Book: “The Perfect Date” (Fear Street #37) by R.L. Stine
Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1996
Where Did I Get This Book: The library!
Book Description: Brady Karlin is getting on with his life. The memory of his girlfriend — killed in a gruesome sledding accident last year — is beginning to fade. Now he’s met Rosha Nelson, the girl of his dreams. And he’s never been happier.
Until Brady starts to see a strange figure — with a terribly scarred face — following him everywhere. Until the horrible accidents start happening — every time Rosha’s around.
Has dating Rosha made Brady’s dreams come true? Or brought his worst nightmares back to life?
Had I Read This Before: Yes (and after re-reading it I’m thinking this was when I gave up on “Fear Street” as a whole)
The Plot: We start with another prologue, but this one isn’t vague at all. Brady and his girlfriend Sharon Noles are going sledding on a snow day. Brady, after commenting on Sharon’s cute button nose, says they should go sledding down a huge, ice covered, ski slope of a hill. Sharon is skeptical and suggests the smaller kiddie hill, but Brady, speaking like a true Kennedy, says he’s more interested in the dangerous one. So Sharon agrees, and he promises they’ll go down it together and that nothing will happen. Since we as women have been conditioned to be polite, Sharon agrees, and they climb the hill and start the slide down. And, surprising no one, it’s a terrible idea. Brady bails out, but then watches Sharon hit a tree and go flying into some thorn bushes. When he runs to her, he turns her lifeless body over. Not only is she dead, but her face has been totally torn up by the thorns.
FLASH FORWARD to a year later. Brady and his friend Jon are having a pizza lunch, and Brady is telling Jon that he DID ask Lisa if Lisa was interested in Jon, but she’s actually interested in HIM. Apparently Brady has all the girls fawning over him, and revels in the attention in spite of the fact he has a new girlfriend named Allie. Not only is the cashier flirting with him, he also has caught the attention of a pretty girl sitting a few tables over. Brady decides that she’s SO pretty that he HAS to go talk to her, and brushes off Jon’s protests about the fact that he has a girlfriend. What a catch this Brady is. He goes over and introduces himself to the pretty girl, and she says her name is Rosha Nelson. He asks her about her name, and she says that her Mom is obsessed with romance novels and named her after some obscure protagonist. He then asks her out, and she suggests Saturday. He offers to pick her up, but she says that they can just meet at the mall at 6 since she’s going to be there to do some shopping for her Mom. She then accidentally spills hot coffee on his hand. She apologizes profusely, and they part ways. Jon suggests that Brady do something about his hand, but Brady doesn’t care.
At school the next day, Allie asks Brady what happened to his hand and he deflects. She asks if he wants to go out for pizza that night, but he says he has to study. She then asks him what time he’s picking her up for the game the next night, but OH NO, that’s the night that Brady has a date with Rosha! So Brady says he has to babysit some random made up cousin who is VERY sick, and Allie falls for it, poor thing. They agree that they’ll meet each other for a study date on Sunday, and part ways. Brady feels a little weird lying to his GIRLFRIEND, but is SO entranced with Rosha he doesn’t really care. He then thinks about Sharon (yes, it took this long to even acknowledge the girl he had been dating who died horrifically), and all he really thinks about is how awful her face was when he found her.
Brady goes to the mall and worries that Rosha isn’t going to show, but she is there and she seems as happy to see him as he is to see her. She suggests that they go to Waynesbridge to go see the new Brad Pitt movie, and he thinks that’s a good idea because that means their chances of running into Allie’s friends are low. He then asks where her shopping bags are, since she’s supposedly shopping for her Mom, and she claims she didn’t find anything her Mom would like.
