Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Rich Girl

Book Description:

Emma Naylor and her best friend Sydney Shue always share their secrets. And now they have a big one. They found a duffel bag stuffed with money. They swore never to tell anyone. But Sydney broke her promise. She told her boyfriend, Jason about the money. Now Emma is terrified. She doesn't trust Jason-and she thinks he would do anything to get the money for himself. Even kill...

My Description:

Emma and Sydney are gossiping while on the job at the concession stand in the Cineplex at the Division Street Mall. Cathy Harper and her on/off boyfriend Marty Griffin are on again. We'll probably never hear from these two again so who cares?

You would. Anyway, as Sydney refills the napkin dispensers, she thinks about how Emma hates her new boyfriend Jason Phillips. Naturally she invites Emma over to eat pizza with she and Jason after work. Emma declines because she's gonna talk to the manager after her shift to see if she can get MORE shifts. Why would a teenager want more work, you ask. Emma's mom hurt her knee when she was younger, it never healed properly, and now she needs an operation so Emma needs to make as much cash as possible. Does she think she'll be paying for the expensive surgery? Because she's gonna have to work a hell of a lot more than three nights a week. You may as well quit school now, Emma, and get a couple more jobs. Maybe you'll work yourself nearly to death, develop a deadly disease from the stress, and get cast as the frail heroine of a Lurlene McDaniel book. Yeah, you'll be dead within a month and won't be able to enjoy your new success, but at least your mom's rotten knee will be all better. Emma goes on to say that her mom is close to being fired (she works at Shadyside Diner) because she moves too slow. Her boss says she moves like a racehorse with a lame leg and if she doesn't get her knee fixed, he's going to put her down. I kid, I kid! (But he really does command her to do something about it.) In a bit of foreshadowing, Emma says "Plus, we don't have any insurance so we have to pay for the operation ourselves. And we can't unless I find a way to make more money!" Perhaps she'll find a giant sack of cash, hmm? Thanks for ruining the big surprise, Mr. Back Cover. We're through! You can keep the velvet paintings and the stuffed moose, but I get the house.

Um, anyway, we've now come to the part where Sydney and Emma are held up for comparison. Emma is blond (because the main character in a Fear Street novel must always ALWAYS! be blond. How dare you even consider anything else?!), short, has parents who are divorced, and lives in the Old Village (the shitty part of town). Sydney is a tall brunette whose parents have been married for 20 years and lives in a giant mansion in the North Hills (the ritzy part of town). Sydney thinks about the fact that she's working because her parents want her to learn responsibility and Emma works because she has to. "[Sydney] knew she could walk away from it without worrying about how to pay for food or clothes. Or operations." You're a good friend, Sydney. A friend who deserves to be in a box floating down the river. Sydney and Emma go into the alley behind the mall to take out the trash. Sydney's silver charm bracelet falls into the dumpster and since it's a family heirloom, she dives in after it. Unfortunately, she comes upon a smelly rat and completely loses her mind. The rat hops out, hisses at her, and runs away in disgust because it's home was invaded. Eventually Sydney finds the bracelet...and a bag filled with money. I love how nonchalant these two are. Like this happens every other day. I frigging wish. Sydney wants to take it to the police, but Emma lights up at the thought of all the things she could do with her half of the money. Sydney whines about how it's not theirs, but then she comes around because she's a poor little rich girl: "I do know what it's like to want things I can't have. My parents don't give me everything I want, you know." Oh? What about your car? "Yes. But I have to pay insurance on it. Mom and Dad don't want me to get spoiled and they keep me on a tight budget. There are plenty of things I'd like to buy with this money." Shut up, Sydney. She goes back to whining and a moment later about the police maybe finding out they have it (HOW?) so Emma compromises and says they'll keep the money for a while without spending it. If there's anything on the news about it, they'll turn it in. If not, they'll go on a spending binge. Neither one of them wants the filthy loot in their house so they decide to bury it under a willow tree in the Fear Street woods. They get there and Emma is excited, Sydney is nervous, and the raccoon that scared the hell out of them both is now scarred for life by Sydney's banshee shrieks of terror. What a warm and fuzzy moment.

