R. L. Stine: Seniors #12

Finally: the last book in the series. graduation day

It’s also the best book in the series. I mean, I’ve been enjoying these, but this one is just LOADED. It has visions and corpses and vampires and everything else Stine could throw in there, plus the most homoerotic scene I’ve ever seen in a Fear Street novel.

Okay, it’s actually the ONLY homoerotic scene I remember reading in a Fear Street novel.

It’s also terrifically well-organized in a way that makes me think I might get more done if I learned to outline more thoroughly.

But anyway: ON WITH THE CORPSES.

Continue reading “R. L. Stine: Seniors #12”

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R. L. Stine: Seniors #11

prom date 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.

 

 

 

 

R. L. Stine: Seniors #10

This week Fear Street has an important lesson to teach us: when two girls you don’t know show up offering you “power,” and saying all you have to do is accompany them to the Fear Street woods and sign a contract in blood, the LEAST you should do is find out what happened to the third girl before you sign anything.

Title: Wicked

wickedrf

Summary: Marla Newman is tightly wound because her mother is psychotically perfectionist and pushing her way too hard. Fed up with the pressure, and also with being pranked by Josie Maxwell and Jennifer Fear, she agrees to join two girls she (and we) have never heard of before: Elana and Roxanne. They offer her power in exchange for signing a contract, but there’s a catch. There’s always a catch.

Less-summary Summary: There’s an actually-creepy prologue. Some girl named Melanie Anderson is brushing her hair, and she sees two other faces in the mirror even though no one’s in the room with her. She yells at them to leave her alone, but as she runs from the room a “long, thin, silvery cord” comes out of the mirror and SLICES HER HEAD OFF.

In chapter one Marla Newman is eating lunch with Kenny Klein, who she’s up against in a history debate. She’s obsessing about the debate, and her grade point average (she’s one-tenth of a point ahead of him), and she’s all dressed up for the debate. I already feel sorry for her.

Then someone named Clarissa drops a bottle of iced tea on her, and Marla is so awful to her in return that I feel less sorry for her. Still a little, though; I hate when people stress about grades. GRADES HAVE NEXT TO NOTHING TO DO WITH WHETHER YOU’LL BE HAPPY OR SUCCESSFUL IN LIFE. Ahem. Sorry. But it’s true: unless your heart is set on some very specific path like “med school,” there are a whole bunch of different ways you can be happy, or rich, or inventive, or whatever.

But Marla, alas, cannot hear me shrieking advice at the computer screen like a madwoman. Instead she hate-glares at Clarissa, and Clarissa falls flat on her face. For some reason she blames Marla, even though Marla is still sitting down and nowhere near her. She goes and sits with Josie, Jennifer, and Trisha Conrad, and they all laugh at Marla.

Two other girls approach Marla. They saw Clarissa fall too, and now they tell Marla she has “the power” and they want to be friends. She turns them down because they’re juniors, which I find hilarious. Oh no! They’re a whole year younger than you!

They show up in the back of the room during the debate, and suddenly Marla can’t breathe or talk. She can, and unfortunately does, bump loudly into the microphone. She runs away, humiliated. Josie and Clarissa are total cows about it. They play an audiotape of her burp over the loudspeaker. No matter how much you hate some girl in your graduating class, you should be less horrible than Josie and Clarissa.

Also, Marla ONLY gets an 85 on her French test. Let’s all have a moment of silence.

At home she de-stresses by…making a long list of people she hates. Yikes.

Then her mother piles on some more stress, and honestly, she should be on the top of the hate list. She’s a horrible woman. She’s pleased to see Marla has a 98 on her French test, though. Marla is bewildered, and assumes she must have read her mark wrong somehow because she was so upset.

At school the next day someone’s gotten the hate list out of her bag and pinned it up on the bulletin board. Everyone’s laughing at her, which strikes me as the wrong reaction to have, but what do I know.

As revenge, she steals Josie’s clothes while Josie is in gym and throws them into the dumpster, only something pushes her in too. Mickey and Matty rescue her.

Elana and Roxanne approach her again, in the locker room right after her shower. They convince her they’re behind what happened at the debate, which should be enough to make her NEVER want to be anywhere near them. But no: they also changed her grade, and so she agrees to meet them in the Fear Street woods.

They summon the Dark Ones, and then there’s an earthquake and she falls in, and then they pull her out of a pit, and THEN there’s a parchment contract for her to sign in blood. Marla, honey, no. Someone with your grades must surely have heard of foreshadowing.

