I received an ARC of Don't Stay Up Late by R.L. Stine through the Goodreads First Reads Program.
Shortly after moving to Shadyside, Lisa and her family were in a terrible car accident. Her father died and her mother got a broken arm. Lisa was in the hospital from weeks with a bad concussion. Now, she hallucinates and suffers nightmares. Sometimes she even has a hard time telling what's real. As she seems to improve, her psychiatrist recommends she take on a job. When Lisa says she used to babysit, her doctor reveals she knows someone who's looking for a babysitter. It turns out Lisa's new babysitting gig is on Fear Street. Being relatively new in town, she doesn't know about Fear Street and doesn't really believe it either. Harry and his mother, Brenda, both seem like good people, and Lisa could really use the money since her mom is out of work with a broken arm. Lisa just has to make sure Harry does his homework and doesn't stay up late. That part's very important - he CANNOT stay up late under any circumstances. Oh, and Brenda will be paying her $300 for this three days per week job. But, on her first night she sees what can only be described as a "demon" and if that wasn't bad enough her friends are getting killed. She's certain her nightmares are coming to life, but will anyone actually believe her?
I would like to begin by saying that I loved Fear Street and Goosebumps growing up. You can imagine my excitement when I won one of the copies given away here on Goodreads. Unfortunately, I found myself really disappointed with the newest in the relaunched series (I haven't read the previous installment), which I know is set in the present because of the Xbox, iPad, and iPhone featured in the story. Don't Stay Up Late actually makes me wonder how well the old series would hold up if I reread them now.
First, I did not like Lisa, not at all. She is very unlikable, unsympathetic, and immature. She swears she was traumatized by her father's death (it was an accident, but you have to admit that she's not guiltless in it), we never really see any evidence of that. She seems fond of talking with exclamation points and shrieks!
In this book, there's a more telling in comparison to showing - page after page of it. I suppose that does tend to speed things up, but the friends become blips on the radar. Their supposed to be big part of Lisa's life, but we don't really get that on the page. As Lisa realizes she doesn't really know Nate and Saralynn, we do see that first hand, but I'm not sure if was done with that intention. Another detractor is that dialog doesn't feel authentic or contemporary.
The novel takes awhile to get going and there's no mention of Fear Street until nearly sixty pages in. The premise is interesting, but it's not really scary (and not campy, which I missed). I pegged what was going on right from the beginning as Harry and his mother are introduced. Seriously, there are a lot of red flags, and Lisa's incredibly thick to be so oblivious to all them. I mean, she's Miss Thick Thick Thickity Thick-face from Thick-town, Thickania - and so's her dad. (If you got that reference, 10 points for Gryffindor.)
Overall, the whole thing was a letdown. If I weren't so nostalgic for the series, I probably would have given up on it. I want to reread some original Fear Street books, but then again I don't want to ruin my memory of them just in case they don't stand the test of time.
I read this ARC from March 26 - 28, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.