Thursday, April 17, 2014

Focusing On Fear Street - First Date


Book #16 in the Fear Street series
Published: May of 1992
Cover Art by Bill Schmidt

As far as riveting covers go this is not one of them but yet again very nicely drawn with a guy about ready to strangle a poor unsuspecting girl on her first date. I think the girl is supposed to be blissfully happy but she looks kind of dead in those eyes. Now that I come to think about it why do the girl and guy look so familiar to me? Answer: not sure but I'll ponder it some more. When 2005 rolled around, this one of the dozen Fear Street books re-released with new covers and well we get this one:

Um yeah...just as riveting as the original...not! A girl putting on lip liner because it's her first date with a purple saturated cover is not going to have guys adding this one to their collection and it looks like a really bad teen cover. The only strong points I like are the fact that who ever illustrated it put a lot of good detail in the girl's lips and that little tagline: "It may be her last..." is a perfect one. As always I can find a pretty good German edition cover for the Fear Street books and this one is a good kind of dark cover:

Points go out to this one because it actually has an illustration of an actual book event and it is just so ominous! The only detail I don't like is that the boy and girl look really young to me and that just kind of creeps me out...

Taglines: "That's when he kills them." This one appears on the front just underneath the title so it kind of fits together because yes on the first date is when he kills them so you know exactly what you can expect to happen on the other hand the back one "Dying For A Date" is just a really bad pun like you aren't even trying now are you, tagline writer? I hope R.L. didn't have a hand in these if so he should really know better...

The First Line: "We can't see out and no one see in." she said, snuggling against his shoulder.

Oh sounds like we started on something really heavy which might be enough to get you hooked in! So a girl and a boy named Joe are parking but something is kind off about this guy who is very anxious and definitely not that interested in making out. He suggests they go for a walk but as they do he drops his wallet and the girl casually picks it up to see that his driver's license states his name to be Lonnie Mayes...uh oh! So Lonnie-Joe makes up some lame excuse, the girl seems to buy it but still asks too many questions and next we are told by our omnipotent narrator that he comes back from the cliff edge...alone. So apparently he has killed other girls before and his next stop just happens to be good old Shadyside: the apparent murder capital of the world which seems to be right up his alley.

Now I remember! It's been mentioned Scott Weinger (Steve from Full House and voice of Aladdin) kinda looks like the guy on the cover! Beware the nice ones indeed!

Our focus then turns to our main character, fifteen-year old Chelsea Richards who hasn't lived in town long. She seems to be an average girl with normal complaints about hating her life, doesn't have a dating life and only has one friend named Nina. Her mother suggests that maybe if she wore lipstick and lost some weight (wow really Moms?) she might actually get a date. It seems that ignoring Mom's advice is a good idea because suddenly there is a new boy at school named Will that Chelsea develops a crush on and then a guy named Tim Sparks comes into the diner owned by Chelsea's father where she works as a waitress.

If Chelsea's mom isn't careful she'll give her daughter a complex like the show Growing Pains did to Tracey Gold who I always thought was pretty and kind of looks like the girl on the cover...

He takes an interest in Chelsea and asks her out to a movie but before she can answer this kind of tough looking guy her dad interrupts their conversation and Sparks (as he tells everyone to call him) angrily bolts. Not long after Sparks leaves, some young thugs try to rob the restaurant and end up hitting Chelsea's dad over the head with a pipe so when he gets taken to the hospital poor Chelsea calls Nina to come stay with her and I feel her pain as a third wheel when Nina decides to bring her boyfriend Doug with her so they can make out (some friend you got yourself there, Chels!)

Don't ask me why but given her description I always imagined Nina looked kind of like early Christina Applegate and the way Kelly Bundy was before they changed the character into a dumb bimbo

So with her only friend being too self-absorbed in her own guy, Chelsea soon decides that the next time Sparks asks her out she'll accept but when he comes back all we get is an awkward silence scenario and when Sparks leaves he goes home and pulls a phone out of the wall because he didn't ask her out like he planned and we are also treated to a scene of the guy we know as Lonnie-Joe killing a poor kitten :( ! Lucking out with Sparks, Chelsea becomes over the moon happy when Will asks her to go out on a date and ends up taking her to the next town over and makes her promise not to tell anyone about their secret date. Secret dates, anger issues it seems that our first date serial killer is one of Chelsea's would be beaus but which one is it?

