A Revisit to Fear Street: “The Thrill Club”

176479Book: “The Thrill Club” (Fear Street 24) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1994

Where Did I Get This Book: ILL from the library!

Book Description: Thrills and chills…

Talia Blanton could scare you to death.

She writes horror stories—stories that often give her friends starring roles.

Everyone loves Talia’s terrifying tales—until they start to come true. One by one, Talia’s friends become Talia’s victims.

Is Talia making her stories come true? Or is someone trying to turn Talia’s real life into a horror story?

Had I Read This Before: No

The Plot: I first want to say that I did some poking around online while reading this book, and a couple sources (aka maybe reckless internet gossip) claim that “The Thrill Club” was written by a ghost writer and not R.L. Stine himself. And given some of the plot points of this story, I find that hilarious. So let’s begin.

Shandel Carter is walking home alone on Fear Street in the dead of night. She and her friend Nessa got into an argument, and so Shandel doesn’t have a ride to take her back to her house. The argument was about whether or not Nessa saw a ghost in the Fear Street cemetary: Nessa said yes, and Shandel said no way. But as she’s walking home, she starts hearing someone, or something calling her name. She runs and sees ghosts rising out of the cemetery, and has her throat cut by one of them…. But it turns out this is just a story, as told by Talia Blanton at their Thrill Club meeting. The Thrill Club is a group of friends who rip off “Are You Afraid Of The Dark” by getting together and telling scary stories. Talia’s tend to star her friends in the club: Seth, her boyfriend; Maura, Seth’s ex girlfriend (until Talia stole him away); Nessa, the kind one; Rudy, the cute one and Maura’s new boyfriend; and Shandel. Who isn’t pleased about being the victim in the story. Oh, and apparently Seth has been the one writing Talia’s stories as of late and she’s been passing them off as her own. She also is always thinking about how ugly Maura is. Talia isn’t terribly likeable, is she? Shandel asks that Talia not use her name in these gory stories anymore, and Maura implies that Talia is getting help from Seth with these stories, but Talia insists that’s not true, and demands that he lie for her. Which he kind of does. Shandel once again asks that Talia leave her name out of it, and in response Talia rushes across the room and stabs her in the chest with one of those fake retractable knife toys. Jesus Christ, this girl is a sociopath. Shandel, not pleased, says that she doesn’t get mad, she gets even.

The club breaks up for the night. Talia goes back to the rec room to find Maura and Seth talking closely, and Talia wonders why she isn’t jealous. Maybe it’s because Seth has been acting so strange since his father died three weeks earlier. Gee Talia, you’re sure right, why is acting so strange when his Dad died THREE WEEKS AGO? Rudy and Maura leave, and Talia and Seth are left alone. She wishes that he would smile more, and I officially kind of hate her. He confides in her that he found his father’s body, and that he was sitting in a chair, just staring ahead, a strange audiocassette playing on a loop. The coroner couldn’t figure out a cause of death either. And now he and his Mom and broke and may have to move away.  He takes Talia up to the study to show her something. Talia looks out the window, and sees Maura in the house next door! She demands what Maura is doing there, and Seth reminds her that she lives there. Doesn’t even know where her friend lives, this girl. ANYWAY, Seth reminds her that his dad was an anthropologist, and tells her that he was working with a ‘primitive tribe in New Guinea’ before he died. HO boy. I can already assure you this is not going to be at all culturally sensitive. He plays the tape for her, and a bunch of chanting starts up. Seth then falls into a weird trancelike state, and Talia’s head starts to pound. She begs that he turn it off, and shakes him out of his trance. On the way home Talia is feeling jumpy and finds herself walking by the Fear Street Cemetery. She suddenly hears pounding footsteps, and freaks out… but then it’s just Shandel playing a trick on her. I call that squarsies. They walk home together, and Shandel tells Talia that it was uncool that Talia broke Maura and Seth up. Talia says it wasn’t her fault, Seth asked HER out. She didn’t break them up! Sure. Shandel tells her that they aren’t a good couple, and Talia is super angry about that. Which is strange, because she knows that Shandel is right and always speaks her mind. So why is she so mad??

The next day Talia is still feeling weird. She goes to school, and wonders what she should do about Seth, stay with him or break up with him? He’s either too needy or too distant, and Talia doesn’t have time for that! In math class, her teacher Mr. Hanson pulls her aside and asks her about the previous day’s homework, and if it was actually her work. Which it isn’t, because Seth did it for her while she watched TV. But she tells him that yes, it’s totally her work, she’s NOT a cheater!

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(source)

Mr. Hanson takes her word for it. Talia wonders who could have ratted her out, and thinks that it must be Shandel.

That night at Thrill Club Nessa is pissed because everyone but Rudy is late! Which is odd because Shandel had spoken to her a half hour before telling her how excited she was for the meeting and that she had a secret to tell her. Maura shows up next, and says that maybe Talia is late because the story Seth wrote for her got lost in a disk crash, and Rudy chides her. Maura asks whose side he’s on anyway, and Nessa, being the smartest dummy in this whole group, continues to do her nails and pretend she isn’t there. I am imaging her as Portia from “Search Party” now. Then Seth shows up, and asks where Talia and Shandel are. Nessa decides to call Shandel because she’s sick of waiting, and Talia runs down the basement steps, out of breath and looking harried. Nessa asks where she was, and Talia doesn’t know…. It’s odd, because she left her house twenty minutes ago and it’s only a ten minute walk from her house, so why can’t she remember where the time went? She gives her sweatshirt to Nessa, who’s going to put it with the other coats, and doesn’t remember taking it off. Then Nessa has bad news: she called Shandel’s house, and her mom said that Shandel left a half hour ago, but it’s only a short walk to Nessa’s house! They decide to go looking for her, and Talia gets her sweatshirt back…. and Maura points out a bloodstain on it. Talia has no clue how it got there. They go looking for Shandel, and drive all the way to her house without seeing her. They wonder if she tried to cut through the cemetery. As they are driving, Maura sees something, and they stop the car. They find Shandel’s body strewn in the grass, and her throat has been cut. Just like in the horror story.

Seth drives Talia home from the police station after they are done with the questioning. She is feeling bad about the story he wrote, but he tells her not to blame herself. They make out a bit, and then he stops abruptly and says he has to go. She goes into her house, and goes to change into her nightgown… and finds a bloody knife in her dresser drawer! She keeps this info to herself until the day of Shandel’s funeral, where she tells Seth. She has no clue how the knife got in her drawer, and thinks she is being set up. The Thrill Club meets after the service to mourn and talk. Maura asks Talia about the bloody shirt, pretty clearly accusing her of murdering Shandel. Talia says that it wasn’t even blood, it was ketchup.

A few nights later Talia is waiting for Seth to call, as they are supposed to be going to the movies. He doesn’t make contact, however, so she calls him instead. He tells her that his mother is sick and he can’t see her that night after all, so Talia decides to try and write instead. But before she can start, there’s a knocking at the door. She answers, and it’s the police, asking her why she called Shandel Carter’s mother and confessed to murdering Shandel?

After denying this, at school the next week everyone is looking at her like she’s a murderer. Nessa tries to be supportive, but Maura is flat out convinced that Talia is a killer. She’s feeling out of sorts and exhausted, and walks towards the gym. She runs into Rudy inside, who says that he’s been thinking about her and promises he doesn’t think she killed Shandel. Talia, angry at Seth and feeling the slightest crumb of validation, kisses Rudy! Who kisses her back!! But then they hear the door clatter, and they turn to see someone running away. Who saw them???? They try to catch the person, but don’t. But it was just one kiss, so who cares, right?

Later that week, Talia is still not really eating. She gets to school and sees Nessa flirting with someone. THat someone turns out to be Seth! When she confronts them angrily (seems a bit hypocritical), Nessa says that Talia called her last night and told her that she was breaking up with Seth!! Talia says that she never called Nessa, but Nessa swears she isn’t lying either. Seth says he doesn’t know what to believe. That night she is home alone, and answers the door to find a HORRIBLY DISFIGURED FACE IN THE DOORWAY… But it’s just Seth in a mask, one that his father brought back from Papua New Guinea. He describes his father as a collector, but we all know he probably actually stole these artifacts in the name of science and imperialism. She says that she thought he was going to break up with her, but he assures her that no, he isn’t. They decide to have a nice talk to catch up, and she tells him that she got accepted to Berkeley in the fall!! Seth is visibly bummed by this (maybe he wrote her essay too), but then shows her that he has a new horror story that he wrote for her. This one involves Rudy getting strung up in a noose in his basement. Talia is torn, because on one had she loves the story, but on the other that seems ghoulish creepy to write another story about a friend after Shandel died like the last one. Especially since they think she killed Shandel. Seth convinces her that it’s okay, and that if he did change the name she’d look more suspicious.

At school Talia confirms with Rudy that she is indeed going to the Thrill Club meeting at his house. He is happy to hear it, and tells her to arrive at six. When she’s walking home, Talia is stopped by Maura, who tells her that she’s worried about Seth. Maura can see into his window at night and he spends most nights pacing around and looking through his father’s things. Instead of thinking about what this could mean for Seth’s well being, Talia goes in on Maura, accusing her of being jealous.

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Maura, probably. But definitely my thoughts as well. (source)

Maura suggests that maybe Thrill Club should take a break, but Talia says no, and she’s going to Rudy’s early to help him set up, fully hoping to make her jealous. God she’s such a jerk.

Nessa arrives to Thrill Club at Rudy’s and finds Maura and Seth on the porch. Rudy hasn’t let them in yet, and no one has seen Talia. They let themselves into the open house and go down to the basement. It’s there that they find Rudy hanging from a noose, dead. Nessa, possibly having a mental break, starts to laugh hysterically thinking it’s a joke, but it becomes quite clear it isn’t. Then Talia stumbles out of the shadows with rope burns all over her hands. SO, she’s sent to a mental ward. Seth comes to visit her, and she tells him that her court date is in three weeks but she’s been released into her parents custody and is going home. Though she can’t remember killing them, she concedes that she must have, given the knife in her drawer and the rope burns on her hands. Seth leaves, seeming to have finally turned his back on her, and as she watches him out the window she sees him walk back to his car, where Maura is waiting!!! Did Maura frame her for the murders all to get Seth back?!

Before leaving she hallucinates that Shandel and Rudy have come to kill her but it’s just two other patients and it’s all so superfluous. Maybe the ghost writer had a minimum word count to hit.

Anyway, Seth reads her a new story for Thrill Club that night in which she has taken Shandel and Rudy’s heads as trophies and wants to take his head too. Talia draws the line, saying this is SO distasteful, and Seth leaves her in his father’s study to answer the door. When Nessa and Maura come in, Seth shoots down the idea of the Thrill Club disbanding. He also tells Talia that she absolutely must read the new story she wrote, because it’s so good. Talia, feeling trapped, decides to read it, but try to change the ending on the fly so that instead of Rudy and Shantel’s heads it’s two shrunken heads. But as she’s reading it, she notices two things. The first is that Seth isn’t even listening, but has his Walkman on. The second is that there’s a horrible buzzing in her head, and she can’t make herself change the story, no matter how she tries. So she reads it in its original form, and Nessa and Maura are pissed. But soon a voice is drowning out the buzzing, and it tells Talia to TAKE ANOTHER TROPHY!!! And so she pulls out a HACKSAW and starts to attack Maura!!! She scuffles with both Maura and Nessa, against her will, and the voice keeps telling her to try and kill them. When Maura and Nessa overpower her, the voice says that it will take care of this, and Talia suddenly wakes up from her trance, not remembering what just happened. Maura says that they should call the police, but Seth takes the phone from Nessa and tells them that NO ONE ESCAPES!!!! It was Seth the whole time! You see, the tape that his father had wasn’t just any racist imperial bastardization of a non Western culture: it’s a ‘transfer’ tape. In that if you chant these words, the person will ‘transfer’ their consciousness into another body. Convinced that his father did this to get away from him and his mother, Seth started putting his consciousness into Talia’s body. He knew that she wanted to dump him for Rudy and leave her like his father did, and that she used him and abused him and was going to drop him anyway. He didn’t mean to kill Shandel, as he thought the knife was fake, but Rudy was totally on purpose because he’s the one who saw them kissing. And now he has a new chanting that’s going to kill all of them, somehow….. but then in mid chant, he just says ‘too late, too late’, and he buckles. The girls catch up, and they realize that he’s dead. How? I guess it doesn’t matter.

