Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dead End, or “Booze Will Be the Death of You”

I have not blogged an original Fear Street book for some time, so when I started reading Dead End I was pretty excited. Until I read the subject matter and started having some pretty hard core déjà vu. Not the teen hit and run scenario AGAIN – I seriously just read this in Hit and Run. Not very creative, R. L., I am disappointed in you. Although, kind of funny to compare a similar Point Horror with Fear Street.

Everything begins at a party – all the seniors at Shadyside High are there, plus some guys from another school who crashed. And they brought BEER with them. Teens drinking beer equals naughty, so you know they’re going to get what they deserve. Main character Natalie is wandering around the party, thinking about poetry – yup, she’s that exciting. She talks to people here and there (and subtly introduces us to the characters): her friend Gillian and Gillian’s maybe boyfriend Carlo, her bff Randee, who she describes as ugly but a really nice girl, Todd, the caveman-like jock, and her own boyfriend Keith, who apparently likes salty food and beer (diagnosis: teenage boy).

Keith gets wasted at the party and acts like a buffoon. Points to R. L. for realism here. Natalie gets all huffy and refuses to drive home with him. Totally legit, but next time think about snagging the drunk driver’s keys before they head out. Instead, Natalie grabs a ride with Randee, who’s already driving Gillian, Carlo and Todd home. Randee drives like a spaz, and I was wondering if she’s actually secretly drunk as well. She complains she can’t see well in the fog, but her bad driving goes WAY beyond that. She careens down a dead end road and hits a car.

Of course the first thing you do after hitting a car is speed away into the fog, hoping no one saw you, which is exactly what Randee does. Natalie thought she saw someone in the car, says they need to go back to check, but Randee refuses. For really intelligent, selfless reasons. Randee is grounded, and doesn’t want to get into more trouble for being out. God I love the justification teenagers have for things – I don’t want to deal with the consequences of my actions, which is perfect justification for NOT doing the right thing, no matter who gets hurt. Like sociopaths. Todd agrees with Randee, because his dad just got a high profile job with the mayor’s office, and his fuck up might affect him. They check the bumper and find only a small scratch on it, so their determination is that everything is fine. Nothing could go wrong.

Except the person that they hit actually died in the accident – they were thrown through the windshield and half their face was ripped off. And that person was the mayor’s sister, and he will stop at nothing to discover the identity of those who did it. And the fact that they left the scene of the accident puts them all in a world of trouble they did not need. That’s right, they’re a band of hit-and-run murderers. So they make a pact that they’ll never tell anyone ever, and go about their lives as normal. You know, until guilt and suspicion rip them apart, right? This story is so overdone. Anyways, Carlo is really sensitive, and doesn’t want to live with this secret, so he wants to go to the police. Todd, being an uber-stable, mature person, threatens to kill him. That’s just how they roll in Shadyside.

Keith goes to Natalie’s house that night, which is hard for her because she promised not to tell anyone her horrible secret, but also wants to melt into his warm soulful eyes. Keith demands they talk, because he knows her secret. Natalie chokes on panic, until Keith accuses her of hooking up with Todd because she left in the same car as him. Natalie makes out with him in relief that he doesn’t know her real secret, and this satisfies him that she’s not leaving him for someone else.

So, for the weekend, Natalie, Randee, Todd, Gillian and Carlo decide a nice relaxing break from all the stress would be to go to Carlo’s uncle’s hunting lodge. Because in an atmosphere of tense suspicion , it’s best to give all the teenagers guns and sent them out alone in the woods, right? And the uncle somehow manages to get these kids hunting licenses, and hooks them up with shotguns, for some good old fashioned fun. I say wtf? Surely it can’t be that easy, can it? Natalie is actually glad that Keith couldn’t make it due to a family obligation, because it would be too hard to keep the secret from him. It’s not that fun for anyone, because Todd keeps on hinting/joking that maybe Carlo should have an accident, since he threatened to tell on them, but nobody thinks it’s funny.

It’s even less funny when a gunshot is heard in the woods, and they find Carlo lying there with his head blown off by a shotgun. Official story: he tripped and shot himself in the head. Natalie is not so quick to believe this as Todd and Randee both had shotguns with them too. Except … they could probably tell whose shotgun was used, right? And they figured it was Carlo’s, so it was either Carlo himself, or anyone, right? Never mind that, Natalie decides to suspect only Todd and Randee.

Of course, Todd is acting like an obsessed lunatic about nobody telling their little secret, so it’s pretty easy to suspect him of something. When Keith breaks into her house that night (wtf), Natalie is so traumatized by Carlo’s headless body and the whole situation, she tells him everything. Keith is the perfect understanding boyfriend, and Natalie is so happy she confessed to him. Especially when Todd and Randee start dating, and she’s certain they’re collaborating to bring her and Gillian down. Gillian finds some mouldy meat in her bag, along with the most inept threatening letter ever: You can be close to Carlo again. In the grave. This is you. Dead meat. If you talk. I’m going to dock marks from that threat for going on waaay too long. Like, do things really need to be that spelled out: Get it? You’ll be dead if you talk. Because I’ll kill you. So don’t. Whoever the murderer is, they’re an idiot.

