A Revisit to Fear Street: “Truth or Dare”

176401Book: “Truth or Dare” (Fear Street #28) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1995

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

Book Description: The truth hurts.

What else is there to do, with all seven of them stuck in Dara Harker’s luxury ski condo? There are three guys and four girls—some of them friends, some nearly strangers—all of them trapped. A blinding blizzard has stilled the lifts, blocked the roads, and killed the phones.

A game, they think, will help them break the ice. Who will tell the truth? Who will take a dare? And how far will each of them go?

But then the game turns deadly. One of them, it seems, would rather kill than tell the truth.

And kill again.

Had I Read This Before: No.

The Plot: We once again depart from not only Fear Street but Shadyside itself for a winter based tale of terror, and given that we here in Minnesota are digging ourselves out of a monster, historical blizzard that clobbered us a couple days ago it feels all too appropriate and snide for a setting. We join our group of protagonists as they are riding in a limo up into the snowy mountains. There’s April, our first person main character, her best friend Jenny, Jenny’s boyfriend of years and years Ken, and Josh, a boy who isn’t from Shadyside but is friends with their excessively rich host Dara. Dara is coming up separately in her Jeep (there is debate if it’s a Grand Cherokee or a Renegade). As Jenny and Ken make out, April tries to make small talk with Josh, who isn’t really into conversing. She does notice is lighting bolt earring though. They arrive at the mountain lodge just as it starts to lightly snow, and Dara pulls up as well. She confirms that her parents aren’t going to be around that weekend, and then says some snide stuff to Josh before gushing over April’s blue parka. After the limo driver unloads the bags he’s driving back home to Shadyside, so that means it’s going to be a weekend of teens doing God knows what. But when they get inside, they hear footsteps and coughing. They aren’t alone!! They go to investigate and find a boy named Tony and his girlfriend Carly Rae! Seems that Dara’s parents and Tony’s parents both own the lodge, and Tony thought that it was his family’s weekend, so he brought Carly Rae up for some heavy petting, pretty much making Dara and her crew a bunch of cock blockers. Dara temper tantrums, but Tony suggests that they just share the cabin for the weekend. Dara grudgingly agrees, and the guys and girls split off to unpack in their very separate rooms (with guys bunkbedding and girls getting their own spaces).

After unpacking and noticing that the snow is starting in earnest, the group reconvenes in the main room. While Tony and Carly Rae are content making out, the Shadyside Crew (+ Josh) decide that they should play a game to break the ice since they don’t all know each other very well, Dara being a new kid and Josh being a lump who’s inexplicably there. Ken suggests Truth or Dare, and Josh doesn’t want to play, which seems to make Dara want to play even more. Once the rules are explained no doubt for the reader’s benefit, they start. It starts pretty tame, with a confession of picking up a ten dollar bill that wasn’t his (Ken) and a kissing session that ended with gum ending up in the other person’s mouth (April). But then Dara is asked who the worst kisser she’s ever had is, and she makes it pretty clear without being totally forthcoming that it’s Josh. Josh, realizing she’s about to name him, suddenly flips and runs at her with a fireplace poker! But he drops it right before beating her with it and runs towards the door. What the FUCK. Dara runs after him and drags him back, apologizing, and I have opinions on that choice. Dara then turns to April, and asks if she has a secret about someone that she wishes she didn’t know. April proceeds to say ‘I wish I didn’t know about the girl on Sumner Island’…. and then plays totally coy, regretting that she even said anything.

Then WHY did you say it?! (source)

Apparently that past summer April saw Ken do something but isn’t ready to reveal it to the reader, yet, and lucky for her Tony decides in that moment to bring the attention back to him by scaring April and then hitting on her in front of his ladyfriend. Dara ropes him into the game and he takes a dare from Dara because privilege no doubt makes him feel invincible. It’s starting to snow hard now and Dara tells them all to go outside for this dare. Dara dares Tony to climb on the roof and get the Frisbee that he got stuck up there God knows when. Tony says no problem despite the protests of Carly Rae and April. But Dara tells them to shove it because she likes to revel in other peoples’ potential demises. Tony grabs a ladder from the garage and climbs up on the slippery roof, but before he can get it he does, indeed, slip and skid down to the gutters. He manages to grab on and gently drop, but he’s pissed at Dara even though HE was the one who took the dare eagerly. April thinks about her previous answer, and apparently she saw Ken making out with some mystery girl who was decidedly NOT Jenny and has kept it a secret ever since. They all go back to the cabin and decide to turn in. April sees Dara in the main room and Dara says she’s going to the woodshed to get wood for the next morning, and April goes to bed.

April wakes up the next morning and enters the kitchen for breakfast. The radio says that the snow is going to get to be eight to ten inches but the wind means that the ski lifts won’t be running, which means they won’t be able to ski. They all pitch in to make breakfast, but notice that Dara hasn’t come down yet. April goes to her room to wake her, but she isn’t there and her bed is made and her bag is still packed. And Josh is missing too! Since he was the top bunk none of the guys noticed if he was there or not. There’s also no firewood, so Dara never came back, and when they look in the driveway the Jeep is gone! Tony thinks that they left together to go to one of the ski resorts, but April isn’t convinced and thinks they should call the police. Tony balks, and he and Carly Rae admit that their parents don’t know that they are up here, and if the police get involved they’ll get in trouble. Carly Rae asks if they can just wait a bit, and then something slides off the roof and thuds to the ground. April freaks out, but Jenny confirms that it was just a huge snow blob falling to the ground.

Lunch rolls around and the snow keeps piling up and Josh and Dara are still nowhere to be seen, and when April asks what they should do Ken says ‘NOT TRUTH OR DARE’, which makes April think that he caught her little ‘accidental’ slip up. There’s a sudden thudding noise, and they think that maybe it’s someone at the door, perhaps Dara or Josh? But it’s not knocking, it’s the door to the ski locker thudding in the wind. Ken and April venture out to close it so the noise will stop, and what should fall out of the locker??? DARA’S FROZEN CORPSE WITH A HATCHET BURIED IN HER BACK!!! April and Ken run back inside and insist that now is the time to call the cops, but Tony STILL says NO!… But this time it’s because the line is dead due to the storm, and they can’t leave because it would be too dangerous because of the snow and the cold. April thinks that they are all in danger, but Tony thinks that the killer was Josh, who then took the Jeep and made a getaway. He says that all they can do is lock the doors, keep the fire going, and wait for the weather to clear, and then they can call for help. Wow, a character with actual survival instincts! April says they should search the boy’s room to see if Josh left is stuff, because if he DID maybe he was killed too. They go searching and do find his bag, but when they go back to Dara’s room to look for more clues they also find a note written in red ink. It’s from Josh to Dara, asking her to meet him at midnight and that she’s humiliated him for the last time! So maybe he did do it! Jenny starts to freak out, thinking he’ll come back to finish the job if he remembers the note he left. Tony seems to recall that Dara’s Dad had a gun in this house at one point, and April is suspicious of him, and the others say they don’t feel totally good with that idea so they should just leave it and try to wait it out.

That night April can’t sleep and to make matters worse, she hears footsteps in the main room. Convinced that it’s Josh coming back to finish the job, she grabs a ski pole and goes into the darkness to confront him… when she’s tackled!! But it’s just Tony, who also thought that she was Josh coming back to kill everyone. She asks why he’s awake, and he says that he heard noises and came to investigate, and April is SUPER suspicious  because WHY would anyone do that…. even though she just did that. He confides in her that he and Dara used to go out at one time, but that it was JOSH that Dara really hurt. They go into the kitchen to get some water, but then Tony starts to freak out. When April turns towards the window, she sees Josh!!! And he looks like he’s frozen to death! April screams, which brings the other out of their rooms, but Josh isn’t dead, he’s knocking on the window… But yeah, probably on the verge of death because he’s been outside who knows how long. They let him in, but then tell him that they know what he did!!! They let him have some hot water as he thaws out, and he says that he’s been wandering in the snow all day, and he has no idea what they are talking about, and what do you MEAN Dara is dead!? They show him the letter, and he says that it isn’t his handwriting. Sure, he was unreasonably murderous LAST night because she teased him and his fragile ego couldn’t take it, but all he wanted to do was STRAND all of them there, so he committed grand theft auto and drove off to teach them all a lesson because man, Dara is such a BITCH, right? But then he drove off the road and got stuck, and had to come back because no one was coming for him. April thinks that he’s sincere; he’s not a murderer, just a ‘Nice Guy’ wronged by a girl and bound for the Incel Movement. Which isn’t much better, frankly. But if Josh didn’t kill her, who did? Because it has to be someone in that room.

The next morning April wakes up early hoping the phones are back, but they aren’t. Ken asks if they can talk about what she saw on Sumner Island, but April brushes it off and jeeze, how is he so fixated on THAT of all things in this moment, she wonders. She goes back to her room to find Josh rifling through her things (fucking creep!), and when she demands to know what he’s doing he says that he’s looking for the red pen that wrote that note, as whoever has it must be the one who framed him for Dara’s murder. She tells him to get out and starts to put her stuff away, but realizes that her blue parka is missing…. And then she realizes something pretty upsetting: Dara was wearing her blue parka when they found her body. She goes to look at the body again to confirm it, and then realizes that if Dara had been wearing the parka in the dark, the killer must have thought that it was April, not her… And therefore the killer actually wants to kill her! She decides that she needs to take her chances, and grabs the first coat she can find inside. It’s big and red, and it must be Ken’s because of the size. She doesn’t grab any other winter essentials such as a hat, scarf, or gloves, and ventures into the literal blizzard in an ill fitting coat.

Probably her thoughts for the first few yards. (source)

But as she shoves her hands into the pockets (because you know, no gloves), she realizes that there’s something inside one of them. She pulls it out and realizes that she’s holding a red pen!!!! So that means that Ken MUST have written the note that framed Josh! New theory: Josh thought that Dara was her, and was hoping to kill her because he was worried that April was going to tell Jenny about his kissing session with the random girl on Sumner Island. That sure seems like a CRAZY reaction, but hey, Josh proved himself to be a complete maniac so why not Ken as well? April tries to keep moving, but then hears grunting and huffing behind her… It’s Ken!! And he tackles her to the ground!! When she tells him to get off he tells her that he’s taking her back to the cabin because she is going to die out here and needs to stay indoors. He seems to realize just in the moment that she is wearing his coat, and tells her that Jenny is the one who sent him after her and noticed that she was gone. April doesn’t believe him, but also knows that she is going to die out here, and maybe she can take her chances inside with him if she plays it cool. They start to walk back, and he brings up the Truth or Dare game again. April, in a seemingly ‘ah FUCK IT’ gambit, blurts out that she knows about him and the girl on Sumner Island but she hasn’t told Jenny. She then runs ahead of him all the way back to the cabin. He still insists on talking about it but she breaks away to go find Jenny. I guess the gamble is that if she tells Jenny then Ken won’t kill her? She then says to Jenny that she has deep dark secrets to tell her and that they need to get out of there ASAP, suggesting that they ski their way out to find help! Jenny agrees to go with her.

They ski through the woods and end up at the ski lift. It’s running again now that the snow has calmed down. They ask an old man who’s running it where they can get help, and he says there is a phone at the top. So they get on the lift, and start the slow slow climb up. So clearly they’re going to be okay! Clearly they’re going to be safe!…. But then, Jenny suddenly turns to April, says ‘sorry’, and shoves April off the bench!! April grabs onto the side, and they start to fight in the lift! Jenny says that April must die because she knows about the Girl on Sumner Island! April is rightfully confused. April says that she caught the clue during the Truth or Dare game, that April knew that Jenny had killed her for trying to steal Ken away! Apparently Ken had met this Barbara girl and didn’t want to stop seeing her, and Jenny went to confront her and accidentally killed her. The police never figured out who killed Barbara, but Jenny has been living in fear ever since. And when April mentioned Sumner Island, Jenny decided to kill her too, but killed Dara by accident instead, and left the note to frame Josh, leaving the pen in Ken’s coat because he wouldn’t tell on her. April says that she NEVER knew any of this, but Jenny still shoves her out of the lift. Luckily, they’re basically at the top so April only falls a few feet. But of course, Jenny is still there and attacks her with a ski pole. Before she can do too much damage, Jenny gets hit in the back of the head with one of the lift chairs, and then Ken shows up right behind it in the next one. He says that he did find the pen and recognized Jenny’s handwriting, but didn’t want to believe it was her. Jenny weeps about her secret just as two ski patrol men come up to see what the ruckus is about, and April tells Ken that the game of Truth or Dare told more than anyone thought it would. And she says that next time they should just stick with Trivial Pursuit. The End.

