Another Fear Street list that was completely new to me. I had not read any of these books until now and each one was different and R.L. Stine tried something new (and it paid off in each case!) just when he had done so much already – things could have gotten repetitive and stale. But they don’t! 🙂 Why do I love Fear Street? These three books are three prime examples of that answer!
All of Julie’s friends hated Al. He was bullying them into loaning him money, cars, making threats… But that doesn’t mean one of them killed Al. Julie knows her friends and she knows they are innocent… until one of them confesses. Julie and her friends promise to keep the killer’s secret; after all they have all been friends for so long and promised to be friends forever. And they know Al’s killer would never kill again. Or would he?
Julie and all of her friends (Hillary, Taylor, Vincent and Sandy) have good reasons to hate Al. From the very beginning of the book he is messing with all of them in serious ways. Al used to be a part of their group of friends, but he fell in with the wrong crowd and changed. This teenage cliché would have fit better if these negative influences ever showed themselves in the book. Instead, Al is always alone and bugging his former friends. But this was confusing to me – why they let him bully them. He had dirt on all of them. He saw Julie smoking so he threatened to tell her parents if he kicked him out of her house, when he was smoking and drinking, and then extorted money from her. Okay, she doesn’t want her mom to know she was smoking, but that is what he is doing, and she of course gets blamed for it anyway. And then another person in their group got a speeding ticket, Al blackmails him into using his car, when he is drunk, and the guy lets him. Because whatever damage to the car happens when driven by a drunk, is not as bad as a speeding ticket. I don’t get it.
So Al is killed, and it’s pretty grisly and after his funeral one of them confesses to the murder. Everyone is shocked, but stand behind him and that’s when things get creepy. The friend who confessed starts acting different, angry even. He seems to get paranoid that they’re all turning on him, so he begins to act like a total creep. He tries to scare Julie and Hillary, and attacks another person in their group over a goofball game of basketball. It’s this vicious cycle that is feeding itself until it spirals out of control…
I have to say that this book posed an interesting question, but not so interesting that I thought this story would be a standout. For one thing, R.L. Stine has done something very similar before with his book “Dead End” (see Confessions Of A Bookaholic – Guilty Pleasure Edition #31 – Fear Street Books 28-30 ). Not just with the moral questions the book poses, but the entire premise. A group of friends knows that one of them did something awful. The promise to keep the secret until one of them decides enough is enough, and then… It is also told in the same way. Broken up into “Parts” which usually is reserved for Super Chillers where the female narrator overdoes it with the “if only we knew” cryptic comments throughout.
Still the end makes up for this book being stuck in an average box. A twist, and then another and the big reveal at the end, shows that while this book’s song may be old, at least Stine knows enough to give it a slightly different tune.
“The Boy Next Door”
Lynne and Crystal think Scott has it all. He’s athletic, popular, and handsome and he’s moved in right next door! Both girls will do anything to get Scott’s attention; say anything and try anything for a chance to go out with him. One date – that’s all Lynne and Crystal want. But the last girl Scott dated – that’s all she wanted too. She thought Scott had killer looks and a killer personality. She didn’t know how right she was… until Scott killed her.
I have a big spoiler to tell you, but don’t worry you find out on page 3 of the book – seriously page 3. Scott is a fucking psychopath. There I said it. He killed his last girlfriend, but of course it was her fault because she was disgusting – wearing makeup and dressing like a normal teenager – that was no way to behave. Get used to that phrase, because he says and thinks it a lot. Lynne and Crystal, and basically every other girl at school is practically panting over Scott. He’s so hot and smart and nice – if only they knew. But they will.
As they begin courting Scott, Scott thinks about killing both of them. After all they’re both disgusting girls – girls should never chase guys, they should know how to behave. The book keeps flipping back between his POV and Crystal’s POV and I rather liked this. Stine has delved into the killer’s perspective before, but not when the reader knew who the killer was and it was always some twisted revenge plot, rather than straight-up crazy. I appreciated this a great deal. But you don’t tell a whole book from this perspective – it can be hard to connect to the real protagonist this way, and Stine seamlessly went between the two in just the right places.
