We open with a first person prologue from the point of view of a murderer gloating over his or her victim: Anna. I have a feeling a lot of these books are going to open this way.
In the Shadyside High cafeteria, we meet Corey Brooks, a young douchebag on the gymnastics team who, despite being touted as the star gymnast, proves to be more clumsy than the average realistically flawed YA heroine. He glimpses the titular new girl and is immediately obsessed. He’s also the kind of guy who will blame a girl he’s never spoken with for every single thing that goes wrong in his life while he’s busy obsessing over her.
Before he can convince himself that the mysterious girl is a ghost, he discovers his best friend and neighbor, Lisa Blume, has a class with her, and can give her a name: Anna Corwin. Her crush on Corey is obvious to everyone but Corey, because he has his head up his ass. It also makes the first instance of friendzoning in Shadyside a reverse of the stereotype before the stereotype even existed. She also gives him the bad news that his crush lives on Fear Street, home of the burned out Fear Mansion, ending in the Fear Street Woods, and producer of rumors and deaths and murders and accidents. Also, the name of the series, so it had to come up before too long.
Armed with a name and a piece of an address, Corey calls information. Stalking was way harder before facebook and twitter and stuff, y’all. His first call to her house results in the angry assertion that Anna is dead–which we found out from the prologue.
Cue mysterious late night phone calls that I also suspect will be a staple of the series, more awkward flirting from Lisa (seriously, run girl. I know he’s your best friend and all, but dude is not boyfriend material), more obsessing and inept stalking by Corey, and general being mysterious, helpless, and endangered by Anna.
The ending on this one felt telegraphed from the beginning. I tore through a lot of Fear Street books when I was a kid, but I never read this one, so I was almost disappointed when I called the ending early on. Considering Corey’s crush and behavior in relation to having a girl to obsess over, I’m almost inclined to call his constant clumsiness a bit genius–there isn’t a lot of attention called to it or dwelling over it. It just happens, a nice cue that he’s in over his head. It’s a subtle touch that works.
So, the carnage?
Shadyside death toll: 9 (maybe 10, since Anna died in another town). This includes a family of three who were found murdered in the Fear Street Woods and six people who were in a head-on collision on Fear Street who all mysteriously disappeared without a trace. They’re mentioned as background setting to make sure Fear Street is properly creepy.
Additional carnage: One animal run over by Corey, who didn’t slow down or stop or check or anything. He’s totally going to be the murderer in a future book. Also one dead cat in a locker.
Spoiler-laden point at which all of this could have been avoided: When Corey turned up on Anna’s front door and met her brother. If he’d told him the truth instead of trying to scare him off, we wouldn’t really have much of a story here.
(To keep up with a year of reading and reviewing Fear Street books, visit The Shadyside Review.)