Monday, September 22, 2008

The New Girl, or “Fear Street Classic”

The New Girl is the FIRST Fear Street book ever written, number one of the series. And since I’ve become quite the expert on Shadyside, I can see how this book began many precedents that last long and strong through the series.

First, there is the tagline on the cover: “He had to learn her secret – or die trying!” It both references death, and uses an exclamation mark. Also, the picture on the cover is a scene that never actually happens in the book. I have to say this is not the cover on my book - I have the original 1989 version, of a sweet innocent little blond. This version, I think they re-released these in 2006 with updated covers, are WAY sexier than the originals. You'd think they'd be up to something naughty in Shadyside, but ... they are not. This is Shadyside. Second base doesn't exist.

We also begin a 160 page book with a prologue. In this 2 page prologue, Anna Corwin dies, or rather, is murdered. Great hook. Then we start the book for reals, where the main character is Cory Brooks. It’s unusual to have the main character to be male in Fear Street, there’s very few. I wonder whether R. L. started off from a male perspective, then changed because it wasn’t working. Perhaps it was easier to make all the men either sexual assaulters or murderers?

Anyways, Cory is an all-state gymnast (sidenote: I don’t know what “all-state” means, but I am assuming it means very good.) His best friend is Lisa Blume, who is described as looking like Cher. This is classic Fear Street, because every girl who goes to Shadyside either has red hair, or looks like Cher. They only come in two models. Lisa is die-hard in love with Cory, and tries to play footsie with him at every turn. Cory is a moron and doesn’t notice, thinking she must be pressing her breasts up to him because she is cold.

Cory is actually obsessed with the new girl at school, Anna Corwin, who is hardly ever around, is so beautiful she seems to float on air, and always talks in a breathy sex voice. The obsession is a little much, like he stops eating and misses all his gymnastic practices because he’s thinking about her. Melodramatic, much? She’s into him too, but creepily, in that she keeps on calling him in the middle of the night telling him she’s in trouble, then making out with him so hard his lips bleed them running away. …hot? But every time he calls her or goes to her house, her creepy brother keeps insisting she’s dead. Cory consults Lisa, who always gets mad and throws things when he mentions Anna (why is she behaving like this? Oh, Cory, you’re so thick, in a genuine high school boy way), but Lisa does discover Anna’s obituary. Chills, that really ups the creepiness factor.

Cory gets more and more into Anna, and meanwhile Lisa is getting death threats and cat corpses in her locker. Things accumulate when Cory goes to the school dance with Lisa, and she is pushed down a flight of stairs, apparently by Anna’s brother. She only hurts her ankle, so they go in search of this guy and get locked in a classroom. Cory uses gymnastics to save them, vaulting down a floor, then rushing back up to get her. Not really sure how that worked. Cory takes Lisa home and they kiss, and he gets all these conflicted feelings because he likes her, but he luuurves Anna. What to do?

Cory decides to man up and goes to confront Anna’s brother. He comes in to find Anna and her brother fighting, and tackles the brother, knocking him out. This really turns Anna on. So, the beginning of Fear Street women and the sexualization of violence? She tries to basically have sex with Cory over the body of her brother. Cory, being male, is into it, until Anna tries to slit her brother’s throat with a letter opener. No way! The first Fear Street murder weapon ever is a letter opener! I love it. When Cory is anti-killing of the brother, Anna tries to stab him with it. Cory falls out a window, catches himself by his lets and swings back in (because he’s a gymnast, or course). He pins her down as the brother comes to.

Creepy brother explains everything. Anna Corwin is dead, and the girl Cory’s been seeing is … the evil sister who killed her and took over her identity! This is one of the two plot lines used in Fear Street – the switching of identities, or the murderous jealous boyfriend. Sometimes both are used (see College Weekend), but one or the other elements is always used. Anyways, Anna was perfect, the less-perfect sister Willa murdered her and took her place. Apparently seeing Anna/Willa in a murderous rage is enough to cure Cory from his obsessive high school blues, and he goes to Lisa, who’s pretty content to take him. It ends with a cheesy kiss, as all Fear Street books should.

The New Girl wasn’t awesome, but it felt nostalgic … where it all began, you know. I give it 3 murderous evil sisters out of 5.


zanne said...

Switching of identities has always been one of my favorite Fear Street plot lines! I am surprised I don't remember reading this book. I'm almost positive I did.

LAK said...

You are right- The new cover is awesome-way sexier and cooler then the book may have deserved.

I would like to know why they look like Cher. Did RL have an obsession with her-does he have a fetish for duct tape and fishnet outfits? Or just wigs? And Cher has had so many different looks, which look are we supposed to believe these characters possess? So many options to choose from there!

(and All State from how I understand it is they are the state representative as they have won everything in a specific time frame-I don't know how true this is since we don't have that here)

Anonymous said...

They re-released a number of Fear Street books with new covers. I really prefer the older ones. Like old Goosebumps covers, they have an effective way of drawing me to read them. There's something about out-of-context badly drawn teenagers that is quite appealing.

Anonymous said...

What the Hell kind of letter-openers do these people own?! Mine is so blunt it could barely cut butter, let alone throats. Anyway this book sounds awesome, and indeed very typical Fear Street. And I am comforted to learn that Fear Street started off with psychos. How long was it before Stine decided to bring on the monsters?

Anonymous said...

Cover scenes that don't actually happen and dream sequences go perfectly together. They're both cheap attempts to spice up a book that are ultimately cons. Although sometimes the cover scenes that don't happen are just laziness, so they can mass-produce the covers without having to read the book. That's gotta be what it is with Fear Street. Fun fact: One of the new Goosebumps books goes one step further and has a cover depicting a dream sequence. Bravo, sir.

Anonymous said...

You know, given how hot Cory thought she was and how badly he wanted her sweet poon, Willa probably wouldn't have been so inferior to her sister if she hadn't, you know, been a psychotic murderer.

Or maybe Cory just needs to raise his standards. Which is why it took him forever to realize that Lisa could be a pretty good catch (I always had a soft spot for Lisa, for some reason. I think partly because she seemed to show up everywhere at first and seemed fairly sane and smart).

RecallerReminder said...

Cant believe the very first main character on FS was a male but for what I see...all the boys are just the same (like they were cloned or something, only girls got slight diference). But yeah, this is a real classic.

Unknown said...

I thought this twist was utterly ridiculous. I remember waiting for her to be revealed to be a ghost and then the evil twin thing happened. Which the soap opera fan in me should have seen coming. The Perfect Date and I'm sure numerous other ones partook in this epic, last minute fake out. It should also be noted that this kid became a jealous monster and was terrible to his friends. Which if you really think about, the Perfect Date is essentially this exact same plot. Hot damn.