The Bookworm: Sunburn

Sunburn, by R.L. Stine. 146 pages. Pocket Books. June 1993.

“Just what I said before, she whispered, her expression troubled, “about the reason for this little Camp Full Moon reunion. Marla brought us here to torture us.” She swallowed hard. “Maybe even to—kill us.” (p. 97)

After a three-day weekend, my internet service was out all day Tuesday. That meant I couldn’t work and all the emails that piled up over the holiday needed to wait until later. In the meantime, I had laundry to do and a book post to write. (My internet service is still out, forcing me to work at my aunt and uncle’s the last two days.)

Having finished Last Call, it’s time to return to the Fear Street series for some good old-fashioned young adult horror! I have a couple Fear Street novels set in the summer and want to read them while they are in season. First up is Sunburn, the story of a summer camp reunion fraught with danger.

Claudia, Marla, Joy, and Sophie, camp bunkmates from the previous year, reunite at Marla’s beachside mansion. Except for an older, near-sighted servant, the girls essentially have the place all to themselves while Marla’s wealthy, jet-setting parents are away. Claudia expects to have fun in the sun and enjoy an easy, relaxing week away from Shadyside, but strange things begin to happen to Marla’s three houseguests.

Hanging over the reunion is a dark cloud from camp the previous summer — the death of Alison, Marla’s younger sister. As inexplicable and harmful events begin to pile up, Claudia, Joy, and Sophie begin to suspect that they are being targeted, perhaps out of revenge.

As Fear Street books go, Sunburn is so-so. Someone does get a serious sunburn, so the story delivers what the title promises (not always a guarantee), and the book has its moments. The writing is basic but solid, and a number of scene descriptions — the beach, the ocean, a nearby town and boardwalk — are impressive. The story isn’t cheesy, but eventually it is easy to figure out what is going on. Except for a few conveniences, the story is pretty tight and I can’t think of any loose ends left dangling at the end. That is much appreciated; it is hard not to feel cheated when I finish a book and many of the elements remain unexplained or unresolved. Annoyingly, there is a lot of filler where the girls debate this or discuss that, try to figure out what to do that day. Do we go to town or waterski? Ugh!

However, it was nice to finally return to the mindless fun of Fear Street!

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