When Sydney gets home, she sees her boyfriend Jason in the driveway under the hood of one of her dad's cars. He needed something to keep him occupied while he waited for Sydney and their "study" date. As soon as she gets out of the car, he goes ballistic: "You're hiding something. I can see it in your face. (She denies it) Yes, you are! What's your secret, Sydney? Another guy? Were you out seeing somebody else while I waited here like an idiot? (She denies it AGAIN) Then tell me the truth. Where were you? What were you doing?" When she doesn't answer, jason pouts and starts to walk off, but she catches him and decides to tell him about the money and where it's hidden. In the words of Michael Scott: you ignorant slut! Jason says it's too bad that Emma found it and the only way he and Sydney can split it is to kill Emma. Sydney is shocked but Jason just says he saw a movie once with that plot and he wasn't serious. "Is that what you think of me?" Uh, YES!

On Monday afternoon, Emma catches up with Sydney in the hall at school to report that there hasn't been any news about the money. Sydney isn't as enthused as Emma. In fact, she's been a total wreck all day. As the girls approach the stairs, a large group of people come up behind them. Everyone is trying to hurry down the stairs and Emma ends up getting shoved down them. Sydney tries to run down to her, but she gets shoved against the bannister by that man child Jason. He's staring at Emma with a smile on his face -- surely he just killed Emma and he can now cash in! Mwhahahaha!

Unfortunately for Jason (a.k.a. the devil's ugly stepson) Emma is alive. She didn't even break anything; she's just really sore and bruised. Sydney is at Emma's house after school. Sydney says Emma looks pretty good for someone who fell down a flight of stairs. Emma says she didn't fall, that she was pushed by Jason. She says he came up behind her , put his hands on his shoulders like he was joking (I really don't know what that means), and then he pushed her. Sydney freaks out and says that isn't true even though she was standing next to him immediately after Emma fell. He even pushed her against the rail! Quit being an idiot, Sydney. Emma asks if Sydney told Jason about the money and Sydney confesses everything. Emma says that's why he pushed her, but Sydney says Jason doesn't need money THAT badly. Emma then points out that Jason is a greedy asshole who constantly gets Sydney to buy him pricy things he can't afford himself. Sydney's parent don't "spoil" her so how can she afford to "spoil" him?

The next morning at school, Sydney confronts Jason and tells him what Emma said. Of course he denies it all and makes up some dumbass story about tripping and accidentally pushing her. Oh, and he wasn't smiling, that was just shock. Right. Jason says he'll try to make it up to Emma by fixing up her crappy car. Five bucks say he cuts the brake lines...

Later, Sydney gets a call from Emma who says her car is "actually purring like a kitten!" instead of rattling like an old garbage truck, all thanks to Jason. Emma says she still feels crappy, but a trip to the mall to window shop for all the things she's gonna buy with her money would make her feel so much better. Sydney agrees to go with her and Emma says she'll drive. A moment later, Jason calls and when Sydney says she's going to the mall with Emma, he starts acting suspiciously like someone who messed with someone else's car hoping to KILL them. Jason tells her to call Emma and cancel, but Sydney's mom just got home so she says bye and hangs up. A few minutes later, she drives to Emma's house and they leave in Emma's rat trap. As they're going down a hill, Emma steps on the brake, but it's not working. That Jason. So original. The car flies through an intersection, nearly side swiping several people on the way. Finally Sydney reaches over and pulls the emergency brake just before they crash into a minivan. Emma says Jason really is trying to kill her and once again Sydney defends him because abusive psychos are not capable of murder. HA. The girls get out of the car to take a look under the hood and immediately spot the cut brake lines. Emma repeats that Jason wants her dead and at first Sydney claims it isn't true. But she thinks about her earlier conversation with jason and how strange he was acting. She tells Emma how Jason tried to convince her not to go and Emma takes that as a sure sign he purposely cut the lines. Then she tells Sydney that after he finishes her off, he'll go after Sydney. "After he kills me, he'll decide he wants all the money for himself." And these two call themselves FRIENDS. Sydney says she'll talk to Jason (as if that will help) and they start looking for a pay phone to call a tow truck. While they wait for it to arrive, Sydney says maybe she should just turn Jason in to the police, but Emma brings up the fact that they have no evidence. True. Then Sydney says the stress over the money is just too much and they should turn it in to the cops. Emma nixes that idea because her mom is getting that damn operation no matter what and that convinces Syd to shut up. In Emma's opinion, the only way to deal with Jason is to give him a cut of the money. That way he'll be happy and no-one will have to die! Judging by the number of pages I have left (77) I predict this won't go smoothly. But really, what do they expect?

