Monday, October 13, 2008

Fear Park #1 - The First Scream

Book Description:

Would you open an amusement park on Fear Street? Would you take the risk and go against the ancient curse of the Fear family? Dierdre Bradley's father would. He is opening Fear Park in a few days. But he doesn't know someone-or something-will do anything to stop him. Soon the screams of joy will turn to screams of terror. And Dierdre will be caught in a nightmare ride that never ends.

My Description:

Part One - 1935

Meghan Fairwood is standing at her locker when she notices an ink stain on her sleeve. Starting this book off with a bang! Her expensive new fountain pen (it cost $4...expensive by 1935 standards I suppose) is leaking again. She glances over at some cheerleaders hanging a banner about baseball and it makes her think of her boyfriend, Richard Bradley, Shadyside High's star baseball player. Oh, and he's also an arrogant son of a bitch. A cute weirdo named Robin Fear comes up to Meghan (his locker is beside her's) and she says hello, but he blushes and rummages through his locker. Meg drops some movie magazines on the floor and Robin helps her pick them up which leads to a discussion about Clark Gable. Ah, the '30s. Show me a high schooler these days who even knows who Clark Gable is and I'll eat my own underwear. Anyway, Richard interrupts this peaceful moment by coming up to Meg and kissing her. Scandalous! He then turns into an asshole, accusing Robin of staring at him and Meg: "What are you staring at? You want to see smooching? Go to the movies." Then he wipes his filthy hands on Robin's necktie and walks off. Asshole! Meghan turns to apologize to Robin, but he's already gone. Poor little Fear.

As Robin walks home, he thinks about what just happened. He's extremely upset and embarrassed about the fact that he allowed Richard to humiliate him like that. To make matters worse, it's starting to rain. Those Fears really ARE cursed. When he gets home, he finds the house seemingly empty...until he hears a noise coming from the library. He opens the door and finds his freaky father hovering in the air in a cloud of purple smoke. Purple haze, man! Robin silently freaks out and shuts the door, praying that his father didn't see him. Apparently Dad is really into sorcery and the occult so Robin isn't as surprised as one would think. But it's still totally weird and he's pretty freaked out. He wonders if his mom who died when he was four was also into sorcery and such. Suddenly the doorbell rings and Dad exits the library and tells Robin to answer the door because all the servants have quit. So? You can't walk three feet over to the door and open it yourself? You wouldn't even have to walk, actually. You could just float, Sir Wizard. Dad goes to the sitting room while Robin opens the door for some of Dad's business associates (fellow warlocks?). In a bout of cruel irony, one of them is Richard's dad. Yuck. Robin listens in on the conversation. Richard's pop, Jack Bradley, tells Dad that he thinks an amusement park is exactly what Shadyside needs. May I ask why? Apparently the town has nothing going on to generate a substantial income and an amusement park would do the trick; it would provide lots of jobs for the destitute citizens of Shadyside and it would become a popular tourist attraction. Right. Mr. Bradley wants Dad to donate a section of the woods behind Fear Street, but Dad gets pissed and says NO. Mr. Bradley stands up, informs Dad that he won't take no for an answer, and then proceeds to turn purple and collapse to the floor. Guess Dad is working his voodoo again. Robin screams at him to stop and suddenly Mr. Bradley is fine again. The men leave a few minutes later. Well, that was completely pointless.

