Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Call Waiting, or “Unbalanced Teenaged Stalkers Learn A Thing or Two About Life”

Karen and Micah are on a stakeout, stalking Karen’s boyfriend Ethan. Yup, she’s stalking her own boyfriend. She’s obsessed with him, convinced that he is out with someone else, because he told her he had to work the night shift. Micah is convinced her best friend is nutters. They are freezing in the winter night since they would run out of gas if they leave the car running. Oh, to be seventeen again. Ethan comes home a half hour before his work shift should have been, and Karen takes this as proof that he’s cheating. She drives like a lunatic on icy roads, and gets into a (minor) accident. I believe this chapter is to best capture how psycho our heroine of the story truly is.

Ethan comes over the next day. Karen questions (sneakily) where he was the night before, and he answers at work, but unfortunately for him, Ethan’s friend Jake pops in right behind him to hand him his wallet THAT HE LEFT AT HIS PLACE LAST NIGHT. Karen reels with the knowledge that Ethan is both cheating on her, and lying about it. Ethan wants to talk about something serious with Karen, and she knows he’s about to break up with her ... but they are interrupted by Karen’s prankster older brother, so they don’t have that talk, yet. Karen threatens to kill that bitch Wendy Talbot, who she thinks Ethan is seeing behind her back, further proving her mental stability to us all.

Karen’s cousin Adam recently moved to their town, so Karen shows up at school early to show him around. While wandering the school, Karen spies Ethan and Wendy talking together, and goes into a blind rage. She manages to wait until lunchtime, when she goes to confront Wendy. They have words at the top of a stairwell, and all of a sudden Wendy finds herself at the bottom of the stairwell, with head injuries. Karen does exactly what any innocent person would do, and runs away. She was so angry she can’t remember exactly what had happened at the stairwell. Interesting side note: Karen is wearing blue Doc Martens. These little details are not lost on me, R. L.

Karen leaves school for the day, and gets home to find her mother waiting for her. Micah had called her to let her know what went down at school, because she was really worried about her. What is this: a responsible friend? I’ve never seen anything like it before. Karen responds well, in that she feels completely betrayed and freaks out on Micah, telling her they’ll never be friends again. To make the day even better, Ethan shows up and breaks up with her. Karen LOSES IT. Ethan gets the hell away from her (reasonably, in this case), then calls her from a safe distance to see how she is doing a half hour into the break up. Karen is doing surprisingly much better, she’s calm and apologizes for her previous behaviour ... until the call comes.

A call comes in on call waiting, so she switches over to get it. When she comes back on the line, she’s all breathy and frightened – whoever was on the other line threatened to hurt her! Ya, right, typical teenage drama. While her story is so flimsy it should be wearing a bra, Ethan eats it up and comes rushing to her side to protect the poor damsel in distress. They decide it was probably a joke, and they shouldn’t get the police involved.

And so the Ethan-Karen romance continues. Every time he tries to distance himself from her, like clockwork a threatening call would come in. Ethan wanders around like he’s suffocating, clearly not enjoying his time with crazy. Meanwhile Micah is trying to restore their friendship, but Karen will have none of it. She actually runs away from her, because that is how mature people handle awkward situations. She promptly runs into Wendy, holding a gun! Karen assumes Wendy is going to kill her, until she’s reminded that Wendy’s the propmaster for the school’s production of Guys and Dolls. Wendy also has some timely advice for Karen – not everything is all about her. And also, although she knows she didn’t push her down the stairs, Karen was a bitch for running away and not helping her. I like Wendy.

Karen goes that night to see Ethan at his work, like the stalker that she is, only to be told he quit two weeks ago. Not only is Karen a stalker, she’s a shitty stalker. She calls Ethan to demand an explanation, and guess what? The call waiting stalker calls her at that very time. She pleads with him to come over, which he refuses, but he does agree to take her out on Saturday night.

Saturday rolls around, and Karen is primping for her date, not yet ready. Ethan comes over and is talking to her brother, mentions the threatening call waiting calls Karen has been getting. Big brother is all “But we don’t have call waiting.” Dun dun DUN! Karen’s shallow excuse for keeping her dying relationship going is exposed. She fesses up when confronted by Ethan, her mom, and her brother, admitting to making the calls up in order to keep Ethan with her. They all are pretty convinced she’s unstable, and her mom makes her see a shrink to talk about it, but Ethan STILL TAKES HER OUT THAT NIGHT. Being handed solid evidence your boyfriend/girlfriend is so wtf crazy they make up threatening calls to keep you with them is a fully legitimate reason to break a date, but Ethan is kind of okay with it. What does that say about Ethan?

Two weeks later, Ethan is uncomfortably over at Karen’s. Her mom thanks him for spending so much time with Karen, like he’s doing her a favour. As he heads up to Karen’s room, Karen gets a call: Karen, this is your imagination calling. I’m inside your brain. I’m going to kill you. I’m really going to kill you. I love how Karen’s imagination had to specify where it is, inside her brain, as opposed to somewhere else. Ethan obvs doesn’t believe her when she tells him, and she’s not even sure of herself that much.

At school, people are treating her differently, like she’s a crazy person. They clearly got the memo, then. Even Ethan’s friend Jake gives her the cold shoulder, but Ethan is still spending everysingleminute with her. A girl comes to get her at lunch, saying there’s a call for her in the principal’s office. The call is the same voice, same imagination-going-to-kill-you threat. Karen starts to freak out, until the secretary tells her not to use the phone she’s holding, since it is out of order. Karen really freaks out.

