Friends, Phones, and Relationships REVIEWING Call Waiting

Welcome to The Real World According To Sam!! This is the fifth Halloween 2020 post. All month long, every day, I will be reviewing or showcasing different books I think may be good for the Halloween season.

 Call Waiting

Author: R. L. Stine
Genre: YA Horror/Mystery Thriller
Year: 1994

Call Waiting


Someone wants to talk to Karen badly. Very badly. Someone who has something very special to say. 

Someone is calling Karen to say they care. To tell her the plans they've made just for her. Someone wants to reach out. Touch her. Kill her.

Poor Karen. She's all alone this time.

And if Karen can't trace the killer caller...Karen's going to die.


Call Waiting is another YA book by R. L. Stine. This one is not a Fear Street novel. It's just a casual, stand-alone mystery thriller, with light horror elements. It is the story of Karen, a teenage girl. She's your average teenager. She has a boyfriend, a best friend, and she really wants attention. Particularly, she wants to keep the attention of her boyfriend, Ethan. 

At the start of this book, Karen is having a stake-out with her best friend, Micah. Karen is worried her boyfriend is losing interest in her and cheating on her with a popular girl from school named Wendy. To try and find out, the two of them are sitting in Karen's car, waiting to see if Ethan pulls up to his house at the appropriate time he is supposed to get off work. Afterwards, she still isn't convinced, but she also begins to receive creepy phone calls. The caller tells her he is going to hurt her, so she repeatedly calls Ethan over when this happens. Who is doing this? Is it her strange cousin who just moved back into town? Her prankster of a brother? Or is it someone else who seriously wants to hurt Karen? 

This interesting. While the premise seems incredibly creepy, the actual execution of this book ends up anything but. The mystery gets solved in a way that isn't inherently predictable, but is definitely something worth shaking your head at. The amount of focus and effort that Karen exerts on trying to keep Ethan is absurd. There are several mishaps that occur in this book and every single one is more ridiculous than the last. This one really never fully gets to a level of horror that Stine's books tend to. It does get pretty scary in terms of what these teenagers are capable of doing though. Honestly, many points of this book are just incredibly laughable. Karen doesn't really have a personality, until she starts to potentially lose her mind a bit. Micah is also as bland as characters come. Ethan is not a very interesting boy, much less a romantic interest for the main character to a certain extent. I do slightly applaud his dedication by the end of the book, but that applause is largely overshadowed by the numerous problems this book has. Most of which lie with the main character. 

Karen is bland, seemingly edging towards mentally unstable at times. As a genuine horror novel, this book fails epically. However, I almost don't feel like this is meant to be a genuine horror novel. This book feels like a satire. It feels like a parody of YA horror and teenage drama. If viewed from that perspective, this book is fantastic, precisely because it is bad. Karen is ridiculous, Micah is ridiculous, Ethan is a cookie cutter boyfriend, and the wrap-up is so random, but fitting. This feels like a very bad 90s teen drama. There is no way this is meant to be an intentional mystery or horror thriller. This has to be a parody of 90s teen horror drama ideas. This must be an over-the-top caricature of the genre. I honestly refuse to accept it as anything other than that. This book is just...not good, from a standard viewpoint. It's atrocious. It preys upon the idea of the stereotypical boy crazy, obsessive teenage girl. This takes that concept and pushes it as far as it possibly can into the realm of absurdity. The twist was a bit predictable, but how far it goes definitely was not. The ending also was not what I expected, since I honestly thought that all of these people were just going to be completely done with each other by that point.  

Overall, Call Waiting requires two different ratings. It is a very...interesting book that is either atrociously bad, or hilariously good. If we view it as a flat up horror/thriller, then I give it a Lone Star rating of ✯✯. There are so many issues with this one after it started off decently fine. The girls basically seemed normal, albeit boring, up until a few chapters in. Now, if you take the alternative view of this book, as a satirical parody of 90s teenage drama, then I give Call Waiting a Lone Star rating of ✯✯. From that view, it is so absurd it's laughable. It is the same kind of fun as a B-rate movie. You know it's bad, but you enjoy it specifically because it is bad in just the right ways to make you laugh. If you're willing to not take this one seriously, you might actually have fun with it, but I definitely would not recommend it. This one is a book that most people can--and probably should--pass up. 

This concludes another review here at The Real World According To Sam, where I bring the books straight to your screen and even provide my own two cents about them. See you tomorrow!