Cover of Cheerleaders: The First Evil. A cheerleader with sinister eyes holds a pom-pom featuring a bloody skull

About the Book

Title: Cheerleaders: The First Evil (Fear Street)
Published: 1992
Series: Fear Street

For the month of October, I’m revisiting R.L. Stine’s terrifying-ish teen series Fear Street, and we’re taking on Cheerleaders: The First Evil. This is a trilogy – one I was obsessed with as a kid – but we’ll only be dabbling in the first book this time around. These are all about five bucks on a Kindle and take less than an hour to read, so feel free to join me in the endeavor!

The deal:

Sisters Bobbi and Corky Corcoran (I promise) have just moved to Shadyside, and they’re very excited to join the cheerleading squad. With their years of experience and perfect double cartwheel (seriously, the book talks about their double cartwheel so many times. Is that so hard? It doesn’t sound all that hard to me), they’re immediately inducted into the squad, at the expense of a couple of other girls who grow quickly resentful. Ronnie is demoted to alternate, and her friends Kimmy and Debra are affronted on her behalf, but team captain Jennifer and cheerleading coach Miss Green are thrilled to have them onboard. On their way to the first game, the bus crashes on Fear Street and Jennifer is thrown from the bus and is found passed out – or DEAD?! – on top of the grave of Sarah Fier (1875-1899). But she’s soon revived, albeit paralyzed in a wheelchair, and Bobbi is promoted to team captain to take her place. Kimmy, who was associate captain, is PISSED, and even more so when Bobbi starts dating Chip, Kimmy’s ex-boyfriend. Soon all sorts of mysterious things are happening – Chip and Bobbi both separately suffer from paralysis at the worst possible times, locker doors swing open and slam shut, etc – but no one will believe Bobbi UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE!

The first line:

” ‘You are evil,’ Corky said in a hushed whisper. ‘You are truly evil.’ ” I see what you did there, Stiney.

Cheapest cliffhanger ending:

Last passage of Chapter 1:

She stopped on the landing and stared up at the hall railing. It took her a while to realize that she was staring at her sister.

‘Bobbi!’ she called.

Bobbi was dangling over the wooden railing, motionless, her arms hanging down. Her eyes were wide open in an unseeing stare, her mouth twisted in a wide O of horror.

‘Bobbi!’ Corky repeated, calling in a shrill voice she didn’t recognize. ‘Bobbi!’

But her sister didn’t move. Didn’t blink.

Didn’t breathe.

First passage of Chapter 2:

‘Bobbi!’ Her heart in her throat, Corky lurched up the final stairs to her sister.

Bobbi raised her head, blinked, and an amused smile formed on her face. ‘Gotcha,’ she said softly. Pushing with both hands against the railing, she raised herself to a standing position.

‘Bobbi–you rat!’ Corky cried, her heart still thudding.

While this is a perfect example of R.L. Stine’s favorite kind of fakeout, it’s also not a bad use of (SPOILER) foreshadowing, as Bobbi totally bites it by the end of this book.

Best outfit description:

“Bobbi showered and changed quickly into a green turtleneck sweater and a short, straight black skirt, which she pulled over green tights. She brushed her hair, frowning at herself in the water-spotted locker-room mirror.” Something I’ve noticed while reading a lot of Fear Street: R.L. Stine loves a green turtleneck.

Best Fear Street description:

‘Ooh, Fear Street,’ someone said, uttering a spooky howl. Some other girls laughed.

Kimmy made some kind of wisecrack to Debra, and the two girls giggled together.

The rain fell in heavy sheets, driven by unpredictable, powerful wind gusts. For some reason Simmons sped up. In front of him the big wipers swam mechanically across the steamy windshield…

Staring out the window at the storm, Bobbi saw the passing houses and trees grow darker, as if a heavy shadow had lowered itself over them, over the whole world. Trees bent in the strong wind. The rain suddenly shifted and blew against the window, startling Bobbi and blocking her view.

