A Trip Down Fear Street: What I Learned about Dating from Fear Street
After a brief hiatus, A Trip Down Fear Street is back! This time with handy-dandy lists. For the month of love, I decided to read, appropriately enough, love themed books from the series: First Date (no. 16, 1992), Double Date (no. 23, 1994), and Killer’s Kiss (no. 42, 1997). Because Fear Street was often targeted at a young, female audience, romance was often a part of most of the plots in some way. Notably, these were usually the books I remember the least. Regardless, there were many lessons to be had for a young, impressionable tween girl. Here are some of my take-aways:
1. Watch out for the quiet ones.
Does he not try to dominate your interactions? Does he make sure that consent is important? Then, he’s probably a murderous sociopath (see Lights Out, The Sleepwalker, First Date, The Wrong Number, The Wrong Number 2). This was Stine’s way of throwing the reader off the trail, but holy fucked up gender politics, Batgirl. About the only book that mildly engages this problematic is The Sleepwalker, but it ends up doing the whole “girls only like creeps” thing. But hey, if he or she is an outright, over-the-top ass, they will get their just dues (Double Date, Silent Night 1, 2, and 3).
2. Stalking just means he really, really likes you.
Like rule number one taught us, it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for. But if he stalks you, doesn’t take no for an answer, and throws leeches on you (see Lights Out) then he’s the good guy. (See also: The Sleepwalker, First Date, The Wrong Number, The Wrong Number 2, The Best Friend). However, if the girl does it that means she cray (see The New Girl, Killer’s Kiss).
3. No teenage girl is safe, not even the chubby, non-popular ones.
In an arguably more egalitarian move, every teenage girl is susceptible to the horrors of Fear Street, whether she’s the rich bitch (see Silent Night 1, 2, and 3), the pretty blonde (see Lights Out), the average Jane (see The Secret Bedroom), or the chubby girl who can hold her breath for a really long time (First Date).
4. If your crush likes somebody else, don’t worry, their crush probably wants to kill them.
Don’t worry if your love interest is crushing on somebody else, because she will probably try to kill him and then you can make your move (see The New Girl). Or you may even be able to get her committed then make your move (see The Best Friend, Killer’s Kiss). With all the deaths in Shadyside, there’s always room to move in on the next single guy.
5. Suki Thomas steals everyone’s boyfriend.
Anytime you catch your guy with Suki Thomas, don’t believe the “we’re just friends.” Suki is never just friends, but she’s also way cooler than you can ever hope to be (see The Sleepwalker, First Date).
6. Don’t date someone who lives on Fear Street, duh.
Does this need further explaining (see every single Fear Street book). At least one of the potential victims has to live on Fear Street. Even in seaside town Shady Hollow, if you or someone you like lives on Fear Street, you’re screwed (see Goodnight Kiss).
7. Crazy LGBTQ couples, not an option (every single Fear Street book).
This is, unfortunately, not all that surprising. Sometimes you just have to write your own. Or maybe Stine will give us some of that in the reboot.
Interestingly, most of the Fear Street books that have romance and psych-boys as a major plot point are the least interesting. Stine does better when the romance is only a subplot and the female characters are either battling one another or joining forces against evil. Notably, those are filled with a lot more creative ways of murdering teenagers, over-the-top supernatural elements, and poor fashion choices which is really all I want out of my Fear Street books.
What about y’all? What did Fear Street teach you about high school dating and romance?