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Review: Goodnight Kiss II by R.L. Stine

Friday, September 26, 2014

Goodnight Kiss II
R.L. Stine

Genre: YA SuspenseHorror
Paperback: 208 Pages
Publication: July 1, 1996
by Simon Pulse

Billy has been to Sandy Hollow before. This summer, he's returning to the little resort town, but not for fun in the sun. He is searching for creatures of the night--the vampires who prey on the tourists there. Billy's girlfriend was one of those tourists... until the vampires killed her. Now Billy has vowed to destroy them all.


This time the vampires from Sandy Hollow continue to wreak havoc on the summer tourists. Instead of following them as we did in the first Goodnight Kiss book, we follow a boy named Billy who is intent on destroying the vampires for killing his girlfriend the summer before. Because our protagonist actually knows about the vampires this time around, I was hoping for a stronger story. There were some good things but I wasn't very impressed overall.

For those of you familiar with The Lost Boys, think if the film were told from the perspective of the Frog brothers, the self-proclaimed vampire hunters played by Jamison Newlander and Corey Feldman who fight for truth, justice and the American way. Now imagine if the Frog brothers were a pair of bumbling and incredibly inept vampire hunters. That was pretty much Billy. Even though his girlfriend was killed by vampires and he knows how dangerous they are, it’s amazing to see him being seduced by a vampire and not realize it. He drops hints about reading up on how to kill vampires, and I wanted him to talk about that some more.

Since this was a sequel, I was hoping that the questions I had about the vampires, who referred to themselves as Eternal Ones in the original, would be answered. Unfortunately, they weren’t, and to top it off, I ended up with even more questions. In this book, the vampires refer to themselves as Immortals, which really confused me. Since there are notable differences between young and ancient vampires in my favorite book, I've entertained that as a possible explanation for what was happening here. Either that, or this is one of those Fear Street books that confirms the ghostwriter theory about R.L. Stine.

Because this story predominantly follows the vampire hunter, we don't get to spend time with the vampires. That being said, these girls were very vicious. You may not see them attacking humans, but there are one or two scenes that show them savagely attacking animals for their blood. There are a few attacks on humans that happen off-camera, but they are reported, and kind of gruesomely at that. There are a few tiny characteristics added to the vampires, but nothing that really contributes to their mythos. Personally, I thought that was a big loss. Just as it had come up with the vampires from the last book, I found myself wondering about the girls' origins and how they came to be Immortals in the first place. This would really have helped to make them more interesting as characters.

Maybe it was because of Billy’s ineptitude as a vampire hunter, but this story wavered and floundered even more than its predecessor. There were a few chapters with really lame cliffhangers that could easily have been cut, and because of the inclusion of a subplot involving a play, that made this a really meandering read. A lot of that excess should've been taken out in my mind, even if that would’ve resulted in a shorter book. Adding on to this was a problem with characters who were nothing but names. I think this novel could've worked with the six main characters if they had all been well developed. Most of them were really underdeveloped, and this just made them hard to juggle, especially since we follow Billy so much.

Going off of that, I wanted more on Billy. Yeah, I know, he's our protagonist, what more do I want out of him? Well, besides more on his knowledge on vampire hunting, I also wanted some flashbacks involving his girlfriend. We only know that her name was Joelle and they dated during the summer before. Seeing a few moments with her would justify why he wants to kill the vampires for killing her. He also mentions having spent time in a mental hospital because no one believed his claims about Joelle being killed by vampires, so I wondered if that was when he read up on vampires in the first place. Swapping out the subplot about the play for information on the events from last summer would've been of better use.

Even though I knew about the twist ending, I wasn’t expecting the third-act twist that was thrown in. That one legitimately surprised me and threw me for a really hard loop. The one downside to it is that it was breezed through and we didn't get a good look at its impact. It was really good, but the rush to get on to the next plot point was unnecessary. I would've liked more time exploring this twist, especially because it ties in with the original book.

Those of you who read the review over the last book might be wondering if this really is a sequel to it. (For this review, I read the collector’s edition which has both stories, plus a bonus short story. If you would like to check it out, click here.) To be honest, I saw it as an indirect sequel. It has the same setting and the vampires have the same goals, but otherwise there aren't really any answers to the last book. We only get one returning character from the original Goodnight Kiss and don't find out what results from its twist ending. Both books' endings were bad; this one especially annoyed me because it REALLY felt phoned in. It made no sense and just raised more questions to the already-long list I had from the last book.

I’m so torn about this novel. I really wished it would’ve been tighter and more concise, but I also liked the viciousness of the vampires and the twist from the third act. The twist ending wasn't necessary, and the questions I had from the last installment went unanswered. I feel like I might be too forgiving of this book because Billy and the deaths of the vampires vaguely reminded me of my favorite vampire film, and because I really liked the twist from the third act. I liked the idea behind this book, but it doesn't quite deliver on its promise. I really think that this sequel could have been done better.

Rating: 2 stars

  1. Goodnight Kiss
  2. Goodnight Kiss II

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2 comments on "Review: Goodnight Kiss II by R.L. Stine"
  1. I have to confess, Goodnight Kiss and Goodnight Kiss 2 are two of my favorite vampire books. I think it's largely due to nostalgia, but I even bought their new edition that came out a few years ago

    1. If it's the collector's edition with the purple cover that has both books and a short story, it's the same one I have. I can totally understand the nostalgia; right now I want to collect the original Goosebumps series (with the old school covers by Tim Jacobus because they were the best) for nostalgic reasons. I saw them as a kid but didn't read them until I was a little older because I would get scared easily when I was younger. I actually bought the Goodnight Kiss Collector's Edition because of nostalgia, since the first Goosebumps book I read dealt with vampires.

      These books weren't great, but they could be really good gateway books for teens and tweens, just as Goosebumps were for younger kids. Keep in mind, I majored in English, so I often read really critically without realizing it (force of habit after four years). They could've been handled better but they're fine for younger readers and nostalgic reading.


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