Oh good, I see we’re back to the completely inappropriate reactions in the face of senseless death and destruction. (source)

Body Count: 1 on page. But it was a solidly badass way to go! A hatchet in the back is pretty wicked.

Romance Rating: 2, just because Jenny turned out to be nuts, Ken is a cheater, and Tony and Carly Rae were just gross in their constant making out. But it was kind of refreshing that April didn’t have a love interest and didn’t seem to mind that!

Bonkers Rating: 4. A hatchet to the back is a good start but ultimately it was all about petty jealousy and lousy weather.

Fear Street Relevance: 1. Once again, we find ourselves off site for the plot.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“He let go of Carly and took a step towards Dara. His expression hardened. He balled both hands into fists. He’s deliberately trying to scare us, I realized. ‘I know how to settle it,’ Tony said, coldly.”

….. And he graciously says that they can all share the space for the weekend.

That’s So Dated! Moments: There wasn’t much that really stood out this time outside of a reference to cassette tapes. Though the fashion styles certain reference very, uh, FLASHY colors (like the bright orange coat on the cover) you saw all over the 1990s.

Best Quote:

” ‘Hmmm. Lawyer dudes!’ Tony exclaimed.”

As a daughter of lawyers, sister of a lawyer, and wife of a lawyer, I am VERY familiar with ‘lawyer dudes’ (AND dudettes). (source)

Conclusion: “Truth or Dare” was another one of those books that could have been a standalone and shouldn’t have piggybacked on the “Fear Street” series, but I will admit that the final twist surprised me, so hey, good for you, Stine! Up next is “Dead End”!

A Revist to Fear Street: “The Third Evil”

260043Book: “The Third Evil (Fear Street Cheerleaders #3)” by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1992

Where Did I Get This Book: An eBook from the library!

Book Description: It’s back!

Did the evil spirit really leave Kimmy’s body? The cheerleaders of Shadyside High can still feel its dark presence, and Corky knows that it is out there, somewhere close. And getting closer.

Corky is tormented night after night by dreams of her dead sister, Bobbi. What terrifying message is Bobbi trying to tell her? When the evil begins again—more horrible, more gruesome than ever—Corky knows it is up to her to learn the century-old secrets and destroy the evil spirit’s power for good. But so many have died already—will Corky be next?

Had I Read This Before: No.

The Plot: We are now at the end of the totally faboo “Cheerleaders Trilogy”, and I have to say, I missed out on some seriously good shit as a kid. I’m gonna miss Corky, Kimmy, Debra, and all the other menacing members of the cheer squad at Shadyside High. I hear tell that they get their own Super Chillers, though, so maybe that will be a special thing to visit at some point. But on with the show. We start our story off with, naturally, CHEER PRACTICE!! Corky is back on the team, and she and her friends are being totally schooled by the new girl, Hannah. Corky is plainly jealous of all the attention that Hannah is getting, but I do have to point out that she and her now dead sister Bobbi (thanks to the Evil Spirit that killed her, as well as former captain Jennifer and Kimmy’s/Bobbi’s/Corky’s boyfriend Chip) were in this exact position in book one, so turnabout is fair play, bitch. Corky is jealous that Kimmy and Debra are co captains instead of her and Kimmy, but again, you were off the team for a good chunk of time, Corky, stop feeling so entitled. Hannah continues to hot dog it and while Miss Green may be impressed, the other girls are not. Corky, Kimmy, Debra, and Ronnie retreat to a coffeeshop after practice (BUT WHERE IS PETE’S PIZZA?!) to bitch about Hannah. Debra stands up for the newbie, and as they all order their burgers (at a coffeeshop?), the topic moves from Hannah’s love life (with Gary Brandt, “Fear Street” stalworth) to the fact they’re all going to cheerleader camp for spring break! As Debra and Ronnie go to use the restroom, Kimmy and Corky talk about the Evil Spirit. Kimmy says that she still feels strange sometimes and is scared it’s still around, and Corky, in spite of the note she got at the end of the previous book, is remaining optimistic that it’s gone for good. They go back to the topic of cheer camp (and of the new hottie John Mirren making eyes at Kimmy), and their food arrives. Corky looks down at her pea soup, and it starts to bubble up and over the bowl. THE EVIL SPIRIT IS BACK. And Corky thinks it must have inhabited one of her friends.

Corky and Kimmy make a stop at the cemetery to visit Bobbi’s grave, and Kimmy is more convinced than ever that perhaps she’s possessed again. Corky tries to reassure her that she isn’t, but Kimmy is convinced that the Evil Spirit is going to kill them all. THen her face does a weird glowy thing and honestly, I think that it’s a BLATANT red herring on Stine’s part so I choose to ignore it. Corky arrives home to an empty house, picks up her clean laundry, and heads upstairs to her room…. AND FINDS A BLOATED CORPSE IN HER BED!!! But no no no, it’s just Sean, the scamp, playing a joke on her by leaving a Papier-mâché head in her bed. That night, however, a real scare happens, because as Corky is trying to fall asleep, Bobbi’s Ghost floats through her bedroom window! Bobbi’s lips move, but no sound comes out, and a blue light surrounds her and envelops the room. Then, in a moment of pure drama queendom, Bobbi pulls her head off, floats over, and shows Corky that it’s filled with cockroaches. Then Corky wakes up, and is convinced that perhaps it was just a dream…. Until she realizes that the floor is covered in cockroaches. She runs out of her room to get her parents (what could they do but call an exterminator?), but when they get back to the room, of course, there are no cockroaches to be seen. And Sean gets the blame for playing a trick on Corky.

But now it’s Spring Break and that means it’s CHEER CAMP TIME!!! Simmons the bus driver (he still has a job?) has driven them to Madison College for the occasion, and Ronnie is so disappointed that classes are out of session and she as a freshman can’t seduce college men (um….?). Corky, Kimmy, and Debra are sharing a room, and we see the quirky idiosyncrasies of Kimmy as she unpacks a whole lot of socks and her teddy bear, which Corky and Debra tease her for. Look, as a thirtyish year old woman who still has her childhood teddy bear at the foot of her bed, I say Debra and Corky can suck it. We find out that on the bus Corky had confided in Debra about her potential dream with Bobbi and the cockroaches, and resident occultist and office goth Debra said that Bobbi must have been trying to tell her something. But back in the present, Hannah comes into their room and says that she has to sleep in this room because Ronnie and Heather have taken the two beds that she would have wanted, and insists that a trade must be made RIGHT NOW, and this is giving me some old school “ANTM” vibes when there aren’t enough beds for all the girls and one of them inevitably freaks out. Debra agrees to switch, so Corky and Kimmy are stuck with the newbie whose first orders of business are to complain about the rules, and ask that Corky run a bath for her.

Seriously, who the FUCK are you, Hannah??? (source)

Corky goes into the bathroom (WOW, a dorm that has not only connected private bathrooms but a bathtub?!) and runs the water, testing it to make sure it’s to Hannah’s liking, and then after Kimmy primps in the bathroom those two head to practice. They have to turn back because Kimmy forgot the pom poms, and as they enter the room they hear Hannah screaming. She bursts out of the bathroom and lambasts Corky for filling the tub with SCALDING WATER because she TRUSTED her!!! Corky says she tested the water, and Kimmy says that it probably just got hotter as it went along, and FUCK YOU HANNAH, RUN YOUR OWN DAMN BATH. Hannah is mollified by that explanation, and as Kimmy and Corky head to the first competition Corky remembers that Kimmy went into the bathroom briefly before they left…

At the first competition the Shadyside Tiger Squad gets a look at the other teams. They are especially impressed by the Redwood Bulldogs, led by a smoking hot redhead named Blair O’Connell whose description is VERY Cheryl Blossom, my favorite Riverdale bitch. As the Tigers practice and do their routines, Hannah decides to give Corky some advice and tells her how to improve in spite of the fact that Corky was a fucking All State Champion at her old school. Debra tells her to smile because they’ll get points off if she doesn’t, and Kimmy says that she could just ‘murder’ Hannah, and if that’s foreshadowing I’m okay with it because Hannah is insufferable. As Corky heads back to the dorms after the preliminary competition she is in the elevator, and the carpet snags her like it’s tar and pulls her down. When the door opens Debra is there and helps her up, not seeing the tarpit that used to be an elevator. Luckily, it’s Debra, who totally believes her and knows that it’s the Evil Spirit.

At the next competition, the Bulldogs are riding their win with beautiful perfect Blair leading the way with an ‘endless rap routine’, because this was 1992 and cultural appropriation wasn’t as frowned upon. We also find out that the overall winning team with receive batons they can take back to school, while each night the most enthusiastic member of the team will get a red baton. Hannah has a lock on it tonight, and does a literal cartwheel to accept it. God I really hate her. But Debra seems to be really chummy with her, much to Corky and Kimmy’s chagrin. Corky overhears Blair talking shit but does not retaliate with a hit, and goes back to her dorm to sleep. She has another Bobbi dream, and this time when she pulls her head off it’s snakes inside. Corky wakes up to screaming, and it’s Hannah. Someone has cut off her hair. Okay, yeah, that’s assault. She accuses Corky and Kimmy and says that they’re jealous of her because she’s the best, and Kimmy finally knocks her down a peg, though the timing isn’t great, and Hannah says she’s going to tell Miss Green what they did. Corky is convinced that Kimmy HAS to be possessed. Kimmy seems to be wondering herself, as she asks Corky if she’d remember if she cut off Hannah’s braid. After Kimmy goes down the breakfast to face the wrath of Miss Green, Corky discovers a pair of scissors on top of her own clothing.

At breakfast Corky asks Debra if they can talk, but Debra says that she’s talking to Hannah at the moment so it will have to wait. Miss Green then calls Corky and Kimmy over and says that cutting off Hannah’s hair ‘can be described only as an attack’, and to that I say GOOD FOR YOU, STINE! I was afraid that he was going to make it seem like mischief but he made it a very serious moment. Miss Green asks Kimmy if she did it, and Kimmy says that she did, but it’s clear that she thinks she’s covering for Corky. So Corky then says that no, SHE did it. With no confession Miss Green says they should just try and get through the week and then when they get back to school they will be further investigated, because Miss Green KNOWS that those goddamn Bulldogs need to be taken DOWN, probably. As they go outside for the morning workout, Kimmy remarks how much she hates Blair, who to me has done nothing outside of be good at what she does, so that seems extreme. At that night’s competition, the Tigers are watching the Bulldogs start their routine. Corky is still mad at Debra for blowing her off in favor of Hannah. As Blair starts the routine, she goes into a second handspring, but then trips over something and faceplants, breaking her front teeth in half and splitting open her lip!!! And she says that someone tripped her! Corky and Kimmy look at each other, and Kimmy has a strange look on her face.

At practice the next day, Kimmy suggests that they do a complicated trick. A ploy to impress the judges, or a trap? Corky isn’t sure. Hannah asks to be on top, and Kimmy is perhaps a little too eager to let it happen. Corky says that maybe she ought to be on top, but everyone chalks it up to her being jealous and tell her that Hannah should get a chance.

I say go for it, Hannah. (source)

But all goes well and maybe Corky is just losing her mind more so. That afternoon they are getting ready for dinner in their room, and Kimmy heads off first. As Hannah is getting dressed and predicting their win since Blair had to go home (ya think?), all of a sudden Corky GRABS THE SCISSORS and has an inner monologue about FINISHING WHAT SHE STARTED?!?! She starts to bring the blade down into Hannah’s back, but before she can Kimmy returns, having forgot the pom poms AGAIN. Corky runs into the bathroom, and realizes that she is possessed.

Back in Shadyside, Corky is still coming to terms with the fact that she has the Evil Spirit in her. She’s the one who made the pea soup bubble, she’s the one who tripped Blair, she’s the one who cut Hannah’s hair. Bobbi’s visits were a warning. Now she’s trying to keep control of herself, and it’s not going great. She has an attack in her bedroom, and when Sean comes in to see what’s going on she almost breaks his arm. And that night, she dreams about the day that Sarah Fear’s boat capsized in Fear Lake!!! YES!!! THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR!!! Except it’s still pretty vague. Sarah Fear and the two kids on the boat with her are having a fine time (were there two children in the original story? I thought it was her, her lover, and her nephew and her brother?), but then a strange storm comes in and Sarah becomes terrified as the children scream. Sarah grabs for the deck rail, but it turns into a snake! Then Corky wakes up, just in time to start vomiting a putrid green gas. The Evil Spirit says it’s time to kill those who have betrayed her, and first up is Debra. Though she refuses to participate, the Evil Spirit drops some green goop all over her and then has fully taken over. It calls Debra, asking her to meet.

