The Wrong Number (Fear Street #5) by R. L. Stine (Book Review)


The Wrong Number By R. L. StinePlot: It begins as an innocent prank, when Deena Martinson and her best friend Jade Smith make sexy phone calls to the boys from school. But Deena’s half-brother Chuck catches them in the act and threatens to tell their parents, unless the girls let him in on the fun. Chuck begins making random calls, some even threatening. It’s dangerous and exciting. They’re even enjoying the publicity, and the uproar they’ve caused. Until Chuck calls a number on Fear Street.

To his horror, Chuck realizes he has called THE WRONG NUMBER. The jokes are over when murder is on the line. The murderer knows who they are and where they live — and they have nowhere to call for help.

My Review: One thing about the Fear Street series is that some of the books are definitely more mature in subject and writing style then others. I read these when I was in Jr. High, so that makes me 12-15 years old, and back then, in the 90s, that was a perfect age range to read this series. But some of these Fear Street books almost come across as books for much younger children, or at least it seems that way. Maybe its just because I am older now, or because kids seem so much older at that age then I was back then. Either way, The Wrong Number was definitely one of the more mature, and better written books in the series. Of course, it still had its faults.

The basic premise to the book is that Deena and her best friend Jade decide to make some prank phone calls to their fellow classmates. Deena calls her crush and flirts with him anonymously. They end up getting caught by Chuck, Deena’s half brother who’s a troublemaker who just moved in with them after being kicked out of his old school. Chuck decides he wants in on the prank calls too or he‘s going to rat them out. So over the course of the next couple nights they make more prank calls including one to a house on Fear Street where it just so happens they hear a murder taking place. Now, while I liked this book, this is one of the plot points I thought was really weak. To hide the fact that they know about the murder the three teenagers decide it’s a good idea to go to the house they called and see if the woman they heard screaming is ok. They don’t want to involve the police so they don’t get in trouble for pranking people. Why couldn’t they just go to the police station and say “hey, I screwed up and dialed this wrong number and heard someone in trouble, can you trace the address from the last number dialed and check it out?” seems easy enough to me. But then I guess there wouldn’t be this book.

Anyhow, the teens head over to the house, see its been broken into, so they head inside and find a lady dead on the floor. A masked man runs though the house, and they take off. They end up being followed all the way back to their house. Can you say dumb move? I mean, they shouldn’t have gone to the house in the first place, let alone one of them touch the murder weapon at the scene and then flee. But go back to your house so the killer knows where you live? STUPID. But, teen slasher films and horror stories I guess are known for their stupid characters because then you wouldn’t have too much of a story…so moving on…

Eventually Chuck gets arrested for the murder of the woman they found. Makes sense. A witness saw him fleeing the location of the murder, and his prints were found on the weapon. The woman’s husband comes forward saying he saw them at the scene of the crime fleeing his house so he chased them home. Its obvious from the getgo that the husband is most likely the murderer. At least I thought so. There were also no other suspects other then Chuck, and we know it wasn‘t Chuck even though he‘s a little odd.

After Chuck is arrested the storyline is pretty much about Deena and Jade trying to clear Chuck’s name by following the husband around and trying to find evidence to help Chuck.

The story and characters were likable. There was actually more substance to the book and more action then other (later) Fear Street books.

I personally found this to be one of the more entertaining and more adult Fear Street books. The quality of writing was better than the later books that seemed very juvenile, so I was thankful for that considering I’m in my early 30s as I write this. The only downfalls to the book really were knowing who the killer was from the beginning and some of the idiotic things the characters did.

Overall: I liked it. I’d recommend it as a good starting place for place for the Fear Street series. While its book #5 in the series, you do not have to read them in any particular order.

My Rating:

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