Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #14 – Fear Street Books 31-34

This is one of the best lists yet! It has three favorites, all perfect fives and another solid Fear Street effort. This is a list you won’t want to miss, but why don’t I just let the books speak for themselves. 🙂

“The New Boy”
Fear Street Scale: 5 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: First Place

When handsome and mysterious Ross Gabriel transfers to Shadyside High, all the girls want to date him – even the ones with boyfriends! Janie, Eve and Faith make a bet – which one of them will he go out with first? But then the murders begin. It starts to look like dating Ross means flirting with a gruesome and untimely death. Will Janie’s dream date with Ross turn out to be the night of her life, or her death?

“The New Boy” is a simple enough premise, so you might be tempted to brush it off, but don’t. Like the book “The Prom Queen” it is an unexpected delight. It was not the first Fear Street book I read, I had read it with many others under my belt so I have no bias towards it, but it rocked. Perhaps it is the high body count (don’t judge me) that intensifies the experience. Perhaps it is because this book gives you plenty of people to suspect and yet the killer is someone you would never suspect. Perhaps it is the immediacy the reader feels for Eve, Faith and Janie; and the painful realization that with each death the list of who is next dwindles. Run, Janie, run!

In all seriousness this book is full of twists, turns, deaths, and the fear of not knowing who to turn to or who to trust, because a wrong choice also means it will be the final choice… I love when a book has the ability to surprise me and this book hands them out in spades: why this book is such a win, the fear and of course the identity of a cold-blooded killer. Don’t you want to be surprised?

“The Dare”
Fear Street Scale: 3.5 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Fourth Place

Johanna Wise has always longed to be part of the rich and popular crowd. When Dennis Arthur, the leader of that group, asks Johanna out, she can’t believe it. She’ll do anything to continue to hang out with his cool friends and have him as her boyfriend. So, when Dennis dares Johanna to kill their teacher, Mr. Northwood, she doesn’t say no. It’s only a joke, right? If it is, the joke has gone too far and the entire school is taking bets on Johanna. The dare is serious, dead serious. Will she do it? Will she really kill for love?

I’m not going to lie; this book was hard for me to get into. This is obviously another attempt at the Fear Street version of a psychological thriller, like “The Cheater” from Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #12 – Fear Street Books 27-30, but Johanna’s motivations in the book never worked. She has a crush on a guy who is so obviously using her, I want to shake the girl or knock some sense into her as much as I think Dennis needs to be sterilized (some people just shouldn’t be allowed to breed – seriously). What makes it even worse is that Johanna is a real creep to her friends, mentors and mother who actually care about her. I found it not only hard to understand where Johanna was coming from, but a lot of the time to care about what happened to her. In fact, this book is not about liking any of the characters as much as it is hoping whoever you like the least – gets it.

The only saving grace is the fact that it adds a little conspiracy to the end of the book that works and is not all that shocking, but not necessarily obvious either. Again, like “The Cheater”, once a murder takes place the reader questions Johanna’s innocence, particularly when Johanna seems shaky. But unlike Carter, the protagonist in “The Cheater”, Johanna is always unstable, which weakens the final showdown’s impact.

This is still a worthwhile read (and not one of the worst) books in the Fear Street series for any fan. But if you are dabbling, I would move on and explore the other titles on this list. Why settle for average, when you can read a complete win?

“Bad Dreams”
Fear Street Scale: 5 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Third Place

Every night, Maggie Travers has the same terrible dream. Every night, she is forced to watch the same murder and the girl in her dream cries out for help. Maggie is afraid to go to sleep again, but when the horrifying dream starts to come true and the gruesome accidents begin, staying awake is the real nightmare!

I think some of the best Fear Street books are the ones with human villains, but that also have some kind of supernatural twist to them. “Bad Dreams” follows this formula and it has the perfect balance, where you don’t know if you’re fighting ghosts or something else. Maggie and her sister Andrea are always at each other’s throats and moving into their new house on Fear Street seems to have everyone on edge. The girls picked out their rooms ahead of time, and Andrea picked the larger and better room, but when they arrive they find that a beautiful canopy bed has been left in Maggie’s room. Andrea throws a fit that Maggie gets to keep the bed, even though she got to pick her room. Their mother finally gives Andrea a choice, the crap room with the great bed, or the great room with her old bed. I point this out, because this is the constant. I can’t believe how bratty Andrea acts in this book, sixteen going on two. And their mother usually gets on Maggie’s case for defending herself verbally instead of at Andrea lashing out at Maggie and picking fights, but whatever.

