Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #42 – Fear Street Books 35-37

I had fun with this list of Fear Street books, because one book was classic Fear Street and the other two each tried something new, which after more than fifty books… definitely helps keep things interesting. 😉

“The Face”

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Fear Street Scale: 4 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Second Place

Something horrible happened that day, but Martha can’t remember any of it – not even the smallest detail. The doctors say that it will all come back to her in time. But someone wants Martha to remember now. She draws his face, over and over – the face of a dead boy. It’s as if she can’t control her hands. Who is this boy? What does he want from her? How did he die? Martha doesn’t know, but she is going to find the answer. Even if it lies with the dead.

This book had such an interesting premise (and completely new for Fear Street) that I was really excited to read it. When I started out, I was completely into the book and R.L. Stine did a great job at continually baiting me, but after about 50 pages in, I slowed down. I’m not sure if it was the book, or if I just need a break from Fear Street for awhile.

Martha and her friends went through quite an ordeal, but is isn’t until the last thirty pages that you actually know what that ordeal is, and since that is what the book is building up to, these lips are zipped. But from the beginning it is clear that something did happen. Martha is the only one of them that can’t remember, but why? How is it that this horrible thing that happened to her and her closest friends has affected only her in this way? Her friends tell her over and over that they’re jealous, because they would do anything they could to forget.

What’s strange to me is that Martha’s doctor warns her friends not to tell Martha anything and let her come to it in her own time. I understand this to a point: don’t tell her what happened, let the pieces fall into place… but it seems odd that when the pieces start coming back to Martha, they refuse to fill in the blanks. Soon Martha begins drawing a boy’s face, over and over again. Whenever she tries to draw something else she can’t – just this face. Martha doesn’t recognize the boy, and soon finds out that she did know him, once, but then on the horrible day she can’t remember – she watched him die. Is his face Martha’s memory trying to break free or is it something else – some kind of warning…

I figured out who the killer was about two thirds into this book, but it was a hunch rather than something that is obvious. And the specifics of that horrible day eluded me until they were revealed. I have to say it was pretty gruesome and the reason Martha can’t remember out of everyone else seems clear to me – even if she herself doesn’t make this connection in the end.

I loved so much about this book. I loved the beginning, and I loved the very idea, something R.L. Stine has not done before with this series, and I loved the ending and how things came together. While the end was worth the wait in some ways, however, it didn’t stop me from losing steam in the middle of the book, which is why it isn’t ranked higher.

One more thing worth mentioning though – usually the last line in any Fear Street book is kind of hokey or contrived. Other times like in the case of “What Holly Heard” from my last Fear Street post, it is just awful – like there is no way a character would say it, even as a bad joke – it doesn’t fit, doesn’t seem authentic, let alone appropriate. Other times they’re all right. But the last line of this book is one for the record books – it was a kick ass last line. It had multiple meanings, was not contrived and resonated after I put the book down. In the world of Fear Street so far it was the… Best. Ending. Ever.

“The Secret Admirer”

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Fear Street Scale: 4.5 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: First Place

Selena is on top of the world. Everyone at Shadyside High is certain she’ll be a famous actress someday, and everyone admires her. But someone admires her too much. When Selena starts receiving bouquets of dead flowers from someone called “The Sun,” she treats them as a joke. But soon Selena realizes this is no laughing matter. First, her understudy is injured in a suspicious “accident” and then a speeding car nearly kills Selena herself. Selena knows “The Sun” is responsible and now her number-one fan has become her number-one nightmare.

“Secret Admirer” was the only book on this list that I had read way back in the day (I was in middle school), and I really liked it then, and it still stands out now. This is the Fear Street book that was written ‘just right’ in terms of pacing, character development, keeping up the creep factor without overdoing it and making it cheesy. And that can be a tricky balance.

Selena is going to be a star, and by the end of the first chapter we know she has an admirer with a twisted sense of humor at best. This book tackled stalking and wasn’t shy about saying so, either. Selena is receiving phone calls, is nearly run down by a car, crushed by a wardrobe, saved from falling lights that would have done some serious damage, sent flowers laced with poison ivy, sent dead animals… needless to say, pretty soon she realizes this isn’t some sick joke, it is a sick person who has become obsessed with her.

