Book: “The New Boy (Fear Street #20)” by R.L. Stine
Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1994
Where Did I Get This Book: ILL from the library!
Book Description: He stole their hearts…Does he want their lives, too?
What a hunk! When handsome, mysterious Ross Gabriel comes to Shadyside High, all the girls want to date him…even the ones who already have boyfriends! Janie, Eve and Faith go so far as to make a bet…which one of them will he go out with first?
But then the murders begin, and 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 the night of her death?
Had I Read This Before: Yes.
The Plot: Janie Simpson is in the school hallway, two weeks before the first murder (ooh, ominous!). She sees the new boy Ross Gabriel for the first time on that day, and she is immediately smitten with him because he’s such a hunk. As she gawks after Ross, she goes off to find her best friends Faith and Eve, as they are supposed to be delivering the money that was made at the school dance to Principal Hernandez’s office. While both Faith and Eve went with their boyfriends (Paul and Ian respectively), Janie went by herself and is feeling kind of desperate for a boyfriend of her own. She and Eve meet up and Eve informs her of the latest school gossip, as Deena Martinson and Gary Brandt broke up (I guess things with Rob didn’t really take for Deena and Gary is still relishing being free of Della). Janie asks Eve where the money is, and Eve says that she doesn’t have it, Faith had it and said that Janie must have taken it for safe keeping because now SHE doesn’t have it. GULP! Janie freaks out and she and Eve rush to find Faith, who says yes of course she has the money. It was just a mean trick by Eve! Janie can’t be mad for long, though, as the new boy Ross shows up and his arm is bleeding pretty badly. He says he cut it on a fence while helping a girl free her bike. Faith and Eve are instantly taken with his looks too, and they volunteer to take him to the nurse while Janie takes the money to the principal’s office for the transfer. Janie is peeved, as she ‘saw him first’.
As Janie counts the money in Mr. Hernandez’s office, Faith and Eve show up gushing about how CUTE Ross is, and then give us some exposition on their boyfriends. Paul is a jock football player, and Ian is impoverished and working two jobs so he can potentially go to college. The girls start banding the money together, and Janie says that she saw Ross first and why are they so into him when they have boyfriends? Just the Paul and Ian show up, and they all start playing with the money. Mr. Fernandez catches them dicking around, but let’s it slide, giving the ladies the key to the file cabinet they are going to store the money in. He goes back into his inner office, and the girls keep arranging as the boys leave. Once they money is all organized, Janie writes down the total and locks the money in the file cabinet, and they all go into Mr. Hernandez’s office to give him the total. Unfortunately, he’s on the phone with a high maintenance parent and they have to wait. Both Eve and Faith excuse themselves at different times to let their rides know they’re going to be late, and Janie, hard up for a man, ogles the picture of a young Mr. Hernandez with his sports team. Janie, come on. When Eve and Faith are back Mr. Hernandez finally hangs up and asks for the total. Janie can’t remember, so she goes back to check it… and the money really IS gone this time!
That night Janie goes to hang out with Faith and Paul, who are acting kind of suspicious. They start talking about Ross, and Paul says that he thinks he’s a tool while the girls say they think he’s cute. Paul leaves, and Faith asks Janie if she’s going to ask Ross out, or if Faith can. Janie is astounded because what about Paul, and Faith says that Paul doesn’t have to know, and why not make it interesting: first person to ask Ross out gets ten bucks from the other! Conveniently Eve rings on the phone then, and Faith gets her in on the bet too! Janie has no faith that she will win now, and then asks Faith why she and Paul were acting weird when she arrived. Faith says that it’s because they know that Janie took the money. Janie freaks out, and then Faith says April fools! They know Janie is innocent. Man, friends like these…
In chem class the next day, Janie is paired up with Ross. Huzzah huzzay, maybe she can ask him out! He talks down to her and then sets off a stink bomb with the chemicals he mixes, and says that he likes ‘messing with people’. Oh swoon baby swoon. Janie almost asks him out, but then chickens out at the last minute, and as they leave the classroom he suddenly stops and stares at a girl with long curly blonde hair. Then he rushes off. A short while later Eve runs into Janie in triumph: she asked Ross out and the money is hers!
That Friday while Eve is out with Ross, Janie and Faith are hanging out and feeling sorry for themselves. They wonder how the date is going, and talk about her incredibly coquettish outfit of a blue blazer, a blue scarf, and red denim pants. Then Faith confides that she thinks her parents are getting divorced and that Paul is only dating her because she’s rich. Meanwhile, Eve is on her date with Ross. They make out, and then go for a walk in the Fear Street woods…..
