The Cheater, Fear Steet #18

The Cheater - R.L. Stine

Carter Phillips is feeling the cold bite of her father's disapproval for the first time in her life and it hurts. She has always gotten good grades, made the right friends, does all the extracurriculars, but she's only OK at math. Her advanced math score (was SAT trademarked in the '90s?) came out at only 570 and she needs over a 700 to get into Princeton. Daddy is a judge working on a big case against a Shadyside Crime Boss and really doesn't need his little girl disappointing him right now.


She's supposed to retake the test on Saturday, and is dreading it. Her best friend Jill and boyfriend Dan commiserate with her, and Dan takes her for a milkshake. There, giddy with malt sugar and dairy Carter jokes that Dan, being a whiz at math, should take the exam for her and no one would ever guess since her name could just as easily be a guy's. Square Dan doesn't think that's funny and soon leaves, wishing her luck. At that very moment a breathy voice tells her he'll take the test for her. To Carter's shock its Adam, the brilliant, but poor, kid who lives on Fear Street. He's in advanced math with her, but he's edgy and '90s cool even while serving milk shakes.


When Carter hears that all Adam wants is a single date she agrees to let him take the test for her - what could go wrong?


Duh, it isn't just one date. Adam keeps demanding more and more from Carter until she doesn't know what to do. At first, it seems like Carter enjoys the different kind of attention Adam is giving her (sure he's forcing me to hang out with him, but the kissing is so great!), but at the first sign of Carter mentioning her actual boyfriend, or Adam's own girlfriend Sheila, he's all about the blackmail, so that doesn't last. She receives a bloody note, a car almost runs her off the road, and Adam's girlfriend, also poor, is really freaking her out. Worst of all, Carter feels super guilty about the Tiffany diamond earrings her father gets her as a congratulatory gift.


This had some pretty terrible stuff in it. You do not want to mess around with Shadyside's underworld. At a dive club a whole bar (including the band) gathered 'round to watch a girl get molested, screaming, on the dance floor. The reason? She was rich. No supernatural elements needed in a place where that happens.


Scenes such as that one were over-the-top, but effectively scary, and there was a neat twist ending and some real ambiguity near the end about who is the real baddie, so that gives it a boost. It's been said before, but no one should read 'Fear Street' expecting good behavior and fairness, or, you know, any positive behavior.


Fear Street


Next: 'Sunburn'


Previous: 'The Best Friend'