Welcome Back to Shadyside.

28 10 2013

Fear_Street_The_New_GirlIt has been 24 years since R. L. Stine introduced young adult readers to the fictional town of Shadyside and its unlucky teenage populace in the Fear Street series. As a book worm growing up in a western New York state suburb during the early 90s, free time during my years in middle school was often spent at the local library. It was in this quiet haven that I would set up shop at a table in the back, away from people coming and going to the check-out counter, and delve into the latest macabre misadventure to befall an unlucky student at Shadyside High.

The series was named for a street in the aforementioned town of Shadyside (presumably somewhere in New England) where a rotating cast of run-of-the-mill teenagers would be thrust into a variety of horror cliches. Chilling prank phone calls. Murdered prom queens. Hauntings. Nightmarish camping trips. No fan of scary or supernatural stories could possibly be disappointed. As the series progressed over the years, readers would learn about the history of the town and its curse due to the actions of its founders during the witch hysteria that gripped puritanical folks back in the day.

Save for a three-part miniseries, Fear Street Nights, published in 2005, Mr. Stine concluded his saga with 1999’s Fear Street Seniors spin-off.

You can imagine my nostalgic elation when the New York Times reported that he would be reviving the series in October of 2014 with a new entry… Party Games.

843086One of the things I remember the most about the books was how accurately they depicted everyday life for a teenager during that time (save for the gruesome murders and ghostly encounters). The clothes they wore. The hairstyles they donned. The town they lived in and the places they hung out. It was all relatable. With his impeccable attention to that sort of detail, I am excited to see what Mr. Stine does to update the setting and cast of characters for his stories. Gone are the days of baggy sweaters, teased bangs, and those pesky corded telephones used to stalk unfortunate baby-sitters. These days, kids are all about the social media, smartphones, iPads, and skinny jeans.

It could also be the perfect time for Mr. Stine to introduce gay/lesbian teenagers into the Fear Street mythos. In comparison to the early 90s, LGBT youth are coming out of the closet at a much earlier age, often in high school. It would stand to reason that a handful of students at Shadyside High would be out and proud and heading up the local GSA… you know, when they aren’t being tacked on to the body count list of the maniac that killed the head cheerleader.

As disappointed as I was to have missed an opportunity to meet R. L. Stine at this year’s NYCC (I was in the part of the queue that was cut due to the excessive length of the line), the revival of Fear Street is more than welcome and exciting news. With the first new book being titled Party Games, I am just waiting for the game of “Never Have I Ever” or “Cards Against Humanity” to go horrifically wrong.



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