to flirt with him and then push him away. He tried to give her a kiss for her birthday, and she laughed at him, and it set him off. Patrick pulls his gun on them, just as two police officers make their way into the cabin. They immediately tackle him and take his gun.

The officers explain Patrick stole the gun from his dad, and he sent them to get it back. There’s no escaped prisoner at all, Patrick had just planned to pin the murder on a fake story, but also he framed himself? This guy had too many plans. Just stab someone Patrick, and worry about it later. The officers wonder if the secret Cindy found out was the fires he set back in Waynesbridge, and Hannah realizes she didn’t know about that. She just liked to tease. She also thinks she may have liked Patrick, which was why she teased in the first place. This is the lesson, kids. Don’t be a tease.

Favorite Line

“I wish I hadn’t taken the gun out when we were kidnapping Cindy!”

Fear Street Trends

So much denim! Gretchen wears denim, Patrick wears denim, Marco is described like a 1950s greaser with a white T and blue jeans, though he also has a silver hoop in his ear. No one is really described that much, and the fashions are pretty nil. They do pull out a portable CD player, and they listen to some “heavy rock-and-roll”.

Rating

This book felt like #2 in the series, not #43. It’s kind of phoned in. It does share a lot of similarities with the Overnight, and Party Games seems to borrow a lot from it. On one hand, I appreciated how short it felt, but I really feel like the ball was dropped here. This could’ve turned into a Battle Royale style suspicion and murder, with kids turning on each other and splitting up and trying not to get murdered while taking out the suspects, but it really feels like the whole events took place over like two hours. One suspicious baseball cap out of five.

Fear Street Nights #1 – Moonlight Secrets

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You guys have been so patient with me while I got my life in order! A lot has changed since I went on my impromptu hiatus, and I’m probably still unpacking my new apartment (which is why this is a day late), but I had to get back into the swing of things. I was surprised to see the poll I posted back in August was straight even across all fronts, but that’s fantastic! It means I’ve got a lot more reading to do! And, to celebrate, I’m going back to weekly updates for the month of October! Expect lots of spooky things as we dive right back into Fear Street.

The Cover

moonlight secrets

The cover (pulled from Simon & Schuster) is not great, but it’s not terrible. I get what they’re going for, and this is kind of a hotter and sexier Fear Street than previous books. I didn’t realize these books were published so late (2005), which explains why this cover has more in common with the reprints. It’s just kind of nothing. There’s a lot of Photoshop filters and weird additions that don’t add anything.

Tagline

They only come out at night…

I like it, actually. It’s ominous and foreboding without revealing anything. It’s not really about anything that happens in the book, but it sells.

Summary

Like many Fear Street books, this is separated into multiple parts, none of which are necessary. At first they signal a perspective change (these are in first person), but after part one is over, the perspective is the same. Part one should be more of a prologue anyway.

Part one starts with Jamie and Lewis (who is our narrator and doesn’t get named until chapter two), who started the Night People to sneak out and make out. They were barely spending any time together because of school and stuff, so at night they go to the Fear Mansion, which at this point is broken down and abandoned. It’s about to be torn down to become a shopping mall. After a while, all of their friends come out with them, spending every night in Fear Manor. Jamie is excited to see a ghost, because her cousin Cindy died some time ago. As Cindy died, she told Jamie she’d send her a sign from the other side, which is like the most fucked up thing you can say to your family as you’re dying.

After a while, these kids are out so often that a bar called Nights opens up for them?? And they just buy beer and stuff??? This will come up later, but it’s treated so casually and I’m like this is hella illegal there can’t be enough of them to justify a market like that. But for now they’re just hanging out in the mansion, and they find a secret room. They find hooded cloaks and silver candles and animal bones and you’re general evil cult stuff. They find a jewelry box full of gold and silver, and they start stealing immediately. They also find books on witchcraft and dark magic. They decide it must be Angelica Fear’s secret chamber, which is bad news for them.

