Fear Street is one of my greatest guilty reading pleasures. I mean, hello, I have only wrote 15 posts devoted to the series, and so far I have only covered the first 55 books of the series (there are 114 books in all if I include Stine’s 2005 comeback Fear Street trilogy and the “Seniors” and “Sagas”). So, I decided to do something different in this post, and have some fun with the books I have posted about so far. Remember high school superlatives… well I have a few shout-outs, awards and lists for the best and the worst of Fear Street so far ;), as well as some surprising statistics, thoughts and comparisons of this bestselling YA series full of nineties nostalgia. Let’s get started!
Fear Street might sound strange for a title of a series, and by strange I mean hokey. In fact, when I was a kid the name of the series caused me to avoid it at first; certain it was a joke (of a series, not the name itself). But now that I have read it, it really isn’t that hokey. The stories all take place in Shadyside or feature characters from Shadyside when it comes to books with alternate locations. When the town was first founded, a family with the last name “Fear” was pretty much in charge behind the scenes. They were wealthy, scary and ruthless, much like the people who control current politicians are. Their money was the source of their power, and every time they got their way, little else occurred besides influence and in some cases intimidation. But the Fears were secretly (or not-so-secretly) evil. Their wealth was acquired from murder and dark magic, and their real power, though not exercised at the drop of the hat, came from magic, a curse and ancient feuding. The Fears met their end in a terrible fire. No one dare level their burned out mansion, BUT the rest of their land was seized and became parts of Shadyside, all bearing the family’s name: Fear Street, the Fear Street Woods, Fear Lake and Fear Island. But it seems while the Fears are long gone, the curse of their name remained and every story involves someone who lives on Fear Street… whether they will be a victim of its evil, or a part of that evil themselves!
Make sense? All right. Not so hokey. But, you would think that this premise means that these books are big on the supernatural. I mean, when I first read the original trilogy “Fear Street Saga” I figured dark power, ancient evil, family curse – yep, this series will be big on the supernatural angle. But not so much. There are more real-life killers than any kind of plot with even a hint of a supernatural element. In fact, I am a numbers person, so here are the actual numbers.
Fear Street So Far
Total Books – 55
Regular Editions – 34
Super Chillers – 9
Trilogies – 4 (three books each)
Out of 55 books, only 21 books have had supernatural storylines (roughly 38%). By supernatural I mean ghosts, spirit possession, vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters and chicks with super powers (my favorite). Zombies, straight-up witches and anything else I didn’t mention just hasn’t been covered yet. You want to know a weird thing I just realized about the books that have the whole supernatural slant, though? While these books are the obvious minority of the series as a whole, every single trilogy so far has been supernatural.
Now there are three books that are in this kind of hybrid category. Why? Because they were not supernatural, and there is no arguing that, but if someone wanted to they could try to argue they aren’t straight-up real-killer either, because they involved hypnosis or something else that makes them shaky in either category. These three titles are: “Missing”, “The Sleepwalker” and “The Thrill Club”.
And that leaves 31 books (56%) that are straight-up real killers. Whether it is mental illness, someone who is just psychotic or things like petty jealousy and greed, these books are all about the evil that lies within real people, with real-life motives. What does this mean? The town of Shadyside is less like a haunted town (X) and more like Cabot Cove, Maine from the television series, “Murder, She Wrote”. I mean seriously, there must be something in the water because it seems nearly everyone there becomes killers at the drop of the hat. Sisters try to kill sisters, best friends from childhood turn on their besties, boyfriends and girlfriends become dangerous because… we never really get a good reason.
Every now and then, there is a reason that is plausible and I think, “Well that makes sense,” but other motives seem so flimsy. And let’s not forget that this is supposed to be a small town that only has one high school. I mean just the real-life killer books alone have blown through 80 high school students as either the killers or those they kill. And that doesn’t factor in the supernatural books that usually have even higher death tolls. I mean, soon they won’t even have enough bodies to still populate the high school!
Now there are some books that deserve some special credit, for better or for worse.
