R.L. Stine’s Fear Street Favs VS. Reader’s Reality…Ding, Ding!
Towards the beginning of this year, R. L. Stine created a Fear Street section on his website. On the page, he added his top eight favorite Fear Street books. Here’s the link to the page in question: http://rlstine.com/fear-street/. I was especially excited to see his favorites as I had been reading and re-reading the original Fear Street series over the past couple of months. For this guest blog post, I will look at each of his favorites, why they’re his favorites, and compare them to a reader’s perspective. There will probably be spoilers and I’m going to assume you know the basic story. I’m linking to this blog’s review/recap when I can so you can refresh your memory if you want. One more thing, if a book has sequels or is part of a trilogy, I’m assuming, for the most part, that Stine is referring to all of them. However, I will address the first book vs. its series in my analysis (yeah, right. Like any of this was done in an analytical way). As I said previously, I hope you guys will join me and discuss whether you agree with his favorites or not.
Silent Night 2
Silent Night 3
Silent Night chronicles ultimate mean girl Reva Dalby. Stine says that he loved writing this character because of her biting dialogue and mean attitude. As an author, it may be fun to write, but as a reader, it is annoying and frustrating to read. Main characters are supposed to be likable and if they’re not, they usually become so over the course of the book. Normally when we have a character as mean spirited as Reva, something bad happens to them as punishment. Throughout this book, we as readers are hoping and praying that Reva is killed or at least punished severely. This is one of only a few Fear Street books where we actually cheer the killer on. Well, I guess you can’t accuse Stine of following the masses. We are subsequently disappointed not once, but three times! Not only are we disappointed in that respect, but we end up reading the same book three times because, even though Reva says she’ll change, she never does. You’ve had at least three people try to kill you because you’re a bitch, maybe you should examine your life (again).
However, if we assume that Stine just meant the first Silent Night and not any of its sequels, I can see why it might be a favorite of his. He gets to have his cake and eat it too. He can write a horribly mean character and have her survive, but, at the end, it’s ok because she said she’ll change. And if we ignore the sequels, who’s to say she doesn’t?
The New Girl
There’s really not much to say for this book. The New Girl has the distinction of being the first published Fear Street novel. It’s interesting looking back because, nowadays, Cory would be considered a stalker and a dangerous one at that. I would have preferred it to actually be a paranormal story and not the same old crazy chick story, but it’s a decent, if somewhat repeated, Fear Street cliché. Stine says he loved the story, though, and I can see why he chose it to inaugurate the Fear Street series.
In an interesting turn of events, while Switched is this blog’s favorite Fear Street book, it’s probably my least favorite. This should be interesting. Stine says on his site that not many people mention this book to him…that’s probably because this book is TERRIBLE! He says he’s proud of the twisty and clever plot. Stine may be proud of it, but from where I’m standing it looks like he threw every plot device and writers convenience into it (everything but the kitchen sink, of course). While keeping your readers guessing isn’t a bad thing, keeping them guessing for the sake of keeping them guessing is. This book is just one of the (quite a) few Fear Street books where the ending twist actually makes the book worse. If it had just stuck to what the plot appeared to be, it would have been a much better and interesting book.
Fear Street Saga: The Betrayal- review/recap coming soon (I’m sure)
The original Fear Street Saga is great. I agree with Stine on this. Every reader loves back story and I love that we get an explanation why all of this stuff happens on Fear street. The trilogy is consistent and, frankly, is a good story. It’s horror, but underscored with a profound sense of tragedy. He says he loved going back to witch burning times and I think he nailed it. If Stine only considers The Betrayal one of his favorites, then I can only guess that it’s because the first one in the series has sentimental value, because the other books in the trilogy stand up to scrutiny as well. However, I can’t just let this examination end on a high note so let’s welcome Fear Street Sagas.
The Fear Street Sagas chronicle more of the Fear street curse and its repercussions down through the generations. I understand the idea behind the series and actually like that idea. It’s a way to give the readers more of what they want and to milk the Fear Street brand for all it’s worth. In the interest of full disclosure, I have actually only read two of the Sagas series, but, unfortunately, one of them was the VERY FIRST ONE. Now, this series is on R.L. Stine’s complete book list so one would assume he wrote it, but the savvy Stine fan knows that he (or more likely the publishing company) employs ghost writers occasionally. However, it is my (perhaps naive) belief that R.L. Stine did write the original Fear Street and Super Chiller books and if he didn’t, then I don’t want to know. *sticks tongue out* This favorites list actually helps me out because I don’t think he would pick a book he didn’t write and if Stine could write a terrible book like Switched and a really good book like The Betrayal, then who knows which books he wrote himself (besides the copyright page, of course)? Why do I bring this up? Because it’s clear from the VERY FIRST BOOK that whoever wrote it didn’t read the last book in the Fear Street Saga, The Burning. It clearly states that Nora and Daniel go to see Simon right after they are married. Unless they consummated their marriage on horseback or in the carriage, THERE COULDN’T HAVE BEEN A CHILD! I’d like to think that Stine would at least have re-read his work before starting on this new Sagas series so I’m going to say this series was ghost written.
