Having been a huge fan of R.L. Stine’s books when I was younger (Fear Street!), I had been wanting to read his first adult novel, Red Rain, for a while. This was our chance – the first book of 2015 in our Brunch Book Club and halfway through the month, this string of tweets came from Kate & Jenn, confirming my own feelings with it 1/3 of the way through.
— Kate Plummer (@kateplummer) January 20, 2015
I took that as enough incentive to leave off where I was – which was chapter 27. Up till that point in the book, I figured it was pretty blah but that I had read worse and finished the book but there are way too many other books that I want/need to read to keep on with this one.
It wasn’t until I showed up at Brunch Book Club this month (at the very cute Paris-themed brunch spot Le Neuf Cafe) to meet up with Jenn, Kate, Leora, Ardo and Chandra that I realized Jenn, Kate & Leora did end up
toughing through reading it (Ardo had previously when it first came out). Other than last year’s Paris, which I didn’t finish due to lack of time, I have never EVER not finished a book for brunch book club. To that effect, Jenn and I agreed that there have been some mediocre reads in the 2.5 years we’ve been doing this but none that have been THAT bad to elicit such a lively (and hilarious) discussion. With that introduction in mind, I must give all a SPOILER WARNING and the following thoughts on Red Rain.
Okay, so the group knew how strongly I felt about spoilers so they were initially very cautious about revealing what actually happens but hey, rule #1 of brunch book club is that you can still join us even if you haven’t read the book, you just can’t care about spoilers! and #2, I have no intentions of finishing this book – especially after hearing them talk about what ends up happening. Where I was up to in the book that really made me give up on it was when Mark has just cheated on his wife with his suddenly-sexy assistant. Up till that point, things were obviously weird and obviously .. well, obvious. A lot of foreshadowing and yet it apparently gets a lot weirder. I couldn’t resist, I had to have the others tell me what happens at the end. And you know what it was? The twins could shoot LASER BEAMS out of their eyes, and they wanted to “rule the school”. WTF? That’s IT!? THAT’S the big creepy creepiness?? Jenn definitely said it best: It was like a Goosebumps novel made into an adult book. Oh GOD was I glad I didn’t waste time finishing this (but major kudos to you girls that did!)
Ardo, having read it when it first came out, re-read her review to refresh her memory and thought: yep. Still just as bad as I thought it was. Chandra had mentioned a review she had read of his other novel A Midsummer Night’s Scream that talked about Stine’s slut-shaming of some of the characters. In a way, it was similar with the stigma of Roz being a bit “out there” with being a single mom and Autumn, the assistant who always wore jeans and baggy sweatshirts suddenly dressing really provocatively to seduce him. Not only is that never resolved and Lea never finds out but apparently she gets killed off?! Oh yes, let’s not address the fact that you cheated on your wife.. (which Leora emphatically adds “with the door always open!!”), let’s just have her removed from the story completely.
So what’s the big reveal? How does it all end? Apparently that Lea has been dead this whole time (c’mon.. like nobody saw that coming??). She was killed after the big storm on the island and her friends that she was staying with had “brought her back to life” so she’s been basically a living dead this whole time. The twins are “evil” and also a “zombie” but have been dead for so long that they’ve become evil and hence the laser beam eyes. (Good grief. Seriously, is there an eye-roll emoticon on here?) Oh, and the final line in the book? Roz’s young son now has frickin’ laser beams coming from his eyes too. So he’s been dead all this time too?? Then how come Lea doesn’t? If the twins were “dead for so long” and now is evil with laser eyes, Lea doesn’t, then how does Roz’s kid!?
Well then. That was quite the entertaining brunch we had this morning. All that being said, I’m disappointed. I loved R.L. Stine’s YA books and now wonder if it was always this bad and I was just too young to realize, or if it’s just his adult books that aren’t great. Kate brought up a good point that with his YA stuff, the focus is different. It’s the creepy setting, etc. Where as for an adult book, the readers need more development with the characters, etc. than what Goosebumps would have been. It’s basically like his YA books with a lot more swearing in it.