Monday, April 6, 2020

Deadly Attraction by Diane Hoh

I was tearing through these Point Horror releases for a while until I turned to cleaning out the books I'd bought for my Kindle. This one just sat half-finished, gathering dust, until I decided to get on with things for Mystery & Thriller week, because timing is everything.

Diane Hoh was one of my favorite authors when I was a kid and even indirectly inspired some of my own work, along with D.E. Athkins and Christopher Pike. I liked that her stories were edgy and didn't talk down to her audience the way R.L. Stine's sometimes did, and the fact that she had a series set in university made them seem extra "adult" and edgy, considering that the Point Horror novels are all mostly middle grade Scholastic imprints.

The only book in this series I actually read as a kid was THE SILENT SCREAM, which is a typical murder mystery with a supernatural twist. I gave it four stars rounded up due to nostalgic value and because the mystery is really well done and genuinely creepy. I was excited to read further on in the series as an adult as I feel that they hold up reasonably well in terms of quality.

In DEADLY ATTRACTION, we return to Salem University. Jessica and Ian reappear from the first book, but the main character in this story is Jessica's friend, Hailey. Hailey and her roommate, Nell, are just nice ordinary girls having fun eating out with their friends, when they see one of the hot shot jocks named Robert Q putting the moves on a townie waitress named Darlene while he's on the rebound from his rich ex. Hailey feels sorry for Darlene and tries to be extra nice to her because of the way Robert's crowd slut-shames her, and she and Nell even try to give her a fancy makeover.

But unfortunately, things pan out exactly as Hailey feared. Robert dumps Darlene like yesterday's news, and Darlene gets very, very angry. Understandably so, Hailey thinks... until weird things start happening. Like her and Nell's dorm room being trashed, a car being destroyed... and then, pretty soon... actual deaths. Just how upset is Darlene with Robert Q? And is Hailey's own life in danger?

Unlike SILENT SCREAM, this book has no supernatural elements. And unlike SILENT SCREAM, it doesn't seem to be plotted out as well. SILENT had all these really great clues but DEADLY felt much more disorganized. I felt like there were way too many red herrings and the book spent too much time on things that weren't really focal to the plot. It was a much more uneven book in terms of quality and I didn't really like Hailey as much as I liked Jessica in the first book.

The series is now charmingly dated with its talk of typewriters and lack of cell phones, but the teenagers still act like teenagers, even if it's a "golly gee" hamburgers and sodapop brand of teenager that's more typical of small towns in the midwest. I found it amusing but I'm not sure I want to read further on in the series. I feel like this probably should have been capped at the first book.

2.5 out of 5 stars

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