Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Feaar Street: The New Girl, or, Dead Cats in Lockers ar A-OK and You Should Never Report them to the Authorities

Fear Street was such a huge staple of my childhood and reading through my crappy old novels has sparked the desire to reread one of my most beloved book series. And maybe fulfill my lifelong dream of creating a Fear Street Timeline. Woohoo!

I don't plan on recapping all of them, just a choice few and maybe throw in some Bratz Doll Theatre for the really good ones. But I did do a summery of The New Girl about a year and a half ago before I stumbled upon any Fear Street blogs so I'll start with that.

Ah, Fear Street. This brings back memories. Now these are the books that made me want to be a writer. I lived and breathed Fear Street for two years. These books were about ghost stories and murder, exactly what every ten year girl can’t get enough of, right? Well this one couldn’t at any rate. But more than that what really hooked me on these books was the story of the Fear family. How this evil followed them for over two hundred years, and went on to consume the street the Fears lived on, Fear Street, and anyone who dared to tread.

The first one I ever read was Cheerleaders: The Third Evil. That book not only got me hooked on the series, but on reading in general, and most of all, the important murder device of pushing people off of cliffs that appeared in nearly every one of my earliest stories. t would seem appropriate to start with that one as it remains my favorite to this day, but I will start instead with the very first Fear Street book ever published, The New Girl.

Notice how R.L. Stine’s name isn’t taking up half the cover. Second edition, baby.

I’ve never particularly liked this book but this has always been my favorite cover. The reason: because it’s the only one where you get a glimpse of what Fear Street actually looks like, filled with dilapidated old Victorian houses.

The book opens with a little passage about Fear Street.

Are you sure you want to turn down Fear Street?

The most horrifying things seem to happen to those who live on Fear Street.

The town of Shadyside is nice enough. And the students at Shadyside High seem to be an average group of kids.

So why does everyone tell such stories about Fear Street…?

About unspeakable terrors, troubled cries in the night, twisted nightmares…

About people who venture into the Fear Street woods and are never seen again…

About strange cries late at night from the old Simon Fear mansion--a house that’s been deserted for fifty years…

About lost teenagers, mysterious fires, brutal crimes, unsolved mysteries…

About normal people--people just like you--who turn down Fear Street…and are never quite normal again!

Go ahead. Take a walk down Fear Street. Those stories couldn’t be true. No way. There couldn’t be that much terror awaiting you in one narrow, old street--could there?

Our book opens with a someone thinking over how easy it was to kill her sister Anna. Sure, she expected to feel guilty, but she never expected it to be so easy. A real psychopath, this one. Anyway, the prologue ends with her screaming “Anna’s dead, Mom!” Oh noes!

Then our book really begins. With our main character, Cory Brooks. Cory’s a gymnast and he’s testing his skills in the cafeteria by standing on one hand and balancing his lunch tray in the other. Why didn’t people do this when I was in high school? He catches glimpse of this absolutely gorgeous girl on the other side of the caf and literally falls for her (corny but begged to be done), losing his balance and collapsing on the floor, causing the tray of spaghetti to come crashing down on his head. His friends who are also on the gymnastics team, Arnie and David, laugh and make fun of him. He leaves the lunchroom covered in spaghetti and runs into his old friend and token girl-next-door, Lisa Blume. They both live in North Hills, the ritzier side of town. Fear Street is for white trash, by the way. She makes fun of him and gives him one of her extra shirts to wear and he washes his hair in the water fountain. It becomes quite evident to the reader that Lisa wants more than friendship from him. While in the hall he sees his mystery babe again, but she disappears inside a classroom.

Cory looks for her for three days with no luck. And he sucks when he goes to gymnastics practice. He keeps having semi-erotic dreams about her. Okay, maybe semi-erotic is a but of a stretch. He and Lisa walk home together, his thoughts on the pretty blond, and Lisa leans against him trying to get the courage to ask him out. And at the same time she asks him what he’s doing that weekend and he asks her if she’s seen the pretty new girl. Lisa drops about a thousand hints that she likes him and he asks her again if she’s seen the pretty new girl. Lisa knows her as Anna Corwin, and she’s very annoyed that Cory seems to like her.

Cory’s all excited and about to piss himself because Anna’s a real person and not a figment of his warped imagination and pesters Lisa about her. Lisa knows nothing but that she transferred from Melrose and moved onto Fear Street. Cory thinks Fear Street is creepy and there are a bunch of little tales about why Cory would think such a thing. When they get to their houses Lisa tries once again to ask him out but he cuts her off and goes into his house dreaming about the audacious Anna.

