This list of Fear Street books is special, because every single book nearly defied my current rating system! They were each stuck between two ratings and I didn’t want to bump them up for certain reasons, but they were better than the typical book with the ratings they received. Without further adieu… this special list of Fear Street awaits!
“Truth Or Dare”
Fear Street Scale: 4.5 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: First Place
When three guys and four girls – some of them friends and some nearly strangers – are stuck in Dara Harker’s luxury ski condo, what else is there to do? They’re all trapped – an unexpected blizzard has closed the ski lifts, blocked the roads and killed the phones. So all that is left is to play a game. They think a game will help them break the ice. Who will tell the truth? Who will take a dare? How far will each of them go? But the game soon turns deadly. It seems that one of them would rather kill than tell the truth. And then kill again…
This book was very good. It was one of the books that ‘threw’ me when I originally read it, and I did not see ‘the who’ coming. The atmosphere was tense and the plot is a cross between the concept of one of those classic whodunits where you’re in a room of people and someone is the killer, and the lights keep going out and when they come back on someone else is dead, narrowing the suspect pool down, and the early Fear Street book (and early favorite of mine) “Ski Weekend”.
April, her best friend Jenny, and Jenny’s longtime boyfriend, Ken, are invited by Dara for a weekend of skiing fun. They know Dara, but not all that well because she is new in school. Three other people that Dara knows are there (some uninvited) and strangers to the other three. At first everyone is bummed because there is no snow on the ground and no expected snow to fall that weekend, but be careful what you wish for. They play a game or Truth or Dare and soon after the snow starts to fall, and turns into a full-fledged blizzard. The next day one of them turns up dead, and another one of them is missing.
This book does an excellent job of exploring two things: Realizing you are trapped (as in can’t even go outside because you’re snowed in) in a house with a murderer, while have no idea as to who the killer is. Is it a stranger or someone you thought was a friend? The person who was murdered seems to draw two main suspects, until April makes a startling discovery. The victim was not who the killer was after, but had borrowed someone else’s coat and was attacked from behind. That brings us to the second thing this book explores. What happens when you’re trapped, and you realize someone among you is set on killing you?
This book would have had a much higher rating, but I felt there was so much more that could have been done with this book and its premise. I understand why R.L. Stine gave this book the title “Truth or Dare” (and I can’t say without spoiling something) but the game in the book was tame, and that is being kind. One person took a dare, and three questions were answered (four asked) and none of them were that juicy. I wish the game would have been played out a little more. I would have liked to see the stakes being raised, a few more dares and few more disturbing questions… if for no other reason than to mask what the killer is trying to conceal and also to make the title really click, rather than to make me justify it in the first place. Great book, but it also had a lot of missed opportunities to play up the tension, plot and possibilities.
Still a stumper though, and in the world of Fear Street that can be a hard quality to find, so this book is still a great choice for anyone even remotely curious about the series. 🙂
Fear Street Scale: 4.5 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Third Place
Natalie Erickson and her friends all share a terrible secret. They were all in the car that foggy night… the night someone died at the dead end. They all make a vow, never to tell, but someone’s conscious is burning, and then there is another ‘accident’. And another. Are these really just accidents or is one of them making sure their secret remains – secret. Natalie just wants out of this nightmare, but that is the problem with dead ends… There is no way out!
This book felt like Fear Street’s take on “I Know What You Did Last Summer” by Lois Duncan. At least in the beginning. You start with a group of friends who are in a hit and run accident that is just that – an accident. Unfortunately, someone is still killed as a result… Natalie and her friends decide to take a vow of secrecy. Two of them want to go to the police, two of them are completely against telling anyone and Natelie herself is torn. But the pact is made. R.L. Stine does a terrific job of showing how much of a burden such a secret is (more so than Duncan did, in my opinion, but just because her book jumps so far into the future, afterwards) and how it affects all of them. But then someone says they can’t take it anymore and they’re going to go to the police, and someone else says that person needs to have an accident, and then… I’m sure you can guess what happens.