Keith picks Natalie up from a study session, and she mocks his piece of shit car. It’s all dented, and still has the tiny spare tire on from a flat weeks ago. And the driver’s side door always sticks. Natalie is feeling pretty awful, so Keith makes out with her for awhile and tells her all will be alright.

Gillian confronts Natalie at school and tells her she’s going to the police – that Natalie doesn’t know the whole story. They are interrupted by a shifty Todd and Randee, but Natalie supports Gillian’s decision. She tells Keith that night while ice skating what Gillian intends to do, and Keith is all immediately: “Uh, I need to go do something, right now.” Natalie continues to skate alone, then heads home. She’s chased down by Todd and Randee, who insist they go see Gillian immediately, to stop her from talking. They get to Gillian’s house, to see that’s already been taken care of, as she’s sprawled at the bottom of her stairs, her head facing the wrong way. (Ick! Points for disturbing visual images!)

Natalie is certain it was Todd and Randee, so decides to go to the police the next morning. She’s stopped by Randee, who wants to go too, and to bring in her car for them to inspect. Natalie doesn’t trust Randee at all, but they go in together and confess. The police listen to their story, check out Randee’s car, then tell them they’re wasting their time because the car that killed the mayor’s sister was blue, and one of the tire tracks is smaller than the other. Like, what would cause that?

The girls get into mild trouble with the law for the hit and run stuff, then they leave, and Natalie still has not figured this one out. She’s just sooo happy to not be involved with murder. Until she sees Keith parked in her driveway in his BLUE car with dented bumper and one spare tire on. He tells her angrily to get in the car, so of course she does. (???) Natalie deserves whatever she gets.

Keith confesses everything – hitting the mayor’s sister while drunk driving the night of the party, then murdering Carlo and Gillian. He didn’t have a family obligation the weekend of the hunting trip – he had an obligation to shoot Carlo in the head! And he left Natalie at the ice rink to go murder Gillian. And now he plans to murder her. He tells her, in painstaking detail, how he’s going to speed over a cliff, jump out, and let her fall to her death. Great plan, genius. Instead, Natalie just jumps out of the car, but Keith is on the driver’s side with the door that always sticks. He falls to his death. Natalie sees a DEAD END sign and thinks how they are at the end of the horror.

Not my favorite Fear Street ever, but you can really compare the Fear Street books to Point Horror looking at this one, and Hit and Run. In Point Horror, you have some lame kids trying to pass their driver’s test, some exaggerated pranks with a corpse prop, and one non-fatal accident. Fear Street involves underage drinking, multiple murders and maggoty meat. Fear Street > Point Horror any day of the week. 18 drunk drivers out of 25.


Anonymous said...

It became fairly clear what sort of direction things were going to go in once Keith's car showed up all dented. At least it had murderous teens! I've been missing them.

HelenB said...

I agree with Anonymous - it was pretty obvious where this one was going! And yeah, the hit and run story is pretty old...

I love that threatening note, though. I'd love to write one like that. "Hi potential next victim. You better not talk. Because I'll kill you. If you talk. Because I don't want you to talk. So you better not. Talk, I mean. xoxo Gossip Girl."

A. M. Stine said...

Sigh, reading this almost makes me want to end my sabbatical early! I miss the regular Fear Street books, where they all wore early 90s grunge and killed each other. I don't think I ever read this book as a kid... I think this one was one of the "rare" books we got in the last shipment? Is that true? Can a Fear Street be "rare"?

Anonymous said...

The earliest ones are quite old, right? Over a decade. So they would be rare by now.

L. K. Stine said...

I don't know if Dead End is "rare", but I don't remember reading it when I was younger. But that could just be because it's pretty nondescript, and maybe easy to forget?

M.H Stine said...

good review i've read this book so i knew the book but it was still AWESOME! anyways i would write
"dear victim,
roses are red
like the blood in your head
better not talk
or your head will be off
your killer aka KEITH!

Devika said...

OH MY GOD, I just found this R.L. Stine book from 2003 at a flea market. It's called "Dangerous Girls," and it's about high school vampire sisters. I believe it's a series. You must review it! I will even send you my copy (once I'm done reading it)!

Anonymous said...

Did I hear somewhere that "Dangerous Girls" is a series?

L. K. Stine said...

Devika, funny you should say that, because I am reading Dangerous Girls RIGHT NOW! I only have that first one, and it's pretty awesome. I'm hoping to blog it within the next few days!

M.H Stine said...

made it better! hahaha
Roses Are Red
Like The Blood In Your Head
Better Not Talk
Or You'll Be Found Dead

or something like
Roses Are Red
Vilioets Are Blue
Tell The Police
And You'll Be Dead Soon

oh yea...

Broken1again said...

They arent really rare..You can find all the fears streets for about 3-4 bucks on amazon or similar sites..I had almost all of them except a few so I ordered the rest to complete my collection because Im reading them all again..the only book that is rare is Fear Street Sagas One Last Kiss...I payed $4 bucks for all of these books but paid like 40 bucks for that one! Idk why that one is so hard to find and so expensive? but I really love that one so I guess it was worth it lol

Broken1again said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Broken1again said...

opps wrong link lol: I just looked up "One Last Kiss" on ebay and its going for 80 bucks!! Thats insane


RecallerReminder said...

Its weird when Stine actually shows alcohol consecuences, turning this in one of the most realistic books (except for the part the killer get away with two intentional murders after that). Lovely.