“I’ve never written a single word from my heart—why would I?”-R.L Stine
Hello, Spongey here.
As you all know, I’m big on celebrating holidays on the blog, and I’ve done plenty of reviews decided to days such as Christmas and Halloween. I’ve also done a couple minor ones such as Saint Patrick Day way back with Luck of the Irish.
However, even after all these years, I’m somehow never done a Valentine’s Day special. Oh sure I bump into romance all the time but I have to properly do a review of V-Day. I may have done a special off season, like Be Mine, but that'[s about it.
I guess I just keep forgetting to do one, since Valentine’s Day just seems to come and go for me. But there’s plenty of things to review for the big day that I have been missing out on. I once wanted to do the film Valentine’s Day but once I did New Years’ Eve, it seemed pointless as it looks like the same damn movie.
When it comes to the holiday, I’m a bit mixed like everyone else. Yes, it’s pretty cynical noways, even more so than Christmas, to the point where I doubt even Kirk Cameron could defend it.
Honestly, I see more romance in Christmas than the actual day dedicated to it. With that said, it can be quite nice as shows in some of the better specials. Most specials are just typical episodes, which means some can be solid, and some can be failures.
My original plan for this year was to follow up on previous posts and look at Disney Cartoon Valentine’s Day Specials…until our old friend the ASCII monster came back with a vengeance. And I was almost done too!
Ah well, I did have a back up so we’ll go with that. Natural we visit one of the romantic book series of all time…Fear Street!
Yep, it’s finally time to head back to Shadyside. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Yeah, I’ve been too busy neglecting HorrorLand. I’ve gotten a few books I’d like to look at, and while it may be a while before I go back thanks to Goosebumps, I’d like to at least do one more for now.
For whatever reason, Stine decided Valentine’s Day would be a perfect topic for Fear Street, yet it has eluded Goosebumps for the most part. I have no expectations one way or the other, because this review will be a bit different.
For all the Book Reviews so far, I had read it at least once. This is on purpose, because I just did not want to do book reviews blind like I do with movies. When I do it off a physical copy it feels a bit weird to do it right as I read it for the first time due to how I read and review books.’
However, the decision to review this was kind of last minute and I don’t really have time to read it before hand. So you know what…let’s try doing it as I read it for the first time. This may be a one time thing, so don’t get used to it.
Let’s see how romantic Stine truly is as we finally walk down Fear Street again.
This, is Broken Hearts
The book opens with a Prologue, as our Protagonist Melisa and her friends Josie, Erica, Rachel are out for a drive.
‘Why are we doing this?’
Wow, for once Stine hand waves his lazy writing. Weird how it happened back in 1993 before things got really strange. They are going to go Horseback riding because Teens are into that, I guess.
Actually, one of the girls is doing this to meet some guy at the stables. Now it all makes sense, I apologize. We learn Erica is a shy little flower, which means she will either be the first to die, or the only one to live.
Her sisters respect her wishes and don’t force to do it with them. They gripe but still respect her anything. Whoa, that’s unusually nice for these kind of characters. The girls expost about her character and they say they feel sorry for her as she had to change schools and is just awkward in general.
It’s worth noticing that in general FS tried a bit harder to have actual stories with arcs in most of the entries, even if they often go nowhere. Even The Cheater tried one, which to be fair was the highlight of that mess. That’s why this is here but don’t worry, it will likely not pay off.
They change subject to their boyfriends, and we find out Melisa’s is seen as immature, and he has an angry side. I’m sure we won’t be a suspect for murder at all. It is explained that Dave felt hurt by Josie who was with him once.
Josie is nice in general but she’s not kind to boys, and goes through very quickly. Dang, this is a ton of set up were getting in a clunky way. They even discussed her ways, why do we need to go deeper?
Something finally happens as the horse goes out of control, causing Rachel to fall off and land on her hand. Does this happen as often in real life as it does in fiction, because if so…we gotta tame those dang horses.
That ends the prologue, by the way. That had a point.
