The Bookworm: The Lost Girl

The Lost Girl, by R.L. Stine. 261 pages. Thomas Dunne Books. September 2015.

The thunder of our engines rang off the trees. We shouted and pumped our fists in the air and sent tsunamis of snow rolling high in the sky, and the waves of silvery flakes came down over all of us like a frozen shower. (p. 90)

It’s back to Shadyside for a little fun along Fear Street.

The Lost Girl opens in 1950 with the story of Elizabeth Palmieri, a sixteen-year-old whose father is opening a new horse stable in Shadyside. Though the Palmieri family is stoked, Martin Dooley, the owner of Shadyside’s other stable, is less than thrilled with the new competition. He accuses Elizabeth’s dad, a former employee, of being a traitor and Martin (presumably) makes him pay. Elizabeth flees into the Fear Street woods to escape Dooley’s wrath, and she is pursued by Dooley’s nephew, who is obsessed with her. Both disappear.

Fast forward to the “present day” and Michael Frost, a Shadyside teen whose dad owns a snowmobile rental business. Michael meets an alluring but mysterious new girl named Lizzy Walker, who latches on to him and seeks his help for everything — much to the dismay of his girlfriend. Lizzy inserts herself into Michael’s group of friends, even joining them for a day of snowmobiling. Everyone is having a great time until Michael hits and kills a man in a clearing. Lizzy says she knows the man — Angel, a troubled, violent student at her old school — and everyone decides to flee the scene. However, they change their minds and turn back, deciding to take responsibility. When they return to the clearing, the body has vanished. Everybody agrees to keep the incident a secret.

Despite the fact they thought he was dead, Angel begins threatening Michael and attacking his friends. Lizzy eventually decides enough is enough and tells Michael she can get him a gun to finish Angel — deep in the Fear Street woods.

Does Michael put an end to Angel’s threats? Who is Lizzy? How do the events of 1950 connect with those in the present? I’m not into spoilers so you’ll need to read The Lost Girl yourself to find out. If you’ve read enough Stine — including one specific book — the ending of The Lost Girl is very familiar.

The Lost Girl is a decent and fun read, a nice addition to the Fear Street collection. However, I was surprised and bummed that both storylines take place during winter and not autumn. Usually, the month a Fear Street book is published is a good indication of what time of year the story takes place. Not so for The Lost Girl, which was published in September 2015. I opened the book, unsure what it was about, thinking the events would take place in early autumn. Instead, I start reading scenes with a foot of fresh snow on the ground, characters able to see their breath hover in the cold air, and snowmobiles. It did not ruin the experience of reading the book, but I was still a little bummed since I try to match Fear Street books with the current season. I obviously did a really poor job this time. It is especially embarrassing because, assuming the story was set in the fall, I waited a year to read it (I think I got the book last year on my birthday).

Yes, there is some convenience, and there are a number of loose ends. There are some things that I thought were important, that I thought would become pivotal (or at least be mentioned again), but turn out to be inconsequential — which is a real bummer because there is a lot of promise in a few elements. I want to say that the title is misleading, but that’s not true. There is a lost girl — Elizabeth — but she is technically never found so the “horror” mentioned by the cover tease never begins.

Once again, the teenage characters drink beer (specifically Miller Lite). Nobody in The Lost Girl, though, buys it or mentions being able to drink when they are eighteen, as they did in both Party Games and Don’t Stay Up Late. Instead, they sneak it from a parents’ fridge — like we all did. Regardless, the presence of alcohol in these new books is still a shock to me since it was almost never mentioned in the older books. However, it does provide a greater sense of reality. I’m now waiting for a Fear Street protagonist to smoke a couple bowls with friends — parked in a car on Fear Street, of course.

Speaking of the protagonist, it’s a male in The Lost Girl (or at least it is for the majority of the book). A male protagonist is a rarity in the series; I think this is only the third or fourth Fear Street book I have read with a male protagonist. Once again, I wonder if the gender imbalance has something to do with demographics and the target audience. I don’t care what’s between the protagonist’s legs, and apparently did not when I was a kid, either, but it is something I can’t help noticing now.

On a somewhat related topic, read this line for me: “I hugged my cousins David and Mariana. Peter, their four-year-old son, hid behind Mariana, his arms around her legs, and wouldn’t say hi to me” (p. 16). When I first read that I thought, “Wait a minute — that can’t be right.” But it is. Apparently, Elizabeth’s cousins David and Mariana have a kid. Hmmm… There are an above-average number of typos in The Lost Girl, so perhaps the production team missed that line. I don’t know how else it could not have raised a red flag. However, the odd thing is that the cousins and their kid are mentioned again. Weird.

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