We end with Talia and Maura hanging out. Talia tells her the charges against her have been dropped, and they say they both miss Seth from before he went totally crazy. They agree to call Nessa and get together soon, and Talia says that she may write another horror story. When Maura asks if that’s a good idea, Talia says “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure this one has a HAPPY ending!” The End.

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(source)

Body Count: 3. Gotta say death by racist interpretation of another culture’s ceremony is a new one.

Romance Rating: 2. Maura and Rudy seemed to be happyish, but with Seth trying to kill Talia and everyone else it just takes the romance out of it. Also, so much cheating.

Bonkers Rating: 7. Again, racist interpretation of Papua New Guinea culture being a huge part of this was admittedly out there, but damn was I not comfortable with it. That said, the super meta-ness of a ghostwritten book being about a ghostwriter who tries to kill the writer he’s writing for is GENIUS.

Fear Street Relevance: 6. A lot of the action takes place on Fear Street, but given that the origin of the conflict wasn’t we lose some points.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“‘Talia….’ it croaked. ‘Talia…’

‘No!’ she screamed. ‘No-don’t! Please!'”

… And it was Seth in a mask. And once again it was a racist jab at Papua New Guinea.

That’s So Dated! Moments: To be honest, not much really stood out to me beyond the talk of floppy disks. But just look at the cover! Specifically at who I assume is Shandel based on character descriptions. She is completely serving us Hilary Banks from “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”.

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Aka my favorite character on the show. (source)

Best Quote:

As they start to name alphabetical faults of Talia:

“‘Let’s see’ [Shandel] said, playfully scratching her chin. ‘Why don’t we start with A. I think annoying begins with an A.’

‘Hey, she can spell,’ Talia replied sarcastically.

‘I can think of one that starts with B,’ Maura added with a snicker.”

Damn, Maura!! You aren’t wrong!

Conclusion: “The Thrill Club” had the distinct disadvantage of having to follow up “Double Date” and it really faltered because of that. It’s not very interesting and problematic as fuck, but it is bathing in potentially inadvertent meta goodness, so it’s kind of a toss up on whether it’s worth it or not. You decide.

A Revisit to Fear Street: “Double Date”

89809Book: “Double Date” (Fear Street #23) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1994

Where Did I Get This Book: Ebook from the library!

Book Description: No girl in her right mind would say no to a date with Bobby Newkirk. Not with those great looks, that easy charm, and the awesome way he plays the guitar. Of course, some people think he’s just a bit conceited. But when it comes to breaking hearts, that hasn’t slowed Bobby down one bit.

At least, not until the beautiful Wade twins move to Shadyside. And Bobby brags to his friends that they’ll both fall for him.

And they do. Too bad for Bobby the twins never learned to share. One of them is jealous, murderously jealous. Is it quiet, shy Bree? Or bold, sexy Samantha? Bobby had better figure it out…or his double fun will turn to double terror.

Had I Read It Before: No.

The Plot: BUCKLE UP FOLKS. THIS IS THE LONGEST ONE YET!! So for this book we meet Bobby Newkirk, a festering shithead of a protagonist. Bobby likes to date girls as long as they entertain him, then he will toss them aside like a wadded up tissue and never look back. When we meet him he’s pressing a skinny redhead named Ronnie up against her locker, kissing her and teasing her. She treats him like a rapscallion up for some fun, but I think he’s sketch as hell right out the gate. He muses in his head about how she’s not the prettiest girl he’s been with, but she’s the last cheerleader on the cheer squad that he has yet to hook up with. As the go their separate ways, her to cheer practice and him to his garage band practice, he says that maybe he’ll call her, but it’s pretty clear he probably won’t. He runs into his acquaintances Markie and Jerry, and confirms that he dumped Cari Taylor, and ribs Jerry for having to work at McDonalds. Bobby wouldn’t know about that, because he’s rich. Oh great, more North Hills jerks. Then, ANOTHER cheerleader Kimmy Bass turns the corner and yells at him for standing her up the night before. He tells her he only did it because he got a better offer. Piece of work, this Bobby. Kimmy rightfully storms away. We then meet Bobby’s bandmates as he saunters into practice, late. There’s Arnie, the drummer, Paul, the keyboardist, and Bobby, the lead guitar. Apparently their band is called Bad to the Bone. After some gross chit chat about the girls that Bobby uses and tosses aside, Paul (the only one who is actually committed to the band and the only one concerned about their gig that Friday) makes an off the cuff remark about how surprised he his that Bobby didn’t try to date them both at the same time.

AND THAT is where the Wade Twins enter, Bree and Samantha. They just moved to Shadyside the previous year, and they are the most beautiful girls in school. They are looking for a teacher, but the guys tell them that he’s not there, so they go on their way. Bobby and Arnie make some objectifying remarks, and then Bobby decides that he is going to ask both of them out! Paul thinks that it can’t be done, but Bobby is totally willing to try. After practice wraps up, Melanie comes looking for Arnie. Melanie is Arnie’s girlfriend, but she used to date Bobby, but Bobby dumped her, natch. And he thinks that if she lost some weight he’d probably ask her out again. THIS. FUCKING. GUY. They then hear the Wade Twins in the hallway, and Bobby heads off to chat them up. Melanie tells him not to do it (at some point Arnie told her and we didn’t notice), but he blows her warning off. He goes in the hall and meets with Bree, who is quiet and demure. After chatting a bit, he asks her to come to the band’s show at the Mill that Friday night. She accepts, and Bobby thinks that’s one down.

Arnie stops by Bobby’s place after dinner and congratulates him on his skeezery, calling him “The Man” at Bobby’s behest. Bobby decides to take that moment to call Samantha and ask her out for Saturday. Samantha answers, and Bobby starts chatting HER up. Samantha says that she and Bree were just talking about him, and is suspicious when he says he wants to talk to her. He asks her out for Saturday night, and she reminds him that he had just asked Bree out for Friday, and then asks if it’s a dare or something. He says no, he’s just been thinking about her a lot, and thought that she’d like to go out with him too. She asks why he thinks she’d do that to Bree, and he says it’s because she’s just dying to go out with him. She calls him conceited, but accepts the date. He says that it has to be their secret, and she agrees. They hang up, and Bobby whoops and hollers with Arnie about how scummy this all is. Bobby is sure Samantha won’t tell because she’s so outgoing and cool. Arnie wonders why Melanie was so against this that she warned him about the Wade Twins, but Bobby doesn’t care.

Bree goes to Bobby’s show at The Mill, and Bobby hot dogs on stage and struts like he’s Mick Fucking Jagger or something. After the set he meets up with Bree on the dance floor and they dance around, but then Bree says she would like to go somewhere quieter. As they’re leaving they run into Paul, who chastises Bobby for taking the attention away from the rest of the band, but Bobby don’t care. He looks back at the dance floor and thinks that Melanie sure looks fat as she dances with Arnie. Christ. He and Bree go driving around Shadyside, and he talks mostly about himself since Bree is so quiet. He even talks about a science experiment he’s doing with two honest to goodness monkeys that his uncle, who imports animals to zoos. Oh, okay. Because it’s totally ethical to give your dumbshit nephew two monkeys he can do a diet experiment on. Anyway, he drives her home and they kiss for awhile. Bree asks him if he wants to hang out again the next night, but NO CAN DO, as he has a hot date with Samantha. He makes an excuse and they say their goodbyes with more kissing.

The next day Bobby meets Samantha at the Mall. When they walk up to each other she pretends that she sees Bree, giving him a jolt, but HA, just kidding! Samantha flip flops between thinking it’s cool that they’re sneaking around, to feeling weird about it, but she also doesn’t beat around the bush and tells him she’s heard of his whorish ways. They go into the Gold Barn, and Samantha starts trying on earrings willy nilly. The clerk asks that she not do that anymore, and she politely agrees. She then asks Bobby if he likes excitement….. and bolts for the door with the earrings in her ears! Bobby is shocked that she’s shoplifting, and then before they know it they’re being chased through the mall by the clerk! They manage to lose their pursuers, and have a moment where a security guard approaches them, but only because they were running. So they get away with it, scott free. ‘Okay, kind of weird, but also sexy,’ were no doubt the thoughts going through Bobby’s mind. As they get to his car Samantha says that she wants to drive, and she drives his car like a speed demon up to River Ridge, Shadyside’s make out point. They start kissing, and Samantha asks if he likes her better than Bree. He says sure he does. She tells him that there’s a way to tell them apart, but she’ll show him later, but then goes on to say to be careful with Bree because she’s ‘fragile’.

Some time later Bobby is heading to band practice. But before that, he detours to harass Kimmy some more, pulling her hair and asking what she’s doing on Saturday, only to tell her to take a bath. He runs into Arnie and Melanie in the bandroom (Paul is there too but pissed, apparently is thinking of quitting the band because Bobby is such a fuck), and Melanie asks if he’s still trying to juggle the Wade Twins. He brags about how Samantha was over for a study date and Bree showed up, but Samantha snuck out back, and how he has them both crazy for him. Melanie asks him what if Bree finds out and it causes a rift between sisters, but Bobby says that that’s just how it is. That night in his room, he gets a strange phone call, someone saying that two’s company, three’s a crowd, and that he’ll pay. It freaks him out for a bit, because who could do this? Turns out, though, it is just Arnie messing with him and telling him that Melanie is mad. Bobby implies that she’s still hung up on him, but hangs up when the doorbell rings. It’s Bree! She walks into the house, and he thinks that maybe he’s busted. Bree says that Samantha is seeing someone, but she won’t tell her who and it’s upsetting her. Bobby assures her that he’ll ask around, and kisses her goodbye, then struts around the house totally pleased that he’s manipulating her so perfectly. Then SAMANTHA calls him and tells him Bree is on the way, and that she suspects something. He assures her that he pulled it off, and she says that he needs to dump her right away because she’s sick of sharing him, and because if Bree finds out there’s not telling what she’ll do. Bobby isn’t ready to break it off yet.

On their usual date to the mall, Samantha insists on driving Bobby’s car. She drives like a lunatic, swerving into traffic and out of it and Bobby is convinced that they are going to die a fiery death. They get to the mall though, and she confides she doesn’t even have her license.

