Monday, March 17, 2014

Focusing On Fear Street - The New Girl

Hello there blog followers! As I said last post, I am moving away from movies for awhile and focusing on books because well as many movies as I have...I have just as many books in my collection. I always enjoyed reading from a young age and now that I am older I mostly fall within the categories of romance, fantasy and horror. When I was in middle school, the love of reading skyrocketed when I discovered a little series called Fear Street written by R.L. Stine which is probably what developed my full love for the horror genre (only having dabbled slightly into that movie genre and way before I discovered Stephen King and Anne Rice).

Whenever I would go out to Walmart or the mall with my mother if a Fear Street book was on the shelf I would get it and since the books were only (at that time) $4 sometimes I would get $20 worth of reading material for my birthday or Christmas. Today, I have almost the entire classic Fear Street series and as the series started to fade away I had trouble finding some books but thanks to eBay and Amazon I hope to add these to my collections.

R.L. Stine has made it known on Twitter that he is bringing back the Fear Street series and the first book Party Games may bring a new generation into liking this amazing book series. Since I have so many Fear Street books I am going to start blogging about them and I guess reviewing them in my own kind of style. I am going in mostly chronological order based on the ones I have read to the newer ones I have just recently required so today we are going to take a look at the first ever Fear Street book: The New Girl.


Book # 1 in The Fear Street book series
Published: June of 1989
Cover art: Enric Torres-Prat

This is the original cover that is on my copy of The New Girl. I wish it was bigger but basically the cover has our titular New Girl dressed in her nice little sweater and skirt looking very Nancy Drew lost in the fog on titular Fear Street with kind of a ghostly aura around her as she looks terrified. It is kind of boring but very nicely drawn and has a lavender/orange scheme going on which will of course draw a girl's eye to it especially in the late 1980s. In 2005, The New Girl along with 11 other Fear Street titles were reprinted with new covers like this one:

The new cover of the book (IMHO) is more boring than the original edition. It is supposed to be more eye catching to the newer generation this was geared towards and even though it is bright: nothing is going on. It looks like a Photoshop picture that used a camera photo with some effects added in and not like the cover art that was clearly drawn with painstaking detail on the first edition. Searching for images to spice up this blog I found a German cover for The New Girl and it is my second favorite because well just look:

For one thing, there is a lot of detail in the curtains in the background and even though you can not see all of her face, the half you can see has a set of devilish eyes. I haven't even gone into the plot elements yet and I can tell you this scene does happen in the book so kudos to the cover artist for getting that right!

Taglines: "He had to learn her secret-or die trying!" and "Dying for a kiss..." : front cover and back cover. As far as they go I think they are pretty good for grabbing your attention and aren't too cheesy for a beginning to a series.

I'm going to try to do the books differently than the movies so there may not be many spoilers but if I think anything is worth not telling just remember: the book if you are interested in discovering Fear Street for the first time or wish to relive your own nostalgic memories. So first thing: the book has a prologue but to me it spoils the entire story! If you look at the blurb on the back or even the cover, you can tell there is something otherworldly about the "New Girl"so you automatically think - ghost am I right? If there is something I learned from reading most books have plot twists so if you ever get a chance to read it, skip The New Girl prologue and go right to Chapter 1 on the third page and get greeted by...

The First Line: "When Cory Brooks saw the new girl for the first time, he was standing on his head in the lunchroom."

For intriguing openings, this might not be the best but it gives you development into our main character, Cory Brooks. Ah the high school male how I remember those guys like Cory who would do dumb things if their buddies dared them to ranging from the malicious to the down right stupid - like balancing your lunch tray in one hand as you stand on your head. This brings new meaning to the expression "falling head over heels" which Cory does when he sees the new girl- a pretty little blonde- and lands face first into his spaghetti. You see this is also because Cory is the star of Shadyside High's gymnastics team and when he learns the name of his mystery girl is Anna Corwin he starts blowing his fancy athletic moves and even admits:

"I'm falling for her."

So for most high school boys, Cory is one of the romantic ones who falls hard for a pretty face, can't concentrate on anything else and is still a pretty nice but sometimes clueless boy. So nice, athletic, a romantic and we learn he has black, curly hair and is sixteen so for a first time male character in the Fear Street universe Cory Brooks is at the top of the list. When I mentioned clueless, it is mostly because Cory may notice Anna as a love interest but he fails spectacularly to see that his long-time childhood gal pal Lisa Blume is totally into him. Lisa is the other character of focus in The New Girl and we learn she is editor of the school newspaper, witty and looks like Cher.