On Saturday afternoon, Robin and Dad go for a walk in the woods. Suddenly Robin spots Mr. Bradley holding what appears to be a rifle. Robin freaks out because he thinks he's about the be blown away. But as Mr. Bradley comes closer, Robin realizes that it isn't a rifle, it's some kind of "surveying tool." Ok. Dad is once again pissed off (I think that's his permenant state) and asks Mr. Bradley why he's trespassing. Bradley is still pushing the amusement park thing and says the town council has lots of ideas. This is so fucking boring. Seriously. I read these books for psychotic teenagers and sloppy make outs, not land surveying and town councils! Mr. Bradley rambles on, Dad storms off to the house, and Robin heads off deeper into the woods to find some much needed peace and quiet. Maybe we'll get lucky and he'll find a sharp stick to stab Mr. Bradley with or something. I know, I'm sick and I need help. Anyway, instead of a sharp twig, Robin comes upon Meghan. Does everyone in this town hang out in these woods? They're surprised to see one another and make awkward conversation for a bit. Meg can't stop thinking about how cute Robin is. Hawt. Of course she'll never do anything about it because Richard would probably cut her to pieces if he found out. Richard sucks eggs. Or something. Anyway, Meghan gets something in her eye and Robin gently checks it out. Aww. Normally I'd barf at a scene like that, but Robin sounds adorable. So sue me! Unfortunately, that troll Richard comes running up. WHY IS EVERYBODY IN THE FREAKING WOODS? Is this all there was to do in 1935? Rich is extremely ticked off because he thinks Robin has been kissing Meghan. Meghan explains the situation ("He was helping me!") and Rich seems to cool off a little. Then he starts laughing and says "I was just kidding. I wasn't serious." Whatever. Robin tells them he's gotta go and as he walks away, Richard sticks out a foot and trips him. This obnoxious jackass is stealing my soul. Hopefully Robin gets Dad to perform some witchcraft on Richard's dumb ass. Rich kisses Meghan and asks how Robin found their meeting place and she says it was by accident. Blah blah blah.

When Robin arrives home, he spots his father lying on the floor and assumes he's dead. No, daddy, don't die! We need your evil! A purple cloud floats into the room, hovers over Dad, and he opens his eyes. He's totally confused about what just happened and Robin tries in vain to explain it. Then something even stranger happens: Robin's DEAD mom drifts in on a cloud of purple smoke. Awesome. Dad is flipping out and keeps saying "It is she! I've tried for so long! Ruth! It is she!" We get it! Shut up! Mommy dearest gets closer and Robin screams when he sees her face...or what's left of it. "And Robin saw his mother's face. Saw the gray-green bone of her rotting, mold-spotted skull. Saw the black, gaping pits where her eyes had been. Saw her hollow, gap toothed grin. Her jawbone hanging slack." I didn't know Amy Winehouse lived on Fear Street. Robin screams even louder when a fat worm falls out of Mom's nostril...

...and then he wakes up. Son of a bitch! That was just a DREAM?! I thought we were friends, Stine! Robin sees his father and a nurse standing beside his bed and thinks about the fact that his father has done this to him before: "Dad has tried his sorcery before. And succeeded only in frightening me. And then called it a nightmare. Hired a nurse and called it a nightmare. Paid her to say it was a nightmare, too." Yeah, that makes sense. NOT. Dad tells Robin that it's now Monday and Robin has been screaming since Saturday. I guess Dad couldn't be bothered to cut the shit and wake him up.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bradley is out in the woods marking off the area that will be used for the amusement park. Yes, he got permission from the town council to build it here. Yes, he is a complete moron for building an amusement park in the middle of the woods and honestly expecting it to be a huge success. One of his helpers, Ken, accidentally nails a wooden stake through his foot so this outing has to be cut short so they can take the dum dum to the hospital. This book is incredibly random. Seriously, why are we expected to care about these people? Anyway, Mr. Bradley ends up staying in the woods while some guy named Barney drives Ken to the hospital. Bradley is just standing around doing nothing when he suddenly starts to feel extremely itchy. He starts clawing at his skin, drawing blood. And of course the chapter ends there. *sigh*

The next chapter begins with Meghan waiting for Richard in the woods. She's preparing to break up with him, but isn't sure if she can actually go through with it. Just do it! He's an asshole! Richard finally shows up all sweaty and such: "Sorry. Coach kept us late." They start walking through the woods and Richard rambles on about baseball and other crap that Meghan really doesn't give a shit about. She can't stop thinking about Robin Fear. Oooo. The two stop walking when they come across a skeleton sitting on the ground against a tree. A skeleton holding a "surveying tool". A skeleton that still has hair and a's Mr. Bradley. Richard completely loses his mind when he realizes the skeleton was once his father. Damn. Karma is a bitch, Rich.

