Book: “Switched” (Fear Street #31) by R.L. Stine
Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1995
Where Did I Get This Book: An eBook from the library!
Book Description: She traded places with a killer…
There’s a little cabin in the Fear Street woods where a girl can really lose her mind. In fact, she can change it into someone else’s. That’s what happened to Nicole and Lucy. Now Lucy is in Nicole’s body, and Nicole is in Lucy’s. What a trip!
But for Nicole, what a trap! Because Lucy is using Nicole’s body to get away with murder!
Had I Read This Before: No
The Plot: We meet our protagonist Nicole, who is having a REALLY BAD DAY YOU GUYS. She broke a nail, her parents are totally unreasonable in that they want her to tell them where she is and if she’s going to be late (what the HELL parents?), and her boyfriend David has been acting SO distant lately! To make matters worse, when she didn’t hand in a biology paper that she didn’t even both to do (and when asked why she didn’t do it all she can say is ‘I don’t know’), her teacher Mr. Frost says that he will accept it late as long as she gets it in on Monday. BUT YOU GUYS, IT’S FRIDAY, THAT IS SO UNFAIR BECAUSE SHE WANTS TO HANG OUT WITH DAVID THIS WEEKEND!
Mr. Frost remains steadfast and Nicole is stuck taking responsibility. As she leaves the classroom she runs into David, and is about to break the news to him that she has to cancel their date, but before she can he stumbles through some monosyllabic wishy washing saying he can’t hang out because he made other plans. After more mumbling on his part, she asks if he’s breaking up with her, and he confirms that he is because it’s ‘too much’. She doesn’t know what that means but I’m sure we’re going to find out. He then hurries away but promises he’ll call her. As Nicole leaves the school, she runs into her BFF Lucy. When Lucy asks what’s wrong, Nicole tells her that she had an awful day, but confides in the reader that she trusts Lucy with all her heart and is so happy that she has such a good friend. To that I say ‘uh oh’. Lucy says that she had a bad day too, and says she knows how to fix it all! They should switch bodies!!! As if this is something totally natural, as natural as saying ‘let’s go to Pete’s Pizza!’, or ‘let’s have a slumber party!’.
Nicole is also confused but follows Lucy through Fear Street Woods and past the old Fear Mansion. She asks Lucy if they are REALLY going to switch bodies, and Lucy wants to be sure that Nicole is all in. Nicole says that she is, because 1) she’s so sick of her life right now, and 2) she wonders what it would be like to be with Kent, Lucy’s boyfriend. I feel like there is an absolute consent problem going on with that though, and even she herself admits that these are sick, strange thoughts. But they sally forth, and come upon a stone wall in the forest. Lucy says that her grandfather told her that no one knows how the wall got there, but it’s called the “Changing Wall”, and criminals would force innocent people to switch bodies with them so they could get away from the consequences of their crimes while someone else took the fall. Her grandfather learned this from the caretaker at Fear Street Cemetery. Lucy explains that all they have to do is climb to the top of the wall, grab hands, and jump. When they land, they will have switched bodies in a “Freaky Friday” kinda scenario. Nicole is skeptical and hesitant, but when Lucy insists that they HAVE to she’s convinced. They climb up the wall, and a bird’s freaky-ass screech is kind of putting Nicole off, and she wonders if it’s a warning? But to hell with it, because they grab hands and jump!…. AND IT WORKS! They have a moment of giddiness, and swear that the won’t tell anyone and that when they’re sick of it they’ll come back and change back. Nicole admits that she may not want to change back, and tells Lucy that David dumped her, and Lucy says that she may just try to win him back. When Nicole brings up the VERY UNETHICAL fact that she will be wooing Kent under FALSE pretenses, Lucy says that she doesn’t care. They start to walk back (though Nicole is having a hard time at first, not used to this body, which is actually kind of an interesting concept), and they part ways, Nicole excited to be trying out a fun, new life…. Until she gets to Lucy’s house, because when she opens the door, the finds Mr. and Mrs. Kramer SPRAWLED OUT DEAD ON THE FLOOR IN POOLS OF BLOOD!!!!
Nicole SPRINTS back to her own house, wanting to tell Lucy what happened, but no one is home. Which is ODD, because wasn’t Lucy going straight to Nicole’s house? Regardless, Nicole has no luck there, and decides that she can tell Kent EVERYTHING because Kent will OBVIOUSLY believe her, right? I am DUBIOUS, but she does run to Kent’s house and when he answers she immediately spills her guts about the Changing Wall and finding Lucy’s parents dead, and he seems to believe her story… But then when he goes to get her some water, she hears him talking to someone. When she looks into the kitchen, he’s on the phone with the police. Whoops. He comes back with water, but Nicole bolts and decides to go back to Lucy’s, get into clean clothes, and make a plan from there.