Now I could go into more detail but the book doesn't give us much of a twist and the big reveal of whether Sparks or Will is the homicidal killer is blown way early! When I first read it I have to admit I wasn't shocked at who the bad guy would be because they make the other one of the biggest red herrings I have ever seen! So if you have never read First Date, I won't spoil it for you and if you have well then you already know don't you? Sadly it's not the first or last time you have it so obviously spelled out for you just who the villain is in a Fear Street book...

Despite these annoying little niggles of detail, I enjoyed First Date because it does follow a real high school girl's thoughts. It may just be me but I can identify with Chelsea and even the description of her being short with curly brown hair and being a little chubby is kind of the way I was most of my school going years. I'm not sure how male readers may feel about this book but it has a decent plot worthy of a good horror flick or even a bad one depending on your taste that is ;)

Body Count: Candy, the girl in our semi-prologue and yet another poor little kitty :( The book is more of a thriller than a horror so if you were expecting gore sorry to burst your bubble *shrug*

Cameo Time!: Suki Thomas who happened to go out on a date with Justin Stiles from The Prom Queen is mentioned by Nina as talking with her boyfriend Doug at lunch. Suki seems to be the equivalent of the school slut and after reading this book, I think it serves Nina right for being such an awful friend to Chelsea. I've been there before girls who are way more worried about the boys they are dating than the friends they have in high school always have to learn the hard way.


When we first meet Sparks it is said that he is wearing a Metallic shirt to I guess emphasize how tough he is. In the early 90s is when Metallica was at its best (both my boyfriend and I can agree on that) so I'm guessing he's a big metal fan. You know what other metal band Sparks might like? Iron Maiden!

So in the book, it says that the movie Chelsea and Will go to see has both John Candy and both of the Quaid brothers, actors Dennis and Randy, in a sort of action-comedy thing. Hate to break it to you but there is no movie like that in existence R.L. just made it up! You know there were plenty of good real movies you could have sent them to, Mr. Stine if you wanted. Something action packed, roll on the floor hilarious or even romantic to see back in 1992 may not have been in one film but there were plenty of choices:

NEXT BLOG: Sometimes it's The Best Friend you've got to look out for...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Focusing On Fear Street - The Prom Queen


Book #15 in the Fear Street Series
Published: March 1992
Cover Art by Bill Schmidt

This was one of the first Fear Street books I ever read and owned...the cover definitely caught my attention. It's a shame that this doesn't happen in the book because this is an excellent horror cover: a prom queen looks in a mirror and sees a skull looking back at her because if you look at her reflection she still has skin on her arms. When I saw this, I thought it was going to be about you know a 1950s prom queen coming back to haunt teenagers kinda like Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2 until I read the blurb on the back but it still intrigued me.

I couldn't find too many covers for international versions of The Prom Queen or reprints but as always I can count on the German publications to provide me with a nice cover illustration like this one:

Again, this scene doesn't really occur in the book but it is very nice with the dead prom queen and the ominous figure in the background. There is great detail in every fold of the curtains and the girl's gown and I love the chandelier and the shadows it casts. I sure wish I could draw people as well as these talented artists...amazing!

 Taglines: On the front we have "She was drop-dead beautiful..." which is very good since it also made me think the book was going to be about an undead prom queen along with the cover illustration. On the back we have "Dance Of Death..." its in all caps so it makes it jump at you but I find it a kind of so-so tagline not as good as the front one.

The First Line: "We couldn't stop talking about the killer." 

What a way to start a book! This is one of the Fear Street novels told from the prospective of our protagonist in this case Elizabeth McVay or as she is called Lizzy (the blurb on the back spells it as Lizzie). Apparently, a killer has been going around the towns about Shadyside murdering young women and its all the buzz in the girls' locker room among Lizzy and her two friends: blonde and tan Dawn Rodgers and redhead Rachel West, the poor girl among the trio. Besides the gruesome news the other main topic is of course prom where Lizzy is hoping her military brat boyfriend Kevin can come home to take her, Rachel is going with her high school sweetheart Gideon and Dawn has yet to choose from the pool of gorgeous guys who have asked her (Dawn is a very confident almost disgusting type of person.)