Spirit!Corky thinks about how awful Debra and Hannah were at camp as it drives towards the mall, where it’s meeting Debra. When it gets to the parking lot, it sees Debra standing out in the open, and hits the gas to mow her down! But Debra is a crafty sort, and jumps out of the way just in time to send Spirit!Corky into a concrete divider. Debra, unaware of the danger she’s in, opens the door and asks “Corky” if she’s okay and what happened. Spirit!Corky says the accelerator stuck but she’s just fine, and that she needs to talk to Debra about Kimmy and insists that they try to drive her now crunched car. Debra, sweet summer child that she is, gets in when the notion of a tow truck just doesn’t cut it for Spirit!Corky. They start driving, and Debra asks where they’re going. Spirit!Corky says the old abandoned mill. They get there and Spirit!Corky says that hse thinks that Kimmy is possessed, and does Debra have her occult books still. Also, let’s climb up to the top because why not? Debra isn’t keen on it, but follows her anyway. But just as Spirit!Corky is about to push her off, a crotchety old man tells them to get down or he’s calling the police. FOILED AGAIN, EVIL SPIRIT! So since apparently she had no plan B or impulse to improvise, she just drops Debra off at home. She tells her that she’ll ‘kill her tomorrow’, but then stammers ‘I said CALL you tomorrow’. Nailed it.

Corky wakes up in bed, and thinks that the Evil Spirit is gone, but realizes that it’s just sleeping and she’s working on limited time. She thinks that the key to it all is in the Sarah Fear memory she had the other night, and that the Evil Spirit must also have the memories of ALL of the people it possessed. So she goes deep into the memories that are now in her head too, and sifts through a shit ton of agony to get back into Sarah Fear’s memories.

So, Sarah and her nephew Michael are talking on the boat. Sarah’s brother is down below due to a headache. Her niece Margaret says she wants to go faster. Sarah’s servant/potential lover Jason is steering the boat, and as the kids go to hang out with him Sarah crushes a butterfly in her hands, but doesn’t remember doing it when Margaret asks what her friggin’ problem is. Then Saran and the Evil Spirit have a Gollum/Smeagol like argument about murdering more people. Sarah reminisces about all the people that she and the Spirit killed, and it’s a serious bloodbath. There was the guy who ended up ground up in the mill, the woman who was strangled by a clothesline, the cop who had his head boiled in a pot of water. Sarah knows that if she dies with the spirit inside, the spirit will die too, so she tries to throw herself overboard, but the Evil Spirit calls her bluff, kicks up a storm, and Sarah jumps in, drowning herself and trapping the Evil Spirit in her body. Corky wakes up and realizes that in order to defeat the Evil Spirit, she has to kill herself.

Okay, but what would stop it from hopping to someone else like it did at the end of book two?


The next day Corky wakes up and just thinks that she will either a) fight the Evil Spirit if it tries to take her over, or b) ignore it. Because sure. The Evil Spirit messes with her a bit more, making razor blades pop up out of nowhere on the floor and steps and Corky acrobats her way down to breakfast. But the eggs on her plate look like eyeballs, so Corky calls it a wash and goes back to bed. The Evil Spirit starts to take her over again just as Kimmy calls, and when Kimmy says that she is worried about her Corky has an inner Farrah Moan moment and plots to kill Kimmy and Hannah. But Kimmy first. She asks Kimmy to meet her up at River Ridge, a huge cliff overlooking the river, and plots to kill her in boiling water.

Kimmy meets Spirit!Corky  on the bluff, and Kimmy asks her if she’s feeling better and if she has any clue what happened with Hannah. Spirit!Corky says that she’s pretty sure that Hannah was faking it all, and that she cut her own braid to really sell it. Kimmy maybe buys it, but admits that she doesn’t really know WHAT to think. Spirit!Corky decides to say that maybe it’s in Hannah, and then tells Kimmy to look over the cliff. When Kimmy does, Spirit!Corky pushes her over, and Kimmy falls to her presumed death! Spirit!Corky is pleased, but actual!Corky is freaking out in the subconscious background. A fight breaks out (which I imagine looks VERY strange to any animals who may be watching a teenage girl flail about), and while Corky know she has to die to save her friends and family she decides that she doesn’t want to? As the Evil Spirit tells her then they have some work to do, Corky takes a flying leap off the cliff!!! She hits the water, which starts to roil and bubble, and Corky just lets herself succumb to her fate. As Corky dies, so too does the Evil Spirit, causing a boiling dramatic river surge.

Apparently Kimmy, though, survived the fall, and saw the whole thing (but somehow didn’t boil over like the Fear Family had…?). She swims over to Corky’s lifeless body, drags her ashore, and performs mouth to mouth….. Reviving her. They hug, and as they are leaving the water Corky sees Bobbi’s face, smiling.

After a successful cheer practice, Corky, Kimmy, Debra, and Ronnie go to that same coffee shop that apparently serves full meals too. Corky then orders the pea soup. All of her friends freak out, but then Corky laughs and instead orders the burger and fries. They all laugh and laugh. The End.

And so ends the “Fear Street: Cheerleaders” Trilogy. (source)

Body Count: No one in the present timeline, but about seven in the past timeline.

Romance Rating: It’s not really applicable this time around! There is no romance whatsoever outside of that random guy eying Kimmy.

Bonkers Rating: 6. This one wasn’t as crazy as it could have been, in all honesty. I liked the expanded mythology of how the possession worked, but there weren’t any HOLY SHIT WHAT moments.

Fear Street Relevance: 8. It was some regurgitated Fear mythology, but we actually got to kind of see them in action, which was neat!

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“The clothing fell from her arms as she began screaming. Lying in her bed, tucked under the covers,  was the hideous, bloated head of a corpse.”

…. And it’s that stupid joke that Sean played. So unnecessarily dumb.

That’s So Dated! Moments: The dorm room Corky, Kimmy, and Debra have has a U2 poster on the wall. This is the “Achtung, Baby” time period so I’m down.

Best Quote:

“I’m going to give Kimmy a flying lesson, she thought, her lips forming into a cruel smile. A flying lesson. And then a drowning lesson.”

I’d like to see the structure of a drowning lesson class.

Conclusion: A kind of lame duck end to a really stellar series, “The Third Evil” disappointed me a bit. But I think that as a whole this series was TOTALLY worth it! I’m tempted to try out the Super Chiller follow ups. But up next in this re-read is “Truth or Dare”! 

A Revisit to Fear Street: “The Second Evil”

260047Book: “The Second Evil (Fear Street Cheerleaders 2) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1992

Where Did I Get This Book: An eBook from the library!

Book Description: Corky Corcoran is sure it’s just her imagination when she sees her dead sister rise from the grave. Or is it?

Corky is trying to put the nightmare of Bobbi’s death behind her—she’s back on the Shadyside cheerleading squad and has become friends with Kimmy and Debra. But everything is not back to normal for Corky—she hears horrible screams in the gym, her friend has become obsessed with the occult, and a strange young man is following her. And then the murders begin again…

Has the evil spirit from the Fear Street cemetery returned to destroy them one by one?

Had I Read This Before: No

The Plot: As we enter the magical world of the second book of the “Fear Street: Cheerleaders” Trilogy, we are greeted by Kimmy, Debra, and Ronnie as the drive around in Kimmy’s car. These three cheerleaders are talking about friendship, boys, and their former cheer squad member Corky Corcoran. They catch us up with the deets from the last book: Corky and Bobbi Corcoran moving to Shadyside, becoming popular cheerleaders, Bobbi dying, etc. We also find out that Corky is still visiting Bobbi’s grave on a regular basis, and that Kimmy’s/Bobbi’s ex boyfriend Chip is now dating Corky (WHAT THE FUCK). They are all determined to get Corky back on the cheer team. As they drive past the cemetery Debra says that she knows that the Evil Spirit that killed Bobbi and Jennifer Daly must still be alive because she’s been reading up on this kind of thing. Then they see Corky in the cemetery, visiting Bobbi’s grave yet again. As Corky talks to her sister’s grave and tells her about the nightmares she’s been having, suddenly the ground shakes and opens up only to reveal a dead Bobbi rising up from the grave! Just as Bobbi is about to attack her, Corky wakes up next to the grave, having suffered another nightmare. She looks around thinking that she’s actually safe, but surprise! There’s a strange man in the cemetery watching her! She gets up to leave, but he starts to follow her, and when she runs he runs too!

They’re coming to get you, Corky… (source)

Corky splats after tripping over a tombstone, but then Kimmy, Debra, and Ronnie are there in Kimmy’s car. When Corky says she was being chased, they don’t see anyone. They all load into Kimmy’s car (after Debra stares out into the dark evening a la Richmond in “The IT Crowd”. Oh, this is a new headcanon. Debra is Richmond), and take Corky home. Once settled and have shooed Corky’s brother Sean away, she asks her former squadmates why they were at the cemetery, and they tell her they were coming to see her. Corky escapes the awkwardness by going to make some cocoa, and then reminisces that she hasn’t seen much of them since she quit cheerleading. She leaves the kitchen and rejoins her friends, and they ask her to join the team again. Corky says that they USED to resent her and Bobbi, but Kimmy insists that, much like those who’ve seen military warfare together, they all bonded because of The Evil Spirit that had possessed Jennifer. Corky says she’ll think about it, but then sees that strange man outside the window!! She freaks out, but when the others go to see what’s up, he’s gone. Kimmy and ROnnie head off, but Debra stays behind, telling Corky she understands how weird this all is, and that’s she’s WAY into the occult now as a way to cope, and that the Evil Spirit is still around, she can feel it!

A promise is a promise. (source)

Debra says that they have to trust each other now, and grabs Corky’s hand, but Corky pulls away and goes to get the kettle. But as she’s pouring the water into the mugs, she, unable to control herself, pours the boiling water all over her hand!!!!

A few days later (Maybe? It’s not totally clear) Chip goes to visit Corky to see how her hand is doing. He briefly sees his ex girlfriend Kimmy, who leaves right as he arrives, and after Corky and Chip share a hug Sean accuses them of  ‘wrestling’. This was odd to me, mainly because Sean isn’t three, he’s old enough to know what they were actually doing, but it’s played off as full seriousness? We find out that Debra has been calling Corky to check in on her, and Chip makes fun of her theory about the Evil Spirit. When Corky tells him that her burn wasn’t an accident, he’s skeptical, but does believe her about the weird man. Corky says that her therapist suggests that she rejoin the cheer squad, but she’s also going to do it because she wants to figure out if the Evil Spirit has possessed someone else. She then asks him if he’ll go with her to the cemetery so she can talk to Bobbi’s grave about her decision, and after she kisses him he’s totally down. So they go to the cemetery, and while they are by Bobbi’s grave suddenly a woman RISES OUT OF SARAH FEAR’S GRAVE. Except nah, she didn’t rise out of it, she just happened to be there taking gravestone rubbings. She says her name is Sarah Beth Plummer, and she’s in a history grad student. When Corky asks if she knows anything about Sarah Fear, Sarah Beth suggests they go get a cup o Joe and talk.

So SarahBeth tells them about the sordid past of the Fear Family (FINALLY!!!). Sarah Fear married Simon Fear’s grandson and they lived in a house on Fear Lake. Conveniently, her husband died two years after their wedding, so she inherited everything and started living the socialite life on the lake. She and her brother, niece, nephew, and a servant all died when their boat capsized, in spite of the fact it wasn’t bad weather and they were a five minute swim from shore. Corky thinks it’s the Evil Spirit, but keeps that brand of insanity to herself. There had been rumors about Sarah having an affair with the servant as well, and that their ghosts are seen walking around Fear Street. After the story is done, Chip and Corky leave. Chip comments on how strange her voice is, and Corky turns around to see Sarah Jane looking into space with a look of ‘evil’, whatever that means.

