Book: “College Weekend” (Fear Street #32) by R.L. Stine
Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1995
Where Did I Get This Book: An eBook from the library!
Book Description: Nightmare weekend
Nothing can ruin Tina River’s big weekend at Patterson College with her boyfriend, Josh Martin. She’s so excited, she doesn’t even mind that her cousin, Holly, will be tagging along.
But when Tina and Holly arrive, Josh is gone. His roommate, Christopher Roberts, says Josh is stuck in the mountains, delayed by car trouble. That’s weird—Josh never mentioned he was going away.
It gets even weirder when Holly suddenly disappears. But Christopher isn’t worried—about Holly or Josh. Christopher seems to have the answer to everything. Tina is confused. But one thing is clear—she’s about to learn more about love and murder than she ever wanted to know.
Had I Read This Before: No.
Review: We open with a short prologue in which our protagonist, Tina, is on the phone with Josh, her college boyfriend. She’s going to visit him that weekend and unfortunately has to bring her cousin Holly with because her Mom doesn’t want her traveling alone. While Josh is a little miffed, they are still excited to see each other and he’s convinced his friends are going to like her. But we find out from the omnipotent narrator that they are going to have some problems that weekend.
Fast forward to Tina and Holly riding the bus from Shadyside to Patterson College. Tina is excited to see Josh because she hasn’t seen him for three months, and Holly is excited to check out all the college boys during the Spring Fling Weekend. Tina wants to be a fashion model, but as of right now all she is interested in is seeing Josh. I’d make fun of her or get snarky, but during my freshman year of college my then boyfriend/now husband and I were in a long distance relationship and I KNOW how it feels like the end of the world until you can see them again. So Tina, you’re a-okay in my book. The train arrives at Patterson Station, and Tina practically drags Holly off the train by her hair. The conductor tells them that they’re the only ones getting off and that the station is super deserted, so they should be careful, but JOSH is supposed to be meeting them so all is well!… Except, big shocker, Josh isn’t there when they get off, and the station is basically empty. Holly says that she hopes this isn’t a sign of how the weekend is going to go, and Holly, you have NO idea. Holly says that she has a bad feeling, but then asks if there are any good dance clubs around because she’s SO breaking curfew and staying out all night, so she’s not THAT worried. They leave the platform and go into the station and it’s JUST as deserted outside of a black cat (BAD SIGN Holly says), and when they go out onto the platform AGAIN Tina sees Josh! Except it’s not, it’s a random creep who demands that they give them money or else. But then another guy swoops in to rescue them from the person who is no doubt a casualty of Reagan Era Social Policy! The guy says his name is Chris and he’s Josh’s roommate, and that Josh got caught on a geology field trip and won’t be back until later that night. Tina is bummed because she wants to have as much time as possible with Josh, but they follow Chris to his Jeep. Chris is confused to see Holly because he thought Tina was coming on her own, but Tina explains the situation of a human chastity belt.
In the car Holly goes on about the drama programs she’s visited, while Chris puts in a CD by Psycho Surfers, which happens to be Tina’s favorite! Chris then tells her that he heard she wants to be a model, and that his uncle is THE Rob Roberts, famous fashion photographer! He could take some photos of her this weekend and then send them to Rob, but Tina says she may not have enough time because she’s planning on spending it all with Josh. They get to the dorm and Chris says that the girls can sleep in his and Josh’s room and he and Josh will crash at his photography studio (I should mention Chris is RICH). Tina asks Chris to call the studio to see if Josh is there yet, but he’s not. Chris leaves for the night, and Holly and Tina settle in. As Tina admires the absurd amount of rocks on Josh’s side of the room, she also notices that the plethora of photos Chris mentioned are all gone. Then there’s a knock on the door, and when Tina opens it a girl is there, who seems to freak out at her appearance. But then she says that Tina just looks like someone she used to know, and introduces herself as Carla. She’s dating Steve, who is in the geology program with Josh, AND she went to high school with Steve and Chris so she’s an old friend. Carla confirms the car trouble situation, and then tells Holly and Tina about Chris’s old girlfriend in high school, Judy. She died in a sailing accident and Chris is still really broken up about it. Carla says that she’s going to talk to Josh when he gets back, because she doesn’t think he appreciates Tina, and Tina thinks that’s a little weird. Chris comes back because he forgot his chemistry notes, and he suggests that they all go to a party to pass the time. Tina is reluctant at first but eventually agrees, and says she needs to put some things away first. But when she opens Josh’s closet, she sees his hiking boots. Why did he leave them behind on a geology trip? The others come back and Carla says that Josh doesn’t deserve Tina because he’s on that trip and he hasn’t seen her in months, but Chris stands up for him and they go to his Jeep. Tina asks Chris about the boots and he says Josh got new ones. He puts in another CD and OH WOW, it’s another band that Tina likes! How coincidental, I’m sure.
