Monday, September 15, 2008

The Rich Girl, or “For Once it Wasn’t the Rich Girl’s Fault”

The Rich Girl begins with two friends, Emma and Sydney, who work at the movie theatre together. Sydney is rich, but Emma is poooor. Her mother is a waitress. It doesn’t get much worse than that. Despite these socio-economic discrepancies, they still like each other.

When leaving for the night, they throw the trash in the dumpster out back, and Sydney loses her antique charm bracelet. They go in after it, and come up with a bag full of cash. There’s over $100,000 in $50 bills. Emma dreams of paying for her mother’s knee operation, which they can’t afford because they don’t have insurance. Sydney wants to give the money to the police. When Emma argues that Sydney doesn’t know what it was like to really be in need, Sydney puts her in her place by informing her that even though her parents bought her a brand new Miata for her birthday, she has to pay for her own insurance. Take THAT, whiny Emma.

The devil on Sydney’s shoulder finally wins, and she agrees to take the money, but only if they hide it for two weeks to see if anyone is looking to reclaim a bag of cash, which happens all the time. A truly conscientious friend might have just offered the whole thing to her destitute friend, but oddly enough that never comes up in Sydney’s moralizing. Hmmm, just a thought. They bury the bag of cash in the Fear Street woods, and Sydney immediately tells the secret to her extremely jealous boyfriend, Jason.

Next day, Jason ‘accidentally’ pushes Emma down the stairs at school, and then grins like an idiot. Not the best way to play the whole murderous thing cool, though. Unfortunately for him, Emma is alright. Sydney and Emma go back to Emma’s, where Sydney looks around and comments to herself how crappy the place is. Because she is a caring friend.

Emma talks to Sydney about how greedy Jason is, and how he wants the money for himself. Her example of this is the time he made Sydney buy him a beeper. Oh, boy, a beeper! Haha, 90s reference. Sydney believes her boyfriend, of course. He plays the sweetie and goes over to Emma’s, fixing up her crappy old car to show he’s a good guy and to apologize for the ‘accident’. When Emma and Sydney decide to go shopping in Emma’s car for once, Jason gets all suspect and tells Sydney not to drive with Emma. Hmmm …

We find out very soon that the brakes in Emma’s old clunker are not working as well as they used to. They avoid death by inches, then discover the brake lines have been cut through. Sydney finally believes Jason is trying to kill Emma for the money. Emma’s solution? Kill Jason. She said she was kidding but she so was not. Then she says they’ll cut Jason in on the deal, split it in thirds. It’s always a good idea to deal with your potential killer. And make out with him a bit. Jason is SUPER excited, and demands to see the money.

They go to dig up the cash, and Sydney decides to wander off to get a sweater at the last integral minute before they unearth the money. How convenient for everyone, because as soon as she leaves, she hears a scream. Running back, she sees Emma and Jason struggling, and Emma hitting Jason in the back of the head with the shovel. The things people will do for a bag of cash. Jason is lying dead on the ground, and Emma is pleading with Sydney not to call the cops, because this would ruin her life. Sydney isn’t even really that sad that it was her boyfriend that was killed, more upset that they had become murderers. Even though she hadn’t killed anyone, just the destitute friend.

Emma goes tot sink Jason’s body in the lake, but he just won’t sink, dammit. Her solution? She asks Sydney for her belt, to tie a rock around Jason to sink him. Or to PLANT EVIDENCE. Think this one through, Sydney. But she is too busy freaking out to think, period. She hears two people talking in the woods, but only Emma returns, looking flushed. Hmmm…

That night, Sydney has a nightmare of Jason standing at the foot of her bed, muddy and blood-soaked, staring at her accusingly. The next morning, there are two very realistic mud footprints in the carpet. Perhaps Jason is not as dead as he should be? She finds his school ring in her locker the next day, then the bloody shovel in the back seat of her Miata. Sydney wants to bury the shovel. I found that ironic, but a murder weapon is a murder weapon, I guess. Sydney finally picks up on the fact that anyone finding her belt weighing the body of her boyfriend down would link her to the murder. Ya think? At this point she thinks Jason is dead, and someone else is randomly putting props around to threaten her. Sydney and Emma head off to find the body.

Predictably, his body is not where it should be. Le shock! Sydney goes home to have a nervous breakdown, and finds the belt used to weigh Jason down tied around her teddy bear, with a note saying MURDERER in Jason’s writing. I find it funny that in most Fear Street books, people are gruesomely murdered, but in this one, R.L. won’t even damage the poor innocent teddy bear. I thought for sure she’d find stuffing spread across the room or something, but no. She finally gets that Jason isn’t really dead, and is probably pretty pissed about the whole trying to kill him thing. She calls Emma, who tries to convince her that Jason was for sure, 100% dead, but Sydney is terrified. There’s no moment of relief, like, thank god my boyfriend is still alive and I’m not an accessory to murder. I’m starting to think Sydney is in fact pretty cold. Jason can be dead and stay that way.

Emma comes over, and when Sydney goes to show her the belt and note, they’ve disappeared. No traces of them anywhere. Emma convinces Sydney she just needs more sleep. Not long after Sydney is completely alone, the rotting corpse of Jason pays her a visit. She clutches her bear to her and curls up into the fetal position, an approved self defence technique.

Next scene, Emma and very not-dead Jason are standing in a mental hospital. Sydney was admitted, having been driven mad by her boyfriend and best friend, who were already seeing each other on the sly, They had planned the whole thing, including cutting the brake line and being hit in the head with a shovel. That was … risky. And calculating. But I guess it pays off in the end, because Jason and Emma end up with all the money – and each other. That’s pretty much the worst betrayal ever.

Jason and Emma go on a shopping spree with their riches bought at the prices of a friend’s sanity. Emma goes to pay for a $600 Italian leather coat, and the salesclerk starts laughing at her. All the money in the bag is fake.

Best Fear Street ending ever, because it’s horrible, and karmic, something that hardly ever comes up in these books. The traitorous boyfriend and best friend end up with nothing, and realized they ruined a girl’s life in order to get said nothing. How truly awful. 5 faked 50s out of 5 for this one.


A. M. Stine said...

I told you this one was good! I totally remembered the ending and how much I enjoyed it. Although... I think you might be right when you said we needed to read some non-Fear Street books to remember what real writing is. ... nah!

Anonymous said...

Ouch, that ending. Hm, might be interesting to check out some other Fear Street novels to see if Stine's consistent re: poor = evil, rich = good. At the end of the day, Reva Dalby's still a protagonist, after all.

LAK said...

What is RL's issue with the poor vs rich thing? I know there might be a bit of a basis there, but sheesh! To write a whole book on it....

Adam said...

I hated the ending when I first read it. (Also the second time, why I chose to read it again is beyond me.)

This would have been an okay book with a fun ironic ending if the fake money was not Monopoly level phony. If I recall correctly, the money has a guy with a backwards baseball cap, his tongue out and various other markers that say, "THIS MONEY IS BOGUS!"

Those bitches counted the money right? Buried it, dug it up, showed it to the skeezy boyfriend and never noticed?

I can't feel bad for Sydney for being insane now. It is her own damn fault for - a)not noticing she got a cartoon in place of Grant and b) being unaware that her boyfriend and best friend had been screwing around behind her back.

This is long and pretty intense for a Fear Street book. I swear I don't take this shit super serious.