Monday, June 23, 2008

"He was a Hunk of Trouble..." or The New Boy!

I figured I would launch this blog off with a classic example of Fear Street awesomeness. The New Boy is filled with quite possibly the best 1994 references, lots of tense moments that absolutely do not pay off and, of course, finishes with a twist that makes no effing sense whatsoever. The fact that R.L. Stein actually published one of these books, let alone 163(!!) proves his ultimate literary genius (and the fact that he must be a WIZARD). I love her jean jacket. And cable knit sweater.

The New Boy centers around our unlikely protagonist Janie who is, for all intents and purposes, absolutely brainless. She’s dumb. There’s no way around it. This book also stars her mildly morally deprived best friends Eve and Faith. The gist of the book is there is a New Boy (you probably already got that part) named Ross whom the three of them are competing to get a date with . Even though two of them have boyfriends. Even after he’s accused of murdering one of them. SERIOUSLY. The back of the book actually says “But then the murders begin, and it starts to look like dating Ross means flirting with a gruesome and untimely death.” HA!

The first part of the book is pretty boring so here’s the short version: Janie, Eve and Faith are being do-gooders helping count money they made from the dance last Saturday night. The book tells us out our trio: Janie is boring, short, and kinda ugly. R.L. might as well just called her Plain Janie. At least she’s smart! Whoops, Spoiler, we find out later … not so much! Her friends however are GE-orgeous, Eve being the “dark, dramatic” one while Faith being the “blond, All-American” one. Basically there are shenanigans with the money being lost, then it was a joke, then it’s lost for real. These chapters were pretty pointless.

Next they all hang out, feel guilty about loosing the dance money when they start discussing Ross, the New Boy, who is soooo handsome with “troubled eyes” that they met earlier that day when he needed help at school. This is a perfect example to demonstrate R.L. Stein’s awesome literary techniques. Basically most of his 7 page chapters end with a super tense statement or situation. In this case, they come around the corner and bump into the New Boy, who is wandering around with blood dripping down his arm and whispering “Please help me…” END SCENE. Scary right? You turn the page and it turns out he cut his arm on a bike (?!) and can’t find the nurse’s office. Ever heard of the mens room Ross? It seems like that’s a better solution that wandering around aimlessly, dripping blood all over the floor… maybe that’s just me. Anyhoo, R.L. Stein’s books are full of these “nail-biters” and they pay off about once or twice a book. Sometimes that HUGE BLOODY KNIFE YOUR BOYFRIEND IS HOLDING is just a prop, and sometimes you really did walk into the pottery studio and see your friend’s face get ripped off by the pottery wheel (this happens actually in another book)

So the three girls decided to make a bet on who can get a date with Ross first. Even though the homely girl is the only one without a boyfriend. Even though Plain Janie is already in luuuurve with him and the other girls just want to win a bet. Who are these sociopath friends? I mean I get they’re in high school but I’d be PISSED if one of my friends tried to pull this crap on me! Plain Janie takes the same approach I would have: “I’ll lose” Janie said softly. “But okay Faith, I’m in.” PFFF! Elizabeth “Doormat” Wakefield, is that you?

So Eve wins the bet, and gets Ross to take her to the movies that night. She figures her boyfriend Ian just won’t find out. Again, are these girls in high school or not? There is no WAY he won’t find out! They make out at the edge of Fear Street Woods (dum dum duuuuummmm!) and decide to go for a walk to “cool off”. Ick. But they into the Fear Steet Woods…

So we know she’s going to die. Hope I didn’t ruin that surprise for you guys! Ian calls Plain Janie the next morning looking for Eve but we know she’s dead. She went for a WALK in the FEAR STREET WOODS! You know that girl is dead! I’d just like to take a moment to discuss how unrealistic the dialogue is in theses books. No teenage guy, even in 1994, would say “Eve never returned home last night!” “Her parents are frantic!”. Ugh, I already hate this Ian guy. O we also find out that Ross is missing too from Eve’s mom but Plain Janie is too chickenshit to admit the bet to Ian so she just doesn’t tell him all the info. Hope she keeps it from the police too!