They go to the movie (it’s described as some kind of horror film so I GUESS these guys are seeing “Se7en”?), and Rosha cuddles up to Brady the whole time. WHen the movie is done they walk to his car, and he talks about how he feels like he knows her so well already. She says it must be fate, and they continue walking. As they do, however, Brady sees a strange girl watching them. A girl with ugly scars all over her face, and she is staring at them. Brady is a little freaked out, but forgets about it when Rosha asks if she can drive his car. But it’s his Dad’s precious Oldsmobile Cutlass, a car that Brady had to PROMISE to be extra careful with because it’s SO important (BUY AMERICAN, FOLKS!). Rosha sulks, and her petulance convinces Brady that yes, she should absolutely drive his car back to Shadyside. Rosha, of course, drives like a lunatic, and after pulling some kind of Evil Knieval bullshit she crashes the car and sends Brady smacking into the windshield. He’s a bit dizzy, and Rosha freaks out saying that they HAVE to switch places because she doesn’t have her license yet. Brady agrees, and they switch seats. When the police come, Brady turns to reference his date, but Rosha has disappeared.
The next day Brady and Jon are walking up to Allie’s house. The car is totaled and Brady took the fall, and has a huge lump on his head. Jon thinks that Rosha is bad news, but Brady defends her behavior. At this point I decide that this must have a supernatural element to it because unless she has some kind of thrall on him, there’s NO WAY THAT HE WOULD WANT TO SEE HER AGAIN AFTER THAT. He also reminds Jon that Allie think he was babysitting the night before, and Jon agrees to cover. Allie asks him why he was taking such a FANCY car to go babysitting, but Brady says he thought the tires would be better. Brady is also sad because, even though he has a lovely and kind girlfriend, he doesn’t have the phone number of the girl who berated him into handing the keys over, crashed the car, and then ditched out. But he DOES have her last name! While Allie goes to check on Jon, Brady skims the names, finding a whole lot of Nelsons. He says he isn’t feeling well and leaves, determined to find Rosha.
When Brady gets home, he finds a cop car parked outside his house. He panics, thinking that maybe they found out he wasn’t driving, but the cop instead shows him that they found a purse underneath the front seat of the car. It’s Rosha’s! Brady, wanting to explain away her fleeing of the scene of an accident, says that she must have left it in his car after he dropped her off on a separate occasion. Plus, now he can look at her ID (not a driver’s license though, brainiac) and get her address that way. But when he takes the purse up to his room, he finds that it’s completely empty. Which makes little sense, because wasn’t she shopping for her Mom??? The phone rings, and it’s Allie, not only checking in on him, but also telling him that she copied all the notes that she and Jon took and that she will give them to him tomorrow. But Brady is still thinking only about Rosha.
She then brings up the fact that they’re going to Mei Kamata’s ice skating party the next Saturday, and he says sure before making an excuse to hang up so he can start calling all the Nelsons in the phone book. He doesn’t get far before his phone rings again. He thinks it’s Allie, but no. It’s a strange voice telling him to stay away from Rosha. Perhaps it’s his common sense giving him a ring.
The next day at school Brady gives Allie the brush off again and tells Jon that they’re going to St. Ann’s, the school that Rosha said she goes to. Jon says that he has work, but Brady tells him that he has PLENTY OF TIME and should totally risk his job for his would be girlfriend, were Allie out of the picture. Jon declines, expressing his disapproval again. Brady goes to St. Ann’s, but no one has heard of Rosha, by name or description. One guy Brady is convinced is lying and he starts to wail on him, but then thinks he sees Rosha and runs for her. But it’s the scarred girl! Disgusted and disturbed, Brady rushes off, and then DOES see Rosha across the field. He asks her about the scarred girl, but Rosha says she doesn’t know anyone like that. He says that no one at St. Ann’s knows who she is, and she blows up at him, saying that she’s a brand new student, so of COURSE they don’t, and also is he spying on her?! She tells him to go, but he begs her to stay, apologizing for checking around the school about her. She then apologizes for ditching, and says she’d love to help pay for the damages but if she tells her Dad he’ll be angry and won’t let her see him again. And since they can’t have THAT, Brady agrees to keep quiet. He gives her her purse back, and asks why it was empty, and Rosha says that she was SO excited to hang out with him she grabbed the wrong one. She then asks if he’ll go out with her again that Saturday, and even though he has Mei Kamata’s party with Allie, he agrees. That night when he gets home he gets another mysterious phone call from a strange girl saying that she saw him with Rosha. He figures out it’s the girl with the scarred face. She tells him to stay away from Rosha, and he tells her to leave him alone.