She goes back into Lucy’s house and goes to her room to change, but finds that her closet is empty! And so are her drawers! And what’s worse, there’s a bloody knife on her desk. Nicole is blindsided by this, but honestly, I’M not because of COURSE Lucy was going to be the worst because it’s fucking written on the back of the book! Lucy also left behind a note in her handwriting, with a bloody fingerprint and everything, saying ‘I HAD TO KILL THEM, I COULDN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE’. So now Nicole finally figures out that Lucy killed her parents, convinced Nicole to switch bodies on her, and is going to let Nicole take the fall since she’s in Lucy’s body and no one will EVER believe her.
So as Nicole tries to formulate a plan (force her to switch bodies again? Kill her?), but decides that just finding her for now is the best first step. But then there’s a knocking on the door. She goes back to the main area and she peeks out the curtain and sees two police officers on the front step. Determined not to give up without a fight, Nicole escapes out the back. The police pursue her on foot for a bit, but she escapes through the trick boards in the back fence and hides in a neighbor’s play house. The police don’t find her, and once they leave she climbs out, formulating a new plan in her mind.
And I am SO FUCKING EXCITED THAT THIS BOOK IS SO BATSHIT INSANE.
Nicole runs back to the school, and is able to get into her car because she is one of those people who hides an extra key in a magnetic box under the fender. So lucky for her it actually came in handy with it’s intended purpose, and didn’t end up being used by a car thief who knows all the tricks. As she drives, hoping to find Lucy at her house, she thinks about what she’s going to say, going for ‘I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS’ kind of guilt trip. But there isn’t a car in the driveway and no one appears to be home, but the lights they leave on when they are gone AREN’T on so Lucy must have taken their car? It seems like a strange tidbit, but this is by far the strangest Fear Street story yet so I’ll let it slide. She eventually finds Lucy at Pete’s Pizza hanging out with some other girls, their friends Margie and Hannah, seeing her through the window (but seeing her in Nicole’s body, which has to be weird no matter how you slice it). The girls are arguing over the last slice of pizza. Nicole goes into the pizza parlor and Margie and Hannah look shocked to see her, AND they know that she’s Nicole instead of Lucy? So Nicole surmises that they must be in on it, and when she asks where Lucy is they say she isn’t there, and hasn’t been here. But Nicole points out that if they haven’t seen her how do they know that SHE is actually NICOLE? When they are still playing dumb, she leaves, thinking Lucy can’t be far. But she can’t find her, and when she gets back to her car she THINKS that she’s seen her, but no, it’s Margie, and she and Hannah say that they just want to talk. But Nicole CAN’T be bothered and zooms off, wondering why they looked so scared, and thinks that Lucy must have threatened them, and decides to go back to Kent’s house. She thinks that maybe she can threaten him for information and grabs a knife, but when she enters the den she finds that he’s been DECAPITATED!! And to make matters worse, as she’s processing this two police officers peek in the window and see her with a knife in her hand!! When they enter they also know that she’s Nicole…. And I finally see where this is all going. But anyhoo…. She tries to run to the back door but finds herself cornered, so she instead runs to the basement, dives into the coal shoot, and shimmies her way out and into the night.
She runs all the way to Fear Street and finds herself thinking about Lucy, whom she thought was her best friend, and the stuff in her life that might have driven her this far. Her parents didn’t like that she and Kent were so serious, but Nicole had always liked him. And when Lucy was in that car accident while back Nicole had stayed by her side in the hospital, never giving up on her when others had. She then remembers that she has a picture of Lucy in her wallet, and thinks that maybe she can use the picture to switch bodies back! So finds the Changing Wall, climbs up on it, and jumps off… but yeah, it doesn’t work of course. So in despair she falls asleep in the dirt.
The next day Nicole decides to try and get into some new clothes at her parents house, and when she arrives she scans the newspaper on the stoop for any news on the murders. There are no stories, but Nicole figures that perhaps they aren’t letting any info out until she’s caught. She peeks in the window and sees her parents looking way stressed and worried, and while she wants to go in and tell them that she is there she knows they won’t believe her. They get in the car and drive off, and Nicole sneaks inside, showers, and thinks that if she can just talk to Margie and Hannah again she may get information about Lucy. So she goes to the school, avoids the grey suited police officers from the night before, and hides until they leave (after a crazy rigamarole involving a bus, a hedge, and a crabby woman with a hose). She goes inside the school and runs for the girl’s locker room, knowing Margie has gym fourth period. She hides in a closet and waits. Eventually fourth period comes by and familiar girls voices fill the locker room, including Margie’s, who SCREAMS! When Nicole runs out to see if she’s okay, it turns out a Charley Horse just got the best of her. The other girls go ahead of her when Miss Hawkins blows the whistle, and then Nicole confronts Margie. Margie asks her to sit so they can talk but Nicole tells her EVERYTHING, the Changing Wall, the dead people in Lucy’s life, and she asks if Margie knows where Lucy is. Margie says she does, but before she can say any more people come into the locker room. Nicole hides in the closet again, and when she leaves MARGIE IS NOW DEAD ON THE FLOOR WITH A SKULL CRUSHED BY A SHOT PUT!!!
