Well friends: This is it. Our final Fear Street book.
For Graduation Day, L.K. and I did something a little different. We both read the book separately and wrote reviews without looking at the other persons. I still haven't even read L.K.s. So I guess we'll find out who cuts corners in their review style!
Without further ado: L.K. Stine's Graduation Day!
OMG, guys, this is it! Not only the last Seniors book, but also our last Fear Street book, ever. I’m not sure how I feel about this – a little sad and bittersweet. I’m sure I feel nothing like our intrepid seniors, who must be anticipating graduation with dread and a little bit of panic. After watching their classmates horrifically die throughout the year, you have to start to wonder what you’re in for.
So here it is:
We start off with Josie at the mall with Jennifer, the most boring twosome ever (let’s whine some more …) Josie is shopping for something sexy to wear to the party that her and Josh are throwing to stick it to everyone that’s ignored her all year. That’s a little callous, but whatever. Jen disappears, and the dresses Josie’s been looking at turn into the maroon grad gowns of Shadyside High. They start to pour blood and be filled out by skeletons.
Not surprisingly, this is the first dream sequence of the book. Josie wakes up in a cold sweat, wondering if anyone will survive grad.
Josie, Josh and Stacy are at school, talking about the yearbooks. My first thought was: how will they deal with all the memorial pages they have to put in there – I guess the same way they’ve dealt with it every year. Then dumbass Josh answers my questions – muttering he doesn’t want a yearbook because it’s just a book full of pictures of dead people. So they did actually make a memorial section for the dead, I guess R. L. couldn’t overlook that one forever (like he always seems to do with other dead-person stuff, like funerals or grief.)
They open the books to find all the photos of their dead classmates were changed to be decaying corpses. Was it a really insensitive practical joke or something else …? Josie screams “Haven’t we suffered enough!” and runs out. In my head, that was all super melodramatic.
Dana approaches Josie to tell her she can’t make it to her party because she’s too sad over her dead twin. Josie makes the case of being miserable together – sounds like a fun party.
Josie, alone, reminisces about the evil spirit she summoned last June to kill the entire graduating class, and what a big mistake that turned out to be. I’m thinking the biggest theme of this entire series is: Beward the Whiny Teenager.
Annoying Matty comes up to show Josie that Clark Dickenson (aka “Count Clarkula”) didn’t show up in any of the photos taken of him. This is clearly further proof of his vampire-ness. I guess? That’s cool, vampires are sexy.
The next day, Trisha cuts herself arranging trophies in the display case. Clark is next to her and
Trisha has a vision of the entire graduating ceremony attended by nothing but coffins. Yawn – hasn’t she had that one already? Move on, already.
Clark goes to the mall to shop and mischieviously pretends he might not buy something black. Psych! Of course he buys something black. He runs into Matty, who nervously tells him about his photos not turning out. Clark is surprisingly upfront, telling Matty he’s not a vampire but has always enjoyed the attention it gets him – like from Trisha Conrad. To prove he’s not a vampire, he brings Matty to his house and locks him in his room – not too convincing there, Clarkula.
Turns out Clark is a 200 year old immortal. He clouds Matty’s mind and drinks his blood. I … am surprised. All that build up and it actually went somewhere. Huh. Clark makes hungry ugh ugh ugh grunts as he drinks, which I found disturbing. Maybe he wants Matty to be his Renfield.
Josie is studying when the Doom spirit visits her. He takes offence at her “it’s just a dream” comment and proves it isn’t by filling her scalp with maggots. Ick.
She breaks down and confides in Josh about the Doom spirit, telling him everything. He takes her seriously and goes to tell her parent she needs to talk to someone, all the deaths have messed with her head. This is one of the most surprisingly sensitive things I’ve read in Fear Street, it makes sense that after seeing death after death you might want to talk yourself into it being your fault so that maybe you can have some control over it.
Whatever. Josie deals with this by running away to Jennifer’s. They call Trisha over and Josie once again confesses and tells Jen they need to find a spell to stop Doom. Unfortunately, the books had been sold, so they are out of luck. Oh well.
