One Evil Summer

One Evil SummerHalfway through! And this is the one that almost broke me. Seriously, I’ve gotten behind on writing reviews, but I stayed on top of reading the books clear up until this one. As of this writing, I haven’t finished reading the next one. I’m also 3 more behind after that.

I shall persevere. And I really, really hope this isn’t the start of a severe drop-off in quality.

I actually remember reading this one when it was first out. I could recall far more of the plot than I’d like to admit, but you know what I didn’t remember? That it was a Fear Street book. I thought it was one of the other books RL Stine wrote outside of the series. It’s yet another of those books where the main character lives on Fear Street, but everyone happens well outside of Shadyside.

The whole thing starts with Amanda Conklin waking up in juvenile detention, where she’s been detained for murder.

As soon as that’s established, we jump back in time to when Amanda and her family were on their way out to summer vacation in Seahaven, where they’ve rented a house on the cliffs above the ocean. Amanda has both a brother and a sister, making theirs the biggest family in Shadyside so far. Both parents are also present. Amanda’s father is a lawyer and her mother is a journalist, and they’re planning on a working vacation. Of course, since Amanda failed algebra, she’s got to take summer school and so isn’t available to babysit her brother and sister.

There’s also a cat and two parakeets. If you’re sensitive to animal deaths, that’s pretty much the sign that it’s time to put this book down and find another.

Amanda’s parents cheerfully hire the first person who shows up at the door to answer their ad for a nanny for the summer, and they don’t seem very concerned that no one’s answering at her references. Chrissy gets along fine with the kids, but not so well with Amanda.

The cat is immediately run over by a car directly in front of the entire family. The parakeets are later both killed, because of course they are. I won’t even get into all the gory details. This book doesn’t deserve a complete recap because in the end, it turns out Chrissy’s father committed arson. Amanda’s father (whose name is John–so far a few fathers in Shadyside have gotten names, but no mothers) defended a homeless man who was arrested for the crime, and was ultimately responsible for Chrissy’s father’s arrest. Rather than facing up to what he’d done, Chrissy’s father committed a murder/suicide, killing himself, his wife, and one of his daughters with carbon monoxide by leaving a car running in the garage.

Chrissy, for no particular reason, is able to use all of her mind instead of the 10% everyone else uses, so she goes all Carrie on Amanda. The beach house even gets burned down. And with that stupid bit of pseudoscience, RL Stine lost me. Had that been debunked by the mid-90s? Should I forgive him? I’m not sure and I feel like enough of my time is lost on reading that book and writing the review.

So, the carnage? Actually, really bad. There are reasons so much of this book stuck with me all these years.

Shadyside death count: Unchanged from 37. There was a lot of death here, but as near as I can tell, none of it happened in or to people from Shadyside.

Additional carnage: Well, there’s the cat that was run over by a car. There’s the pair of parakeets that were cut open and left dead in their cage. There’s Chrissy’s parents and sister, along with the two other families Chrissy killed. One of Amanda’s friends back in Shadyside gets a long-distance attack from Chrissy and ends up in the hospital, but it’s not mentioned if she recovered or not. Finally, there’s Amanda’s boyfriend, who dies gruesomely right beside Amanda, and eventually Chrissy herself.

Spoiler-laden point at which this all could have been avoided: This probably goes back to Chrissy’s father and his decision to commit arson. Or to try to get away from all of it by way of murder/suicide. Otherwise, maybe checking Chrissy’s references and not hiring her when they don’t check out?