Wednesday, December 2, 2015

"Halloween Party" by R.L. Stine

Terry and his girlfriend Niki, who is deaf, are invited to the Halloween Party of Justine Cameron, a girl who has only recently transferred to Shadyside High. They are puzzled that just nine people have been invited, and none of them seem to have much in common. Some are jocks, others are deemed "wimps". A competition soon develops between the jocks and the wimps, spurred on by the rivalry Terry has with former close friend Alex, ever since Niki dumped Alex for Terry. Yep, that will end a friendship.

The attendees discover that this Halloween Party has a lot of surprises in store. To say much more could possibly be considered spoilers, but a dead body does pop up at some point, just to reassure us this is actually a thriller.

It's difficult to be too hard on a "Fear Street" book. They are products of a different time. A simpler time. I still remember running off to Myer after school with the $5.95 I'd saved up with parental money that was supposed to go towards lunch and buying each new monthly release. It was always exciting to settle down in my room and read for the rest of the night. Of course, reading "Halloween Party" today only took me 80 minutes, while I was at work.

This came out before Stine started dumping ridiculous, last-minute supernatural twists into his tales, so the plot is relatively well-constructed, and a believable motive is given for all the mayhem. (Revenge, baby!). However, it just takes too long to get there. A lot of time is spent on your typical he's-dead-oh-now-he's-not-dead "surprises" and a largely pointless subplot involving two bullies annoyed that they weren't invited. It's very obvious who the culprit is, but at least nobody turns out to be a fucking ghost.

Of note - this entry has a male protagonist! Girlfriend Niki is well-developed, much more so than what is usually found in these books.

I much prefer these Fear Street books of old. The reboot needs to look at returning to this familiar format, otherwise I don't see it lasting much further than its initial six-book order.

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