Book Review : Fear Street – Switched. Common Cliché Involving Mental Illness Trapped Within The Belief of Shadyside’s Mystical Artifact

Sumber Gambar : http://rlstine.com

If you watch netflix, you might be wondering “it’s a trend, that’s the reason why you read Fear Street because of that trilogy, right?” yes you are damn right! I personally have been a huge fan of R.L Stine’s works since I was a kid, I still had that torn Goosebumps book from my sister with the old cover from the 90s. So when I saw one of R.L Stine’s works is being adapted into a movie, I got super excited and nowsince I haven’t read all of the Fear Street trilogies, so this is my chance, especially when that trilogy is a success! It makes me wonder more about the stories surrounding Shadyside especially when the original fear street series have more than 50 books! I have a lot of books to read, I guess.

 

Title : Fear Street : Switched

Writer : R.L Stine

Year : 1995

Collation : 164 pages

 

I’ve written a short review about this book on openlibrary but now I’m going to cover all of it. As you may have already known, R.L. Stine is known for his light horror fictions, but as for Fear Street, it’s an exception. It has astonishing graphic and sexual depiction, though the sexual one is much lesser, the series covers up teenage life filled with either drama or another twisted genre spiced up with the terror atmosphere of cursed Shadyside or precisely is the Fear Street itself.

I think what makes this book seems so special is that it is taken from a fun cliché of switching bodies, which is my favorite kind of stuff to watch in movies. It creates a reality of nightmare and how to solve it, and why would you want to switch within just a decision made of one day? Lots of questions and speculations going on, at first, I have also been wondering ‘why this?’; ‘why that?’ but by the end of the book, I had it figured out myself. I don’t want to spoil it but I’d like to deliver what I think makes this book special, besides the common but fun cliché or I’d rather just say theme?

In many genre of entertainment, I think one of them is the mystical illusion it used within the mystic land of Shadyside, most movies I’ve watched (which were released years after this book of course) had the body switching came from a witch or a lesson from God, but the one that the Fear Street is using is from an artifact among the forest, a big wall where they switch with certain easy procedure. Not going to lie, I always get excited whenever I lay my hand on book just by its synopsis. I love cliché and dramas, moreover how the end of the synopsis opens up a new whole big question that sums up the purpose of the story (duh, obviously) let’s start with the synopsis :

Nicole always thought her friend Lucy’s life was so much better than hers. So when Lucy asked if she wanted to switch bodies, Nicole thought it sounded like a fun idea. Little did she know the switch would actually work… Or that Lucy’s life might not be so sweet after all…

Since I’m a part of the digital generation who loves to seek everything from an internet, especially when it’s free. I read it directly from Wikipedia this list of street book series, it makes me feel more tempted to read the book from “little did she know the switch would actually work… or that lucy’s life might not be so sweet after all” Which brings me some questions of ‘what?’ What’s that un-sweet part of her life that makes Nicole regrets everything? What is it? Well, this book doesn’t do much hesitation and goes straight up to the point.

So basically, this one paragraph is a whole spoiler, this started with Nicole who complains a lot about her strict life. Her parents are strict then on the very first day this book tells, her boyfriend broke up with her only through a weird reason “just can’t do this”, obviously what is it then? Well, I figured it out at the end eventually, now Nicole sees her best friend Lucy, a perfect cute blondie with smaller body frame than Nicole. Although, she doesn’t have a good life, but Nicole thinks hers is better.

Lucy’s parents fight a lot that they pretty much ignore her daily activities, therefore there are no restriction for her as a teenager to do anything, also Lucy’s sweet boyfriend, Kent, whom Nicole secretly had a crush on (maybe not but she wonders what is it like to date him). Anyway, they did it, they went to the Shadyside forest and found their destination of a simple artifact, a wall where they climbed up and jump, ta-da the switching works well and they promised not to tell anyone about it. Then they can always return to the wall in case they got bored and wanted their old life back.

Nicole goes on to walk home (Lucy’s) and found the wrecked gory bloody slashed bodies of Lucy’s parents, now that’s why I said this book brings no hesitation to just straight up tell “Lucy is a murderer, that’s why she wanted to switch and offer it first to Nicole”. Later, Nicole started to find Lucy but no luck, she found her friends and Lucy’s boyfriend, oddly here they all call her “Nicole”. I thought “oh maybe Nicole is Nicole but Lucy is just her imaginary friend, or like Lucy is dead because her friends weren’t going to explain where Lucy at” well I’m not wrong, by the end of the book through many findings of bodies (Nicole thought Lucy killed them all) Nicole finally ends up in Lucy’s Grandma’s house, where her actual parents showed up along with Lucy’s parents and with Kent too, whom she thought was dead.

