Pre-teen terror, revisited – “Twisted” by R.L. Stine

Junior high horror, thy name is R.L. Stine.

(Well, thy name is probably 75% R.L. Stine and 25% Christopher Pike, but that’s another whole blog post.)

I went through a phase from about 5th to 7th grade where horror was the name of the game.  Into this world, R.L. Stine was introduced.  His short, snappy, horror/thriller books were a huge part of my development as a reader.

They also probably had something to do with my still-lingering (on occasion) fear of the dark.

If you look up R.L. Stine’s works on wikipedia, there are at least 150 books attributed to him.  Though I haven’t read them all, I admit to many late-nights up reading long after I should have been in bed.  His “Fear Street” series are the books I stayed up late reading with a flashlight, and then promptly was afraid to be in the dark afterward.  (He’s also the author of the hyper-popular “Goosebumps” novels, but those were a little after my time.)

This past weekend while visiting my hometown, I wound up in a used bookstore with an extensive collection of books by Mr. Stine, and so – it being October, the month of horror – I decided to give him some deserved props.

My selection, of all the piles, was “Twisted.”

Wow. “Twisted” is a really weird book.

It’s the story of Abby, who is pretty and popular, and wants to join the Tri Gamma sorority.  As a pledge, she is informed that in addition to good grades and community involvement, the pledge class of Tri Gamma has to … dundundun!…commit a crime to prove their loyalty to each other, as well as their desire to pledge! What’s a girl to do?!

So, you think it’s going to be a book about these girls committing some horrible crime.

Well, the TriGams load the girls on a bus, take them to an old house in an abandoned town, and have them rob a jewelry store run by a nice old lady.  Mid-robbery, the old lady clutches her heart and drops dead, which sends all the girls back to the old house in a panic – and sheer terror breaks out.

But that isn’t actually the real plot, which you don’t realize until much later.

There’s also a broken relationship, jealousy, childhood friendships crumbling, and oh yeah.. a case of multiple-personality disorder! (Score!)

Admittedly, the whole thing is a jumbled mess.  The plot goes a million directions, and probably not always on purpose, and contains loads of cheesy dialogue.  However, TV Channel Lifetime has made serious bank with plots less interesting and dialogue equally stunted, so who am I to judge?

Scary? No, which made me think back on the books that shattered my sleep patterns at the fragile age of junior high.  Were they really as scary as I thought they were?  I remember one of R.L. Stine’s “Fear Street” books about two girls getting harassing phone calls during a sleepover that nearly made me vow to never again go to anyone’s house other than mine.  If I could remember the name of it, I’d get a copy and re-visit that one as well.

I guess as we get older, horror changes.

What was scary in childhood might not always be scary now.

What books do you remember chilling you to the bone in your younger days?


About JamieP

Books. Adventures. Chicago. Married. Mommy. Cat.

Posted on October 4, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Christopher Pike, oh my, Christopher Pike.

    I started with Teen Witch while my sister explored RL Stine, which after CP was a lot less scary!

    Honestly, there’s still a part of me haunted by those stories (remember Remember Me and the one where all the teens started eating raw meat?!) and though it eventually led me to Stephen King (which I had to abandon after the first story in Four Past Midnight, the Langoliers), it definitely shaped me as a teen reader of horror.

    I wonder, am I brave enough to crack those open now, in honor of this post?? (Yep, I still have them all!)

  2. I read one (ONE) Christopher Pike book (Chain Letter, FYI) when I was about 11 and got so freaked out that I couldn’t sleep for days. Since that point I haven’t been able to read anything intentionally scary. 🙂 I kind of want to re-read it now and see if it was really as frightening as I thought it was…

  3. I also remember an R.L. Stine book about a rock band — and the lead singer was a werewolf or something? Yeah, these books horrified me in my younger years.

    Amanda and Megan, totally re-read the books and see what you think now. I bet you’ll be surprised. 😉 God knows I was!

  4. rhinestoneworld

    You know what the absolute best Fear Streets are? The Fear Street saga. True story: I read the Fear Street saga in the early 90’s and adored it. So then I got it from the library last year. My little sister Ellen came in for the weekend and her train got in earlier than planned so she (literally) hid under my reception desk and just read the Fear Street Saga.

    And that is my story.

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