After school on Monday, Corky goes to cheer practice to rejoin  the team. The cheerleaders and their coach Miss Green are all happy to see her, though Debra says that she can feel the Evil Spirit. Corky says they’ll talk later, and joins the line hoping to learn as she goes. Unfortunately, there is horrible sound of a girl screaming, and Corky freaks out. Of course, no one else heard it. Corky decides to power through and try again, but nope, horrible screaming that only she can hear. She stops again, and notices that Debra looks pretty self satisfied as she plays with her crystal necklace. Kimmy wants to call a doctor, but Corky says she’s fine. But when the screaming starts again, she runs out of the gym…. and STRAIGHT into the mystery creeper from the cemetery!!! He grabs her, and even though she pulls away he chases her through the school in a Benny Hill-esque pursuit. He eventually catches her and tells her that he’s Jon Daly, Jennifer’s older brother, and he thinks that SHE KILLED JENNIFER. He promises to follow her and find out some proof that she’s a murderer, and just as he’s getting even more awful Chip shows up, and Jon runs off. Chip says that Jon was kicked out of school for being a violent meathead and went to military school. So that’s definitely the kind of guy you want stalking you.

That night Corky is at home babysitting Sean when Kimmy calls. She asks how Corky is feeling, and Corky says that she really did hear screams, to which Kimmy says that she could come back to practice and keep on trying to get back on the squad. Priorities, right? Corky insists that it’s the Evil Spirit, and Kimmy invites her over once she’s done babysitting Sean. Once her parents get home, she gets in her car to drive to Kimmy’s, and passes the cemetery. And she sees something VERY interesting indeed! Sarah Beth Plummer and Jon Daly are walking through the headstones!! And then Sarah starts doing a weird dance on Sarah Fear’s grave as Jon watches on intently!!! Corky zooms off in her car, because that’s too much.

So I guess we’re jumping over Corky’s visit to Kimmy’s house and we are now at school again, this time for Corky’s make up science test! As she has very teenagey thoughts about how cute her science teacher is,  he tells her he has to go pick up his car while she takes the test and she will therefore be in the room alone. I smell a set up. In the science lab there are cages of soon to be dissected frogs, a bunch of dead bugs, a cow eyeball, and a lab skeleton, and as Corky takes the test she tries to ignore the croaking. I mean, you can guess where this is going. Soon, pandemonium begins! The door slams, the blinds shudder, the frogs freak out, the dead bugs and COW EYE go FLYING through the room, and the lab skeleton seems to come to life and tries to strangle her by throwing it’s hand at her throat and grabbing on!!!

In other words, it goes full “Evil Dead 2”. (source)

As she runs out of the room and makes her escape, she goes to find Chip, who said he’d be in the wood shop. But when she gets there, bad news. Chip is dead on the floor, and it looks like his hand was cut off by the wood saw as it’s sitting by the whirring blade. And to think, continuing the “Evil Dead 2” comparison, if they had gotten to him in time he could have gone full Ash Williams and just attached a chainsaw to his stump and helped fight the Evil Spirit! That would have FULLY redeemed Chip! But, alas, it was not to be.

After the funeral, and after Corky and Kimmy have a moment, Debra runs into Corky in the cemetery and says they have to talk. They go grab a burger and Debra continues to hammer the Evil Spirit theory. Corky would prefer to believe that Chip accidentally sawed off his hand and went into shock, but Debra isn’t buying it! So Corky admits that the science room went Sam Raimi on her, and then tells her about Sarah Jane Plummer’s cemetery dance. Debra says that she thinks she knows how to find the evil.

And then a month passes?! Corky is back at cheer practice, trying again to rejoin and hoping she won’t be spooked or harassed by some demonic entity. All goes well, and she makes it through all the routines and to the top of the pyramid with no problems. So maybe the evil is gone? So we jump forward to that evening (though my eBook sure didn’t make a note of time passing, and it went from a gym floor to Debra handing Corky a handful of candles, I was quite confused), and Corky, Kimmy, and Debra are walking through the remains of Simon Fear’s mansion in hopes of finding the location of the Evil Spirit. They have the GENIUS idea to try and raise it. As Debra starts the ceremony, SOMETHING rises from the floor! But it’s just a stray dog. Kimmy says that she’s leaving because this is stupid, so Debra and Corky are left to feed each other’s paranoia. They decide that talking to Sarah Beth and Jon may be the way to go, so they first go to Jon’s parents house. When they arrive, The Dalys inform them that Jon has been missing for two days. Gosh, this legitimately tragic. Their daughter died, and now their son is missing. I feel for the Dalys.

The next night, Debra and Corky meet at the coffee shop, knowing that Sarah Jane lives right next door. So they go to her house and Sarah Beth lets them in, for some reason. As they ask her if she’s learned anything else about Sarah Fear, she kind of balks, but says she’ll talk once she turns the stove off in the kitchen. Corky accidentally knocks some papers off a table, and as she’s picking them up she sees a number of envelopes… ADDRESSED TO SARAH FEAR! When they confront her, she tells them the truth. She herself is a member of the Fear Family! She admits that she is kind of ashamed about it, given the reputation the Fears have in Shadyside, and that she didn’t tell Corky everything she knew about Sarah Fear when they first met. They ask her about her graveyard date with Jon Daly and her weird dancing, and she says she used to know Jon back in school and he randomly called her a few weeks before their meeting. He asked her to meet him at the cemetery, and then asked her if she knew about the ‘truth’ about his sister. THEN he asked her if she believed in Evil Spirits, and her answer of studying the occult wasn’t a good enough answer for him. She told him about a dance that some cultures would do in hopes of raising the dead, and he insisted that she do it for him. And since he seemed completely out of his gourd, she just made one up, and they parted ways. THEN she tells them more about Sarah Fear. Apparently, after her husband died, she was very sad. Then in 1899 she also fell ill, and was on the brink of death. But then she miraculously recovered, but wasn’t really the same person afterwards, acting strange and becoming a bitch and a party animal who would hold seances and weird occult happenings at her house. Sometimes people died at these parties. The day that she and her entourage went on the boat, the weather was fine, until a random gale force wind knocked them all into the water where they died… And when their bodies were recovered, they looked like they had BOILED TO DEATH!! LIKE BOBBI! AND CORKY’S ARM!

It’s all kind of coming together! (source)

Debra and Corky are spooked and not certain that Sarah Beth told them everything, but it sure sounds like Sarah Fear was possessed back in the day. When Corky gets home, Kimmy calls her to tell her that Jon Daly’s body was just pulled out of Fear Lake.

Good news! Corky is about to perform during an actual game!!! Kimmy knows she can do it! It goes well for the most part, with their cheers tight and their judgments of the other cheer squad nice and catty. During the grand finale, Corky starts to climb to the top of the pyramid, but when she reaches the top, things start to get spinny and noisy! Corky then realizes that Sarah Jane Plummer is there! WHY WOULD SHE BE THERE!? As she tries to dismount, after Kimmy nods at her to jump, Kimmy doesn’t catch her, and Corky falls to the floor. As she drifts in and out of consciousness, she hears Kimmy say that something held her arms down! Just like what happened to Bobbi! Corky eventually wakes up in the hospital, her arm in a huge cumbersome cast.

She and her parents arrive home. Sean is happy that she’s okay, and Corky decides to take a bath before she goes to bed. As the room gets really steamy, Corky suddenly sees that Kimmy is there! And surprise surprise, THE EVIL SPIRIT HAS BEEN INSIDE KIMMY ALL ALONG!!!! Ever since that night at the cemetery way back in the “The First Evil” when it left Jennifer’s body! Talk about biding one’s time. The Evil Spirit then says that it kills the enemies of it’s hosts, and that is why it killed Chip, for the way he hurt Kimmy when he dumped her for Bobbi. Jon was getting too close to the truth (what good would that do him, though?). And now it’s here to kill Corky for trying to destroy it! It then grabs Corky and shoves her face into the bath water, trying to drown her. While at first Corky thinks that she is just going to resign herself to her fate, she then remembers Sean! She can’t leave her little brother alone! Okay? It’s not like Stine did much to establish a close relationship to Sean in this book or the previous one, so to make him the sole motivation to stay alive outside of her parents and friends is beyond me. Whatever, because this gives her the strength to turn the tables and shove ‘Kimmy’s’ head into the water now. A hot steam cloud rises up as the Evil Spirit struggles, therein showing just how it uses heat to kill, but then a green liquid a la “The Exorcist” starts to seep out of Kimmy’s mouth and into the water, and gets sucked down the drain. Once all of it is gone, the water too, Kimmy wakes up from her trance, her last memories being from the night in the cemetery.

The next morning, Corky wakes up feeling fresh and sassy, ready to take on the world now that she’s drowned The Evil Spirit! She goes to the kitchen to get some breakfast, and finds an envelope addressed to her. She opens it up and finds a note that says “IT CAN’T BE DROWNED”. The End.

Did Sarah Beth send the note? Why was she at the basketball game? Will Debra have memorized the entire Mayhem lyrics catalog by the next book? (source)

Body Count: 2. Safe travels, Chip, even though you were a total tool. Jon you were a bit random but I really feel awful for the Daly family at this point.

Romance Rating: 2. So Chip remains a total creep (may he rest in peace), who has moved on from his dead sort of girlfriend (whom he was sort of cheating on Kimmy with) to her younger sister. The only reason he doesn’t get lower is because I save that for the legitimately abusive guys but MAN, this is sleazy.

Bonkers Rating: A solid 9! From dead vermin levitating to a lab skeleton trying to strangle Corky to Chip’s hand getting sawed off to the return of The Evil Spirit and all the baggage it brings, this was pretty nuts!

Fear Street Relevance: 10. Seeing as we got a freakin’ Ancestry.com type history of the Fear Family and an oral history of Fear Street and the surrounding area AND an actual member of the Fear Family making an appearance, I say that gets it to perfection. Cheerleaders Trilogy KILLING IT on keeping it relevant.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger: Well, I have to say that it was the single out of place sentence after another scene ended, scene change line notation and all, that just said:


Because huh? I think that it MAY have been a formatting error from print book to eBook, but it was HILARIOUSLY RIDICULOUS.

That’s So Dated! Moments: Corky’s little brother Sean bragging about his Nintendo having the super cool “Mega Man 2” was the ultimate retro throwback for THIS Nintendo fan. Though given that Sean seemed to be using this as bragging rights when in 1992 there had already been a couple more “Mega Man” Games post 2, he wasn’t as smooth as he thought he was.

Best Quote:

“Hey you! Yeah, you! Are you ready? Our team is tough and our team is steady! We’re on our way to the top and we’ll never stop! The Tigers are on the hunt. Hear them growl, hear them roar! You’d better hold your ears ’cause the Tigers will roar all over, all over you!”

The other teams are just going to run and hide when they hear THAT cheer…. (source)

Conclusion: “The Second Evil” was stellar and entertaining as hell! It did a good job of raising the stakes and it really has me excited for the final book in the “Cheerleaders” Trilogy! I got so excited I definitely overdid it on the GIFs! Up next is “The Third Evil”! 

A Revisit to Fear Street: “The First Evil”

107928Book: “The First Evil ” (Fear Street Cheerleaders #1) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1992

Where Did I Get This Book: An ebook from the library!

Book Description: “Give Me a D-I-E!”

Newcomers Corky and Bobbi Corcoran want more than anything to make the cheerleading squad at Shadyside High. But as soon as the Corcoran sisters are named to the team, terrible things happen to the cheerleaders.

The horror starts with a mysterious accident near the Fear Street cemetery. Soon after, piercing screams echo through the empty school halls. And then the ghastly murders begin…

Can Corky and Bobbi stop the killer before the entire cheerleading squad is destroyed?

Had I Read It Before: No.

The Plot: Oh man guys!!! The infamous “Cheerleaders” series!!! I never read them because I was so anti girly girl things I immediately wrote these books off as dumb just because they had cheerleaders in them. How wrong I was! Now as an adult I know that cheerleader stories bring the BEST kind of drama!!!