Next day at a student awards ceremony. Josie attends … for no reason, because she sucks. Josh is getting a science prize as well as an award for an essay he wrote on democracy – I thought he has a total dumbass, maybe not so much.
They get started, everyone is present but Phoebe. Don’t worry, she’ll show up soon. They unroll the flag to “The Star-Spangled Banner” – and with it comes Phoebe’s body, hung upside down, swinging along with the flag. I’m saddened by her death, Phoebe was always so feisty.
The kids moan about attending yet another funeral. Josh has had about enough, leave from the church with Matty and Mickey and drive to the Fear Street Woods. Josh is being very introspective, he actually has quite the sensitive side. I would like to see him end up being the hero of the series. It’s actually funny how, at the end of this series, you still have no idea if there is a hero, if there even is a hero. Or who the bad guy is for that. It would also be awesome if it turned out everyone was evil. That would be an excellent ending.
Mickey catches a bat. Joking that it’s Clark, they decide to put it in Clark’s bedroom.
Clark catches them in there. They give him his “present” and he sucks the insides out calmly. He explains he’s clouding their minds, then proceeds to do so. The boys leave, weirded out but not knowing why, but Clark makes Matty stay with him. Josh hears his cry of pain and wonders at it while he leaves.
At the mall, Josh runs after a girl he thinks he went to camp with years ago. She has a gorgeous friend Katrina that Josh flirts with for a bit. She agrees to go out with him, until finding out he’s from Shadyside High. So he really is cursed.
Josie is at the shrink’s office, being made to go there by her parents. The doctor eagerly listens to everything Josie says, then turns into the Doom spirit. The creature swallows Josie, where she falls past howls of pain and distorted faces, ending in darkness.
She wakes up in the doc’s office with an angry woman standing over her. The doctor was sick today, there was no way she should be in here. Josie runs away, which is sensible I think. She goes to open the car, but the handle is burning hot and her hand sticks to it. As she screams, she sees Doom behind the wheel before the car explodes. I’m thinking Doom is having a good time with all of this. Of course, none of that actually happened, Josie is fine.
Grad rehearsal – Mickey is wrapped around another senior, Zella, as opposed to his poor grieving girlfriend. Of course – grief is boring. I don’t like that a new senior is being introduced at this late date without her being in the yearbook of Doom. Couldn’t R. L. have used another character, like Mira Block who appeared in approximately no books but is supposedly a large slut?
Before everything is ready, Pomp and Circumstance blasts out on the speakers, making everyone cover their ears. Slowly, a procession of maroon gowns walk into the auditorium, all of them corpses – Debra, Danielle, Marla, Ty … all of the dead seniors. Fucked up!
The living run out, but not before Josie sees Marla get up to give her valedictorian speech. Well, she would, wouldn’t she?
So, everyone believes Josie now, and they figure they’re fucked.
Trisha and Josie go to the Fear mansion because there’s nothing better to do. Trisha has a vision, she sees a door with a big crack in it, and in a man’s voice pleads for help.
Trisha runs to the side of the house. Finding the door, together they open it. They are sucked in to a place full of skeletons grabbing at them. A handsome living man named Henry Conrad approaches them. He’s Trish’s great-grandfather. He asks him to get him out.
Josie isn’t sure if they should trust the random guy who hangs out with skeletons, but he tells her he can defeat Doom when he’s out. Josie’s sold. Also, a weird jellyfish attacks her and Henry rescues her, so he must be awesome.
When they get to the door, Henry runs and keeps on running. Over his shoulder, he tells them that to summon him, just say “I summon thee” three times and he’ll be there. He also yells that they haven’t seen the last of him, which sounds vaguely like a threat. He runs around the side of the building.
What the fuck was that?