Soon Selena finds herself caught in a downward spiral she can’t control. She refuses to give into the one thing that “The Sun” demands, which is drop out of the school play because there is no one else to play her part since they have been taken out by ‘accidents’ meant for Selena. But people around Selena are getting hurt, and then one of them ends up dead because he knew too much. Selena is determined to find out the truth, but sadly for her, the who and the why are the most terrifying (and painful) things she could ever have to face…

I don’t think I figured out who “The Sun” was the first time I read this book (rereading it, I remembered from the first time I read it) and that is certainly something. I like being surprised, even if it is just the memory of said surprise. This is a terrifically paced book with characters who are interesting and you care about, and with an endless list of possible suspects (some obvious, some less so). This is a solid Fear Street edition that showcases many of the reasons why I love this series! 🙂

“The Perfect Date”

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Fear Street Scale: 4 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Third Place

Brady Karlin is trying to get on with his life. The memory of his girlfriend – killed in a gruesome sledding accident last year – is beginning to fade. And now he’s met Rosha Nelson, the girl of his dreams. He’s never been happier. Until Brady starts to see a strange girl, with a terribly scarred face, following him everywhere. Until the horrible accidents begin to happen – every time Rosha is around. Is Rosha really the perfect girl for Brady? Or has dating her just made his life the perfect nightmare?

I felt this book’s summary was kind of misleading on some things, so let me start by setting this story straight. Brady’s girlfriend who died (Sharon) had only been going out with him for two months, and they didn’t even seem that serious. The summary makes it seem like Brady is mourning her loss, but he isn’t. Yes, he thinks about her every day, but that is for a very different reason: guilt. And that brings us to misconception #2: The accident that killed Sharon was less of an accident and kind of all Brady’s fault. If this was real life, I could see him getting charged with wrongful death or something. What happened (and this is the first six pages of the book, so don’t feel I’m guilty of any big spoilers) is that Brady wanted to sled down this super steep hill and his girlfriend was completely against it because she thought it was too dangerous. So Brady pushes her onto the sled and then shoves the sled down the hill before she can get up. She smashes into a tree and then some thorny bushes, another tree or two, and when Brady finds her at the bottom of the hill, her entire face is gone thanks to the thorns and such. See, I was not exaggerating when I said, completely his fault.

Anyway, Brady is kind of a player/dog. I haven’t decided if he is completely a dog, but definitely a player and I am not sure how he has game since he killed one girlfriend and isn’t incredibly hunky, athletic, rich or intelligent, but whatever. Anyway, he sees Rosha and the boy is gone. This is the final misconception. Rosha can’t be the girl of his dreams because by the end of the book the reader has no idea who she is. We know she is beautiful with blond hair, green eyes and red pouty lips. And that is all we know. But for some reason Mr. No Commitments is all aflutter for her. Brady seriously starts acting weird, and I think he is losing his mind. But just like his game, I keep trying to figure out why Rosha has him so hot and bothered. She is hot, okay, but she isn’t some magical succubus putting a spell on him. I never really got this.

One thing is clear though, Rosha is bad news for Brady. Whether it is just her being clumsy or someone setting her up or whether she wants Brady dead, she almost kills him, like a lot. And every time she gets him into trouble (totaling his dad’s car, stabbing him in the side with a letter opener, scalding him, I could go on) she takes off. If I were Brady, I would be just a wee bit pissed off at the bailing, even if they were accidents. There is also a creepy girl with a terribly scarred face following Brady and she warns him away from Rosha, and that she isn’t what she seems…

I liked this book, and again Stine did something a little different, but Brady’s lack of character (he is a character, just not very likeable) and the fact that we have no idea why Rosha is so bewitching, can make the reader pretty confused. I figured out the end, or enough of it, pretty early on, but the particulars and the how wasn’t clear until the very end. The final showdown is… wow. Three quarters through this book, I thought there wouldn’t be a single body that dropped… but the last thirty pages made up for lost time, and put a chill factor in the air other than the temperature outside (there is a winter storm happening during the final showdown).

While the end was impressive, and there is one final twist in the epilogue, it just didn’t resonate with me. The death is always pointless in this series, but all the death in this book seemed that much more pointless, and that just left me feeling kind of empty.


It is interesting that “The Face” seemed too slow, “The Perfect Date” seemed too fast, but “Secret Admirer” seemed just right as far as pacing is concerned. “Secret Admirer” clearly takes the lead, but I kept going back and forth as to which book should be second and third, because the two remaining books really tied. Oh well, until the next Fear Street post!

-DMW

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