Monday, February 19, 2018

The Dead Boyfriend or "Just Don't Date Guys Named Blade"

Basically the entire time I was reading this book, I had Garbage’s iconic song “Bad Boyfriend” running through my head, except I had replaced the word “bad” with “dead”. I didn’t realize until later that Garbage probably didn’t write a song about a dead boyfriend, no matter how grunge they were. Bad boyfriend works in this instance too though.  Now enjoy that songworm in your ear for the rest of this recap :)

Anyways, The Dead Boyfriend was kind of a trip. A lot of times, I thought we were going to be faked out with a classic Stine dead-body-falls-out-of-a-closet and then it’s revealed it was a mop. True story: happened in our FIRST recap ever “The New Boy.  But most of the time, crazy stuff was actually happening! I always appreciate that. And then the end happened. You’ll just have to wait and see that insanity.

Our main character is Caitlyn and almost the whole book is a diary entry. She calls her diary her friend, which is a huge red-flag in my books.  Like all of the relaunch Fear Street Series books, she kinda discusses her family, and then they never have anything to do with the plot. She has an older sister named Jen! She is never mentioned again!

Anyways, Caitlyn emotes to her diary that she just hasn’t been happy since her boyfriend, Blade died. You guys. That name. OMG that name slays me every time I think about it! It’s like when Fear Street hunk Bobby Newkirk had a band named “The Cool Guys” and then he changed it to “Bad to the Bone”.  RL Stine is 74 but internally has been 104 since the 1980s. I love it.

Caitlyn takes us back to the first time she met Blade, at Lefty’s diner. She was hanging out with her friends Julie (her descriptor is funny and mean) and Miranda who *could* be attractive but has glasses.  Caitlyn runs into Deena Fear as well  and they have a very weird interaction. It’s the first time they ever meet and Deena seems vaguely...threatening? Must be the Fear in her. Caitlyn then sees a guy staring at her. Props to Caitlyn though, she puts an end to this mystery very quickly by going over and seeing what this creep wants. Except he’s not creepy, he’s dreamy. And named Blade, which also seems to be his given name, not a nickname. He says his parents wanted him to be “sharp”. No. Don’t do this, parents.  They get to talking and hit it off, so Blade asks if she wants to hang out and they leave together.

They are very teenage-y and just wander around talking until they come upon a house party and decide to crash it. They don’t know anyone and are trying to slip some beer (classic teens) but then Caitlyn sees Deena. And she is super pissed that Caitlyn is at the party with Blade! Deena hisses that she “saw him first” - a dibs! That’s more pre-teen behaviour I feel. Also, meaningless to Caitlyn since she met Deena that night and isn’t friends with her. Dibs don’t count if you aren’t friends, obvs. Deena makes this interaction even weirder by blowing on the silver bracelet that Caitlyn wears.

The host of the party catches on that Blade and Caitlyn aren’t real guests. Before they get kicked out, Caitlyn suggests they make out in front of everyone as a “joke”. It’s as weird as you are imagining. Once they are done “jokingly making out” (remember teen hormones?) they run out of the party laughing.  They don’t get too far though, before Caitlyn’s wrist starts hurting. She looks down and realizes that her bracelet is burning hot - and melted to her skin! WTF. This was one of those times that I thought we were in for a fake out, but the next chapter starts, and no, the bracelet actually melted and fused together - although I was unclear whether it was melted to her skin or just melted together...

A few days later, Caitlyn is working at her job at the movie theater, slinging popcorn, when Deena comes in. Deena wants to be friends because she’s worried something bad will happen to Caitlyn. Ummm… aren’t you the reason her bracelet is now fused to her body?  Deena also wants to talk about Blade, but Caitlyn isn’t really interested. Deena gets all creepy looking and then the machines in the concession go hay-wire shooting out popcorn and pop all over the place. Caitlyn wonders if this is a warning from Deena. Ya think?

Next is a really weird chapter where Caitlin is grabbed by a man in a parking garage and mugged, which I really thought would be an RL fakeout, but wasn’t! She was really mugged and broke his nose to escape! And then went and bought a knife for protection, which seems like a weird thing to do, and also, no one ever mentions this mugging again. I can tell you, if I ever got mugged and fought my way free, I would literally not stop telling people about how amazing I am.

What her friends do talk to her about though, is that she’s rushing into things with Blade. I guess they’ve been spending a lot of time together and things are moving quickly. Caitlyn throws out the classic teen line “yall are just jealous” and for some reason her friends don’t abandon her like I would have.

