By R. L. Stine.
Karen and Ann Marie’s friendship has often been troubled by jealousy and arguments over boys. But having recently broken up with their boyfriends, the girls are looking forward to spending a carefree summer together in Karen’s father’s apartment on Venice Beach. On the first day of their vacation, the girls meet bad boy Vince and clean-cut, handsome Jerry… and Karen is instantly attracted to them both! But when they go out with Jerry that night, Karen discovers he already has a girlfriend, Renee, who is not shy in warning Karen to back off and leave her man alone. When Karen shuns Renee’s advice, she becomes a victim of threatening phone calls and spray-painted messages, warning her to ‘Stay away from Jerry’… As if this wasn’t enough, Karen has to contend with the surprise appearance of her ex, Mike, as well as Ann Marie’s increasingly suspicious behaviour. When the threats turn to violence, and even murder, Karen realises she needs to identify her tormentor, before it is too late.
The blurb and the first couple of chapters of Beach Party suggest it is about a love triangle between Karen, Jerry and Vince. However, there is a more defined love triangle between Karen, Jerry and poor Renee. Renee, the most obvious red herring in a novel teeming with obvious red herrings. Beach Party clearly aspires to be a whodunit, but the mystery of who is targeting Karen is subordinate to the far more compelling enigma of why every male character is so attracted to her. She’s self-involved, overly critical of others, and repeatedly snubs her best friend – who has travelled cross-country to be with her – in favour of boys who are described as looking like James Belushi and Sting. Such is R. L. Stine’s understanding of what teenage girls found attractive in the 1990’s. We also get various references to places in LA and more than one shout-out to the clothing company, Esprit – making me wonder whether this book might be the result of a tax-deductible vacation and a product-placement bung. If so, R. L. Stine got far more out of Beach Party than the reader ever could.
A bland entry in the Point Horror franchise, with weak characters and a dull twist. Instantly forgettable.
Even if there was a sense of danger at any point, it would be impossible to care.