Cory calls information and gets Anna’s phone number and address. He even talks to a real person! Even when I was ten information was completely automated! Cory debates whether or not he should call her for over a page and finally decides to do so. The person who answers tells him there’s no Anna there and hangs up.

The next day at school Cory finally runs into Anna herself and makes conversation with her. He tells her she’s new and that she lives on Fear Street and says he called her house but they said there’s no Anna there. Stalker! She quickly runs into the classroom. Even if she wasn’t a crazy psycho I think she’d do the same thing.

They have a gymnast meet against Mattawan. Anna comes to watch and Cory screws up royally. He spends Saturday night obsessing about Anna. He goes over to Lisa’s and wants to talk to her about Anna. Lisa calls him a creep and tells him to go home. Cory calls Anna’s house again and gets a woman. He asks for Anna and she gets terse. In the background he hears a girl screaming “It’s for me!” and the woman tells him to just leave them alone. How he torments this poor family.

Cory’s creeped out, finding it all too mysterious, and decides to pay Anna a little visit at her house on Fear Street. While he’s driving over there he listens to the radio, where they’re playing a 24-hour marathon of Beatles music in alphabetical order. WTF?

He pulls up to foggy Fear Street thinking about a childhood trauma in the Fear Street woods and make himself go up to Anna’s house. A man comes up behind him, making him piss his pants (not literally) and asks if he needs any help. Cory says he was looking for the Corwins and the weirdo tells him they’re strange people. I think he’s a peeping tom. They’ve only been living there for a couple weeks.

He gets away from the creepy old man and knocks on the door. A young man answers, and when he asks for Anna the man tells him angrily that Anna’s dead.

Cory’s a little uneased by the whole thing (understandable) and spends Monday looking for Anna. He asks Lisa if she’s seen her and Lisa tells her she’s absent today and asks what his problem is. He pulls her aside and tells her the strange tale of going to her house. The have an almost-argument and he gets the idea of pulling her file in the office where he works after school on Mondays. His job is to use the ditto machine. What the hell is a ditto machine??? Is it a copier? Is that what they called them back in 1989? He got the brilliant idea of looking through the student records for Anna’s. While digging through them he nearly gets caught and dives under the desk just in time. He goes back to the files, and find there are no Corwins.

Cory goes to the school basketball game with his friends and spends the whole evening thinking about creepy ghosty Anna. He winds up telling them about Anna not having a file. His friend David brilliantly suggests that her file might not have been sent from her old school yet. He goes home and is awakened in the middle of the night by a mysterious phone call telling him to stay away from Anna. She’s dead and he’ll be dead next. Oh noes!

Cory tries to go back to sleep but is interrupted by yet another phone call. It’s Anna! Goody for Cory. She says she needs him to help her and asks him to come. She’ll meet him just past her house. He steals his dad’s car and goes, thinking about more chilling tales of Fear Street lore, and parks on the street. Anna climbs into his car, making his shit his pants (well, maybe). He asks what’s wrong? Can he help her? He can’t stop thinking about her. She says she’s been thinking about him, too. He finally comes down to it and tells her he needs to know if she’s even real. She says she’s real, and kisses him to prove it. She kisses him really hard and needy like. Eventually she goes to leave. He asks her why she called him and she tells him it was to see if he would come.

Cory continues to question her about the guy that keeps saying she’s dead. She tells him it’s her brother Brad. He’s not only crazy, he’s dangerous! Oooooh! She runs out of the car before Cory can force anything else out of her.

He wakes up late the next morning, which is the day he has a gymnastics meet. He thinks about what happened last night after Anna left. He’d run after her and the creepy old man’s dog attacked him. His name is Voltaire, by the way. The dog. Awesome name. He does horribly at the meet. Lisa goes to comfort him and tells him all about the previous night when she went over her cousin’s. Her cousin had a friend over who was from Melrose (coincidently where Anna’s from! Oh me oh my where is this going!). She tells him Anna had been in this girls class, but that she had died. There were all kinds of rumors. She’d fallen down the basement steps and died instantly. Cory won’t believe it so Lisa tells him to ditch the rest of the meet and go with her to the library and they’d investigate it. They find it on microfilm. A blurry picture of Anna with the caption , Melrose Sophomore dies in accident.

That night Cory has disturbing nightmares about Anna. The phone rings waking him up. It’s Anna, she wants him to meet her in front of the burnt out old shell of Simon Fear’s mansion.

He follows her call and waits in his car in front of the mansion, thinking all kinds of creepy paranoid things. Cory finally goes to the house where he encounters the evil Brad. Brad grabs him by the coat screaming that Anna is dead and to leave him alone. He lets Cory go after scaring the crap out of him.