The Top Ten Fear Street Books (In No Particular Order)
- The Wrong Number – Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #2 – Fear Street Books 4-8
- Prom Queen – Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #6 – Fear Street Books 14-18
- Fear Street Cheerleaders Trilogy – Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #8 – Fear Street Books 19-23
- Fear Street Saga Trilogy – Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #10 – The Fear Street Saga – Where The Terror Began
- The New Boy – Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #14 – Fear Street Books 31-34
- Double Date – Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #14 – Fear Street Books 31-34
- The Dead Lifeguard (Super Chiller #6) – Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #16 – Fear Street Books 35-37
- 99 Fear Street Trilogy – Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #21 – 99 Fear Street – The House Of Evil
- The Mind Reader – Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #24 – Fear Street Books 41-43
- Cheerleaders: The New Evil (Super Chiller #7) – Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #24 – Fear Street Books 41-43
Okay, so I had counted trilogies as a single book, what can I say there were so many bests for me. Here are the runner-ups, and at least this list doesn’t have any ‘cheats’ and is much shorter. Again, in no particular order…
- The Stepsister – Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #4 – Fear Street Books 9-13
- Ski Weekend – Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #4 – Fear Street Books 9-13
- Party Summer (Super Chiller #1) – Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #4 – Fear Street Books 9-13
- Broken Hearts (Super Chiller #4) – Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #12 – Fear Street Books 27-30
- Sunburn – Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #12 – Fear Street Books 27-30
- Bad Dreams – Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #14 – Fear Street Books 31-34
All right, enough about what I love – what about the dirt a.k.a. the ones I didn’t love so much. For every five-or-so hits there had to be a miss. Here are some special awards going out to some of those misses.
Most Epic Fear Street Failure
“The Best Friend”: This book was so bad, it is the only book to get 3 out of 5 fears, and I felt I was being kind when I gave it this rating. The villain was just too cray cray and the only mystery was why no one was stopping the villain in this book. And then the end was beyond frustrating, open ended in a way that makes you just want to wash your hands of the whole thing. And I don’t think I was the only one who felt this way. R.L. Stine wrote a sequel to this book, even though he admitted that it hadn’t been his original intention. Why did he write it? Because a lot of fans wrote to him, wanting to ‘know what happened to Honey’ and wanting some justice (Stine even held a contest so readers could have input as to Honey’s fate). Even if everyone else was just upset by the end, the end could have saved this book and at least made it nothing special, instead of special for the wrong reasons. Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #8 – Fear Street Books 19-23
The Super Chiller That Wasn’t
Most of Fear Street’s Super Chillers live up to the name, whether they are the best of the best or just better than most of the rest. Then there are a few Super Chillers that are a step below other Super Chillers, but they still have game. But there is one Super Chiller story that just doesn’t live up to the Super Chiller name – for shame!
“Silent Night” (Super Chiller #2): Here is a book that was just okay. It didn’t have anything that made it special, it lacked a lot of the usual Super Chiller elements such as “possibilities” or a body count. And its protagonist seemed like much more of an antagonist than anything else. (You’re not supposed to want a killer to succeed!) In the end, Stine is able to explain why Reva is the way she is and it seems like she is going to begin to resemble a human being… so at least there is that hope. The only thing that made this book resemble a Super Chiller was its length, as they tend to run a little longer than regular Fear Street editions. It is the Super Chiller I could have done without. Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #6 – Fear Street Books 14-18
BUT WAIT! I said there was one story with this distinction, not one book. Another book makes this list…
“Silent Night 2” (Super Chiller #5): This book has everything wrong with it that the first “Silent Night” did. Except even attempts at suspense are much tamer than they were in the first book, and this book dashes any hope that Reva actually turned into a human being. “Silent Night” would have been better off without this sequel! Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #12 – Fear Street Books 27-30
And that is how I see the world that I love, but not openly because it is kind of embarrassing: Fear Street. I’m just about halfway through the original series (59 books to go) and of course there are the newest Fear Street books (the first edition of Fear Street’s new comeback was released on September 30, 2014, and the next is due out in April 2015) that aren’t even factored into this retrospect. I can’t wait to finish the series as it was, and move on to the series it will be. 🙂
*For a complete index and links to the Fear Street books I have covered so far, see my guilty pleasure index: Fear Street Index