Then the warnings start. If they go to the police, they can expect the same fate. And another ‘accident’ happens. Natalie realizes that she can’t trust the people she has been friends with her entire life. Is one of them a murderer? If not, who else could it be? Because these certainly are not accidents.
Sometimes I felt like this book tried too hard. Even if something is suspenseful, if you can see the attempts of building up tension, it undermines the natural tension already created. This book had a lot going for it, a body count, high stakes and investigating questions of morals and ethics (the high point of the book in my opinion, because it wasn’t forced at all and Stine makes no judgments, he is just real with his characters). The ending was even beautifully circular and unexpected, and therefore appreciated. But ‘the who’ was not shocking (to me at least) and I kept feeling like this was just a different spin on a plot that had already been played out. Even with their key differences, for some reason I couldn’t shake this. But maybe this is just me…
This book is still a solid Fear Street edition – one that dabblers, fans or anyone else will certainly enjoy. 🙂
Fear Street Scale: 4.5 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Second Place
Intense and competitive… Lily Bancroft had good reasons to hate him. After all, she lives to win and he was about to destroy her dreams… But murder? That would be going too far, even for someone as driven as Lily. Even if she was the one who found his body… Lily is innocent, but that hasn’t stopped the whispers behind her back or the weird phone calls late at night. After someone else is brutally murdered Lily is drawn into a nightmare she can’t begin to control. Will her final grade be her last?
I have to admit that this book surprised me in several different ways, and surprise is always a good thing when you read these kinds of books. First, the book’s back cover made me think the main character, Lily, would be some kind of crazy perfectionist who had no sense of what really matters. Intense, competitive and driven can be good things (I like to think I am all three) but as long as one doesn’t go too far and has the right perspective. The cover shows Lily lunging at her teacher, between that and the back cover I was like, “Oh boy…” going into this book. I didn’t need to worry.
Lily is actually one of the more relatable and authentically human characters in the Fear Street universe so far. She is the way she is because she has to be. Her mother had a stroke and she has to work a job to support her family and be the class valedictorian in order to get a scholarship, which is her only chance of going to a decent college. Add to it that Lily’s two older sisters were both valedictorians and scholarship winners and her father’s pressure… one can see why she can be uptight at times. But it isn’t all that she is. In fact when it doesn’t affect her future directly she is pretty mellow.
It doesn’t take long for the first death to occur, and for me I could tell who was going to be the second victim right away, but the killer and his/her motive caught me completely off guard – another kind of surprise that I like. 🙂
R.L. Stine also did something new in this book, and this time it really paid off, heightening Lily’s humanity (both her flaws and her vulnerability) and upping the psychological suspense. The killer reveals himself/herself to Lily, but threatens Lily if she tries to tell anyone or goes to the police. The killer has set it all up so Lily will take the fall. She was the one with a clear motive, she found both bodies and the killer has taken measures to frame Lily so she will take the fall for the murders she did not commit (or have anything to do with).
I thought knowing the identity of the killer and the motive, halfway through the book, would have taken something away from it, but it only added to the story. And at least in this series, it is a first. 🙂 The killer blackmails Lily and makes her do whatever he/she wants on top of keeping this horrible secret. In the end, Lily must make a choice of what is right, what is worth throwing her life away for, and what is worth dying for… because when it comes to that final showdown, all three of these choices will need to be made, no matter what the cost…
This book was a pleasant surprise, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes surprises. 😉
And that’s that. All of these books felt better than a 4, but I questioned if they were on par with other 4.5 books. For awhile I seriously considered making them 4.25 rated books, but if I start breaking my own rules it would set a dangerous precedent. I know myself well enough to know this! 😉 So, in the end I had to give them the distinction they deserved – you’ll have to read them and let me know if you think I made the right choice. 😉
I’m really excited about the next Fear Street list (I have yet to start on the books though) because for once they are all books I have never read before! Usually lists, like this one, are a mix of books I read years ago and books I never have, but next time all three will be completely new to me. Can’t wait! 🙂