Stop me if you've heard this one before...
Driving home from a party, a group of teenagers are involved in an accident. It's late, it's pitch dark, and they can't be sure but they think they've hurt somebody. So, they 'fess up, right? Take their punishments like good boys and girls? Er, wrong.
They're scared. They don't want to get into major trouble. They're loyal to the friend who was driving. So they scram. Which perhaps isn't the smartest thing they could do. Especially since someone else knows what they did...
I know what you're thinking. Isn't this the premise of that movie, I Know What You Did Last Summer? Uh... yes. Yes it is. Except, and this is the awesome part: Dead End is like a book version.
Okay, I know there was a book version of that I Know What You Did Last Summer too. But Dead End is like, another book version. Hmmm. I guess the question we have to ask ourselves is, does the world really need another version of I Know What You Did Last Summer? Actually, yes. And here's why.
There are certain stories that lend themselves just perfectly to teen horror. The babysitter stalked by an anonymous caller on the phone. The group of friends who go off to spend a 'fun' weekend at some uncle's cabin in the woods and find themselves being slaughtered one by one. And yes, the hit-and-run secret that won't stay buried. Why are they so darn good? Because for teenage readers they play on the scariest reality of all: the fact that with freedom comes responsibility. And 'responsibility' is basically just a fancy way of saying that when the crap hits the fan, you're going to have to deal with it or suffer the consequences.
So, responsibility. It's not the most fun concept ever. But dress it up with a situation where a bunch of teens get a little taste of freedom - making some cash by babysitting at a scary ol' house, taking a weekend trip by themselves, being in charge of an actual real-life motor vehicle! - and things go scarily wrong, and it becomes the one monster you better hope ain't hiding under your bed. Now that's what real fear is. And that why, although we've probably heard this one before, it's always good to hear again.
As Fear Street books go, Dead End isn't the most original story but it is an entertaining little read that'll provide a convenient escape from real life for, oh, forty-five minutes to an hour. It's seriously that short. It's also a nostalgic reminder of what teen horror was like in the days before the Scream franchise helped us all wise up to the genre's tricks. Yep, you've guessed it: not very scary. But fun all the same.
Verdict: There are better Fear Street books, that's for sure. There are even better stories about a bunch of teenagers who cover up a hit and run and suffer the consequences. But put the two together, and somehow it just works. This one's quite the little page-turner.