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Focus on the Frightful: Point Horror

In the summer I get a bit nostalgic. And when nostalgia hits for books I invariably think of Point Horror. For anyone not familiar (because I realize how old I am) Point Horror was a loose ‘series’ of teen horror published by Scholastic and featured writers such as Richie Tankersley Cusick, Christopher Pike, Diane Hoh, and R.L. Stine.

I started reading very early so I was a little advanced past them when I found them but I still enjoyed the hell out of them and I still have a lot of them that I’ll read from time to time. I had a series before Focus on the Frightful where I was reviewing and recapping the Nightmare Hall series in sequence.

There are heavy criticisms to be made of them and I can honestly see why they tapered off in popularity. They don’t reflect a more diverse group of readers and even though the situations are genuinely horrifying the language used could sometimes dumb it down too much and the teenagers themselves often didn’t come from diverse backgrounds. They were all pretty much the same economic status – middle-income suburb kids. I found this to be a particular issue with Christopher Pike’s books. Even when reading them as a younger person I didn’t think that his characters felt like ‘real’ teenagers. They spoke very, very grammatically correct, never used a contraction, and often just felt… off.

I think of them all I still read Richie Tankersley Cusick and Diane Hoh the most regularly. And I can’t say that I agree with the opinion expressed that Point Horror heroines had no agency or were there just to be “upset, killed, or dumped” as quoted by Mary Hilton*. A hefty amount feature female characters that have more to do in the books than get murdered and dumped.

So, for this summer on Focus on the Frightful I decided to read a Point Horror a week and give you my thoughts on how they hold up to an adult read (well, “adult”), whether or not the actual plots are good and how they’d hold up to a teenager’s read today. I hope it’ll be as much fun for you guys as I’m hoping it will be! We’ll be starting with The Vampire’s Promise trilogy by Caroline B. Cooney. I think it’ll be an interesting one to start with because Caroline B. Cooney has always been a little hit or miss with me. I’ve liked some and hated others. I remember liking The Vampire’s Promise books but it has been ages and ages since I’ve read them so it will be almost a fresh experience to me. See you next Friday!


From her book Potent Fictions: Children’s Literacy and the Challenge of Popular Culture via Wikipedia

Published inFocus on the Frightful

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