A scene from cheerleading movie Bring It On: Kirsten Dunst in a cheerleading outfit, doing a routine

Most rapturous description of a cheerleading routine:

“Up, up, she leapt until she felt as if she could take off and fly. And then she shot out both legs, raising them up until they were perfectly straight. And then in her most startling move, Bobbi kept her legs outstretched as she gracefully floated down, hands high above her head like a diving bird, into a perfect split.” There are a lot of these. Stine’s a big fan of cheerleaders. Cheerleaders in green turtlenecks.

A scene from the movie The Usual Suspects: the cast in a police lineup

The suspects:

The Mean Girls, Kimmy, Ronnie and Debra, are the most obvious suspects, which clearly means they’re innocent. Even though most of the book is from her POV, that doesn’t keep us from suspecting Bobbi could be crazy, or Corky for that matter. Miss Green and Simmons, the bus driver, both seem like they have something up their sleeves, and so does Chip (although I think that’s mostly because R.L. Stine is the worst at describing boyfriends). And Jennifer, the head cheerleader, seems so sweet and she’s been the worst victim so far of all of these shenanigans, but at one point Bobbi thinks she sees her get out of her wheelchair and walk, SO – it could be anyone! Again!

A scene from the movie Titanic: a hand touches a steamy window of a car during a make-out session

Steamiest passage:

“And then he pulled her down to him and started to kiss her. His lips felt hard and dry against hers. His hands held on to her shoulders, pulled her to him. Bobbi started to pull away. But he seemed so needy, so frightened. Returning his kiss, she raised her hands to his wrists and removed them from her shoulders. Then she slid her hands around the back of his neck. To her surprise, he was trembling all over.”

Scariest passage:

But then she saw that the shower room doors had been closed.

That’s weird, she thought. She turned on the water.

And screamed as scalding water burst out of the shower head with a roar, striking her chest, her shoulders.

‘Ow!’

She dodged away. But the next shower head was spraying down hot water, too, scalding hot, burning hot.

‘Help!’

All the showers were turned on now. Scalding hot water shooting out of all of them.

Something’s wrong, Bobbi realized, stumbling back in a panic, her chest burning, her legs burning. Something’s terribly wrong.

‘Ow!’

She slipped and toppled backward, landing with a splash in a steaming puddle.

‘Help!’

Scrambling to her feet, she saw that the hot water was rising rapidly. The drain appeared to be clogged.

‘Ow!’

The water was nearly an inch deep already, and so hot, it burned her feet.

The steam rose like a thick, choking curtain.

SHE DIES THIS WAY. She’s found red as a lobster, all pruny and super dead on the shower floor. This is a pretty messed up death, R.L. I salute you.

Whodunnit?

It was Jennifer! Sort of! When she died on Sarah Fier’s grave, the evil that took over Sarah Fier and was trapped in her grave for almost a century then took over Jennifer’s body and just started causing mischief among the squad. Poor Jennifer decomposes as soon as The Evil leaves her, and Corky almost dies in the graveyard, but she gets away. And what happens to The Evil? IT’S UNCLEAR.

Last line:

“Then it fell from her hand and she started to scream.” Corky finds Jennifer’s cheerleading pennant, with which The Evil was doing some sort of creepy, ritualistic dance in the cemetery, in her bed two weeks later. dun Dun DUNNNN!

The cover of Cheerleaders: The Second Evil. A cheerleader looks over her shoulder with a concerned expression on her face

Next, on… Cheerleaders: The Second Evil:

“Corky Corcoran is trying to put the nightmare of her sister Bobbi’s death behind her. She’s back on the Shadyside cheerleading squad and has become friends with Kimmy, Debra, and Ronnie. But just when everything seems like it’s back to normal for Corky, she hears horrible screams in the gym, notices a very strange young man following her, and thinks she sees her dead sister rise from the grave. And then the murders begin again…”

I don’t remember, but I bet that strange young man just has a crush on her.