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.Don'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
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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?
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