You know what the GIF theme for this review is going to be!! (source)

Bobbi and Corky Corcoran are sisters/BFFs, and when we first meet them they are putting a toy rat outside their little brother Sean’s door because he’s terrified of them. They then go join their parents for breakfast, and we get some exposition right out the gate. The Corcoran Family has just moved to Fear Street, and both Bobbi and Corky are already making jokes about their house being haunted and someone being murdered in Bobbi’s room. Bobbi and Corky are not twins, but apparently they look like it with their ‘lively green eyes, creamy, pale skin, and high cheekbones like models’. Oh boy. Bobbi is older but shorter, Corky is younger and lanky, blah blah blah, and poor Sean, recently freaked out by the fake rat, joins them and is inconsequential. We find out that cheerleader tryouts are that day, as Mrs. Corcoran has VERY strong feelings that her girls should be cheerleaders because they were just the best back at their old school, practically carrying the rest of the team to finals. Bobbi and Corky don’t know if they will be allowed to try out since the team has already been picked and it’s up to the cheerleaders, but since it’s clear their mother’s affection is based on their cheer status they better hope an exception is made. Apparently their alliance due to a stage mother only have certain limits, as Bobbi plays her own trick on Corky and pretends she’s dead just for a little bit. Ah, sibling love.

Now we meet Jennifer Daly, cheer captain and all around perfect girl who is described by Stine has having ‘full, sensual lips’. Huh. Jennifer is super slim and super nice, and her best friend/assistant Captain Kimmy Bass is….. not. She’s frenetic and ‘chunky’, so I guess she’s probably going to be the mean one. Kimmy is the one who doesn’t want Bobbi and Corky to try out, as the team has been built already, but Jennifer thinks that the Corcorans are SO good that they would be an asset. Miss Green, Cheer advisor, agrees, and Bobbi and Corky are told they can try out. The Corcorans do a routine that involves the chant ‘first and ten, do it again!’ and ‘Go Tigers!’, and I don’t know what all these movies are that Stine is describing but apparently it’s awesome because they are totally on the team now! Of course, Miss Green points out, that means that they have to cut someone. Jennifer targets the Frosh, Ronnie, to be bumped down to alternate, and Kimmy is livid at the injustice of it all. Kimmy, Ronnie, and some chick named Debra all convene in the locker room and bitch about how unfair it all is. Kimmy then gets burned in the shower, which is an excuse to 1) have a cliffhanter chapter ending, 2) mention Simmons, the stoner handyman who also drives the team bus, and 3) show off Kimmy’s necklace that has a megaphone pendant. Checkov’s pendant…..

A few weeks later the team is on the bus heading to a game in a huge rain storm! Bobbi and Corky have been pretty much accepted by everyone but Kimmy and Debra, and so many peppy cheers are flung in the bus. But oh no! Corky realizes that she and Bobbi left the fire batons at home! Annoyed by their irresponsibility by blinded by dreams of State Championships, Jennifer says that they can detour to Fear Street to get them. But the storm is super bad, and for some reason Simmons seems to lean into the storm and drive fast. As they are going down Fear Street, and after he inexplicably opens the doors to the bus, Simmons loses control! Probably too much reefer. The bus crashes, leaving all the girls in a heap. Bobbi, Corky, and the others manage to get out, and realize the bus crashed right smack dab into Fear Street Cemetery. They realize Jennifer is missing, and Bobbi remembers that right before they crashed, she had flown out the side door of the bus that was mysteriously open! They find her sprawled across the tombstone that belongs to Sarah Fear, who died in the 1800s. And she’s dead. An ambulance arrives and EMTs are immediately at Jennifer’s side. They pronounce her head, but then SURPRISE! She opens her eyes and it’s some kind of miracle! They load her into the ambulance, and Kimmy makes it VERY clear that she blames Bobbi and Corky for forgetting the fire batons and causing this detour.

I promise it won’t just be SNL cheerleaders, but this was too good. (source)

So the bad news is that Jennifer has been paralyzed and can’t walk anymore. This means that the squad needs a new captain, and Kimmy is convinced that she has it in the bag since she was assistant captain. Miss Green is holding a huge pep rally to make the announcement. Jennifer makes a speech about how grateful she is, and then Miss Green takes the stage and says that she’s so proud of the fighting spirit her cheerleaders have, and that she’s made her decision on who will replace Jennifer as captain, with Jennifer’s input. Kimmy is thrilled….. until Miss Green names Bobbi Corcoran!! So, okay, we are supposed to probably think that Kimmy is a poor sport in all of this, but I’m super empathetic to her. I’ve MULTIPLE times been in a situation where I have worked my butt off, paid my dues, been pretty damn good at something, and then instead of being rewarded (be it promotion or a starring role in a school play), a brand new person with not as much experience and work done but perhaps a tiny bit more pizzaz has been rewarded instead. I’ve been there. It FUCKING sucks. So I gotta be me, which means I gotta be Team Kimmy here, even if Bobbi is one of our main characters. Kimmy, abjectly humiliated, breaks from the celebration routine and runs out of the gym sobbing.

Bobbi is the new belle of the Shadyside High Social Hierarchy Ball, and is having many congratulations thrust upon her. Not only are a bunch of plebs she doesn’t know fawning over her, she is approached by CHIP CHASNER, quarterback for the Shadyside Tigers football team!!! If that doesn’t sound like royalty waiting to happen, I don’t know what does! They flirt a little bit, and he asks if she’s seeing anyone. She says no, and tosses the question back, and he gets a LITTLE skittish but says that he isn’t seeing anyone anymore, and suggests they go out for pizza after practice. Bobbi says yes, and it walking on cloud nine when she meets up with Jennifer at Jennifer’s home in North Hills. Apparently they were BFFs now, and I again feel for Kimmy because she and Jennifer were besties before now. Jennifer tells Bobbi she talked to Kimmy, and Kimmy will stay on the team, but she’s not happy about it. Bobbi, obtuse to the weird politics at play here, is relieved that Kimmy is coming back even though Kimmy hates her now, and Jennifer says that she better get used to it. Changing the subject, Bobbi tells Jennifer that Chip asked hr out on a date. And then Jennifer notifies her that until VERY recently, Chip was Kimmy’s boyfriend. Fucking Bobbi.

At cheer practice awhile later, Bobbi is having a hard time with her new captainly duties. The girls are out of step, Kimmy is still shooting daggers at her, and their routine of “Steam Heat” is a serious dud. Side bar: “Steam Heat” is from “The Pajama Game” and I remember watching that movie over and over and OVER as a kid. Doris Day for the win, bitches. Bobbi dismisses them for a dinner break before the game, and is bummed that only Corky is trying hard. Bobbi tells Corky she’ll meet her at home because she has to get her stuff. But while she’s in the hallway, suddenly all the lockers start opening and slamming shut. As she runs through a sea of lockers, a girl’s scream starts up too. Bobbi runs back to the front hallway of the school, it all stops. When she gets home and tells Corky, Corky thinks it must be the stress making her nuts. At the game things are going pretty okay, but then Chip has a weird episode where he totally freezes instead of throwing a ball, and gets creamed by the other team. He doesn’t return for the second half, and Bobbi is so distracted the cheers are lackluster and the Tigers lose. She meets him after game and asks what happened, and Chip confides that he doesn’t really know. He says that it felt like he was dead, and he didnt’ really have control of his faculties and doesn’t know why he didn’t throw the ball. They kiss, but he’s pretty shaken up.

At school, Kimmy confronts Bobbi about Chip. Kimmy makes it sound like she still thinks that she and Chip are dating, and Bobbi mocks that HE asked HER out.


A catfight ensues. Miss Green breaks it up and reminds them that they have a new routine they have to work on together. Kimmy reattaches her necklace (foreshadowing?), and refuses to apologize. When Miss Green threatens them with team suspension, they change their tune. Bobbi then starts to explain part of the routine, or has Corky do it since she technically created it. It’s long and complicated and the only thing relevant to this review is that it involves Kimmy dropping and Bobbi catching her. So when they go to run through it, all is well….. until suddenly Bobbi can’t move, just like Chip! And then Kimmy thuds to the floor and smacks her face on the wood, as well as her arm. The other girls say that Bobbi didn’t even TRY to catch Kimmy, and Bobbi runs away. Chip catches her in the hallway, and she tells him the same thing that happened to him happened to her. He’s skeptical, though, as HIS is a muscle thing, or so his doctors say. What a dingus.

That night Bobbi is talking to Jennifer at Jennifer’s house, telling her about what happened at practice. Jennifer tells her that she heard Kimmy’s wrist is broken, but will heal. They talk and Jennifer doesn’t do much to assuage Bobbi’s guilt. As Bobbi is leaving, she looks back through the curtains, and sees the shape of someone walking around the house. But Jennifer is the only one home! Is Jennifer walking?! She walks back up to the house and opens the door, but Jennifer is indeed in her wheelchair. Bobbi is convinced that she is cracking up, but goes home and talks to Corky about it, who is skeptical. Bobbi calls her a traitor, and they fight with Corky thinking about how much she hates Bobbi. And we are informed that this is the last night that Corky will ever spend with her sister. Aw shit.

At practice the next day, its official that Bobbi has no control over the squad anymore, as they all refuse to practice until Miss Green shows up. When Miss Green does, she asks to see Bobbi in her office, and then asks her to step down from the squad after the accident the day before. She’s lost the confidence of the team, and that just won’t do. Bobbi, devastated, goes to the showers to try and calm down. As she’s showering, though, the water suddenly gets VERY hot, and it won’t drain! The steam and the hot water are too much, and Bobbi is suddenly overcome. When Corky arrives, fashionably late, she finds Kimmy’s pendant necklace on the floor of the locker room, but no one else is to be found. She goes into the shower room and finds her sister, dead on the floor.

Some time later, Corky is walking through Fear Street Cemetery, reminiscing. She ends up at the grave of Sarah Fear, and a number of other Fears who died the same year as she did. She thinks about the bus crash, and her sister, and the funeral, and it’s all very sad. She talks to Bobbi’s grave, telling her that Kimmy made captain and everyone expected her to freak out, but she doesn’t care about anything anymore now that Bobbi is dead. The police said that Bobbi died of a seizure or something, but Corky doesn’t buy it. And in that moment, she realizes that she has Kimmy’s pendant, and that KIMMY had every reason to want Bobbi dead. She runs to Kimmy’s house and confronts her and the other cheerleaders about finding the pendant, putting her at the scene of the crime. Kimmy tells her that she hasn’t had her pendant in weeks, and in fact she had given it to Jennifer before Bobbi died! Debra confirms this, and Kimmy says that while she resented Bobbi, she wouldn’t kill her, and that Jennifer couldn’t have either. But Corky points out that Jennifer NEVER changed in the locker rooms anymore, so how did the necklace get there? She goes to confront Jennifer.

Corky gets to Jennifer’s house and it looks like no one is home. She stakes out the place, and sees Jennifer drive up in her car. She decides to follow her, and follows her all the way to the cemetery. She watches as Jennifer STEPS OUT OF THE CAR and WALKS into the cemetery. Corky continues to follow, and watches her dance through the headstones like Linda in “Evil Dead 2”. Corky confronts her by Sarah Fear’s grave, asking what the hell is going on, and Jennifer tells her that she is NOT Jennifer, and makes a dirt tornado from the grave that surrounds them both in a suck zone like HELL. She says that Jennifer is dead, and that she died WEEKS ago when she landed on Sarah Fear’s grave. This evil spirit inhabited Sarah Fear’s body, and was waiting for a new one to inhabit, and now Jennifer’s enemies will pay the price! Corky looks into the grave and see’s Sarah Fear’s body all wormy and bug ridden and the spirit says that Corky is going to  end up in there too. The spirit shoves her in (as the other cheerleaders are coming to help), but Corky is a CHEERLEADER, and does a bunch of cheer moves to save herself and pull herself out of the grave as the dirt tornado starts to settle back into the pit. Corky and the spirit struggle, and the spirit starts to blow nasty air in Corky’s face, but as Corky turns it around it starts to vacate Jennifer’s body and falls back into the grave, the coffin lid shutting and trapping it inside. They all look at Jennifer’s corpse, and it has deteriorated as it would have when she originally died.

When Corky gets home, feeling good in the fact she vanquished the spirit that killed her sister, she suddenly realizes that there’s a pennant that wasn’t there before. And it says Jennifer’s name on it. And Corky starts to scream. The end.


Body Count: 2. I liked the curveball of killing one of the POV characters!

Romance Rating: 2. There wasn’t really much in this one, except that creep Chip dumping Kimmy for Bobbi and then not even really mourning Bobbi’s death. Punk.

Bonkers Rating: 8. Mean cheerleaders, possession, a the very CONCEPT of Jennifer’s body going from ‘alive’ to WORM FEAST the moment the First Evil left her, oh MAN was this stellar on the crazy scale!

