Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Edition #55 – The Last Of The Fear Street Trilogies: Fear Park

It is with a heavy heart that I have to report that this is the final trilogy in the original Fear Street series (and any subsequent offshoot I believe). The last one – I can’t believe it! This was also the only trilogy in the Fear Street universe that I hadn’t read before, which made the experience that much sweeter.

*This probably goes without saying, but just in case. There are spoilers starting in the first book. Since this is a trilogy each book builds on the other. You have been warned! 😉

The First Scream

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

In 1935, Nicholas Fear swore that there would never be an amusement park built on Fear land. But now, more than sixty years later, Dierdre Bradley’s father is about to do just that. He is opening Fear Park in just a few days. It doesn’t bother him that sixty years ago someone tried to build an amusement park in the exact same spot and more than a dozen teenagers got killed before it opened. Dierdre knows that if the park opens, more people will die. But her father won’t listen to her. He doesn’t believe in the curse of Nicholas Fear, no matter what may go wrong. And that’s too bad. Because someone – or something – will do anything to stop him.

I really enjoyed this book, more than I thought I would, actually. I think part of the reason was that this book actually takes place in 1935 for the most part, and I always enjoy going back to the past and reading up on the lives of the rich and doomed Fears. Nicholas Fear has been busy, and the reader gets to see what he has turned into after being set on his path in the first book in a new offshoot Fear Street Series – the Fear Street Sagas. If you haven’t checked it out yet, do so here: Confessions Of A Bookaholic – Guilty Pleasures Edition #54 – Fear Street Presents: The Fear Street Sagas #1: A New Fear because I think having the back story adds to this book.

Anyway, the first three quarters of the book takes place in the past and focuses on Robin Fear, Nicholas’s son. Robin seems to be a lot like his father once was, only much meeker. He seems so good and decent, but he is a Fear so you know it can’t last. The town takes control of 100 acres of Fear land, hoping to build an amusement park to help save their local economy, but Nicholas Fear is set against it. The campaign spearheaded by Jack Bradley who should know better than going against a Fear. As plans finalize, the town allows teenagers of both genders to help clear away stumps in part of the Fear Street Woods for the park. And something terrible happens. A grotesque and awesome massacre of said teens. I loved it because it was so original and it is a first for this series. The twist was an unexpected and fantastic payoff.

Fast forward sixty years. Fear Park is finally opening, thanks to Jason Bradley, Deirdre’s father. Even though they have been plagued by horrific accidents they’re still going forward and people are still coming to the park, and all of this I don’t get. Even stranger, they have a reenactment of the massacre of all of those teenagers playing a few times every night. That is possibly the most “off” thing about this book. Because everyone knows it actually happened and wasn’t some urban legend so what the hell? The “present day” (the book was written in 1996) wasn’t very captivating in this book, but it was less than forty pages long, so I am hopeful that it picks up in the next book. Still, I loved the 1935 majority of this book, and am left with questions, like who is Jason Bradley in relation to Jack Bradley? And what happened to the lone survivor of the massacre? I can’t say anything else without giving something away, but the force determined to stop Fear Park from opening, as well as who was really behind the massacre – wow. What a twist; what a treat!

The Loudest Scream

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

Every day something terrible happens at Fear Park. People keep getting hurt – or killed. Dierdre Bradley is starting to believe that the amusement park her father owns really is cursed. The only good thing in Dierdre’s life right now is her new boyfriend, Robin Fear. Robin always acts as if he has a big secret, and he does. Sixty years ago, Robin found a spell to make himself immortal so that he could make sure that Fear Park never opens. He’ll do anything to destroy the amusement park once and for all. Even kill Dierdre.

The second installment of this trilogy was different than previous trilogies. In the past, every trilogy has been a new, yet connected, story. In the original “Saga” trilogy the reader moved through the Fear family history, each book representing a different century. In the “Cheerleaders” trilogy, it was separate incidents of spirit possession (but by the same spirit) that built up. In “99 Fear Street” it was the different horrors that happened in the most cursed house on the block, and in the “Cataluna Chronicles” it was a continuing story in the past, leading to the “present day” but each book had a different “present day” story. But this trilogy, the story picks up right where it left off. As if this is just one long book, cut into three pieces. And that is fine by me.

