When I first read the Fear Street Series as a young child, I thought they were spooky books. I eagerly anticipated author R.L. Stine's next novel because all the strange things that occurred on Fear Street were connected in each succeeding book. This title was no exception.
My first two readings of Double Date were enjoyable ones. I was around eleven years old the first time I read it and probably around fourteen the second time. So, when I saw the book on sale for $0.25 at the Friends of the Library Sale in Eureka, CA, I knew I couldn't pass up this opportunity to revisit a childhood favorite.
The story is about a high school boy named Bobby Newkirk. He's obsessed with his good looks and believes he's God's gift to women. All the girls want him, and once he's dated them for a little while, he discards them like used tissues. That is until he meets his biggest challenge: the Wade twins. Samantha and Bree are as different as night and day, and Bobby's determined to make himself a high school legend at Shadyside High. Who else has the animal magnetism and the self-confidence to date twins at the same time? No one but "Bobby the man."
Of course Bobby is not someone the reader should admire. His conceitedness and chauvinistic-machismo attitude is revealed in the first page. He's a high school "player." As an adult, it was a little difficult to stomach the entire novel knowing what I do about women's rights and feminism. Plus, Bobby's character is really despicable, an utter creep. Of course, I don't think middle school/pre-teen readers will be worried about the social and cultural implications of the main character in Double Date. After all, it's a classic horror piece, and R.L. Stine creates a story that teaches a valuable lesson about how women should and shouldn't be treated in his traditional, twisted manner.
The setting of the novel is Shadyside High, the Fear Street High School. Unfortunately, the location is not highlighted enough when you consider the rich and vivid world that R.L. Stine has developed. Mainly, side characters just mention that strange things happen because they live on Fear Street, as if that explains the horrors that occur.
As previously stated, the main character is Bobby and the plot centers on his love triangle with Samantha and Bree Wade, twins that moved to Fear Street a year ago. Other minor characters include Bobby's band players, Arnie and Paul. The book is also littered with a variety of cheerleaders and other women that Bobby has dated. The boy really leaves a string of jaded women with broken hearts behind him.
There's not a lot of character development, but what do you expect from a book that's 150 pages? What it lacks in development is made up by Stine's craftiness at creating a delectable horror novel for children and young adults. There are no literary elements used, and there is not a lot of depth to the story. However, Stine does teach children a valuable lesson about how actions have consequences. In this case, it's treat others the way you want to be treated...or else...
The nice thing about Double Date, and really all of R.L. Stine's writings, is that they are age approach despite their subject matter. In this case, I would say readers as young as ten or eleven would enjoy Double Date. There are no sex scenes, and the furthest physical contact that "Bobby the man" has with any of the girls that he dates is kissing. There is no foul language, and although it's spooky, there are no real dangerous or violent scenes until the very end, and even that is almost comical, especially from an adult's perspective. Considering some of the teen horror novels that are out there, R.L. Stine is really "old school" and gets a PG rating from me. If you are still a concerned parent, I would recommend reading it for yourself before giving it to your child. Teenagers, though, should be able to handle the content of this novel easily enough.
As an adult reader, the novel is boring. It can't compare to literary horror geniuses like Stephen King or Dean Koontz. The writing is pedantic and predictable. As a younger reader, I remember it being suspenseful, thrilling, and mysterious. Not anymore. Perhaps part of my disappointment was because I already knew the ending, or perhaps it was because I've developed intellectually as a reader. Regardless, the age of the reader will affect the enjoyment of Double Date.
Overall, Double Date is a quick read that shouldn't take most readers longer than a day to finish. It's a good introduction to the horror genre for young people, but it isn't the best Fear Street novel by R.L. Stine. Still, it was a nice visit down memory lane reading the book as an adult. It marks my third read, which was enough for me. In the future, I won't be going on a fourth date.
What did you think of this review?