We’re almost at the end of an era… only six more books of the original Fear Street series, before it jumps into that awkward transitional phase that lasted three books, and then the new revamped series, which lasted four books before R.L. Stine just walked away… This post includes two books I hadn’t read before, and the last original-original Fear Street Super Chiller! (The awkward phase and the revamped series each had one Super Chiller so it’s not the last one, just the last original one.)
Fear Street Scale: 4 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: First Place
Marty never liked the cat that lived under the bleachers in the Shadyside High gym… It always got in the way at basketball practice, but he never meant to kill it; he really didn’t. But now Marty thinks he’s going crazy. He sees cats wherever he goes. They follow him in the streets and they’re always hissing at him. He knows they want revenge. Too bad Marty doesn’t have nine lives, because his first one is almost over…
I had a feeling that this was going to be a weird one, but it wasn’t as weird as I thought it would be. In fact, I figured out what was going to happen before Marty even killed the cat, but I think that has more to do with me reading too much Fear Street than it has to do with sloppy writing or obvious plot twists. So there is this stray cay that lives in the gym and it has been causing a little chaos (yep, sounds like a cat). It darts out from under the bleachers during basketball practice. One afternoon, Marty doesn’t see it, and trips over it while he has the ball. He messes up his knee, which means he can’t play for at least a week. So he’s pissed at the cat, and I have to say I would be too. After practice that day, he and his best friends see the cat again and chase after it, wanting to catch it and get rid of it once and for all. Marty gets a hold of the cat on top of the bleachers but it bites his hand and tries to thrash him, throwing him off balance. He starts to go over the side of the bleachers when one of his friends grabs him at the last minute. But he drops the cat, and the cat dies…
I’m not sure I completely buy the cat dying – this was a high school gym so the bleachers were not that high. Our cat is always falling from our loft railing on our second floor to our hardwood floor below (even the most devout cat lovers who have met her agree she has something missing upstairs – that or she’s an adrenaline junkie), which I imagine would be higher than the top of the bleachers (it’s really high from where she falls). She’s been fine every single time. This cat wasn’t injured and Marty didn’t throw it or wasn’t holding its legs, it didn’t fall face first… but I understand the cat needs to die for there to be a story. But then two girls who see everything go down, act like Marty is a cat serial killer. I mean they’re going on and on – they put up posters, spread the word, call for rallies (I’m not even kidding) and it’s a bit ridiculous. It goes to student court and he is found not guilty of cat murder, but guilty of cruelty to animals. He dropped a cat, when it went ape-shit because he picked it up. He didn’t even pick it up the wrong way. This irritated me. I mean he is guilty of something, he should have left the cat-catching to the professionals, and he did go after it because he was upset it injured his leg – but this wasn’t a case of animal cruelty – more like animal stupidity.
After the incident and most of the fallout hysteria (again he is not a proud kitty killer) Marty sees cats everywhere. They follow him home, hissing all the way; they chase him in the street – they are everywhere and it’s not just his imagination. Even worse, Marty is sure he keeps seeing the cat he killed around school and other places he goes. And then someone ends up dead – clawed to death. And then someone else is found dead, also clawed to death. Soon it becomes clear Marty is going to be next. Did the cat really die? Is someone taking revenge for the cat or is this just a twisted gimmick to throw suspicions away from the real killer and a real motive? Who or what is after Marty and will he make it through this alive?
The book wasn’t bad, and I was expecting it to be, which is why I gave it a 4 instead of a 3.5, but for me it was just too easy. Still more people die in this book than the last three books, and I do like a body count – I’m twisted like that. This is a book for any fan to read, not a bad one for dabblers even though there are better ones for them, and definitely a must for anyone who loves cats, or can’t stand them. Cat lovers will like it because if there is anything to learn from this book it is don’t fuck with a kitty. And for those who can’t stand cats it is a warning, don’t fuck with a kitty. Seriously, when I was done I gave our cat a treat just because and paid her extra attention for the rest of the day. By the next day I was over it, but still… 😛
“High Tide” (Super Chiller)
Fear Street Scale: 4 out of 5 Fears
Pick Of The Bunch Rating: Second Place
Adam Malfitano still has nightmares about the night his girlfriend, Mitzi, died last year. He sees her in the water. He sees the blood… He is a lifeguard, but he still can’t save her. He wakes up screaming every night. But now he has begun to see Mitzi while he is awake. He knows it is impossible, but she looks so real. He can see her face decaying as she begs him to save her, to not let her drown. What does Mitzi want from Adam? Why won’t she leave him alone? Adam tried to save her… doesn’t she know that?
This is technically the very last original-original Fear Street Super Chiller, at least before that weird transitional stage and then the New Fear Street, both brief but each with its own Super Chiller. This book was okay, but it wasn’t the best. It had chills and didn’t have anything that was annoying (whacked out gimmicks, lack of character development or sloppiness for example) but at the same time it just wasn’t “Super.” It wasn’t even the length that most Super Chillers are.
Adam is struggling to get past his guilt over his girlfriend, Mitzi, dying last year. They were out on a water scooter when a wave knocked Mitzi into the water and when Adam turned around to get her, she hit her head on the scooter and then she drowned. Adam is seriously losing it. He keeps having nightmares about it and keeps hallucinating. He sees Mitzi dead, but also sees other people dead – who aren’t even hurt, or seeing random things like his legs missing (as in cut off), etc. He’s cracked up. Now he is lifeguarding again and it just seems to make things worse. It doesn’t help that his friend and fellow lifeguard has serious anger management issues and seems hell-bent on killing… Adam? Add in a crazy jealous girlfriend and another ocean tragedy that ends with a friend of Adam’s drowning, and it’s just too much. Soon it becomes clear that there is something Adam is missing from what happened to Mitzi last year. A memory buried so deep, it might kill Adam if it ever surfaces, but he needs it to, or he might be dead anyway…
I couldn’t get into a flow with this book like I usually can. It just seemed to be a lot of used ideas thrown together. The book didn’t have the same urgency or chill factor that most of the other books in the series do. But on the other hand, it wasn’t hokey, it was well-written and the characters were fully-formed, which doesn’t always happen either. There are a couple of components to the ending, but I figured most of them out after I was two thirds into the book. I would have probably figured it out sooner, but this book was all over the place and lacked focus, which made it difficult to find a problem that needed to be solved. The actual ending, I thought was lame. I felt the book should have ended a page before it did, and the “extra” we got seemed so out of place and didn’t do anything for the story or the characters, but maybe that’s just me.
A good book for anyone to pick up and read, but if it’s a person who is giving Fear Street one chance before moving on, they should pick up almost any other Super Chiller instead. Not because this book is lacking, but because so many others simply do it better.
As much as I hate to say it, I can kind of see why R.L. Stine dropped Fear Street when he did. If these books are any indicators, he was running out of ideas – big time. Only four more books of the original series, three of that awkward transition to the new Fear Street, then only four in the New Fear Street before he walked away. I can’t believe I’m eleven books away from the end… (Not counting the “Sagas” or “Seniors” miniseries, and the Fear Street Nights trilogy that he wrote eight years later, of course.)
I’m not ready for it to be over! 😥