Fear Street Relevance: 10! This gets a perfect 10! Bobbi and Corky live on Fear Street,  the bus crashes into the cemetery, and the ghost that had also possessed Sarah FRIGGIN’ Fear is the villain!

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

” ‘Let’s give them something to stare at,’ Bobbi replied, grinning. ‘Break a leg,’ Corky said.”

…. Well, that’s not even a cliffhanger. That’s just a sister wishing the other sister good luck!! You’re losing your touch, Stine!!

That’s So Dated! Moments: One of the characters is told that she looks like ‘movie star Julia Roberts’, and I suppose in 1992 that would have been an age appropriate comparison. Also the stoner bus driver ALWAYS has his Walkman tape player attached to his ears.

Best Quote:

” ‘Fear Street,’ one of the policemen had said grimly, shaking his head. ‘Fear Street…..'”

If that isn’t a “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown” moment, I don’t know what is.

Conclusion: “The First Evil” was bonkers and bananas and the cheerleader drama gave me all the things I needed!! I can’t wait to move on to “The Second Evil”!

A Revisit to Fear Street: “Wrong Number 2”

19900200Book: “Wrong Number 2” (Fear Street #27) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1995

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

Book Description: Don’t answer that phone!

“You’re not safe anywhere. I’ll get my revenge!”

Can it really be Mr. Farberson on the line? He has to still be locked up after trying to kill Jade and Deena last year. Maybe the calls are just someone’s idea of a sick joke. But who else could possibly know the things the caller knows?

Then they realize that someone is nearby, watching them, close enough to know their every move. Someone who desperately wants revenge. Someone who wants to reach out…and kill them.

Had I Read This Before: No

The Plot: So given that R.L. Stine had taken Deena Martinson, his main gal in “Wrong Number”, and put her in a number of other “Fear Street” cameos, I shouldn’t have been surprised that his first sequel book was going to be “Wrong Number 2”. I don’t think that Deena is a particularly compelling heroine, but the dude sure seems to fixate on her, and that’s why we are here now. We start with Deena having a flashback to the night that Mr. Farberson, the man she crank called and therein she found out killed his wife, tried to kill her and her best friend Jade with a chainsaw. All because her rotten half brother Chuck (fucking Chuck) who did the prank call in the first place. But Deena reminds herself that Mr. Farberson is in prison and won’t be getting out. The next night in her friend Jade’s bedroom, the two girls catch us up on what’s been happening since book 1. Rob and Deena broke up, she’s thinking of asking out the hot Australian exchange student Steve, and Jade is dating a guy named Teddy who’s on the basketball team. Deena finds a letter from Chuck to Jade, as they had been going out before he went off to college. Apparently he’s staying out of trouble, but we’re reminded that he’s a ‘hothead’. I recall him being a total cock, but whatever. Jade says she’s been seeing other guys because Chuck is off at school, and I say good for her. Deena worries Chuck may lose his temper over it (asshole), and Jade shrugs is off and leaves the room to find some chips. Then her bedroom phone rings. Deena answers and it’s someone saying that ‘this is your wrong number, and I’m coming to get you REAL soon’. Deena is convinced it’s Mr. Farberson, but Jade reminds her that he’s in prison. That night when Deena goes home, she also gets a similar call.

The next day at school Deena is having a hard time focusing. Even when she bumps into Steve (who literally says ‘g’day’ to her), and she makes a bad joke and immediately regrets it. When she and Jade are walking home she tells her about the phone call, and Jade thinks that it has to be someone else since Farberson is in prison and probably isn’t calling them at all hours. They notice a strange car following them, and when it speeds up to match their pace they make a break for it towards Jade’s house. They lose the car, but are certain it wasn’t following them just to ask directions. The next day at school Deena sees Steve walking with Bree Wade from “Double Date” (you know one of those badass twins who humiliated a misogynist), and decides that she couldn’t possibly compete with her. She and Jade go to the basketball game that night, and Deena notices a strange guy in an orange hunting cap who appears to be watching them. Because orange hunting caps are super incognito. Teddy throws the winning shot, and the Shadyside Tigers are victorious!!! Later that night Teddy drops them off at Jade’s house and he and Jade make out while poor Deena just kind of stands there. They eventually go inside the empty house (as Jade’s sister is at a friend’s and her mom is at a ‘hairdressers party’, whatever that is). Jade confides that Teddy is a fun distraction while Chuck is away. Then there is a tapping on the window, and since they’re on the second floor they both freak out. They open the curtain, expecting I don’t know what, but it’s even worse. It’s Chuck.

I mean, I knew he’d be back. But I don’t have to be happy about it. (source)

He was the one in the ugly baseball cap at the game. They let him in the window and he and Jade fall right back into their old romantic interactions, and I’m missing the basketball player. Deena asks why he’s home a week before winter break, and he tells them that he dropped out of school because a couple of professors were ‘giving him a hard time’. He tells them that he’s decided to move to L.A. and break into show business. He just needs to get some money, and NO, DEENA, he isn’t going to tell their Dad and Deena’s Mom! He then tells Jade that he saw her kissing Teddy at the basketball game, and Jade basically tells him that she is always going to go out and have fun with boys but will always wait for him. Deena sends him on home with her key, telling him that Mom and Dad are gone on a trip so he can rest easy for now, and she stays the night at Jade’s. The phone rings in the middle of the night, and Deena answers. It’s the mysterious caller, and he asks them if he remembers the closet they hid in.

The next day Deena gets home to find her parents yelling at Chuck. They argue about him dropping out, and he runs off, saying that he’s going to L.A. at the end of the week. Deena finds him at Jade’s house that afternoon, where they are watching a movie and he’s trying to convince Jade to come to L.A. with him. Jade says that she’s still in HIGH SCHOOL, dummy, and Deena points out he has no money. Chuck says he’ll get it, and tells Jade that she’d be safer if she came with him, as she told him about the calls. The doorbell rings and Jade goes to answer it. Outside she finds an envelope, and when she opens it has a letter that says “YOUR TURN NEXT”, as well as a crudely drawn bloody chainsaw. Deena points out that prison mail is censored, so it couldn’t possibly be Farberson, and Chuck suggests that they go drive past Farberson’s house to see if someone is there, in case he got out somehow. So that means we’re driving to Fear Street.

They drive to the ol’ Farberson house, and it looks ramshackle and abandoned.. Except for the FLICKERING LIGHT IN THE UPSTAIRS WINDOW. Chuck, being a total fucktruck, decides that he’s going to check it out and hops out of the car! I personally say they should let him die. As he heads up the porch, the light moves to the downstairs! Jade jumps out to warn him, and then the sound of an engine comes from behind the house. Chuck goes to check that out (goddamn I hate him), but Jade pulls him back to the car. She manages to slip in the snow and hurt her ankle, and Chuck guides her back, just as a car comes out of the Farberson driveway and takes aim at Chuck and Jade. They manage to get into the car, and a car chase begins. It’s a dicey one, but they manage to get away as the other car crashes into another one. When they get back to Jade’s house, Deena says that it was a WOMAN driving the car coming after them. Deena and Jade think they should tell the cops, but Chuck balks, saying that the cops will accuse them of ‘looking for trouble’. Deena says they should tell their parents at least, but Chuck says that they will be grounded. Yeah, these are definitely just as bad outcomes as being horrifically murdered. Jade says that the woman following them and calling them MUST have been Farberson’s girlfriend from the first book! Deena reminds her that the caller is a man and Jade tells her that she has ‘read about a little electronic gadget that can make a man sound like a woman or a woman sound like a man’. And this is even before “Scream” used this to it’s full effect!!!

Someday I will tell you all about my deep, deep, DEEP love for this movie. (source)

They remember her name is Linda Morrison and Jade finds her address in the phone book. She suggests they pay her a visit the next day to show her they aren’t afraid of her.

The next day Deena wakes up to the sounds of Chuck and her Dad fighting again. Chuck runs off and while I do feel that their father completely failed him in life by leaving his mother and starting a new family right away, I can’t really blame Mr. Martinson for his ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’ approach at the moment because Chuck is THE WORRRRRRRST. Jade shows up in super adulty business clothes, telling Deena’s parents that she and Deena are helping out at a ‘business’ party her mom is throwing, and they fall for it. Upstairs Jade tells Deena she has a plan to confront Morrison without being familiar: she saw a ‘for sale’ sign on Morrison’s house, and so they are going to pretend to be real estate agents who can help her find a buyer. Her aunt, you see, is a realtor so Jade knows how it works. She also got some wigs and some make up to disguise them. So they go off on this Lucy and Ethel-esque scheme, all dolled up and totally unrecognizable. They go to Morrison’s house, and Linda lets them in. When she insists on seeing a business card, Jade has one she took from her Aunt. Always thinking, that Jade. When Linda leaves them to ‘take measurements’, Jade and Deena snoop. They find a key to Farberson’s house (with a keychain that says ‘Farberson’, how convenient) and a drawn diagram of the Farberson house. But then Linda confronts them, saying she called the real estate firm and that they aren’t who they say they are, and she remembers them from the unpleasantness from the year before. She asks what they want, and Jade asks why she has been calling them. Linda says she hasn’t been calling them, and admits to following them the night before but only because THEY had scared HER. Because she’s been told that Farberson may be getting out of prison on a technicality! She was at Farberson’s house because he’d stolen a bunch of money from his restaurant and was convinced that Linda had taken it, even though she didn’t. She was searching the house because he said he’d hidden it there, and was scared he’d kill her if she didn’t produce it. She then accuses Jade and Deena of taking it, but Jade shuts that shit down right away. She tells them that they should be careful in case Farberson gets out.

They reconvene with Chuck and get him all caught up, and he says he thinks that Linda has the money and was lying. And then he thinks that the money is rightfully theirs!!!! After all, they went through so much the year before, they’ve EARNED it, obviously. Jade seems to agree with this assessment.

God I hate him. (source)

Chuck says that he’s going to find that money, and goes out the door, but then is attacked by a strange man dressed in black! Turns out it’s Teddy, who has mistaken Jade yelling at Chuck for something criminal. They fight, and when Chuck tries to attack him he miscalculates his attack, falls, and cracks his head on the ground. An ambulance comes for stupid head, and Jade tells Teddy that she’s seeing Chuck and she’s breaking up with you. You chose poorly, Jade.

They visit Chuck in his hospital room, and he confesses to them that HE WAS THE ONE WHO MADE THE PHONE CALLS TO THEM. And he’s been doing this because he literally wanted to scare Jade into dumping Teddy and follow him to L.A. so they could live happily ever after. He was also the one who scared them to death by following them home from school in a weird car the other day. But it’s just because he doesn’t want to lose Jade, guys.

Fuck this guy. Seriously. (source)

AND THEY ARE COMPLETELY OKAY WITH IT. THEY ARE COMPLETELY OKAY WITH IT, GUYS. This is how I am feeling about all of this. But at least Farberson isn’t out.

Things start looking up and Steve asks Deena out, and just as she’s feeling better about everything, a news report comes on the TV a few days later. Turns out, FARBERSON HAS BEEN LET OUT AFTER ALL. And the Jade calls and tells Deena that Chuck checked himself out of the hospital, and he left a message for JAde telling her that he was going to go back to the Farberson house to look for the money. Deena tells Jade that Farberson is out, and they realize that he could find Chuck there, and I say LET HIM DIE, GODDAMMIT. But no, they decide to bus over to Farberson’s house (no cars tonight apparently). Jade says that Linda’s phone number has been disconnected and they figure she’s blown this pop stand. They get to the house and find the backdoor open. They go inside, and search for Chuck. They search all the rooms but don’t find him anywhere, but they find his hospital ID bracelet on the floor. They also find blood. THEN they find him in a closet, a wound on the side of his head. He tells them that he found the money, but then someone hit him on the head and took it. Deena thinks it must have been Farberson. They try to leave, but they hear someone opening the door to the kitchen. They dive out of the light, but see Mr. Farberson there. They rush to the basement looking for an escape, but Farberson finds them.