She slices her palm and signs the contract. Sigh.

The next day she uses her new power to make two of her French teacher’s teeth fall out because she’s annoyed that he and Kenny Klein are speaking French to each other. I no longer feel sorry for Marla, because yuck.

Trisha’s father pulled strings to get her into Brown University,  so Marla rips Trisha’s skirt in half so it falls off. Not using her hands (although that would have also been an interesting choice), but using the power.

Elena and Roxanne try to persuade her to use it to push Josie through a glass window. Marla isn’t quite that far gone yet, and refuses, but then when she’s in the bathroom her hands tingle and she hears screams and an ambulance siren, and somehow Josie’s fallen through the glass front door of the school.

Roxanne and Elena did it. NOW they tell her that they can use her power without her. Also the pact is forever (but really, she should have guessed that. How many temp “Dark Ones servant” positions have you ever heard of?).

Kenny Klein offers to help Marla with French. Awww, she only thinks of him as the competition but he LIKES her. She agrees she needs help with French. Marla, honey, that is the LEAST of the help you need.

Roxanne and Elena inform her she has to kill someone or else the Dark Forces will kill her. They suggest Kenny, but Marla refuses. They also claim that’s what happened to Melanie (the girl from the prologue).

“We never did find Melanie’s head.” (p. 93)

That may be the best sentence in this entire series.

Marla endures a gym class that’s more or less the way I remember high school gym: she’s in pain the entire time and can’t climb the rope because she thinks it’s a snake. Then the school nurse briefly turns evil and tries to kill her. Turns out this is all just more “persuasion” from Elena and Roxanne.

So she goes to Kenny’s house, and nearly chokes him. But then she stops and tells him about the pact instead, and he offers to help translate the parchment, which is way more than I’d do for someone who literally JUST tried to choke me with her bare hands. His dad used to study witchcraft and has some books on the subject, so…wait, what? Is witchcraft a common hobby among middle-aged parents?

He tells her none of his dad’s books say ANYTHING about owing the Dark Forces anything. So now Marla thinks the girls were lying about her having to kill someone, and she goes stomping off to the Fear Street woods at midnight. Predictably, they decide to kill her.

They freeze her and leave her for dead, but Kenny turns up and starts a fire. He also kisses her, and THAT’S what unfreezes her. Is Frozen set on Fear Street??

Kenny tells Elena and Roxanne that HE has the power, while Marla hides behind a locker or something and makes Roxanne’s bag fly through the air, and this is enough to convince them to invite him to the woods at midnight.

But they’re only pretending to be that dumb! When he gets there they pull a knife on him.

There’s a witch fight, and Elena gets swallowed up by the earth. Roxanne gets set on fire. There’s some more witch fighting.

I’ve changed my mind. THIS is the best line in the entire series:

Then an eerie wail rose from the pit. “Roxxxxaaannnnne!” (p. 139)

Sadly, Marla and Kenny and Roxanne fail to join in with the ritual answer, “You don’t have to put on the red light.”

Anyway it’s just Marla using her powers to make it seem like Elena’s holding a Sting concert down in the pit. Then she shoves Roxanne in.

Okay, at this point Marla has killed TWO people: Elena (indirectly) and Roxanne (actual shove to the back). But are the Dark Ones or Dark Forces or whatever we’re calling them this chapter satisfied? No they are not.

The next day, after pleasant exchanges with various people she used to hate, Marla hears the bad news from Kenny. Because she used her power to kill “another of her kind,” she’s doomed to die exactly twelve hours later. And at exactly that moment, and on the very last page of the book, the concrete steps of the school split open and black roots drag her down, presumably to her doom.

But I call shenanigans, Dark Whatevers. She didn’t kill another of her kind. Elana and Roxxxxaaaaaane were only JUNIORS,  and Marla was a SENIOR.

R. L. Stine: Seniors #9

Remember how when I started reviewing this series I complained because the main characters (the Shadyside High students pictured in the yearbook photos) weren’t being killed? Well, in this book someone major gets killed. Unlike last time, when the victim was Ty Sullivan, this was someone I actually liked! Sort of. As much as you can like any of the lightly-sketched characters in a Fear Street Seniors book, anyway.