The following February, Melisa wakes up from another nightmare about the horse incident. Apparently got hurt so bad she mostly stays in her house and Melisa says sometimes she just talks crazy.
“Sometimes I think she doesn’t know who I am”
All that from a bump on the head? Are we going by Full House logic here? With that said, this is some….interesting stuff for a book like this. Kind of mature and dark I’d say. We’ll see if it’s handled well.
Josie is no longer friends with Mellisa because she blames her for some reason. We cut to her house as we find out this is a Valentine’s Special that actually features Winter instead of spring!
Now that’s a miracle. Seriously, I’m over in Texas and it’s colder than it was on Christmas.
Josie has been going out with Steve, which is interesting because the farm guy she liked earlier’s name was Chuck. Which means Carly Beth should be here any moment. Funny thin about that, Stine claims he used the name Chuck in FS so much that he was told it was overkill.
Yet no one told him about Hannah. Although there was only like 2…well now 3 with the movie but whatever. Back on topic, she’s been going out with him few 5 months, which is very off for her.
“What’s your secret, Steve?’”
Well, he’s a suspect now. It’s worth nothing that in some FS books, each chapter has a name. I won’t name all of them but I will list the highlight. The chapter we go into now is called “Have a Heart”.
She gets a Valentine in the mail:
Violets are Blue
Roses are Red
On Valentine’s Day,
Josie Will be Dead
That didn’t take long. Usually the guy who did will have been intruded by now, and Steve seems too obvious…
That crosses whoever that is off the list.
After a false scare (Yes, FS did those too), Rachel shows up with her boyfriend. She’s basically treated like a kid with some kind of disability, and it’s really strange. Does she have brain damage or something?
This clearly isn’t the best situation for her sisters who must take care of her, and this causes a bit of friction. Sure this is Stine, because this is a bit deep compared to the usual fare. And Fear Street did go slightly deeper sometimes.
Josie is the one who doesn’t do her share, by the way. I’m assuming we’ll find a reason to like her soon, right? Luke, Rachel’s boyfriend even blames her Rachel’s accident, but that could be just him looking for someone to be angry at since this effected his own girlfriend.
So he’s another suspect. …Then Erica suspects him and thinks that is why Luke still visits. Well, now we can cross him off the list. Also, maybe he actually loves Rachel despite her condition? Ever think of that?
Sometime later, Erica tells Josie it’s her turn to watch Rachel as Erica has something genuinely important to do, but Josie refuses. …Any moment now, we’ll find out why we should like her.
At least she’s called out for it. Then she randomly falls to the ground, but it’s okay cuz she just fell due to being hit by a snowball. Because that will shock you so much you fall, right. That ball came from Dave and Mellisa calls him out on it.
He hates her since he dumped her and shes’ been on his case ever since. She even goes around saying she dumped him. Okay, when every part of the book is bashing her, you know you’re character is horrible.
Dave jokingly suggest forming an Anti-Josie club, because dedicating part of your life to hating a certain thing is always productive. This guy would get along just fine with most people online.
We join Josie as we find out her Mom works long hours, and Dad is always out on the road. They couldn’t bother to find extra time to take her of their brain damaged daughter?
Luke busts in ranting about how Josie made Erica miss her important thing.
“Do you know how upset she is?”
“I know you’re going to tell me”
My god, you’re horrible.
She doesn’t even bother defending herself and just bashes Luke. Seriously, she just goes on about how Luke is a loser than hides behind Rachel or whatever. I get that sometimes you don’t want to address your own problems and will lash out at others, but this is a bit much.
In response, Luke picks up a letter opener and stabs a desk with it. Josie thinks he’s gonna hurt her with it, which means that’s a really dangerous letter opener. Also, if someone at all feels the need to kill a character for even a second, THAT CHARECTER IS NOT WORTH FOLLOWING.
Okay, maybe she’ll realize her mistakes later, this happens sometimes. Luke leaves.’
“Everyone’s mad at me. And what have I done? Nothing”
No comment. Acting like nothing happened, she checks her mail and gets another Valentine death threat.