At school the next day while they are lifting weights, Jon asks Brady about the party, and Brady says he broke his date with Allie in favor of dancing with Rosha, claiming that he’s grounded until he can get a job to pay for the car repairs. Jon says that he should really just dump Allie if he’s going to keep doing this, but Brady is dragging his dumb ugly feet, and then tells Jon about the scarred girl and the phone calls. Jon thinks it’s weird too, and as Brady keeps lifting weights above his head he glances out the window and sees the scarred girl! He’s so startled he drops the weights on himself, and as Jon helps him he tells Jon what he saw. Jon looks out the window, but says no one is there, and suggests if there IS a scarred girl Brady is probably upset because she reminds him of Sharon. Brady says he has to go find Rosha and see if she can remember anything, and Jon says that he doesn’t really KNOW anything about her, but Brady isn’t concerned. He grabs the phone number and address she wrote down for him, and finds a pay telephone to call her. But the phone number doesn’t work! So he looks at the address, 7142 Fear Street, and decides to go to her house. But when he gets to Fear Street, there are no more houses above 7136!!
The next day Brady is at home OBSESSING over Rosha, when she arrives at his door! He’s SO happy to see her, and invites her inside. They trip over the rug (gee is THAT going to be important later?), and he leads her into the living room. She picks up a letter opener (and is THAT going to be important later?!), and asks her about her house. She says that she does so live on Fear Street, and when she looks at the napkin she says that it’s CLEARLY a 1, not a 7, and he must have driven right past. He’s not sure, and asks about the phone, and she says that it was working that morning, and what is this, a ‘court-trial’!? She asks why he’s so suspicious, but before they can really hash out her lies, they hear a car door slam! Brady looks out the window, and it’s ALLIE!! He asks her to make herself scarce, but as he’s shooing her away she trips on the rug and impales Brady with the letter opener! Allie rushes inside and demands to know who Rosha is, and Brady passes out as they are trying to take him to the hospital.
Brady wakes up in the hospital, and his parents tell him that he’s going to be fine. When they go to the cafeteria to get some coffee, Brady tries to sleep. But he opens his eyes and sees THE SCARRED GIRL! She tells him that she didn’t come to hurt him, but the warn him about Rosha. But before she can, a doctor comes in and tells her that she has to leave. So she does before she can tell Brady what’s going on.
Brady gets home from the hospital on Saturday, and Allie comes to visit him. Allie, who had come to visit him, and cared about him, and worried about him. But he wants ROSHA, who…. hasn’t been seen since. As he and Allie talk, she reveals that Rosha told her EVERYTHING, and she dumps him. GOOD. FOR. YOU. GIRL. That night, Jon calls Brady, and says that the girl with the scars is at his house and has told him stuff about Rosha, so can he please come over? I think that maybe Jon should go to Brady, since Brady just got discharged from the hospital, but what do I know? Brady gets another call, but no one is on the line, so he switches back to Jon, who is no longer answering. So Brady decides to go over there to see what’s up. But when he arrives, there are emergency vehicles!! And Jon is DEAD! His throat has been crushed with a marble candlestick! Brady is questioned by the police who are on the scene, and after they’re done he wonders if the girl with the scars killed Jon, since she was supposedly there. But then, what did he want to tell Brady about Rosha??? When Brady gets home, he finds a message from Rosha on the answering machine, seeing if they’re still going dancing that night, and suggesting that he meet her at the park. Brady, now wanting answers, tells himself that he will be there.
