Finally! Graduation is here! That means we get an entire book of Jennifer Fear obsessing about not having a prom date and then coping with actually having one.
Only in Shadyside is “being asked to the prom” a terrifying ordeal.
I have to confess: I loved this book. It was ridiculousness turned up to eleven, and it won me over completely. I kept picturing Stine laughing maniacally as he wrote it.
So, Trisha Conrad’s parents leave her behind and go to Europe, as one does the year one’s only child is graduating high school while various of her classmates are killed in gruesome ways. I guess Shadyside people have unique coping mechanisms.
Before they leave, Trisha’s mother gives her a little glass wishing well. It’s a good luck charm that’s been handed down in the family, and since Trisha knows she’s descended from the Fears she worries about which side of the family it came from. Ha.
With all the sensitivity we’ve come to expect from Fear Street novels, there’s an acknowledgement of past events:
It’s good that Dana has the prom to worry about, Trisha thought. Dana’s twin sister, Dierdre, died a few weeks earlier. The prom would help take her mind off it. (p. 13)
THE PROM WOULD HELP TAKE HER MIND OFF IT. Okay, sure, whatever.
Meanwhile Trisha’s still having visions and Jennifer is being crabby with everyone because she doesn’t have a prom date. Trisha gives her the good luck charm, joking that maybe it will help her get a date. Ouch.
Also this happens:
After Ty was killed, his family moved out of Shadyside. Now the house had a For Sale sign in the middle of the front yard.
Jennifer felt a chill and quickly glanced away. Don’t think about Ty, she told herself. Don’t think about all the dead seniors. (p. 31)
I love it. Also, I’d like to propose Don’t Think About All the Dead Seniors as the official Shadyside town motto.
Someone calling himself Duke Carpenter who claims to live in Waynesbridge calls Jennifer and asks her to the prom. She has absolutely no idea who this guy is and is too embarrassed to admit she doesn’t remember meeting him.
Is this a thing that happens when you’re in high school? I mean, I’m old and have two children and am literally capable of forgetting the names of people I see regularly, but I don’t think that ever used to happen to me when I was in my teens.
Maybe all the years of studiously forgetting dead people affects the memory of Shadyside residents.
Jennifer at least has enough sense to suggest they meet at the Corner (it’s a restaurant, not an actual street corner) the next day before she agrees to go to the prom with him.
She has a dream that a huge glass ball falls from the ceiling at prom and kills her date.
He doesn’t show up the next day. But he calls and apologizes, claiming car trouble, and she gets his phone number. He says he can’t drive into Shadyside and see her that night, and she’s suspicious it’s just an excuse.
When she tries the number it’s been disconnected, and she can’t find him in the phone book.
But then he shows up at her doorstep! And he’s gorgeous in a way that EXACTLY MATCHES the dreamy description she gave Trisha back when she didn’t have a prom date. Uh oh.
I’m still worried about Jennifer’s memory but now I’m also concerned about her life in general:
“It’s just that I never forgot about that night when we … you know … I kept running it through my head like a movie.”
His arm brushed Jennifer’s, and her heart started to pound. What did “you know” mean? she wondered anxiously.
Duke’s eyes lit up as he gazed at her. “That was a wild night, wasn’t it?”
Whoa–a wild night! Jennifer felt herself blushing again. Something definitely happened between us, but what? Maybe we went to a party and partied a little too hard. (p. 69)
I’ve been assuming all along that the Shadyside kids don’t drink, because Fear Street never specifically mentions drugs or alcohol, but now I’m thinking they’re all hardcore alcoholics. Has Jennifer been having blackout-drunk sex? WTF, Stine.
Anyway. She ends up going to prom with him, and they’re sharing his (as in, he paid for it) limo with Matty and Josie and Will and Clarissa. Will jokingly asks Duke if he bought his tux at a garage sale, and I briefly got my hopes up that Duke was a ghost from some previous generation of Fear Street. But nope, that was too much continuity to hope for. Wouldn’t that have been cool, though? If someone who died in an original Fear Street novel showed up in one of the later series as a ghost?
Prom is magical and wonderful and a glass ball falls from the ceiling, luckily not hitting Duke like it did in Jennifer’s dream. Can we all just take a minute here to appreciate how damned stupid it would be to hang large glass balls from the ceiling of a gym? Honestly, even without the evil Fear family and the werewolves and whatever, the mortality rate would still be pretty high just from dumb-ass stuff like this.
After prom everybody’s headed to Fear Lake to tempt fate some more. Before they leave the school, though, Duke beats the shit out of Will. Looks like someone’s sensitive about his retro tux decision.
Duke grabs Jennifer and drags her into the limo, where Matty and Josie have been obliviously listening to music. Situational awareness is important, guys. They realize something’s up when Duke shoves her into the limo, but the (as yet unseen) driver is speeding away before she can explain that her date has turned psycho, so now they’re all trapped in a car with him.
The driver won’t listen to their pleas for help, and he turns out to be the skeleton-faced “evil” Josie summoned way back in book one.
They end up at the lake, and Duke drags Jennifer away from the others to explain that she wished him into existence. Also, because she was angry about people thinking she was a Fear, and jealous of everyone who had a date, all those emotions went into making him, too. ALSO also, he has a knife.
“Don’t be scared, Jennifer,” he murmured. “This is the way it’s supposed to be.”
“No!” Jennifer shuddered and took another step back. Duke stayed with her, matching her step for step, until finally he backed her up against a tree.
“You can’t get away from me,” he told her. “You made me what I am. And now you and I will be together–forever.” (p. 123)
She knocks him unconscious with a tree branch, and then Matty and Josie show up in time to help drag his unconscious body into the lake. Just another fun-filled night at Fear Lake.
But he rises up, still alive. He tries to choke Jennifer, but she flings the glass charm at him and he bursts into flame, vanishing forever. So this was even worse than the average prom date, really. Although she comes out of this without being pregnant or acquiring a shiny new STD, so arguably I’ve heard of worse prom nights.