Nicole is now convinced that Lucy is following her because whenever she talks to someone about this, they end up dead. So for whatever reason her new plan is to go visit Lucy’s grandmother Carla who lives on a farm out in Conklin. Nicole used to spend a couple weeks of the summer there with Lucy and Carla, and Nicole thinks that maybe Lucy is there because she took all of her clothes. And Carla knows Nicole so if she saw Lucy in Nicole’s body it wouldn’t be too weird. So Nicole gets on a bus to Conklin (side note. I’m pretty sure that the witch girl in “One Evil Summer” was named Conklin, surname wise), and ends up at Grandma Carla’s farm. She knocks on the door, and Carla lets her in, happy/surprised to see her. She asks Carla is ‘Nicole’ is there, and Carla dodges the question and offers to give her some soup because she’s made a large pot today. When Nicole asks if ‘she’ has been there, Carla balks and goes to get the soup… and then calls the police. When Nicole confronts her about it, Carla suggests that they talk about it, but Nicole runs again and hides in the barn, certain that the cops are coming for her. And in the barn, who does she see? LUCY!!! When Nicole grabs her and confronts her, Lucy says that her name is not Lucy, but NANCY, and that Lucy made them switch bodies too!! Nicole freaks out but then ‘Nancy’ says no she really is ‘Lucy’ and she bolts out the barn door. Nicole follows her, but then is tackled to the ground by…. KENT!! He says that he has come for her to help her, and Nicole sees Lucy fall into the well, and hears her asking for help. Kent says that Nicole should just ‘let her drown’, and YOU GUYS KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING RIGHT?!?! Nicole elbows him away and runs for the well to help Lucy, but it’s no use, she can’t pull her out, and Lucy drowns in Nicole’s body. Kent does come back to her and pulls her away, and he leads her back to Carla’s house. As they walk up the drive, suddenly Lucy appears and tells Kent that they should switch bodies….. AND PULLS HIS HEAD OFF LIKE IT WAS ATTACHED WITH VELCRO. Nicole freaks, but then a car door slam gets her attention. The Grey Suited police officers are here, and they come up to get Nicole. When Nicole turns back to Kent and Lucy, they’re gone. Then ANOTHER car comes up the drive, and who is inside???? Well, Nicole’s parents, for one. But then THE KRAMERS!! LUCY’S PARENTS!! THE ONES WHO NICOLE FOUND DEAD!!! AND THEN KENT TOO!!! They all swarm her, making sure that is is okay. Because Y’ALL, LUCY IS LONG DEAD. SHE DIED IN THAT CAR CRASH AWHILE BACK. And Nicole has been having delusional spells ever since, imagining that Lucy is still alive, or SOMETIMES imagining that she IS Lucy!!! Those grey suited men?? NOT police officers!! THEY’RE DOCTORS!!! AND APPARENTLY, sometimes Nicole ALSO has hallucinations of people around her dying awful, violent deaths!! So The Kramers, Kent, and Margie are ALL just fine!!
We last see Nicole in a mental ward, feeling like the worst of her hallucinations are behind her. She’s going to be let out any day now, given a clean bill of health. And the best part is that Lucy has been by her side the whole time. Nicole knows that when she and Lucy are let out they are going to graduate together, and it will all be perfect. THE. END.
Body Count: None, I guess! Except for Lucy off page before the story started.
Romance Rating: 1 because David dumps Nicole in the first chapter and there’s nothing else to see, romance wise.
Bonkers Rating: 10!!! A perfect 10!! This was actually a really great twist, the kind that you see all the time in thriller and mystery books now, but I didn’t expect R.L. Stine to craft it back in 1995 for his “Fear Street” fans!….. So did he actually write this?
Fear Street Relevance: 8, because the Changing Wall is in the Fear Street Woods and we revisit the good ol’ Fear Mansion ever so briefly.
Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger: Honestly, they were all golden. There was not a dud in the bunch. All were relevant and none felt like cheats.
That’s So Dated! Moments: At the mall there is still a CD store to make note of.
“I wore a black tank top and dark denim jeans. Black to match my mood.”
Conclusion: “Switched” was AWESOME. It has a place up there with the other books I’ve greatly enjoyed in this series, like “Missing” and “The Secret Bedroom”. Definitely read this one if you have the chance because it won’t disappoint!! Up next is “College Weekend”!