No murderer to ease us into our story this time around. Instead, we get to meet Becka and her irritating boyfriend. Well, before the first chapter is over, he’s her ex-boyfriend. We also learn that Becka has no control over her emotions, which I think makes her a teenager. Hopefully less common: she has a guy on the side she’s dumping her boyfriend over. Also, while she’s distracted over her breakup, she manages to run a stop sign and hit another car.
That’s a lot for seven pages.
RL Stine is adverse to showing the aftermath of any of these accidents. Since it’s just a fender bender, it’s probably just as well we got to skip that part and hear about it while Becka is hanging out in her room with her two best friends, Trish and Lilah. During this conversation, Becka managed to stab herself in the finger with a knitting needle hard enough to draw blood. I’m not an expert knitter or anything, but I’ve done my fair share with a whole lot of sizes of needles. I think she might be knitting wrong. (I did have a friend in college who sat on a knitting needle and stabbed herself in the ass so deeply she had to get a tetanus shot. She was not, however, actively knitting at the time.)
While they’re chatting, Honey Perkins comes barreling into Becka’s life like a puppy, all enthusiasm and too much physical contact. She’s got eyes and ears only for Becka, her very bestest friend ever, and it’s just so totally AWESOME how she’s moved into the house right next door on Fear Street. Becka has no memory at all of this person and knows they were never friends, but Becka is absolutely bursting with all kinds of stories and reminders about what great friends they were and how close they were and isn’t it just SO GREAT that they’ll be neighbors.
After Honey finally makes her exit, the girls figure out that they did know her–in fourth grade, she was the weird, lonely girl no one liked. Now she’s moved back with the unshakable belief that she and Becka were best friends, and of course they’ll be best friends again. It doesn’t take long for Becka to realize that on her way out, Honey managed to steal some of her jewelry. Becka plucks up her courage and heads to the house next door to confront Honey and ask for her pin back…only to find the house empty.
What follows is the kind of escalating creepy behavior that tends to get a pass under the banner of ‘socially awkward.’ Honey starts showing up in Becka’s room while no one was in the house. She has an excuse and a story for everything, and physically attacks Becka on more than one occasion while laughing it off as a game. She insists Becka gave her the jewelry she stole, lying blatantly and with ease.
Of course Becka would rather spend time with her actual friends, and she’s also sneaking around seeing her boyfriend–the boy she had on the side, who of course does not have her mother’s approval. Things take a sharp turn for the worse when Lilah’s brakes on her bike malfunction and she flips over her handlebars and directly into the way of a brown delivery truck.
We miss the immediate aftermath, but we do pick up with police and an ambulance. There’s a bicycle in a pool of blood, Lilah carried away on a stretcher, and Becka’s realization that Lilah’s rear brake cable was completely missing. Since she saw Honey doing something among the bikes just before they went for their ride, she doesn’t waste time putting two and two together. Honey is, of course, there to barge into her room, smother her with hugs, and poke at her until she breaks down into tears.
When Becka gets sick and misses a day of school, Honey also helpfully lets everyone know Becka suffered a breakdown. That’s pretty low, but considering the usual life-ruining rumors, that also seems pretty mild. (It wasn’t high school, but there were rumors in 8th grade that I was a witch. I didn’t much help at first, but it got weirdly out of control over the course of a year. Also, you’d think if people are trying to convince themselves someone has actual dark magic, they’d leave her alone. Not true.) Honey also cuts her hair to match Becka’s (creepy) and tells Becka’s mom that she’s been sneaking out to see a boy she’s banned from seeing (totally bitchy). By the time Honey turned up at a big Christmas party with an identical version of Becka’s super special outfit (a silver skirt over a black cat suit, which…sounds like it might not be a great idea for anyone), Becka has had more than enough of Honey’s shit.
The party, incidentally, is a who’s who of characters from previous books. Half of them turn up in that party. I’m sticking with my ‘time warp’ theory.
Immediately after, Trish falls down the stairs in the middle of her party, breaking her neck. Both of Becka’s closest friends end up across the hall from each other in Shadyside Hospital, looking at months in the hospital and years of physical therapy afterward. And it only manages to get worse from there.
So, the carnage? Um…I don’t even know how to classify this. This is one of the most genuinely upsetting Fear Street books so far. There’s not a whole lot of death, but there’s a lot of injury and just creepy stuff.
Shadyside death count: 30. That one death comes at the very end and is genuinely one of the worst in the series so far.
Additional carnage: I’m a little surprised Becka didn’t come home to dead animals. Still, one girl was hit by a UPS truck, another fell down the stairs and broke her neck.
Spoiler-laden point at which this all could have been avoided: Someone could have listened to Becka or taken her seriously when she brought up that Honey was a problem. If nothing else, someone should have taken the frequent breaking and entering seriously. Becka did her best to handle Honey, and there isn’t anything she could have done to avoid being her fixation. Since I’m in the spoilers section, I’ll add that what made this truly upsetting was that Honey managed to successfully isolate Becka by severely injuring her closest friends, then not only murdering Becka’s boyfriend, but convincing Becka that she did it in order to make sure Honey could remain embedded in her life. Then the story ended. The rest of these books have all featured the bad guy (or girl) being caught and either heading off to prison or ‘to get the help she really needs.’ No such thing this time around. I seemed to recall there being a sequel, so I checked. There is. There’s a blurb on the front that says it’s the book readers requested of RL Stine. Nothing about that is surprising.
(To keep up with a year of reading and reviewing Fear Street books, visit The Shadyside Review.)