First published way back in 1986, Blind Date represents a significant moment in YA horror literature. This is the first “horror” novel to be written by R.L. Stine!
Blind Date tells the story of Kerry, who is a teenager who has a lot of problems. A year ago, he was in a really serious car accident. He doesn’t remember much about the accident but he does know that, as a result of the accident, his older brother is now in a mental institution and his father doesn’t talk to him much. Poor Kerry. One thing that I’ve noticed from reading all of these Stine and Christopher Pike books over the course of this month is that both of them always seemed to come up with plots that featured car accidents. I guess it makes sense. When you’re a teenager, you can’t wait to get your first car but you’re also aware that you’re eventually going to have your first accident.
Anyway, Kerry is kind of a loser but he is on the football team. Unfortunately, he apparently injured the school’s star quarterback during practice so now he has the entire team wanting to kill him. Perhaps the only good thing going on in Kerry’s life is that he’s been set up on a blind date with a mysterious girl named Amanda….
Except, when Kerry goes to Amanda’s house, he’s met by two bereaved parents who explain that Amanda’s dead! OH MY GOD, IS KERRY’S DATE A GHOST!? No, actually, it turns out Kerry’s date is actually named Mandy and apparently, Kerry misheard. Or something. Who knows? The important thing is that Kerry has a girlfriend who can comfort him whenever he gets his ass kicked by the football team, which is something that is definitely going to happen because Kerry goes to a school that’s ruled by mob justice..
Mandy is a little bit vague about her past, which should be a huge red flag but Kerry has something else to worry about. His brother, Donald, has escaped from the mental hospital! And apparently, he has a history of trying to kill Kerry! Can Kerry pursue a successful relationship, mend fences with the football team, and avoid getting killed by his brother? Or is the story going to end with Kerry getting beaten over the head with a stuffed moose?
(Yes, you read that right.)
Actually, the story ends with a twist that I’m pretty sure Stine came up with at the last minute. To be honest, the whole book kind of reads as if someone said to Stine, “We need two hundred pages and we don’t really care what’s on them.” The story goes from one strange development to another. It makes for a kind of weird story that doesn’t always make sense but it is compulsively readable.
And really, that’s the thing with the work of both Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine. You don’t reread these books because they’re particularly scary or even that well-written. You read them because they’re just so damn strange. It’s never enough to have just one twist. Instead, there has to be a dozen twists and if they don’t really seem to make sense or go together …. well, so what? That’s what life’s like when you’re a teenager, right? It may not always make sense. It may not always turn out the way you want. But it’s still something you miss once it’s gone.