Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Boyfriend, or “Bitch Just Never Learns Her Lesson”

Joanna, the protag here, is pretty much summed up as an evil bitch who plays with boys’ hearts and then tramples on them. She is very beautiful, and, hang on, she actually has short hair? R. L. gave one of his beautiful heroines short hair? Oh, wait, there’s a qualifier: “her hair so smooth and straight that it looked beautiful even cut so stylishly short.” For those of you who missed that jab at short hair on girls, it can only look okay if you already are beautiful.

She is a rich snob and thinks everything is tacky: plastic cowboy boots, fake hair, the suburbs … actually, I might actually have a lot in common with Joanna here. Is it snobbery, or is it taste? It’s a mystery …

The first scene of the book, she stands up her boyfriend, Dex, and then hides and watches him. K, that is sociopathic behaviour. I mean, I am not condoning standing people up, that’s a shitty thing to do to anyone. But at least have a reason for doing it – another date, a late meeting, or you really do just want to wash your hair that night. Standing around watching someone wait for you is actually kinda sad – you had nothing better to do?

Her boyfriend du jour, Dex, is a messy poor actor. We know it’s never going to go anywhere because he’s POOR. Jo dumps him for a rich private school type with a jag and a name like Shep. Shep is sooo handsome at the country club!

Dex doesn’t take this well. He breaks into Jo’s room at night, and they start making out (why not?) He then makes her take him for a drive up to the makeout cliff. Oh, and Dex brought his friend Pete. Why wouldn’t a girl want to take her bf AND his friend up to a makeout cliff? Dex tries to show off for her by pretending to fall off the cliff, but then he falls off for reals. Oops! Jo freaks out and runs away, although later she claimed she was going for help. Everyone judges her for this, but in the day without cell phones, isn’t that exactly what you would have to do to get help? Otherwise you’re just not doing anything. The more I write about Jo, the more I like her. At least she’s proactive. Whatever her intention, it doesn’t work out cause she gets into a big car accident. Jo is hospitalized for weeks, and Dex dies.

Jo gets over this immediately in the generic arms of Shep. Soon after, though, Dex starts to contact her, and asking her out. While she is displeased that he is still alive, she agrees to go out with him. She figures he didn’t really die, she never really looked into that. Taking on two boyfriends though becomes too difficult for her, when Dex starts to decay day by day. Like smelling rotten, losing teeth and skin, and turning green. Her friend Mary, and Dex’s friend Pete start to get worried when they see Dex too, and then it all climaxes with Dex coming to kill Jo as a zombie. He is carrying a large kitchen knife, his eyes are glowing red, and you can see his skull. He goes to stab her, but Joanna gets the knife and stabs him instead, killing him. Go, proactive Joanna!

Turns out, much to everyone’s shock and surprise, Dex had just been acting like a zombie. I mean, we all saw that coming, right? He’s an actor, big into stage makeup, put it all together. Except for apparently Jo, who now has a murder on her hands. Again, everyone judges her. Some guy pretending to be a zombie tried to stab her with a kitchen knife – I think I’d stab him even if I knew he was faking. She immediately wants to get rid of the body, and she cuts Shep’s hand to explain the enormous pool of blood she left for the maid to clean up. Shep finally realizes that Jo is a cold hearted bitch. Not because she killed her ex in front of him, mind you, but because she cut his hand. Shep runs home to mommy.

Dex then starts to contact Jo again, claiming to be dead. She may be tough, but she’s not super smart. She totally thinks zombie Dex is on the loose again. She runs to her friend Mary’s house, but he follows her and tackles her. Turns out, Dex was kidding around again … still not dead, still just acting. Again, he pulls a knife on her, saying he’s going to kill her, and again she takes the knife away from him and threatens to kill him again. I have read this plot line before! Before she can stab him, again, Mary runs out of the house, slaps Jo around a bit and calls her a bitch. Mary and Dex go off together, having planned the whole thing from the start. I don’t think it worked very well. To be clear, Dex staged his death twice, and Jo tried to kill him 3 times. She’s clearly still winning.

However, it did have the effect of making Jo examine her life, and she cries for the first time since her Daddy left her. She calls Shep, wanting to patch things up with him and make a new start. She says she’s “back from the grave.” What’s this? An R. L. Stine book with a moral? That’s how you can tell it’s not a Fear Street – if it were, Jo would have stabbed Dex again then cracked a joke. So it ends all sappy, but it turns out that after writing about her, Joanna is pretty much awesome, and I want to be just like her. Minus the creepy stand-up stalking fiasco. I give this book 2 staged deaths out of 3!
ps. Nice cover, it's classy! Much creepier than usual.

L. K. Stine


A. M. Stine said...

You didn't talk about the tag line! "Sometimes love can be murder". What? WHEN is love EVER murder??

Drew said...

"sometimes love can be murder"
i dont want to read anymore! the tag line was bad enough!

Grocery Crush said...

Leave it to RL to be so subtle with the sexist stereotypes. Short hair is death.

RecallerReminder said...

I agree. Its weird one of this books actually shows the characters getting mature, so this change of the main character in the ending is unexpected.
Also, the double twist was pretty cool!