The whole school is called to an assembly to not only discuss the dangers about the recent murders but also to announce the nominees for Prom Queen (and apparently no Prom King candidates...weird school Shadyside High.) So of course Lizzy, Rachel and Dawn are nominated along with drama club queen Simone Perry and popular, delicate Elana Potter. So we have one redhead (Rachel), one light blonde (Elana), one dark blonde (Dawn), one dark brunette (Simone) and one light brunette (Lizzy) nominated for Prom Queen which works out well as well as being very diverse from the rich to middle class to even the poor but beautiful girl.

Now I know I would talk about this after the plot summary but since we get most of this story from Lizzy's point of view I thought it would be interesting to go ahead and describe her fellow friends and prom queen nominees because it's almost the same way I see them. As I said before, Dawn is one of those confident, competitive people that get on your nerves that you almost wonder why you are friends with them at all. Elana is the rich girl out of the bunch and she seems very nice even though she is completely spoiled by her parents and besides Lizzy she is one of the nicer girls.

Not that Rachel isn't nice but when the principal announces that the winning prom queen will also get a $3,000 scholarship Lizzy describes her getting that dollar sign look in her eyes and I know Rachel is poor (it's stated quite a lot in the book) but that just shows you how greedy she is. Simone is self-centered and extremely possessive of her boyfriend Justin Stiles and since he is kind of flirt and very handsome she gets crazy jealous easily. This is one reason why I say Elana and Lizzy are about the nicest characters because it seems Dawn and Rachel have gone out with Justin behind Simone's back. When it comes to that whether you can consider Simone their friend or not, you don't do that with boyfriends.

So after learning this (us the audience but not Simone) you know those girls must feel real guilty when Simone turns up missing a few days later with her bedroom ransacked and even blood found on the floor! The police believe it might be connected to the murder of the previous two girls posted on the news but when the man responsible is caught and in custody the night another one of the girls gets murdered...Lizzy begins to realize that its the Prom Queens being targeted! Is it because of the money? Is it another girl jealous of not being nominated? Who is responsible and can Lizzy figure it out in time?

Okay one reason I did not go into the plot so much is because you really have to read The Prom Queen to find out what happens! It's not just because of my scruples on not diverging the plot to anything so you can find out for yourself but because when I first read it I was not expecting its twist at all! This is probably why The Prom Queen is in my Top Ten favorite Fear Street books but there is always a passage that sticks in my head is another reason it is a favorite of mine: Tell me if this doesn't give you goose pimples and if not you can see why it gave them to a younger me when I first read it:

"One by one the prom queens slowly turned to face the audience and as each girl turned, screams rang out through the auditorium. Each face was revealed, each face greeted the screams with blank and staring eyes. The flesh on the girls' faces was decaying..."

The description of all five undead prom queen hopefuls goes on for an entire page in such detail that it has all stuck with me forever. Now hearing that you think back to the cover and realize "OMG this does happen in the book!" and (spoiler!) it is a dream but still for horror fans this is a great book if you are just starting out on this particular genre. At least I got my dead prom queen like I wanted...

Body Count: Since we get more of a body count than the previous books I have talked about I'm going to be a little vague this time since it also involves major characters. Let's just say I give this book 3 out of 5 prom queens so does that mean 2 or 3 bite the dust?

Cameo Time!: Dream cameo by Lisa Blume (The New Girl) getting ready to crown one of the zombie prom queens...she sure has to deal with dead girls a lot doesn't she?


 So in the book it is mentioned that the drama club is putting on a production of The Sound of Music for their spring play. Before Simone disappears, she is playing the lead of Maria Von Trapp who in real life now just recently passed away :( With Simone gone, the lead goes to Dawn who I think frankly doesn't deserve it for being a kind of bitchy, horrible person but oh well...

It is also mentioned that the girls go to see the new Christian Slater movie where Lizzy discovers Simone's boyfriend Justin with a girl just weeks after her disappearance (nice boyfriend huh?) Anyway the only Christian Slater film  released at this time was Kuffs and it came out in January where this book was released in March. So I guess Shadyside's movie theater is one of those that plays movies months after their release?

And since we are talking about prom why not have a little playlist for the festivities because in Shadyside no matter what weird or gruesome thing has happened life goes back to normal. So here is a little mix for you early 1990 prom-goers:

NEXT TIME: We go on a First Date with terror...