The next morning Janie gets a call from Ian. He says that Eve never came home the night before and is missing! Ian asks if he can come by and Janie says sure, then she calls Faith but there’s no answer. So she calls Eve’s parents and Eve’s Mom picks up in hysterics, saying that Ross is missing too! Uh huhhhhhhhh…. Ian and Janie go driving around, and Janie doesn’t tell him about the date. As they drive past Fear Woods Janie sees something… a blue blazer!!! They get out of the car and find Eve’s body, sunk in the mud, very very dead. They call the police and Janie tries to comfort Ian, who says that not only did Eve steal the dance money (WHAAAAAAAT?), but someone must have killed her for it! Janie comes clean about the date, and he gets more upset. At the police station they see Ross arrive, and he claims that he and his folks were back in his old hometown of New Brighton early that morning and that he dropped Eve off at 11pm.
At Pete’s Pizza that Sunday, Faith and Janie are talking about Eve. They think there’s no way that she could have taken the money, because she was a very honest person. Ross crashes their lunch and starts berating Faith because she thinks that he killed Eve, and Faith leaves Janie alone with him to join Paul and Ian outside (some friend you are, Faith!). Janie and Ross talk, and he says that he only went out with Eve because she said they’d split the winnings 50/50. He also makes some offhanded comment about how he can’t believe this is happening, especially after what happened to him in New Brighton. When Janie joins her friends they tell her that they think Ross killed Eve.
The next evening Janie is at home doing homework when Ross shows up unannounced. He says he needs help with French homework, but he’s being a real creepo. But Janie agrees, and he suggests they go get something to eat. In a twist of fate, his car sputters out a mile from her house, and they push it to the nearest gas station. She pays for the gas because he realizes that he forgot his wallet (UGH!), and he says that they should go to his house so they can get it. Surprise surprise, he lives on Fear Street! She waits for him to get his wallet, and is more and more paranoid, but still goes to get burgers with him. He drops her off, they make out a bit in the car, and he drives away, But she finds his text book that he left behind, and decides that she needs to return it that very moment. Maybe there’s a test the next day, who knows? She drives back to the house they stopped at earlier, but when she knocks on the door an old lady answers and says that there is no Ross Gabriel living there.
Janie is determined to find out what’s up with Ross. Well, he’s a liar with a short fuse, Janie, and therefore you should probably dump him. Faith tells her that she should stay away from Ross because she’s heard lots of bad rumors about him, specifically from the new girl Jordan. The one with the blonde hair who Ross was not happy to see. Faith starts to explain that Jordan went to Ross’s old school, but is interrupted by Paul, who says that he heard that Ross was just arrested for murder! Turns out that’s just a rumor because Ross is actually across the cafeteria, and Janie goes to confront him about the old woman. He says that that’s just his grandmother who is very confused about things these days and doesn’t recognize him anymore. And the murder charge rumor started because he WAS at the police station that morning, but it’s just because the police think that HE stole the dance money! He then pulls out a blue scarf, saying that he has this for her. Janie freaks, because it’s the scarf that Eve was wearing the night she was murdered! Janie runs off.
After school Janie sees Faith and Paul arguing across the parking lot and decides not to interfere. Little does she know that it’s THE LAST TIME SHE IS GOING TO SEE FAITH, or so the book says. She goes to see Ian at his donut job at the mall to see how he’s doing, and tells him that she’s going to call Faith because she saw Faith and Paul fighting. She gets home and calls Faith, who tells her that Jordan has told her a lot of disturbing stuff about Ross, so she needs to come over right now so they can talk. It’s perfect because she’s home alone. Janie agrees, and rushes over… but when she arrives, she finds Faith BEATEN TO DEATH WITH A FIREPLACE POKER!!!! She calls the police and the dispatcher tells her to get the FUCK out of that house, so starts to run out of the house, but runs into Ian, who says that Faith called him too. They’re both devastated, at least outwardly, but I’m suspicious now.
After Faith’s funeral, Janie seeks out Jordan to hear what she was saying about Ross. Jordan says that in New Brighton Ross went by Robert Kingston, and that there were rumors that he murdered his girlfriend Karen. He had an alibi, but no one believed it. He and his folks moved to Shadyside to escape the rumors. YIKES. Later Janie is walking home and it starts to downpour just as Ross speeds up next to her. He says ‘what a ride?’, and oh, it isn’t actually Ross, it’s another cat caller. When Janie refuses he says that she can just drown then. But then Ross DOES show up and demands that she get inside his car, which is across the street. When she refuses he roughs her up a bit. He tells her that he just wants to talk, and that she’s been acting like a real bitch ever since he tried to return her scarf. She tells him that she knows his real name and that he killed Karen. He says if she would just get in his car he’ll explain everything. She still refuses but says she’ll meet him at Pete’s Pizza that evening at 8, when what she SHOULD be doing is getting a restraining order for his violent ass.