They get to the party and Holly is stoked while Tina is intimidated about the COLLEGE GIRLS. Carla takes Holly to meet some drama kids, and Chris asks Tina if she wants a drink. As they drink soda (SUUUUURE) they talk more and they have so much in common! He then asks her if she wants to dance and she says sure. Then they go out to the back porch and he tells her to wish upon a star (Christ). She says that she wishes to be a famous model one day, and he says he can help make that come true by taking her pictures. Then he kisses her. They’re BUSTED by Carla, and Tina is first scared that Josh is going to find out about this. But then she realizes that Holly isn’t there. Carla says she las saw her dancing with a townie. When they go back inside, the party has TAKEN A TURN BECAUSE THOSE ROWDY TOWNIES ARE THERE and perhaps a bike race is the only way to solve all their differences? I’m saying it now, I’m Team Cutters!
One of the townies tries to get Tina to drink beer by forcing it in her mouth and no, the Cutters wouldn’t do that, they’re gentlemen, and Tina can’t find Holly anywhere. But she does hear a scream that sounds like Holly, and she runs out back to see a curly haired girl (like Holly) being dragged off “Road Warrior” style on the back of a motorcycle, and Tina chases after them for a bit but tells herself maybe Holly wanted to go with them (UHHHH), but maybe it wasn’t even Holly at all. Then she finds an earring that looks just like Holly’s and yikes. She runs to find help but finds Carla instead, who tells her that she JUST SAW Holly go off with drama major extraordinaire Alyssa Pryor, who Tina remembers from Shadyside High. Phew, thinks Tina, but then wants to talk to Carla about the kiss she walked in on. Carla says Tina shouldn’t worry because in COLLEGE you totally hook up at will, and she and Steve aren’t monogamous so it’s really not a big deal.
Tina is in a mood by the time they get back to the dorm, and she hopes that Josh is finally back. Chris says he’ll walk her up because he has MORE THINGS to grab, and when they enter the room it’s still just them. She worries Josh has been in an accident, and Chris says he’ll call the studio to see if Josh has left a message, and says he’ll call her when he finds out after he gets there for the night. He does so, and claims that Josh did leave a message that he won’t be back until the next afternoon because the garage can’t get the car part they need til the next morning. Tina is now full on peeved and decides to try to sleep. But she’s awakened by a strange sound, and is convinced that someone is in the room with her, and the door is indeed open (there’s a weird moment here where she doesn’t realize it until she turns the light on, BUT wouldn’t the light from the hallway be a tip off??). She closes the door and locks it, admonishing herself for not locking it in the first place. Then she goes to Josh’s desk and finds his CAR KEYS. How is he on a trip WITHOUT HIS CAR KEYS???
The next morning Tina wakes up at tenish, and sees that Holly’s clothes remain untouched. She still isn’t back! While Tina knows she isn’t Holly’s mother, she is a good cousin and wants to make sure she’s, you know, ALIVE. She calls information and asks for Alyssa’s phone number, but there is no one listed under that name. She calls Chris at the studio to see if he’s heard from Josh, but nope. He says he’ll give her a tour around campus, and when she asks about Josh’s keys he says he can’t hear her and hangs up. Subtle. When he arrives with donuts she asks him about they keys again, and he says that he must have taken his spare set, and when she asks why he didn’t just bring his regular set with the quartz key chain she got him, he says he probably didn’t want to lose them. and she TOTALLY buys into it. Look, there’s gaslighting, and then there’s willful stupidity, Tina, and you are being WILLFULLY STUPID right now. He takes her to fraternity row and tells her that Josh is pledging, and Tina thinks that’s odd since Josh has never been into fraternity life, and maybe she doesn’t know him like she thought she did. They can’t find Holly at the drama department or the cafeteria, and Chris says he’ll go grab Alyssa’s number from the student directory at the bookstore. He comes back with it and gives Tina a quarter for a pay phone, but when Tina calls the number the voice on the answering machine is NOT Alyssa’s! Chris suggests that perhaps Alyssa is trying out a new voice because actresses, and once again Tina thinks that’s a very reasonable explanation.