“This Valentine’s Day.
No memories to save.
The only flowers for you
Will be on your Grave”
Stine is a master poet. You know, these protagonist often get these kind of death threats, but in this case she kind of deserves it. I know she’s gonna end up getting away with being horrible, but a man can dream.
Oh, and Josie lives on Fear Street because of course she does. The next chapter is called “I HATE JOSIE” which sounds delightful.
The next day, we are told that Erica set up her special thing (a tryout for a thing) to make up for Josie flaking on her, and Josie had apparently promised to watch Rachel for once. …She flaked out again.
Okay, at this point I’ve lost hope in her improving if she flakes after swearing this time, after being called out for it. Is this whole just gonna death threads and telling us why that person is justified in sending them?
Erica is taking care of Rachel as she thinks about this, and Rachel declares that she hates Josie, hence the title. Can’t say I blame you, kid. Then Jenkman calls and asks if Josie get his Valentine’s.
Dun dun dun! Wait, we’re only on page 69 (shut up) as this happens. He didn’t do it. They ignore that and we cut to school during a test. Dave is having trouble, and he’s apparently too proud to admit he has problems, so he tries to copy off of Josie.
She turns him in quietly, and honestly I don’t have a huge problem. He needs to be called out for stuff like this and letting him get away with it won’t teach him anything. He finds out that Josie told on him because the teacher tells him so, because that that’s always a great idea.
He lashes out at her and says he hates her. Wow, for once she doesn’t fully deserve it. We actually get why someone would be mad at her while having her actions be understandable enough for us to almost side of her.
Geez, was that so dang hard?
Our next chapter is “First Blood”. Awesome, is Rambo gonna show up? Later, Josie hangs out with Steve and talks with ihm about what is going on. It’s here when she finally tries to act like a human.
She goes on about she feels guilty about the Rachel thing, as she is always reminded about how Rachel will now never really grown up, and Erica makes it worse by “trying to make her guilty” about not spending time with Rachel.
‘Why can’t Erica give me some space?”
…This is nice and all but uh…care to explain WHY you refuse to take care of her? Why you felt the need to make Erica’s worse by just flaking on her all the time?
“I can’t stand to be with her, to see what’s happened to her. That’s why I stay away as much as I can?”
….Whoa, they actually explained. …But it’s a bit too little too late. Erica has gotten on your case so much, that you should explain. She called you out for outright ditching her, why not use that chance to explain?
But eh, you tried.
“She doesn’t understand, nobody does”
My god, even when you give us a half decent explanation, you feel the need to whine about how no one understands you. No one understands you because you don’t EXPLAIN yourself!
Oh, and she got another card.
Who is sending these cards?
Don’t bother to wonder.
On Valentine’s Day
You’ll be Six Feet Under.
Eh, that one was okay.
After their talk, she goes home to find out that the dog has been killed by a letter opener. Huh, those things are dangerous. Also, animal violence ftw!
Rachel pops up and is blissfully unaware of the target that just happened, and seems happy. Josie finds this odd, but honestly it seems normal given her condition. It just hasn’t sunken in yet.
Back with Melisa, Dave tells her he has been kicked off the wrestling team due to the cheating thing, and she’s quick to somewhat defend Josie. This bit adds nothing, so why did I even mention it.
After the police has done their duty, the girls wonder who killed Muggy the dog. They think Jenkman did it. Given how far murders tend to go in these books, I buy it but of course we know he didn’t do it.
They finally bring up his confession again, which you think they would have discuss when it happened. …But it turns out he said he sent two funny ones that were never mentioned before now, and he had nothing to do with the bad ones.
That would have been useful to mention back there. If you are going to have a false scare, just get it out of the way. They still suspect him since he’s creepy enough to be lying. Fair enough, I guess. Sometime later, Josie and Erica are at the store and conveniently bump into him, and he tries to claim he didn’t do anything but Josie doesn’t buy it, naturally. His anger makes Erica he might have did it.
…Or maybe he’s just pissed he was accused of doing something he didn’t do it. Just throwing that out there.