With her parents not at home and no intention of actually meeting Ross at Pete’s Pizza, Janie is working on homework when the power goes out. And the phone. At 8:30 her folks still aren’t home, and who should come knocking but ROSS. He forces his way into the house and demands why she stood him up. She lies saying Paul was supposed to take her, but Ross sees right through it. He throws the blue scarf at her, and she realizes that it IS her scarf, not Eve’s, and that she left it in his car. But she also realizes that he’s still wackadoo, and he literally tells her that he could KILL HER FOR NOT TRUSTING HIM. He tells her that he didn’t kill Karen, he was just walking in the woods and he found her body and no one believed him. He starts ranting about the police hounding him and lying about an alibi for when Faith was killed, and he gets more and more frenzied so Janie makes a break for it. He chases her outside and then TACKLES HER TO THE GROUND, holding her down until she tells him why she’s afraid of him.
Her parents arrive home in that moment and Ross runs away.
At school the next day Janie does everything she can to avoid Ross, who is STILL STALKING HER demanding that she talk to him. Luckily, Paul is there to punch out the little creep and I’m so Team Paul. Janie runs off and hides in the park to get away from it all, but returns to the school to get her things. She sees Ross and Mr. Hernandez, and dives into a broom closet to avoid them. She’s so paranoid that she thinks a broom is a corpse, so she runs home. She gets a call from Ian, who says that he found proof that Ross killed Eve and Faith! He picks her up and says he’s taking her to get proof and I think where we see where this is going. Yep, he takes her to the spot where Eve was found, and then full on confesses to her while holding a baseball bat that HE WAS THE ONE WHO KILLED THEM. Apparently Eve did steal the dance money saying that they could split it, but then she freaked out and wanted to return it. Ian, sick of being worked to the bone, went to confront her and try to change her mind, but then saw that she was on a date with Ross. In a rage he hit her with the bat. He killed Faith because he was convinced she’d figured it out. And now he’s going to kill Janie. But then Ross is there (WILL THIS NIGHTMARE NEVER CEASE?!), and Ian hits him with the bat. Janie gets the bat away from him and knocks him over, choking him with it. Ross is okay, and he sits on Ian and tells Janie he saw them going into the woods. He tells her to go call for help. She notices that he has a nice smile, tells him that she isn’t running away from him this time, and goes to call the cops. The End.
Body Count: 2.
Romance Rating: 1. Ian killed his girlfriend, Paul and Faith were on the rocks, and Ross/Robby is so incredibly toxic and abusive there are no good options here. Like, holy shit, Ross is just as much a predator as Ian is and yet Janie seems to possibly be ending up with him at the end?! HELL NO. I’m hoping that Janie’s crush on Paul comes to fruition at some point because that seemed to be the only good option. Sure, Paul punching Ross wasn’t ideal, but DAMN was it good to see.
Bonkers Rating: 4. It wasn’t terribly twisty and turny, though Ross’ backstory was a bit of a shake up.
Feat Street Relevance: 7. Ross lives on Fear Street and Eve’s body was found by the Fear Street Woods.
Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:
“Mr. Hernandez turned bright red as his hand went up to his head. Then his eyes narrowed as they swept from one face to the next. ‘You’re all suspended for the rest of the year,’ he said.”
… And then JK! He was just teasing them! What a joke!
That’s So Dated! Moments: At one point Janie is described as pulling up the antenna as she dialed her super modern cordless phone. I remember how slick those things were when they first came out!
“A fly buzzed near Janie’s ear – its sound seemed to swell and block out everything else. Was it one fly or a hundred? She closed her eyes, but she still saw them. She still heard them buzzing. Flies. They descended like black death over her once-beautiful friend.”
Either Janie is having a serious hallucination or this is one of the nastiest crime scene descriptions we’ve gotten from R.L. Stine.
Conclusion: “The New Boy” is pretty ho-hum and was a weak follow up to the bananas grove that was “Sunburn”. It also has a lot of terrible messages about boundaries and how women should be treated. I say of the two books about new kids, stick to “The New Girl” because that one’s better. Up next is “The Dare”.