Series: Fear Street
Author: R.L Stine
Release Date: 3/1/1994
Book Number: 22
Ah yes, the Fear Street series. While I don't remember reading this particular book series when I was a little girl (I was more of a Goosebumps fan anyway) I did decide to check out a few books from this series and from what I've read, it's not that bad of a series. Basically, its a horror series like Goosebumps but it doesn't have as many monsters in it and it's geared towards an older audience (Mostly teens and maybe some adults). I did enjoy a few titles from this series. These include The Betrayal, Haunted, and The Burning. However like pretty much every book series, its going to have a dud. Unfortunately, Bad Dreams is one of those duds. Why do I consider this book to be a dud? Well let's take a look at the plot first. Our protagonist of this story is 17 year old Maggie Travers who lives with her 16 year old sister Andrea, her mother, and her dog Gus. Due to the fact that Maggie's father has passed away, they can no longer live in their upscale home in North Hills, a.k.a the rich part of Shadyside. Because of this, they are moving to a new home on Fear Street. When the family moves into their new home, Maggie discovers a canopy bed in her bedroom that, little does she know, induces horrible nightmares. Maggie decides to sleep in it and she ends up having a nightmare about a murder. To make things worse, this nightmare happens every time Maggie sleeps in the bed.
Alright, I'm just going to get into why I consider this book a dud. I hate the interactions between Maggie and Andrea! Look, I don't mind a little bit of sibling rivalry every once in awhile. But it seems that 95% of their dialogue consists of nothing but bothersome bickering. At first, it may not seem so bad but after awhile, its starts to REALLY get on my nerves. Basically, most of their dialogue can be summed up like this: " Ugh Maggie! You're such a face cuz you think you're SO much better than me!" "Well Andrea... You're a poopyhead AND a meanie pants you plerd! And also... No you!" Oh and Guess what? There's even a line in the book that points out this problem: "Right after she had dumped the cereal, Maggie felt ashamed. Her dad's face turned bright red. "I am so fed up with this bickering!" Yeah did i also forget to mention that when the Travers move to their new home, Maggie and Andrea sign up for the Swim team at their new school? Because this is going to be important for this point and especially my next point. So anyway, the swim team then holds a qualifying race for a prestigious swim meet. Maggie, Andrea, and a few other teammates compete in the race and Maggie wins the race, so therefore she can compete in the meet. Oh and guess how Andrea handles the fact that she lost? That's right! She turns into a ninja turtle and beats the hell out of an evil cheese grater while shouting out surfer lingo. I wish! Instead, we get this: "Andrea stabbed the air with her forefinger to stress her point. "I don't need tricks to beat you. Because I can swim faster and better than you. How do you like that?" Yeah there's a few times in the book where Andrea says something like this.
Speaking of Andrea, that's another thing I hate about this book! Basically she's one of those characters that makes you want to reach through the pages and give her a nice big SMACK! But here's the interesting thing. There is a way to do jerky characters right. You see you can have these types of characters do things such as scamming kids out of their money or even trying to hunt and harm an innocent creature. However, by doing something to that extent, they must either fail to achieve their goal throughout the book or if they do succeed in their endeavor, they must get their comeuppance one way or another. So does Andrea meet the criteria for "The Likable Jerk?" Well, from what I've read, she didn't fail to verbally abuse her sister because Maggie tries to get Andrea to listen to what she has to say and Andrea of course refuses to hear what she has to say by constantly cutting her off and putting words in her mouth as shown by this part here: " "No, but you could ease up a little. Not push yourself quite so hard," Andrea suggested. Maggie laughed scornfully. "Right. Take it easy. So you can swim the two hundred IM instead of me, right?" Instantly, Andrea's eyes became dark with anger. Uh-oh, Maggie thought. What did I say? "You really are disgusting!" Andrea cried, shaking her head bitterly. "No matter what I do, you always think the worst of me, don't you?" "Andrea, what are you talking about? I--" "You think I said that because I want to beat you in swimming? You think this was all some kind of trick?" "No, Andrea, I was just jok--" "Believe me, Maggie, swimming isn't all I think about. Get a life!" "I didn't say you did, I just--" So if she's succeeding in her verbal abuse endeavor, she'll get her comeuppance right? Well unfortunately, she does not. Yeah you heard me right! Throughout the course of this book, Andrea constantly abuses her sister verbally and yet, in the end, she comes out unscathed while Maggie is probably traumatized severely by not only the constant nightmares she had, but by the constant verbal abuse as well... Yeah I know I should dislike some of the other characters in this, like Maggie's boyfriend Justin for example who's basically there to be the token dude and nothing much else, but I'm sorry I really can't. You see compared to Andrea, he is an enjoyable character. You know, at least in Cyberbu//y, while Lindsay did verbally abuse Taylor, she at least got her comeuppance at the end of the film despite how unfittingly happy the ending was. Yeah... I just defended Cyberbu//y... Ugh!
If you thought constant bickering and an extremely unlikable character was enough for me to consider this book to be a dud, think again. Yeah believe it or not, there is actually another reason why this book is a dud. This reason is none other than the fact that there's WAY too much padding in this book. Look, if a dream is going to hop around every once in awhile, that's fine. However, in this book, whenever we are not in Maggie's dream, it feels like an eternity before we finally go back into the dream. But then, when we do enter back into the dream 9 times/10, they go by very quickly. Because of this, I feel like Stine was more interested in Maggie's home and school life rather than the dream itself. Personally, I don't get why he chose to do that. I mean in not like anything is really happening in Maggie's personal life that would warrant much interest or an in depth look at it for that matter. For god's sakes, there is LITERALLY a chapter in this book in which Maggie goes on a field trip to the local caverns, sits in a cavern, talks to Justin and then leaves the cavern to go on the bus. Now while Maggie does bring up the dream in the parts where we focus on Maggie's personal life, even then its not much of an excuse to excessively pad out these parts of the chapters. This also escalates the other problems I mentioned earlier because the longer I have to put up with those issues, the worse the book is going to get. Its basically like eating really spicy food. The more you eat, the more your mouth is going to feel like its on fire and the more your mouth is going to hurt.
So those were my thoughts on Fear Street's "Bad Dreams". Now in all fairness, is this the worst book I've read thus far? Well while it did come close, I wouldn't consider it to be the WORST book I've EVER read. However, if we're strictly going by R.L Stine books, then yes I would consider this to be the worst R.L Stine book I've read thus far. However, I felt like this book could've been better if Stine were to focus on the dream a lot more or if Stine is going to focus more on Maggie's personal life, he needs to make it interesting for the reader. Or here's another thing that Mr.Stine can do: What if this book took place ENTIRELY in someone's dream rather than breaking the dream up into segments? I don't know about you guys, but to me that seems like an interesting idea for a horror novel.