Review: Red Rain by R.L. Stine

Published by Touchstone
Released October 9, 2012
384 pages
Where I got it: Public library
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Description (from Goodreads):

Travel writer Lea Sutter finds herself on a small island off the coast of South Carolina, the wrong place at the wrong time. A merciless, unanticipated hurricane cuts a path of destruction and Lea barely escapes with her life. In the storm’s aftermath, she discovers orphaned twin boys and impulsively decides to adopt them. The boys, Samuel and Daniel, seem amiable and immensely grateful; Lea’s family back on Long Island—husband Mark and their two children, Ira and Elena—aren’t quite so pleased. But even they can’t anticipate the twins’ true nature—or predict that, within a few weeks’ time, Mark will wind up implicated in two brutal murders, with the police narrowing in.

For the millions of readers who grew up on Goosebumps, and for every fan of deviously inventive horror, this is a must-read from a beloved master of the genre.

It’s funny, but reading this book, I could tell it was written by R.L. Stine. There’s just something about his voice that translated from Goosebumps and Fear Street into this novel. That being said, I decided that I like R.L. Stine best when he’s writing for kids. Actually, I liked him best as Jovial Bob Stine, writing humor back in the day, but second best when writing horror for kids. There was something really uncomfortable for me reading the sex scenes in this book (yes, there are sex scenes). It was like finding out my third grade teacher is now writing erotica–I’d rather keep Stine as a beloved part of my childhood and not think of him in those terms, which isn’t entirely fair to him, but is nonetheless how I feel.

As for the story, there was good and bad. It starts strong, with a deadly hurricane on a mysterious island known for mixing the living with the dead. Travel blogger Lea is visiting when such a hurricane hits. She is witness to both the ceremony to bring the dead back to life and to the tragedy when the hurricane levels the town. I’d have actually liked to have spend more time exploring the island and its rituals, since this was the most compelling part of the story to me. Most of the story, however, revolves around a pair of creepy twins that Lea finds in the wreckage and decides to adopt and bring home, despite her husband’s protestations. These twins are totally creepy: they speak in a strange style, are too thin, always have weird smiles on their faces, and, oh yeah, THEY KILL PEOPLE. I could say spoiler alert, but you kind of see it coming.

There’s a lot in the plot of this book that makes you scratch your head. Why, for instance, is everybody okay with the rushed adoption? It never quite made sense how all the adults are willing to go along with this. There are also a lot of elements that felt like that could have come from a 1950s chiller thriller. The twins become laughable at times instead of terrible, especially when they are constantly exclaiming that they want to “rule the school.” Even with its problems, though, I enjoyed the book, overall. I did feel like Stine didn’t write in an adult style as much as he wrote in his normal style but included “adult” elements. I’d have liked a bit more complexity to make this a truly adult book.

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4 Responses to Review: Red Rain by R.L. Stine

  1. I don’t think this one would be for me either. I loved Fear Street and Goosebumps when I was a kid. Atleast you tried it.

  2. Kelly says:

    Good review. I’ve been curious about this one, because I was such a RL Stine fan back in my teen years…and I have to say I’m not entirely surprised about your reactions!

    • Audrey Audrey says:

      It’s fun to compare, because I read one of his new Goosebumps books a few weeks ago. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so clear had I not had a refresher on the kid’s stuff.

  3. I am a HUGE Bob Stine fan (and met him at the National BookFest this year) and immediately pre-ordered a copy of Red Rain once I found out he’d written an adult book. It’s good to have a heads up that the writing style is more “in between” than anything. I’m sure it’s easy to get pigeonholed into that kiddie style of writing when you’ve been doing it for the last 20+ years. I’m still way curious about this book and definitely will give it a go.

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