YA Book Club: RL Stine’s Fear Street “The Prom Queen”
Friends, as a youth I used to judge how good a Fear Street was based on if it A) had a body count, and B) how high it was. “Prom Queen” was one of my favorites back then (and now, too) because the answer to the above questions is: Yes, and four. In a typical Fear Street it’s usually one death, so you know you’ve got a banger on your hands when Stine manages to kill off four teenagers in 160 pages.
So like I said, “The Prom Queen” is a good one.
So what’s it about?
Someone is going around stabbing teenage girls to death in the larger Shadyside metro area (2, in fact. That’s two deaths in the first couple of pages, off to a thrilling start!) but who cares, it’s prom season! Our lucky candidates are announced at an afternoon assembly, shortly after our heroine, Lizzy, gets done describing a brutal murder of a girl who was stabbed to death then dumped in the Fear Street woods. Honestly, these things are always happening in those woods, so I don’t blame Lizzy and co. for being a bit blasé about the whole thing and turning their sights to prom.
So Lizzy, her overachiever friend Dawn, and their poor friend Rachel (no, seriously, that’s how everyone describes Rachel’s personality, that she’s poor…now’s the time to mention this book was written in 1992, right?) along with rich girl Elana and drama club aficionado Simone are Shadyside’s Prom Queen nominees. Up for grabs is the title, alongside a $3,000 cash prize donated by the father of Shadyside High resident hunk Gary Brandt. A note on Gary Brandt, he is frequently brought up across all Fear Street books but I can’t recall if he ever was a main character in any of them. The same goes for Suki Thomas, the resident loose girl of Shadyside High, who also makes a brief appearance in this one. Stine loves to throw in a Brandt or Thomas sighting throughout the series and we are all better people for it when it happens. Anyway, back to the plot.
Obviously, each girl wants to win, right? That competitiveness soon takes a backseat to murder, when Simone goes missing and is presumed dead at the hands of that serial killer who’s stalking the unsuspecting teens of Shadyside High.
Lizzy, who appears to be decent, is pretty sad about it. The other girls are more of the sociopathic variety of teen girls and they’re kind of sad, but not sad enough to not try to date Simone’s boyfriend, Justin. Justin is good looking and a man about town, as they say—and by that I mean, he’s basically gone out with almost all of the would-be prom queens except for Lizzy, either while he was dating Simone or after she went missing. Lizzy has a boyfriend out of state. She says his name is Kevin, but we all know it’s George Glass, right?
So, Simone is missing and everyone’s freaked out it’s the serial killer. Only the serial killer gets caught on a dark and stormy night. He’s an escaped convict, so problem solved, right?!
Wrong. See, on the same night he’s caught, Rachel (you know, the “poor” one) up and gets herself murdered after her weirdo dad decided that 9:45 pm during a massive rain storm was the perfect time to take the entire family out for ice cream. So they come back and find her stabbed to death in her bedroom. Man, if we had a nickel for every time this happened on Fear Street, we’d all be rich.
Anyway, now there’s only three Prom Queen candidates and the girls are given the option of ending the contest. They obviously decide to go ahead with it because $3,000 is a lot of money in 2019, and this book was published in 1992 so that’s like $50,000 in today’s currency terms, right!? Also, why is someone’s dad putting up money for the winner of Prom Queen at Shadyside High? It’s weird. If you’re wondering there is no mention of similar Prom King candidates. I guess Gary Brandt’s dad isn’t made of money so no one cares who wins that. (It would probably be Gary Brandt, btw.)
Back at Shadyside, the girls are freaked, and they get even more freaked out when Elana ends up dead, too. Good going, Elana! By now, Dawn is convinced someone is trying to kill off all the potential Prom Queens, but Lizzy isn’t so sure. She believes it’s the weirdo guy Lucas who says dumb s*it to her and does creepy stuff like hide himself in her car, and then pop up from the backseat and grab her while’s she driving. We’re supposed to suspect Lucas here, but friends, if you’ve ever read an RL Stine book you know the obvious suspect is never the killer. You also know that if you don’t find the body, there’s a very good chance someone isn’t dead …
So yeah, it turns out Simone isn’t dead. She faked her disappearance in order to kill any girl that Justin catted around on her with (including the aforementioned Fear Street fixture Suki Thomas, so she probably would have been next. Good thing the truth came out!)
There’s some dumb explanation of why she just didn’t take Justin out, but it turns out Simone isn’t that big on girl power (remember, the Spice Girls are 5 years away from taking the world by storm with “Wannabe” so it’s just not a thing yet) so I guess in her mind killing everyone who even looked at Justin funny was an acceptable response to him having a wandering eye. Whatever happened to just going out with his best friend!?
Lizzy is able to stop Simone, but not before Simone stabs Dawn and they both work together to take her down. Bye, Simone—guess you don’t have a shot at Prom Queen after all! Obviously, the book ends at prom, and Lizzy’s out of state boyfriend turns out to be real. Surprise!
Also, if you’re wondering about the money, they decide to use the cash to start a scholarship fund. I’m not sure how that works, but there it is.
So, look. This is a good one for reasons I stated at the beginning of this post. One doesn’t read Fear Street for there not to be a body count. It’s also always preferable when the killer’s motivations are really asinine, which happens here in a beautiful abundance. “Prom Queen” is exactly how I remember and I’m extremely grateful this nonsense was available to me as a child. RL Stine knows what’s up. It’s always nice to return to Fear Street.
So next week we’re going to do Christopher Pike’s “Witch” because I’ve had it on my nightstand for about 2 months and it’s time I finally get to it. Until then…
Header Image Source: Archway Paperback
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