Fear Street Cheerleaders #2: The Second Evil
The Second Evil picks up a few months after The First Evil, with the Cheerleaders being divided on whether or not the evil spirit is still with them. With two of the biggest characters from the first book now dead, Corky, Kimmy, and Debra are left to pick up the pieces. There’s one pretty gruesome death scene, and we got some history on the infamous Fear family, but overall The Second Evil was a lot more of the same. The Evil itself is revealed to be impulsive and, quite frankly, stupid. It definitely lacks the level of planning I would expect from something ancient and powerful. Middle books in trilogies are notoriously difficult, and The Second Evil was unfortunately no exception. I hope the third book is better.
ERMAHGERD Special Edition: Evil Cheerleader #2. Photo by Lindsay Pacelli.
Observations & Spoilers
The Second Evil opens with Corky still distraught over her sister’s death. She has left the Cheerleading squad and is now dating Chip. Chip is on the high school football team, and he had his own run-in with The Evil in book one. He also used to date Kimmy and briefly dated Bobbi. Kimmy is now the Cheerleading team captain, and notably much nicer than she was in book one. She and Debra are trying to get Corky to rejoin the squad. Debra has been getting super into crystals and generic occult stuff, which I really appreciated. It’s actually pretty on brand for a white suburban teenage girl trying to be edgy in the early 90s. She turns out to be very right about one thing, though. The Evil is still very much with them.
I really liked the new character Sarah Beth Plumber. She turns out to be a descendant of the infamous Fear family. Through her, the girls learn more about the demise of Sarah Fear, whose grave was the last known resting place for the evil spirit. They also spent some time in the old burned down Fear Mansion near the Fear Street Cemetery. Debra’s seance didn’t really go anywhere, and they randomly found a dog in there but then never revisited that plot point. All of these details got me excited for Halloween 2020, when I will be revisiting the Fear Street Saga.
The Second Evil featured two more deaths. There was Jennifer’s brother, Jon, who was the only person who was suspicious of the girls and their story about his sisters death. He was found drowned in Fear Lake. The other was Corky’s boyfriend, Chip, who met a pretty gruesome end. Corky was unlucky enough to discover Chip, just as she had discovered her sister in The First Evil. She sure has a knack for finding dead bodies of students on school grounds. Someone should be suspicious, right? Oh, only Jon? Ok. Well, Chip was found drowned in his own blood after having his hand cut off with a saw in shop class. I was torn between using a woodchipper gif from Fargo or a chainsaw gif from the Evil Dead 2. Since neither is perfect fit, I opted for both.
The Evil turned out to be kinda stupid, or at the very least it’s awful at planning. It’s plan for killing Corky by having Kimmy not catch her was pretty terrible. It did this in front of the whole school, where Kimmy was fully implicated. Way to blow your cover, Evil Spirit. I would expect an ancient evil to be more patient, but also have a better sense of self preservation. The Evil apparently has neither; all that matters is murder, drama, and more murder. The drop scene also felt repetitive, since Bobbi had already dropped Kimmy in book one. When it’s bad plan failed to kill Corky, the Evil tried again that same night. In full control of Kimmy’s body, it attempted to drown Corky in her own bathtub. This poorly thought out plan also ended in failure.
Corky ended up semi-drowning Kimmy, which induced Kimmy to barf out the evil into the bathtub. Kimmy had no memories of anything since the events at the end of book one. Corky hopes the evil might be gone for good, but those hopes are dashed when she receives an ominous note that says: IT CAN’T BE DROWNED. Will the girls have what it takes to get rid of the evil spirit once and for all? Will their Razzmatazz be enough to stop a demon with poor planning skills? Tune in next week to find out.
For the scoring of each book, I decided to rate them based on five criteria worth 2 point each. I then split that in two to give it a rating out of 5 stars. Those criteria are Concept (the overall idea), Execution (the mechanics of storytelling), Character (the protagonists, antagonists, and villains), Scare Factor (from a childhood standpoint), and Originality (subversion and reliance on genre tropes).Based on GoodReads aggregate ratings, The Second Evil is ranked 29th of 79 in the overall Fear Street series and the Cheerleaders trilogy is ranked 5th of 6 among the Fear Street Trilogies, placing the book itself in the middle-high tier overall. The trilogy as a whole lands in the bottom tier when compared to other trilogies. It should be noted that the series ranking for the Fear Street books is a bit skewed in favor of the later books in the series, most likely due to the drop in popularity in the late 90’s. The books in the latter half of the series have a significantly lower number of ratings, which (I’m hypothesizing) is due to super-fans being unchecked by more critical voices.
Conceptually, this one is no different than the last one. The mystery of who the evil spirit has infected keeps everyone guessing, but isn’t all that surprising. Book two is ultimately more of the same, but I did like that it delved deeper into the mysterious Fear family history, though.
The motives of the evil spirit got really muddy in this one. In Book 1, it had the benefit of being more mysterious, but in Book 2 it started to get repetitive. Middle books in trilogies are notoriously difficult, and this one fell into a lot of those traps.
On one hand, we got Sarah Beth Plumber, a descendant of the infamous Fear family. On the other hand, The Evil revealed itself to be kinda stupid. The way it decides to try and kill Corky was really poorly thought out. Kimmy would have been immediately implicated.
Scare Factor: 1/2
Chip’s death scene was pretty brutal, and we got to spend a lot of time in the graveyard, even making it all the way to the Fear Street mansion. But overall it fell short of the first book on this mark.
As with the first book, this one is not all that original. In fact, it’s kinda repetitive. The Evil does pulls a lot of the same pranks as id did in Book 1. The Second Evil did not bring forth anything particularly new.
Don’t miss the next blog in this series:
Fear Street Cheerleaders #3: The Third Evil
Be sure to also check out the next Goosebumps blog:
Goosebumps #11: The Haunted Mask