You know how I said the first Fear Street book from the king of children’s horror fiction was, well, not as bloody or frightening as I imagined it would be… Book 2, Don’t Stay Up Late is indeed scarier.
In it readers will meet 16-year-old junior Lisa Brooks, who after a terrible accident falls prey to a string of frightening nightmares and hallucinations. She’s missed out on going to school and hanging with her friends, and her mom really needs help with bringing in extra money to keep them afloat.
So when she’s given the idea to get a P/T job, Lisa lands herself a babysitting gig…on Fear Street.
Still it seems normal enough so far, right?
But Lisa’s nightmares/hallucinations only get worse. Now the creepy monster edging at the corners of said nightmares is coming to life, and it’s followed her to her new employer’s home. And it’s killing people. Not just people but friends and school peers, and Lisa can’t even testify against this thing, this Monster.
What’s worse is that no one believes her; not her mom, not her sorta-boyfriend, Nate, not her friends, Saralynn and Isaac, not the cops or even her sweet-tempered psychiatrist… She’s in this whole Monster thing alone.
Now what I loved about this 2nd Fear Street title from the newly revamped series is the claustrophobia built around Lisa — unlike the heroine in the 1st book, Lisa’s well and truly alone, even though, and I could sense just how desperate, how important it was for her to try to regain stability and normalcy in her life again (and how sad her desperation particularly was given she really wouldn’t ever have the same normal again).
Also it was nice to actually have a paranormal/sci-fi flair to this horror novel. Sure the first book had those ghost stories, but these come to life in Don’t Stay Up Late.
One of the characters I liked dies by the claws of this Monster — and no I don’t think that’s a spoiler! — and I liked that I could be invested to finish the story to find out whether the killer(s) were captured.
Although I could see that almost every character played a role to some extent (yes, I’m counting the dead ones too), I didn’t find it easy to wrap my mind around the last few chapters when a final twist is added to the story, as if it weren’t twisted and messed up to begin with.
Do you sometimes watch movies (or read books) where a character suddenly, and almost randomly, decides to switch sides and reveal their TRUE self? It works when there’s a build-up to it, and the individual can explain a complicated (or uncomplicated) network of connection to the plot.
Slevin’s got the idea.
I’m all for crazy twists, but I don’t like when they can’t be properly explained. Also there were a lot of questions around the paranormal/sci-fi element in Don’t Stay Up Late.
So I get the villains have got this foolproof child-turning-Monster to take care of, hence Lisa’s babysitting services, but two questions off the top of my head would be, how is the Monster created and what’s the gain to creating this child-Monster exactly?
I didn’t get the sense that Brenda, the child-Monster’s “mother” (was she even genetically related to the kid) and Alice, the so-called “aunt” of the child-Monster were a gay, mad scientist couple looking to have a kid. It’s NEVER explained. I mean I would have even understood if Brenda — who at some point was married to some guy who’s no longer in the picture and who is described from a picture as being “a good-looking guy” and who was “very clean cut, very all-American, tanned, blue-eyed, short brown hair, [and had] a nice smile” (p. 186-7); maybe this guy died and Brenda took his DNA or something to try to create a clone kid to keep by her side forever.
Either way I shouldn’t be plotting out the story and feeling this dissatisfied by the end to want to plot out different explanations. I mean there’s thinking about a good book even after the last page, and there’s becoming frustrated over the “let’s be all mysterious and vague” approach R.L. Stine took this one. With Book 1 it was straightforward, and I didn’t mind the teasing ghost story end. With Book 2 it was like, “GJAKJACJACKJFAKJFA, WHAT KIND OF ENDING WAS THAT???”
All in all, it was scarier than its predecessor even if it was more illogical, I still encourage anyone who might be interested to take the plunge and pick up Don’t Stay Up Late (just a warning, it might make you think twice about babysitting).