Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Midsummer Night’s Scream

A Midsummer Night’s Scream
R.L. Stine
Feiwel & Friends, 2013
$17.99, Hardcover

Genre: Horror
Age: 12+
Description: Claire’s parents run a failing movie studio with the parents of her best friend (and long-time crush) Jake. Unfortunately, they are on the brink of bankruptcy unless they can make a big blockbuster film that will make people rush to the theatres. That’s where Mayhem Manor comes in. Years ago a creepy haunted house was built from the ground up on the studio for a mockumentary horror film. Unfortunately, production was stopped when three of the teens filming were killed in accidents on the set. Every since the house has stood empty and people talk about the curse of Mayhem Manor. Claire’s parents think a remake of the never finished true horror story would be the ticket to saving their company. Luckily for her, Claire’s parents finally decide to let her dream of acting come alive. She and her best friend get major speaking parts and Jake gets work with the editor to work behind the scenes. Claire thinks that she can also get Jake to finally see that she is girlfriend materials but, of course, Jake is in love with Delia, Claire’s best friend, who happens to be in love with the clues Shawn, Jake’s best friend, who is madly stalking Claire even though she’s told him time and time again that she’s not interested. However, they might not make it out alive as filming starts and the new cast of teens start dying in mysterious accidents very much resembling the original deaths.
Opinion: I give props to Stine for still writing but the writing in this novel was very pedantic. It screams “Stine” though. It is very reminiscent of his horror stories from the 1980s and 1990s, especially his Point Horror single title books. Now saying that isn’t necessarily mean the book was bad. It just wasn’t particularly good. If you’ve got fans of Stine who are growing up from Goosebumps they’d probably like it. If you’ve got fans of horror that will read anything, they will read it. However, there were just a few too many things wrong with the story for me to get into it. First, it is supposed to be a reworking of Shakespeare’s play. I don’t know many teens that will have read or know anything about A Midsummer Night’s Dream as that usually isn’t the Shakespeare read in English classes. Also the odd combination of Shakespeare and horror, which could have turned out awesome, didn’t really work here. There were too many love triangles and the “horror” addition of the Puck character made no real sense (he did his messing with people’s emotions via a bunch of potions—none of which lasted more than a few minutes at a time). It seemed like two plots at once going on—filming a horror movie gone wrong and a humorous tale of mixed up potions (that isn’t too humorous). While the book says it is for those 12 and up there horror elements aren’t too gory (a hand gets chopped off, a boy gets electrocuted, a girl falls down the stairs and breaks her neck) the romantic elements of the book seem to skew it older. Jake is a horny teen. Even though he is madly in love with Delia when she shows no interest he keeps pursuing her but then hooks up with the snobby, pretty girl on the set who, knowing Claire likes him, purposefully goes after him. If I were Claire I would not be interested in him for much longer. There is also some bad language making this seem more appropriate for older teens. There were also some major plot issues I had with the novel. First, in the original there were four boys and three girls yet on the set there are four boys and four girls. Who is Delia supposed to be playing in the remake? There are too many cast members! Secondly, the opening of the original teens making a Blair Witch-like horror movie and all dying leads to the whole idea of how did this even happen when the whole thing was filmed on a movie set? One of the murders didn’t seem very plausible—when the character that was supposed to die by an electrocution from a toaster doesn’t he is instead offed by having his head placed in a microwave and have half his face melt. How does that even work? How is that even an accident? Someone needs to be held in a freaking microwave and how does it work without the door closed? Plus, the fact that more deaths occurred in the remake and when (the twist?) Claire and her friends get “kidnapped” by the killer (no surprise, Puck who has the ability to live a long time obviously) and he attempts to film their demises what studio could ethically agree to release the film using footage of the real deaths? That just seems not likely to happen in real life. I can’t wait to hear what my teens think since they didn’t grow up reading Stine’s teen horror books.

*Thanks to Emily Waters at Macmillan for providing an ARC of this title for the YA Galley Group project!*

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