Come October, Jamie and Lewis go out to Fear Mansion, which has just been knocked down. They bring recording equipment and his “new digital camera”. They go out and try to summon some ghosts. Jamie calls out and asks who’s there. Nothing really happens, there’s no sound or lights or anything they’re expecting. Jamie takes Lewis back to her house, where they sneak in at three in the morning. She pulls out the cassette from her recorder, and they listen back. They’re both shocked when they hear a woman’s voice on the tape, faint and very hard to hear, and it sounds like she’s saying, “Did you take mine? If you took what was mine, you will pay.”

They go back to Fear Mansion a week later. They haven’t told their friends anything, presumably to heighten suspense. As they walk through the remains, they see something shining in a hole, and Jamie goes to get it. It’s some kind of weird blue jewel, maybe a pendant or a pin or an… amulet????? They also find human bones, which seems like something that would halt construction. Jamie jumps down to steal the jewel, and the skeletons do what skeletons do in these books, which is reach forward and start choking her. They’re dragged won into the dirt, and as Lewis screams that they’re being buried alive, it cuts to Part Two.

Part Two (and Three) is narrated by Nate, who goes into Nights, the bar that caters specifically to underage drinkers. Sometimes it feels like this is some kind of underground speakeasy or something, but it’s mostly a regular bar whose only patrons are 16 year olds. It says the kids give him phony IDs, but like. Also it says that they’re the only ones who “give him an excuse to stay open all night”, but like you have to stop serving alcohol at 2 right? These kids stay up forever. My point is this bar should’ve been shut down before it opened. There’s also a tradition where you have to kiss this plaque of Angelica Fear, which will pop up later.

The important people in this story are Nate, Bart Sharkman (called Shark), and his ex-girlfriend Candy, and possibly some girl named Ada who I think might be evil. These kids all stole from the Mansion too, and it’s mentioned that Shark found a pistol there and took it (!!!) and his dad made him put it in a lockbox instead of going to the police or something. They see Jamie and Lewis at the bar, mentioning their accident last year, and how they’re both still kind of traumatized because of it. They don’t really remember anything. Shark is established to be your usual Shadyside male, in that he could pop off at any second.

Shark and Candy broke up because Candy cheated on him, which is also a Shadyside trait, but apparently came in that night and tried to seduce him back. Shark tells his friends he played it up with her and made plans with her tonight, and then changed his voicemail to, “Have a nice day, Candy, you slut.” Which is like woah. There’s a lot of fast women at Shadyside, but I think this is the first time I’ve seen them use the word slut. I guess it’s okay in 2005. The important thing is Candy barges in now, rage in her eyes. Jamie jumps up and tries to talk her down, distracting her by pointing out a pendant she’s wearing, one that seems weirdly familiar. Jamie asks her where she got it, and Candy tells her it’s the Fear Street Gold Mine right across the street, which is also a weird aside but okay. Jamie skedaddles, and Candy starts trying to wail on Shark, who just pushes her off. Then Candy grabs him and starts kissing him, tearing the skin off his lips and leaving them bloody, and then she just bounces. They chase Candy out of the bar, and Shark throws a rock at her car. Nate does too, and it shatters the window. She screams, “You’ll pay!” as she squeals off.

And then Part Three starts. A week later, Nate and Shark are hanging out and talking about Candy. They go on this meetup website and lie to people on there, which does seem like something a bunch of bored teenagers in 2005 would do. Candy gets on and threatens Shark, telling him he owes her for the window, or she’ll tell her parents about Nights. It seems like an empty threat to me, but she’s also kind of crazy, so the boys end up paying her. But Shark isn’t done yet. He goes onto “the class website”, which probably wouldn’t have been a thing in 2005, and shows Nate how he hacked into it and can change whatever. He proceeds to do like thirty things when one would’ve sufficed. He finds a picture of a prize winning hog, photoshops Candy’s face onto it, changes her name from Candy Shutt to Candy Slutt, and then adds a caption about expecting a litter of hogs. The next day, everyone is honking and oinking at Candy, and at a school assembly she goes up to present something on saving the environment, and the whole assembly goes crazy. Someone even throws a stuffed pig at her. She bursts into tears.

Nate is called into the principal’s office over this, as the post was traced back to his computer. Nate doubles down and refuses to implicate Shark. Candy flips out that he ruined her life, and even her dad is like, no. Nate offers to apologize publicly, and Candy screams that it’s not enough.

