Monday, November 20, 2017

Focusing On Fear Street: One Evil Summer

WELCOME TO FOCUSING ON FEAR STREET WITH THERESTHEGIRL

Book # 25 of the Fear Street Series
Published July 1994
Cover Art by Bill Schmidt


The cover may not be very big here but we have our main antagonist Chrissy Minor laughing evilly in her room as she holds a cat that is not very happy to be there. A moon at night and a lighthouse in the setting of Seahaven which is not in Shadyside but our protagonist Amanda Conklin lives on the titular street. I also like how an evil wind is blowing the curtains of the room and the teal coloring is nice with the popping yellow title. I found a couple of German versions with some nice artwork as always from either an original or a reprint or an omnibus edition:



Of course summer settings with a dark foreboding tone. The top is a little brighter but one simple spilled drink tells us danger is afoot. The second one has the bright hue of sunset but it's ominous with abandoned beach gear and a spooky lighthouse in the distance. The only other cover I could find was for the Brazilian/Portuguese edition and well I just love it! Check this out:


This actually does happen in the book! The blonde Chrissy is giving a smack down to brunette Amanda in the ocean with a speedboat and the cliffs in the background. Yes Chrissy is floating so this is not just a touch of awesome added to the cover. The sky in the background is just full of evil with those stormy tones! And for you male readers, hey a little skin from the ladies in some bared midriffs! This has to be my favorite even more than the original!

Taglines: On the front we have "Chrissy is perfect-perfectly evil." and on the back we have "Help! Wanted". The front is definitely better than the back and the little plot blurb will have you intrigued enough to read what's inside.

The First Line: "Amanda Conklin rolled over in bed. She opened her eyes and stretched slowly."

Not exactly gripping but we are introduced to our main character and we learn this isn't the beginning of the story. The first chapter tells us that Amanda is a juvenile detention center because apparently it's believed that she murdered someone but Amanda knows the real reason why she is there and we get the backstory as the main set up of the plot. So the Conklin family is heading off to Seahaven for the summer which is great except that Amanda sucks at algebra and has to attend summer school! I didn't know you could to summer school while on vacation I mean I had to come in on Saturdays for math workshops when I was in school but I could do that at the beach? Damn, I kind of want to live in this universe!

Amanda isn't the only one bummed because now her mother has to find a helper/nanny/babysitter to watch her eight year old brother Kyle and her three year old sister Merry because she can't. Apparently even going on vacation they plan on working a little and going out to dinner cocktail parties or something. So they arrive at the beach house to drop off their belongings but discover they need some food so Amanda's parents and her siblings go off into the town while Amanda stays behind to put their pet birds, Salt and Pepper, and their family cat, Mr. Jinx, out of their cages into their summer surroundings. A knock comes to the door where a pretty blonde girl named Chrissy Minor has come to answer Mrs. Conklin's ad and Amanda tells her not to leave as she tries to get her parents back home as Chrissy says she has another interview to get to. Amanda reaches them in time but she already has a bad feeling about Chrissy because the cat does not seem to like Chrissy.

Mr. Jinx hisses and reacts in fear at the girl and Amanda then sees unbeknown to Chrissy the girl hissing back in just the same aggressive fashion at the cat. Also, the birds don't chirp or sing around her either almost huddling together in a trance of fear. So this is a big red flag to me because animals are a very good judge of character and the flag goes even more haywire when Amanda's mother can't reach Chrissy's references and decides to hire her anyway. Amanda calls Mom out on this and gets a lecture about being just as irresponsible for failing algebra and putting her parents in the situation for help in the first place...harsh!

Of course Chrissy gets the job and the family falls in love with her but Amanda is still wary because of the animals and the fact that they still can't reach the other families that Chrissy has worked for. When she heads to summer school things look up for Amanda as there is a very cute guy in the class named Dave Malone who gets to be her partner. Being a local, Amanda asks Dave about Chrissy and he says he doesn't know anyone by that name or any other of the names that Chrissy gave for her aunt and her cousin. Later that day, while the family is playing badminton, a car almost kills Kyle and Merry as it lurches up onto the lawn! The driver says he couldn't control the speed as if the vehicle had a mind of its own and poor Mr. Jinx is the only casualty, which devastates Amanda. She thinks she sees an evil smile of satisfaction on Chrissy's face at the cat's death and later in the evening, Amanda swears she sees Chrissy floating off the floor in her room!