Title: Spring Break

The Plot (briefly): Josh Maxwell, Mickey Myers, Deirdre Palmer and Gary Fresno head off to Tricia Conrad’s ranch in Arizona. There’s an archeological dig going on, a sort-of-ghost story relating to a native tribe that vanished, and Josh (having taken the wrong bag from the airport) has a Bad Dude after him. Meanwhile, his stepsister Josie and her friend Jennifer Fear (the one who isn’t a real Fear) meet some college guys who are jerks.

spring break

The Plot (Extended Remix): The seniors are on a plane. Gary is acting like a jerk and is borderline rude to a stewardess. If this was written today, he’d end up in jail or being beaten by United thugs or something.

If you’re paying enough attention to realize that Deirdre Palmer isn’t usually part of this group, congratulations: you have a way better memory than I do. It’s her cheerleading sister Dana who should be on this trip, since Dana is dating Mickey. But Dana is sick, so instead of hanging out with Josie and Jennifer, Deirdre is going to Arizona.

I just noticed that Josie and Josh sound like names parents would give actual twins, instead of step-siblings who are conveniently the same age so they can both be in the Doomed Senior Class. If this was a V. C. Andrews novel instead of an R. L. Stine, they actually would be twins, and they’d be pretending to be steps so everyone would be less shocked that they were dating. NOT THAT THEY’RE DATING IN THIS SERIES. But they would be, if this was the VCAndrewsverse.

Josh bumps into some tough guy. REPEATEDLY. The guy is obviously meant to be a criminal lowlife, but seriously, by about the third time you bumped into me (and caused someone to crush my hat) I’d be pretty peeved too, Josh.

Not peeved enough to try to run a group of teenagers off the road, though, which is what this guy does.

At the ranch Trisha is highhanded and bitchy towards the ranch foreman’s daughter, Rose. I applaud Stine for resisting the urge to name her Rosa; it’s a bold departure from about eleven billion Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys/etc. books set in Arizona.

Also, Josh goes to unpack and discovers he has the Bad Dude’s suitcase, and there’s a gun in it. For some reason this makes him afraid to go to the police and give them the bag, because the guy might get angry. The guy is ALREADY angry, Josh, let the police deal with him.

But no: he drags Rose along to try and return the suitcase, and there’s a cliffhanger earthquake.

Meanwhile, Josie is bored, so she and Jennifer go to The Roadhouse, only they (and Matty Winger and his dumb cousin Mo) get thrown out for being underage. Matty and Mo disappear, but Jennifer and Josie meet two college guys IN THE PARKING LOT. Even if you didn’t live in Shadyside and weren’t part of the Senior Curse, this would be a spectacularly dumb idea. Also Evan and Tim can’t give the girls their number because they conveniently just moved into a new apartment. Then Josie sees someone has painted a message in red paint on Jennifer’s windshield: WANNA PLAY?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a college guy named Roberto is flirting with Trisha, who is flirting right back. Gary is not pleased. Roberto tells them about the Hohokam Indian Tribe who disappeared from the region 500 years ago. Like, really disappeared. Vanished. He claims Hohokam means “the vanished ones” when obviously it means “pure hokum.” Roberto is part of an archeological excavation on the Conrad’s ranch, and Josh is interested in archeology. Was Josh interested in archeology in previous books? I honestly don’t remember.

Rose freaks out and tells them the excavation is dangerous and they can’t go there because there’ve been a series of accidents at the dig, caused, according to Rose, by La Amadora. She was an elder of the Hohokum tribe, and now she guards the site. Also, “series of accidents” covers a range of things from food poisoning through a fire and all the way up to one of the guys on the dig being found dead with his neck broken.

Mickey is hitting on Deirdre, because her twin Dana (the one he’s dating) isn’t there. Gross. Also, Deirdre has had a crush on him for a while (THIS I do remember from earlier books), so she’s into it. They go with Josh to look at the dig in the middle of the night, and Josh falls into a pit. He BREAKS A PIECE OF POTTERY and Roberto is mad at him the next day, and rightly so.

Trisha has a vision of a coyote with red stripes, and of the five of them flying over the canyon and vanishing. Maybe if the senior class just got rid of Trisha somehow the curse would fizzle out. Or at least they could stop being reminded of it every few seconds, which would also be great. Rose claims La Amadora caused the vision. Rose is very invested in making everyone afraid of the archeological site.

Trisha gets non-fatally bitten by a snake.

