My rating: ★★☆☆☆
R.L. Stine YA books disturb me. No, not for the reason you’re thinking. They’re not “scary”. At best, they’re mildly entertaining. At worst, they’re ludicrously moronic. I find a significant number of R.L. Stine books disturbing because half of his teenage female protagonists are in obviously abusive relationships.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s an eighties thing. But it seems like at least half his books, including this one, feature a main female character, high-school age, who is in a steady relationship with a boy she is terrified of. The girls specifically state being frightened by their boyfriends’ raging tempers, possessive jealousy, threats and displays of violence.
And then, almost invariably, the next sentence will say that it makes them feel special.
Huh? Your abusive piece of shit boyfriend makes you feel special when he screams at the top of his lungs, breaks your things, and threatens you because you spoke to another male? You need your heads examined, R.L. Stine protagonists. Does R.L. Stine land have no healthy egos? No healthy relationships? No therapists? No parents who care if their daughters are abused? Nothing? Wow. I feel horrible for you, fictional late eighties/early nineties women. Like whoa.
For added fun, he doesn’t seem to know how sharks work. Buddy and Maria swim within a few feet of a recently-moved-in school of sharks, and the sharks show no interest in their presence. “They won’t attack until they smell blood,” Buddy explains.
lolwut? No. Just no. First of all, most shark species don’t live in schools, and none of the three most dangerous species do. Tiger sharks, perhaps the most dangerous (being considered the “garbage cans” of the sea) feed in schools, however, so I suppose I’ll ignore the fact Beach House implies that an entire school of man-eating sharks moves to a beach with heavy human traffic just for lulz. I’ll just assume an entire ecosystem of fish spawned off this beach a few days prior to the story, which is the only explanation I can think of for a ton of sharks to show up and stick around.
But even that’s a minor problem when we get to, “They won’t attack until they smell blood.” What universe do you live in? Most shark attacks on humans aren’t about food/hunting/blood. They’re the result of a torpedo with fangs spotting a weird, gangly, too-scrawny-to-make-a-good-meal animal–one it may or may not ever have seen before–thrashing around like a dying fish. And, well, here’s the thing… sharks don’t have hands. They can’t grab your ankle and go, “Hey, what are you?” They grab you with your teeth and go, “Mind if I find out if you’re yummy?” It’s just too bad that by the time they’ve realized you’re not yummy, whatever limb they grabbed is probably mangled, severed, or swallowed.
So, yeah. These two idiot teenagers swim out into the middle of the ocean right on top of a school of apparent man-eaters, and not a single shark takes an exploratory bite. These two morons are pretty damn lucky already. And then Buddy pulls out his knife. “They won’t attack until they smell blood,” happens, and he enacts his brilliant plan to murder the girl who bullied him: slash her to bits atop a school of sharks. I assume he then calmly swam out of the cloud of blood and ravenous frenzy it apparently spawned while the sharks conveniently attacked–and not even effectively, as she managed to survive long enough to be rescued–only the already-dying girl while leaving him completely alone? You guys might just be the weirdest sharks ever.
But I suppose I have to be fair. This had the typical R.L. Stine YA bullshit with some extra time-travel bullshit just for flavor, but it wasn’t horrible. I seem to recall enjoying it when I read it in middle school, so I suppose it’s fair to say that middle- or elementary-school children should enjoy this one.