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Said no one ever. (source)

Over a slice at Pete’s Pizza, she asks him if he broke up with Bree while at Suki Thomas’s party the night before (YEAH SUKI MY GIRL!!!). He doesn’t really answer the question, but she seems satisfied when he assures her that she’s more fun than Bree. Eventually they make their way to the jewelry store again, and this time she dares Bobby to steal a charm bracelet. When she calls him a wimp, he says that he absolutely is not a wimp and lifts the case…. only for ALL the alarms to go off. But they make a clean getaway again, and Samantha accepts the bracelet for herself. Their merriment is short lived, however, as they are soon face to face with Bree!!! And Samantha looks absolutely terrified of her. Bobby says that they were just talking about her, and Samantha makes up some excuse about shopping and running into Bobby. Bree seems mollified, and both girls run off together, leaving Bobby in the lurch. Which irks him. But he’s still intrigued by them, and is convinced that he deserves a trophy for having them ‘both at once’. When he gets to his car in the parking lot, he finds that someone slashed some of his tires. EAT IT, CREEP. By coincidence (but Bobby doesn’t think so!), Melanie drives by, and offers to give him a lift. He’s certain that she has to be the one who did this because she’s jealous.

On the way to band practice that week, Bobby has decided that there’s no way that Melanie did it. For one, she does seem happy with Arnie, but for more importantly, there’s no way that a girl could slash his tires! On the way to band practice, he tries to catch up with Bree, but lost her as she went to chorus practice. Instead he finds Samantha, who pulls him into the science room. They kiss a bit, and she shows him the way to tell her and Bree apart: a blue butterfly tattoo on her shoulder. She then demands that he drop Bree because he doesn’t know her like she does. And boy is she adamant. She then shows him her science project: cannibal ants from New Zealand!!!

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Yes, because NEW ZEALAND, the country of kiwis and sheep, would TOTALLY have those. (source)

At their rock show some times later, Bobby is being his usual boorish self, hot dogging and blocking Paul as he performs. But then, when he strums his guitar, he is suddenly bowled over by and electric shock! When he comes to, he is told that his amp wire was cut. He sees both Melanie and Kimmy looking down at him, concerned. He starts to wonder if someone is trying to kill him. WHen he gets home he calls Samantha, asking her if Bree could have done this. Samantha says she doesn’t think so, but then, she could be capable of ANYTHING. Sadly for Bobby, he turns around and sees Bree in his doorway. He hangs up and she says that she was SO SCARED. He hugs her, but wonders if she’s being sincere…

Bobby meets Arnie for lunch at a diner, and tells him that he wants to quit the band. He’s convinced that someone is trying to kill him, but Arnie says there wasn’t enough power in the amp to do that. Soon Melanie meets them, and Arnie goes to check in with his parents. Melanie asks Bobby if he’s okay, and says that maybe this is a sign that he needs to stop dating the Wade Twins. He asks her what SHE knows about it, and accuses her of being jealous and wanting him back. He then nuzzles up against her because YUCK! She assures him that no, she’s quite happy with Arnie, and shoves him off. Bobby storms off. He eventually meets Samantha a few blocks from her house, and they go driving together. She tells him that Bree is out with their mother. He asks her if Bree has said anything to him about his guitar, and she gets defensive, saying no, and that they don’t talk much anymore. The arm of her shirt falls to the side, and Bobby notices that there isn’t a butterfly tattoo there… THIS ISN’T SAMANTHA!!! He asks where her tattoo is, but she doesn’t hear him over the music. He pulls over and he asks if she’s Bree. She gets defensive, and says that he KNOWS Bree doesn’t know so how could she be? He asks abotu the tattoo on her shoulder, and she says that she doesn’t HAVE a tattoo. She then demands that he take her home because she’s upset him. He complies.

The next day at school he approaches both twins, but they blow him off. He goes to his locker, but sees a note on it that says ‘THIS IS YOU INSIDE’. He opens his locker, and sees the severed head of one of this monkeys!! He pukes his guts out, and Arnie comes to see what’s going on. He looks in the locker, and shows Bobby the monkey head is fake. But someone is definitely messing with him. Bobby is getting really scared now.

Before his date with Bree that weekend, Samantha demanded that he take her out somewhere so they could talk. She says that she asked him to dump Bree weeks ago, and now it may be too late. She is tired of waiting, and demands that they kill Bree together. Bobby is shocked, but she insists that they do this because she wants him all to herself. He says he will to placate her… but then he notices that there is a butterfly tattoo on her shoulder!!!! He asks her where it went in the car, and she has no idea what he’s talking about. She then tells him she wants to take him to a ‘special place’. While she drives he starts to wonder if maybe SAMANTHA is behind all of this! She drives them to an isolated cabin, She says that they can do the deed here, it’s her family cabin, and no one will ever know. Bobby decides that he has to warn Bree.

He calls Bree when he gets home, and says they have to get together right away. She says he has to wait until their official date because she’s busy, and hangs up. He waits until their date, and drives her away from her house, intending to tell her what Samantha plans to do. When he does, Bree has her own confession: she and Samantha aren’t twins. There is a triplet named Jennilynn who was sent away because of her violent tendencies towards the other two. She was so jealous of Bree and Samantha that she locked them in their room and set the house on fire. Luckily their father got home in time to save them, and they got Jennilynn therapy and sent her to live with relatives. She thinks it must be Jennilynn who wanted her dead, because she’s jealous that Bree has a boyfriend. She tells him that the way to tell it’s Jennilynn is the BLUE BUTTERFLY TATTOO ON HER SHOULDER!!!!!

Well after Bobby drops her off, he goes to tell Arnie about this (even though he promised not to tell anyone). Melanie happens to be there too, and Bobby tells them both, and demands if Melanie knew since she’s known the Wade Twins so long. She says that she ‘can’t say’ because she promised, and she and Arnie got to the movies. Bobby decides to dump both twins because he never bargained for a crazy triplet. The next day he meets with Samantha, who asks him why her sister was so upset when he dropped her off. He says that she told him about Jennilynn… And then Samantha says that THERE IS NO JENNILYNN, this is a sign that Bree is REALLY OFF HER ROCKER. She says that she has to go home and tell her parents…. He soon asks where her tattoo is. She tells him that she has no tattoo, and he says that she showed it to him in the science lab. She says that never happened and he needs to get a grip.

That night Bobby is at home when his phone rings. The caller identifies herself as Jennilynn, and demands to know why he was meeting with Bree at the Mall! He says it was Samantha, not Bree, and she says that she knows her own sister, and when are they going to KILL HER?

SO THE NEXT DAY he still hasn’t called Samantha or Bree or WHOEVER to ask about this, and Samantha drives up to his house in her convertible. He knows it’s her because she’s dressed very boldly. He gets in the car with her, and says that Jennilynn called him. She says that it HAS to be Bree because Jennilynn isn’t real. She says they’ll talk more when they get to the cabin. He then realizes that her shoulder HAS A TATTOO. He points this out, she says duh, he says that she didn’t have it at the mall yesterday, and she says she wasn’t at the mall yesterday, what is his problem? He asks if she’s always had it, and she says she showed him in the science lab!

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They get to the cabin and she says that she has Bree’s murder all planned out. They get out of the car, and she hits HIM over the head with a bottle.

When Bobby wakes up, he realizes he’s tied to a chair, stripped to his tee shirt and boxers. He sees Samantha by a roaring fire in the fireplace, and she says that she’s Jennilynn. He says there IS no Jennilyn, and she freaks. OF COURSE THEY SAID SHE WASN’T REAL!! But she’s the one with the tattoo, and she was the one in the science lab! He begs that she let him go, and she says that her sisters can’t be happy, so they both have to lose him. She then dumps a jar of honey on his head, and THAT is when he sees the New Zealand Cannibal Ants. I AM SCREAMING, this is amazing. She takes their container’s lid off, and the ants storm forth, crawling all over him and starting to bite. She tells him to scream, because no one will hear him. She leaves him behind to his apparent doom. He freaks and falls over as the ants crawl all over him, but the tie comes loose due to the honey, and he’s able to get free. He runs out of the house, only to see headlights. He thinks that it might be Jennilynn, but no… It’s Melanie! He tells her what happened and she tells him to get in, they’ll go get help. She says that she wasn’t looking for him, though, she was trying to help Samantha and Bree, as someone stole their convertible and they thought it was Jessilynn. She admits that she knew the whole time, and he says they have to warn them. So they drive to their house….

WELL, when they arrive, he bursts into the house to warn them…. And sees that Bree, Samantha, Kimmy, Ronnie, and a few other girls are there. Mr Wade asks who he is and what he’s doing there. Bobby says that Jennilynn kidnapped him…. To which Mr. Wade says ‘who?’ He then says that his triplet daughter kidnapped him. Mr. Wade says there is no third sister. BUT THE CANNIBAL ANTS. “There is no such thing as cannibal ants.” Also, they don’t own a cabin. Bobby turns to Melanie for confirmation, and she says she has no idea what he’s talking about. BUT THE ONE WITH THE TATTOO-, to which Mr. Wade says they BETTER NOT HAVE TATTOOS. And they don’t. Mr Wade tells Bobby to go home and leaves to get the phone. Bobby says that the Twins did this to him, and they both say they have NO IDEA what he’s talking about they’ve just been with their friends all night. And then Melanie says that they were all in on this together because he’s a misogynistic pig who thinks he can just treat girls like crap. Humiliated, Bobby runs out.

At school that week Bobby is alone, his band has broken up, and he’s confronted by Bree and Samantha who give him a note that says “Twin sisters don’t have secrets. We both knew everything from the very start.” They wave and leave, and inside the envelope Bobby finds a temporary tattoo of a blue butterfly. THE END.

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Body Count: Zilch, and I’m not angry about it because this story was baller.

Romance Rating: 1, because Bobby is a serious douche canoe. But again, that’s just fine given how this all shook out. Maybe I’ll up the ante to a 2 because Melanie and Arnie are happy enough.

Bonkers Rating: 8. I say this because these girls went to crazy lengths to teach this misogynistic creep a lesson, like shop lifting, breaking and entering, and probably what one could call assault.

Fear Street Relevance: 4. The Wade Twins live on Fear Street, and there’s some action in the Fear Woods, but altogether it could have been anywhere. Not as bad as books that take place outside of Shadyside, though.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“Cut off just below the chin, the monkey head rested in a dark puddle of blood. Its tiny black eyes stared up lifelessly at Bobby. Its mouth frozen open in a silent cry of terror and pain.”

… And it’s just a plastic monkey head meant to freak Bobby out. I’m relieved, but how stupid.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Bobby named his test monkeys Wayne and Garth a la “Wayne’s World”, which is the second “Wayne’s World” reference in these books, so maybe Stine really likes this movie? Also their cover band plays a lot of songs from the 1950s, and I can’t imagine teens of today reaching THAT far back for retro points in the 2010s….

Best Quote:

“‘I warned you,’ she said in a low voice. ‘This is what you get for the way you treated Bree and Samantha, and for the way you treated all of us. You’re not Bobby the Man. You’re Bobby the Total Pig!'”

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Conclusion: It was unexpected and kind of refreshing in a lot of ways, so I really have to give “Double Date” the props that it deserves. It shows that Stine was a bit more willing to think outside the box when it came to these books and not necessarily stick to a formula, and I LOVED how it all shook out. 

A Revisit to Fear Street: “Bad Dreams”

89801Book: “Bad Dreams (Fear Street #22)” by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1994

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: Every night Maggie Travers has the same horrible dream. Every night she is forced to watch the same murder. And every night the girl in her dream cries out for help. Maggie is afraid to go to sleep again. But when the terrifying dream starts to come true and the gruesome accidents begin, staying awake is the real nightmare!

Had I Read It Before: No.

The Plot: We open with a girl having a bad dream in her house on Fear Street. She awakens and realizes that it was only a nightmare…. Until she notices someone in the corner of her room who attacks her with a knife! The girl protests ‘but you’re my SISTER!’, and then it’s lights out for her.