Meanwhile, back at Shadyside, Josie hears a raspy voice saying WANNA PLAY? while she’s in the bathroom at a restaurant. That is less “ghost creepy” than “pervert creepy,” and since Evan’s gone to the men’s room at the same time, it’s pretty obviously him. They go to River Ridge and Tim almost pushes her off while they’re standing on the edge, then claims he didn’t, he just tried to save her. Then she finds another red-paint message on her front walk: WANNA PLAY ROUGH?

Josh goes walking in the desert with Rose, who runs off. While he’s lost a coyote attacks him. Luckily Rose’s father Simon, the ranch foreman if you’ve lost track, rescues him. It’s painfully clear by now that Rose is one of the Bad Guys, but only to the reader, not to Josh.

Josh finds his bedroom has been trashed, but the Bad Dude’s bag and the gun are both still there, so he’s perplexed as to what they were searching for. Then he thinks he sees La Amadora in his room.

Josie has a dream that the evil spirit she released in book one is leaving the messages. She races over to Jennifer’s house and confesses she used a Fear spell book and doomed the whole senior class, oops. Jennifer tells her she isn’t really a Fear, which isn’t relevant at all to this conversation but I guess she wanted to join in on the confessing. Josie thinks the evil spirit was warning her that Tim and Evan are evil (why? why would it do that??), so they call the boys. Wait, what? I thought they didn’t have a phone. Was that resolved somehow and I missed it?

Josie calls Tim. There’s a fake-out confession that yes, the guys DID leave the messages. Then chapter twenty-eight begins with the guy on the phone laughing and admitting he’s just Tim’s roommate, Colin, and he was joking. Then Tim comes on the line and says of course they didn’t leave the messages. Then he tells her he has to take another call, only instead of disconnecting her, he accidentally leaves her listening in while he takes a call from Evan and the two of them joke about how scaring the girls will have them “all over us.” Gross, and also convoluted.

Josie and Jennifer hatch a plan to get revenge by bringing the guys to the Fear Street Cemetery to make out, and having their friends dressed as zombies, ready to pop out from behind headstones to revenge-scare them. I would have loved this idea when I was nine or ten.

Rose takes Josh and the gang for a horse ride up to a scary ledge. Nothing happens, because Stine hadn’t reached his word count yet, but Trisha DOES recognize the cliff as the one they flew off or fell off or whatever it was in her vision.

The next time they repetitively go back to the same ridge, the Bad Dude shows up, with a rifle. Dierdre falls off the ledge when he lines them up along it. DIERDRE’S DEAD. This is the second girl killed for “cheating” in this series (and Ty ALSO died, so I guess Mickey is doomed?).

Josh gets the rifle away, but then GIVES IT TO ROSE, and she turns out to have been in cahoots with the guy all along. They have a “steal artifacts and sell them” business arrangement. They’ve been searching Josh’s room for a tiny 500-year-old clay coyote with red stripes, just like the one in Trisha’s vision. Only it turns out Josh didn’t have it: it fell out of the Bad Dude’s suitcase on the very first day, and Mickey picked it up, planning to bring it home to Dana.

Rose and Clay (the Bad Dude) argue, because he wants to kill the high school kids now but she says she didn’t sign up for murder. He knocks the statue out of her hands and it goes over the edge, and when Cliff tries to grab it HE goes over too, only Josh saves him. By now Roberto and Simon have showed up, and Simon radios the sheriff, then takes Cliff and Rosa back to the ranch to be arrested. Awkward.

Josie and Jennifer carry out their scare-the-guys plan. Tim and Evan aren’t buying it at first, but Dana Palmer (who looks “ghostly pale”) floats in the air and reaches her hand right through a gravestone. Tim and Evan flee in terror, and Josie and Jennifer thank their friends, only Dana isn’t there to thank. They call her at home, only Dana tells them she hasn’t been to the graveyard. She’s been at home, because the family have gotten word that Dierdre is dead.

Josie swallowed hard. She crossed the room, trembling, and wrapped her friend in a hug.

“Jennifer,” she whispered, “I – I think Deirdre came to say good-bye to us tonight.” (p. 204).

Okay, that was pretty cool as far as Fear Street endings go.

 

R. L. Stine: Seniors #8

This is the best one so far. I like everything about this except for the title. The title is dumb.

This is the book where Ty finally dies! Unexpectedly, I ended up feeling a little bad for him, since he displays an endearing childlike credulity in this one.

The back cover blurb is awesome in its ridiculousness: Ty Sullivan thinks he’s so hot. Especially since he’s seeing three girls–all at the same time. And when Ty gets a valentine from the mysterious Amy, he decides to go out with her, too. But Amy isn’t like the other girls…she’s dead.

