All-Night Party or "Amateur Nancy-Drew-Type Sleuths are NOT Qualified to Solve Murders.”
Seeing as I haven’t really done any ‘regular’ Fear Streets in a while (mostly the horrific Sagas) I was very exciting to start reading All-Night Party. And boy, it did not disappoint. In the god-awful-I-can’t-believe-how-bad-this-is-super-awesome way. I mean, it certainly disappointing in a literary aspect. But it was SO amazingly bad. I loved it!
The cover. Well, this one is nuts. I mean, lets look. Judging by the cover, this book is obviously about a (redheaded) girl who has a jealous boyfriend and who is cheating on him with some geek with a terrible haircut. This triangle is being watched VERY CREEPILY by a girl in the background, so she’s obviously jealous of Miss Auburn ’97. There will be many suspects as to who is trying to kill Red, right? WRONG. This cover has zero to do with the book! I assume Red is Hannah since she’s the one with red curly hair, but she’s not even our main character. Hannah has only one boy interested in her, her BF Gil, but Gil is also in love with their friend Cindy, so this boy-girl-boy triangle makes no sense. And I assumed the mad-looking dude was our main character’s (Gretchen) boyfriend, Marco. So even less sense. Also, Cindy never creepily watches people from the background while dancing with a faceless/nameless boy. Seriously, nothing makes sense on this cover. A+ to the cover artists for obviously not doing his job properly but still getting paid!
Let’s get down to it. Gretchen (the main character who is not even on the cover) and her friends Hannah (Red), Gil (Red’s BF), Patrick (random, crazy friend) and Jackson (random, surly friend) have planned a surprise birthday party at Patrick’s cabin on Fear Island for their friend Cindy (blonde, slutty). All-Night Party without parents! Woot woot. They decided to kidnap Cindy from her parents place in a way that sounds terrifying. They know her parents are out, so they all sneak into her bedroom, surprise her and then tie her up. Then Patrick pulls out a gun. WHAT?! Yeah, this was not part of the original plan, and everyone is mad at (crazy) Patrick. No shit!
Patrick tells him that his police-man dad gave it to him for protection. From? O yeah, the escaped mental patient who specializes in killing teenaged girls! The gang still decides to go on with their party on the abandoned island without phones because they convince themselves that the convict would be on the run. (Um, yeah… to somewhere isolated!) While Patrick is telling the story, surly Jackson is staring at Gretchen and creeping her out. Am I supposed to think that Jackson is the escapee? Because I don’t. They start talking about lighter topics, including why Gretch didn’t invite her bad-boy boyfriend Marco. Gretch didn’t want him there because she’s desperately trying to break up with him, but can’t.
As soon as they arrive though, Gretch gets a shitty surprise. Marco found out where she was from her mom and came to surprise her! To a private party at someone’s cabin on an island? That seems… excessively needy. Gretchen is pissed that he’s there but strangely turned on, apparently: “She couldn’t help but notice the way his white T-shirt hugged his muscles or the way his blue jeans were molded to his legs.” (I bet he stuffs.)
They get their seven person, non-drinking party underway. We find out then that Hannah’s boyfriend Gil and Cindy used to date. Actually, they were dating until like 2 months ago, which seems weird to me. And they only broke up because Cindy’s parents didn’t like him. Gil and Cindy are very, very, inappropriately flirty and Hannah is (reasonably!) upset. Hannah tells Gretchen that Cindy won the scholarship that she herself needed, and now can’t go to college. Yikes. Hannah admits that she would be a lot better off if Cindy was dead. Hmmm. I wonder what will happen…
Cindy opens her presents and is an asshole about it. She hates most of them and gives them away. Everyone kinda splits up after that, with Gil and Hannah going to make-out, and Gretchen going outside to get wood. She hears Cindy inside arguing with Jackson and hears someone get slapped. She runs away, embarrassed (oh domestic abuse. How embarrassing!) Marco comes and joins Gretchen outside, and she takes this opportunity to dump him. In the middle of a party? Lame. But Marco has the best reaction! He asks if she’s scared of him, then repeatedly stabs the tree behind her head with a switch blade! WHAT? Who does that?!
They go back inside after their terrible breakup and no one is around. Gretchen looks around and finds Cindy in the kitchen. Only problem… Cindy’s dead. She was stabbed to death at her own birthday party. That sucks! Hearing Gretchen scream, Marco and Pat both come in, and Patrick is covered in blood. Human blood? Pat says he cut his hand upstairs. Sure… Hannah and Gil come in after their makeout sesh, and Jackson come in too. I don’t know what he did, creeped around outside for a little bit. Patrick tells them they can’t call the police because there aren’t any phones, and they can’t leave because the weather is too shitty to make it back across the lake. Well that sucks.
They decide that it must have been the escaped convict. The boys search the upstairs in case he’s still inside the house, while the girls check the downstairs. Gretchen thinks she sees something outside the window so she goes outside to check it out. (Really? That is the LAST thing I would do. If it’s outside, it can stay out there.) Jack comes to the same conclusion as I did, so when he finds her outside, he yells at her for being irresponsible. Gretchen is creeped out by his concern, but I think it’s nice.