Clark goes to visit Trisha. He’s so thirsty he’s losing control. He begs her to go out to a movie so he can drink her in private. He bites her in the car … or almost. The police pull up and tell them to move along. Trisha asks him to take her home and gets out quickly before he can pull anything. Clark impotently reaches after her – not much of a vampire, is he. Instead, he eats Trisha’s kitten. Um, just noticed the potential sexual reference there when writing that – very naughty, R. L. Who do you think you are, Bram Stoker?
Josie and Josh get ready for the party. Trisha and Matty come in, yelling about how Clark is a vampire and they have to do something. Trisha was onto him in the car and Matty’s been remembering some of his “alone time” with Clark.
Trish is determined to kill him. They decide to invite him over right away for his staking so he doesn’t ruin the party. Trisha entices him over. Clark comes over all eager, and to me he’s still a metaphor for teen sex and experimentation, I swear.
Josie sends him to the den where Matty is waiting with a stake. Screaming ensues. Matty comes out triumphant, saying Clark just crumbled.
So they start a very lame party, where a bet a bunch of people just start crying, when an unexpected (expected?) guest shows up – Doom. A screen of smoke comes up where Josie watches as each of her friends is grotesquely murdered (I mean, Jen has her arms ripped off and then is strangled with them, seriously). That’s just the preview, though, a warm up to the real thing.
Josie starts to summon random Henry Conrad, but the snakes that hang out in Doom’s eye sockets jump down her throat. She vomits violently enough to get rid of them to summon Henry.
A gorgeous Henry walks into the room, apparently set on killing Doom. Unfortunately, he just turns out to be more Doom, doubling its strength. Oops!
The den door flies open and out flies Clark. He’s still “alive” or undead or what-have-you. Matty claims he couldn’t kill Clark … because he’s a vampire too!
Matty and Clark fly over Doom and proclaim the ancient evil of the vampire is more powerful, so they win. They crush Doom to yellow dust, which swirls around, knocking Kenny over in the process, before falling on everyone like snow.
Matty and Clark turn into bats and fly away. Well, I didn’t see that one coming, but it looks like they are the heroes of this piece.
Grad Day. Everyone is super happy now that they’re not going to die horribly. In his valedictorian speech, Kenny asks for a moment of silence in memorial of their lost classmates.
Then Kenny turns into Doom, who had hidden in his body at the party. It wishes Josie a Happy Graduation …
Okay, okay, what the fuck? This book was so full of random shit I can’t even follow. The actual plot line contained like two things – have a party, graduate. And yet, R. L. threw in everything he had for that one. This book was actually crazy. I kind of loved it. I will give it 85 corpsified graduates out of 99, for a very satisfying end of the Fear Street books.
And here is my Graduation Day!
Well kids, it’s hard to believe we’ve finally come to our last book. Sorry for the delay in writing this last review, but I’ve started back at SCHOOL this fall and it requires some time that I had specifically put aside for Fear Street.
It’s only fitting that the last book of the Seniors Series (and of the Fear Street Series) is absolutely fucking insane. Like it’s unreal. All over the map! It’s broken into five separate parts, so maybe that will help us keep track of all the insanity that happens.
Our main protagonist in this book is Josie Maxwell who is an okay character, although a little whiney for my taste. Like, one of the first sentences she utters is “I need something sexy. Something to make everyone wish they hadn’t ignored me this year.” Ugh. If Josie was a guy, I’d say he was close to being a serial killer, but since she’s a girl...I’m just going with typical, whiney girl.
Josie is out whining to her friend Jennifer Fear, as they’re shopping for “sexy” outfits to wear to Josie’s graduation party. Catsuits, anyone? Josie’s had a rough time this year and this shopping trip doesn’t really help her. She starts hallucinating that the clothing store is just full of red graduation robes. And those red graduation robes are suddenly full of ... skeletons! And there’s blood all over the floor! Josie takes this to mean that “no one will survive graduation...” Well not with that attitude!