With that, we cut to Valentine’s Day which means our climax will be super drawn out. Since Josie is kind of supposed to die, they aren’t as happy as they hoped. We get another Valentine, but I’m tired of typing them out. It’s a common rhyme but with death mention. There.
Josie and Steven go out (leaving Erica to tend to Rachel, of course) and I thought just crossed my mind: What if maybe Rachel is doing this? She’s gone so off the deep end she blames Josie and wants her in fear?
It’s far off, even by Stine standards, but it would be an epic twist….which means it won’t happen. I said it was just a thought. We cut to 2 am that night as Josie is not home. Wait, so is it no longer Valentine’s Day?
Is this a Valentine’s book that glosses over Valentine’s Day? That’s like a Christmas Movie where the Christmas scenes is only like a minute long!
They speculate on where she is, when some cops show up.
“You’re daughter has been murdered”
….Someone actually carried one a death thereat for once? Whoa, sure Stine wrote this one? The moment is a bit ruined when Mom pops up to turn into Darth Vader and shout NOOOOOO as over dramatically as you can in a book.
Although her breakdown after that is honestly heartbreaking. Her body was found in an alley (because of course it was) and she was stabbed by ice skates. First Letter Openers now Skates? I think the manufacturers of those items are the real evil in Shadyside.
Oh, and on a minor note they say Valentine’s Day happens to be on Saturday that year, and since that falls on the 14…that means there was a Friday the 13th in this book we skipped! Wasted opportunity.
(And yes, it did happen be on Saturday in 1993, I did my homework there)
After some mourning, Melisa meets with Dave, who confesses to sending the Valentine’s. Yep, there’s part 1 of our twist. Hmmm…eh, sure I’ll buy out. He wasn’t a huge suspect, but I could see it. It’s…okay.
I say this is part 1, because he claims it was a joke and he did not kill her. It’s not true, it’s bullshit, he did not!
.,..Shut up, I had to.
‘But yeah, I buy it cuz I think this kind of reveal would be a bit weak if done at this point. Although the fact that he hated her enough to send death threats isn’t really a quirky thing like they are treating it.
By the way, they discuss at a local eatery for anyone to hear. Great idea. Dave plans to get the cards back so no one can study them and suspect him. Uh, the cards vanishing will be even MORE suspicious.
He plans to so it during the funeral, by the way. He’ll skip on someone’s funeral for this, what an amazing person. Then again after the death threats, I wasn’t on his side anyway. Als,o, fastest funeral ever!
“What could go wrong?”
It was not nice knowing you.
With that, we have Dave sneaking into their house to get it back. We are told School was closed for the funeral, because having it be on a weekend was out of the question I guess. He fails to find anything, and honestly I don’t know why he expected to find anything.
Who keeps death threats, and if she threw them out, they have to be at the dump by now. I know someone may keep them as evidence, but no one in a Stine book is that smart. That’ why no one calls the cops about the death threat to begin with.
He hears a car and runs, only for something confusing to happen. Okay, so he runs down the stairs and then the book says he sees pools of blood. The car turns out to be cops hwo storm in, and then theysay Dave is dripping a blood covered Letter Opner,, which looks bad because Erica is now dead right in front of him.
Okay, did he come in with that? I chcked it and they mention no such thing, but they never say he picked one up, so what the hell happened? I get that Erica must have been killed some other time and he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time, but the Letter Opener comes out of nowhere.
Either way, Erica is dead, how tragic. Actually, that is tragic since she was the most likable character, leaving only like 1 good one left. Well, maybe 2 but my Rachel theory holds some water.
Anyway, now what?
ONE YEAR LATER
….A time skip? How…unexpected. The book is even pointlessly split into Two Parts. This is an…interesting angle, let’s see where it goes. Melisa is kissing Luke to show us they are now together, for reasons I’m sure will make perfect sense.
Dave was sent to some military style school, which I’m also sure will be explained well. I mean, with the charges, he should be in jail. We find out Erica survived being stabbed enough to cause pools of blood, but she never pressed charges meaning he didn’t get throw in jail, and he was never connected to Josie’s murder.
