Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Dead Girlfriend, or “Who Isn’t An Electrical Engineer?”



With all the discussion about R.L.’s Point Horror forays, I felt the need to read one. One thing I’ve kind of noticed about these books, more so than Fear Street, is that they really have a wholesome, “all-American” feel to them. They focus a lot on having the typical high school experiences ... along with some murder. Maybe it’s just they lack edge, I don’t know. Ironic that they are so popular in the UK, or could that be the very reason why?

The beginning of this book starts off like a 12 year old’s idea of poetry. You know, short little sentences as paragraphs:
The total freedom of it.
Prettier than real life.
Danger here.
Danger and fear.
Annie has just moved to Shocklin Falls, and is exploring the small town on her beloved BMX. She rides up to the namesake falls and sees a boy about to jump off the edge. She screams for him to stop. He turns to smile and her and she falls in love with him. Like, that’s actually written in. The boy is Jonathan, he’s quite nice and asks her out immediately. Annie’s all squee! until she sees that someone’s slashed her bike tires while she was talking to Jonathan. And so it begins ...

Friday night she goes to a house party with him, to his friend’s Caleb’s place. It’s a crazy party where some kids are drinking BEER, Annie notices disapprovingly. Caleb is kinda crazy, and kinda gross, and is dating a gorgeous girl Dawn. Dawn is fashionable too, wearing “short, bright blue shorts over a gray Lycra catsuit. Very sexy.” Dawn and Annie become besties right away. Another girl she meets is Ruby, an ugly redhead who’s hot for Jonathan, and in NO way happy about his new squeeze (because after 10 minutes at a party, they are SO together – I love high school.) Dawn’s description of Ruby: “Some people do aerobics. Ruby does guys.” Snort.

The kids decide to take the party to the batting cages, where Jonathan drives like a maniac, and Caleb climbs to the top of the cage and pretends to fall off. Men. *eye roll* The night ends with no kiss for Annie, and she goes to bed disappointed, cuddling up with her kitty Goggles.

At Annie’s first day of school, Dawn keeps on trying to tell her something serious about Jonathan, but is constantly interrupted. Finally Dawn takes her to this glass display case filled with pictures of a girl. Louisa was Jonathan’s old girlfriend, and Dawn’s best friend, who died by falling off Shocklin Falls a few months ago. Which begs the question, what was Jonathan doing up there when he met Annie? Most people think Jonathan pushed her, although the official story was suicide. Annie is sorta freaked that her boyfriend may be a killer, but not enough to stop seeing him. He must be cute.

Annie becomes a lil obsessed with the shrine to Louisa, staring at it a lot. She’s surprised by a guy sneaking up behind her. The guy is Ryan, and he’s got a stalker intensity about him, asking her out immediately. Annie stammers out a no and he hurries away. “Strange dude” is Allie’s view of him.

The day gets worse for Annie, because after school she goes to work on her social paper that she’s totally behind on. It’s all on disk, before the days of backing up your work, and somebody has erased all her work, leaving only a threat to stay away from Jonathan. Annie is pissed, and thinks she sees Ruby in the school after hours. Suspicious ...

She calls Jonathan on Friday night, only to be told by his mom he’s out with Ruby. If that crushing news wasn’t enough, she gets an obscene phone call, telling her to stay away from Jonathan. Early the next morning, she calls Dawn to discuss these events, but Dawn can’t talk because she’s going to an electrical engineering class with Ruby. Wtf? is my reaction, as well as Annie’s. Kids these days, and their damn electrical engineering classes. Dawn agrees to get the dirt on Ruby, and Annie decides to go for a bike ride with maybe-killer Jonathan.

Caleb crashes their ride, and they all go up to the falls. Stop hanging out at the site of your dead girlfriend’s murder/suicide scene! Ruby and Dawn join them, and all of a sudden Jonathan rides off in what can only be described as a huff.

Jonathan wakes Annie up that night with a heartfelt apology. She wants to forgive him, but still doesn’t know if he killed his ex or not, which is giving her all these confusing feelings. The next morning she has to get out and goes for a ride. Bad idea. Someone comes barrelling after her, and Annie freaks, losing control of her bike and crashing.

Turns out her pursuer was only creepy Ryan, which shouldn’t make her feel any better. He tells her creepily that Louisa was his best friend, and now Annie can be his best friend, and forces a kiss on her. His lips are – you guessed it – hot and dry. Seriously, R. L., whattup with that? Ryan is being violent and needy, so Annie falls in love with him. Just kidding! This isn’t a Fear Street! Annie takes off.

Next day after school, Annie goes to work on her social paper again, but once again things go poorly. She touches her computer and is electrocuted. Annie is okay, just a little “buzzed”, and furious. She remembers Ruby is an electrical engineer (??) and goes to confront her. Ruby predictably responds with anger and confusion. Annie leaves her to go stare obsessively at Louisa’s photo.

And there standing looking at the photo is ... Louisa! No, it’s just her sister, Danielle, who looks like her. They go for a Coke together, where Danielle informs her that both Ruby and Jonathan were up at the falls when her sister died, and either could have done it. When Annie tells this to Dawn, Dawn is sure Ruby had nothing to do with it, and actually thinks it was Jonathan.

