Friday, February 6, 2009

The Best Friend 2, or “Karma’s a Bitch”

Okay, I didn’t love The Best Friend. It wasn’t my favourite, and I was not looking forward to reading the sequel, expecting more of the bland whiny characters I had grown to dislike. But The Best Friend has a following, and with so many people telling me they really enjoyed the psychological aspects of it, I was determined to keep an open mind about the whole thing. I was pleasantly surprised.

The Best Friend 2 is “the story YOU demanded.” Apparently there was a great fan uproar back in the mid-nineties at the ending of the first book, where the bad girl gets away with it, which was the only part I really liked about it. However, the people demanded justice! So a notice was sent out to all Fear Street fans: send in your idea how Honey’s story will end. Cute way to involve your fans, or cheap way of getting out of “thinking up story ideas?” Discuss.

Ooh, I also really like this cover. I love the way Honey is looking all sneakily suspicious at Becka, like she’s going to cut a bitch. Also: The only good friend is a dead friend? Like, that’s got to be the BEST tagline ever. I defy you to find a better one.

Anyhow, this is the winning entry, sent in by Sara Bilkman from Grafton, Wisconsin. Sara, you made these characters SO MUCH MORE dislikable that I quite started to like the book. Well on you!

Part One (oh, no)

Becka wakes up nervous for her first day of school at Waynesbridge High. Apparently staying in Shadyside after all the shit that went down was too stressful on poor fragile Becka’s nerves, so she decided to start over one town over. Waynesbridge, as a point of interest, is well known for its biker bars. Actually, I just made that up, but I always got the sense that Waynesbridge was on the “wrong side of the tracks” from Shadyside. This section is told in Becka’s pov, which allows us greater insight into her little mind. As you’ll see, this becomes very entertaining.

Becka grew out her auburn hair and lost some weight, so instantly becomes way more attractive. I had to stop here, because didn’t Becka have blonde hair? Shrug. She’d been seeing a million shrinks since the “incident” where Honey killed Billy, and is starting to feel okay about the whole thing. Until she sees some guy in the hallway, and tackles him in joy, screaming “Billy!” Only he’s not Billy, or looks anything like him. Seems like starting the year off sane is out of the question.

Things perk up a bit in her first class, when a gorgeous girl takes interest in her, telling her to take really good notes in the class. Becka scrawls Billy over and over again in her notebook, without meaning too. So, not going to be a stellar academic year? The really pretty girl, Glynis (Glynis?) is really nice to Becka and helps her find her way around. Becka has a pretty serious girl crush on Glynis, starting at her all the time thinking how awesome she looks. They go out for pizza with Glynis’ friend Frankie, and Becka starts crushing hard on Frankie, too. So, Becka’s behaving pretty unstable, right? It gets better. She sees Eric in the pizza parlour, the cool guy who dated both Becka and Honey in the last book. Becka trips over to him and asks him how he’s been. He’s all “since you dumped me?” and in reply she forces her tongue down his throat.

So, if you’re anything like me, you’re pretty certain at this point that Becka is actually Honey. I mean, the not blonde hair? The totally unbalanced behaviour? The creepy girlcrushing? It has to be Honey, right?

Eric doesn’t care who it is, he enjoys being attacked. Becka is thinking about Frankie the whole time, wondering if he would like her better if she looked exactly like Glynis and BECKA IS TOTALLY HONEY! No doubt in my mind by now.

The Becka facade starts to break apart. Honey gets a call from Frankie, confessing his eternal love to her. Except, it’s actually only in her head, and she chides herself for hallucinating. As she’s doing so, she scrawls the word BILL all over her face in nailpolish. Effed up! The next day she goes to Glynis’ house and tries on all her clothes, thinking Glynis wouldn’t mind because they are totally best friends forever.

Glynis starts to get weirded out by Honey’s behaviour. They go to the mall with Frankie, and she awkwardly asks Honey if she took her clothes. Honey’s like: “yes! Of course I did!” Exchange of glances as they realize their new friend is a nutbar. At the mall, Honey runs into Eric, working at one of the stores. He asks her: “Why do people keep on calling you Becka, HONEY? Are you pretending to be her again?” Haha! I know it was obvious, but I love being right. Honey does not appreciate being called out, and responds to Eric by strangling him with a string of beads. And who should witness this event (besides the mall and countless security cameras?) The real live Becka, who was just starting to get over Honey when she sees her murdering one of her exes. Honey jumps up, blames the murder on Becka, then runs away. Um ... mall security? Anyone? Is it just that easy to strangle someone with beads in the middle of a crowded mall?

