Monday, January 28, 2019

Sweet 16 - R. L. Stine's Cheerleader Series Recap

As a part of my little January Sweet 16 TBR, I read my way through the entirety of R. L. Stine’s Fear Street Cheerleader series (one per day). It came as my way of nodding and recognizing my roots for mystery/whodunit fiction, and how now was the perfect time to revisit one of my favorite young adult series from my time. And, despite twenty-years worth of distance, I found myself still in love with the stories. Mostly. Think about it, though. High school cheerleaders combating a possessing and murderous evil spirit, that was essentially exacerbating the nature of teenage jealousy. An evil spirit who gets inside one girl per book (except for books four and five) to commit its deadly deeds–with "reasonable" nudgings of crushing the competition with newfound power. And each book the questions are: Who's the possessed girl? How do you destroy an evil spirit which keeps coming back?

Still good stuff indeed, man. Really, really good stuff. The series predates my "learning" of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer (the TV show–that is). But the Cheerleaders series definitely has that same metaphoric bend in relating surviving high school with... well... the monster within. I just don't think Stine give it the same thought, though.

However (as in a strong "however"), within the twenty-year's worth of distance, I also found the series flat and robbed of potential book after book. I juggled between being a critic in consideration to today's standards in teen horror, as well as where my mind went as a young adult reading them (as in did I relate to the themes at some point?). The conclusion I arrived at was the books never really reached their potential as an overall arc. Yet, rightfully given their early to late 90’s position as then YA novels.

Equally, R. L. Stine’s writing style goes from thin to thinning. Also his cheap writing tricks (mostly in chapter cliffhangers) never quit landed with me. I found myself reading and at times wishing they received a rebooted Joss Whedon touch. A touch that–for the most part–better connected the books without all the goofy plot holes and unanswered questions. Anyway, the series ran from '92 to '98. So there is that...

Even so, they were campy fun then and more so now. I suppose as an adult you really see how much potential fell wasted in the matter. As well as how desperate of a reboot seems needed to really get the most out of this peach. Yet, Stine came close to reaching his "cheerleader" potential with 2017's release of Give Me a K-I-L-L. While it has nothing to do with the “evil spirit” of the 90’s saga, it was much more of an example of how the series would better display its potential in today’s time.

But that's what is really is all about at the end of the day. Time. Time. And time.

The "whodunit" factor SOLD this sucker!  Lots and lots of suspects and investigative threads.  Stine tried with this one.  This is the best example how where my roots in mystery fiction came.

The beginning of the creepiness.  One of the best deaths in the series.  Also, killing off the main character pushed the stakes!

HATED IT!  Corky's character was assassinated.  And Stine killed Kimmy.  So I was like "screw it" at this point!  He went down the wrongggg road.  No wonder my Sunday school teacher asked me how could I read this stuff? 

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