April 10, 2015

Review: Don't Stay Up Late

Don't Stay Up Late A Fear Street Novel
By R.L. Stine
Available now from St. Martin's Griffin
Review copy
Read my review of A Midsummer Night's Scream

I have fond memories of the Fear Street series. I don't remember how many of them I read in elementary and middle school, but it was a lot.  I liked them more than Goosebumps because people actually died (often in rather gruesome ways), and I enjoyed the mythology of the Fear family's curse.  They aren't high brow (or even particularly high quality fiction), but I do get a kick that the series is being restarted for a new generation.  I'm not sure how many I'll personally read, but I'm sure I'll be there for the book starring Brandon Fear.  (He's a senior at Shadyside High, apparently.)

When DON'T STAY UP LATE starts, its connection to the series seems tenuous.  Lisa Brooks does live in Shadyside.  Her family moved there recently, and she's made three good friends: Isaac, Saralynn, and her boyfriend Nate.  But her new life is derailed by a car accident that kills her father and leaves her with horrifying hallucinations.  Fear Street itself comes into the picture when Lisa takes a job babysitting for a family on the street, with a sweet boy named Harry Hart.  The only catch is that she can't let him stay up late.

The disparate plot lines (Lisa's hallucinations, the creepy kid, a serial killer killing teens) take a bit to come together, but in classic Fear Street fashion they do and lead to an ambiguous ending.  All of R.L. Stine's usual tics are on display, including the fake-out cliffhangers.

I do think the treatment of mental illness in DON'T STAY UP LATE could use some updating.  A mental hospital is a horrific place where patients are free to lick visitors before they even make it to the reception desk.  I do find it strange that no one is concerned with leaving a child alone with a teenager whose visual hallucinations are not under control. 

DON'T STAY UP LATE was fun for the nostalgia factor, but even back in the day this wouldn't have been one of the stronger entries in the series.  (Only two deaths?  By evisceration? Pfft.)

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