Monday, May 2, 2011

Party Summer by RL Stine

Published May 1, 1991.

Cari Taylor and her three friends look forward to a "party summer," working at The Howling Wolf Inn, an old hotel on a tiny island off Cape Cod. But to their dismay, the hotel is completely deserted, and someone warns them to leave immediately.

The mysterious owner, Simon Fear III, allows Cari and her friends to stay, giving them the run of the hotel. The four teenagers are thrilled . . . until they realize they have been put up in the "haunted wing" . . . until Simon's weird and frightening brother appears . . . until they hear a woman screaming, "No party--please, no party!" . . . until the walls and faucets begin to drip blood!

When Simon Fear is murdered, Cari and her horrified friends want out. But they can't escape! They're trapped on the island. And that's when the "party" begins . . . (book back blurb)

Why would something be put in the back blurb when it wasn't in the book at all? There's an element in the blurb above that just doesn't exist in the story. That's like the non-sequential events on the back of Christopher Pike's Immortal. Very weird. And talk about misleading. It didn't detract from the story any but I can't help but wonder why.

Pike and Stine have very similar writing styles although I think Stine is a little more kiddish, even in his YA books. It doesn't hurt the story but I think it hinders the storytelling just a little bit. So much more could be put into it if the aim was a little higher.

But it was creepy enough. It had me on the edge of my seat at the end of a lot of the chapters. I didn't want to stop reading when something crazy was about to happen! Damn hour lunches! And it was creepy. It carried that sense of foreboding with it, that anything could happen to anyone. No one was safe.

When people start disappearing and strange events started happening, your comfort zone gets destroyed and the more the story gets into it, the more unsure you get of the characters' survival. Will they make it?

The supernatural elements are kept to a barely there minimum; yet even more proof that you don't need insanely spooky stuff to be not of this world. Sometimes other humans are all that you need to be totally creeped out.

Whether its the short, almost choppy sentences or the fact that nearly every chapter ends on a cliffhanger, Stine's writing is compelling. You'll want to figure out what's going on, and fast. The events are as grounded in reality as a cheesy teen horror book can be grounded in reality and I think that makes it all the more frightening. Who wouldn't want to go fart around a private island in a swanky hotel? The very premise is the start of how many good horror stories? But it's what's done with it that makes it truly horrifying and Stine does an awesome job. The horror is in the helplessness and it'll have you clawing at the pages until you know just how it all ends.

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