Category: nostalgia


The Burning

Happy Halloween everyone! I’m wrapping up the weekend’s festivities with the last Fear Street Saga novel today. This is actually the one I wimped out on last time. I admit the last thing I’d remembered from it was a lot earlier in the book than I’d thought. Bonus, the Jonesy cat seems to like Oxenfree and has been cuddling her whenever I’m in the room with both of them. It’s cute. Anyway, on to the review!

 

Over a hundred years ago Benjamin Fier framed an innocent girl for witchcraft and burned her at the stake. Over a hundred years since his brother Matthew robbed the girl’s grieving father. Over a hundred years since everything began, but just two since the curse was reawakened and Franks Goode murdered the Fier family in cold blood. Only two years since Simon Fear changed his family name and forswore good. The chain is completed, and the end is beginning.

The Burning is the third and final book in the original Fear Street Saga by R. L. Stine; it’s also the first of the three to give us a villain protagonist. That’s actually a thing that I appreciate about the book. Having Simon as both our starting protagonist and, ultimately, the antagonist of the book ties things up nicely in a way that the previous two books didn’t. The reader has known that the Fear Mansion was going to burn down at the end, leaving Nora Goode all alone; it’s just been a matter of getting there.

The big down side here is that I feel like the first half of the book was really rushed. Pacing has been a problem throughout the trilogy, so it isn’t a huge out of nowhere thing. It’s more another example of needing to get things in place for what comes next and not having the room for much build up. There’s some out of nowhere stuff that I would have liked to have seen more support for, but it’s par for the course at this point.

I can’t say that The Burning is the strongest of the three books, which probably still goes to The Betrayal, but it does pretty well for itself. While rushed in a lot of ways, I feel like a lot of the things that are rushed could or would probably be hand waved with the curse if the extra space had been taken to go further in.

There’s really not a lot for me to say here. The Burning has its points that work, and work well, but it also shares the same weak points that the rest of the series has. It also has an unfortunate side effect, since the reader knows about how it ends and that Fear Street is ultimately still cursed, of not having a really satisfying ending. It’s just kind of done. So, at the end of the day I think it earned a three out of five. If any single part of it had been a touch better it would have been a four.

Missed a day there. Nothing really big happened, the spooks freaked out a little when a friend came over. I think they aren’t fans of new people. Going to work up something to fix that. Any way, on to the review!

the-secret-cover

Forty-five years have passed since Benjamin Fier had an innocent girl and her mother burned at the stake. Forty-five years have passed since Matthew Fier robbed the girl’s father of everything he had with false promises. Forty-five years have passed since a curse was cast from betrayal and a mourning father’s grief. Following his great uncle’s notes Ezra Fier seeks the last of the Goodes to have revenge for his family’s downfall. Another link in the chain of vengeance is forged.

The Secret is R. L. Stine’s second book in the Fear Street Saga trilogy. Sometime after the end of the first book Ezra Fier has dragged his family to Wickham village in search of vengeance, only to fine the village empty of all but the dead. That makes Ezra great material for a villain, but I feel like I want more of why he’s so driven for revenge. Guy has a family, including protagonist Jonathan, which he drags along on his quest. I think that’s a big part of where this one falls apart for me.

See a big thing with The Secret is that, while we’re left with an Ezra who is totally out for revenge at the end of The Betrayal, a ton is left out from point A to point B. If his whole life is revenge, then when did he stop and court his wife, Jane? What kind of notes of Matthew’s is he following that it’s taken him this long to get to Wickham? It’s just kind of weak writing because the plot requires it. Ezra has to have a wife and kids so that there’s room for both a body count and enough Fiers to get through to modern Shadyside. It has to take awhile so that Jonathan is old enough that we have a relatable protagonist. That kind of works out for me, I don’t like it because it feels weak, but it works.

The bit after the century long time skip is where that weakness just kind of goes off the rails for me. After a hundred years of the curse not acting up in any way that is important enough to show, it wakes back up stronger than ever. We get the actually completely innocent Fier family, living happily in their ancestral home, taking in a charming drifter. The drifter is, of course, a Goode out for revenge because the plot demands it. Not just a Goode though, the last Goode, who watched his entire family die of apparently nothing so the Fiers must be at fault. This whole section of the book gives me so many issues.

Frank Goode blames the Fier family for his family dying, but we haven’t seen enough from the Goode side of things to know their feelings on the curse or feud. We don’t even actually know enough to know that there are any Goodes still alive until Frank shows up, but we’re shown a bunch of times that he’s been planning this for a long while. I feel like this could have been so much stronger if we were given more from the Goode family perspective, especially since way back in the first book George wanted nothing to do with his father’s revenge scheme. I want to know what made Frank grab on to the curse as a reason for his misfortune so hard. I want this bearing in mind that over the course of a century the Fier family itself completely forgot about the curse. Either that or I’d have liked to have seen the curse angle pushed harder rather than it being suddenly a Goode out of nowhere.