Carla shows up and tells them that she just heard from Steve and Josh and their car broke down AGAIN, so she’s off to pick them up. Tina says she wants to go but she says no, she can’t come because her car is only a two seater and one of the guys is already going to have to trunk it (I’ve done this before. Don’t be dumb like me, kids!). Tina suggests the Jeep, but then realizes that she should wait around for Holly and Carla heads off to get the boys. Chris suggests that they should go rent a motorscooter and go for a ride. They go around town and he takes pictures of her on his camera, and then they go to the Spring Fling Carnival that afternoon because OBVIOUSLY Holly will turn up there.
As they hang out at the carnival, they run into a guy named Jack, who when to Shadyside the year before. Chris tries to get Tina to head off with him, but Tina wants to hang with her old friend for a bit. She tells him that Holly is here too, but she went off with Alyssa and she hasn’t seen her since. Jack tells her that Alyssa transferred to a school in Seattle and doesn’t go here anymore. Tina FREAKS, and Jack heads off totally unconcerned. Tina says that Carla must be lying, and Chris tells her to relax and that Holly is probably fine and just enjoying a spot of rebellious independence. He suggests they just try to enjoy themselves, and they end up at the Ferris Wheel. And they get stuck at the top, which makes Chris think it’s the perfect time to put the moves on her. They do kiss a little bit, but then Chris gets all pensive and shit. He says he hasn’t been on a Ferris Wheel since Judy, and she comforts him. He starts ragging on Josh for leaving, and says that if HE were her boyfriend he’d NEVER leave her. He then scoots closer, offsetting the balance of their car, and tries kissing her again, and when she refuses he threatens to tip it over because she’s a TEASE. Before he can, though, the car starts up again, and they start to descend. He tells her he was just kidding. and that he’s sorry. Now Tina is back to the ‘I feel sorry for him’ portion of our reading journey, and thinks that if she’d never kissed him in the first place none of this would have happened. To that I say HELL NO AND I HATE THAT STINE EVEN PUT THAT OUT IN THE UNIVERSE.
Tina thinks they’re heading back to the dorm, but Chris says they should go to his studio instead so they can take indoor shots. She is reluctant, but he reminds her that his uncle is THE Rob Roberts, and Tina thinks that this is the only way to achieve stardom. As they ride the scooter Tina thinks she sees Carla who is supposed to be going up to pick up Josh and Steve! But when they swoop back they don’t see her, but another girl in similar clothes and with similar hair. So they get to the studio, which is in a basement, nothing sketchy about that, and she looks at all his state of the art equipment. She sees a picture on the wall of a girl who looks a LOT like her, outside of the darker hair and different eyes, and it’s implied that it’s Judy. Chris shows her where she can go get into modeling makeup, and when she nearly opens a closet door he FLIPS and tells her not that one because it holds lots of chemicals. She finds the bathroom, freaks out because she thinks a mannequin is a body (it’s not), and then he starts telling her how to do her makeup for his ‘vision’. He then applies it the way he likes and tells her what kind of outfit to pick out. Lucky for her all of the dresses are just her size! He starts taking her picture and telling her how to pose, and retouches her makeup just the way he likes….
And when she compliments the dress he says that it belonged to Judy!!! She continues the shoot, and then he starts calling her Judy and tries to kiss her. She tries to remind him that she is NOT Judy, and he kind of gets it but, like, not really? She realizes that she has to play along or he’s going to flip out on her, and he tells her to put on this old fashioned dress now.
