Fear Street Super Chiller: Broken Hearts

Broken HeartsHeeeeeeey, look, a Fear Street recap. Broken Hearts is a Super Chiller, which is apparently a longer, scarier Fear Street novel. After reading some Goosebumps books, I wanted to read something a little more mature, so I reached in my Fear Street folder and pulled out this book. It’s a Valentine’s Day thriller, so it’s not exactly relevant in August, but let’s go on this ride anyway.

I’ve kind of been inconsistent in posting spoiler notices on these recaps, thinking if you’re reading an article on a 20-plus-year-old book, you either have read the book already, or you don’t mind spoilers. This book’s “finale” is actually pretty awesome, though, so I feel like a spoiler warning is appropriate. I will tell you who gets killed in this entry, and more importantly, I will reveal who the killer is, so if there is any chance at all you will read this book and you do not want to be spoiled, skip this entry.

Cover

This cover is actually pretty great, if not cheesy. It’s a depiction of a scene from the book, and although there are better scenes the cover artist could have chosen to illustrate, this scene worked in drawing me in. That’s Melissa on the cover. She becomes the main character in the second half of the novel (give or take). I appreciate the detail the artist put into the cover. Melissa actually looks like she’s described in the book with black straight hair and a fair complexion. The depiction is pretty much exactly as described as well, which is shocking, because it’s toward the end of the book. Daresay the cover artist read the book before illustrating the cover? Even if not, the amount of planning that had to go in by the publishers to get a cover with a scene this accurate is impressive.

I really like the look of bewilderment on Melissa’s face.

I like the font of the title and author.

The only thing that’s a little weird to me is the placement of the tagline. I almost didn’t notice it, thinking it might be writing on the black book she’s holding, but now that I see it’s a tagline, I feel like they just placed it where the white text could be read so they wouldn’t have to mess with borders or shadows to make the text readable. It looks centered, so maybe it was unintentional, but because it is right over the book, it looks extremely awkward and lazy.

Valentine’s Day can be a killer.

Despite its awkward placement, the tagline is good. It lets anyone who doesn’t realize via the heart and colors that this is a Valentine’s Day themed book know it’s a Valentine’s Day thriller. It’s also clever.

Plot Synopsis

The book actually starts off with a prologue, and then is divided into two parts: the first with Josie as its focus and the second with Melissa.

The prologue follows four girls on a trip to go horseback riding: fraternal (read: nonidentical) twins Josie and Rachel McClain, Josie’s best friend Melissa Davis, and Josie and Rachel’s younger sister, Erica. Erica is about to enter ninth grade, and she is described as shy, plain, and standing “to lose a couple pounds.” Wow, Stine. Melissa and Josie are both popular in school, but look completely different. Josie has short black hair and a tan. Melissa has a more natural look: long red hair, pale skin, and innocent eyes. Josie, Rachel, and Melissa all have boyfriends. Josie is dating a guy called Jenkman, who she is contemplating breaking up with. Rachel is dating a guy named Luke, and has been dating him for some time. Melissa is dating one of Josie’s castaways, Dave. Josie doesn’t keep a guy long. I guess Stine wants us to know Josie is a floozy.

The guy working at the ranch the girls rent horses from is apparently a hottie, but is terrible at his job. He asks the girls to saddle their own horses. Josie quickly saddles her own, and has to help Rachel saddle hers. She asks Melissa if she saddled Rachel’s okay, and Melissa says it looks good to her. Erica is nervous about riding horses, so she fakes a stomach ache so she doesn’t have to ride. Rachel decides she doesn’t want to wear a helmet. Well, this is a recipe for disaster.

Melissa, Josie, and Rachel take off, leaving Erica behind. On the trail, a dog runs out in front of Rachel’s horse causing it to rear up on its hind legs. Rachel’s saddle flies off, sending Rachel to the ground head first. The girls scream for help and the prologue ends.