The kids meet up at Nights again to talk about what happened, with some of the girls showing off jewelry they stole from the Fear Mansion. Candy comes in, furious, and plops down across the bar from them. They see her muttering something under her lips, and Nate thinks it looks like she’s putting a hex on him. As he thinks that, he feels something in his mouth and pulls out a giant cockroach. Everyone kind of laughs until another one comes out, and another one, and more and more. They’re pouring out, and when he looks a Candy again, she’s smiling. Some more stuff happens, where the kids go out to makeout point and their car reverses into the river. It looks like Jamie drowns, but they revive her. Ada kisses Nate while they talk about how Candy is a witch. Nate gets his car back, saying it’s totally fine???? Even though it was submerged in a river?????? Lewis talks about how Jamie and him went to look for ghosts and tells them about the tape. Blood pours out of earbuds all over Nate in a hilarious scene where kids listen to iTunes. Their friend gets his lips ripped off kissing Angelica Fear’s plaque. And the bar owner is just like, I’ll call 911, and they’re like, no we’ll all get caught, and I’m like you run an illegal bar for sixteen year olds you’re going to get shut down but cool.

Eventually they figure out that Candy’s pendant is the Fear amulet that’s been passed down generation to generation. They decide to break into her house while her parents are away to steal it. Shark, Nate, and Nikki all go, which seems like a lot of people for a break in but whatever. There’s construction on the house, so they find a ladder that lets them into an upstairs window super easy, and Shark makes it clear this is less about his friend being cursed and more about him upstaging Candy one more time. They find the amulet pretty easily and start to sneak out, but that’s when Candy wakes up. She screams at them and launches herself towards them, wrangling the amulet from Shark’s hands, but she’s not careful enough. She slips on the stairs and tumbles down to her death. All three of them freak out, knowing they’ve just killed someone, but it’s worse as Nate picks up the amulet. It’s cracked in two. It was a fake the whole time.

There’s an epilogue chapter where the three agree never to talk about what they did last summer, even though they told everyone at the bar what they were going to do before they headed over there, meaning at least three other people know they’re murderers. They decide they’re probably safe now from magic at least. Nate goes home and sees a shape underneath his covers. He pulls it back to reveal decapitated pig’s head staring up at him. Cut to black. Credits.

Favorite Line

“Simon and Angelica Fear were supposed to be the most evil people in the world.”

“We studied it all in fourth grade,” I said.

Fear Street Trends

Oh my god, guys. It’s too good. This came out in 2005, and their attempts to add in new technology are my fav~or~ite. We see our first hints of modern ghosthunting (Ghost Hunters premiered 2004, so I imagine that’s probably when the phenomenon started taking off). Nate mentions “Japanese anime movies” that he watches, and the boys spend a good long scene on meetup-place.com. Nate goes by Straydog and chats up a girl named Wildgirl345, saying he looks like a young Brad Pitt, though admits to the audience all they do is go on and tell lies. (Candy’s handle is Candylishus). Photoshop is mentioned directly, when Shark does his masterpiece. Nate and Shark hang out in the Shadyside High computer lab in a fantastic scene where Stine uses computer language for possibly the first time in his life. Nate does in fact use Google, and Shark does listen to iTunes (how that works on a school computer, I have no idea). Shark is listening to fusion jazz, by the way, two boys are playing Free Cell (really?), and Shark tells Nate to double-click something. They also play Grand Theft Auto on Playstation, which is a pretty good pull. People even have cell phones! Though they don’t work, of course.

As for actual fashions, the 2000s are in full swing. Girls have straight bangs, and Candy wears low rise jeans. Most of the fashion is dedicated to the jewelry the girls pulled off the mansion, meaning lots of gold bracelets and strange necklaces.

Rating

This book is almost nothing. I suspect when I get around to reading the next two that this series is going to look better as one big book. Almost nothing happens in this, and the horror isn’t really that scary. Stine’s done a way better job describing gruesome things. It all feels like build up. A hotter and sexier Fear Street could be interesting, but the execution is just so. Nothing. I guess I’ll give it one pig’s head out of five.

Fear Park: The First Scream

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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 dollarĀ  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 Relaunch #1 – Party Games

1

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.