Part 2

Eric’s funeral. Becka, Trish and Lilah are all sitting together, discussing how Honey escaped from the mental institution she was in over the summer. So – everyone discovered that Honey actually stabbed Bill, I’m assuming. Becka is really freaked out, and her friends are worried about her, because she keeps on seeing Honey everywhere she goes. While Becka is annoying, a little healthy post traumatic stress from witnessing all your boyfriends being murdered in front of you has got to be allowed. As they leave the church, Billy shows up! He survived the stabbing, but lost a lung. Bill wants to talk to Becka, but Becka can’t be around him. She has too much guilt over him losing a lung, and freaks every time she hears him wheeze, and so their love died awhile ago. After Bill leaves, she goes on and on about she hasn’t been a good friend, how she wasn’t there for them as they were recovering from their respective accidents, but she’ll try to BORING! Whatever.

That night, Becka’s new boyfriend Larry shows up at her coffee shop she works in, and Becka treats him like shit and makes him leave. I am so not a Becka fan, what a bitch. As she leaves the coffee shop, Bill approaches her and she freaks out. Her car has been all slashed up, and there is a rat disembowelled on the seat. Gross. She has a nervous breakdown, again. Becka ends up back on her tranquilizers. That night, as she’s recovering, Trish calls Becka on Bill’s behalf, going on about how he wants her back and she’s being so mean. Really? I don’t like Becka, but I can see her point. She’s just not that into him anymore, and he really shouldn’t be pushing the issue I think. Neither should her friends. Becka agrees with me, and hangs up on Trish.

Apparently tired of inaction, Becka decides the best plan EVER is to sneak over to the next door neighbour’s house, where Honey’s dad lives, to see if she is hiding there. While completely doped up on tranquilizers. Actually, it probably seems like a great idea at the time, like a ride. She goes next door, and trips over a dead body! No, just kidding, it’s a bag of lawn fertilizer. The amount of things people mistake for bodies in Fear Street: brooms, mops, now fertilizer? Becka’s just peeping on Honey’s passed out, beer-holding, wife-beater wearing father, when Lilah grabs her from behind, making her scream. Those tranqs aren’t working the way they should. The dad comes out to yell at them, and shake his fist for good measure. The girls think this is hilarious.

Lilah brings news. She found an article about a murder-suicide that occurred several years ago in Shadyside. A man killed his wife and son, then himself, leaving only the daughter (and twin of her dead brother) as a witness to the whole thing. Daughter’s name was Hannah. Becka has a huge flashback of Hannah, who she went to elementary with. Hannah was a clingy, unpopular girl in grade 4 that everyone hated, Becka included. The cool kids came up with a plan: they told Hannah to get onstage during school assembly, get down on her hands and knees and bark like a dog, and they would all be friends forever. Hannah predictably follows through, and everyone laughs at her. Then Becka goes up to Hannah and tells her it was a joke, and to stop following them around. A week later, Hannah witnesses the destruction of her family.

Oh, that is so mean. I knew I was right to hate Becka! I love this little twist, that Becka might actually deserve a little crap in her life, based on how she uses the people around her. Think of everyone she’s hurt: Hannah, Eric, Billy, even Honey to a point. I think Becka had forgotten about Hannah, and gets a bit of this karmic realization as well. Pretty certain little Hannah grew up to become Honey, with mental issues from a lifetime of bad experiences and mistreatmen. She lived with her uncle until sent to a mental institution.

Becka goes to visit her therapist to get more pills (but not, oddly enough, to talk about her newfound memories of Hannah/Honey). On her way out, she’s attacked from behind. Someone beats her face into the gravel until she passes out. Alright ... Becka’s mean, but she probably didn’t deserve that. She wakes up alone in the parking lot, and other than needing some stitches and her new gross mangled face, she’s alright. Her ever-suffering boyfriend takes her out, although even Becka’s aware that he probably wasn’t totally turned on by her face looking like dog food. She sees Honey everywhere she goes, until she completely loses it in a screaming fit. Larry drops her off quickly, probs thinking the hysterical girlfriend thing is getting pretty old since she started looking like dog food.

Things go from bad to worse. Becka just wants to crawl into her warm bed, which she does. Only it’s warm from being soaked in blood ... sick. She flips on the lights to see bloody handprints everywhere. A phone call comes in, that her best friend was coming for her. Honey’s doing an awesome job at destroying this girl completely, because Becka’s flipping out in a big way. Just as she’s running out the door (because she’s always left entirely alone, despite the constant violent attacks and death threats), Billy shows up at her door. Becka decides now is a good time to get back together with him, since it’s convenient to what she wants right now. The big user. She demands he take her somewhere.