Title: Sweetheart, Evil Heart sweetheart evil heart

The Plot (Brief Version): Trisha Conrad, having failed to kill Ty when she was possessed, manages to get him killed for real this time around.

The Plot (Extended Version): Ty is officially dating Phoebe, since her parents gave her permission to date at the end of the last book. He’s also sneaking around with Trisha Conrad, who is actually dating the extremely jealous, wrong-side-of-the-tracks bad boy Gary Fresno. And finally he’s seeing Marla Newman. He’s told Marla and Trisha he’s about to break up with Phoebe, and assumes neither of them know about each other, and Phoebe doesn’t know about either of them.

Honestly it would be more amazing if this DIDN’T get him killed.

He’s up in his attic with Marla (because dating in Shadyside involves attics, I guess), and she bumps into an old desk and an antique Valentine falls to the floor. It’s addressed to Tyler Sullivan. If you can’t see where this is going you may be as sweetly gullible as poor Ty.

Ty reads the ALL-CAPSentine:

DEAREST TYLER,

I’VE BEEN WAITING SO LONG FOR YOU. I ACHE FOR YOUR KISS. WRITE TO ME, OR I WILL DIE. BRING YOUR LETTER TO THE SHADYSIDE CEMETERY, AND LEAVE IT UNDER THE OLD ELM TREE NEAR THE FEAR FAMILY TOMBSTONES.

LOVE, AMY (p. 8)

Ty assumes “some other girl” is interested in him, and flat-out lies to Marla that it must have belonged to his grandfather, whose desk she just backed into. Ty is an idiot.

He also thinks Amy sounds “pretty hot,” which is an incredibly strange conclusion to come to based on a handwritten note.

Marla, Phoebe, and Trisha all expect him to ask them to the Valentine’s Day dance. His friends Mickey Myers and Kenny Klein are placing bets on which one he’ll go with, when they’re not tossing paper balls around in the corridor and slamming into Justin Thompson, who Ty thinks of as “one of Shadyside High’s main dweebs.” Ty and his friends are all jerks.

Meanwhile Gary spots Trisha out driving with Ty, and tells Ty he wants him dead.

Ty gets another note from Amy telling him she has a TERRIBLE JEALOUS TEMPER. Even if she’s not a ghost, Ty, you shouldn’t be writing back to her: those all-caps notes are creepy.

But he is writing back to her, because Ty is an idiot. That would also be the reason he’s still stringing along three girls.

He gets a static-y phone call (on a landline; how quaint) from Amy while Phoebe is at his house.

Gary gives Trisha a ride home, driving like a maniac and convincing her he’s dangerous. It’s not a good idea to accept rides home from people who’re angry at you, Trisha.

Ty is increasingly (weirdly) infatuated with a girl he thinks is dead. She sends him a faded photograph of a girl in a long cape and bonnet, so he still doesn’t really know what she looks like.

Trisha also gets a Valentine from Amy, warning her away from Ty. We see that scene from Trisha’s perspective, and it’s kind of cheating that she only thinks “I’ll have to show this to Ty” without further explanation. But she has one of her visions, which interrupts her chain of thought to show her a dead boy she can’t identify, so I guess I’ll let it slide.

Phoebe and Marla also get threatening notes; Ty has his tires slashed and a dead rabbit pinned inside his car with a knife; Marla interrupts his at-home study date with Phoebe (oops) because a girl jumped her and beat her up; Gary continues to be threatening, but can’t have done the rabbit thing because he was working on his beat-up car. Got all that? Basically, Ty’s dead girlfriend is turning stalkerish.

So he breaks up with her, via note left in tree. It’s not as bad as being dumped via text message, but it’s close. Naturally her next note is an angry all-caps threat to kill his three girlfriends.

In one of my favourite scenes, Ty tries to get a date for the Valentine’s Day dance, but Trisha is going with Gary, Phoebe claims to have sprained her ankle, and Marla is visiting her grandmother.

Ty being Ty, he assumes they’re just turning him down out of fear of Amy.

So he goes to the party alone, feeling humiliated, and he sees Amy.

One minute she’s on the ground floor, and impossibly fast she’s up on the balcony, and its incredibly obvious what’s happening but I still love it.

