Friday, November 7, 2008

The Boy Next Door or "Watch out girls! If you wear mini-skirts, someone just might kill you!"

The Boy Next Door. This is my next pick now that I’ve found time to fit in some Fear Street! The Boy Next Door is all about a new boy that comes to town, and turns out to be a psychotic killer, punishing “bad” girls who dress sexy and so on. Wait a minute… haven’t I read this before? O YEAH, it’s the EXACT same premise as First Date! WTF?

The cover is good, if only for the awesome five o’clock shadow that Scott, our murderous villain is sporting. Like, he’s supposed to be 17? The whole time reading this, I thought the big surprise at the end would be that he’s actually an unemployed 35 year old. 17 year old Scott is watching Crystal through her window (one of HER “bad” behaviors he wants to punish might I add) and while Crystal is described as dressed “sexy” throughout the book… I can’t say that flannel shirt is doing anything for her. I guess that was sexy back in 1996? Wasn’t grunge over? It’s almost like the cover artist didn’t read the book… OR the person who wrote the summary on the back! Since they call Crystal’s best friend Lauren, when her name is Lynne in the book. That’s not even that close. FAIL! The tagline: They were flirting – with death! I like!

The book starts out with Scott at the funeral of his girlfriend. We think at first that he’s really broken up about her accident (diving headfirst into an empty pool) until he confesses that he’s sad that she MADE him kill her. By wearing make up and mini skirts. YEAH, it’s safe to assume Scott has some Mommy issues. We jump to Crystal’s view where she’s trying on RED lipstick (warning!) and watching her new smokin’ hot neighbour move in. Guess who!

Scott has become a big deal around their school, with all the girls falling in love with him. Crystal and her best friend LYNNE are first in line! Crystal’s shy, dorky sister Mel also likes Scott. Crystal gives Mel a hard time about not caring about her appearance by telling her to at least trim her nails. Mel is all defensive. Okay, I’m all for girls not needing to wear makeup or dressing in things that make them uncomfortable… but seriously? Nail trimming is just hygenic. And necessary. Bleeeeeech. The girls decide that no matter who goes out with Scott first, the other two will be happy about it. Yeah, that’s not gonna work.

Crystal sees that a magazine was mistakenly delivered to her house instead of Scotts. She nearly pees herself out of excitement. She can go visit Scott now!

Cut to Scott’s viewpoint. He’s dreaming that he’s trimming the hedges. Yawn! But now… he’s dreaming that he’s taking the hedge trimmers and cutting off the head of the dog that belongs to the girl down the street the made kissy faces at him. Wow, that’s pretty extreme. Scott wakes up from his dream and realizes… yeah, it wasn’t a dream. He just murdered this dog in his backyard. He’s all “O well! I should really bury this right now so I have time to finish the hedges for Mom and Pop!” I guess… good on his commitment to yardwork? At least we didn’t get attached to this dog before it’s inevitable murder.

Crystal goes over to Scotts house but her fat friend Jake is already there hanging out. Seriously, all they talk about with this guy is how much he likes to eat and how fat he is. Real nice, guys. Soon Lynne shows up to this little shindig, supposedly looking for Jake. Scott kicks them all out so he can do homework (or bury the murdered dog, whatever) and Jake carries Lynne out the door. Crystal almost kisses Scott, but chickens out. Which is AWESOME for her, since he wasn’t really into it. “If she’d kissed me, I’d have to do something to show her how bad she is.” Which I’m guessing includes maiming and murder.

A few days later the whole gang ends up at Scott’s house and he kicks them out AGAIN (take a hint, Shadyside kids). Lynne conveniently “forgets” her backpack inside and has to run back in alone to get it. I thought for sure she just wasn’t coming back out, and Scott would have to explain her disappearance. But no, she comes back out looking triumphant, and Crystal knows immediately that she kissed Scott. I’m guessing she wouldn’t look so triumphant if she knew what he was thinking: “I scrubbed my lips – hard. But I couldn’t wash away the taste of her. It’s like a fungus, I thought. Something slimy growing on me.” Scott decides to kill Lynne. Makes perfect sense to me!

He drives to her house later that night and breaks in. He calmly waits for her in the kitchen like the total psycho he is. Even though Scott BROKE IN to her home and creepy waited to be noticed by Lynne, she’s still all twitterpatted that Scott came over. She offers him milk (the drink of LOVE), but he wants to take her for a ride up to the big cliff over the river. Except he didn’t bring his car. Not weird, Scott. Lynne tells Scott that she’s been to the cliff a bunch of times but “not with anyone as cute as you!” Ohhh, Lynne, that is NOT going to help your case with Scott.