Stine jumps around between Melissa, Josie, and Erica for the rest of the book, but as I wrote above, he has a clear focus for both parts of the book: Josie for Part One and Melissa for Part Two. Each part jumps a year ahead, too; Part One brings us to a year after the accident. All four girls are affected by what happened in different ways. Melissa has frequent nightmares about the accident. Rachel, having experienced brain damage from the accident, has regressed to the mental capacity of a kid. She has to constantly be looked after. Erica feels a great deal of responsibility for Rachel, although she is in no way responsible for what happened to Rachel. Josie, who is at least a little responsible for what happened to Rachel, because she is the one who put on Rachel’s saddle, takes no responsibility for Rachel. She pawns Rachel off on Erica, although the two are supposed to share responsibility in taking care of Rachel in the afternoons while their parents work since their parents can’t afford a full time nurse. Josie blames Melissa for what happened to Rachel, but she also blames herself. Josie and Melissa are no longer friends. This accident has really paid a toll on all of their lives.

Josie is dating a new guy named Steve. He is her only friend because Josie is a bitch.

A lot of people do not like Josie. She receives a Valentine’s Day card from one of the people who hate her with a threatening message.

Violets are blue
Roses are red
On Valentine’s Day,
Josie will be dead.

She receives a few more throughout the Part One of the book:

This Valentine’s Day
No memories to save.
The only flowers for you
Will be on your grave.

Who’s sending these cards?
Don’t bother to wonder.
On Valentine’s Day,
You’ll be six feet under.

Roses are black
Violets are gray.
On Valentine’s Day,
You’ll start to decay.

I thought about just posting my favorite, but all of the poems are treats, despite their horrible quality.

Part One takes us through three people who really hate Josie and could be the authors of the terrible poetry. Jenkman is Josie’s ex-boyfriend who does not understand why Josie dumped him and just wants to talk. Josie treats him as less than human and won’t give him the time of day. Luke is Rachel’s (ex?-)boyfriend. He continues to come to the house and visit with Rachel despite her regression. He hates Josie because she won’t help her family with the responsibility of Rachel, constantly pawning Rachel off on Erica and ruining Erica’s high school experience, and because he blames Josie for what happened to Rachel. Josie is the one who put the saddle on Rachel’s horse. Dave, another of Josie’s exes, and Melissa’s current boyfriend, attempts to cheat off of Josie’s Math test, and is turned in by Josie. He is subsequently given a zero, fails his Math class, and is kicked off the wrestling team, which according to him, ruins his life because he won’t get a wrestling scholarship now and won’t be able to get into college. This is Josie’s fault somehow.

To be honest, Dale’s is the reason for hating Josie I sympathize with least. Josie is indeed a terrible person, but assholes like Dale piss me off. He made the decision to cheat on his test, and he has to face the consequences of his actions. This is the only part of the book I felt a little bit sorry for Josie.

It didn’t last long.

The person I felt the most sorry for when I was reading this book was Erica, and I’m not so sure that wasn’t by design. Erica is a freshman in high school and is trying to have a high school experience. She wants to study for her classes, wants to have friends, wants to audition for a play, but is stopped at every turn by Josie, who has less going on, but can’t watch Rachel for one day so Erica can have something important to her. I hated Josie along with the innumerable characters who hated her.

Rachel even says she hates Josie, because she won’t spend time with her, and that’s really sad.

Stine tries to make the reader sympathize with Josie by revealing that she feels extreme guilt every time she sees her sister, but it doesn’t really work out, at least for me.

Josie’s dog, Muggy, is killed and left in a pile of its own blood with a letter opener stabbed in its body to hurt Josie, and I felt sadder about that than I felt about Josie’s eventual demise. I suspected she was going to die because the back cover promised deaths and no one but the dog had died by the halfway point, but it seemed like her death was never coming. I eventually began to think she might actually survive. Alas, she is offed off-scene, and we learn about her death with her mother and Erica via two policemen who knock on the door after 2 a.m.