Anyways, Ian and Plain Janie go for a drive to calm down and of course… happen upon Eve’s body! This happens a lot in Shadyside. I really don’t think I’d ever leave me house if I lived there. There is some descriptive goodness that I don’t think I’ll go into detail about. Basically… homegirls head is smashed in. And it’s gross. And Plain Janie finally tells Ian about the bet and he freaks out and terrifies her. Plain Janie emotes about Ross and wonders if he’s lying dead somewhere too. I guess she didn’t really like Eve that much!

At the police station, Plain Janie runs into Ross (wasted suspense R.L.? Really?) and he tells her that he just got back into town a few minutes ago after going to New Brighton early in the morning with his parents. He claims innocence! Ian doesn’t believe him and Plain Janie dithers about believing him or not. So to be clear: She thinks he MIGHT have smashed in the skull of her best friend. This will be important soon.

Boring plot development happens: Faith and Plain Janie go to Pete’s Pizza that afternoon (huh?) and run into Ross, where he freaks out about being innocent, and confesses that he knew about the bet and that’s why he went out with Eve. No one believes him, except Plain Janie. Well she’s not sure. NOT SURE.

Ross shows up on Plain Janie’s doorstep on Monday night (two days after the murder) and forces her to help him with his French homework, and then forces her to go get something to eat with him. She thinks “He likes me!”. I think “Serial sexual assualtist/murderer!”. So they go on a date. TWO DAYS after her friend was murdered. WITH THE SUPPOSED MURDERER! Plain Janie… you need some self-respect. Getting ass isn’t worth this!

On their date Plain Janie sighs to herself “Will I ever stop thinking about Eve?” Ummm Plain Janie? Give yourself a little more time to grieve… like more than two days. And if you don’t want to think about her, STOP DATING HER KILLER. The car runs ouf of gas on the way home and Ross has to push them to the next gas station but Plain Janie freaks out. Then she actually thinks to herself “I really need to start trusting him.” UM NO. That is just untrue. You distrust your best friend’s supposed killer. There’s another tense moment when Plain Janie is alone in the car and the driver’s door handle rattles. END SCENE. Chapter 17: It’s Ross. WTF Plain Janie, how was this a surprise!? It’s his car!

Ick, then they make out. Plain Janie is such a weirdo! This is what low self esteem does to girls. It gets worse though: Ross left his French textbook at her house! So Plain Janie decides to drive over to his house in the pouring rain to deliver it to him! At eleven at night! Jeez, grow a backbone my friend. Anyhoo, it ends up being that old schtick where an old woman answers the door and goes “There’s no one named Ross Gabriel heeeeere!” I bet she’s a ghost.

The next day Plain Janie askes herself “Am I falling in love?” NO. Ross uses the old “It was my grandmother whose nuts” routine to get explain the old woman. Plain Janie believes him… kinda. Enough to make out with him, but not enough to COMPLETELY believe him. God Janie! But then, he gives her a scarf that Eve was wearing the night she died… Awkward! She freaks and runs, and doesn’t pick up the phone anymore.

Faith calls Plain Janie over to tell her some important news that she can’t tell her on the phone. (Sneaky plot device!) I have never forced someone to come see me so I could tell them something. That’s why they invented the phone. So Faith is dead. Of Course. Again there are some nice details about her head being smashed in… but she’s dead alright! OR IS SHE?? … Nope she’s dead! Plain Janie calls 911, hears footsteps and realizes the murderer is still in the house! She locks herself in the den but it turns out to just be Ian, who was also called over by Faith. That Faith should really have learned the value of the phone early!

