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A Reader of Fictions: Review: Red Rain

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Review: Red Rain

Red Rain

Author: R.L. Stine
Pages: 384
Publisher: Touchstone
Source: Publisher for Review

Description from Goodreads:
R.L. Stine, New York Times bestselling author of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series—the biggest selling children’s books of all time—delivers a terrifying new adult horror novel centered on a town in the grip of a sinister revolt.

Before there was J.K. Rowling, before there was Stephenie Meyer or Suzanne Collins, there was R.L. Stine. Witty, creepy, and compulsively readable, he defined horror for a generation of young readers—readers who have now come of age.

Travel writer Lea Sutter finds herself on a small island off the coast of South Carolina, the wrong place at the wrong time. A merciless, unanticipated hurricane cuts a path of destruction and Lea barely escapes with her life. In the storm’s aftermath, she discovers orphaned twin boys and impulsively decides to adopt them. The boys, Samuel and Daniel, seem amiable and immensely grateful; Lea’s family back on Long Island—husband Mark and their two children, Ira and Elena—aren’t quite so pleased. But even they can’t anticipate the twins’ true nature—or predict that, within a few weeks’ time, Mark will wind up implicated in two brutal murders, with the police narrowing in.

For the millions of readers who grew up on Goosebumps, and for every fan of deviously inventive horror, this is a must-read from a beloved master of the genre.

First Sentence: "By morning, the hurricane had passed."

Like most kids of my generation, Goosebumps books were part of my formation as a reader. What elementary school kid didn't pick up at least a few of them on library trips. R. L. Stine was a freaking genius of horror to my childhood self. In fact, his books terrified me to the degree that I could only handle reading the Choose Your Own Adventure books, which, ironically, scared me less even though it was purportedly me dying over and over again, since I invariably made all the wrong choices. The other ones, though, I just did not have the mettle for at the time.

Because of my childhood fear of his books, I just could not pass up the opportunity to review his adult horror novel when the opportunity appeared in my inbox. Even at the time, I knew it was probably a bad idea, back before I started to see the negative reviews rolling in, but my inner child just had to see for itself what frightened me so much back in the day. As feared, Red Rain was not a good book, however it was thankfully bad enough to be highly entertaining in parts, which was pretty much its only saving grace.

For one thing, Stine's bread and butter has been writing for children, young ones, and he's been doing it since the 1980s. I remember the children's books of those days, because I read them for a while, before shifting to adult novels pretty young. The standards for children's literature were just not as high writing-wise as I feel they are today. I found the writing in Red Rain rather juvenile, though certainly there are plenty of successful authors of adult novels who make good careers on that. This style of writing does not appeal to me, however.

The biggest issue with the way he chose to write this novel, though, was that he set a lot of the action off-screen. He would be ramping up to something scary and would then the chapter would end and we would be stuck again with the mundane family drama. He did this to build suspense I think, as to who was committing the series of brutal murders, but, unfortunately, this was insanely obvious all along, so all that it did was take away a possibly terrifying scene. All told, there are only a few horror scenes in the whole book, and they take place in the last hundred pages or so.

Rather than giving the audience any actual action, he tries to keep them on the edge of their seats with suspense by constantly foreshadowing the horrors to come. This method can work, but its handled here with the subtlety of a brick through a window. For instance, Lea, a travel blogger, decides to go to the mysterious and creepy island off the coast of South Carolina, Cape Le Chat Noir. Oooh, the Cape of the Black Cat. Oh no, black cats are bad luck! Ahhhhhh! 

There are also comments like this one from Lea in regards to the island ritual where people are purportedly killed and brought back to life: "'I always think these rituals are a hoot, don't you? They're almost always like from a bad horror movie. Hope I don't burst out laughing'" (17). That deftly sums up the whole book, and, spoiler alert, I totally did bust out laughing.

For those of you that fear spoilers, now is probably about the time to duck out; you have been warned.

During all those other pages where you're waiting for Stine to finally admit to the insanely obvious twist about what precisely is occurring here, you get to enjoy a lot of time with the characters. Sadly, the characters lack depth and a lot of things happen for no apparent reason. Mark, the father of the family, cheats on his wife with his assistant, but nothing ever comes of this at all. Lea never finds out, so this apparently happens only to add one more cliché to the book.