I guess randomly being in a house for no reason, in front of a stabbed body with a Letter opener isn’t evidence enough. There are other dumb things but that stuck out to me. The cops were there because she heard strange noises.
So you call cops after strange noises, but not straight up death threats? Oh, and NOW we are told he picked up the Letter opener in shock. That would have been great to know when it happened!
They mostly let him go since he pleaded so much. Huh, the one time that kind of thing happens in these kind of stories and it’s a case where they should not have fallen for it. I know he is innocent, but it’s so incriminating it’s insane!
Plus, he should be at least be charged for BREAKING AND ENTERING! In spite of all this, everyone else still thinks he’s a murderer and his life goes quickly downhill. Anyone, back to the story.
“I’ve become pretty friendly with Erica?”
…It just hit me I haven’t done the Sex jokes I could have made bit in a while. …Eh, too late to start now. At the moment, Melisa gets a Valentine in the mail and it’s a threat. Yep, we’re not quite done.
So at this point we know it’s not Dave, and Jenkman is way too obvious. Pretty much everyone else is a suspect, mostly Luke. Yes, even Erica is a possibility at this point. Let’s see how disappointing it is.
Erica tells Rachel that Luke is with Melisa now, and she proclaims she hates Melissa. Hmm, she said she hated Josie at the same time as her threats. My theory still holds water! After being distracted by a phone call, she comes to back to that Rachel has run out the door.
“Did I scare you?”
Now they are making it too obvious, so it looks like she may be just connected to the bad guy. Meanwhile, Melisa gets another threat and Luke rightfully suggests showing it to someone and she actually did, but her parents wrote it off as a sick joke.
Someone actually was killed after a similar threat. Shouldn’t you at least be a bit worried, or try to hunt down the guy who thinks death threats are funny?
She gets a call from Dave’s Mom saying he ran away. Uh-Oh, the plot thickens again. This is getting a tad bloated. This causes them to suspect him of the new threats, and they compare them to a letter he sent, and it matches up.
Given what he went through, he’s either screwed up or this is great forgery. Man, I’m too into this mystery given how little I care. They tell Erica about this and she reveals she always suspects them but didn’t press charges since she has no evidence. He still did enough bad for you look okay is you so, you know.
‘He sent my sister those awful Valentine’s”
Wait, she knows? And she didn’t tell the cops this to further prove he could have done it? That night, Erica is home when she hears creepy noises, than finds Luke in the living room. He did not knock or anything.
Well, I think we have our killer. He was here to give Rachel a valentine and then he runs off. Hey, we never find out why he’s with Melissa. Even a bad explanation would work!
The next night, Dave pops up. Oh boy, moment of truth time! But he claims he’s not a bad guy, he’s here because he knows who the real killer might be and he wants to prove once and for all he’s not a killer.
He also claims he has not written those new cards. He takes them and says now we knows who this killer really is! Man, I’m actually in suspense because I know I’ll have a huge rant to go on when the reveal happens!
…But of course he doesn’t say who and runs off because we need to pad this out. The next day, Erica, Melisa and Rachel are hanging out and talking about the situation. Nothing important happens so let’s move to that night where Melisa hears noises in the yard and goes out to see that it’s Rachel.
She vanishes before this can be fully confirmed, then later on the cops show up as her parents called them after thinking the noises were a prowler. Yeah do that before you confirm anything.
It turns out to be a good guy as they inform us Luke is dead on their drive way. That would be shocking…if this chapter wasn’t called ‘Not Luke!”. Spoilers!
…Oh, it’s actually Dave and she just jumped to conclusions. Lame! …Oh, and at least Luke is still a decent suspect.
The cops go to Erica’s house to inform her of this. They ask for Rachel since she was spotted, and she admits she goes out all the time. Dude, I think I might me right on a theory for once!
We cut to a few days later as no leads have been found, and they don’t think a brain damaged little girl could kill anyone. Melisa opens her locker to find a painted heart with a message saying “You’re Dead!”
