Saturday, February 13, 2010

"Eye Candy" by R.L. Stine

I'm pretty sure this was never actually released in Australia - I was never able to find it in any bookstore. But I managed to get hold of a copy for just $7 through Book Depository. I was intrigued because this, along with "The Sitter" (which I've yet to track down), was a short-lived attempt by former teen/tween thriller writer R.L. Stine to re-tackle the adult suspense genre. His initial attempt - "Superstitious" - was apparently not very successful. These two books came out around 2003/2004, and I'm guessing they weren't terribly successful either, because he hasn't tried another adult thriller since. Last time I checked, Stine was back in "Goosebumps"-style territory, though I don't know how much luck he'll have since the teens and tweens are only reading the "Twilight" books these days. I refuse to have anything to do with "Twilight" - I liked vampires back when Buffy and Angel were on TV and the teenagers actually had witty dialogue and vampires didn't bloody sparkle.....but I'm getting totally off-topic here.

"Eye Candy" has Lindy Sampson heading into the unpredictable world of Internet dating a year after the death of her fiance. She sets up dates with three guys who are all really into her, as well as another guy she happens to run into at a bar. However, the fun world of dating is short-lived when she receives a phone call telling her to "never say no to me!" She also receives a threatening note, and somebody steals all her panties! Of course, from this point on, all her dates act as suspicious as all get-out, leaving her unable to tell which one is mentally unbalanced. Heck, even the police detective she calls upon for help (he used to be partners with her dead fiance), acts funny around her. Oh yeah, and her roommate Ann-Marie's boyfriend Lou has a thing for her and likes to sexually harrass her when he's drunk. In any case, Lindy has to go on a lot of dates she doesn't want to, all the while wondering if the next date will end up with her being murdered.

It's not surprising that R.L. Stine's foray into thrillers aimed at adults didn't last. His writing style will simply never cut it. Flowing over from the days of "Goosebumps" and "Fear Street" is the simplistic writing style and short chapters, many of which end on a false scare. There's a few F-bombs chucked in, a couple of sex scenes and stronger violence, but it still felt like I was reading a "Fear Street" book from the early 90s. It's very under-plotted, and I could figure out pretty easily where everything was headed. I think if even James Patterson attempted to hand in a thriller with these sorts of twists, the editor would give it back to him. But it was engaging in its own trashy, empty way, and there was a certain comfort in reading an "adult" book that took me back to my own teen/tween days. And I'll read 100 more books like this before I'll go anywhere near "Twilight"!

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