The Cover: Not the usual Fear Street cover with ridiculously attractive teens looking horrified while striking sexy poses, but it does the job. The eerie green light has a slime-like effect and there’s a faint smattering of blood near the bottom. It feels spooky and mysterious.
Back Blurb: The only way to win a game on Fear Street is to be the last one left alive….
Everyone in Shadyside knows that the wealthy and eccentric Fear family has a gruesome history. But Brendan Fear seems different. He’s outgoing, cute, and part of the popular crowd at school. And besides, Rachel Martin has a huge crush on him.
When Rachel is invited to Brendan’s exclusive all-night birthday party on secluded Fear Island, she says yes right away despite her best friend’s warning. Brendan may be a Fear, but what’s the worst that could happen at a birthday party?
When Rachel and the rest of the guests arrive at the island, the party games begin. But the games Brendan Fear planned aren’t games anyone would want to play. When a scavenger hunt turns up some horrifying surprises, Rachel has to fight to survive the deadliest game of all–-the game of murder.
The Book: Ah, Fear Street! How wonderful it was to revisit my childhood! I holed myself up in my bedroom today, with my cat and some pillows, and devoured the entirety of R.L. Stine’s new Fear Street novel, just as I would as a middle schooler. Different bedroom and different cat, but the Fear Street horror was just as deliciously gruesome and terrifying as it was twenty years ago. R.L. might have taken a break from our beloved street of horrors, but he definitely has not lost his touch. Party Games was everything I expected from a Fear Street novel and more.
The first of hopefully many more new books was delightfully indulgent, an updated and slightly more sexually-charged version of the 90’s classics. There might be a new generation of kids at Shadyside, but the legacy of Fear Street continues. Everybody’s heard the stories of the eccentric Fear family, but they’re just stories, right? Besides, Brendan Fear is way too cute for Rachel Martin to let some silly rumors keep her from going to his birthday party. Her friends warn her to stay far away from the Fear family, but of course it’s a Fear Street novel, so she ignores her better judgment and does the opposite. Brendan Fear has an extravagant overnight party planned at his family’s deserted mansion in the middle of Fear Island. The party starts as a birthday celebration and quickly becomes a deadly nightmare.
Although the plot is quite different from others in the series, rather than explain the story I’ll instead focus on the reasons why this book is awesome. You’ll have to read the book for yourself and see. There’s a lot of pop culture references to appeal to teens of the 2010’s, but it’s got the familiar old quirks unique to Fear Street novels. The cutest guys always have eyes that “crinkle at the sides” when they smile and “hot, dry lips.” Also, the frequent use of the word “frightened,” which always gets me. Never in my life have I actually heard somebody say “I’m frightened.” People usually just say “I’m scared,” but not in Fear Street books. Shadyside High also has a ton of redheaded girls, even though only about 2% of the world’s population has natural red hair. And, as usual, there’s a huge social gap between the rich kids and poor kids. There’s not really a middle class in Shadyside. Kids are either from extremely wealthy families and don’t have to work, or are so poor that they have to work to help their parents pay the bills. There never seems to be any teens who have jobs just because it’s a responsible thing to do. Poor Rachel has to work as a “waitress” (they’re called SERVERS, but I’ll save that rant for another day) because her father got laid off and her mother has Lyme disease. Brendan’s family’s got millions, so he just plays video games all day. How is it that the crime rate in Shadyside, besides murder, is so low, considering the ginormous gap between socioeconomic classes?
I also see that a few names have been recycled. April Conklin, for example. Is she related to Amanda Conklin from One Evil Summer? I’m sure Amanda might have warned Rachel and April not to go to the party. R.L. also has a habit of using a lot of unisex names. They’re usually names that are more common for girls, but he uses them for boys. I remember him using the name Sandy a lot for guys, and in Party Games he’s got some guys named Kerry and Morgan. But the best name in the book, hands down, is Patti Berger. Seriously, no joke. I know it’s supposed to be pronounced Ber-JUR, but still, you have to laugh at that one.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about this book is the fact that, being a Fear Street book, it was actually released in hardcover! That’s right, HARDCOVER. I’ve never seen such a treasure! This is bound to be a collector’s item someday.
All in all, Party Games was a great read. It brought back all the nostalgia of the original Fear Street magic, but in a lengthier and more modern package. If you’re looking for a book that is going to make you think, this book is not for you. But if you’re looking for mindless entertainment, Party Games is sure to please. I’m desperately hoping that there’s more on the way. Bringing Fear Street back is the best thing that’s happened since the original Fear Street books debuted. Keep ’em coming, Mr. Stine!
Was the new Fear Street as good as the old ones? Sound off in the comments below!