Her parents think Amanda is just stressed at the death of her pet and that maybe she thinks Chrissy is taking her place but Amanda is sure that there is something off and evil about Chrissy. The girl has old newspaper clippings about the death of her parents by carbon monoxide poisoning and how her twin sister Lilith is in a coma...what is she hiding? Amanda calls back to Shadyside to ask her friend Suzi if she can look up some more information than Amanda can find in the small town of Seahaven and she agrees while Amanda seems to be developing a summer romance with Dave. She tells him about Chrissy and he doesn't think she is crazy at all, they go out to a shed on an island where Dave and his brothers have taken over an old hunters' cabin. They kiss and Amanda has to hold on to his waist as they take a wave runner to and back and it's so sweet that Amanda has someone on her side. Dave also says he has a way that might get Chrissy out of the house by placing a hunting knife in her drawers that will have her parents kicking the girl out once they see it.

Getting back to the house, Chrissy throws herself at Dave and he uses this to distract her while Amanda can plant the knife but things take a turn to the weird and horrible as blood sprays out of the knife, all over Amanda and Chrissy's clothing and then the birds are found with their throats slit! So now basically Amanda's parents think their daughter is going crazy, killing the birds and trying to frame Chrissy for it along with everything else and send her to a shrink. Good Lord Amanda just can not get a break! Amanda knows that Chrissy has something sinister up her sleeve and that her family is in danger but what can she do when no one believes her? Is she really going crazy with jealousy or are her instincts right? Why is Chrissy out to get the Conklin family and when will her charade finally stop?

This was a very hard Fear Street not to spoil for those who haven't read it and it is a very suspenseful story with supernatural elements. Think of it as a combination of Jennifer's Body and The Hand That Rocks The Cradle with some of the same plot points here and there but not exactly like the first and teenage rehash of the latter. You know how The Best Friend is like Single White Female? Go with that! The ending is okay I suppose but I think a good twist might have made it a little better be it a downer ending or not. There is also a little bit of maybe inspiration from the Lois Duncan novel Summer of Fear and not anything outright plagiarized so in a nutshell a good read. When it comes to characters, I'm not too fond of Amanda's parents and we don't get a lot of time focusing on her younger brother and sister so I'm neutral on them.

I know the parents aren't really that bad but they don't really do anything in my honest opinion to deserve any praise. Chrissy is our villain but she just seems like a normal mean girl, alpha bitch so I don't really love her or hate her knowing her motives and back story either way. The only characters I like are Amanda and Dave because you are suppose to identify and feel for Amanda and well Dave, he is the only one who believes Amanda. They have chemistry and even if you think it is far fetched for him not to believe this girl he doesn't know is crackers, I still like him anyway.

Body Count: Well we have one dead kitty cat and two murdered birds :( Animal violence in books I don't get but it's just another way to kick Amanda when she is down. As for human fatalities, one definite and two maybes with two of them completely out of left field and totally unnecessary. After The Thrill Club, this is another Fear Street novel where a character death made me kind of sad so if I just gave away an unintentional spoiler...sorry :(

Cameo Time!: Blink and you'll miss it but Carter Phillips from The Cheater calls Amanda with some bad news. (Shutting my mouth as to why...)


SHADYSIDE HIGH TIME CAPSULE


Not to sound cheesy but it depends on what your taste in movies and music is whether you will agree this was one evil summer for both forms of media! In the book, Amanda is said to be wearing a red and black Pearl Jam t-shirt. She's got good taste in music I'll give her that so maybe there are some other songs to enjoy in the same vein:




There's also some stuff that I like:


One I just can't resist putting here:



And a song that truly is evil (middle school dances were evil too!) and terrifying:


When it comes to movies, they mention a totally fictional horror film called Blood Surfer. Sounds interesting but I can think of some better films to watch:


Before I finish, there is a movie from this time that was so evil it made one of the greatest movie critics go berserk:



NEXT TIME, NEXT BLOG: Might take a break from Fear Street with my next idea or maybe not. I guess only The Mind Reader would know for sure...wouldn't you like to know?


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