Next weekend Annie has a birthday party at her place. It’s a rager – Annie makes spaghetti. Despite her best friend confessing she thinks Jonathan killed his last girlfriend, Annie is cuddled up with him all night. Even hot lips Ryan makes an appearance. Everything goes wonderful until Annie does clean up in the kitchen and finds the pot of spaghetti bubbling merrily away. In the pot ... is Goggles the cat. Oh. That is gross. And sad.

The next day Jonathan convinces Annie that going for a ride to the falls would be a good idea. Really? It doesn’t sound like a good idea. At the top of the cliff, Jonathan confesses he secretly hated Louisa and killed her. Um. There’s an awkward moment. But then he further clarifies that he didn’t push her, he was just feeling guilty because he’d been fooling around with Ruby behind Louisa’s back, and Ruby pushed her off. At that confession, Ruby jumps out from behind a rock.
...
Seriously? She was just ... hiding behind the rock? There’s no explanation why she’s there in the first place, it made me laugh though. Anyways, she leaps at Jonathan in a rage, saying HE pushed Louisa. They tussle at the cliff edge, then Ruby leaps at him and misses, going over the falls. Didn’t that exact same thing happen in The Hitchhiker?

So, traumatizing, right? Annie and Jonathan just stare at each other for awhile, when Dawn pulls up. Annie is relieved, until Dawn goes full-on psycho – she says she saw Annie push Ruby over the edge, then fall in along after her. Uh-oh! Jonathan has no idea what’s going on, until it clicks that Dawn killed Louisa all along. Dawn did it for the love of Jonathan, and will kill anyone else who gets in her way. Because who doesn’t want a murdering psycho at his bike-side? Dawn goes after Annie, but Jonathan tackles her to the ground. As she struggles, the police show up. Turns out, Ruby actually survived the fall, and walked away to a payphone to call the police. Dawn is lead away, and because the police are as inept in Shocklin Falls as they are in Shadyside, Annie and Jonathan are left alone up there. They kiss passionately. For reals! No word on what Jonathan’s lips are like, but I think we can make a solid guess.

Alright. This book at time made me laugh out loud, it was so contrived. And I loved the random characters thrown in to throw you off the trail of the real murderer. I mean, who the hell was Ryan, other than a random stalker/rapist? This is suspense for 9 year olds, which I suppose is technically the point. So who am I to judge. This is very well done, based on the audience. I’ll have to give this 5 teenaged electrical engineers out of 8.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, I had an Electronics class! During which I once contemplated murder. Fun times.

I think it's probably the American-ness that made them so popular in the U.K. Not being America, we aren't exactly saturated with that sorta thing.

A. M. Stine said...

I noticed you slipped and accidentally called Annie Allie in one paragraph. What a weird slip to make...

PS People attempting to push others off cliffs ALWAYS miss and run off the cliff themselves in R.L.'s books. Like, seriously, near the edge of cliff? Never run full force! You're gonna go over

M.H Stine said...

lol A.M in the book they fight and Annie screams "Stop! ur gonna fall!" and stuff like that i mean wtf?!
....
it take up like 1 page of them fighting and Annie screaming i kinda wish Caleb or Ryan was the murderer cuz they were in love w/ Louisa and 1 of them were trying 2 kill Jonathon.... anyways i love this book!

Anonymous said...

i'm your worse fucking nightmare

A. M. Stine said...

HAHAHAHA What?!

I think your GRAMMAR is my worse [sic] fucking nightmare!

Amya said...

LMAO! I think anon @ 5:56 is RL. Or maybe it's Dawn from this book.

zanne said...

This made me laugh too. What is it with people pushing other people off cliffs?!

The poor cat though. I hate when RL kills animals in his books.

Amya said...

Is it horrible that I have more compassion for the animals that are killed than the people are killed?

Anonymous said...

No, no it's not.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, another dead pet. Another box checked on R.L.'s list!

Reepicheep-chan said...

Then animals in these books are always more sympathetic than the people.

Devika said...

I don't understand why the girl on the cover looks like she's wearing a Victorian era wedding dress with a veil made of pulled apart cotton balls. I think the "veil" might just be frizzy hair, but it's still weird to me.

M.H Stine said...

in Broken Hearts (yes i no u reviewed it) im reading it and im at the part were (Erica) murders Muggy and btw i think its good that Rachel shouted "I hate Josie!" i hate that bitch 2! she SAYS she feels guilty but shes just a lazy bitch who only cares about herself i think Reva was better than her!

Whitney G said...

I remember reading this book as a young teen and crying over the death of the cat. RIP Goggles. You will be missed.

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Rashad said...

Electric Electrical Engineering Zoon

The World of Lurlene Mcdaniel said...

another one of my favorite point thriller books that r.l. stine wrote and one i most vividly remember.

all i can say is that caleb is such a dork. seriously.

Anonymous said...

Stine... really hates animals, I think. Only explanation I can think of for why he constantly murders them in gruesome, cruel ways. I hope he doesn't have any pets of his own.

Anonymous said...

I knew Dawn was the killer as soon as she wore dark lipstick.

RecallerReminder said...

Stine used already too much the plot of the "crush-on-a-guy-who-maybe-killed-his-old-girlfriend-but-its-a-misunderstanding"
I have problem with the cover too. This is actually weirder in the spanish edition because we use the word "novia" for "girlfriend" and "bride", and that girl in the cover looks definetly like a bride. Since some international editions has original cover, I though was a understandable mistake since the artist didnt know which "novia" was been traslated....But looks im wrong, so this would be a stupider mistake.