This is Cher as close to normally dressed in 1989

So despite being friends with a girl who looks like a pop star Cory seems to focus more on classic girly-girl Anna with her dresses to the point it makes Lisa sick and kind of bitchy. So she does some research about Anna for Cory despite crushing on him majorly and finds that Anna Corwin can't be real because she died with a fuzzy newspaper obituary photo to prove it. That doesn't stop Cory though from going to the creepy Fear Street whenever Anna begs and pleads for him to help her...or from making out with her so much that kissing causes his lips to bleed. Anna even gives this creep little gem of dialogue:

"You're all mine now."

Seems like a perfect catch doesn't she? Even though Cory has enough evidence from Lisa that Anna is in fact a dead girl and even keeps getting menaced by Anna's brother Brad saying his sister is dead, he just keeps going back to her driven by of course teenage boy hormones but possibly maybe even real love. This also doesn't stop Lisa from asking Cory to a turn-around dance (which I think is so cute) and being a nice guy, Cory accepts out of friendship. This may have turned into a love epiphany if Cory didn't blow it by talking about nothing but Anna especially after earlier in the day when the dead, blood-soaked corpse of a cat didn't find it's way into Lisa's locker by a jealous Anna and freaking Lisa the fuck out! Not being able to get into his teenage high-school boy head that Anna may in fact be a crazy, jealous psycho, Lisa runs away from Cory and ends up getting pushed down the stairs!

So is Anna a ghost or a flesh and blood girl with more than a few screws lose? Will Cory finally realize that Lisa is the real girl he should be with? These are the questions I will leave you with but the bigger one this book good enough to have you coming back to Fear Street?

As far as an exciting plot for a series beginner, The New Girl isn't bad but when I read the prologue and then got into the book proper I could already tell what the twist was going to be and maybe you don't even have to read the book to know it either. Character wise Cory is a good male character compared to a few later male characters that pop up in Fear Street and one of the few lead male characters centered in the story. I love Lisa for her sassy attitude and her totally relateable crush on Cory since I myself have had crushes on clueless boys with less than stellar results but none as bad as what Lisa Blume had to endure.

Anna Corwin is a good introduction into how crazy some of the characters get in future Fear Street books but is by far the blandest character in this book except maybe up until the twist...or maybe not depending on your own conclusions. Two other characters that seem to be the comic relief (there are always a few in the books to I guess relieve tension or maybe even cause more) of the story are Arnie Tobin and David Metcalf and even they are more interesting to me than Anna! They of course are the ones who dared Cory to stand on his head in the beginning but as Cory becomes Anna-crazed Dave shows real concern for his friend so it's nice to know he's not a total jerk.

Body Count: Possibly Anna and a dead cat (poor kitty!) As far as horror goes, more traditional suspense than gore...besides the cat :( but it's only the beginning you know...

Another thing I noticed about R.L. Stine and not just in his Fear Street books but in his other young adult horror ventures, he sometimes tries to sprinkle a little bit of pop culture in his books to hook this teenage readers and looking back now it really dates how old these books are and even points out (sometimes hilarious) anachronisms or idiosyncrasy moments. So when I talk about each Fear Street book I will be bringing these to light in something I will call:


At the turnaround dance that Cory and Lisa venture to, there is a passage about "a Phil Collins record with a driving, machine like drumbeat and pulsating bass." This has lead me to believe that the song in question is "In The Air Tonight" which was released in 1981 and gives me the impression that Shadyside dances are no fun with such ominous kind of dancing music that is almost eight years old. Given the plot of The New Girl and the lyrics of the song it actually is a cool concept.

Another passage also references music artist Prince and his new "high voltage" record. Being six when this came out, the only record by Prince that I remember being anything close to this is his song "Batdance" from the soundtrack to Batman. This almost knocks out the theory that the DJ of these dances retreats to his older record collection for ambiance music. If he's not going backward than the person responsible for this weird dance playlist has eclectic music taste.

Earlier in the book, Lisa depressed over Cory not noticing her decides to go to the video store and rent a film. She doesn't have a lot to choose from and ends up getting a Star Trek film which Cory is not a big fan of when he shows up and interrupts her pity fest. The film in question is Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home or the one with the whales. So I'm guessing they weren't going to see the new one that just came out around this time?

Based on evidence, I am guessing that Cory had posters of Cher on his wall and Lisa bought Cher's Heart of Stone album finding all of the songs on it cathartic towards her relationship with him. If they became an official couple, I think I have the perfect song for them out of two choices:

So that's my first book review and just the first in my looking back at the wonder of Fear Street. So what did you all think? I'm trying to make my blog a little more entertaining and I hope I have succeeded.

NEXT TIME: The Wrong Number

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