Josie is waiting with her friend Stacey, and annoying dork Matty Winger for the school yearbooks to be delivered. They’re all a little anxious to see their hard work in print, especially because there’s a special section for all the dead students. That must be a HUGE section! Like 10 kids died already, right? When they get the yearbook, they’re all a little disappointed... seeing as all the photographs of the dead kids have been replaced with pictures of rotting corpses! Hmmm at first I thought that was another one of Josie’s hallucinations, but no, the pictures were really changed. Seems a little juvenile for an evil spirit, yes? So maybe it was done by a real person! Eh, I don’t know, we’ll find out.
Josie does us the solid of recapping what started this whole messy year off. She chanted the Doom Spell at Jennifer’s house (you know, because she’s a Fear) and later, the whole senior class was killed by a cloaked skeleton in various disturbing way. She somehow escaped and used another spell to turn time back an hour and everyone was alive again. But she thinks the cloaked skeleton has been stalking the graduating class and killing them off one by one. (You guys should really go check out L.K.’s recap of “Let’s Party”, the first Seniors book where this all takes place. This is the party recap: “Josie comes out of the bathroom. The cloaked skeleton comes to the party and rips everyone apart. Bummer.” Haha!)
Matty interrupts Josie’s silent thinking time to let her know another creepy thing about the yearbook. Even though Matty took half a roll of film on Clark aka Count Clarkula, nothing showed up! It’s just a blank square. Apparently that's enough evidence to make Clark a real vampire. Except... if the yearbook printers didn’t notice they printed a bunch of CORPSES, I kinda doubt they’re going to notice if one kid’s picture is blank. Let’s be fair.
So the next day at school Josie see’s Trisha Conrad cut herself pretty severely on her locker. While this wasn’t very interesting in itself, it’s ultra interesting that she was with CLARK and they talk about hanging out later. Josie thinks to herself that Trisha’s been pretty cut up since her boyfriend Gary Fresno was killed. On the way to the nurses office, Trisha has another one of her visions. She saw the podium and the auditorium for graduation... except the rows were just filled with coffins. Trisha starts screaming at Josie that “IT’S NOT GOING TO LET US GRADUATE!!” Jeez. These two need to stop hanging out together.
This section is all from Count Clarkula’s point of view. He goes to mall to find a new outfit for the graduation party. He gets himself all in a tizzy when he thinks about how Trisha cut herself and bled everywhere this morning. Is he grossed out, or turned on? It’s hard to tell with Clark, or teenaged boys in general. He runs into Matty, who confronts him about not having a picture in the yearbook. Awful brave of Matty, don’t we think? Clark outright tells Matty that he’s not a vampire, and if Matty will come back to his house, he will totally prove it to him! Hmmm... that seems like a bad plan.
And it is. Clark gets Matty back to his place and confesses that he is a vampire. And then proceeds to drink Matty’s blood! Wait, is this another hallucination? Nope! Clark has the strength of “200 year of immortality” behind him and easily overpowers Matty. Well, that was almost unexpected. I wonder if R.L. planned to make Clark a vampire the whole time? Clark sucks Matty’s blood in kind of a homoerotic way, until he’s interrupted by Trisha calling. And he tells her he’s been thinking of her. While sucking blood out of Matty’s elbow? Sure he has.
Josie is studying for her calculus final in her bedroom, mostly because her dad says if she does well this year, he *might* buy her a car. That’s a pretty good trick actually. He doesn’t have to really buy her a car, but gets the results out of Josie anyways! I’ll probably use that on my children. Ahh parenting tips from R.L.
Anyways, Josie is starting to get mad at her stepbrother Josh for playing his terrible music so loud, but when she turns around...the hooded skeleton is there! She’s convinced she’s dreaming but the skull says he’ll prove he’s real: by making maggots come out of her scalp. GROSS. But then he just fade away, which really seems like a missed opportunity if he’s in the killing-seniors business.
Josie decides it’s time to tell Josh what’s been going on. You know, with regards to an ancient demon killing all their friends. She tells him the whole story, about the doom spell, everyone dying, then her going back in time to stop it. Surprisingly Josh is pretty understanding, and promises to help her figure it all out.