They take Lynne’s car at park at the cliff. After Lynne comes on to him a few more times, Scott decides its time to end it. He grabs a fistful of hair and gets ready to slam her head into the dashboard! (This seems like a pretty inefficient and messy way to kill someone. Just… think about it for next time, Scott) His terrible murder plot is interrupted though, by someone asking for directions. Really? Someone is on top of a cliff, by a river, asking for directions? You know that is a pervy old man, who gets his rocks off watching the teenagers make out in their cars! Scott knows that he can’t kill Lynne now, because the man might link him to it. Gosh darn it!

Lynne has apparently gone nuts waiting weeks for Scott to call. After their disastrous date on the cliff? I think I’d get over it pretty quick if some guy started to tear out my hair. Crystal tries to cheer up Lynne by prank calling Scott’s house! This will end poorly. And it totally does! Lynne tries to get in on the action, but Scott busts her by recognizing her voice. After Scott puts down the phone, we meet his mom. And now we know where he gets it from! She tells Scott that girl doesn’t know how to behave and yells at him for scratching her dinner wear with his fork. Scott is all “This is Lynne’s fault that Mommy Dearest is mad at me! Now she REALLY needs to die!” No over reaction in this house! I wonder if his mom knows that he kills his girlfriends and is all for it. I wouldn’t put it past her.

Crystal is worried about Lynne, so decides to visit her house late at night after Lynne won’t pick up the phone. She finds a suicide note including the words “no way to behave” and then finds Lynne in the garage with the car on. Hmmm I wonder if she really did commit suicide! No, that would be way too deep for R.L. to deal with. He must be putting it in as a convenient, murderous plot device. Nice!

After Lynne’s funeral, Crystal’s sister has stepped up to the plate and tries to help Crystal deal with it. Which I think it really cute! Sister love! Melinda tries to get Crystal to do stuff with her, or go see her old friends like Fat Jake. Crystal isn’t really feeling it. She gets a call from Scott and feels their “old connection”. Oooo Crystal, you REALLY don’t want to feel that. He surprises Crystal by asking to speak to Melinda and then asking Melinda to a party! Scott digs Melinda because she wears potato sacks for dresses or something like that. Crystal gets on board for Melinda and gets her to wear a mini skirt and put on makeup! This will end poorly.

Scott’s at the party and thinking about how disgusting all the teenagers are. Slow down there, Grandpa! Don’t want to get an ulcer. God I hate Scott. For once I hate the murderer more than I hate the victims! Bravo, R.L. Scott sees Melinda walk up in a risk-AY outfit with makeup on so he punches her in the face. I KNOW! Except that didn’t really happen. He thought she was wearing a “bad” outfit but she wasn’t and he thought he punched her in the face, but he punched through the screen door instead. Well, at least he didn’t just punch her when she was wearing her baggy, floor length khaki skirt. Now THAT would be embarrassing!

So Scott asked Melinda out on a date for the next Saturday night, and Crystal is chasing her around the house, trying to put makeup on her. Is she TRYING to get Melinda killed? Well, maybe. That would be a pretty good twist. Screw Sister Love! Scott is SUPER pissed when he sees blush on her face. He almost throws her out of a moving car as punishment, but decides to give her one more chance. Melinda notices the change is Scott but thinks it’s because of how dowdy she dresses. So she decides to let Crystal give her a make over. This is probably a mistake.

Melinda and Crystal now look almost identical after the makeover! Weird! I’m sure this won’t come up later in the book. Everyone is all over Melinda at school. Except for Scott, who weirdly keeps avoiding her… Then Crystal catches him punching the hell out of his locker. She gets a little weirded out by this. Especially since he’s muttering “No way to behave” while he’s doing it. This sounds a little familiar to Crystal, but she can’t place it…(Pssst… Lynne’s fake suicide note…)

Scott sticks to his word and gives Melinda one last chance. Unfortunately for her, she’s still on her new kick of dressing like Crystal, and Scott can hardly contain his disgust. I’m betting this was an awkward meal. On the way home, Melinda confesses that Crystal has been helping her dress differently to get Scott’s attention. Scott thinks: “Great! Now I can kill Crystal and keep Melinda in her ugly clothes. Success!” To Melinda he really just says that he liked Melinda the way she was before and she shouldn’t have changed. Awww. Psycho love is so cute.