Bill takes her to his uncle’s cabin in Fear Woods. Because when your life’s in danger, you should def go to an isolated cabin in Fear Woods. HUGE tipoff that Billy did it, right? She calls Lilah up to let her know what’s going on, and Lilah tells her there’s breaking news everywhere – Honey was captured by police 2 days ago. K, wouldn’t that have been breaking news two days ago then? Whatever, point is, Honey is not behind the recent attacks. Another big point towards Bill, right? He walks menacingly into the room.

Only it wasn’t Billy doing all the violent things – it was TRISH, Becka’s best friend! Trish hated Becka since she didn’t come to visit her in the hospital after she broke her neck. Her and Bill got together, and decided to plan to make Becka pay. Okay, it’s totally true that Becka is a self-absorbed narcissist, who uses friends and loved ones as she pleases, but was that really a reason to go all psycho-killer? It seems that by turning into a psycho killer because Becka was a crappy friend is kind of enabling her self absorption. Just ditch the bitch and enjoy your life together.

Trish lunges to stab Becka with a kitchen knife, but Billy only wanted to scare Becka, not kill her. He blocks the blade ... with his only lung. Oops, you probably needed that one, Billy! Becka has a moment where she needs to be her own best friend, and fights Trish off. Oh, fuck off. This is about empowerment now? Becka needs to learn to STOP being all about herself, not being more all about herself. Actually, I hope her and herself are happy together, and leave everyone else alone. As the police are on their way, Becka cradles Bill’s head and tells him she’ll be a good friend to him from now on. Bill is doomed.

The Best Friend 2 was much better than the first one, but I found it disjointed. The two separate parts are really two separate stories, either of which I would want to read. The first, following Honey around as she pretends to be Becka, follows on the bad guy getting away theme, and would have been great on its own. The second part, the karma comes after Becka theme, is interesting, because you find out there’s less good-guys, bad-guys, and things are more in shades of grey. Sympathizing with the bad guy? That almost NEVER comes up in Fear Street, and I like that it did. I still fucking hate Becka as a character, but since everyone else in the book did too, I’ll give it 48 terrible friends out of 56.


Chad Walters said...

I think if I lived in Shadyside, I'd be expecting dead bodies around every corner too. So I think mistaking random objects as bodies is a bit understandable. Maybe not a broom/mop, but I could maybe see a bag of fertilizer. Maybe.

Anonymous said...

The whole book should have been Honey pretending to be Becka. Only more subtle, obviously.

A. M. Stine said...

Was I right about this book? Does one of the girls sit on the phone with the other one, only to later realize she's bat-shit crazy? Or did we decide that was Switched? Too... Many... Fear... Streets...

Anonymous said...

You guys are awesome! Thanks for recapping this one, I had always wondered what would win the contest (does this plot seem a little more clever than most of R.L.'s plots?). And I'm happy nothing happened to Glynnis (spelling? I forget her name already).

anyhow, once I stepped on a crumpled sweater and thought it was my cat, and I don't even have non-paranoid persecution paranoia to blame (still though, I've never gotten over the mop. That girl just did everything she could to feel like a horror-book heroine.)

Funny as always, thanks again.

M.H Stine said...

good i got confuesd i didnt know if Honey was Becka the whole story or if Honey was acting like Becka and Becka is somewere else in the world....

L. K. Stine said...

The multiple Beckas do lead to a lot of confusion. For the first part, "Becka" is Honey, but for the second part, Becka is the real Becka, and Honey turns out to be Hannah, and is off getting arrested for murder. Sorry about that!

M.H Stine said...

still werid i thought Honey was Becka! imut not be paying much attension.....

Keeley said...

The face ground into the pavement is one of my most vivid memories of read Fear Street. ugh.

I am also convince that I never read the Best Friend, just the sequel. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

The face ground into the pavement in this book didn't stick out so much to me as the face ground to a bloody pulp on a pottery wheel in Lights Out did.

RecallerReminder said...

Even if this sequel comes to give us plenty to put a better end on the story, I find kinda incoherent the plot to explain how Honey got psycho. In the first book, Becka and her friends recognized Honey from the past at some point but never mention anything about a cruel prank on her. How come Beck just suddendly remember that? And the prank was pretty stupid by the way...I know they were kids but come on! The person who wrote this should work more on this because the results, at least to me, are not good enough.