Ok, now is the part where I apologize for that last part. I got extremely off topic and I’m sorry. I do want to say that not all of the Sagas are crap. The Awakening Evil tells the story of Sarah Fear of The Cheerleaders fame and it’s really good. Many of our questions about The Evil are answered and it stays in canon.
The Cheerleaders: The First Evil
The Cheerleaders: The Second Evil
The Cheerleaders: The Third Evil
The Cheerleaders: The New Evil
The Cheerleaders: The Evil Lives
Speaking of those crazy Shadyside High cheerleaders, guess who’s also one of R.L. Stine’s favorites? The Cheerleaders trilogy is probably one of the most recognized Fear Street titles. It attracted a myriad of readers and there’s really not much I can say about this series. It’s good. It’s consistent and, over the course of the series, presents some really interesting plot twists and shocks. Honestly, it’s kind of hard to gauge Stine’s thoughts on this series, though. He says he loved the reveal at the end, but that “reveal” seems to be in every Fear Street novel. Surprisingly, the original trilogy isn’t the only Cheerleaders to be good. The New Evil was good as well and actually was quite original. On the other hand, The Evil Lives was a hot mess. You could have been good, The Evil Lives! If only you had made good choices in life…mainly getting rid of the time travel and paradoxes that plagued your short, short life.
Again, if we were to assume that Stine only meant that the first was his favorite, it probably falls into the same category that The Betrayal does. The first in the series has sentimental value and so that’s why it was chosen above all the rest because the others are just as good.
The Secret Bedroom
R.L. Stine’s books are not very long. I think the longest book I’ve ever read by him hovered around the 300 page mark (Eye Candy anyone?). My point is that I wouldn’t have thought it would take very long to write one of his books. Indeed, if this blog is any indication he should probably spend more time writing his books. Nevertheless, Stine is particularly proud of The Secret Bedroom, a book that apparently only took him eight days to write. He says that the story moved really quickly and I’d argue that it moves too quickly. While the story is actually a really good story, I had so many unanswered questions at the end that I felt I must have missed some plot points (in case you were wondering, no, it turns out I didn’t). However, in all fairness had Stine actually answered those questions, it might have proved too gruesome for the YA crowd (wait…is there such a thing for a Fear Street reader?).
The Perfect Date
*Breathes deeply* Ok Drucilla, just like we rehearsed….R.L. Stine says that this book is special to him because his son Matt is on the cover. He doesn’t mention anything else….because….because….I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!!!!!!!!! THIS BOOK IS HORRIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!! I KNOW I SAID SWITCHED WAS MY LEAST FAVORITE FEAR STREET BOOK, BUT THIS ONE FEELS ME WITH SO MUCH LOATHING I FEEL THE NEED TO LEAVE EARTH TO GET AWAY FROM IT! *thump* *crash* Ok, sorry about that. I think I got my anger under cont-IF WE THREATENED THE WORLD WITH READING THIS BOOK, THERE WOULD BE NO MORE WARS! *punch* *crash* *kick* Ok. *catches breath* I think that time it worked. So….The Perfect Date. While the story is decent and does have some potential, it’s full of Fear Street clichés (Fear Street hardly making an appearance, guys two-timing there girlfriends, etc.) and don’t even get me started on the ending. Nothing is explained and random crap happens. I mean, super strength, really!?!? Where did that come from!?!? The twist is completely redundant as well. It adds nothing to the story.
Well, let me go ahead and say it…I think Haunted is one of the better Fear Street books. Granted, it does suffer from some paradoxical problems, but the concept is great. I definitely see Stine trying something different with this novel and while he may not have necessarily succeeded, it’s different enough to stand out in the sea of similar Fear Street titles. He says he’s proud of the plot and tension and I have to admit that this was one of the few Fear Street novels that had me on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next.
So honestly, I don’t know what I was trying to do with this article. I agree with Stine sometimes, but more often than not, his choices baffle me. I’m curious as to whether you agree with Stine or not. I guess to be fair here are my favorite Fear Street titles in no particular order (none got a five star rating so here are my four star ratings from Goodreads):
The Prom Queen
Double Date (Because I loved that a Fear Street cheater finally got his comeuppance.)
What Holly Heard
Trapped - review/recap coming soon (I’m sure)
Fear Park: The First Scream - (Just the first book.)
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My love for Switched...I will never be able to explain the unexplainable. Thank you for coming around again, Drucilla!
The next guest post from Fear reader Chris W. will be a very interesting little twist...I'm sure you ghouls will love it.