Andrea lucked out, because from the very first night Maggie has a terrifying dream of a girl being murdered in her new bed! Every night the nightmare repeats itself, and Maggie is exhausted after a few sleepless nights. Then the accidents begin. A friend is shoved down the stairs and then even worse things happen – dangerous things. Maggie is off her game from the lack of sleep and many people wonder if she is on the edge of a breakdown and causing these ‘accidents’ herself. Maggie doesn’t know what to make of anything until she meets her neighbor who tells her about the girl who lived in that house before Maggie did. A girl who was brutally murdered… the girl from her dream.

Are the dreams a warning or does the original owner of the bed simply haunt it? The only thing Maggie knows is that real life is beginning to make her bad dreams seem comforting. If only she knew what was waiting for her… so close to home.

Another well-deserved perfect five – perfect for a fan or even a dabbler, this book won’t disappoint!

“Double Date”
Fear Street Scale: 5 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Second Place

With his great looks, easy charm and the awesome way he plays guitar, no girl in her right mind would turn down a date with Bobby Newkirk – even if he is a bit conceited. When it comes to breaking hearts, nothing has slowed Bobby down one bit… at least not until the beautiful Wade twins move to Shadyside. Bobby brags to his friends that they’ll both fall for him, and they do. Too bad for Bobby the twins never learned to share. Now one of them is jealous, murderously jealous. It is quiet, shy Bree or bold and sexy Samantha? Bobby had better figure it out fast, before his double fun becomes double terror.

Let’s get one thing straight, Bobby is an arrogant, womanizing creep. But you’ll still love reading this book because while you may not want him dead, the hell he goes through seems like the karma you rarely see in real life. Bobby is so sure of himself he makes a bet and asks out twin sisters, Bree and Samantha. He asks Bree first, thinking she would never step out on her sister, but Samantha who is more outgoing and just a bit wild, just might. He’s sure of it. So, when he calls her hours after making a date with Bree, he isn’t surprised at how easy it is. She seems thrilled and they agree to keep it from Bree. And that is when his trouble begins.

Bree is surprisingly passionate, her kisses needy, while Samantha acts carefree and spontaneous. Bobby wonders which girl to lose now that he has won the bet. After a close call of being caught, Samantha shows Bobby a blue butterfly tattoo on her shoulder so he will always be able to tell her apart from Bree. Then Samantha begins to act crazy and reckless and Bree seems like she is hiding something. On a date with who he thinks is Samantha he realizes she doesn’t have the butterfly tattoo. She says she is Samantha, and then confesses that she and Bree are not twins, but triplets. There is a third sister… and dangerous sister – Jennilynn.

But the girl with the tattoo claims Bree is unstable and Jennilynn is imaginary. As the horrible ‘accidents’ get more and more grotesque, Bobby realizes he can’t just walk away. Not when Samantha, or Jennilynn, tries to convince Bobby to help her kill Bree. Bobby doesn’t know what to think – how can he tell identical twins or triplets apart? He has to figure out the truth before one of the Wade sisters, or Bobby himself, ends up six feet under!

This book will make readers dizzy in the best kind of way. You don’t feel lost, but stop to think who’s who, which sister is telling the truth and which sister is a cold-blooded killer. While this book is fantastic, the ending and its payoff is one of the sweetest of the series. You’ll never see it coming, and quite frankly, when it comes to Fear Street, I am not sure you will ever be as satisfied with an ending as you are in “Double Date”.

What a list, right? I swear, R. L. Stine was on fire this week, and I remember when these books came out in 1994. I was ten and eagerly awaiting their release each month, finishing them in a matter of days. Now, twenty years later and they are just as satisfying as they were then. Guilt, or not – this list reinforces why I love Fear Street! 🙂


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