He ushers them back down to the basement and pulls a gun on Deena. He then demands that they hand over the money. Chuck says they don’t have it. Farberson doesn’t believe him, and he makes Deena tie Chuck and Jade up. He then ties  her up, asks where his money is, and grabs his good ol’ chainsaw!!!!! He says he’ll cut them up if they don’t tell him where the money is. He starts to move in on Deena, but before he can do anything of the sort Chuck says he’ll talk. He admits he took it, but that someone else took it from him. Farberson isn’t convinced, but before he can cut Deena up, SURPRISE!! Linda Morrison is at the top of the steps with a gun!!! Linda says she’ll shoot him if he doesn’t put the gun down, and they start a showdown. He lunches at Linda with the saw, but he trips over some garbage, drops the saw, and FALLS ON IT, dying. Wow!!! Deena, Jade, and Chuck think they’re safe now…. But nope. Because Linda had planned from the start to kill Farberson, and she has the money!!! And she’s going to burn this place to the ground while they’re tied up. And let me tell you, she does it in the most Cersei Lannister kind of way, as she dumps a bunch of gasoline covered rags all around them on the floor, and lights a FRIGGIN’ CANDLE to burn down and set it all alight. She leaves the basement, and the teens have to figure out how to get out. Jade throws herself on the floor, shoves Farberson’s body off the chainsaw, and FUCKING CUTS HER ROPES ON THE BLOODY BLADE because she is a BADASS. The fire lights and Jade is able to untie Chuck and Deena. They rush up the steps but the door is locked! They break the door down and escape.

As an epilogue Deena, Steve, Jade, and Chuck are watching an old Alfred Hitchcock movie. It’s six months later, Chuck’s back in school, and since they helped catch Linda they got a monetary reward. Chuck jokes that they should do another prank call for old time’s sake, and Deena doesn’t know if he’s joking. The End.

Get this away from me. (source)

Body Count: 1, and again, I want to point out that he FELL ON A CHAINSAW.

Romance Rating: 2. I cannot BELIEVE that Chuck and Jade are back together, and I miss Deena’s old boyfriend Rob, but she’s dating an Aussie so to her I say GET IT.

Bonkers Rating: 3. Not too crazy, in all honesty, chainsaw death aside.

Fear Street Relevance: 7, as we go back to the good ol’ Farberson house on Fear Street.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger: 

“A deafening squeal. A long skid. The crunch of metal. The high tinkle of shattering glass. Then everything went dark.”

… And they weren’t actually in a car accident after all, just the two cars behind them.

That’s So Dated! Moments: The most glaring was that Jade makes mention that if she dyed her hair blonde, she would look like Sharon Stone. This is peak 1990s, y’all.

Best Quote:

“I know you kids think this is some kind of Nancy Drew adventure story, but it’s not. It’s all real. And if I don’t get my money, I’m really going to hurt you.”

Linda Morrison speaking to every “Fear Street” reader out there, saying they better not make the same dumbshit decisions that Chuck, Deena, and Jade make.

Conclusion: As a sequel, “Wrong Number 2” is much of the same, except Chuck is even LESS likable this time around. You probably don’t have to read the first one to get caught up, but just know that they’re both equally lame. Up next I’m going to divert from the original “Fear Street” series and start the “Cheerleader” Trilogy!!!!

Serena’s Review: “Jane, Unlimited”

32991569Book: “Jane, Unlimited” by Kristin Cashore

Publishing Info: Kathy Dawson Books, September 2017

Where Did I Get this Book: ARC from the publisher

Book Description: If you could change your story, would you?

Jane has lived a mostly ordinary life, raised by her recently deceased aunt Magnolia, whom she counted on to turn life into an adventure. Without Aunt Magnolia, Jane is directionless. Then an old acquaintance, the glamorous and capricious Kiran Thrash, blows back into Jane’s life and invites her to a gala at the Thrashes’ extravagant island mansion called Tu Reviens. Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.”

What Jane doesn’t know is that at Tu Reviens her story will change; the house will offer her five choices that could ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But every choice comes with a price. She might fall in love, she might lose her life, she might come face-to-face with herself. At Tu Reviens, anything is possible.

Review: I have a lot of thoughts on this book, on the book itself (which is of the sort that is probably best appreciated on re-reads) and on the reception of said book by the general reading public. But, without further ado: I, for one, absolutely loved the book and am absolutely baffled by the general reading public’s reception of it.

Jane parents died in an plane crash when she was a baby. They decided to sit on one side of the plane, and on that side, everyone died, On the other side, everyone lived. This choice changed Jane’s life, but led her to a happy childhood growing up with her Aunt Magnolia, a marine biologist with a general joie de vivre approach to life. Now tragedy has stuck again with the death of her beloved Aunt, and Jane finds herself aimless and alone, with only her love for umbrella-making to give her any purpose. That is until she is invited to Tu Revien, a house full of mysteries, and once again, there are important, life-changing choices ahead.

It’s hard for me to really get at this book and my reaction to it without wondering whether my prior knowledge of it affected my read. I’d like to think not, but I’m not sure. For one, I had the joy of getting to meet Kristin Cashore at ALA this last summer and hear her speak on a panel. During the panel, one librarian got up and asked if there were pages missing from her most recent book, as the librarian found it very confusing. Cashore said this was exactly what she had worried about when writing it, knowing that it was an experimental style. First, I was very embarrassed for everyone involved in this situation, as the panel was about a completely different topic and not the place for authors to be quizzed about their own works. Librarians should know better! But I won’t rant about that.

Here I am getting my copy signed by the author! A definite highlight at ALA!

Cashore was gracious enough to explain that she started the book as a “choose your own adventure” story, which than morphed into a more traditional novel, in that it is meant to be read in a linear fashion. So, I had this information going in and to a certain extent knew what to expect. However, that aside, I do think that she did an amazing job setting up that this was where the story was headed, with no prior knowledge of this required. As I laid out in my brief plot description, the story starts out with the idea that Jane’s entire life was shaped around a completely arbitrary decision that her parents made, which side of the plane to sit on. Further, Jane and her friend, Kiran, a member of the family who owns the house and the one who invited Jane there, discuss the fact that choices can lead you to very different places in life, and you never know which choice will be the one to make the big difference.

With this premise, the story starts out slowly putting together a great cast of characters, and many mysteries for Jane to follow. This takes about 100 pages or so, which is where I’ve heard the most complaints about it being a slow read. For me, this was completely necessary work for laying a foundation for the rest of the book. In these pages, we get to know Jane, and those around her. We have mysterious disappearing art, rumors of a missing family and their children, a dog that is obsessed with a painting, and the family’s own strange history with the missing first and second wife of the father. From there, Jane chooses.

And yes, those choices have drastically different outcomes! I’m talking, genre-defying outcomes. I don’t know how I’ll categorize this book when I get to posting it, because it’s a bit of everything. We have mystery, we have intrigue, we have horror, we have sci-fi, we have fantasy. You name it! And what makes this even more excellent is the way the story reads, as, like I said, it is still laid out in a linear manner, meaning each section is meant to be read after the last. You aren’t supposed to “pick” which story to read, but go through them in the order they are presented. Through this method, you see the real genius of what Cashore has done: with each storyline, the reader has more knowledge of all the elements at play. We see characters move in and out of a scene and have more knowledge of what is going on than Jane herself, because we’ve seen that side of the story already, through a previous choice. It’s the kind of book that I’m sure is even better the second time, catching all the small details that are woven throughout all of these various outcomes. It’s simply brilliant.

Beyond this, each genre was compelling. I had my favorites, but I was impressed by Cashore’s ability at them all. The horror story line was particularly disturbing. And, not surprisingly, I enjoyed the sci-fi and fantasy plotlines the best. Most of all, I spent a ridiculous amount of timing wondering which choice I would have made, and then dissecting which plot line would be the best to choose in order to increase one’s chances of eventually encountering ALL of the mysteries, but still avoiding the horror one. Seriously, I’ve continued to think about this for like a week even after finishing the book.

And this is why I’m so baffled by the book’s general reception! Cashore’s writing is as strong as ever. Her characters are compelling, and anyone who’s read “Bitterblue,” specifically, shouldn’t be shocked by her more introspective character in Jane. And yet, on Goodreads, there are so many low stars! And look, I’m all for that everyone has their own opinion, and I’m not here to tell anyone that they’re wrong, but I do find it surprising. I think much of it is simply due to the fact that here we have an author who wrote a beloved fantasy trilogy years ago, and everyone’s been waiting with baited breath for her to re-emerge with her newest YA fantasy work, preferably in the same world. And then we got…this. Which is so completely different than the books we all loved from her before. But if an author is allowed only to write what we loved and were comfortable with before, how limiting would that be? If we only expect one kind of book from any given author simply because they wrote a good one in that mode in the past, we are doing not only them, but ourselves, a massive disservice.

I don’t particularly think this result was anyone’s fault. It’s definitely not Cashore’s, who is free to write whatever calls to her. And I can even understand fan disappointment from those who so loved “Graceling” and were wanting more of the same (for the record, I, too, loved “Graceling” and “Fire” and have my hardback copies stored lovingly on my shelves). But I do challenge readers to strive against the tendency to limit authors and our own reading habits to only the “known” and comfortable. You never know what you’re missing out on. And, let me say, had some of those DNF reviews managed to get past the first half of the book that was not the sword-and-sorcery fantasy they had expected, they might have found themselves choosing a path that included its own delightful fantasy world!

Rating 9: A criminally under-appreciated book and the answer to “what would an adult ‘chose your own adventure’ novel look like?”

Reader’s Advisory:

“Jane, Unlimited” can be found on these Goodreads lists: “Bisexual Fiction in YA” and “Derivatives of Jane Eyre.”

Find “Jane, Unlimited” at your library using WorldCat!



A Revisit to Fear Street: “The Mind Reader”

176663Book: “The Mind Reader” (Fear Street #26) by R.L. Stine

Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1994

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

Book Description: A bony hand beckons from a shallow grave…

But only Ellie Anderson can see the skeletal hand. Ellie has visions—visions of past secrets and future horror. Her visions have led her to the body of a girl who was killed two years before. Now her power may help her find the murderer…unless he finds her first!

Had I Read This Before: No.

The Plot: Ellie Anderson is sitting in Alma’s Coffee Shop visiting her best friend Sarah Wilkins, who works there. I miss Pete’s Pizza, it hasn’t been seen in a few books, but maybe this was when coffee was starting to become the hip thing for teens and Stine saw an opportunity to connect with the youth. Ellis is also there to boy watch. She and her Dad have just moved back to Shadyside after being gone for fourteen years. They moved away when Ellie was two and her mother died, but Dad’s work brought them back. Lucky for her boy watching purposes, a cute older guy walks into the coffee shop. Noticing Ellis noticed, Sarah acts as wingman and goes to take his order, and brings back intel that his name is Brian Tanner. Ellie feels like maybe he’s watching her, but instead of excited she’s suddenly overcome with fear, and leaves the coffee shop abruptly.

While out walking her dog by the Fear Woods later that night, Ellie thinks about her old school and her old boyfriend Tommy. They broke up because Ellie is a psychic, and had visions that Tommy was cheating on her with her best friend Janine. She’s had these visions of the future and the past all her life, and it’s made life difficult. Awww, it’s just like Patricia Arquette as Allison Dubois on “Medium”! I love that show! Allison never took shit!

Look at her go!!! (source)

As she and Chaz are walking, the dog suddenly retrieves a long, suspicious bone, and then he drags her to a spot where he continues to dig. BAM, human remains. Ellie and Chaz run out of the woods, and Ellie hails down a car of her classmates (with names maybe I’m supposed to recognize from previous books, but I don’t), and they take her to the police station. She is eventually handed off to Sarah’s father, Lt. Wilson, who questions her about what she saw, and asks that she take him to where she found the body. After stumbling around a bit and building the suspense, she does lead him and the other officers to the grave. Eventually word gets around that a dead body was found in Fear Woods, and Sarah shows up to see if Ellie is okay. In the crowd of officials and gawkers, Ellis recognizes Brian Tanner. But before she can dwell too long, a piece of red fabric is pulled up from the grave, and Sarah, seeing it, passes out. Wilkins then insists that Ellie needs to go home, and has another officer take her away from the scene.

At school classmates Frank and Patty pepper Ellie with questions, and then tell her that Sarah had an older sister named Melinda who disappeared a couple years prior, and she was last seen wearing a red sweatshirt. Ellis is now convinced that since she’s become friends with Sarah, Melinda is trying to reach her from beyond the grave. At her job at the Public Library after school (YESSSSS!), Ellie notices that she’s being watched. Brian Tanner is there, and he asks her if she knows where he can find information and books on primitive weapons. He lets slip that he knows that she’s new to Shadyside, which is fishy, and Ellie would be more suspicious if he wasn’t so hot. But then while they’re talking she has a vision of a bloody knife on the shelf. That combined with her unease when he’s around makes her walk away, and I say GOOD FOR YOU, ELLIE. He calls after her by her name but she ignores him. She then thinks that maybe just the title of the primitive weapons book triggered a false vision. NO, ELLIE. But THEN she realizes that she never actually told him her name….. so why did he know it?