Oh sorry, did I say help her figure it out? I meant he wants to get her the HELP she needs. He immediately goes to their mom and tells her that Josie has gone crazy. When Josie overhears their conversation, she decides to run over to Jennifer’s house and enlist her help with defeating this skeleton thing. She gets Trisha to come over too, since she’s a True Fear. After she tells the girls what’s been going on, neither of them really jump on board. I think it’s the whole time-travel thing. Or that she watched everyone die. I’m not sure. Josie goes to find The Spell Book that she originally used to cast the Doom Spell in the Fear’s library. Only, Jennifer’s dad got rid of all their (evil) Fear memorabilia!
She seems to just give up after that because the next scene is at the awards ceremony for the seniors. This scene basically just has Josie complaining that she’s not smart enough to get an award and dumping on everyone else who does. Super cool, Josie. At least you’re smart enough to cast a spell to kill everyone that makes you mad! Nothing happens at the ceremony until the end, when they pull back the curtains and Phoebe Yamura is dangling from a rope, dead. That’s kind of an unceremonious end to Phoebe, don’t you think?
After Phoebe’s funeral, Josh, Matty and their friend Mickey go for a long car ride to clear their heads. While they’re in the woods, Matty catches a bat (how? why?) and they decide to play a joke on Count Clarkula. They also ask Matty how he got the huge bandage on his elbow and Matty’s all “I can’t remember”. Totally normal, happens to me all the time.
So they troop over to Clark’s house and break in to set a bat loose in his room. I’m not sure HOW this is a really funny prank, but they all think it is. Until Clark catches them in his room. And proceeds to eat the bat while the boys look on in horror. After he’s finished with the poor bat (you’d think vampires would have more respect) he “clouds” the boy’s minds by staring at them, and Josh, Matty and Mickey forgot they saw anything unusual. As the boys go to leave in confusion, Clark asks Matty to stay for a little longer. Sexy times!
Josie is still upset about everything (unsurprisingly, since she hasn’t actually fixed anything yet) and is having nightmares about all her dead friends. Her mom tells her that she HAS to go see a psychiatrist for her own good. Josie reluctantly agrees. The next day her and Josh go to the mall to get supplies for the graduation party their going to have where everyone will die. Maybe! Josh thinks he sees some girls he knows and runs to chat them up. He ends up inviting one to his party, but when she finds out what school she’s from, she runs away in horror. Smooth, Josh. After being rejected, he accosts some strange girl because he hallucinates that it’s long-dead Debra Lake. Maybe he believes Josie now?
Josie goes to the psychiatrist, but instead of speaking to a Dr. Gollub, it ends up being the skeleton demon. And it eats her? Does that mean she’s dead? No, she’s just transported to some crazy hell world, full of twisted agony, then spit out on the other side. This really feels like another missed killing opportunity for the skeleton demon!
She wakes up on the floor of the psychiatrist and the assistant is all “Dr. Gollub is sick today, WTF are you doing?”. When she gets to her car, the door handle is burning hot! And her hand gets stuck to it. Guess who’s in the driver’s seat? The skeleton, here to drive her to hell. Or probably not, since he’s terrible at actually killing Josie. The demon makes the car burst into flames and explode, which hurts Josie but doesn’t kill her. And also didn’t leave any damage to her car, which is totally fine when she stands up. Kinda lame.
Josie is at the graduation rehearsal the next day. Everything seems to be going well (no one dies) until Pomp and Circumstance begins to play excruciatingly loudly. No one knows where the music is coming from until the auditorium doors swing open, and all the dead seniors start marching in. Not in a Ha-Ha-fooled-you-we’re-not-dead-way. But in a really creepy, totally ZOMBIE corpse march. The rest of the surviving seniors stamped out of the auditorium but Josie can’t resist a look back. On stage, Zombie Marla Newman, is giving a silent valedictorian speech! Even a bitch when she’s dead, eh?
Trisha and Josie decide to take matters in their own hands. By going to the destroyed old Fear Mansion, where nothing good happens. GREAT idea!