So then we meet the Travers family, moving to Fear Street from their posh home in North Hills. Maggie is the oldest, and she’s beautiful, clever, and a great athlete. Andrea is the youngest, and she’s.. less so. They’ve gotten lost on the way to their new home. Andrea says that it’s Maggie’s fault since she’s the navigator, but Maggie says if they hadn’t stopped for Andrea’s bladder they could have followed the moving truck. Mrs. Travers just wants peace and quiet. Turns out they fight so much, they were even fighting the day that their father stroked out and died, POSSIBLY because he was yelling at them to stop fighting. Unlikely, but it’s implied. They get to their new house, and Andrea lets their dog Gus out of the car, who goes rushing down the street. Mom tells her to go get him, but Andrea says that since he’s Maggie’s dog, SHE should do it. Oh this girl is going to be fun. Gus is nearly hit by a car, but isn’t and Maggie is pissed AF at her little sister. Rightfully so, I say. They go into the house, and the girls go to the rooms they called dibs on the previous visit. Maggie walks into her room and sees that the previous owners have left behind a BEAUTIFUL wooden canopy bed, with carvings and pink dressings. Andrea sees it next, and then has the AUDACITY to ask Maggie if she can have it. Maggie reminds her that she got the bigger room, so Maggie is keeping the bed. Andrea starts to temper tantrum, and Mrs Travers says that Maggie gets to keep it. When Andrea whines more, Mrs. Travers gets sad because her family is clearly a wreck.

They go out to dinner that night and Maggie vows to try to keep the family together in spite of her rotten sister. When they get home, Maggie’s new boyfriend Justin calls, and he arranges to come over the next day to see the house. Then Dawn a member of the swim team at school that Maggie and Andrea are on calls. Dawn USED to go out with Justin, but not anymore. Dawn says she missed them at practice, but then asks if Maggie is ready to lose the swimming race the next day. But given that Stine never did care THAT much for the Bechdel test between two girls who could be fighting over a boy, they start talking about Justin. Andrea is jealous of her sister’s seemless popularity. Later that night Andrea is hogging the bathroom and Maggie is getting mad, but doesn’t start a fight. Instead, she gets ready and goes straight to bed. Then she has a bad dream, involving a sleeping mystery girl and a swirling cold mist. She wakes up screaming, and Mrs. Travers and Andrea run in. Maggie tells them about the dream, and Andrea guesses it’s about Dawn, since they were on the phone and both the girl and Dawn have blonde hair. Maggie isn’t totally convinced, but accepts it for the evening.

The next morning Maggie wakes up far later than she wanted (as swim tryouts for State are the next day and she needs to practice!), so she straightens up her room and decides to wait for Justin to come by. She checks in on Andrea, who is jealous that Justin is coming by. She also admits to having ‘strange thoughts’. But soon Justin is there and Maggie is distracted enough to forget about Andrea’s woes. He brings sponges for the housecleaning, and while that may seem dopey, Mrs Travers is won over, and I would be too. Owning a house means lots of cleaning, and I hate shopping for cleaning supplies! Justin and Maggie retreat to her room (how progressive of Mrs Travers), and they talk about the swim tryouts. The coach has narrowed it down to four girls for two spots: Maggie, Dawn, a girl named Tiffany, and Andrea. The odds are in her favor, along with Dawn’s. Then she tells him about her bad dream, and he writes it off as well. They start fooling around, but then are interrupted by Andrea watching them. Maggie tells her to scram, and she says that she worries that the dream was some kind of foreboding. Justin, being a dumb teenage boy, pretends that he’s having some kind of episode…. But then they laugh and laugh.

At the swim tryouts the next day, Dawn, Maggie, and Tiffany are hanging out while Andrea keeps to herself. She only says something when she accuses Maggie of stealing her swim cap, only for Tiffany to point out that it’s in Andrea’s own backpack. HOW EMBARRASSING. They line up to race the 200 IM, and once they are in the water it becomes a real nail biter! But, luckily, Maggie is a beast of a swimmer and she comes in first with Dawn second, followed by Tiffany and Andrea. Maggie and Dawn are going to the tournament! Dawn tries to accuse Maggie of cheating since her wave crest knocked the lane line into her, but Coach says no dice. They have practice as usual, and Maggie is feeling the burn. As she leaves the locker room into the pool area, SHE SEES A BODY IN THE POOL!! And it’s DAWN!!! Maggie jumps in to save her, but Dawn is just fine, only practicing her breath control. They laugh and laugh.

The next night, Maggie has sleep problems again. The dream really pulls her down into a weird state on consciousness. This time she sees the girl in her first dream lying in bed, writhing around, and someone with a knife suddenly attacks her! Maggie wakes up, and comes to the horrible realization that this is the bed she saw! She then realizes that someone is in the room with her! But it’s just Andrea, who heard her making noises. They talk about the dream for a bit, with Maggie describing it all in detail: the knife, the bed, everything. They are having a lovely sisterly moment…. Which is then ruined when Andrea suggests that Maggie is so stressed out that maybe she should cut back on swimming. Maggie finds this UNACCEPTABLE, and tries to pull off a joke that Andrea wants to swim in the tournament herself. Which then ANDREA finds UNACCEPTABLE because Maggie is ALWAYS insulting her and then pretending not. Andrea says Maggie is dreaming about stabbings, so who does SHE want to stab? But Maggie feels more like the victim in the dream….

At school the next day Maggie thinks she sees Andrea’s red hair in the busy hallway, and tries to catch up with her. Then she sees Dawn, and starts calling her name. The crowd is a mad rush between classes, and as she meets up with Dawn on the steps, suddenly Dawn is THRUST FORWARD, and tumbles down the staircase!!! The paramedics are called, and Dawn accuses Maggie of pushing her! Maggie is shocked and asks Andrea for backup, but Andrea says she didn’t see. Maggie realizes the girl in the dream had blonde hair, and so does Dawn. Did she somehow do this? When she sees Tiffany, Tiffany says she doesn’t think Maggie did anything wrong. When Maggie gets home, she falls asleep on the couch, and has a very nice rest. Better than any rest she’s had on the bed!

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That Saturday Maggie is still having trouble sleeping in her bed, and falls asleep under a birch tree. Her neighbor, Mr Avery, wakes her up, afraid she is going to get sunburnt, and  proceeds to tell her that her new house was unoccupied for awhile, and tells her that it was a terrible thing that happened there. When she asks him what it was, instead of elaborating, he invites her inside to meet his wife. Because OF COURSE, you story cock blocking old man! Maggie says sure, though, and meets Mrs. Avery. Finally, the neighbors come out with it. A family called the Helfers lived there, and they had a teenage daughter named Miranda who was stabbed to death in her own bed! She goes to the movies with Justin that night, feeling more paranoid than ever. They see Dawn and Tiffany in the parking lot of the movie theater, and Dawn says no hard feelings, and reminds us readers that Tiffany and Maggie now have another race to compete in soon to secure a spot in another race in the state tournament. Maggie and Justin go parking and fool around a bit, but Maggie is still too distracted by her dream to let him get past first base. She tells him all about Miranda and her theory that the bed is trying to tell her something. And Justin has the patience of a saint.

So now we have the next tryout for the next race! With just three girls now, that gives Andrea more of a chance for a spot. But if you put your money on her, sorry to say that it is, indeed, Tiffany and Maggie who come in first and second. Dawn, who was watching, only congratulates Tiffany because apparently no hard feelings is for losers. Andrea is crestfallen that she’s only the alternate. But that night, Maggie has the dream again, and this time she wakes up and is convinced someone is with her in the room. She sees Andrea, who says she came to borrow her curling iron (in the middle of the night?). Andrea leaves, and Maggie decides to leave the bed for awhile, walking around the house and going to the kitchen. She hears a floorboard creak, but chalks it up to losing her mind. When she returns to her room, there’s a huge knife shoved into her pillow. She screams and runs to get her Mom, but of COURSE when they return to the room, the knife is gone. Maggie runs to Andrea’s room, and accuses her of it all. Mrs. Travers and Andrea tell her she’s losing it.

The next day at swim practice, Maggie is starting to falter a bit, losing to Tiffany in a for funsies run. Coach asks her if she’s getting enough rest. Maggie lies and says that she’s fine and will be great for the meet. In the locker room Tiffany and Maggie share a light ribbing of each other (though Maggie is worried that Tiffany is right and she IS slipping), and Andrea is sulking still. Maggie goes to talk to coach one last night, and when she leaves she goes back into the pool area… AND SEES TIFFANY LYING IN A PUDDLE OF HER OWN BLOOD!!! Maggie rushes to her side, and finds a knife! Later that night, we find out that Tiffany will be okay, but can’t swim in the tournament, leaving Maggie and Andrea as the only options. And Andrea seems PRETTY HAPPY about the whole thing. Maggie wonders aloud if her dream was trying to warn her, but Andrea shuts all that down. That night, Maggie has the dream again, but this time when she wakes up, THE BLONDE GIRL IS STANDING ABOVE HER, GLARING DOWN AT HER WITH A KNIFE!! Maggie asks if she’s Ghost Miranda, and the girl nods. Maggie darts away, and Miranda goes after her again, until she hears Mrs. Travers calling for her. Miranda jumps out the window, and Maggie is left alone when Mrs. Travers comes in. Still babbling about a ghost, Mrs. Travers says that it’s therapy time!

But first, it’s field trip time at school! To the caverns! Which is all an exercise in paranoia, as Maggie gets separated from her group and is convinced Miranda is chasing her. But it’s just Justin. When she starts with the dream stuff again, he too has had it. The next day he’s back to being his perfectly understanding self, and she says that she’s seeing a therapist now. She didn’t dream about the bed or Miranda the night before. She is worried that the stigma will chase Justin away, but he says that he wants to see her again, and how about tomorrow night after the swim tournament? She hugs him, thinking all is well, but then sees Miranda staring at her from across the parking lot!! She freaks out, but then demurs when Justin asks what’s wrong, and says she’ll see him tomorrow. She goes home, and is roped into a cookout with the Averys and her family. She wonders if the answer is in the bed, but when she goes back to her room, it’s disappeared!!! Andrea comes up behind her and tells her that her therapist said that the bed has to go, and I’m inclined to agree. Mr Avery helped Mrs. Travers take it down, and it’s now in the attic. The attic, hmmmmmm? Andrea says Maggie better not go up there because Mom will be mad, and Maggie says she won’t and returns to the cookout, while totally planning to go into the attic.

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Mrs Travers in a few pages probably. (source)

SO, that night after everyone else is asleep, Maggie does, indeed, go into the attic. She wants to sleep in the bed one last time, hoping to get the answers. But then she realizes that someone else is in the bed already!!! And it’s Miranda, the ghost! Maggie reaches out and touches her, and Miranda wakes up! She’s not a ghost at all! In fact, she’s not even Miranda!! She’s GENA, Miranda’s sister… and KILLER!!! Miranda had everything, and Gena was jealous, and so Gena murdered her. But Miranda was also a bit psychic, apparently (wat?), and must have been trying to warn Maggie about Gena, who has been living in the attic this whole time because THIS IS HER HOME, DAMMIT, the hospital she escaped from never was!! And now she wants to kill Maggie because Maggie is a BAD OLDER SISTER TO ANDREA, JUST LIKE MIRANDA WAS!! Andrea then pops into the attic, and Gena says that this is all for her!!! At first Maggie thinks that Andrea planned the whole thing, but of course not! As she keeps attacking Maggie, Gena tells Andrea she also attacked Dawn and Tiffany because she knew that Andrea wanted to go to state!! She also pushed the knife in Maggie’s pillow and has caused the general havoc as of late. The sisters struggle with Gena, and tie her up in the canopy before calling the police. As the police take Gena away, the Travers family sits around the table drinking coffee, the sisters now fighting about who HAS to keep the bed, and lamenting how little sleep they got with the swim tournament that afternoon. As Maggie goes upstairs to try and get SOME sleep, she says ‘goodnight…. and sweet dreams!’ The End.