This installment doesn’t lose any steam. The present day storyline featuring Dierdre still doesn’t have the same “pow” as the story from 1935 did (in my opinion). But it comes much closer than it did in the first installment. This book also boasts the highest body count in a single Fear Street book to date.* And with some of the previous Super Chillers and trilogies that is quite an accomplishment! There were seventeen deaths in this book. Not as in deaths you heard about, but deaths that actually occurred in the book – scenes that were read, and a body count that could be verified. For a book that is less than 150 pages that means more than one person every ten pages (not how it happened, but still – damn). This book was certainly packed with tragedies and horrific events, which helped the story seem more interesting than it actually is.

I was also happy that one of the questions that nagged at me, after the sudden end to the 1935 part of the first book, was answered in this book. (But I won’t say what because of even more spoilers than you’re already going to get.) The last thing I want to comment on is Robin Fear. He was likeable and relatable in the beginning of the first installment of this trilogy. And then he made this evil shift. What I don’t like is that the reader never got to see the shift, and it happened overnight. For someone who despised the dark arts, and that aspect of his family – the boy caught on quick. And we don’t even get a reason for this change of heart, and he wasn’t all that loyal to his father so family loyalty on its own doesn’t stick. I hope we find out in the next book, which is the concluding chapter of this trilogy.

*When I say highest body count, I actually mean the highest verifiable body count. The first book in this installment had a massacre, but a death toll was never given. It has been described as “a dozen” or “more than a dozen” but we never get a number. I did some math in terms of comparing verified survivors with the potential amount of victims and that number is eighteen. This means that as many as nineteen people died in the first installment of this trilogy. But if that isn’t correct it could be as few as thirteen people. So, I stand by my statement because these seventeen people can be verified. And perhaps having this footnote makes me a bigger nerd than you bargained for. 😛

The Last Scream

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Fear Street Scale: 3.5 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Third Place

Robin Fear has waited decades for this moment. His evil plan is in place. Dierdre Bradley, her father, and Fear Park will all be destroyed. Nothing can stop Robin now. Except maybe one person… Robin doesn’t know that someone is watching him. Someone knows his plan, and has a plan of their own. A plan that will destroy Robin Fear.

All right, so I’ll be honest – I really wasn’t feeling this book. At first I was going to give it a slightly higher rating, but then I realized it was mostly because the first two were so much better it was a kind of courtesy. And this doesn’t deserve (nor should it receive) any such courtesy. The first forty pages of this book moved along at the same pace as the last book, but after that it just seemed to be this repetitive back and forth. Robin would think something. Dierdre would think something. But nothing would really happen. It was like this for the next eighty pages. The shortest book in the trilogy and yet it took the longest to read, because it was hard to stay interested. There isn’t much else to say, because very little happened (that I can say anyway without giving away major spoilers).

Another thing that I wasn’t the biggest fan of was two questions that were left unanswered. Who is Jason Bradley in relation to the original Bradley who thought up Fear Park in the first place? In theory both he and his son was killed in the first book, and no other relatives are known to exist. Second question was Robin Fear turning to the dark side. I wanted to see it. I wanted a reason. I wanted to know why. I got nada.

While I wasn’t happy with the book as a whole, I was happy with the end. It closed up things nicely, and R.L. Stine made a point to confuse the reader as to how it might end, until it did. I did not see Robin’s enemy coming, and I couldn’t be happier with who it turned out to be. And how the end played out, Stine did something he has never done in a Fear Street book before. Sure, it was only in the last ten pages, so it couldn’t be explored fully, but I do appreciate when he does new things (especially since this is book #65 overall in the series).


I think this trilogy had its problems, and out of all the trilogies of the Fear Street universe, it was one of the weaker ones, but I don’t think it was necessarily the weakest. I still can’t believe there isn’t going to be another Fear Street trilogy to write about. That was really it…

-DMW

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