The book shifts over to Melissa. Her boyfriend, Dave, calls early in the morning and tells Melissa he needs her help because he’s done something bad. The two grab breakfast at a diner, and Dave tells Melissa that he sent Josie threatening Valentine’s Day cards. He hated her so much, and really wanted to freak her out. He swears he didn’t kill her, but he is worried that the cops will think he did when they discover the Valentine’s Day cards.

Melissa is of little comfort. Dave comes up with a plan to save himself. He will wait until Josie’s funeral and sneak into Josie’s house and steal back the cards. The day of the funeral arrives, and Dave makes it into the McClain home. He searches Josie’s room but is unable to find the cards. Suddenly, he hears a noise in the hallway. He creeps out and finds Erica, stabbed and bleeding on the floor. Cops bust in and arrest Dave’s stupid ass.

End Part One.

Part Two begins a year later. Melissa is now dating Rachel’s ex-boyfriend, Luke. He seems to have finally given up on Rachel, realizing she will never again be her former self. Erica survived her stabbing, and Melissa has been going over to the McClain house regularly to spend time with Erica and Rachel.

Melissa’s ex-boyfriend Dave was suspected of murdering Josie and stabbing Erica, but because there was no proof, and because Erica did not actually see who stabbed her, the police let him go. Unfortunately, the town believes he killed Josie, so his reputation is ruined. His family moved and sent Dave off to a boarding school to start a new life. We know this because he’s been writing Melissa.

Melissa gets a threatening card much like the cards Josie received. In Part Two of the book, she actually receives two cards.

Roses are red
Violets are blue.
On Valentine’s Day,
You’ll be dead, too.

Flowers mean funerals
Flowers mean death.
On Valentine’s Day,
You’ll take your last breath.

I can’t tell if by now I’m immune to these cards, or if they just weren’t that exciting of a plot device to begin with.

Melissa is understandably worried about the threats, but doesn’t take any action in protecting herself. She even plans on attending an ice skating party with Luke on Valentine’s Day, because there is apparently nothing better to do in  Shadyside than to ice skate and kill people.

Luke suspects that since Dave wrote Josie the nasty Valentines, perhaps he is writing Melissa’s. He suggests she compare the handwriting on the letter Dave sent her with the handwriting on the cards. Melissa does, and sees that the handwriting is a match.

Dave’s mom calls Melissa and tells her that her son escaped and is probably heading Melissa’s way. Great. She asks that Melissa call her if she hears from Dave. Melissa, of course, does hear from Dave. Dave breaks into Melissa’s room by climbing through her window.

Dave tells her that he wants his good name back, and so he came back to Shadyside to find out who killed Josie and to clear his name. Melissa naturally asks about the Valentines, and he insists he didn’t send them and demands to see them. After looking at them, he says he knows who killed Josie now, and escapes out the window.

Melissa, close with Erica now, runs across the street and tells Erica about Dave. Erica is especially interested in the fact that Dave knows who killed Josie. She asks Melissa who stabbed her and killed her sister. Of course Dave did not share that information with Melissa.

The next night, Melissa is doing homework in her room when she hears commotion outside her house. She looks out the window and sees a figure with long red hair running by. Has Rachel gotten out of her house alone? Melissa’s parents burst in her room and ask if she’s okay, because they heard a burglar. They’ve called the cops. When the cops arrive and knock on the door, they ask the Davis’s when they discovered the body of the young man in their driveway. Body? What body?

The young dead man in Melissa’s driveway turns out to be Dave.

The next day Melissa discovers the message in her locker that we see on the cover of her book. I guess Stine figured we’d tire of the Valentines and wanted to do something different. He was right. The message, “YOU’RE DEAD,” freaks Melissa out, but not enough to deter her from going to the ice skating party with Luke on Valentine’s Day.