When he pulls the bonnet off an “Amy,” it’s Phoebe, and then Trisha and Marla show up ALSO dressed as Amy, and he finally realizes they’ve been revenge-pranking him all along.

Only after he leaves them behind, he sees Amy yet again, and follows her outside.

Trisha gets a creepy feeling about this, and all three girls are feeling improbably guilty, so they go outside and find Ty’s corpse. He’s been run over and killed.

The girls are questioned by police but released. Trisha has a vision of a red car running Ty down.

At school Gary fights with her over Ty, then offers her a ride home in a shiny red car with a bump on the front fender. She panics and runs, and ends up in the Shadyside Memorial Cemetery. Someone grabs her!

The Twist: It’s just nerdy Justin Thompson.

He insists on walking Trisha home, and along the way confesses he LIKES her, and that’s why he had to kill Ty. Wait, so the final “Amy” was Justin in a dress?

Trisha gets away from him but in the struggle he falls and hits his head on a gravestone and dies.

(You’d think the police would be REALLY interested in Trisha by now, but no. I guess having wrongly accused her of killing Ty they don’t even want to ask how a second guy died while in her company.)

Gary leaves a sweet, apologetic Valentine for her. He’s riding a bike now, and explains he no longer felt comfortable driving the car he borrowed FROM JUSTIN now that he knows Ty was killed with it.

Even Twistier: Phoebe and Trisha cut through the cemetery and see the police tape surrounding the grave where Justin died. This time Trisha reads the headstone:

AMY FEAR 1872-1890

R. L. Stine: Seniors #7

fight team fight It’s been so long since I recapped any of these; I’ll link the earlier ones at the bottom if anyone needs to refresh their memory. Because you need Fear Street Seniors occupying some of your brain cells, obviously.

Title: Fight, Team, Fight!

The Plot: Phoebe Yamura is head cheerleader, and she’s secretly “dating” Ty Sullivan, if sneaking under the bleachers to kiss counts as dating.

They have to sneak around, because her parents are strict because they weren’t born in America. Although frankly any parent in Shadyside SHOULD be over-protective; it’s hardly a cultural thing in this case.

You may remember Ty:

Greta Bradley had been a cheerleader, too. And Ty’s girlfriend. Then she died at Jennifer Fear’s New Year’s Eve party. Sometimes Phoebe felt a little weird about going out with Ty. She even tried to talk about it, but he always changed the subject. (p. 6)

I hate to side with Ty, but Phoebe, no one wants to talk about their recently-dead girlfriend with their new girlfriend who used to be her teammate. That is beyond awkward.

Also on the squad are Jade and Dana, two ginormous bitches who deliberately drop new cheerleader Samantha and injure her. Dana is the feels-regrets less bitchy one, and Jade is the one you hope gets murdered.

Phoebe is afraid of bugs. I’m sure that won’t be at all important to the plot.

Someone shreds her uniform and leaves it in her locker with a note that says GIVE ME AN H-E-L-P. That’s almost funny.

A new girl, Gina, gets to try out for the squad even though it’s late in the year, because “it’s been an unusual year,” by which their advisor means “our cheerleaders keep dying.” Fair enough.

Jade “passes” a chemistry test by erasing Phoebe’s name and signing her own, thereby stealing Phoebe’s grade. Lessons learned from Fear Street: write your name on tests in pen. Also, wouldn’t a teacher be able to compare it against other tests and see it wasn’t Jade’s handwriting?

Then Dana tries to guilt Phoebe into not reporting it, because they need Jade on the team. No, they don’t, they have a new girl. But Phoebe goes along with it because 1) if she tells the chem teacher she was sick he’ll let her rewrite it and 2) she has no backbone.

At lunch she’s upset because Jade and Dana are sitting with their boyfriends and Gina joins them. While explaining to her best friend Samantha that Jade and co. will only end up stabbing Gina in the back, Phoebe knocks over an iced tea. Someone named Griffin Smith helps her clean it up. Apparently he’ll be driving the cheerleaders to their state competition on Saturday, so I guess he’s the equipment manager like Sid in Give Me a K-I-L-L.

Jade drops a bug on Phoebe and she and Dana laugh because phobias are hilarious. I’d feel sorrier for Phoebe if she grew a spine and turned them in, though.

Gina shows up lugging a box of pom-poms and gets mad at Phoebe because she’s only the alternate, not an actual cheerleader, even though that wasn’t Phoebe’s decision to make. PHOEBE. Stop letting everyone else make you responsible for their problems. Gina also reveals that the picture in her locket isn’t her; it’s her twin sister who died.