Part Two - 1935

It's STILL 1935? Crap. It's just a week after Mr. Bradley's remains were found. Apparently he was quite the popular man and his odd death is all anyone is talking about. Robin has a feeling that his father is behind the death and decides he'll just ask Dad straight out. He stops outside the library door because he hears his dad saying "Ruth" over and over again. Not this Ruth shit again! He also hears music and a woman's voice. But when he opens the door, he only sees his father dozing in an armchair with a big book in his lap. Dad wakes up and when Robin asks about the voices, Dad dismisses everything. Typical. Robin manages to ask him if he had anything to do with Mr. Bradley's death. He says no, but Robin doesn't believe it. Who would?

One afternoon, Robin is walking home from school when Meghan runs up to him. They chat while they walk and Meghan just can't restrain herself for one more second: she kisses Robin full on the mouth. Oh the shock! The good feelings are short lived, though, because, as usual, that fuckhead Richard is nearby and saw the whole thing. He says to Meghan "I don't believe you! You sneak out with him while I'm mourning my father?" First of all, go to hell, asshole. Second, why didn't she break up with him when she had the chance? Richard decides to unleash his fury on Robin's face. Robin's nose is gushing blood, but that isn't enough. Richard punches him in the stomach and when he's on the ground, Rich kicks him repeatedly in the side. Good Lord! The 1935 horror of it all! Meghan finally manages to drag Richard off of Robin and helps Robin to his feet. Robin runs away as fast as he can.

Later, Richard calls Meghan to apologize. Excuse me, shit for brains. I think you should be apologizing to the guy you tried to kill. Meghan just hangs up on him. Good. But like five minutes later, Richard shows up at her house. He'll never go away! Richard pouts like a baby and Meghan ends up forgiving him. Give me a break! It isn't HER who deserves an apology! The only character in this book who is even remotely tolerable is Robin. Then Richard tells her he has good news: "The town council voted to claim a section of Fear Street Woods for the town. In honor of my father's memory. It means the amusement park will be built." Oh goody. But wait! There's more! "After the trees are cut down, the town is going to hire as many kids as possible to chop up the stumps. Girls, too! They're going to pay us a dollar a day and free admission when the park opens." Meghan can hardly contain her excitement. Yeah, I can't think of anything more enjoyable than busting my hump for slave wages. Thanks, Shadyside! 1935 sucks, man.

On Tuesday afternoon, Meghan goes up to Robin and tells him he doesn't look too bad considering what happened. Then she says that Richard doesn't want her to talk to him. I'm sure you cheered the little Fear right up, Meg. Now go drown yourself in the bathtub like a good girl. Robin wants to meet her later for some reason and they agree on Roger's, an ice cream shop. At 4 o'clock, Meg enters the shop and spots Robin in a corner booth. She sits down and they both order chocolate malteds. The first words out of Robin's mouth? "My father is an evil man." Duh. That goes without saying. Anyway, Robin goes on to say that his Dad is pissed off because the amusement park is being built on land that he once owned and Robin wants to show him that he has no right to do evil deeds in an effort to stop park construction. So Robin has decided to join the work crew as an act of defiance. Except he isn't even gonna tell his dad about it. This makes absolutely no sense. Robin tells Meghan that his main reason for joining the crew is so he can see her. Ok, NOW it makes sense. He says he really likes her and she confesses she feels the same. It's rainbows and sunshine all around! But don't worry, it won't last long. This is Fear Street after all.

School has been out for a week now (summer vacation I assume) and stump chopping has begun. As Meghan is gleefully hacking away at a stump, Robin comes up to her. He's late because his dad kept asking all sorts of questions, but he managed to get away. A photographer from the local paper is there to snap photos of these pathetic kids chopping stumps. Guess who else decided to show up? Our old pal Richard! He comes running up, angry and holding his hatchet high. The psycho tries to chop off Robin's head, but thankfully Robin drops to the ground. A boy rushes over to stop Richard and Rich buries the hatchet in the poor boy's chest. As soon as the boy drops to the ground, Richard cuts off his head. Sweet merciful 1935! Will it ever end?! It finally DOES end when someone comes over and shoves a hatchet into Richard's back. That isn't all, though. These kids have suddenly gotten blood thirsty and are lopping off limbs right and left. When the carnage ends, Meghan gazes at the bloodshed and dismembered bodies in horror. Even I'm shocked! A purple mist is hovering over the scene and I think we all know what that means. Meg and Robin flee to get help. I'm not sure where Meghan goes, but Robin runs home. He finds his father and says "Dad, it worked perfectly. They chopped each other to pieces. I did everything right. And they all went wild and hacked each other up. The park will never be built now." What the hell?!? I thought you were GOOD, Robin! My entire belief system is shattered! Dad simply says "You learned your powers quickly." Robin's reply? "Of course. I'm a Fear." And I'm a fool. A fool for trusting a fucking Fear!

