A few words about the Nostalgi-AAARGH feature:
I was chatting with Zoé O’Farrell, fellow book-blogger of Zooloo’s Book Diary fame, about…well, books, of course! During our chat it turned out that we both spent large chunks of our early teen years enthralled by a series of books published by Scholastic from 1991 onwards under the series banner Point Horror.
Personally, I devoured every Point Horror book I could find in my school and local library – some of them multiple times. I have fond memories of summer holidays spent reading these books by authors such as Christopher Pike, R. L. Stine, Richie Tankersley Cusick and more… on the beach, in the garden, behind the sofa, but most of all, under the bedcovers with a torch and a shiver!
As we are both bookcrazy, Zoé and I decided that our towering TBR piles were just not enough, and so we hatched a plot to read all of the Point Horror books (in the order listed here), to relive some of those teenage chills and see how they hold up in our *mumbles* years. And so the Nostalgi-AAARGH joint-feature was conceived.
Now read on… with caution!
Slumber Party – Christopher Pike (1985)
Blurb: It was a perfect weekend … for murder.
Lara thought the ski trip would be a blast. The old gang was getting together for the first time in years. But then there’s a very unexpected visitor….
I hadn’t read Slumber Party in my teens, but many of the beloved tropes that I remember so well are present here: there are no parents or other authority figure around that the girls can turn to; the location is isolated, and this is exacerbated by the weather; the main character has a secret in her past, and so does every other character; EVERYONE is a suspect!
One of the obvious observations, which I suspect will crop up more than once during the course of this feature, is that these books were written in a different time. The flippant jokes about issues like anorexia or disability were unremarkable in the fiction of 30+ years ago, but I just cannot imagine some of the attitudes in modern teen fiction and it actually felt a little shocking how much this dated the character interactions and dialogue.
The plot is straightforward and easy-to-follow (if the motivations are a little vague!). Six girls head up the snowy mountains for a girl’s weekend skiing and hanging out. Almost immediately odd events start to stack up, and everyone begins to act strangely, except for Lara – our main character – who is merely suspiciously calm about the whole thing! It soon becomes clear that the girls’ past has returned to haunt them, as someone is out for some rough justice… but who?
The six girls can be easily split into pairs for descriptive purposes: Lara and Dana are the ‘normal’ girls that the reader is supposed to identify with; Rachael and Mindy are the stereotypical Mean Girls (think Regina and Karen and you wouldn’t be too far wrong!) and Nell and Celeste are the studious, quiet, ‘good girls’ that act as the voice of conscience/reason. Of course, these are first impressions and EVERYONE has secrets!
It’s fascinating, again as a modern, adult reader, to note how obsessed the girls are with boys, to the extent of ignoring obvious warning signs because… paaaarty! Still, well, hormones are a thing. Even more interesting was how little this group of ‘best friends’ like each other. They have little in common, don’t enjoy each other’s company, and actively despise each others values and behaviours. I have no idea why they even thought it would be a good idea to speak to each other, let alone head off on a rural break!
That said, I did get a slight frisson during the climactic reveal, despite having sussed who the ‘villain’ was, and it was a nice, easy read. I would class this as a reasonable start to the series, which introduces the mild level of fear and some of the real-life teen concerns covered.
“When we were nine years old,” Lara began, “Nell had an accident.”
“It was nobody’s fault,” Dana interjected.
“She got burned,” Lara continued. “Her face and hands. She had to have extensive plastic surgery, which was very painful. She looks okay now, but it’s always there between us. You see, the accident that burned her – each one of us contributed to it.” Lara tried to smile to relieve the tension. “I guess you would call it our deep, dark secret.”
“Was anyone else hurt?” Celeste asked, stooping down to make a snowball.
Obviously she did not notice how badly the topic disturbed them.
“No.” Dana said quickly.
Do not talk about it. Do not remember.
“No one else,” Lara echoed weakly; not exactly a lie. Nicole hadn’t really been hurt.
Nicole had died.
– Christopher Pike, Slumber Party
Slumber Party is available on Amazon Marketplace via various second-hand booksellers.
You’ve seen my thoughts, but what did Zoé think??? All of her blog links are below, but for those who can’t wait I asked her a few little questions to whet your appetites!
1. Is Slumber Party one of the Point Horror books you read in your teens, and if so then how does it compare now?
I really don’t remember reading Slumber Party – shocking, I know! I thought I had read them all. I think as a teen I would have probably enjoyed it so much more; now all I think of is 80s slasher films, full of cheese, with all the stereotypes. Still so much fun!
2. Which of the six girls (Lara, Dana, Rachael, Mindy, Nell, Celeste) did you most identify with at the start, and did that change by the end (no spoilers!)?
Well I think I saw a little bit of myself in all of the girls, bar one or two! I think you are meant to relate to Lara as she’s the MC and seemingly the most “normal” of them all, despite her behaviour. I don’t think it changed too much by the end because none of them changed or learned anything! I think Dana would probably be my favourite though!
3. How scary did you find it on a scale from 1 (mild goosebumps) to 10 (had to keep it in the freezer)?
Can I have 0?! I would say 1. It was more a cheese factor than a scare factor. It wasn’t long enough to build the scares and I think I get more scared looking in the mirror first thing in the morning!
You can find Zoé’s full review here, plus MY answers to HER questions!
Zoé’s website: Zooloo’s Book Diary
Zoé’s Facebook: @zooloobookblog
Zoé’s Twitter: @zooloo2008
Zoé’s Instagram: @zooloosbookdiary
Zoé’s Goodreads: Zoé-lee O’farrell
Zoé and I will be back soon with our next instalment of Nostalgi-AAARGH, in the form of R. L. Stine’s Blind Date. In the meantime, pleasant slumbers…!