Hey, the cover actually happens for once!
Because we can’t ever deal with events as they happen, we cut to her on a date with Luke as she thinks about tjhis. Why does no ever report threats in this town?!
They are out skating and he takes out onto a spot where the ice starts to break. He did it as a joke and she calls him out for doing this right away she gets death threats. I’m with her, that’s just messed up.
Suddenly, Rachel pops up…and pulls a knife and tries to use it on Mellisa. YES, I was right! I knew it it Ra-
What a twist. And…i kind of mean it! I actually didn’t’ see it coming in, I just threw it out there because why not. Wait, this has logic problems so let’s see them explain it.
She confesses that she killed Josie because she felt she was responsible for Rachel’s accident and was pissed that she didn’t take responsibility. And kids, this is what happens when you don’t TALK ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS.
When Dave started sending the threats, she used the chance to kill Josie since she would not be blamed. She stabbed herself that one time to further frame him, and she would have gotten away with it if the cops were not stupid.
And yes, she did copy the handwriting to send more threats. She killed Dave for obvious reasons. She wants Melisa dead since she took Luke from Rachel. This would work better if we know WHY he went to Melisa!
But that’s the end of her exposition. So what do I think? Mixed bag. In concept it’s a good twist, it’s kind of deep and her motivation from her POV makes perfect sense. But it’s a tiny bit convulsed in some places and they had to make characters stupid just so most of this could happen.
We’ll call it even, I’ve seen worse twists in this series. Oh, and she has the wig because she wants Rachel to be here in spirit. You do know this kind of frames the girl you are protecting, right?
The ice breaks but Luke is able to save Melisa. Erica is not so lucky.
“I did it all for you Rachel!”
With that, they leave. Eh, figured there would be a weak climax. We cut to everyone hanging around, being happy everything is over, and seeming to be over Erica being a killer pretty easy. On the bright side Rachel is getting better.
Mellisa and Luke leave after visiting her and crack some jokes.
“Don’t mention Valentine’s Day. What a horrible holiday”
“Next year let’s forget about Valentine’s Day and send each other Groundhog;s Day cards”
Okay but be ready to send them over and over.
“What a romantic Idea”
The end! That’s right, it just stops there. It’s been a while since I had a book do a rushed ending that hurts the story, but here we go. This book is 218 pages, there is no excuse.
But whatever, at least this review turned out well given I was reading it for the first time.
This one was….a mixed bag. I will say it’s not bad, and better than the other Fear Street books we’ve covered. But it is disappointing. The concept is great as it’s really deep for an RL Stine book, with some girls dealing with their sister getting brain damage.
They are torn a part over this and because one of them neglects her, the other sister is driven to murder. And the neglectful sister has somewhat of a deep reason to an extent in all of this. Again, pretty deep and all the ingredient are there for a great story.
But it falls short for a few reasons. One is that it’s kind of padded with scenes of nothing, and way too many characters to juggle. It also can’t decide on a main character until the end, and the ending is a bit rushed.
But the biggest problem besides the usual dumb actions, is that no one ever talks to each other about their feelings! This whole conflict could have been avoided if Josie explained why she is like this, so that no one would want to kill her!
And it’s not acknowledgment as an ironic thing, they flat out ignore this! It makes Josie hard to like and Erica’s whole deal just weak. It really sinks the whole thing. They almost made Josie likable but stopped before they can go any deeper.
They discuss her deal ONCE and don’t go any deeper, and NO ONE finds out! It’s not treated as ironic, it feels like plain old bad writing!
It’s mostly just kind of meh. It has some great deep concepts and a reasonable motivation for the villains, but falls short due to weak pacing and a bad and literal case of Poor Commutation Kills.
Pretty disappointing, but not the worst. When it comes to RL Stine Valentine’s Day works, I’ll stick with Terrible Love.
I likely won’t do this again but it was fun. You will see more FS someday as I have a few books around here to discuss, even some good ones! But for now, we’re going back to HorrorLand soon.
Happy Valentine’s Day!