Like any good predictable slasher from the 1990s, this book comes to a close at a teenage party. Melissa and Luke are ice skating, and we learn Melissa is terrible on skates. They are told to avoid thin ice on the right side of the lake, but Luke takes Melissa over there anyway. I began to wonder here if Luke was the killer. If so, Stine did a really good job at throwing me off him! I suspected one of two possible killers:

  1. Erica. Her life was ruined by the accident and having to take care of Rachel. She has motive.
  2. Rachel. Could Rachel be faking her mental and emotional regression to exact a plot of revenge? What about the red hair Melissa saw out her window?

Luke was not on my radar at all, despite Stine making him one of the suspects in Josie’s part of the book. I was about to high-five the air for Stine. Alas, Melissa tells Luke to go off and skate on his own because she feels she is holding him back, and he dashed off, so he did not bring Melissa over to the thin ice to kill her.

As soon as Melissa is alone, a hooded ice skater comes rushing straight for Melissa. She doesn’t have time to scream before she is slammed into. A blade goes into her father’s over-sized coat she is wearing and barely misses her side. The killer prepares to slam into her again. Before the killer can, Melissa sees a glimpse of red hair. Rachel!

Melissa, the terrible skater, begins to fall forward, and as she does, she grabs Rachel’s red hair …and pulls off the red wig. The killer isn’t Rachel, but Erica! Erica is tired of being ignored and used. She’s sad because her life was ruined by the accident, and Josie and Melissa had to pay. What did Melissa do? Melissa told Josie the saddle was fine before the accident happened. Melissa also started dating Luke, who stopped coming to visit Rachel, devastating her. Melissa asks what we are all asking: why the red wig? Erica figures that through the red wig, Rachel is with her. Rachel’s life was ruined by Josie and Melissa, too. This is Rachel’s revenge just as much as it is Erica’s.

Erica lunges for Melissa again, but the thin ice cracks, like we all saw coming, and both girls fall into the water. Luke rushes over and pulls Melissa out. He reaches for Erica, but he can’t reach her. It’s almost like Erica does not want to be saved. Erica floats under the ice, and all of the partying teenagers watch her drown.

Fast forward a couple days, and Melissa and Luke are visiting Rachel. Rachel is showing Melissa a painting she made of a snowman. She misses her sister, Erica. Melissa and Luke leave Rachel, promising to visit again soon. They talk about how sad they feel for the McClains, and also about how much they do not like Valentine’s Day. They agree to send each other Groundhog’s Day cards from now on instead.

My Thoughts

I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of this book! I don’t know if it was really good, or if I liked it because I’ve been reading Goosebumps by Stine, and Fear Street is just higher quality in comparison. The Fear Street books are a lot more fleshed out. They have actual character development and intricate plots.

While I was satisfied with the reveal of the killer because it made sense and her motive was relatable, I was a little disappointed that Rachel wasn’t the killer, faking her regression. It would have made for a much more surprising reveal.

Call me morbid, but I was also disappointed that Josie’s death occurred off-scene. I’ve read death scenes in Fear Street books before, so it’s not unheard of, and Stine built up Josie’s death so much — half the book had passed before Josie actually died. We deserved a death scene. Her death just felt underwhelming. I was barely moved by it. I get that my not liking Josie had a lot to do with that.

Death Count

Two humans and one dog died in this book: Josie, Dave, and Muggy. Poor Muggy.

Ranking

I think this might be the last Fear Street entry I rank the books in. I haven’t done it with Goosebumps or Animorphs because I plan to write retrospective posts every so often (maybe every 20 books or so) comparing the books. I think I’ll do that with Fear Street, too. I didn’t want to just end the practice without notice, though, so here it is at least once more. Is a ranking something you guys want to continue seeing on these entries?

I really enjoyed this book, but there were the couple of disappointments I mentioned above. The Secret Bedroom also had ghosts. This book falls to a solid second.

  1. (#13) The Secret Bedroom
  2. (SC #4) Broken Hearts
  3. (#1) The New Girl
  4. (#5) The Wrong Number

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