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Body Count: 1.

Romance Rating: 5. Maggie and Justin seem like a perfectly functional couple, but there isn’t much to be said for chemistry.

Bonkers Rating: 7. True, there was the combination of psychic dead girl AND a crazy person hiding out in the attic, but it was so poorly constructed I’m docking points.

Fear Street Relevance: 8. The Travers family has just moved to Fear Street AND the house has a haunted bed.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“She opened her eyes with a startled gasp. And saw a frightening looking man reaching for her throat. ‘This won’t take long,’ he said.

… And then it was actually just the nice next door neighbor saying ‘you been baking long?’, as he was worried about her getting sunburnt.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Maggie is rocking a pretty sweet Trapper Keeper, but could it possibly have been as cool as my once mentioned Catwoman Trapper Keeper???

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The answer, of course, is hell no. (source)

Best Quote: 

“‘Welcome to burglar city,’ Andrea joked, pretending to do a tour guide voice. ‘Our neighborhood is proud to announce we have one of the highest crime rates in the country.'”

I mean, she isn’t wrong.

Conclusion: “Bad Dreams” was a big ol’ jumbled mess that didn’t know what it wanted to be. I say skip it completely and spend your time on other “Fear Street” books. Up next for us is “Double Date”!

A Revisit to Fear Street: “The Dare”

176603Book: “The Dare (Fear Street # 21)” by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1994

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: Nice girls don’t kill…

Johanna Wise has always longed to be part of Dennis Arthur’s rich, popular crowd, and she can’t believe it when he finally asks her out. Now she’ll do anything to continue to hang out with his cool friends and keep Dennis as her boyfriend.

So when Dennis dares her to kill their teacher, Mr. Northwood, she doesn’t say no. She can’t. Besides, it was only a joke, right? But now the joke has gone too far, and the whole school is taking bets on Johanna. The dare is serious…dead serious. Will she do it? Will she really kill for love?

Had I Read It Before: Yes.

The Plot: We meet Johanna Wise as she and her BFF Margaret are going to the local 7/11 to get some hotdogs for dinner. Both Johanna and Margaret are unpopular girls at Shadyside High School because they’re both average looking and poor (though Johanna brags about how skinny she is and how ugly Margaret is. So this is the kind of first person POV we get, huh?). As they’re waiting for their hotdogs to cook, a group of five rich kids from North Hills come into the store as well. The leader, Dennis, is Johanna’s crush, because he’s handsome and rich and really really funny. If funny means he and his friends making a huge mess in the 7/11 with the slurpies while daring each other to do it, angering the poor cashier who probably wasn’t even supposed to be there today. When confronted, Dennis pulls a gun and shoots the clerk!… but of course it’s just a water gun. The kids laugh and laugh, and Zack throws cash on the counter as they leave, as if it’s not super condescending and humiliating. Johanna thinks all of this is hilarious.

In history class the next day we meet Mr. Northwood, the stern instructor that everyone is kind of meh about. He’s described as a ‘beardless Clint Eastwood on a bad day’, and honestly, that doesn’t sound too bad if we’re talking younger Clint Eastwood. One could do worse. Johanna is lingering behind to get some clarification on a paper, but sees Dennis arguing with Mr. Northwood about a make up test. Apparently, Dennis’s family is going on their annual trip to the Bahamas in a short while, and Mr. Northwood isn’t letting him make up the midterm at a later date. It’s either be there or fail. Absolutely affronted that he’s not getting his way, Dennis throws a textbook on Mr. Northwood’s desk and Johanna beelines for the hallway. She and Margaret eavesdrop, and Dennis storms out just as Margaret makes her exit. Johanna feels bad for Dennis (though she notes to the reader that SHE isn’t getting any trips to the Bahamas any time soon), and they start a weird game of fantasizing about killing Mr. Northwood after Dennis says that he could just kill him. She tells Dennis that she’s actually Mr. Northwood’s neighbor and they both live on Fear Street. He seems intrigued by this, and they walk to the student parking lot, talking the whole way. But then Caitlyn, Dennis’s girlfriend, pulls up in a red Miata, and tells Dennis to get in. He tells Johanna he’s offer her a life but it only seats two, to which Johanna says she’ll make room, opens the door, and pulls Caitlyn out and dumps her on the pavement as Dennis looks on in awe…. Except NAHHHH, that didn’t happen. It’s just one of Johanna’s violent fantasies about hurting and humiliating people. Totally normal, right? She actually says bye and watches them drive off.

A week later Dennis is off to the sunny Caribbean and Johanna is in history class. Melody, another rich kid who is dressed head to toe in Ralph Lauren, talks back to Mr. Northwood and blows off his request that she stay after class for a talk. Mr. Northwood kind of unprofessionally makes a snide comment about not caring how many banks her father owns, and that she isn’t special, and MAN, I AM FEELING THIS FRUSTRATION. I was SURROUNDED by these types at my high school. That night Johanna and Margaret are talking on the phone about Dennis and Mr. Northwood and how he is always on the rich kids cases, but Johanna hears a weird noise outside, a car door and a crash, and is convinced someone is breaking in! She looks out the window and sees Zack, Melody, Caitlin, and some dickswizzle named Lanny, crouching behind their car on the street outside Mr. Northwood’s house. Johanna goes to investigate, and they’re surprised she lives on Fear Street next to their teacher. They tell her not to tattle about what they’re about to do, and she promises she won’t, though Melody isn’t convinced. The guys dare each other to cause a fuss, and they put sand in Mr. Northwood’s gas tank and slash his tires. They’re about to carve Dennis’s name in the fender, when the porch light comes on and the rich kids bolt, leaving Johanna with Mr. Northwood. He asks her why she’s hanging out with these jerks, and she claims she just heard a noise and came to investigate. He says he’s going to call the cops, but after Johanna goes home nothing really comes of it that night before she goes to bed.

The next day that group is out of class. The police came late and deigned to do anything since it was a bunch of kids of the most powerful people in town, so Mr. Northwood asked that the school suspend them. Mr. Northwood says he believes her that she wasn’t hanging out with them, but is going to keep an eye on her. That night Johanna is studying when the phone rings. It’s Dennis! He’s asks if she’s ready to kill Mr. Northwood! But he’s just kidding, he’s actually back from the Bahamas and was apparently thinking about her (when he wasn’t having a wonderful time, which he gladly brags about). He wants to know if she wants to go to a party that Friday that Melody is hosting. Johanna asks about Caitlyn, and he says that they ‘see other people’ sometimes, and let me tell you, that’s the oldest trick in the book. He also informs her that his friends are no longer suspended because their parents went to Mr. Hernandez, the principal, and threw their weight and power around, and demanded apologies, which they got. SIDE FUCKING BAR: Once in middle school a friend and I were at lunch and a guy we were sitting next to LITERALLY dumped his food tray all over my friend on purpose because he didn’t like her. We reported him to the principal, and he got in some trouble, until his MOTHER marched into the school and threw HER weight around, and the school administration ended up apologizing to this DOUCHE CANOE for dumping his food on MY FRIEND. There is no justice. I take this shit personally and hate these North Hills kids. Johanna now wants to be a part of this group because of the power.

At school the next day Dennis meets Johanna at her locker and gives her a beautiful conch shell that he brought back just for her. Caitlin storms up and says that it is HER CONCH SHELL and demands Johanna hand it over. Johanna instead opts to smash her in the face with it…. Just kidding! Caitlin didn’t even notice, and instead just pulled Dennis off with her. Another psychotic fantasy. At lunch she and Margaret are sitting together and they see Dennis and Caitlyn making out, which makes Margaret skeptical about this date that Johanna says she and Dennis have. And then in history class, Dennis argues with Mr. Northwood again about retaking the midterm. When Mr. Northwood says that it’s about fairness, Dennis says that it’s not fair to HIM and that if he fails he won’t be eligible for track and his Olympic dreams will be ruined. Yeah FUCKING right, you dick. He storms past Johanna like she isn’t even there when Mr. Northwood refuses to relent.

That night Dennis picks her up after she frets about maybe it all being a joke or a hallucination. They go to Melody’s house in North Hills, and she lets them know that her parents are at the movies so the house is all theirs. I hope they’re hitting a triple feature, Melody. As the party goes on it’s pretty clear that Dennis is less interested in associating with Johanna and more interested in hanging out with his friends, and then the conversation turns to Mr. Northwood and how Johanna and Dennis are going to kill him. And maybe it’s a joke? Johanna isn’t so sure. They’re regaled with impressions of Mr. Northwood, and a story about how he docked five points off Carter “The Cheater”‘s Phillips test for forgetting to write her name. Dennis is really keen on joking about it, but Johanna is a little uncomfortable… Until he drives her home and they make out in his car. Of course, they’re shocked to see Mr. Northwood watching them from his front yard. Dennis freaks and tells Johanna he’s leaving, and Johanna goes inside and is CONVINCED that Northwood was spying on her (when he was probably just taking out the garbage or something). She paces around her house and pulls a pistol out of a drawer, continuing to fantasize about killing Mr. Northwood. Her Mom catches her and Johanna claims she thought she saw a burglar, but that it’s gone now, and she goes to sleep with that lie on her conscience.

At school the next day Melody tells Johanna to watch out for Caitlyn, who would be super jealous that she went on a date with Dennis. Dennis then asks if Johanna wants to hang out at her place that night, and since Johanna’s Mom works nights she says okay. But problems, because when she gets home she is reminded she had a friend date with Margaret that night when her bestie calls her. Johanna fakes ill. Dennis arrives, but has brought his whole posse of friends. They all settle into their favorite topic: why Mr. Northwood sucks. Today it’s because he caught Zack cheating on a test (Zack claims he was just asking Deena for the time, but yeah, sure you were asshat). They are convinced that Mr. Northwood hates them because they’re rich and he’s not, and Zack says he brought something to teach him a lesson! He got some Skunk ‘juice’ from his brother, who works at a lab with animals. They conspire to throw it on Mr. Northwood’s porch, and nominate Johanna to do it after another dare escalation happens and she volunteers. Because she’s cool too now!

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(source)

Mr. Northwood almost catches her but she drops the stink bomb on his porch. She and her new friends go to the Corner to get some burgers in celebration. When she gets home, though, Margaret catches her, as she was bringing her chicken noodle soup since she thought Johanna was sick. They fight, and Margaret drops some truth bombs about how the rich kids aren’t really Johanna’s friends, and leaves in a huff.

Dennis and his friends keep hanging at Johanna’s house in the next few weeks. One night, Dennis finds the gun that Johanna was playing with earlier, and says that THIS is how they can kill Northwood! He then actually puts a bullet in it and starts dicking around because PRIVILEGE, GUYS. Johanna, Caitlyn, and Melody tell him to knock it off, but he doesn’t and he actually shoots Zack. Like ACTUALLY SHOOTS HIM. I thought it was going to be another dark fantasy, but NOPE! The friends panic, and Dennis tells someone to call 911 before he drags Zack out of the house, telling them all to clean up. When the cops arrive the friends and the police find Zack sprawled in Mr. Northwood’s yard. And Mr. Northwood is holding the gun in confusion, since he stumbled upon a bleeding kid on his property. Dennis has tried to frame him for the shooting.

