Ski Weekend

47bf1e09f1b09_55751bThis is only a Fear Street book by the very thinnest of margins–three of the main characters are from Shadyside and one lives on Fear Street. Mentioning it briefly is as close as the entire story gets to the titular street. Since RL Stine also published Point Thrillers and other books, I’m not sure why this was a Fear Street book. Since all the Fear Street books before this one were published in 1989 and 1990, maybe it was a deadline thing.

In any case, I really struggled to get through this one. Ariel, Doug, and Shannon went on a ski weekend in Vermont and are trying to get home to Shadyside. The met Red in the ski lodge and promised to give him a ride home to a town on the way. What we learn about Shadyside is that it’s close enough to Vermont for a long weekend trip.

Doug is a reckless jerk and they all end up stranded in the snow not far from a ski lodge. They hike up through the snow where they’re taken in by Lou and Eva. Lou is a rude, violent, drunken asshole, Eva is super shy, everything is really shady, and the whole story was just so boring.

To be fair, I’m not sure if it was really that boring or if I was just irritated by the location.

No, the outrageously stupid plot didn’t help.

Lou actually assaults Eva at one point, and he goads Doug into a wrestling match, then shockingly turns out to be a sore loser and hurts Doug. Their car gets pushed off the road into a ravine, the phones stop working, and it keeps snowing. The three Shadyside teens spot a masked stranger outside, and Red claims he overheard Lou planning to rob all of them. They decide to steal Lou’s van and Doug ends up shooting the masked man.

I hope I’m not accidentally making this sound exciting. I usually read one of these books in a couple of hours on Friday evening or sometime on Saturday, but I took a whole week to struggle my way through this a bit at a time.

The carnage? Lou talked a bit about people he knew who died. There was the masked man, who turned out to be Eva’s brother and the rightful owner of the ski lodge. There’s an additional death during the climax.

Shadyside death count: Still 21. People died, but they were in Vermont, or at least not in Shadyside.

Additional carnage: Two mice are killed in traps and left to struggle and suffer for the reader’s supposed amusement. One is even described as having its innards oozing out. Snap traps are awful, but usually not quite that awful.

Spoiler-laden point at which this all could have been avoided: I’m going to set two points: the Shadyside kids could have not picked up a hitchhiker. They probably still would have been stranded in the blizzard, so it’s hard to tell if this worked out better for them in the end or not. Eva, Lou, and Red should have come up with a brighter idea than framing random teenagers from a distant ski lodge, because that seems unnecessarily complicated.

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The Stepsister

$_32There’s no killer to introduce us to this story, but we do get to learn about how much Emily hates her hair. And pretty much everything else about herself. She’s especially wound up at the moment because her new stepfather is bringing home her stepbrother and sister, who are going to be living with them. Emily’s older sister Nancy is keeping her own room to herself, their new step brother Rich is getting put into a closet, and Emily is going to share her room with Jessie in their house on Fear Street. There are enough students who live on Fear Street that you’d think people would be slightly less freaked out by it.

Rich is immediately characterized as a total weirdo for reading Stephen King books, and Jessie introduces herself by taking Emily’s bed, hating her dog, and ripping the head off her teddy bear. So…that’s a relationship off to a good start. Since Emily is dating the boy who just dumped her older sister, there’s not a lot of room for excellent sibling relationships in the family, anyway.

Things go downhill when Jessie deletes a paper Emily’s been working on for weeks, then someone puts peroxide in Emily’s shampoo, ruining the hair she already hates. She’s naturally positive Jessie’s behind it. When Emily comes home from a dance to discover someone has stabbed her dog to death in the kitchen, she naturally thinks it was Jessie.

I’m going to gloss over how absolutely horrible it would be to discover someone had murdered your dog because it’s making me tear up. I’m glad my dog is currently curled up right against me for easy cuddles. Emily’s mother and stepfather can’t seem to think of anything to tell her except that they’ll call animal control to pick up the body tomorrow, which…even if you don’t want to consider that someone under your roof was willing to take a knife to the dog, that’s not really something you should just shrug off. It’s violent and horrible and really not a good sign, especially when you add in the peroxide in the shampoo thing.

Hugh, the new stepfather, did actually manage to summon a little compassion when the dog was killed, but he’s terrible throughout. He picks on his son for reading and not being athletic and he’s a sexist asshole. The mother, who may or may not have ever gotten a first name, avoids any and all confrontation to the point of letting her new husband bully his son and refusing to discuss the possibility of a problem in their home.