Meanwhile, Crystal has figured out where “no way to behave” came from. Lynne’s note! Coupled with Scott’s violent behaviour, Crystal is convinced something is wrong with him. She needs to protect Melinda. However, Melinda took Scott’s words to heart, and thinks that Crystal has been sabotaging her! She and Crystal get into a big fight at when Melinda gets returned home, safe and sound from her psycho date. Crystal is trying to convince Melinda that something is wrong with Scott, and Melinda thinks Crystal is just trying to break them apart.

From her room, Crystal sees Scott cross his backyard towards her house with a giant knife in hand. She’s all “Don’t open the door!” but of course Melinda opens it. Scott pushes past Melinda (assuring her that he won’t hurt her) and rushes towards Crystal, knife raised. To protect her sister (awww) Melinda screams “That’s not Crystal, that’s Melinda!” Since they’re both in their bathrobes with wet hair, apparently they look even more identical! Sister Switch! Scott confusedly runs at Melinda and Crystal smashes a vase on his head. This only knocks him down for a second, so the girls take this chance to run UPSTAIRS and hide. NO! Wrong way! GOD! They hide in the attic, and Scott easily finds them, because it’s an ENCLOSED space with NO WHERE to go. UGH!

Luckily for the girls, Scott steps in a weak spot of the attic floor and falls through. Well, that was lucky, since these girls are totally useless. They go down to check on him. He’s laying face down, with an obviously broken arm. So they assume he’s dead. What? WHY? Do Shadyside kids die from broken arms? Predictably, he’s not dead and grabs Crystal’s ankle. It’s okay though, he just says “Good always triumphs. Evil never wins.” And then a wave of blood rushes out of his mouth and he goes still. Presumably dead from his broken arm.

The books ends with the girls being close friends. They discuss how Scott is in a mental insitution and his parents moved away. Wait, what about his fatal broken arm?! Melinda is still dressing cool like Crystal, but with a little bit less makeup. I’m glad about this change though. I was worried Melinda would be all “I was almost killed because I dressed provocatively. I enjoy victim blaming!” Well good for Melinda, dressing cool, but still being true to herself. Yeah! Except that’s kinda ruined when the girls see their new hot neighbour move in and immediately start fighting over him. That’s almost worse than when the heroine and her abusive boyfriend kiss over a dead body at the end of the book. The moral is: Boys are more important than family, or anything else for that matter.

This book was good, but SO similar to First Date. I guess they were written a few years apart? Nah, that doesn’t even excuse it. R.L. got lazy! I give this book: Four Sister Switches out of Seven. Passable.


LAK said...

I feel like purity balls and rings should have been mentioned. Or maybe I have been watching too many TLC shows lately. It just seems to fit with Scott's idea of women and how they should act.

L. K. Stine said...

What's a purity ball? It sounds kinda dirty somehow.

Anonymous said...

I've read two recaps of this book now, and I still feel sorry for Scott and Melinda becuase of their failed psycho love. Oh, Mel, you should have taken him away from all this.

Chad Walters said...

I was thinking the exact same thing, L.K.

LAK said...

Here is the Wikipedia entry:

"Purity balls can vary in many particulars, but fathers who attend typically pledge to protect their young daughters' purity in mind, body and soul. "

Scott would not have had to deal with these girls with loose morals, or skanky clothing or make-up. So it does fit in-in a way. I'll just stop watching TLC now too, because they are vaguely creepy like a RL Stine novel.

L. K. Stine said...

Oh, a BALL, like a dance? I was thinking about something entirely different ...
But still, SUPER creepy. Who comes up with these ideas?

Anonymous said...

I think there was a TV show on purity balls here. Apparently it was all indeed very creepy.

A. M. Stine said...

Scott will leave the mental institution, have daughters and take them all the purity balls. That is, unless he suffers another fatal broken arm!

RecallerReminder said...

Scott was a complete jerk because was getting this murderous rage over nothing when the only thing he should did was being honest to make all thosse slutty girls know he was just not into the popular fashion style. How atupid.
Also, I think this book is one of the worst for me because there were no twist or revelation, was all clear since the begging, no thrill no suspense, yawn.

Anonymous said...

Need to read.