As the blurb mentions, the family adopts blond twins from Cape Le Chat Noir. Let's disregard the fact that the adoption process does not take just a couple of days and focus on the twins, Daniel and Samuel. Yes, these kids are rather creepy, and I am terrified by creepy children. They could have been super scary, I imagine, but I wanted to kill them not so much for being evil but for being incredibly annoying. These kids, though they're from an island off the coast of South Carolina, speak in some weird accent that seems like some combination of Irish and Cockney English, constantly calling people 'bruvver' and 'boyo.'

Even worse than their obnoxious way of speaking is their evil plan, which definitely reveals Stine's experience in writing horror for children and not for adults. Daniel and Samuel aim to take over the world middle school. Yup, that's their grand evil aim: "to rule the school." Pardon me while I shiver in my boots. I mean, damn, middle school is like the worst part of life and they are welcome to it. Also, their scheme for domination involves painting blue arrows on the cheeks of themselves and their comrades, like demented Avatar rejects.

Then there's the big showdown, which is where I totally lost it. Seriously, I was sitting in my house, reading about the cops arriving to confront the kids that had taken over the middle school and I was cackling like a mad woman. Inside, the kids have gotten the kitchen staff to cook for them, bacon and eggs, because school food is so incredibly delicious. The boys then go outside and totally dominate the police force with their powers (though Daniel's power is merely making Samuel use his really). Also, Sam's power? He shoots laser beams out of his eyes. He's a poor kid's Cyclops, basically.

Despite the superiority of laser eyes, the kids are taken out by the supremely lame action moves of Mark. Right. Then there's the tear-inducingly hilarious reveal of the final twist and the final destruction of the twins. Now, since this is running through classic horror territory, it can't just end that way, so there has to be one more final twist, leaving room for another hilariously awful book: the powers have moved to someone else, even though it makes no sense whatsoever even by the book's own logic. Hurrah!

Probably I should rate this lower than I have, but I'm giving it bonus points for giving me some good laughter. I didn't have enjoy it in the way I was supposed to, but I did get entertainment from it. If only I could believe this was intended to be a parody.

Rating: 2/5

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Blogger kara-karina@Nocturnal Book Reviews said...

You had me at @despite the superiority of his laser eyes" AHAHA! Fantastic review, but I'll make sure to avoid this book in the future. Looks like it's NOT for me too!

November 11, 2012 at 5:46 AM  
Blogger Giselle said...

Huh. Well I loved Goosebumps (those books rule! They just do!!) and his Shiver series, I was definitely raising eyebrows at RL Stine--Master of child horror --writing an adult book. I pretty much expected what you ot. Entertaining but still pretty youngish in writing and lots of cheesy lameness. BOOURNS!!

November 11, 2012 at 8:45 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

I'm totally going into this one thinking B-Grade Horror Movie. Which I love by the way, so if nothing else the cheesiness will keep me entertained.

Laser beam eyes. Teehee.

Great review :)

November 11, 2012 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Steph Sinclair said...

Oh gosh. The Create Your Own Adventure scared the shit out of me! My mom had to take all my RL Stine books away from me because I was having nightmares every night. But they were awesome!

Tho... this one sounds not so awesome. Great, funny review, Christina! At least it was good for the laughs!

Best part of the review: "Pardon me while I shiver in my boots. I mean, damn, middle school is like the worst part of life and they are welcome to it. Also, their scheme for domination involves painting blue arrows on the cheeks of themselves and their comrades, like demented Avatar rejects."


November 11, 2012 at 4:01 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Ha, thanks!

November 12, 2012 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, I think child horror is his thing, and he should do that.

November 12, 2012 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yes, go into like that, and just let it entertain you!

November 12, 2012 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Bahaha, I don't think they gave me nightmares (those came from movies...I still sometimes have Jurassic Park-inspired nightmares).

It was good for lols.

If only I had made that up. :-p

November 12, 2012 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Steph Sinclair said...

Oh, we can't even get started on Jurassic Park. My mother forever scarred me for life by taking me to see that. To this day, I still cannot watch those movies. So much terror. *weeps* I'll never be the same. THANKS, Mommy Dearest!

November 14, 2012 at 8:47 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Hahaha, my mom tried to stop me, but dinosaurs! I love them, so I had to go. All those nightmares were my own fault. Like that one where I owned a baby t-rex that grew up to eat everyone in the neighborhood. Oops!

November 15, 2012 at 11:00 AM  

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