He gets to the park and doesn’t see Rosha anywhere. Also, it’s super cold and windy, because of course it is. Thinking that Rosha may be at the top of it, Brady climbs up Miller Hill, and then sees Rosha approaching him. He meets her, so totally happy to see her, and she is happy to see him too. She says that it reminds her of the day that they went sledding together. Brady, confused, says ‘huh?’ and she tells him that he couldn’t have forgotten, becaus after all, that was the day that he KILLED HER!!
And this, my friends, is where it all. Falls. Apart.
She says that she isn’t Rosha, she’s Sharon! When Brady expresses his confusion at this, she says that DUH, ROSHA NELSON IS AN ANAGRAM OF SHARON NOLES. And as if a goddamn ANAGRAM is going to explain how Rosha is Sharon in spite of the fact 1) Sharon is VERY dead, and 2) Rosha looks NOTHING like Sharon, we get a lesson in what an anagram is. She says that she blames him for her death (valid, kinda), and she’s still so incensed that she came BACK FROM THE DEAD to get her revenge. How, you ask? WHY, BY ‘BORROWING’ A BODY! And how did she ‘borrow’ this body?
We aren’t told how. We’re just told that she did. And then she starts to strangle him. And Brady is convinced that he’s dead. But NEVER FEAR!! Because Scarred Girl shows up, and she’s ready to throw down!! Apparently, it is HER body that Sharon ‘borrowed’, and she wants it back! But Sharon says that she’s keeping this body and too bad, because now Scarred Girl is dead and just a shell, and Scarred Girl says that no, she has been gathering strength and she is now strong enough to fight her for it!
We are NOT given any explanation as to how any of this would work. Not even given some kind of magic spell, curse, hex, or whatever. Instead, Scarred Girl and Sharon start fighting each other over Sharon’s stolen and ‘beautiful’ body (yes, Scarred Girl, who is NEVER actually named, refers to it as her ‘beautiful body’), and they wrestles each other. Scarred Girl rips Sharon’s arm off, Sharon rips Scarred Girls legs off, more limbs are torn away, and then they rip each other’s HEADS off and tumble down the hill, disappearing when they hit the bottom. SO WAIT, I’M SORRY, was Scarred Girl’s body Sharon’s old body?! Wouldn’t Brady have recognized SOME PART of that, even if her face was horribly scarred? Was her body decomposed and THAT was the problem, not a bunch of scars?!? WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED HERE?!?!!?
Brady drags his sorry ass to Allie’s house. He surprises her on the back stoop, and says that he came to apologize and ask her to take him back. She says yes, and they go to embrace, and she remarks how cold he is. He tells her that he has to talk to her about that. See, he’s dead. Sharon killed him on Miller Hill. But he still wants her back, and moves his dead ass corpse in on her as she starts to scream. The End.
Body Count: 3? 4? I don’t even know.
Romance Rating: 1. Brady’s a cheater and he’s also a prick who pressured his girlfriend into performing a feat that killed her.
Bonkers Rating: It gets a 9, but not in a good way!
Fear Street Relevance: 3. Rosha sends Brady to Fear Street and we got a new rundown of the mythology. But none of the real action really happens there.
Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:
“Then the pain hit him. A searing, sizzling pain. His hand. His hand was on fire!”
…. IT’S JUST COFFEE, ASSHOLE.
That’s So Dated! Moments: This was an updated version of this book so nothing was really glaring, though Brady does use a printed White Pages phone book. OH, there’s also the Oldsmobile CUTLASS, the pinnacle of modern American engineering.
“‘Whoa!’ Jon’s voice cried. ‘Major disaster with the nacho chips in here!'”
That, to me, is one of the most dire of disasters.
Conclusion: THIS. MADE. NO. SENSE. “The Perfect Date” was lazy and shocking for the sake of being shocking without having any reason to it. I know I read it and remembered not liking it, but I must have blocked all the nonsense out. PASS. Next up is “The Confession”.