It is explained that Nicole is mentally unstable, she sees things like dead people, slashed up bodies and suspecting people, also pretending to be Lucy. So, Lucy has been dead for three years due to an accident, that’s when Nicole started to see things and still act like Lucy is alive, even sometimes acting as she is Lucy herself. She wouldn’t accept her death well and couldn’t let her best friend go.

At the end, we all know why her boyfriend suddenly wanted to broke up with her. I don’t blame Nicole for what happens inside her head, it’s just not something all partners could deal with. So, it’s better if they let go earlier than going too far and hurt each other even more. But, I do appreciate more for partners that still accompanying their significant others with certain disturbance within their mental self. Many people had it worked out well in the end, so don’t lose hope if your partner is going through the same thing. But that’s not the point! R.L. Stine did not take this mental illness topic further, he only mentions it at the end as a whole explanation why it all happens, and I don’t mind it, I’m thinking it as a way to simplify whatever had happened and why Lucy killed them all’s questions right? Or to actually twist things up, my whole nightmare in every entertainment is that the end, the character is just alone and imagine things, so it’s all just a lie then? I feel betrayed by the whole plot and saddened by the concept of loneliness that the main character had to face.

Now why would I assume the ending involves mental illness from the beginning? Especially when Nicole’s friends were calling her by her real name, because this happens a lot in many stories I’ve known, usually from movies. Like that one movie that involves a sadistic ghost that terrors the residents of an asylum (I forgot the title), Fight Club, and many more. If things get weird by the middle part of the story like people surrounding the main character are starting to act confused, I had it figured out straight to such ending, it’s all just an Imagination as Spongebob would say.

But that doesn’t mean this is the boring kind of “common cliché”, I love the whole plot, especially when I told you about what makes this book different. R.L Stine is using that mystical frame of Shadyside so well that we (I specifically) believed that it was indeed the artifact that had done the switching part. It’s convincing enough especially if you had noticed about the whole background of Fear Street books is placed within the town of Shadyside where there was a possessed cheerleader, a cursed Fear Street that once resided by the Fier (later changed to Fear) family, a cult, and many more that I haven’t read yet.

I guess I already told you about the strength of the book, what about the weakness? Well, it’s predictable with such ending that I didn’t like, though I still didn’t mind it. It’s good of course to twist things up but it just feels like an escape to avoid explaining why Lucy this and why Lucy that, or no further explanation about the artifact that once believed was used by people who forced other people to switch bodies in order to avoid a death sentence or jail time.

The other weakness is, I guess for readers who doesn’t like graphic description. It doesn’t have much graphic stuff described but there are still some that require your attention, and this is the point of Fear Street after all, without an attempt of murder or horrors involved what even is Fear Street?

Of course now is the language, I read the book pretty fast, only almost two hours because I was in a rush, the loan duration is only one hour since it’s a tandon book. But there’s also another reason why I could read it that fast besides the page is only 150s. The language is easy to understand, it is for young audience after all, like any other R.L Stine’s works, most of them (particularly Goosebumps series) are easy to read with a first-person point of view, which is more understandable to me at least. I also can imagine things in my head well for every steps or action that the characters had taken. I guess it’s good for people who wants to understand English better, it’s a good start though there are a lot of old slangs coming from the 80/90s that I did not understand.

Now we’re reaching the end, the book is pretty predictable (for me) but I imagine it’s not that predictable if the readers are young or haven’t found similar twist from other stories. The reader might also not predict the ending if they did not pay much attention to look on what that mental illness is for people who doesn’t know much about it, or it may feels like an escape step to avoid explaining the murders and the chasing away. This book still delivers its horror sensation well, especially the thriller part but I don’t regard the murder parts that special. I brought my attention to that one artifact, that switching wall you know? Is it there? Is it real? Or maybe it appears on another Fear Street books, I hope so since I haven’t read them all yet, I like that it concludes the mystical part of Shadyside, the dark sensation they get when they arrived at the forest and of course again, the wall, it’s a good start to make us believe that they actually did switch and how Shadyside forest has a magical artifact involved.

I’m guessing this book is good for all age, well the understandable language for children above 12, but for the graphic parts, it depends. I mean I have watched Hostel since I was like at an elementary school and wasn’t traumatized that much. But I won’t be watching Hostel again since I realized that things like that exists in real life. But the graphic parts are not that bad, children above 12 can still handle it, there’s no sexual act either. So, it’s safe to say that you above 12 should read it, even though I had the whole plot explained already. Good day!

 

Author: Yessi Trianda

Editor: Yuan

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