As to what was done specifically well, I liked Jonathan as a protagonist. I liked that Ezra was cast in a bad light because of his obsession with revenge on people he’d never met. The end to Jonathan’s section I thought worked really well for his character. The post time skip Fiers being legitimately kindly people and the implied happy childhood for their kids was great.

Right, so that’s a lot of words. What’s the verdict though? Ulitmately I don’t think The Secret is as good a book as The Betrayal, and it doesn’t really work well enough as a standalone novel to not get that comparison. Where it’s weak, it’s really weak. Where it works well, it still tends to be kind of thin. That said, I did read it in a single sitting without forcing myself in the least. So that happened too. In the end, it gets a three out of five for not being a bad book but also being one that could have used a lot of expanding upon.

So, day one of posting stuff for Halloween. I’m pretty excited, not gonna lie. Even the spooks around the apartment have quieted down some, either they’re getting used to us or they’re getting ready for Halloween too. But, regardless, on to the review!

the-betrayal-cover

Fear Street is cursed. Since Shadyside’s founding, the town and the street bearing the name of its most infamous residents have been haunted by murderers, vengeful ghosts, and all manner of horrors. When an innocent girl is burned as a witch, the first link in a chain of vengeance that will span centuries is forged. A curse is cast, and a legend begins.

The Betrayal begins at the end with Nora Goode staring in horror and disbelief as the Fear family mansion burns down, taking her beloved Daniel with it. The story, however, begins over two hundred years earlier in the village of Wickham in the middle of a witch scare as several girls have already been burned at the stake. A girl, Susannah Goode, is framed for witchcraft by her beloved’s father, Magistrate Benjamin Fier. She and her, also accused, mother are innocent. Her father however is not and, after having his family taken from him and being robbed by the Fier brothers, William Goode vows revenge and places a curse on the Fier family.

Right off the bat, this is pretty gory for a kids’/YA book, and that fits the Fear Street Saga trilogy pretty well. It also does a good job with build, even knowing how things ultimately end there’s this sort of looming sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I think a good part of that is that our protagonist for most of the post betrayal book, Mary Fier, had nothing to do with that whole situation. She hadn’t even been born yet and is just a girl. Even knowing what her father and uncle did, having her as the protagonist makes the rest of the Fier family look better because she cares for them.

Unfortunately, while I do adore Mary as a protagonist for what she does for the story, The Betrayal is still very much set up for the other two books. The ending also feels a bit rushed, like Stine knew where his start was and where the ending was but he only had a certain number of pages he was allowed. It gets the point across, but it also feels pretty cheesy.

So, I know that my review and score here are ultimately pretty heavily influenced by nostalgia, but even rereading this as an adult I enjoyed it a great deal. So, The Betrayal by R. L. Stine gets a four out of five. Let’s see what happens next.

I mentioned figuring out what I was planning to do here for Halloween earlier, so I figured I should talk about it a bit.

So, back in the nineties and early aughts R. L. Stine’s Fear Street novels were the slightly more mature option to the Goosebumps books if you were a kid and wanted to read horror novels. For the most part they were pretty good, kind of formula after awhile but not unforgivably so, and genuinely fun to read to boot. So of course, as a kid, when I had the chance to read the origins of Fear Street I jumped at the chance. I never actually finished the Fear Street Saga trilogy back then, I wimped out.

That’s a lie. I got so scared that I quit reading the trilogy and split the books apart so that they couldn’t scare me any more. I gave one to a friend that I haven’t talked to in forever. Another I donated to the library of a school I wouldn’t attend until much later. As to what happened to the last book, I don’t remember in the least. It could be on a shelf at my parents’ house waiting to be opened and to allow terror to spill forth once more.

Alright, got a little purple prose-y there, but point made. Right? This trilogy scared my child self to pieces in ways that no other book I’d read at the time had been able to. So badly that I apparently decided that a fantasy novel approach to a mass market printed book was the most logical thing possible.

And the nature of fear fascinates me, especially my own. So what to do about a series like that? Read it as an adult of course. I want to see what freaked me out so badly and if it still does. So, for Halloween, I’m reading the Fear Street Saga trilogy!

Yeah, I’m back on this again and ignoring that review that I’ll be posting probably either later tonight or sometime tomorrow.  Here’s the thing, I’ve been a fan of Barbara Gordon since back in the nineties with Batman the Animated Series when I had no clue that the comics were any different.   Back then, I had no idea that The Killing Joke had happened or that there was a second Batgirl.  This was the character that I wanted to grow up to be.  She was like Velma but with more attitude and she got to work with Batman.

Fast forward to sometime during high school and I’ve heard of The Killing Joke but not read it.  I’ve heard that there was a second Batgirl and that she was rather poorly delt with for a chunk of her run in the cape.  But I hadn’t really started reading comics yet.  The Sandman, sure but that was because the school library had it in trade paperbacks and I had free time while being a library aide.  It was around this time that I started to get more interested in comics as a whole, so I’d started reading up on DC’s super heroes to see who I wanted to focus on.