Trisha has a vision as soon as the girls get to the Fear Mansion. She sees a very particular door, and behind it, a man is crying for help. Trisha runs off ahead and easily finds the door at the back of the mansion (seems suspicious...). They tug the door open and get sucked inside. Into another world of evil! Bony hands, ghost calls, and howling spirits surround the girls. They find the man though, and it turns out that he is Trisha’s great-grandfather, Henry Conrad. He needs their help to escape the haunted world (although it seems like the girls are pretty useless at anything at that point). They’re not sure if they trust him, but he promises to help them once they’re out in the real world. Trisha decide’s that family ties are suddenly important, so they help him.
Henry lead them to the way out to the real world, but not before Josie can get swallowed by some large, gelatinous monster. Henry saves her pretty quick and they escape no problem. Was that monster really necessary then, R.L.? As soon as they’re out of the mansion, Henry Conrad sprints away from them. He yells back that when they need his help, just repeat three times “I summon thee”. Umm doesn’t that sound unnecessarily negative?
Clark is hanging out with Trisha and thinking about how outrageously thirsty he is. Why didn’t he just call his little blood buddy, Matty? He takes her out for a date, then to a deserted area of the woods to make his move. And by move I mean kill her. He’s just about to bite her when the police show up and tell them to move their party along. Ahhh Fear Street police. You only show up when kids are making out, hey? Trisha gets Clark to drop her off, and since he didn’t get to drink Trisha’s blood he settles for the next best thing. Her little kitty, Minnie! Poor Minnie.
Josh and Josie are getting ready for the party. Josie is now supremely confident that nothing will happen to them because her and Trisha “got protection”. You mean Trisha’s weird time traveling grandfather? What does Josie think he’s gonna do? But her and Josh seem confident as they set out bowls of chips. Trisha and Matty burst in with big news: Clark is a vampire! Trisha actually saw his fangs before the police interrupted their party. And Matty all of a sudden remembers that Clark has been drinking his blood for the past few weeks. Randomly. They decide that Clark is the real reason everyone in their class has been dying, and not the skeleton demon that Josie has been seeing. Josie seems okay with this development even though that totally makes her crazy.
The kids get Clark to come over to the party early. Their plan is to get Matty to drive a stake through Clark’s heart while no one watches. REALLY? That’s the plan? Trisha, Josh and Josie all hide, and they hear a scream and Matty’s alone when they come back in the room so... the plan worked perfectly! God, no wonder these kids all die.
Even though Clark is dead, no one is really in the mood to party that night. Everyone just sits on the edges of the room and chats quietly. But the party really picks up when the skeleton demon finally arrives! Josie’s not worried though, because she has a secret weapon. Go go gadget elderly man!!
Josie doesn’t get to finish her summoning spell at first though because snakes jump out of the skull’s eye sockets and plunge down her throat. Ugh! She finally manages to scream “I summon thee” three times and Henry Conrad quickly strides into the room. What, was he just waiting outside for his cue? Unsurprisingly however, Henry Conrad turns out to be another skeleton demon in disguise. Josie pretty much gives up on life at that point, since she the two murderous skeleton demons have merged into one bigger demon in her living room. But at least she killed Clark!
Or did she? Clark comes bursting into the den (was he waiting with Henry?) and Matty confesses he didn’t kill Clark...because he’s a vampire too. Then Clark and Matty start shouting at the skeleton demon about how THEIR VAMPIRE evil is way more badass than the spirits evil. REALLY? They tear the skeleton’s head off and crush all its bones. Then the bone powder swirls around Kenny Klein, and then it falls to the floor like snow.
Everyone silently watches the two life-partners, Matty and Clark transform into bats and flap away into the night together. All the surviving seniors cheer and celebrate that now they can graduate in peace!
Except the next day, after Kenny Klein gives his valedictorian speech, he hugs Josie backstage and reveals that he’s the skeleton demon in disguise. “Happy Graduation, Josie!”
Surprise! That was fucked up. A fitting end though, yes? I’ll give Graduation Day 49 zombie graduates out of 54. Pretty well done R.L.!