I have been excited about this Fear Street list for awhile. Not so much because of the books on the list, but rather a book on this list. One of the best Fear Street books ever, awaits! 🙂
“The Thrill Club”
Fear Street Scale: 4 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Second Place
Talia Blanton writes horror stories that could scare you to death. Everyone loves Talia’s terrifying tales that often give her friends starring roles. But when her stories start to come true, Talia’s friends start to become her victims, one by one. Is Talia making her stories come true or is someone trying to turn Talia’s real life into a horror story?
This was a chilling addition to the Fear Street series. Friends meet every week, telling scary stories to one another. It reminds me of that old show on Nickelodeon ‘Are You Afraid Of The Dark’? Talia is one heck of a storyteller, her stories are gruesome, full of suspense and there is always a twist at the end. I loved being able to experience these stories in this book, and even better they aren’t introduced so the reader doesn’t know (at first) if Talia is reading one of her stories or if this is really happening until the story reaches its end or the scene reaches the consequences of its terrible reality. The reader may also feel a sense of déjà vu because Talia’s stories come true. Of course, people think it is Talia making the monsters in her head come to life, but wouldn’t that be too easy?
The entire book is a 4.5 until you get to the last 20-30 pages. The ending is just plain weird and seems kind of lame when you think of the possibilities and other avenues this could have gone. I consider this to be another experiment for Stine, but luckily the first 120 pages are no experiment, but classic Fear Street 1.5. Even a shaky ending couldn’t kill this book’s overall suspense and final rating. This is a book that even skeptics can appreciate, so long as they can forgive the ending.
“The Dead Lifeguard”
Fear Street Scale: 5 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: First Place
The lifeguards at North Beach Country Club know they are lucky. While other kids are flipping burgers, they’re sunning themselves beside the pool by day and partying by night. So what if some people say the place is haunted, cursed. This is the life… until one by one, the lifeguards start to die horrible deaths. Someone – or something – evil is stalking them. They all know how to save other people’s lives, but who will save theirs?
Overall, the competition for this book’s ranking may not be that stiff, but let me be clear: “The Dead Lifeguard” is Stine’s best Super Chiller so far (in fact out of the ones I have read – eight out of thirteen – it ties with one other not yet covered as the best Super Chiller of all). There are some books where I can only find several things wrong with it, but with this book I can only find several things right with it. The story begins with Lindsay Beck as she arrives at the country club, but immediately things are wrong. She swears she sees a blonde girl drowning as soon as she arrives and she tries to rescue her, but the girl disappears. Then, there is no record of Lindsay working at the club that summer, but she has worked there for the last two years.
The lifeguards are all interesting and unique from one another; it becomes hard not to have favorites. And when they start to die, you’ll worry about whether one of your favorite lifeguards will be next! This book is told from different points of view (POV) – the character’s name appearing at the top of the chapter is the POV that chapter is in – it does not change POV within a chapter. This adds so many additional layers and opportunities to this book and it really works. (And don’t worry, unlike a common problem with different POVs, all of the characters sound distinct from one another – Stine pulls it off seamlessly.) The title refers to the original dead lifeguard, and all of the lifeguards know the story without knowing the details. A lifeguard died at the club a few years ago. Some of the lifeguards believe that dead lifeguard still haunts the halls of the club.
This book is not just one mystery, but several. The reader discovers that someone at the club is hiding a terrible secret. His chapters reveal his plan to kills all of the lifeguards to avenge a friend who died at the club. His nickname is used in these chapters, however, so the reader doesn’t know if he is one of the lifeguards, their boss, or another club staff member. Another mystery is Lindsay herself and little does she know that one of her new friends does recognize her from the last summer she worked at the club, but doesn’t say anything. It would sound too crazy, since Lindsay Beck is supposed to be dead already…
This is a Fear Street book everyone will enjoy. It is full of suspense, has a supernatural edge and a very real killer. It is full of secrets and lies and no one is who or what they seem to be. Are you ready to scream? 😉
“One Evil Summer”
Fear Street Scale: 3.5 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Third Place
Summer at the beach should be fun, but Amanda Conklin is stuck in summer school. At least she doesn’t have to take care of her little brother or sister – that’s Chrissy’s job. Chrissy seems like the perfect babysitter, kind and trustworthy. But then Amanda discovers Chrissy’s terrible secret. Chrissy is perfect, perfectly evil… Babysitting might be Chrissy’s job, but killing is what she does best!
Great writers try to constantly step outside of their comfort zones and take risks. Sometimes they work and other times… you get this. This book doesn’t have unlikeable characters and the story itself is fast and engaging, the premise engaging, but it just doesn’t work. The first issue for me is that everything happens way too fast and Amanda’s family seems to lack any sense. They believe a total stranger they have only known for an afternoon over their own daughter? There is no spell, lack of credibility on the daughter’s part or any other gimmicky way to explain this, and while a gimmick wouldn’t have worked, I wonder if Stine was aware it was a problem at all. The entire story is completely implausible and when you’re talking about spirit possession or serial killers at high school as the plausible stories… well you see what I mean.
I also had a hard time dealing with the timeline in this book. Everything moves so quickly and when it involves a juvenile justice system, and other areas, it only adds to the implausibility and ridiculousness of everything. The ending felt forced, the final showdown too out of touch to be tense, and the bow on the resolution just doesn’t hold up. The action, events and characters of this story were fantastic, however, which saved this book from an even lower score. If you’re reading the entire series or are a devoted fan, you might enjoy watching Stine flex his writing chops and how he experiments with real killers, the supernatural and sci-fi all in a single book, but for me, this blend was one of the largest problems of the book – it just felt crowded. For dabblers or readers looking to give this series a try pick another title that’s a sure thing.
I know it may not be the strongest list, especially after the last one, but “The Dead Lifeguard” could carry this entire list and then some on its own (and the other two weren’t terrible or anything). The next list is another trilogy, one that was a record breaker for me. I finished the first book of the trilogy in a single sitting, less than ninety minutes… I could not look away. I hope you won’t be able to either! 😉