Fast forward again to around February.  Holy cow there’s going to be a Batwoman monthly comic!  Issue #0 is coming out and The Question is going to be in Birds of Prey!  I was practically dancing in my seat with this one.  Plus I was trying to keep up with the Odyssy of Wonder Woman arc of Wonder Woman because I wanted to see how they changed the character.  And follow it through to Flashpoint and my various rants on that, it’s really one of the things that sticks out at me as a forced money grab even now.  But I’ve finally got that Batwoman ongoing as part of my draw list, and Birds of Prey is still pretty cool even without Lady Blackhawk or Huntress.

It’s kind of itchy though, reading Batgirl and seeing Barbara go from tough leadery Oracle to a Batgirl so full of self doubt that I almost expect that the villain is going to wind up doing himself in rather than her winning.This is where I get to the meat of my ramble, don’t worry the rest was just back story.  Now, not all of the sources agree, but apparently Babs was Oracle sometime during those three years post-Flashpoint.  Why isn’t she still?  I’m basing this mostly on the character I was reading back in Birds of Prey but it’s hard to see her giving up the autonomy of being a hero on her own to step back under the Batmantle.  Out of the chair she’s still the same character, or at least she should be.  Post-Flashpoint Batgirl seems to assume a Barbara who never quit being Batgirl prior to The Killing Joke, one who would go back to that after having been Oracle.

This is a character who questioned her reasons for crime fighting right up through the eighties when she quit and was then shot in the spine for being related to Batman’s supporting cast.  Except it isn’t anymore, maybe.  What was DCnU Barbara Gordon like before the Joker shot her?  Was she Silver Age Batgirl with her Batpurse and day job as a librarian?  Was she BtAS Batgirl the plucky not quite side kick?  Heck, was she Stephanie Brown with red hair and no history as Spoiler?  I’m growing tired of DCnU Batgirl’s near constant self questioning.  I understand that she’s not at a hundred percent yet and I understand that Gail Simone is laying the basis for the rest of the comic, but the more I read the less I like Babs and the more I want to just quietly go back to finding Oracle’s appearances in trade paperbacks.

This is one of those situations where I want to see what other people have to say about this.  I’m going to keep reading for at least the next arc to see how DCnU Babs develops, but I’m thinking that this may not be something that stays on my draw list much longer. What do you think internets?  Does the current incarnation make more sense to you that it does me?  Where do you think Simone is going to go with Batgirl from here?

Hello all, long time no review.  Classes have been doing their level best to eat my life, but who doesn’t feel that way.  Fall Break is coming up and I could use a nap.  Something, something, comic books on Wednesday, something, tired joke, something, Necronomicon, also that the Deadworld giveaway ends at midnight tonight.  Winners should be announced sometime tomorrow, Thursday at the latest.

Angela Sage Larsen’s Fifties Chix: Travel to Tomorrow appealed to me for two reasons when I first heard of it: history and time travel.  I wasn’t really sure if it would pull either off well given the amount of research needed for one and issues that tend to pop up in the other, but I was beyond pleasantly surprised.  The characters don’t magically know modern slang and continue talking like something from I Love Lucy throughout the book.  They aren’t just dumped into the future to fend for themselves.  Their families and classmates are still there, just different.  The book shows the characters trying to deal with life fifty-five years in the future and figure out how they got there in the first place.  It shows problems that they have and frames of reference that they’re missing.  Maxine gets an excellent moment with her family, specifically her cousin, because she was raised during the civil rights movement.  Stuff like that serves to illustrate the social differences of the times without dropping too many anvils.  Ann and Mary each get thrown for a loop at their families’ lack of religion in the future.

My only big issue with Travel to Tomorrow is that it’s obviously the first in a series and ends with a massive hook for the rest of the books.  I get that the hook is supposed to keep me interested in the series until the next one comes out but it also takes me out of the story with one big jolt; kind of like if half way through the book Maxine had started using modern slang or Bev just stopped being into sports for no reason.  My only other problem was with some of the handwriting used for the journal sections, and that was only because I’m terrible at reading cursive.

I enjoyed Travel to Tomorrow immensely.  It was definitely written to a younger audience but managed to mostly avert writing down to them.  It made my inner history nerd practically dance.  That said, it loses points for the obvious hook.  I dislike it when something big is confirmed and then I have to wait for the next book.  So, what’s the verdict?  I’m giving Travel to Tomorrow a four out of five.  I’m also making note of some of the phrases in the last chapter/glossary to use in messing with my friends.

Nostalgia Books

Ever gone back and read a book or series just for the nostalgia factor?  Or fondly remember a bunch of books from when you were a kid?

I’ve been thinking about some of my old books from back in the nineties, and I keep hitting on the Encyclopedia Brown mystery books.  I have part of the set, and still occasionally read some of the stories.  What about you guys?  Any nostalgia books?