Which of course DOES NOT WORK, since the gun is registered to Johanna’s absent father and there was blood ALL OVER HER HOUSE. The truth comes out and the rich kids parents make it all go away (because Zack isn’t dead, I guess). They try to get their kids transferred out of Northwood’s class (which would probably be best for everyone involved), but to no avail. And according to Johanna, Mr. Northwood is even meaner to them than he was before.

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WELL GEE, WHY WOULD THAT BE? (source)

Johanna’s mother had forbidden her from seeing Dennis, but Johanna’s sneaking around with him. They’re parking and mauling and rounding the bases when he gets all hung up on Northwood again (GIVE IT UP, MAN), and he says that Lanny dared him to kill Northwood. Johanna isn’t sure how serious this is, and then Dennis dares her to kill him. She coquettishly takes the dare.

At school rumors start swirling that she is going to kill Mr. Northwood, and she gets a lot of ‘good lucks’ from her peers. FUCKING SHADYSIDE. You know how I know this was pre-Columbine? Margaret confronts Johanna about the rumors, and says that Lanny and Zack are taking bets on whether or not Johanna will actually kill him. Johanna tries to brush it off as not serious. But she sees Lanny later and he tells her that the pool is up to 1000 bucks, and if she does it he’ll give her five hundred of it. Johanna thinks that this is a lot of money, and GIRL. GIRL. GIRL. I know that you are not wealthy but I would imagine that an actual murder hit on the dark web goes for SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT???!!! FIVE HUNDRED BUCKS TO BE A CONTRACT KILLER. ARE YOU SERIOUS? That night she mulls her options, thinking that she’d be doing it for Dennis because she loves him so much, and he calls her to tell her that it has to be Saturday.

On Thursday Johanna has one of her twisted fantasies, this time thinking about maybe beating Mr. Northwood to death with logs from his woodpile. She has stayed home from school because she’s not feeling well. I wonder why? She’s planning a hiding place for the gun (so did the police just give it back to her after Zack was shot?), and trying to plan for Saturday. Dennis calls her that afternoon to update her on the pool. 1200 bucks now! 600 still isn’t the running rate for a hit, Johanna. Starting to get twitchy, she decides that she’s going to SHOOT HIM NOW, and grabs the gun and runs to the backyard where he’s still gathering wood for a romantic fire for one, I’d imagine. Before she can pull the trigger, though, Margaret shows up and Johanna hides the gun. Margaret says she brought notes for her since she was sick, and Mr. Northwood says that she’s such a good friend, but since he is always recording his lectures with his dictaphone she could use that instead. Johanna demurely declines, and Margaret pulls her aside and asks if Johanna is ACTUALLY going to kill him. Johanna lies and says no.

Murder Day approaches, and Johanna is a wreck. She’s watching Northwood paint his shed (in winter because he’s like that) and is planning to shoot him, when there’s a doorbell. She answers and it’s Dennis, who has come to see if she’s going to do it. She says she is, and shows him the gun, but says she needs to go upstairs and take something for her stomach. She is still very jumpy, hearing a car backfire makes her even more on edge. She retrieves the gun from the drawer and notices that Dennis is sweating, he’s as nervous as she is and AWWW HE MUST BE WORRIED ABOUT HER. She trudges through the yard and is going to shoot Mr. Northwood….. but he has ALREADY BEEN SHOT!!!!! Dennis comes up behind her and crows about how she did it, but she says no, she didn’t, he was like this when she found him! But he says nah, she did do it. Just look at the gun. There’s gunpowder residue. The gun was fired, and he’s called the cops! HE SHOT MR. NORTHWOOD AND IS PINNING IT ON HER!!! That car backfire was a gunshot! And to add insult to injury, CAITLIN POPS OUT AND WAS IN ON THE WHOLE THING! Apparently she dared Dennis to get Johanna to take care of their Northwood ‘problem’, and he took her up on it. Dennis faked an interest in her and stung her along because she was so attention starved and in desperate need of their acceptance. Betrayed and devastated, Johanna marches up and shoots Dennis right in the chest!!!… Except NOPE! JOKES! Another hallucination. The police arrive and start to arrest her, as Dennis and Caitlin say that they arrived just after she shot Mr. Northwood……

BUT…. Mr. Northwood is still alive! And on top of that, the cops remove a certain DICTAPHONE from his coat pocket…. which has recorded EVERYTHING!!! Which include’s Dennis and Caitlyn’s confessions. BUSTED YOU LITTLE PSYCHOS!!! As they are hauled away and Mr. Northwood is put in an ambulance, one of the cops says that Johanna has shitty friends, and asks her what they were saying about a dare? Johanna says that it was all just a fantasy, and walks into her house. The end.

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TAKE THAT YOU SPOILED RICH FUCKS! (source)

Body Count: Zip! It wasn’t looking good there for Zack or Mr. Northwood, but it all ended up fine, mortality wise.

Romance Rating: Zero. Dennis was just using poor Johanna and there were no other love interests.

Bonkers Rating: 6. If only because there were those SUPER VIOLENT FANTASIES interspersed throughout the book, and Zack was totally shot whilst playing with a gun.

Fear Street Relevance: 8. Johanna lives on Fear Street, as does Mr. Northwood, and all of the tension happens there.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger: EVERY SINGLE ONE THAT STARTED AS CARNAGE AND ENDED UP AS A FANTASY. So, SO many.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Oh man, where to start! From the mention of CD players to the outfits (specifically an ensemble of a denim vest over a work shirt and faded blue jeans with manufactured holes in the knees) to dictaphones to slurpy runs at the gas station, this one was chock full of 90s goodness.

Best Quote:

“I had to ask Mr. Northwood a question about the paper I was writing about Charles Lindbergh. I didn’t know if he wanted me to just write about Lindbergh’s career, or did I have to write about the kidnapping of his baby too?”

This just resonated with me as someone who’d want to write (and has written) a history paper on a horrific true crime incident.

Conclusion: “The Dare” is really more an exercise in trying my patience, as the main characters are either a bunch of spoiled, awful rich kids, or a pushover with a chip on her shoulder. I feel like it kind of wanted to be “Killing Mr. Griffin”, but didn’t have the balls that Lois Duncan had. Up next is “Bad Dreams”!

A Revisit to Fear Street: “The New Boy”

176635Book: “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.

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How… odd. (source)

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.

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Maybe it’s because you’re INCREDIBLY THREATENING AND VIOLENT, ROSS. (source)

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.

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(source)

 

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!

Best Quote:

“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”. 

A Revisit to Fear Street: “Sunburn”

176438Book: “Sunburn” (Fear Street #19) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1993

Where Did I Get This Book: ILL from the library!

Book Description: You could get burned…

The perfect suntan. Soaking up the rays. Fun on the beach. That’s what Claudia Walker had in mind when she accepted her friend Marla’s invitation to spend the weekend at her cliffside beach house. Little did she know that horrible accidents—fatal accidents—would occur on the beach and in the house.

But Claudia knows they’re not “accidents.” She’s sure somebody is out to get them…out to kill them. The week of “fun in the sun” has turned dark and deadly!

Had I Read This Before: No

The Plot: Meet Claudia! Claudia is in a sticky situation, as we first meet her when she’s waking up on a beach, with a whole lot of sand on top of all of her but her head. And the tide is coming in! In a ‘record scratch, yeah that’s me, you’re probably wondering how I got here’ kind of moment, we then flashback to find out who Claudia is and what she’s doing on this beach.

Apparently, a few weeks prior, she got a letter from her summer camp friend Marla Drexell! Marla invited her to go spend some time with her at her summer home in the beach town of Summerhaven, sort of a reunion for them and their other friends Sophie and Joy. Since Claudia’s summer had been a bust at that point, what with breaking up with her boyfriend and losing her waitressing job, she thought why not. It may help them all forget about the accident at camp…. When she got to Summerhaven she was reunited with Marla, Sophie, and Joy (side note: casual racism alert, as not only does Stine refer to Joy as ‘exotic’ looking, she is also described as having ‘slightly slanted green eyes’. Holy. Shit. That’s problematic as hell). They got to Marla’s summer home, which was a palace to say the least, and maybe they immediately went swimming and that is how Claudia got in this situation.

So anyway, back on the beach, Claudia is panicking because the tide is coming in closer, and then a shadow starts to enfold her. Is it the shadow of imminent death? Naw! It’s a handsome guy who just came in with the tide. He asks her if she needs any help (no shit buddy, she was literally screaming about five seconds ago), and she says yeah, she’s stuck under the sand pile. He digs her out and mentions that she has a bad burn on her face. Claudia says she must have fallen asleep, but where did her friends go and why did they leave her? He helps her back towards the Drexell estate, and he says his name is Daniel. She asks if he lives around there and he evasively says ‘not really’. Somehow, though, he knows the code to the gate to the estate, and Claudia doesn’t seem to find this odd as they walk back through the grounds. Claudia finds her friends and confronts them, but Joy and Sophie say that after they buried her they went for a walk, and then they ran into Marla who told them that Claudia had gone back to the house. Marla says she thought that Claudia  had gone back too, and asks who helped her out? Claudia says Daniel, and Marla asks who that is. When Claudia turns, Daniel has disappeared.

At dinner that night we are introduced to Alfred, the Drexell’s near sighted servant, who is cooking them all dinner (NOTE: in this moment there is a typo in which Stine writes ‘Marla told us’, even though it’s in the third person. Was it originally in the first person??? Mysteries!). He brings the salad bowl in, and Marta starts to serve all of them. Then Joy freaks out, as she finds a big brown WORM in her salad! Marla chides Alfred about it, and he says that he’s sorry and that the lettuce is ‘locally grown’. I feel so bad for Alfred. The girls laugh at this as he walks away, and Marla says she wishes he’d get glasses. POOR ALFRED. He’s the only servant on duty for these little brats. Marla asks Claudia about the boy who saved her, and says that it must have been a hallucination because there ARE no boys around here, just a bird sanctuary. But then she remembers about the GHOST BOY who lives in the guest house who died a hundred years ago. She’s seen him around the estate, and this “Daniel” was so cold because he’s a ghost… But PSYCH!!! Marla’s just fucking with them! There is not ghost boy. After dinner and movies, the girls are getting ready for bed. As Claudia is looking out the window, she sees a light go on in the guest house! And a figure!!! MAYBE THERE IS A GHOST BOY?! Marla comes in and scoffs at the thought, as there’s no one else at the house but them. She says the light was just a reflection. Claudia isn’t so sure, but goes to sleep.

When she wakes up the next morning, she thinks about how luxurious this house is, and we get some Drexell exposition (Dad’s a financial genius, Mom’s a socialite, they’re always traveling). She examines her burn, and is still a bit bitter that they all just left her, but whatevs. She goes downstairs and finds that Marla’s the only one up, so they go to play tennis. Marla’s game is off, and Claudia suggests that maybe she’s ‘upset to see them’ again. Because of ‘the accident’, where Marla’s sister Alison died. OH. That’s what this is. Marla yells that she really doesn’t want to talk about it and storms back to the house. When Claudia gets back Sophie and Joy are up and Marla seems okay, so they all decide to go to the beach (though Claudia puts on lots of sun protection). They get to the gate and Marla tells Sophie to open it…. And then Sophie is ZAPPED BACKWARDS because it’s ELECTRIFIED!! Marla runs and turns off the power, and Sophie is stunned but seems okay. Marla says that it’s supposed to be turned off during the day, so what gives?! Sophie insists that she’s okay, and Marla says that she’s going to talk to Alfred when they get back.