After it’s clear that there is no convict inside the cabin, the friends start to turn on each other. Gretch suspects Pat because he’s covered in blood (fair enough). She suspects Jackson because she heard him fight with Cindy. Gil and Hannah confess that they weren’t together the whole time either, and either one of them could have done it! Gil and Hannah accuse the other one of doing it and break up. Which is kind of a weird reaction, but I guess they were stressed out. They decide they need to stay put to stay safe from the maybe escaped convict. They also discuss waiting for the police to arrive, but that seems unlikely since they have no way of contacting anyone! So they might wait a very long time.
Jackson soon decides that he needs to investigate the body of Cindy further. Really? Like CSI style? They see that Cindy is clutching… Patrick’s baseball hat! Smoking gun! Well, not really. But Jackson also sees a boot print in the flour spilt on the floor. While Gil and Marco hold Pat, Gretchen check’s boots… which are covered in flour. Okay, so there is some evidence accumulating. The rest of the gang ties up Patrick and go upstairs to rifle through his belongings. They find a note written to Patrick from Cindy talking about telling his dark secret. Interesting… but not substantial. They do however find the bloody murder weapon wrapped up in his sleeping bag though, which IS a little suspect. So Patrick is covered in blood, Cindy is holding his hat, his boot was all over the “crime scene”, and the murder weapon is in his sleeping bag. So the gang focuses on the note they found. What?
Patrick voices up that he’s being framed, because he’s not nearly so dumb as to leave all that evidence just lying around. This … actually makes sense to Gretchen and the rest of them, so they decide to compare the handwriting from Cindy’s note to Patrick to her journal. Everything matches… except for the Y’s. The Y’s in the note are different, so our team of Nancy Drews and Hardy Boys decide that Patrick isn’t the killer. REALLY?
While Gretchen, Gil, Marco and Jackson were all comparing handwriting samples, Hannah took this time to freak the fudge out and run away. She left a note (what’s with all the notes?) that says she’s too scared, so she decided to run into the deserted, dark woods. Alright...
The rest of them go after her, running in separate directions like all good horror movie characters do. Gretchen sees Jackson looking at her, and immediately decides that he wants to kill her so she runs away. Aren’t these two supposed to be friends? Why is she so freaked out? I guess he does end up chasing her, which is never a good sign. Gretchen eventually falls down a little hill, and Jackson does the same and lands on her. He’s all “Why’d you run?” and she’s all “Why did you CHASE me?”, to which I say… fair enough.
Jackson takes this moment in time (hours after a friend was murdered, trying to find a runaway friend in the dark) to confess that he likes her. He doesn’t even LOVE her, he just likes her. This kinda-shallow-not-imperative confession probably could have waited, Jackson. Gretchen is all “Oooo, I just dumped Marco tonight” and is all twitterpatted, even though she thought he was going to kill her about 30 seconds ago. All's normal in Fear Street! She’s happy that now she can trust him. Which… really? That’s all it takes? I’m going to test this out. Tell someone who’s afraid of me that I like them, then kill them once I gain their trust. I bet it would work.
The other boys found Hannah, and have successfully dragged her back to the cabin by the time the new love-birds get there. They are in the midst of accusing Hannah of murdering Cindy out of jealousy because Cindy was AWESOME and Hannah totally SUCKS. Which would be hard to hear… but at least Hannah will win now because Cindy is definitely dead. While the boys are yelling at Hannah, Gretchen discovers something in her purse that solves the murder.
A note. GAWD. She finds a note from Patrick from before, just talking about the party planning and whatnot. But she notices that the Y’s from Patrick’s note and Cindy’s phony note are the SAME. Patrick framed himself! (PS: did he write Cindy’s fake note in his own handwriting then? How did our super-sleuths miss that one?!)
Patrick is all “Yes, I’m the killer” and pulls out the gun again. They all demand to know why Patrick killed Cindy! “She found out something I did. Something bad.” Yeah… so? And?? “She teased me.”
WHAT?! A bullying related murder?! Awesome! He also said that he came on to Cindy that night and when she rejected him, he snapped and killed her. Wow. I did NOT see bullying coming. Patrick decides that since they’ve figured out he killed her, he’ll have to kill all of them. Yeah, that won’t be obvious when Patrick comes home all alone from the big All-Night Party (!). He aims his gun at Gretchen and goes to shoot…
When the door bangs open! (Yes, Gretchen thought she’d been shot) The police are there! They must have heard their ESP cries for help! Actually they work with Patrick’s dad. Pat’s dad saw that Patrick STOLE his gun and asked them to go get it. And to arrest his son? I didn’t understand whether Patrick was in trouble for stealing the gun, but I guess it pales in comparison to actually committing a murder (oddly, without the gun). Patrick has one last confession: he made up the crazy murderer! Actually, Patrick, you didn’t make up the crazy psychopath, you ARE the crazy psychopath.
The book ends with the surviving friends (and loser Marco) discussing how Cindy never even knew what Patrick did (it was burn down a school, BTW) but teased him because she had a crush on him. I guess Cindy had just decided to play hard to get that night… and it got her killed. Ooo that kinda sounds like a tagline hey? Much better than “Party till you drop … dead”. Especially since it was the lamest all-night party
Moral of the story? Teasing, and refusing sexual advances will get you KILLED. Well done R.L.! The non-sensical cover art, plus the awful super-sleuthing (Babysitters club style!), PLUS having a terrible moral? That’s at least 77 phony notes out of 83.