Part Three - This Year

We're finally out of the pure hell that was 1935. Dierdre Bradley (a probable relation of Richard Bradley) and her boyfriend, Paul Malone, are feeding each other cotton candy at Fear Park. Her father owns the place and he's allowed the public free access for this night only. Paul says he doesn't have much time to hang out because he's in the Hatchet Reenactment Show at 10:15. Yes, these nutjobs actually reenact the hatchet scene. I wish I were joking. Why would anyone want to remember that shit? Anyway, they ride the Ferris wheel first and then the Inferno, the biggest scariest roller coaster at Fear Park. Yee haw. Kind of. When the ride is over, Paul hurries off to rehearse for the show and Dierdre runs up to some guy named Rob who is lurking around in the shadows and kisses him. What a two-faced tramp! She keeps thinking about wrong it is, but that doesn't stop her from smothering this guy in kisses.

After Dierdre manages to break away from Rob, she goes to her dad's office trailer and finds him chatting about the park to reporters. Someone asks about the Hatchet Show and Mr. Bradley answers "[It's] partly in tribute to the kids who died. They died on this ground. And we don't want to forget them. Also, it's such a dramatic story, such a mystery. We know people will be curious about it. We think the Hatchet Show will become one of our biggest attractions." Tribute my ass. You've got dollar signs in your eyes, Mr. Bradley. Just admit that it's all for the money! The reporters leave and Mr. Bradley decides to drag Dierdre to the show. She doesn't wanna go because she has a terrible feeling about it, but she goes along anyway. They take a seat in the theater and Dad informs more reporters that it's all rubber hatchets and fake blood. The lights go down and the show finally begins. As the kids are chopping away, a purple cloud floats into the area and they all start fighting. I don't think I have to describe the other events...we already went there in 1935! Dierdre is shocked at how real everything looks. At the end, all of the performers take a bow...except Paul. Dierdre notices that he isn't moving and she freaks out and runs onstage. Of course Paul is ok: "Cramp in my side. This show is dangerous!" Hahahah. As the two kiss, Dierdre spots Rob in the crowd watching them. Pervert!

The next night, Dierdre is back at the park waiting for Paul at the main gates. She gazes over at the Ferris wheel and thinks that maybe he's already on duty. The wheel is running strangely, bumping along, and Paul is nowhere in sight. A moment later, she realizes what's making the wheel so bumpy and screams: Paul's headless corpse is stuffed beneath the wheel. "The legs and shoes jumped up as each car bumped over the body." She also spots Paul's head lying nearby on the pavement. Oh Paul. *sob* Dierdre starts crying and out of nowhere, Rob comes up to comfort her: "It's ok. I'm here now. I'll take good care of you."

Two weeks later, the police are still investigating Paul's death. The park was shut down immediately after Paul's body was found. Dierdre is sitting in the office trailer with her dad. Dad says that many workers have quit because they think the park is jinxed. Rob suddenly appears and says he would be able to help out. Dad doesn't know this guy so Rob introduces himself: "My name is Robin. Robin Fear, sir." I think we all kinda saw that coming. Dad asks if he's related to THE Fear family and Robin says he's a distant cousin. Liar! The last line of the book comes from Robin: "I've waited a long time for this job!" Oh I bet you have, you little weirdo.

Conclusion? It's a toss-up. Some parts were good (the kids hacking each other up with hatchets) and other parts were incredibly dull (I'm talking to you, 1935!) I have high hopes for the next two novels in this trilogy, though.

Next time: "Switched"

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