Her cousin Adam sees her in the hallway, and offers to take her home because she’s pretty incoherent. Karen is really worried about her head-state, and speaks with her psychologist, which is pretty responsible too, and not really the actions of a crazy person. Which we find out she may not be, when the next day the secretary at the office tells her that the phone actually had been working yesterday. Vindication! Karen’s happy she’s not for reals crazy, but it also means she’s getting for reals threatening phone calls.

Ethan still won’t believe her. As she gets clingier, he clearly can’t stand to be around her, ditching her as much as possible. He’s just blown her off another night when she gets another phone call. She starts to cry, because she’s so alone and such a victim, when she hears a noise in the background and stops. SHE KNOWS WHO IT IS.

She dashes out to confront the caller, and drives to ... Micah’s house. She runs in and babbles out an accusation. Karen knew it was Micah because she heard the weird cuckoo clock of her father’s in the background, while Micah was threatening her with imagination-death. Micah turns evil mean girl, and says she did it all for Ethan. Ethan was going to leave Karen not for Wendy, but for Micah, but then decided against it when Karen got all the poor-me threatening phone calls. Micah figured Karen was already mentally unstable, so what was the difference if a few phone calls pushed her over the edge? Ethan would be hers!

Karen lunges for Micah, who strikes back with a hot poker from the fire. Wow, that was an escalation. Hot poker = automatic fight to the death. Micah’s about to brain Karen, when Ethan rushes in to stop her. Both girls immediately burst that the other was trying to kill them, and Ethan sides with ...

Karen! That’s pretty surprising. He was on the phone with Micah when Karen burst in, and she never hung up, so he heard Micah’s evil confession. Note to evildoers – don’t ever tell us your whole plan. It will come back to bite you in the ass. Ethan hadn’t stayed with Karen because he felt sorry for her, but because he cared about her. Awww, that’s so sweet. So he wasn’t feeling suffocated by the crazy so that he had to blow her off all the time. Apparently Ethan is just a bad boyfriend. Ethan and Karen leave hand in hand and live happily ever after.

Worst ending ever! Actually, worst plot line ever. I wish that Karen really had been crazy, that would have been the actual twist for me. I feel certain that this is a normal occasion at high school these days. A bunch of teen drama queens who are way too into themselves and have way too much time on their hands make up a bunch of crap to keep their partners on a leash, and fence with hot fire pokers. This happens all the freakin’ time, give me something a little more creative! 11 imagination death threats out of 68.


marcelrochester said...

Stalking her own bf sounds a bit unkind. Sam did it on SATC and she was right. It was sort of the opposite in a Taylor Swift video.

“Karen was a bitch for running away and not helping her.” True. So did Micah push Wendy?

Heh, shitty stalker, =ing stalker-ness.

Yeah, Micah seems randomly a bitch, though hot pokers are amusingly extreme. And so the phone calls AFTER Karen admitted to faking are all from Micah right?

Anonymous said...

I love how you used "brain" as a verb.

Anonymous said...

I actually think this one sounds pretty good! But that might just be because I remember reading it. I think Karen thinks she's crazy for long enough that her being crazy wouldn't be a good enough twist, also. I'm happy with how this worked out.

A. M. Stine said...

Sooo, what was the importance of the blue Doc Martens? Just that Karen was rad?

Sadako said...

I was hoping she would be crazy, too. But I figured it had to be Micah because that's the Stiniest ending, of course.

I was also hoping that Micah and Ethan would go all Kelly and Dylan on her and up together. Leaving poor Karen to head off to England until someone called her in for a reunion special.

L. K. Stine said...

I just loved that R. L. had to mention that as she was running away from the scene of the non-crime, she was wearing blue doc martens. It seems so ... 90s. It featured prominently in my notes, so I had to add it in the blog.

Sadako: Stiniest is the BEST ADJECTIVE EVER.

A. M. Stine said...

Haha like: "Karen commits crime. IN BLUE DOC MARTENS!" I see where your heads at. I'm about to order the rest of the books, because I forgot to earlier this week!

A. M. Stine said...

Done and done. Can we discuss though, how Spring Break better be the effing best Fear Street book ever made, because we just paid $7.10 for it! The highest price was like $56! How... who... whyyyy...

marcelrochester said...

Ouch. It totes isn't.

My exact Librarything review of it:
Josie’s storyline was worthless, except for the last page, and I don’t get why she’s whining about not going to Trisha’s when they’re bff’s so if she wanted to she could totes go. This was basically two books mushed together so neither part feels satisfying, especially since neither lead character is fleshed-out well. The truth about the villain in Josh’s story again makes no sense. Also, par-tee is not a word.

L. K. Stine said...

My my, we are very committed to this blog! Not $56 a book committed, but still, very committed indeed.

soapfan0406 said...

OMG! I have tears rolling down from laughing so hard at your review for this book. I just read it myself and it was god awful!

Karen is a weirdo and I can't believe Ethan sided with her. Maybe he's scared to let her go because of her obsessive, crazy nature.

Thanks for the fun review. Keep em coming :)

RecallerReminder said...

The main character is just pathetic, I cant believe she actually keeps her bf after all that stuff. For me, this is one of the worst of this series.