Book Review: The Surprise Party by R.L. Stine

Last summer, after her boyfriend Evan apparently shot himself in Fear Street Woods, Ellen moved away from Fear Street and her friends were left to attend Shadyside High without her.  However, a few months have passed and Ellen now feels safe about returning to Fear Street, if just for a visit.  Her friend, Meg, is super excited!  Meg wants to throw Ellen a surprise party!  Great idea, Meg!  Meg wants to throw it in Fear Street Woods, at pretty much the same location where the dead body of Ellen’s boyfriend was found.  Wait, what?

Meg is shocked when she starts to get phone calls from a mysterious stranger, telling her to cancel the party.  She’s even more upset when someone destroys the invitations that she spent so long working on.  Meg does exactly what I would do in those circumstances.  She makes a list of all the people who she thinks might be responsible.  A few people are put on the list for understandable reasons, i.e., being near the invitations before they were destroyed.  The rest are listed because Meg dislikes them personally.  One kid is listed because he’s way into playing Wizard and Dragons.  Meg’s extremely petty suspect list is probably the most realistic thing about The Surprise Party.  My suspects lists are always a combination of people who have blocked me on twitter and celebrities that I’m sick of hearing about.  My Congressman is usually on the list because he supports the ProAct.

Anyway, it does turn out that there is more to Evan’s death than anyone originally realized.  And yes, the truth comes out at the surprise party.  And yes, all of the twists don’t really make that much sense.  First published in 1989, this was the second of R.L. Stine’s Fear Street books and, to be honest, it’s a little bit disappointing.  There’s nothing supernatural about anything that happens.  Instead, it’s just one of those mysteries that can’t be solved because Stine doesn’t give us all the clues until the very last minute.  I spent the whole book thinking Meg was the culprit because throwing a surprise party in the woods where your friend committed suicide is just incredibly insensitive.  And, if this was a later Fear Street book, I have no doubt that Meg would have an evil twin or something.  But no, this is an early book and Meg’s just dumb.

Oh well.  That’s life on Fear Street!

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