Right on cue, Blade starts acting shady. He cancels a date unexpectedly and when Caitlyn goes to hang out with Miranda instead, she spots his car on her drive over. She obviously decides to follow his car. She watches as Blade goes to the FIRE DANCE CLUB (another amazing name by RL) and sees he’s brought another girl! She watches them kiss outside the club and goes to confront him. She’s interrupted by Deena who’s all “Blade betrayed us!”.  Caitlyn actually pushes her out of her way - amazing.

Inside FIRE DANCE CLUB, Caitlyn confronts Blade.  He tells his date, Vanessa that Caitlyn is “nobody, a friend from school” and denies ever saying “I love you” to Caitlyn. Harsh. Caitlyn leaves and almost crashes her car. Then like a completely sane person, she goes to Blade’s house and waits for him to come home.

When he does, they get into an argument with Blade saying they were just “having fun”. You know what? Don’t say that to very angry girls - because they will lose their minds. Like Caitlyn does! First she attacks him with her big purse, and then threatens him with that giant knife she bought after her mugging. And then she slices his palm and stabs him in the stomach. WHAT!?

I really thought that would be a rage-blackout-fake out, but nope, Blade is dead. Caitlyn drives home and immediately thinks she’s caught because the police come to her door right away. But they were just coming to let her know she left her house door open. The first true fake out of the book. Weird!

Blade’s funeral is sometime soon, and Caitlyn attends with Julie and Miranda.  It seems like a dream since there are only 19 people in attendance? A high-school boy, MURDERED in his driveway? Yeah, right. That would be huge news in any town! I guess Shadyside has its fair share of murders, but I feel like the funerals described in other books had a lot more guests…

Anywhoo, the funeral gets a whole lot effing weirder when Blade suddenly blinks and sits up in his coffin. Everyone shrieks and rushes to Blade, calling for a doctor (at this 19 person funeral? Not likely.) Caitlyn looks around and sees Deena Fear is at the back of the room, and appears to be controlling Blade’s body with a spooky amulet. We know which one! She suddenly passes out, and Blade’s body also slumps over, apparently dead again. After a doctor has appeared and declared Blade dead again (doctor, or funeral home director?) the funeral continues. Over the protest of Blade’s parents, who obviously want to ensure that Blade is actually dead. Certainly the most awkward ending to any funeral that I could imagine.

Deena texts Caitlyn later that night and wants her help. Apparently Blade hasn’t been buried yet and Deena is keen on bringing him back to life - with the help of Caitlyn! Caitlyn isn’t that jazzed on the plan - mostly because she murdered him and doesn’t want to get caught. She ends up going to Deena’s place anyways. She tells Deena she’s crazy for thinking it’s possible to bring someone back from the dead.  So Deena shows off her necromancy skillz by killing her parrot in front of Caitlyn and then bringing him back to life. Poor bird! That has to be traumatizing.

We get to the real deal of why Deena wants Blade brought back to life. Deena thinks it’s her turn to be with Blade. Like… what? It’s very unclear whether Deena and Blade had ever even met before so what’s with this obsession? The guys name is BLADE for gods sake, he cannot be worth all this killing/reanimation. Caitlyn is equally weirded out by Deena and tries to run out of the house, but somehow gets lost. Is Caitlyn...a moron?

She ends up in a room with two middle-aged people, who she assumes are Deena’s parents. She’s half right since they are Deena’s parents, only… they aren’t alive. They’ve been taxidermied! Deena comes in and calmly explains that she murdered and stuffed her parents.  She also tells Caitlyn that she made Caitlyn kill Blade through mind control, and demonstrates her other talents by forcing Caitlyn to do cartwheels. For some reason, this convinces Caitlyn to go with Deena to reanimate Blade. Whatever.

They sneak into the funeral home only to discover his body is gone! Dun dun dunnnnn!

Caitlyn is picked up by the cops to answer some questions about Blade’s death. They know about the FIRE DANCE CLUB and the fight that Blade and Caitlyn had. Probably because it was directly in front of that other girl, who would have obviously told the police. They let Caitlyn go and seem to believe her story that she went right home.

Caitlyn meets up with Julie and Miranda to watch the basketball game at school. There are a bunch of fakeouts in this chapter: the cops arrive looking for her! No, they are just there to watch the game (in uniform?) and were pointing to open seats near Caitlyn. She sees Blade at the game and goes to chase him! Just kidding, he wasn’t there, and now Julie and Miranda kinda think she’s nuts.

But twist! Turns out Blade really was there, and now he’s waiting for Caitlyn at her car. She blurts out “You’re dead!” and he just shrugs. Ha! Such a teen. He also gives her an angry cold kiss which Caitlyn is horrified by. Why? Didn’t you love him so much you rage murdered him in jealousy? "He pressed his lips against mine in a hard kiss. An angry kiss. He held me there, held my face against his, pressed his lips, so hard and cold, against mine, grinding them against my lips until my mouth ached [...] And then I uttered a horrified gasp - His lips were still sewn together." Best kiss scene ever?

