The New Girl (Fear Street, No.1)

Fear Street book cover

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Book Review

Cory Booker spots a new girl at Shadyside High one day, and she’s the most appealing girl he’s ever laid eyes on. She’s blond, as pale as a ghost and eerily beautiful. And when Cory is able to finally track down and talk to her, Anna actually seems pleased to meet him. But when Cory gets up the nerve to call her, both her mother and her brother say the same thing: Anna is dead!

Plot Summary

Cory Booker could easily be classified as Shadyside High’s best athlete. He’s certainly the most skilled gymnast. But apart from that, Cory’s a pretty average 16-year-old. He’s more than willing to do goofy things and take on dumb dares. In fact, he is in the middle of the lunchroom performing one of those dumb dares—namely, standing on his head while balancing a tray full of food—when he first sees Anna.

Anna is a transfer student who floats into the cafeteria and immediately strikes Cory as the most incredible looking girl he’s ever seen. She’s blond and pale, almost ghost-like as she floats across the room in her light blue dress. And even though he’s currently upside down, Cory is instantly smitten. So much so, in fact, that he quickly loses his balance, drops his food and lands face-first in his plate of spaghetti.

After facing the laughs and howls of the students and mopping up most of the tomatoey goop all over him, Cory quickly asks his friends about that vision of a girl. But none of them saw her, or even remember anybody in the hallways that meets her description—something Cory’s girl-crazy friends would surely have taken note of.

Cory, however, had definitely seen her. And he can’t get her off his mind. It isn’t until much later that he speaks with Lisa, his neighbor and longtime best friend, that he’s even able to verify that this pale beauty goes to Shadyside. Lisa had been in a Physics class with her. In fact, it was through Lisa that Cory finally finds out that the girl he saw is named Anna—though, in truth, Lisa didn’t seem all that happy that Cory was so interested her. Not that Cory noticed.

All that afternoon, all that evening, and a good part of that night, all Cory can think about, obsess about, is this strangely appealing and completely mysterious girl named Anna. Finally he can’t take it anymore: He calls directory assistance to find Anna’s phone number.

Cory soon learns that Anna Corwin and her family are new residents on Fear Street. And even the mention of that place instantly brings back creepy memories for Cory. But if Anna lives there, he might actually start seeing that usually fog-shrouded road, its spooky cemetery, and that burnt-out old mansion, in a new light. Her presence alone makes things better.

Cory screws up his courage and decides to call the girl of his dreams. But through repeated calls, the people who answer refuse to give the phone to Anna. They refuse to admit she even lives there. Could Cory have been given the wrong number. Finally, he reaches someone who sounds angry and answers Cory’s request bluntly.

“Anna is dead!” that person says, and slams down the phone.

Christian Beliefs

None.

Other Belief Systems

Because of Anna’s sudden disappearances and the fact that so few people ever remember even seeing her, Cory can’t help wondering if Anna may actually be a ghost. He has a dream that suggests as much. There’s even a newspaper report that seems to support that fact. But Cory eventually is able to prove otherwise.

Authority Roles

Cory and Lisa’s parents are friends who spend time together and even have a board game night together. And both sets of parents appear to be very supportive of their kids. In fact, Cory’s mom in particular goes out her way to support him when his obsessions get in the way of school and sports. She reasons with and reaches out to her son, and she assures him that she’s always available to talk.

Anna’s brother, and another man who lives on Fear Street, however, both come off as somewhat creepy and disturbed. With time, though, Cory comes to learn that there is a reason for their attitudes and choices.

Profanity & Violence

There isn’t any foul language, or drug and alcohol references, in the story mix.

Cory does get into a heated struggle with several people. He fights with one man as they slam and thump each other around in a living room. He then knocks the man unconscious by smashing a ceramic vase over his head. In another scene someone lunges at Cory wielding a metal letter opener as a dagger. Cory barely avoids being stabbed in the chest and gets pushed out a second-floor window thanks to his athletic ability. He’s then able to disarm his attacker.

In another setting, Cory uses his gymnastic ability to escape a locked room via a high, thin ledge. Elsewhere, a teen girl is shoved and falls down a staircase, badly spraining her ankle. And someone declares that she not only intends to stab and kill an unconscious man, but that she will ultimately kill several people. We hear of two deaths, one of which is a seemingly intentional murder.

Sexual Content

Cory and Anna kiss several times. One of those is prolonged and so strangely impassioned and forceful that it causes Cory’s lip to bleed. Cory also gently kisses Lisa once. There are a few comments made about people making out.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for other books at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Would you call this book more of a horror story or a mystery? Did you find the twist at the end satisfying? What do you think about ghost stories or other typical horror stories in general? The Bible definitely says there are supernatural things at work in our world. But what do you think the difference between those things and ghost stories like this one (if any)?

Why do you think Cory was so obsessed with Anna? Have you ever felt captivated with someone? Cory doesn’t deal with his feelings all that well. How have you dealt with yours? How does the Bible say we should deal with our feelings of attraction for someone? What’s the difference between the way Cory felt about Anna and the way he feels about Lisa?

Additional Comments

This book, originally published in 1989, can also be found in a newly released collection called Fear Street The Beginning, which compiles the first five books in the Fear Street series. We wanted to look back at this older book series by author R. L. Stine to compare and contrast it with the three R-rated Netflix Fear Street movies that have just released. Parents should note that the original books often land in the realm of psychological horror designed for teens, whereas the movies are injected with very gory, profane and sexual content. You can find our review for the first two films here and here.

You can request a review of a title you can’t find at [email protected].

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not necessarily their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Review by Bob Hoose

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