Monday, September 26, 2011

The New Girl by RL Stine

Published June 1989.

She's pale as a ghost, blonde and eerily beautiful - and she seems to need him as much as he wants her. Cory Brooks hungers for Anna Corwin's kisses, drowns in her light blue eyes.

He can't get her out of his mind. And the trouble has only begun. Shadyside High's star gymnast is losing sleep, skipping practice and acting weird. All the guys have noticed, but only Cory's friend Lisa knows the truth: Anna Corwin is dead and living on Fear Street. Now Cory must explore its menacing darkness to discover the truth. He has already been warned: come to Fear Street and you're dead! (book back blurb)

The book turned out to be not nearly as sinister as the blurb intones but it had its creeptastic moments all the same. Stine knows how to build suspense and keep the reader hanging as the plot moves along. Really, it's no wonder he's been putting out books for so long. He doesn't have an underlying evil about his writing like Stephen King does but it's spooky. It does the trick if you happen to be young and reading it in the dark. It gets under your skin just enough that you turn the light on an extra notch and settle back in to read.

THE NEW GIRL is the first book in the Fear Street series and I'd say (while I've read them way out of order) this would be a pretty good start. If I happened to be a young teen wandering a book store in the late 80s and picked it up, I'd totally get hooked on the series (because I haven't done it now, obviously, O_o). It's sort of your typical ghost story with the spooky street and the creepy houses and the scary stories that all of the locals grew up with. It's a great beginning and scene-setter to get it all rolling. There's a curse around Fear Street, and here's why.

Now, I wouldn't peg Cory as dumb but he was definitely oblivious to the point of me wanting to smack him upside the head. Whether he just developed some serious tunnel vision or really only had a one track mind, if Cory saw one way, there just wasn't any other way to see it. And I felt for Lisa because she was trying to break through that egg shell head of his and it just wasn't working for 99% of the book. Only after the revelation at the end did Cory finally come around and see a light outside of his own closet.

The ending was a bit disappointing for me because it kind of watered down the rest of the story but it was decent enough. It could have been a hell of a lot worse but there are other avenues that Stine could have taken the plot that would have made is much creepier. But that's pretty classic Stine: a lot of build-up with a nominally happy ending and a pretty rational explanation for everything. Well, as rational as a horror book can get. You come to expect it reading his work.

THE NEW GIRL is a great addition to any cheese lover's library, especially if you can snag a first printing paperback like I have. :) If nothing else it'll make you nostalgic for a time when you didn't have much else to worry about so you could curl up under the blankets with a flashlight and read horror to your heart's content.

Ban Factor: Medium - No swearing, pretty minimal in any kind of sexual innuendo and at the end of the day it's supernatural free, the banners would have a hard time finding something to hate about this one. But that's assuming they'd actually read the book. On first glance, the ban factor would be high since it's horror so it must be totally atrocious.
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