Caitlyn escapes from his gross make out and slams his hand in her car door. She drives home in such an adrenaline rush she doesn't notice that...his hand came off when she slammed the door! And she drove home with it in her lap. She thinks to herself “He’ll want his hand and he’ll want revenge!” which is pretty hilarious and probably true. Caitlyn throws the hand in her front yard, because that is a great way to get rid of evidence.

Blade does come up, and casually picks up his hand. He sees Caitlyn staring out the window and shows her a knife - then uses it to slice open his lips! (sidebar - I don’t think funeral homes SEW PEOPLE’S LIPS SHUT, but correct me if I am wrong) He yells out he’ll never leave her now, which is creepy whenever anyone says it.

Caitlyn tries to find Deena at school but can’t and then there is this whole undramatic scene when she find out Deena isn’t registered there! So she goes to Deena’s house who is like “yeah, I’m homeschooled” - cool subplot? I guess her parents taught her until she killed them? Anyways, while she’s there, Caitlyn notices that Deena somehow has Blade’s hand, and she is trying to necromancy that thing hard.  She says she’s going to use it to bring Blade to her house so “[she] can have a turn”. BLECH. The spell doesn’t work and Deena tells Caitlyn she’s on her own, now that Blade is kind of alive and also looking to murder her.

Caitlyn, who can’t seem to do anything on her own except murder, immediately calls Julie and tells her the whole story about Blade and how he’s now back from the dead. Julie tells her to stay calm and meet her house in 30 minutes. Of course when Caitlyn gets there, both her parents are there. Julie obviously didn’t believe Caitlyn and they have a little intervention about how worried they are for her.

Caitlyn quickly peaces out and runs away from the world’s weirdest intervention. Pretty soon she sees Blade walking with his back to her. She recognizes his sweatshirt. She comes up to him and stabs him in the back in a blind rage! I think you know where this is going… it’s not Blade. It’s some different teen boy that she’s just killed. WTF Caitlyn, get your life together!

She’s unsurprisingly upset that she’s killed the wrong person (or surprisingly? Caitlyn is kind of terrible), and yells about how Deena must be controlling her.  Real Blade picks this moment to come out of the shadows and say that it's time for them to go to the grave forever! I remember thinking at this point: Yeah, she’s murdered two innocent boys in cold blood. Thats a hard rap to beat. I think I’d just shrug my shoulders and go with Blade. So much easier. (I was very tired reading this, fyi)  

Caitlyn does not choose the easy way out, and instead starts to fight Blade and tries to kill him again.  That is until Deena comes up and Blade is slighted distracted, and Caitlyn obviously takes this opportunity to stab Blade, again. He just kinda slumps over - it was oddly anticlimatic. So was Deena actually controlling him?  Deena takes his body away to “bury”, alright, whatever.

Caitlyn comes home and manages to convince her parents she’s not nuts, she just told Julie a bad joke. She is really on edge and everything is freaking her out: woodpecker tapping on her window, can’t concentrate at school. She decides that she needs to go to the funeral home and confirm that Blade is really and truly dead. Only when she gets there… Blade’s body has been stolen! Dun dun dunnnnn!

Okay here is where the book goes from mildly weird to epically/amazingly confusing. Caitlyn goes home and finds her parents with her diary. They also call her Cathy Ann, which for a few seconds I thought was a really weird typo. It turns out… the diary was a novel! Cathy Ann wrote in her diary all this crazy stuff as a novel and she hopes to become a published author. With that above story. Girl, you need to write 100+ books over decades before someone will publish a story as batshit as that. R.L. put in his time!

Apparently Blade is a real boy who died drowning the previous year, and Deena Fear is made up. Everyone else in the story was real, but none of it ever happened. Caitlyn/Cathy Ann’s parents are concerned for a bit - it’s a really weird story and violent and why did she have to use a boy who really died as inspiration? But they get over it quickly, decide their daughter is a genius and send the diary away to be published!

A year later, Cathy Ann is at a book signing for her mega-popular book. She’s all happy and excited to be in Shadyside on her book tour until… BLADE shows up!

That’s it. That’s where the book ends. W.T.F.

So many questions remain, most pressingly: Did the stuff in the “diary” happen? Or did it not?! Cathy Ann’s parents said Blade the Real Boy, drowned so did Cathy Ann do that somehow? Is Deena Fear a real person or not? Who brought Blade back to life? Did Cathy Ann really stab a second boy and noone noticed? WHAT IS HAPPENING?

I was so annoyed by this ending. I typically love a twist ending in R.L.s books but this one was just too big of a leap. Four stabbed boys named BLADE out of eleven.