As she’s changing, Tina finds a picture in a drawer. It’s of HER SLEEPING IN THE DORM ROOM THE NIGHT BEFORE. When she exits he says that they’re going to photograph a beach scene, and it makes no sense given her gown but Judy died at the beach so it probably makes sense in his mind. She asks if she can have a soda, and when he goes to get her one she bolts! But all the doors and locked. And as Chris starts to chase her around, he says that he’ll have to kill her ‘again’. SO HE KILLED JUDY TOO. They struggle a bit and he locks her in the dark room. When she finds the light for the room, she realizes that she’s surrounded by pictures of her of all shapes and sizes, the photos being the ones that she sent to Josh, and the last one is of her at the train station the night before. She decides she needs to find a weapon, but when she opens that cabinet, JOSH’S BODY TUMBLES TO THE FLOOR!!! Looks like she threw chemicals in his face and then based his brains in. Chris bursts in and grabs her, calling her Judy all the while. She tries to reason with him, and then tries to throw acid in his face… but it’s just water. Some acid does drip on her arm and it sizzles, and just as Chris is about to lunge she distracts him and then hits him in the head with a tripod.
She runs and tries to think of a way to escape and/or call the police. THen she opens the door that Chris didn’t want her to open, and HOLLY IS IN THERE! Chris introduced her to a guy the night of the party, and when hse got back to the dorm Chris grabbed her and tied her up and threw her in the closet. Tina tells her that she thinks she killed Chris, and unties her. But unfortunately, CHRIS IS ALIVE! He’s about to lunge at them with scissors, but then Carla and Steve enter. THey look like they are taking Chris’s side, talking him down and suggesting that he get one more picture of Judy, the two of them together. Tina refuses, but then does when it looks like it could mean life or death. But when Chris goes to get his camera, Carla and Steve subdue him and tie him up. Carla explains that they were only going along with him to disarm him. Chris had told her that Josh was with another girl this weekend and to cover for him, which is why Carla was participating in the lies. But then Steve told her as she picked him up that Josh would never do that, and they put two and two together. Holly calls the police, and Tina tells Carla and Steve that he killed Judy too, and Carla and Steve feel like fools for thinking otherwise. As Chris rants and raves about developing ‘Judy’s’ photos the next day, Tina runs outside into the night. As she looks up at the first start of the night, she thinks forlornly that no matter how much she wishes it away, she’ll never be able to forget what happened to her and Josh this past weekend. The End.
Body Count: 1, but if we’re going to count Judy it would be 2. The injustice of Josh dying is too much.
Romance Rating: 2. I feel so badly about Josh because he and Tina seemed happy, but we never saw them actually interact. And Chris and Tina is obviously gross and creepy as hell.
Bonkers Rating: 7, just because of the SUPER disturbing ‘dress this girl up like my dead girlfriend’ photo session that sounds like something out of “The Neon Demon”.
Fear Street Relevance: 1. ONCE AGAIN, we aren’t even in Shadyside and the only time Fear Street is even mentioned is when someone says something about Fear Street having a carnival, but NO, R.L., FEAR STREET wouldn’t have a carnival, SHADYSIDE would have a carnival, and it feels like you just forgot to even mention Fear Street and tossed it in at the last second.
Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:
“She glanced down at Josh’s body sprawled on the floor. Then she let out a horrified gasp. ‘Chris! It’s Josh! He’s moving! He’s getting up!'”
… But it was just a distraction tactic so she could hit him. I mean, of course it was, but what a stupid cliffhanger. A kid reading it might think this was turning into a zombie story, which would have been SO cool….
That’s So Dated! Moments: Chris’s Jeep is described as not only having a fancy CD player, but EVEN A CAR PHONE!!!! And he has a COLOR MAC WITH A CD-ROM AND A LASER PRINTER!
“‘Well, I always say,’ Carla continued with a grin, ‘if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.'”
Uh, NO, Carla, YOU don’t say that! Stephen Stills says that, you goddamn plagiarist! And he isn’t exactly the best person to ask for relationship advice, if you’re going to ask a member of CSN about love I would argue Graham Nash is the way to go. He wrote “Our House” for Joni Mitchell for God’s sake (not that she was very, uh, grateful in the end)….
Conclusion: “College Weekend” was surprisingly dark and a pretty good, creepy read. Definitely one of the more twisted “Fear Street” novels I’ve read. Up next is “The Stepsister 2”!