Phoebe finds a scary doll in her locker. Ms. Bell (the team’s advisor) tells the principal. Griffin shows up and calls it a sick joke.

Someone puts red ants in the box of pom-poms and Phoebe gets bitten. Jade denies it was her, but says she does want to replace Phoebe as captain of the squad. Gina confronts her and ALSO denies it, but at least apologizes for getting mad at her.

Phoebe gets a phone call that consists of a recording of the cheerleaders doing their “We’re gonna get you!” cheer, which is admittedly pretty creepy.

After a lousy practice Phoebe images ripping Dana’s ponytail right off her scalp. Only this is a Stine cliffhanger, so the last page of chapter eleven makes it look like she actually did it. Sigh. Then chapter eleven ends with a “stranger” attacking Ty, only that immediately turns out to be his friend Kenny.

Her mother catches her with Ty, only Phoebe lies that he’s just a friend. She goes up to her bedroom and discovers someone’s been in her room and stolen her picture of the cheerleaders. Even Phoebe recognizes that this would be a weird thing for Jade or Dana to do.

There’s an accident with a fire baton and Phoebe’s hand gets burned. So, just like a scene in Give Me a K-I-L-L, only Phoebe wakes up in hospital with a mild burn, whereas the girl in the newer book almost lost the use of both hands. Still: shouldn’t Shadyside maybe have banned fire batons after someone sabotaged Phoebe’s?

Jade and Dana visit her in hospital and deny trying to hurt her, so now everyone suspects Gina.

Samantha gets sick and Gina gets to take her place at the state competition. This also makes Gina and Phoebe roommates for some reason.

That evening Jade shows up at their room door, upset, claiming Dana fell in the empty pool and is really hurt. Phoebe, Gina, and Jade go to the pool. Dana isn’t at the pool when they get there.

Someone hits Phoebe from behind and gags her, dragging her off. She gets thrown in a van; she sees Griffin locking up the school van but he can’t hear her. Two men show up with Gina and Jade, and the van drives off. Meanwhile they discover that Dana’s ALSO in the van.

Shrinking back into the van, Phoebe watched in terror as a thin, rubbery face appeared in the doorway. “Hello, girls,” his low voice growled. “Welcome to Camp Kidnap.” (p. 104)

Camp Kidnap should definitely be the title of a Stine book.

The cheerleaders escape from the two men and make it to the road, where Griffin picks them up. Yay, they’re saved!

The Twist: They’re not saved! Griffin is driving them further from the hotel. When he suggests they do his favourite cheer, “We’re gonna get you!,” Phoebe realizes he was the one behind all the pranks.

Jade and Dana confess that they HIRED Mitch and Jenner to fake the first kidnapping.

Griffin exposits about how his sister, Laura, used to be a cheerleader. The other cheerleaders made fun of her, and then she fell and broke her neck. So as revenge, he’s now taking four cheerleaders to an abandoned meat factory.

He threatens them with electric saws and meat hooks and whatever, then gives them five minutes to come up with four perfect cheer routines or else he’ll kill them. Gina tries to appeal to his sympathies by telling him about her own dead cheerleader sister, but it doesn’t work.

Jade makes a mistake during one routine, but Phoebe uses the moment to grab Griffin’s flashlight and knock him over the head with it, and they all scatter. Gina gets stuck on a conveyor belt that feeds into a meat grinder (literally stuck, her shoe is wedged in somehow) but Phoebe rescues her. They hear Jade scream.

On their way to escape they see Dana sitting on a wall, and when they run to her Griffin pops out, having used her as bait. He makes them do one more cheer. Gina collapses (her ankle is twisted), and Phoebe runs. She finds Jade, cold and dead and hanging in the meat locker.

Phoebe tries to set off a fire alarm:

There was no noise, no sign that the matches triggered the alarm. It probably doesn’t even work, she thought. (p. 148)

Gina leaps on Griffin from behind and claws his face, but he throws her off and she hits the concrete floor and passes out.

The doors burst open and a bunch of firefighters show up to rescue them. Well, you know: all except Jade.

In the epilogue Phoebe is openly dating Ty, Dana is crying as she remembers Jade, and Gina is expected to be the sixth team member as soon as she gets better (right now she’s watching from the bleachers).