At the beach, the girls all get ready for a nice afternoon by the water. Claudia notices that Marla is pretty pale, which is weird because she said she’d been spending so much time outside all summer long. But there isn’t time to wonder, because suddenly two guys are on the beach with them from the surf. Claudia thinks one of them in Daniel at first, but it’s not. They say that they must not be at the bird sanctuary anymore, and that a riptide pulled them this far down shore. Marla is visibly angry that they’re there, and demands that they leave. But Joy and Sophie think they’re cute, and the guys say they’re Dean and Carl. Dean immediately starts rummaging through their cooler, making himself at home.

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At first I thought Marla was being defensive, but now I’m in agreement with her. (source)

Joy and Sophie are totally down with this, though, and the boys horn in on the day as Marla goes to sulk and as Claudia feels uncomfortable at all of it. Daniel/Ghost Boy wouldn’t do this. Marla once again insists they leave, and Dean starts to get a bit menacing on her saying that they should go back to her house and ‘party’. They exchange more words, and then Dean SLAPS her (WHAT THE FUCK) on the arm. He claims there was a horsefly there, but I’m not so sure. Carl says that they should go (a little late to wrangle it all in, buddy), and Dean says that his Dad worked for Marla’s family at one time before parting. Claudia asks Marla why she was giving the guys a hard time (REALLY?), and Marla says she promised her parents no boys. As they go back to the house Claudia remembers that Marla was always weird about boys.

At the house Claudia, Joy, and Sophie are talking. They all agree that Marla’s acting weird, not like she used to, but Claudia reminds them that a lot has happened since those days (like her SISTER DYING). Joy and Sophie tell Claudia that they have a confession: they wanted to go back to check on her at the beach the other day, but Marla insisted they not. They also think it’s weird that Marla won’t talk about Alison at all. After dinner they all decide to go to a boardwalk amusement park, and when Claudia says she wants to ride the Ferris Wheel, Joy says that she’s afraid of heights ‘after what happened last summer’. Another clue. They get to the boardwalk and run into Dean and Carl, aka Predatory Squiggy and Lenny, and as Joy and Sophie each lay claim and Marla gets miffed, Claudia decides to go explore by herself…. And then she runs into Daniel/Ghost Boy! She calls him Ghost Boy, even and he doesn’t quite get it, but they still walk and talk pleasantly. He thinks her friends are jerks for leaving her on the beach, but she insists it was an accident. They then go on the Ferris Wheel together, and at the top Claudia flashes back to the night Alison died.

Apparently Alison was a bratty little sister, and after getting on Marla’s nerves during Truth or Dare at Camp Full Moon, Marla dared her to walk across a log that goes over Grizzly Gorge, at night. Alison took the dare, and they all said they’d meet after lights out. Marla was busted by a counselor before she could get there, and when Claudia and co. got to the Gorge Alison was waiting. They gave her the option to not do it, but Alison crankily insisted she could because THEY all had, so SHE COULD TOO… But, as it turned out that was false, as while the others begged her not to, and then to come back, she persisted, and when the arrival of camp counselors scared the others off, Claudia ran and heard a snap of a log, signaling Alison falling to her death.

After getting off the Ferris Wheel, Claudia loses Daniel in the crowd again before reuniting with the others. The guys aren’t the big jerks they pretend(?) to be, and the girls go back to the summer house. As Claudia is falling asleep, thinking about Daniel/Ghost Boy, she is awakened by screams!!! She runs into Joy’s room, Sophie and Marla on her tail, and Joy is covered in LEECHES! How odd! They pull them off Joy, who is hysterical. The window is open and they realize that someone must have put them on her while she was sleeping. Marla asks Alfred if he knew about any of this, but he’s confused too. After they all calm down they decide to go back to sleep, but Claudia first goes to get some water from the kitchen… And she sees Daniel/Ghost Boy!! She calls out to him, but he retreats, and before she can go after him she runs into Alfred, who says that it’s impossible for anyone from the outside of the property to get in, what with the electric fence and the guard dog. Especially since Marla changed the code that night (so don’t even try saying he knows the code, Claudia!). Was Daniel the one causing the problems? Was he a ghost?

While the police and Alfred search the house, the girls go water skiing. Sophie is up first, even though she’s not very good in the water, and all is going well… Until the rope snaps, and Sophie fallsf behind the boat! Marla tries to start it up to go help her, but the motor stalls! Claudia grabs a flotation belt and jumps in, swimming for Sophie… But then they’re BOTH taken by the riptide! Before they can drown, though, Carl and Dean to the rescue! They pull them both in, and take them back to shore. Marla and Joy catch up in Marla’s boat, and Marla says she got the engine to turn over. As they inspect the rope, they notice that it isn’t frayed, it’s been cut part way and then snapped! Marla thinks it’s Daniel, or maybe Carl and Dean, and the girls go back to the house. Joy says to Sophie and Claudia that she’s convinced Marla is trying to kill them, because she must know that Alison’s death WASN’T AN ACCIDENT! We get a NEW story now, in which Alison actively asked for their help but they still ran away. I don’t know, that still seems like an accident. Apparently Alison’s body was never found and no one knew that the three of them were there that night. The three of them make plans to try and make a break for it the next day, but Claudia’s Mom can’t come until the day after tomorrow, so it will have to do As they’re planning, though, they see Marla has been in the doorway listening.

The next day starts out okay, with the girls doing their own things. Claudia decides to go for a run on the beach. She gets close to the bird sanctuary, but then realizes that the birdsongs randomly ceased. Down the beach she sees someone who looks like Marla from a distance, but she doesn’t answer when Claudia calls for her. And then…. A HUGE DOG JUMPS OUT OF THE BUSHES, growling at her. It’s an Irish Wolfhound, and Claudia remembers that they’re bred to be killing machines.

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Totally. (source)

Claudia runs into the water and tries to swim away, but the dog bites her foot. She kicks if off and decides that she can keep going back further and further and be safe. It works for a bit…. UNTIL A SHARK ARRIVES!!! So Claudia tries to swim away smoothly, so as not to attract attention in spite of her bleeding foot… AND GETS PULLED INTO THE RIPTIDE. Sweet Jesus! On TOP of that, the SHARK decides to EAT THE IRISH WOLFHOUND!!! In full, gory, upsetting details. Involving dog chunks floating away.

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(source)

Somehow she washes up on shore and Marla finds her. They start to make their way back to the house, and Marla mentions that it’s Alfred’s day off. Claudia has a moment of clarity: that was Marla on the beach, and that dog was her family guard dog. Marla is DEFINITELY trying to kill her. When they get back to the house, Marla goes to find antiseptic, and Claudia checks the dog pen. Yep, the dog didn’t break out, it was let out. She limps up to find Sophie and Joy, but Joy is in town with Carl. Claudia tells Sophie they need to get to town ASAP, and then Marla walks in and tells them that they’re going to have dinner in the rain gazebo so they can watch the incoming thunderstorm over the ocean. That would sound super cool, if Marla WASN’T TRYING TO KILL THEM.

Joy gets back and Sophie and Claudia fill her in. They haphazardly pack as the storm comes in. They go towards the gazebo to demand that Marla take them to town, but are waylaid by a smell coming from a shed nearby. They open it, and MARLA’S LIFELESS BODY TOPPLES OUT!!! And boy does she look like she’s days dead. They girls freak out and run to the house! They’re alone with a killer!!! Is it Alfred? Is it Daniel/Ghost Boy!? As they run towards the guest house, they find out who it is. Why…. it’s MARLA, who is holding a gun! Except, NOPE, IT’S ALISON!!!!!! IT’S BEEN ALISON THE WHOLE TIME!!! MARLA’S BEEN DEAD FOR A WEEK!!!

Okay, I need to call bullshit on this. I will give you that sure, Alfred is near sighted, and I’m sure the Drexells tell their servants to NEVER look them in the eyes, so maybe he can’t tell the difference. But Alison and Marla were NOT TWINS!!! HOW DID THESE THREE GIRLS NOT RECOGNIZE THIS WAS ALISON THE WHOLE TIME?!?!?!?!

So Alison survived the fall at Camp Full Moon, and was rescued by a nice, down to earth family who lived in the woods! But Marla apparently DID see her fall (which doesn’t make sense because wasn’t she captured by a counselor?), and she was SMILING, or so Alison says. Alison pretended to have amnesia so she wouldn’t have to go back to her shitty family with her shitty sister who dared her to cross the gorge and was happy she fell, but now she’s back for revenge. She arrived a week prior and killed Marla, and saw that these three were coming and decided to kill them too!!! Before she can finish the job, however, a dark figure steps out of the guest house. It’s Daniel!!! Claudia tells Alison it’s the Ghost from the Guest House!! Alison starts to panic in confusion, and a lightning strike knocks out the power. Alison and Daniel struggle in the dark, and Daniel gets the gun away. Alison runs for the gate, and they all scream at her that it’s electric. She says that ‘the power is out, idiots!’… but then, the family generator kicks on JUST IN TIME as she grabs for the fence…. Well, let’s just say she didn’t fare well as Sophie. She twitches a few times, and dies.

Daniel comes to the three girls left standing, and explains that he’s Alfred’s son. The Drexells never let Alfred have enough time off to see him, and so he was secretly visiting this weekend, coincidentally the weekend the reunion was. He and Claudia kiss as they go inside to call the police. The End.

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(source)

Body Count: 3. Imagine what it’s going to be like for their parents to get home from vacation. Also, the dog getting eaten by a SHARK. I will never get over that.

Romance Rating: 5. I liked Daniel quite a bit whenever he was on page, but Dean and Carl were either creepy (Dean), or a dud (Carl).

Bonkers Rating: 7. From the identity switcheroo that made no sense to a dog getting eaten by a goddamn SHARK, this book had some great batshit moments.

Fear Street Relevance: 1. Claudia lives there but we just get ONE mention of it and that’s it. Another one that could have been a standalone.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“Claudia stared in horror as Daniel, his arms still outstretched, went sailing over the safety bar and fell head first to his death.”

…. But no, he actually didn’t at all. Claudia was just remembering Alison’s death.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Not so much in this one, sadly, though there is mention of watching a VHS of “Bye, Bye, Birdie” and laughing at the sexist attitudes towards women, so maybe that’s a meta moment or sorts? Otherwise, just the usual mentions of fashion that sounds fit for Lisa Frank. Oh, and the thought that tanning was still perfectly harmless.

Best Quote:

“There, she thought with satisfaction. I look like a total jerk, but the sun won’t get near me!”

As someone who has to slather in sunblock and wear a hat at all times when outside, I felt this Claudia moment so, so hard.

Conclusion: “Sunburn” was pretty entertaining for what it was, and we finally got some over the top ridiculousness which had been sorely lacking for the past few reads. Up next is “The New Boy”. 

 

A Revisit to Fear Street: “The Cheater”

227487Book: “The Cheater” (Fear Street #18) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, April 1993

Book Description: Carter Phillips is under a lot of pressure to ace her math achievement exam – so much pressure that she gets Adam Messner to take the test for her . . . in exchange for one date. But Adam wants more than a date – much more. Carter has no choice. She has to do whatever he asks. If not, he’ll tell hers secret and ruin life. Adam’s control over her gets more and more unbearable. Carter is desperate to get rid of him – but how? Is murder the only way?