After work Ellie decides to swing by Sarah’s house to check on her. No one is home, but a vision of a creepy ass skull is in the window!! Ellie is jarred, but calms down, and realizes that Sarah may be at work. As walks, a strange car drives up next to her, and lo and behold, it’s Brian Tanner.

At this point, it’s stalking. (source)

He offers to give her a ride, and she says that she doesn’t accept rides from strangers. YES, ELLIE. But thinks to herself that he’s SO CUTE and is clearly tempted. Ellie, FFS. Eventually he asks why she won’t and she says that it’s because he knew her name when she never told him, and he claims that Sarah gave it to her. She still has a weird feeling, and says no before running towards the coffee shop. She wonders why she is so creeped out by him, and it’s called INTUITION, ELLIE, READ “THE GIFT OF FEAR”! She goes inside but finds no Sarah, so she asks Ernie, another employee, where she is. He says she hasn’t come in and hasn’t called, and that’s not like her. He also doesn’t know much more about Melinda. Just then, who should sit down, but BRIAN FUCKING TANNER. And Ellie isn’t at all freaked out by this?! He says that he lives with his grandparents in Waynesbridge, and says he was at the scene of the crime looking for ‘cheap thrills’. Lt. Wilkins comes in to tell Ernie that Sarah is going to be staying with her aunt for a few days, and then Ellie realizes that Brian has ditched out, right around the time that Lt. Wilkins came in…

When she gets home she decides to tell her father that it was her who found the grave. Her Dad is totally spooked that she’s involved, and tells her that she needs to stay out of it. And since apparently it’s a night of sharing, Mr. Anderson one ups her completely by confessing that her mother didn’t die of appendicitis like she was told, but that she was MURDERED. Then he breaks down into sobs, which sends Ellie into sobs and wow. This shit just got pretty real. Ellie locks herself in the bathroom and pukes, and her Dad begs for forgiveness for lying to her. She tells him she’s okay, and decides to take a shower. While thinking about all these things, she suddenly has a vision of not only a knife dangling above her head, but the tub filling up with blood! She slips and falls, and splashes blood everywhere (this is starting to sound a bit like “It”), and then hears a woman’s voice calling her name. It’s her mother!!! But soon the cries stop, the vision disappears, and her Dad is calling through the door telling her she has a phone call from some guy named Brian.

At this point, Ellis should be doing this through the bathroom window. (source)

She tells her Dad to tell him she can’t talk, and once she is all dressed and ready to go to bed she asks him how her mom was killed. He says he can’t tell her right now, and she goes to bed.

Before her shift starts at the library, Ellie decides to do some research. Though she doesn’t know the month her mother died, she uses her psychic powers to discern that it was October. She finds the right year and month, and starts microfiching! She finds the right article: her mother was murdered by a man who lived in Shadyside, and he stabbed her to death. AND two year old Ellie saw the whole thing! And since her gift is also a curse, she relives the moment in one of her visions. After her shift she goes to the Wilkins’s house to find Sarah, as she is convinced that Lt. Wilkins is lying about her whereabouts (because when she called from work, someone picked up the phone, but then hang up). She finds the door unlocked, and goes into the house. She finds Sarah in her room, and shakes her away, afraid she is dead. But she’s not, she’s just deeply, deeply depressed, as the body was indeed Melinda. After she cries herself to sleep again, Ellie goes a’snoopin’, and goes into Melinda’s room. There is a framed photo in there of the dead girl, and her face seems to come to life and scream right at Ellie, who high tails it out of there.

And who does she run into??? YOU GUESSED IT. BRIAN. She actually demands why he’s following her, and he tells her that he wants to apologize for the night before when he ditched out on her. Apparently JUST as Lt. Wilkins walked in he remembered that he was in a no parking zone, and decided to move his car lest he get a ticket. SURE. She also tells him that Sarah’s sister was the body. He then asks her out on another date, and she hesitates, and he asks her if it’s because of how her old boyfriend hurt her so badly. HOLD THE PHONE, HOW DOES HE KNOW ABOUT TOMMY? she asks, and he says that he figures she’s so skittish that it must be because of an old boyfriend. He then suggests that they have a romantic picnic on Fear Island the next day. And, for reasons I cannot fathom, she says yes.

The next day Ellie sees a news expose on Lt. Wilkins and Melinda, and he tells the reporter that he had assumed that she ran off with her boyfriend Brett Hawkins, as she had told her friends that she was planning to do so. She wonders if the visions are also trying to tell her if she herself is in danger. But no matter now, she has a date with Brian Tanner! To her credit, she brings good ol’ Chaz with her. They walk through a very picturesque Fear Street Woods (Autumn is in full swing I guess) and he kisses her gently before suggesting they rent a canoe to go out to the island. They get to the island and actually have a really nice picnic, and he offers to cut her an apple slice. But, when he reaches into the basket, he pulls out THE SAME KNIFE SHE’S SEEN IN HER VISIONS. He says it was his grandfather’s knife, and she excuses herself to go panic in the woods a bit. Eventually she calms down, but when she returns to the beach, Brian is gone! Wait, no he isn’t, he packed up the canoe and went looking for her. She’s convinced he knows something’s amiss, but gets in the canoe anyway, and who can blame her, really, as there are no other options. As they are paddling, Chaz acts afool and knocks her into the water. Ellie tries to swim to the surface, but a hand pulls her down! When she does surface, she sees that Brian is unconscious. Luckily, a passing fisherman gets them all up in his boat. After they are back on shore and the fisherman goes to get his truck, Brian tells her that when she fell in he dove in after her, but then panicked and got disoriented, grabbing for anything he could, and pulled her down more. All seems fine to Ellie, until he makes a passing comment about how he’s supposed to be saving her. She asks him what that means, but he’s fallen asleep, I guess? Then he mutters the name ‘Melinda’. Did he know Melinda? Did he hurt her? Is he trying to hurt Ellie?

The fisherman drops her and Chaz off at home, and she changes clothes and goes straight to the police station. She first asks Lt. Wilkins why Sarah won’t talk to her, and he says it’s because she’s depressed. Then she asks what he knows about Brett Hawkins. He says that Brett is probably dead too as he’s been missing for two years, and that whoever killed Melinda probably killed Brett too. She asks if Melinda knew a Brian Tanner, and he says no. Oh, but then he pulls up a photo of Brett Hawkins, and shock and awe, it IS Brian Tanner! Which then sparks off a vision of the murder weapon in a deep deep hole, a knife, not unlike the one that Brian had. She tells Lt. Wilkins what she saw, and admits that she has visions, but doesn’t tell him about Brian just yet. He takes her out to the grave site, as she thinks the knife may be there, and she remembers a twisted up tree from her vision. He gives her gloves to reach inside, and she pulls out a knife with a silver handle, with rust and grime on it. Lt. Wilkins confirms Brett had a knife just like this, and Ellie is finally ready to face the fact that Brian is a goddamn creeper. She tells him that she may know where he is, and that he’s going to a false name. Lt. Wilkins says to try and get an address if she sees him next, but warns her that he could be dangerous and to be careful. Ellie starts to walk home, going up Fear Street, when someone jumps out of the bushes! It’s Sarah, who looks totally unkempt. Ellie tells her everything, and Sarah freaks out and runs away.

When Ellie gets home, she walks into the living room to find BRIAN there, livid that she showed Lt. Wilkins the knife. She runs for the door but he slams her body against it, pinning her, and clamps a hand over her mouth. He asks again about the knife, and she tries to play dumb but he tells her he knows about the knife in the tree, which must mean he put it there! She keeps trying to escape, but he keeps begging her to listen to him and honestly, roughing her up, and I’m getting flashbacks to “The New Boy” and I have feelings about this. He admits that he is Brett Hawkins, and that two years ago he and Melinda were going to run away together because they were in love, and Ellie finishes his thought by saying she changed her mind and he killed her because of it. THen the police show up because a neighbor heard screaming, and Wilkins arrests Brett. So obviously, it’s all over…. Except it’s not, because later that evening Ellie’s Dad tells her that Brett escaped custody and may be coming for her!

Ellie wants to help the police, but her father is insistent that she not because of what happened to her mother. Apparently, his wife also had visions, and had a vision of a man who killed a little girl. The man was the girl’s uncle, and Ellie’s Mom went to the police with the vision. The police arrested the uncle but couldn’t hold him, and the man ended up murdered Ellie’s Mom as an act of revenge which makes NO SENSE because it sure sounded like he was off scott free, so why kill her in broad daylight? Ellie understands his fears, but tells him that like her mother she has to help. So he lets her go to the police station. Wilkins keeps asking her for any visions that she may have, but nothing concrete comes to her outside of a shimmery image of gold, so she gives up and decides to go home. But she stops at Sarah’s house first to finally confront her. Sarah doesn’t want to talk, but then confesses that SHE was the one who killed Melinda!…. Well, indirectly, because she helped Melinda plan her escape from home because she was jealous of her and wanted her gone, so she blames herself for helping her get in touch with Brett. Get therapy, Sarah, it will do you wonders. Ellie is still not sure WHY Brett killed Melinda… THen she has a vision of being in a grave, grasping something in her hand as she is buried alive. She interprets it as Melinda telling here there’s a clue in the grave still. Then she tells Sarah about her powers, and Sarah is super supportive and grabs one of her Dad’s guns, just in case they need it.

MAN GUYS! THIS IS SERIOUSLY MAKING ME MISS “MEDIUM”! Not only was Allison great but the girls who played her children were all adorable, and Jake Weber, who played her husband Joe, was HOT.

Married life goals. (source)

They go to the site and start digging, looking for something small and round. What they find is a gold button, and Ellie postulates that perhaps the killer dropped it. But the BRETT SHOWS UP and asks them ‘did you find the button?’, and ALLISON DUBOIS COME SAVE THEM!! Ellie has a vision of Melinda fighting with someone, and then Lt. Wilkins shows up and aims is gun at Brett!!… But then, SARAH SHOOTS HER DAD!!! BECAUSE SHE REMEMBERS THAT HE WAS FRANTICALLY LOOKING FOR A MISSING BUTTON SHORTLY AFTER MELINDA WENT MISSING. Turns out, he found her before she left and they argued, and he shoved her in the moment and she fell and hit her head, dying instantly. So he staged the stabbing (I’m not clear on how Melinda got Brett’s knife, but I’m sure I just missed that detail), and buried her, thinking he could pin it on Brett, but Brett zipped pretty quick. He tries to shoot Brett again, but is too wounded, so Sarah goes to call for help. Brett and Ellie talk, and he confesses that he too is a psychic, and he’s been having visions of her standing in the woods with Melinda, who was begging him to help her. In fact, he’s having a vision now, and he bets he can guess what she’s thinking. Then he kisses her. And she says “You’re right.” The End.

He’s no Joe and he NEVER WILL BE!! (source)

Body Count: Just the one off page.

Romance Rating: 2. It’s nice that Ellie has found another mind reader, but Brian/Brett was a total creep for most of the book and I can’t say that I’m pleased they ended up together.

Bonkers Rating: 4. It was actually pretty straight forward. The final twist was more tragic than anything else.

Fear Street Relevance: 8. From Melinda’s body being found in the woods to the picnic on Fear Island, this one was pretty Fear Street heavy.

Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:

“She was a few feet from her car, when the dark figure burst out from the bushes and leapt on her with a furious grunt.”

… And it’s just her dog Chaz. Who was somehow let out of the house just for this moment.

That’s So Dated! Moments: My very absolute favorite one was when Ellie is told that they are hoping to be able to track down Brett using ‘new computer technology’. WHATEVER THE HELL THAT MEANS!

Best Quote:

“Shelving books at the Shadyside Public Library didn’t pay much, but Ellie loved being there. She loved the musty, old-book smell of the library. And she loved the quiet.”

Oh you smooth talker, Stine, knowing how to flatter us librarians. (source)

Conclusion: “The Mind Reader” gets props just because I love the Psychic Trope, and it felt like an episode of “Medium”. But ultimately it fell into the trap of toxic boys and why that’s perfectly fine, and I’m really not here for that anymore.