Previously:

Seniors #1 and #2: Let’s Party! and In Too Deep

Seniors #3 and #4: The Thirst and No Answer

Seniors #5 and #6: Last Chance and The Gift

 

R. L. Stine: Seniors #5-6

last chanceSeniors #5: Last Chance is, at least for the first few chapters, genuinely one of the most disturbing Fear Street novels. Unfortunately the creepiness comes not from what is actually happening (which I’ll get to soon), but from what adult-me reading this in the present day can imagine happening.

The Plot: Mary O’Connor, having already been arrested for shoplifting, can’t risk anything else going wrong. So when well-liked teacher Mr. Morley (who lives on Fear Street) leaves her alone in his office with the answers to an upcoming test in clear view, she sensibly leaves the room. LOL no, I’m kidding. She actually looks at the test and gets caught, because Mary is an idiot and “entrapment” isn’t in her vocabulary.

But kindly Mr. Morley offers her one last chance, if she’ll help him out of an embarrassing predicament by “stealing back” the jacket he loaned to another teacher. She does, and NATURALLY gets caught by Mr. Wise, who insists it really is his jacket. Gradually the things Mr. Morley asks her to do  in exchange for his “help” (which actually always makes the situation worse) escalate.

Okay, can you see now why present-day me found this really seriously creepy? But don’t worry: the is a Fear Street novel, so sex isn’t one of the things on the table as Mary desperately tries to dig her way out of trouble. Instead things culminate with Mr. Morley asking her to kill another teacher.

“Fortunately” Mary finds out in time that this whole thing has been a set up. Morley is running some kind of unethical and highly illegal “psychology experiment,” and literally everyone (including the requisite cute guy and the other teachers) is in on it.

She gets a little of her own back by making Morley and the Cute Guy think she’s really poisoned them. Haha, really she’s only knocked them unconscious with medication she stole from her mother! So I guess Mary is as sociopathic as everyone else in this book by the end. I can’t say they didn’t have it coming, though.

Seniors #6: The Gift was a more straightforward outing, in which Jennifer Fear gets an antique necklace for Christmas and then a Fear ancestress starts possessing someone. You know. Just another day on Fear Street, really. the gift

The Plot: Jennifer Fear has a gorgeous antique necklace that her Fear-obsessed father found secondhand. It used to belong to someone called Dominique Fear.

Jennifer is friends with rich girl Trisha Conrad, the one who had the vision of the entire senior class dying.

And since school opened in September, four people had died. Mr. Torkelson, Danielle Cortez, Ms. Sanders, Debra Lake…(p. 8)

Hold up there, author. Mr. Torkelson died in the first book, so that was either June or July. School hadn’t re-opened yet.

Anyway, Jennifer has a boyfriend called Ty Sullivan. Trisha warns her that Ty dates multiple girls at a time. Ty swiftly breaks up with Jennifer, telling her she’s too serious for him, which I think is code for “doesn’t want him dating other girls.” He’s an asshole, and I look forward to his demise in a later book.

Sadly, he doesn’t die in this book, although for a while there I had my hopes up. Someone nearly strangles him, Jennifer almost accidentally hits him with her car, and someone sets his house on fire. Because she’s been sleepwalking (and found her own glove at the arson scene) Jennifer starts to think Dominique Fear is possessing her.

Dominique, she finds out, was wrongfully hung for the murder of some guy she loved who married someone else. Dominique vowed vengeance, claiming she could use someone with Fear blood to take her revenge by…killing some random jackass centuries later? Not that I object to anyone killing Ty, but that does seem a weird form of revenge.

The Twist, or, DUN DUN DUN: Jennifer finds out from her father that they changed their name to Fear a couple of generations ago! She can’t be the one doing the stuff, because Dominique can only possess real Fears. (Jennifer’s father collects documents and geneological stuff for a family that isn’t even his? Okay.That seems incredibly odd.)

The further twist, or DUN DUN AGAIN WITH THE DUN: Trisha is descended from the Fears, and she’s the one with the bad case of murderous possession. Jennifer shows up at the graveyard just in time to stop her from killing Ty, and throws some ashes in her face to (theoretically, anyway) depossess her.

Oh yeah, also: Trisha was secretly dating Ty.

Trisha gazed after her. Jen’s such a good friend, she thought. I still can’t believe I went out with Ty behind her back. Not just once or twice, either. Dozens of times. (p. 150)

See, that’s the sort of behaviour likely to get you killed in a later book. Don’t blame me if you don’t make it to the end of the series, Trisha.