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.

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