The reader fears for Lynne and Crystal as there are so many close calls, and you never really know which girl Scott is going to go after first – this seems to be his only hesitation. There is one scene with Scott and his mother having dinner that I question, because the mother was truly crazy and seemed to be the reason for her son’s psychosis down to what he would repeat again and again: no way to behave. But he was only seen once, and I wondered if this was all in Scott’s head or if she was nuts too. And if she was or if she inspired her son’s murderous habits, why wasn’t she brought up more? I mean just one time, only a few pages of the book… this scene left me with nothing but questions, so I blocked it out to keep up with the rest of the story.
But even with that interesting loose end, this book did something different. A true psycho for the sake of being crazy (and a misogynist), delving deeper into real-life evil and a new way of storytelling and framing a book that I hope Stine uses again! A great read for anyone, from Fear Street Fanatic to a Fear Street Virgin. Check it out! 🙂
“Goodnight Kiss 2” (Super Chiller)
Vampires are still stalking the small resort town of Sandy Hollow. Billy knows it – his girlfriend was one of their victims last summer. Now Billy is back – and he wants revenge. He’s going to track down every vampire in town and put a stake through each of their hearts. His friends don’t believe him, but no one can explain the bodies that are found on the beach – with two puncture holes in the neck. Or the swarms of bats that appear each night. The undead are here and Billy is going to beat them… Or join them.
This book is like the movie “The Godfather” – the sequel is so much better than the original! That being said, a lot of the spoilers I can’t talk about will have zero impact unless you have read the original, “Goodnight Kiss” so make sure to do that before picking up this book (see Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #8 – Fear Street Books 19-23 Link). Sandy Hollow is still plagued with a serious vampire problem. Unfortunately, we only see four vampires during the entire book. I mean I wanted to see a plague of them, rather than a clique of them (they don’t all hang out together though – vampires aren’t big on group unity apparently).
This book is ten times better than the first, perhaps because it has a vampire slayer. Sure it isn’t some calling or a chick with super powers (sorry Buffy!) but a book with any vampire slayer is better than one without. Billy wants revenge against the vampires who killed his girlfriend, but his desire for revenge seems deeper – like some kind of need. And he isn’t alone, there is another slayer lurking, someone who has killed a vampire before and loved one (oh maybe they are taking a page from Buffy) but this is no teeny bopper love story. Vampires are evil and they must die.
Stine has his own unique vampire lore, which I am not a huge fan of (what vampires can do, what they can’t etc.) but kudos to him for creating his very own: this is what a vampire is (he did this in the first book and this book does not break the lore of the original). This book has all of the fun one would expect from a vampire book: who is a vampire, who isn’t, the vampires hunting their prey (of course Stine tells the story from their perspectives too, which is great), the humans who know vampires exist trying to save their friends who think they are seriously disturbed – it’s great. And the end has a twist and while I could see it coming a mile away, I am a big fan of Fear Street. Anyone who isn’t as well versed in the series or those who only see what’s right in front of them, are in for a real surprise at the end! 😉
I have to say it was hard at first to pick between the top two books on this list – l loved them both, and the book that lagged behind was still a solid Fear Street effort. I just realized that this may be the last post of the original series where I haven’t read even a single book on it (excluding the last trilogy and any off-shoots of the series). Wow, I’m not sure how I feel about that. But at least my “last” virgin post was such a great list of Fear Street books! 🙂
*I couldn’t resist but one amusing fact about “The Boy Next Door” – the back cover had the characters’ names wrong. The promos for the book were correct in using “Lynne” and “Crystal” as the names of the characters, but the actual back of the book had them as “Lauren” and “Crystal”. I would expect the promos to be wrong, rather than the back of the actual book… I thought that was kind of funny. 😛