By the time someone sets a trashcan on fire in a school bathroom with Emily locked inside, you’d think someone would take the whole thing seriously. That would require adults who give a damn. By the time Emily catches her boyfriend cheating on her (which, big surprise, considering he dumped one sister to go out with another), it’s clear the adults won’t be helping.

Hugh does hatch one genius idea. His new wife and stepdaughters used to go out camping all the time. The last time the family went camping together, they went to Fear Island, where Emily and her father went out on the lake. Their boat capsized and Emily’s father saved her before drowning himself. Obviously, the best thing to do for the family is to haul them halfway across the country to go camping. Hugh is seriously the worst. He even referred to his wife and daughters as his harem, which is awful on a special new level, so it’s not surprising that Emily doesn’t figure out exactly what’s going on until she’s been dumped in an open grave with a dislocated shoulder.

There’s a sequel, and I’m guessing everyone in this family continues to be the worst.

The carnage this time around was pretty awful.

Shadyside death count: 21. That one happens before the story and is told through flashback, but treading cold water waiting for your father to surface…that’s awful.

Additional carnage: One horribly murdered dog. Having pets in Shadyside is probably not a good idea. I can’t and won’t joke about that one because I really just want to hug my dog.

Spoiler-laden point at which this all could have been avoided: I’m blaming adults again. No matter who was behind it, bad things were happening in the house. Two girls had lost their father, and one had been right there with him when it happened. Maybe don’t just avoid talking about that? I feel especially bad for Jessie since she was innocently dragged into the whole thing and framed by one of her new sisters. Poor kid.

Halloween Party

176271Eight books in and the plots are already being recycled. 44 more books to go. Yay for me.

The similarities between The New Girl and Halloween Party are greater than having a male POV character. Lisa even makes an appearance. I’m pretty sure she should have graduated by now, but she’s also still dating Cory, so I don’t know what to do with her. There’s no use trying to keep a timeline going.

There’s no introductory narration from a murderer, but there is a new girl in school. So as not to tread too closely to existing territory, Terry already has a girlfriend, and they’ve been invited to a very exclusive party by the new girl who lives on Fear Street. In order to get to the party, they have to walk through the Fear Street Cemetery…which is admittedly something I’d totally arrange if possible. Is it too late to start planning a Fear Street themed Halloween party? Think anyone would play along?

Before Terry and his girlfriend Niki make it out of the cemetery, we head back in time two weeks. It’s not a murderer! It’s the main character in the future! Totally different!

In the past, we find out that the gorgeous new transfer student, Justine, has invited nine people to her party. Most of them aren’t really friends, some of them have significant others who aren’t invited and aren’t welcome at the party. One guest, Alex, is Terry’s former best friend and Niki’s ex-boyfriend, which…I mean, isn’t dating your best friend’s ex pretty universally bad form? Although if anything I remember from high school is accurate, that’s probably some pretty standard drama. Justine won’t bend on the guest list, not even when a couple of bullies, Bobby and Marty, get pretty pushy about wanting an invite. Some of the party guests start getting threatening notes, but it’s Shadyside, so it’s kind of surprising they don’t consider that a Tuesday.

When it’s finally party time, Terry and Niki head to the creepy mansion where Justine lives with her uncle. There’s gourmet food and pizza and Justine has planned a series of surprises for everyone. When Bobby and Marty break into the party by way of driving their motorcycles into the living room, where they threaten Justine’s uncle, Justine refuses to call the police. There’s a party to focus on! Luckily, Niki realizes this is suspicious as hell, and she’s not willing to let anything go.

Niki is, by far, the best character featured in any of these books. She’s smart, she’s unrepentantly nosy, she doesn’t put up with anyone’s shit, she’s brave, and she ultimately saves everyone’s asses. She’s also deaf and described as having ‘olive skin,’ which may or may not make her Shadyside’s only minority so far, and the only student or main character thus far with any kind of disability.

Really, no matter how much I want to roll my eyes at this book, it’s got everything I’d expect out of a Fear Street book.

So, the carnage? As grim as it gets so far.

Shadyside death count: 20. Two young parents in a car accident twenty-eight years ago and one student who barely made any appearances at all. He still marks only the second dead Shadyside high student so far, however, and another kid not only found him, but two of them ended up moving his body around. It’s a definite escalation in violence and a reminder you’re not safe by virtue of being a kid.

Additional carnage: No dead animals this time around. It’s a trend I don’t mind at all.

Spoiler-laden point at which this all could have been avoided: While the kids probably shouldn’t have gone to the party at all and definitely should have made themselves scarce when Justine refused to call the police…but I’ve really got to put the blame firmly on whatever idiots let a nearly 30-year-old enroll in high school and the family member who supported her in this plan.