Had I Read This Before: Yes.

The Plot: Our main gal Friday this time is Carter Phillips, a spoiled little rich girl who is the daughter of a Judge and has his high expectations thrust upon her. Also, her mother is one of those wealthy do gooder ladies who probably raises money for the less fortunate but her definition of ‘less fortunate’ smacks of racism. The most recent issue for Carter is that, while she is great at most academic subjects, math is just not her thing. I FEEL YA, CARTER. She has an upcoming math achievement exam (which I just assume is supposed to be the SAT or ACT in this parallel universe in which Shadyside resides), and she’s very stressed about it. If she doesn’t score 700, Princeton will surely tell her to take a hike. Given that she’s terrible at math, she’s certain that a 700 is not in the cards, and she’s terrified that she’ll disappoint her father, as she laments to her bestie Jill. While on a date at a local burger joint with her boyfriend Dan, who is honest and kind and totally devoted to her, she asks that maybe he could take the test for her? He tut tuts her for even suggesting such a thing, and in her shame she back tracks and says ‘nah, jokes!’. They part ways amicably, as Dan leaves and she remains, stressing about the upcoming test. This is when Carter is approached by Adam Messner, burger hawker, classmate, and goth/grunge weirdo. Carter doesn’t know Adam very well, but does know that 1) he’s strange, and 2) he has a girlfriend named Sheila who sounds like Courtney Love during the ‘unfortunate years’. Adam admits that he was eavesdropping, and offers to take the test for her. After all, it’s at a different school, and her name is like a boy’s name. Carter is hesitant, thinking that the proctor would ask for ID, but Adam assures her that it won’t be a problem. She asks why he’s offering, and he says that she needs his math skills, and he would like her to go on a date with him. One date. And that will be that. Even though Carter already has a boyfriend, she accepts the offer, because how could ONE SINGLE DATE possible hurt?

How indeed, Carter.

Adam takes the test for her, and while he maliciously tricks her at first saying that they did ask for ID (they didn’t, funny joke, Messner), he assures her that all went well and that he’s pretty sure he crushed it. In fact, he scored a 730, as the results come back, and Carter is thrilled, even if she is a little uneasy. But her father, The Judge, is so happy, he gives her a pair of diamond earrings as a congratulations, because that’s how the wealthy are. Carter and Adam go on their date that Friday, and it actually isn’t so bad. They even do a little kissing and gentle petting, as while Carter does really care about Dan, Adam is just so EXCITING and FORBIDDEN. When he drives her home, Carter, being the stuck up snoot she is at the heart of her, asks if he would please drop her off at the curb instead of up at her house. Lest someone see them together. While it’s probably prudent given that she has a boyfriend, it also smacks of elitism. He asks her what she’s doing the next day, and she says she’s going to play tennis at the country club with her BFF Jill. Adam says that he’ll meet her there, and speeds off. As if that wasn’t stupid enough, as Carter walks the rest of the way home, she is ambushed by Sheila, who jumps out of the bushes, angry that Carter was on a date with her boyfriend. Carter assures her that nothing happened (not true), and Sheila storms off.

At the country club the next day, Carter arrives to find Adam arguing with the guard. The guard isn’t convinced that this boy dressed in a black tee shirt and black jeans is here to play tennis with Shadyside’s Vanderbilt Equivalents, but Carter says that yes, he is. They go to the courts and play doubles against Jill and her flavor of the month, a real top drawer boy named Richard. Adam is actually pretty good, and once again Carter is a bit aroused by him. Thank God he knows his way around a racket. After they are done, he asks her on another date. This time she tries to be firm in her refusal, but he tells her that if she doesn’t go out with him, she’ll be sorry. Girl, this is ALWAYS how these things go! And where does poor Sheila enter into this? In the locker room, she opens her gym bag and finds an ANIMAL HEART. Sheila’s doing?

So the next weekend, Carter and Adam go to a movie, and then they go back to his house on, you guessed it, Fear Street. It’s one of the dilapidated ones, as you either have slum houses on Fear Street or gorgeous and perfectly okay ones, depending on whether a protagonist or antagonist lives in it. They go into the kitchen, and Carter tries to leave, but Adam shoves her into the wall and starts kissing her against her will. She tells him that she’s leaving, and he lets her, but tells her that he wants another favor: his friend Ray has a huge boner for Jill, and he wants them all to go on a double date the next night. Carter doesn’t want to, but feels like she has no choice because, you know, blackmail. Carter calls Jill and asks her to do this for her (rudely interrupting a mauling sesh with Gary Brandt), and Jill is rightfully perplexed and horrified. Ray is a creep, you can tell because he has tattoos! But she agrees because she’s too good a friend.

So they go on the date to some seedy club that country club girls probably wouldn’t be caught dead in usually. Unfortunately, Carter and Jill are basically fresh meat to the thugs in this bar who sound like they’re hot off a spitting session in a Sex Pistols pogo pit, as they are well dressed AND underage girls. Ray starts grinding up on Jill, who is repulsed and terrified, and when Carter tries to help the punks surround them and grab at them and to be frank, this felt like it was one big sexual assault and I was very uncomfortable. Carter grabs Jill and barrels through them, running to her car and speeding them far far away. Once they’re safe at Carter’s house back in North Hills (I assume? That is the fancy part of Shadyside), Jill weeps as Carter begs for forgiveness.

At school the following week, Carter basically rips Adam a new one and tells him that they are done with this bullshit. He counters her offer by demanding she give him one thousand dollars, unless she wants him to spill his guts. I call bullshit on this, because he too would be held accountable as HE WOULD ALSO BE A CHEATER. I think Adam Messner doesn’t have the balls, but Carter seems to think he does, so she pawns those earrings that The Judge gave her. At dinner that night The Judge asks her where her earrings are (I guess she’s supposed to wear them at all times), and she lies saying that the backing fell off one so she’s getting them repaired. How bittersweet.

After the heat seems to be off her, as she has paid Adam off and he’s leaving her alone, Carter FINALLY goes on a date with Dan. You remember Dan! Her actual boyfriend! They watch movies on the couch at his house and probably mess around a bit, and eventually she leaves for home. While she’s driving, some crazy person tries to run her off the road! Given that she has some enemies now, she thinks it must be either Adam or Sheila. She gets home, and Adam is there, waiting for her. He demands another cool grand, saying that he’ll tell if she doesn’t fork it over.

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(source)

Later, Carter’s parents go out of town for a family wedding, and Carter stays behind. That night Dan comes over and confronts her about how weird she’s been acting, saying that he AND Jill have noticed it. Carter breaks down, confessing everything to him, the cheating, the blackmail, maaaaybe not the vague excitement she felt around Adam at first. She then grabs her Dad’s handgun out of a drawer, and says that she wants to KILL ADAM!! Dan tells her that that’s a terrible idea, and then, not at ALL suspiciously, leaves. Carter gathers up more jewelry to pawn, and once she gets the cash she drops it off at Adam’s house without going to find him, driving around afterwards aimlessly. She gets home to find Dan waiting for her, and before they can have any kind of reunion, the police show up. ADAM MESSNER HAS BEEN SHOT AND KILLED. And they have reason to believe that Carter may have been connected to him because of evidence they found at his house. She tells the police that no way, she hadn’t been to his house that night. The cops leave, and Dan points out her lie, as hadn’t she gone to Adam’s house? She says she doesn’t want to get the cops involved in her life. Dan leaves, suddenly acting strange. A short while later, the phone rings, and Carter answers, hoping it’s Dan. But instead, it’s someone who just whispers “I know what you did.”

At school people seem to have heard the rumors about Carter and Adam, as everyone is avoiding her, including Jill. Dan is even saying he doesn’t know what to say to her anymore. That night her parents have gone off to one of her mother’s charity drives , so Carter is alone. And then, of course, the power goes out. No go on the phone, as it’s dead too! And then she hears footsteps in the basement. A STRANGE MAN emerges and attacks her, saying that he was the one who tried to run her off the road. As he tries to strangle her, the police come in, in the nick of time! Thank god for rich people and their alarms! Carter’s parents come home in the middle of this, and The Judge recognizes this guy as a hired muscle for a guy whose case he is presiding over. Huh! That was actually a pretty okay twist! If not a bit superfluous.

A few nights later, Carter is feeling like maybe things are going to go her way, but then Sheila calls. Now SHE wants money, because Adam told her everything, and Sheila is convinced that Carter is the one who killed him because she somehow has ‘proof’. She asks for five hundred smackaroos, and Carter pawns her fancy stereo system. She meets Sheila in the woods, and they do an exchange. Carter gives Sheila the money, and Sheila gives her the proof…. a necklace that says ‘Carter’ on the back of it. It was by Adam’s body. Hmmmmmmm….

Carter calls Dad and says she’s going to confess everything to her father, and she wants him to be there when she does. He says that he will. They go into The Judge’s office, and Carter confesses to cheating, and then she confesses to killing Adam as well!!! The Judge seems totally disappointed in his little girl. Dan asks if The Judge can get her off the hook, but The Judge isn’t totally sure, and says he’s going to call the police…. And this is when DAN ADMITS TO KILLING ADAM!! He accidentally shot him, he went to confront him about blackmailing Carter and Adam pulled a gun on him. They tussled, and Dan accidentally pulled the trigger….. And then Carter says ‘See Daddy? I told you he’d confess!’

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(source)

Yes, the necklace was one that Dan had bought for her. When she saw it, she knew, and she knew that he would eventually own up if she tried to take the fall. Though he almost didn’t! Anyway, The Judge says that he can probably pull some strings, but that Carter does have to own up for cheating in the first place. Her mother is more concerned about how scandalous this is than anything else, but it does seem like The Judge is using his connections to not only get Carter a pass, but to get Dan some really great lawyers who can get him kind of deal, or no charges whatsoever, etc etc. The book ends with Carter and Dan playing chess together, and it sure makes it seem like there will be no consequences for these two privileged white kids from North Hills. And of course, while they’re playing, Dan says to Carter ‘no cheating!’, and then beats her because she doesn’t cheat anymore. The End.

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(source)

Body Count: 1. That piece of crap Adam Messner. Good riddance.

Romance Rating: 7. I don’t know, Dan is a pretty okay guy who really cares for Carter, and while accidentally shooting Adam wasn’t great, he did own up to it. Though, he was willing to let Carter take the fall for a bit, so….. Maybe let’s bump it down to a 6.

Bonkers Rating: 3. It’s actually not that crazy, but it does get some points for the red herring of the hired goon from Judge Phillips’s case trying to hurt Carter.

Fear Street Relevance: 3. Carter doesn’t live on Fear Street. Adam does, but only a little of the plot takes place at his house.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger: 

“Desperately, she struggled to straighten the wheel. Too late! She screamed – closed her eyes – and waited for the crash.”

…. And then she just brakes the car.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Well first of all, just look at the cover. Look at that phone. But what made me cackle (and gave me pangs of nostalgia to my grade school years) was that the choices of hot movies from the video store were “Batman Returns” and “Waynes World”.

Best Quote:

“Mrs. Phillips was horrified, of course, at having her daughter mixed up in such a scandal. ‘They’ll be dragging our name through the mud in the papers!’ she cried tearfully at the dinner table that night. ‘I just hope they don’t kick us out of the club!'”

Priorities.

Conclusion: As silly as it was, I pretty much enjoyed “The Cheater”. There’s a reason I remember it so vividly from my childhood. Next up is “Sunburn”! And let me tell you, the cover alone is glorious.