Thursday, March 19, 2015

Review: Don’t Stay Up Late by R.L. Stine

Posted by

I received this book for free from St. Martin's Griffin in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Don’t Stay Up Late by R.L. StineDon't Stay Up Late by R.L. Stine
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 7, 2015
Genres: Horror, Supernatural, YA
Source: St. Martin's Griffin
Buy on Amazon

R.L. Stine's hugely successful young adult horror series Fear Street is back after almost 2 decades. Fear Street is a worldwide phenomenon and helped to kick off the young adult craze which is still going strong today. In the second new book in this series, Don't Stay Up Late, Stine explores the unbridled terror of a damaged young lady sent on a doomed babysitting job.

Ever since a car accident killed her father and put Lisa and her mother into the hospital, Lisa can't think straight. She's plagued by nightmares and hallucinations that force her to relive the accident over and over again in vivid detail. When Lisa finds out that a neighbor is looking for a babysitter for her young son, she takes the job immediately, eager to keep busy and shake these disturbing images from her head.
But what promised to be an easy gig turns terrifying when Lisa begins to question exactly who — or what — she is babysitting.

I think I’m not alone when I say R.L. Stine was a huge part of my childhood. Back when I was still in grade school, I found it hard to be committed to reading… the books I read just didn’t stick with me and it was difficult to keep being engaged after 10 pages, but R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books changed that. I loved his books. I loved how it helped nourish the reader in me and how it nurtured my love for reading. I was so fascinated with the notion that mere words could scare the daylights out of me.

That’s why I wanted to read Don’t Stay Up Late, his newest work. I wanted to feel that nostalgia again, and see what the author has to offer many, many years since the last time I read him. I wanted to see how he has grown as an author through the years.

Unfortunately, upon finishing this book, I was left feeling… quite empty. I feel like I probably would have appreciated this better if I were still a wee one, because his recent work still has the same clunky writing of years past, and that really bummed me out. As an adult and as someone whose tastes and preferences have matured over the years, this kind of writing just doesn’t work with me anymore Now, don’t get me wrong, like I said objectively, this may work on younger people especially those who are dyslexic, but subjectively, it was disappointing.

For one, it was more telling than showing, a rinse repeat of “subject-verb” a la “I asked, I said, I went, he ran” page after page after page, with scores of dialogue in between, leaving absolutely no room for us to know the MC and her friends and family at all, and also making the story absolutely fast-paced. Like for example, the MC loses an important person to her (due to her immaturity, no less), and we don’t even feel her remorse or sadness at all even if she insists that she’s feeling traumatized by it. The lack of depth and intimacy here made it a jarring and disconnecting experience. And did I mention the clunky, stilted, jarring writing style? Yeah… :/ The premise definitely has potential to be scary, but the writing is quite off the mark and only made it silly. Doesn’t help either that the MC was exhausting to read with her immaturity… to which she does not grow from. At all.

I know it’s quite unfair for me to expect so much, but I don’t know, I loved the author when I was a kid, and I guess I had thought that through the years, his style would evolve somehow, but it hasn’t. This isn’t a bad thing by any means, mind you… it only means to say that this was directed to a different audience, and it’s definitely not the YA crowd. I’d classify this as lower MG.

All in all, I was not the target audience, and I should have expected this. But hey, you can’t blame me for having hoped otherwise, right?


2 Hot Espressos

The following two tabs change content below.
Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

Latest posts by Giselle (see all)

16 Responses to “Review: Don’t Stay Up Late by R.L. Stine”

    • Lauren Marion

      OMG!! I almost fell off my chair. I was the BIGGEST Fear Street fan on the planet when I was a tween. I cannot believe this wasn’t on my radar sooner. I’m sorry to hear that his work doesn’t translate well to reading as an adult. I remember his books being very plot-oriented, and light on the characterization. Perhaps as an adult reader, we need more to really enjoy a book? Just a thought 🙂

  1. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    Yeah I thought this would be exactly the same as his older books and while I appreciated them in my younger years, I don’t think I would know. Plus, my tastes have also changed a lot. Still though, I’m sad this wasn’t to your expectations. :/
    Great review, Faye!

  2. Madiha @ Symphony of Words

    Oh, wow. I had no idea R.L. Stine wrote YA. I did love his work – a lot, during my childhood. In fact, I used to watch all the Goosebumps shows no matter how late. But aw, its sad that you didn’t get enough from the book. EMPTY. No, def not a good feeling. Maybe Stine is best at MG, and he should stick to that. 🙁

  3. A.P.Bullard

    While it’s great to see R. L. Stine is back, it’s a shame that his writing style hasn’t progressed any. At the same time, the writing probably still fits in well with the younger readers. I used to read all the Goosebumps books, though they were extremely simplistic and below my reading level. Still, they were fun.

    It’s disappointing that the excitement doesn’t transition with the reader’s age, as some YA/children’s books do.

    Great review!

  4. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    Wonderful review Faye, I can definitely relate to you with Goosebumps being a big part of your childhood. It’s actually quite surprising this one actually retains the same writing, after so many years (Although I have no idea if he still writes them). Sounds like your expectations weren’t met with this one.

  5. Kristin

    That sucks that you didn’t enjoy it. I actually have a bunch of RL books from my childhood. My favorite one was the one with the sharks in the reef.

  6. Savannah

    YES! I grew up reading R.L. Stein and still pick up his books every once and a while. Thanks for being honest and sharing your thoughts.

  7. Molly

    I felt the same nostalgia you felt when I saw the title of this post, but some things are best left in the past. R. L. Stine was a huge part of my childhood,too, as was The Baby-Sitters Club books. The BSC series was re-released in the last couple years and I started buying them up. I re-read a couple and remembered almost every word, but it was a struggle to get through. Disappointing but not surprising.

  8. Sarah @ One Curvy Blogger

    Oh I am so disappointed this didn’t work for you.The Goosebumps books and the Fear Street books were huge hits with me in elementary school. I used to crawl into my brothers’ beds when I was reading these because they more often than not gave me nightmares. When I heard he had started back up with the fear street novels I was pumped, but the reviews are so mixed. :/ I think some authors work better the younger the reader is.

  9. Cynthia

    I actually just reviewed this for my blog and I could not agree more! I also hated that the MC was always screaming. I mean, she went off about everything . . . except the death of her dad of course. That one got all of one scream and then she moved on with her life. Ugh