At Faith’s funeral (I guess Eve didn’t have one? Ha, first one to die always gets the short end of the stick) we find out Ross is missing since the scarf incident. Well, YEAH, he’s probably super embarrassed! We see Ross again though, as he attacks Plain Janie out for a walk in the rain, and forces her in his car. She thinks to herself that he’s craaazay but agrees to meet him later at Pete’s Pizza. She doesn’t go which, surprise surprise, doesn’t go over well with Crazy Ross. He shows up on her doorstep, and menacingly gives back the scarf. Which turns out to be Plain Janie’s that she’d lost in his car on their sick date. She’s still totally freaked and runs out of her own house, where Ross TACKLES her to the ground on her lawn. WTF Ross?! She’s a lady! He runs away as her parents conveniently get home. She’s finally convinced that he’s the killer. BOUT TIME JANIE.

Plain Janie spends the next day freaking out at school, getting locked in a closet with a DEAD CORPSE! End Scene. Chapter 30: It was a mop. UGH. Anyways. Ian calls her, tells her he has proof that Ross killed the girls. He picks her up and takes her to Fear Street Woods. Uh oh! Ian keeps saying his sentences “mysteriously”. Never a good sign BTW. He shows her the “proof” which is a baseball bat. Which he will now use to bash in her skull! But not before confessing to the murders! Basically Eve and Ian stole the dance money for him to go to college, but Eve had second thoughts and wanted to give it back. THEN she went on a date with another guy! So Ian killed her. Okay… I’m with out. Doesn’t explain why he killed Faith. I think he assumed Faith knew about the dance money? Hmmm poorly explained R.L.

So Ross comes to save her and gets owned by Ian and his bat. For someone with so many anger issues, he’s kind of a huge wuss. Plain Janie basically has to take down Ian and Ross “lumbers over and sits on his chest”. HA! Ross smiles at her and asks her to call the police. Plain Janie decides that all is forgiven and she’s never going to run away from him again! UM NO. He still TACKLED you like yesterday. Even if he wasn’t a serial murderer, he’s still abusive! Ugh.

So that’s how the book ends. Ian killed her two best friends but she got her violent, sociopath New Boy, so everything is ooookay! Alright, I know this first post was super long, but it was an awesome book. On a scale of one to ten SUSPENSEFUL moments I’d give it a ... Seven. Because there were seven suspenseful moments.

A.M. Stine


Grocery Crush said...

This was a kiLLer first post A.M.!
I appreciate your dedication to detail, because with a canon of books like these, it is all about the details.

I am on edge waiting for your next post.....

Drew said...

second post!
whoa, i feel like i read the book, or more like the first 75%. your memory of each terrible, terrible moment is a true gift. love the snark, but i think it would be a stronger blog if the recaps were a touch shorter.

now, you mentioned a book about a killer pottery wheel. could you review that one next?

Unknown said...

Hmmm the book seems to be pretty good but man is Jane a dumbass. why still stay with jerky ross when she can have other guys she liked. Dumbass indeed.

Broken1again said...

I love the cover on this book....i also remember this book when i was little and remember her freaking out over the scarf and thinking she was an idiot because she pulled a blue scarf out of her closet and put it on when her and ross went out, and her friend had on a blue top on for the winning date. So I think R.L tried to pull a sneaky one to confuse people but if you pay attention you know it was her scarf.

Kaka_eL24 said...

karena aku tidak pandai berbahasa inggris
jadi komen pake bahasa indonesia saja ya. haha
waw kkeren banget rekapannya tapi agak susah ngerti karena aku kurang paham bahasa inggris
tapi aku berusaha membacanya
overall dedikasi kamu ini keren banget sampe sekarang masih tetap bikin rekapannya

RecallerReminder said...

There were nothing interesting about the main character at all. She is totally stupid and pointless, like if the story could work without her or with anyone else.
Still, when the real killer is revelaed, I must admit I wasnt expected (but would be too predictable if were actually Ross). So, its good enough.