He acts like a zombie in school and Lisa tries to cheer him up. She reminds him about the dance on Saturday and asks if he would want to go with her. Lisa’s not too bright. She knows he’s completely hung up on Anna and still wants to date him. He tells her he’ll go and then Anna comes up to them and Lisa introduces herself. They talk for a minute and Lisa bounces off to class. Anna reminds Cory about Friday in the Car and tells him he’s hers. She runs off.

That afternoon Cory goes with Lisa to her locker, but there’s blood everywhere! Somebody had killed a cat, slitting open it’s stomach in her locker. Ew. Oh, and attached to the cat is an endearing note claiming she’s dead, too. And instead of, you know, REPORTING this to anyone, they clean it out themselves, Lisa suggesting Anna did it because she’s jealous about the dance. You know, if anyone had found a dead cat in their locker at my high school, there probably would’ve been a lockdown and some serious questioning. I know this was published back in 1989, but STILL!!!

Cory catches up with Anna afterwards and tells her what happened. Judging from her reaction he’s sure she didn’t do it. He then confronts her about her creepy brother Brad. She gets all hysterical and he tries to calm her down by kissing her. She shoves him away and tells her to stay away, her brother’s there.

After school his parents make a big to-do about Cory’s date with Lisa and he feels weird. His parents leave to go to Lisa’s to play her parents. He’s trying to do homework when his friend David calls him and tries to get him to talk about him and Anna. Cory gets mad and they hang up on each other. Cory goes over to the Blume’s to see how Lisa’s doing (I’m guessing she didn’t tell her parents about the cat). He notices her laugh is sexy and then tells her about Anna and reads the paper (why does she like him again?). She then gets a threatening call telling her she’s dead, too.

They go to the dance together and Lisa keeps insisting that it was Anna that made the call and put the cat in the locker. Lisa tells him Anna’s a good actress and has him fooled. Give the girl a prize! They get in an argument about it and Lisa storms off. Minutes later Cory hears her scream. Cory finds her at the bottom of a flight of stairs. She was pushed! Oh noes! From her description of her assailant Cory figures out it was Brad. They search the building and get locked in a classroom. Cory uses his super spiderman skills to climb out the window onto the roof and shimmy down a tree then goes back to unlock the door for Lisa.

Cory goes to Anna’s to confront Brad. No one’s there but the creepy neighbor.

Cory waits for Anna by her locker at school. He makes her go get pizza with him and tell him EVERYTHING! Oooh! Anna’s father ditched them, her mother’s not well. Brad had a girlfriend, Emily, who died in a plane crash, and he never got over her death. The drama! She tells him about her older sister Willa who was the true beauty of the family. Brad started confusing Willa for Emily and saying she was dead. Then Willa died. She fell down the basement stairs. They moved, hoping to snap Brad out of his stupor but it didn’t help. Now he’s getting overly protective of Anna and saying she’s dead.

Brad appears at the pizza place and Anna takes off, terrified.

Later Cory calls Anna and Brad picks up telling him again that Anna’s dead. Cory goes to Anna’s. He goes into the house. Anna’s screaming that Cory’s come to see her. Brad tells him to get out of there. Cory and Brad get into a fight and Cory finally renders Brad unconscious. Cory wants to call the police (Cory’s thinking! Go Cory!) but Anna just wants to celebrate. She gets a dagger and says it’ll take care of Brad. He tries to stop her but she won’t let him. He holds her back. Brad comes to and Cory warns him to stay away. Brad tells him he tried to warn him, that he wanted to keep Cory safe from her.

Brad tells him the Whole Story. She’s really Willa and Anna was her older sister. She pushed Anna down the stairs. Because their mother is ill and couldn’t handle losing both her daughters Brad didn’t pursue it, he thought she would get better once they moved. But found out she was dressing like Anna and calling herself Anna at school once Cory came around. And she’s been making all the threats to his friend. That he did push Lisa at the school but it was a mistake, he thought she was Anna. He tells Cory to call the police.

Cory tells Lisa the whole story and tells her she should pick his girlfriends for him. She says maybe she should and kisses him. The End. I wonder what happened to Willa.


Sada said...

Ditto machines were the precursors to copiers. They were basically carbon copy machines. They used purple ink and had a crazy smell. Am I totally old for remembering this? (Maybe don't answer that.)

This plot actually MADE SENSE. I'm kind of at a loss.

Fear Street said...

Ah, the good old days.

Odd that a boy was the main's usually a pathetic brainless chick who can think nothing OF boys.

Ditto machine!

Deathycat said...

I do vaguely recall those purple worksheets from my early days of elementary school... Now I know. ^_^