Stine, R.L. Party Games (Fear Street #52)
September 30th 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin
So, some spoilers ahead, so just skip if you really think R.L. Stine books are scary and you don't want to know what happens. This is a decent choice for middle school libraries, nothing inappropriate. Just don't read on if spoilers bother you.
Rachel's family is struggling to make ends meet, so she waitresses at the local diner. When the wealthy and enigmatic Brendan Fear invites her to his birthday party, she is excited to go, even when her ex boyfriend, Mac, warns her not to go. She assumes it is the disgruntled Mac who puts a dead rat in her bed, but when she and some other girls are on the Fear's creepy island on their way to the party, she finds out that the other girls had various dead animals in their beds, too... and Brendan tells them that the creepy Victoria Fear was a taxidermist and often would warn people away from the house with dead animals! Sure enough, it's creepy on the island, but it gets even worse when people get injured... and then killed. One by one, the guests die in horrific ways, but then they come back. It turns out that the deaths were all staged by Brendan Fear. Ha, ha. Very funny. Then, creepy guys show up and are going to kidnap Brendan. Real, or fake? Real threat, but the bad guys are taken down by policemen that Brendan hired to perform some other role in the huge charade. There is an appearance by Victoria Fear, but instead of a ghost, it turns out to be Brendan's cousin Karen. Of course, when Rachel goes back into the house to get her jacket, how can she explain seeing the ghost then?
Strengths: Stine is the master of the bait-and-switch thriller. People are threatened. Nyah, it's a hoax. Wait! Now they are dead! No they're not. This makes the books scary but not too scary for middle school students. It's nice to have a new R.L. Stine in hardcover and not in a 25+ year old prebind with pages crumbling to dust.
Weaknesses: #52? Really? Does this mean that 1-51 will be available again in something that won't become a pile of dust in a year? Didn't think so. Plus, I'm not entirely sure I haven't read this book before. Not that any of it matters. Put Stine on the shelf, and someone will read it no matter what the content or condition.