Later at Emma's house, Sydney calls Jason and tells him to comve over so they can talk. He arrives pretty quickly and Sydney immediately tells him about the brakes. He says they were fine when he tested them and sometimes they get brittle and just snap due to old age. Emma pulls Sydney aside and says she's not sure whether she believes him or not. OF COURSE Sydney automatically believed him the moment he opened his mouth. Then they offer him his share of the money: $33,000 (they figure there's roughly $100,000 in the bag. How they came to this conclusion by only looking in the bag one time and never counting ANYTHING I do not know.) Jason gets all excited and dances around the kitchen. "I'm too excited to stand still!" Do it anyway. Jason begs them to go look at it with him and they agree to...

It's already dark when they reach Fear Street Woods. Jason gets a shovel out of the trunk, perfect for burying lifeless teenage girls...or just digging up a bag o' cash. Halfway into the woods, Sydney runs back for her sweater. Suddenly she hears an ear-splitting scream and runs toward it. She finds Emma and Jason fighting over the shovel. Emma finally gets it and when Jason turns away to look at Sydney, Emma cracks him in the head with it. Jason falls face down in the mud and both girls run to him. He appears to be dead although neither of these geniuses bother checking for a pulse. Emma tells Sydney that Jason was going to take all the money and run and he tried to hit her with the shovel so he could get away. Sydney wants to call the police because they're MURDERERS! FUGITIVES! But Emma says she was the one who killed Jason so she'll take care of everything. "Taking care of it" consists of dragging him over to Fear Lake (which is apparently only a few feet away) and dumping him in like the toxic waste he is. But he refuses to sink (a middle finger from the beyond!) so Emma yells for Sydney to find something they can weigh him down with. Sydney is too nauseous to even move and says she can't help. Emma says she'll find a big rock and asks for Sydney's belt so she can tie it to Jason. "Take it. I'm sorry, Emma. Sorry I'm not helping. I feel so sick I can't think!" Emma says she'll be right back and runs off to find the rock. The moment she leaves, Sydney vomits everywhere. Finally it's over and as she's leaning against a tree trying to calm down, she hears voices. And this time they're not inside her head. Uh-oh. She panics, spots Emma coming, and asks if she heard voices. Emma heard nothing so they leave.

Sydney pulls up to Emma's house and tries to comfort Emma as she cries about what she did. Heavy (and for once I'm not being sarcastic). At home, Sydney takes a bath and goes to bed. She wakes at 3:30 AM to the sight of Jason's algae coated corpse standing at the foot of her bed. It's only a dream, but it intensifies her guilt.

The next morning as Sydney is getting dressed, she spots two muddy footprints on the carpet. Dun dun DUN! I'm getting a sinking feeling that instead of a zombie Jason we're gonna get living Jason who's in with Emma somehow which makes me SICK. Fear Street needs a zombie! Anyway, at school, Emma tells Sydney that it had to be a dream. She goes on to say that the footprints were probably Sydney's from their trip to the woods. Throughout the day, Sydney is repeatedly asked where Jason is. Instead of telling them that he is now fish food, she says he must be sick or something. To put a cherry on top of this reeking mess of a day, Sydney finds an envelope in her locker containing Jason's class ring. She nearly chokes on her own tongue and when Emma walks up a moment later, she shows her what she found. But Emma is armed with plenty of excuses, none of which seem too plausible. Emma manages to calm Sydney by saying "Come on. Let's get out of here. Today was the worst. It will get easier after this." Is she speaking from experience? Once they reach Sydney's car, they both freak out (how many times have I already used that phrase?) because the dirty, bloody shovel is in the back seat.

Emma swears she didn't put it there last night, that when she was finished cracking Jason's skull with it, she just threw it down. Then she claims that those people Sydney heard last night must have seen everything and now they're harrassing her! Let's assume these people (if there was anyone there at all. Emma is looking more suspicious by the minute) are somewhat intelligent. Why would they bother messing with this instead of going to the cops? If Sydney would just THINK for a five seconds instead of freaking out and listening to Emma's bullshit, she would realize that something ain't right here. Sydney puts the shovel in the trunk and she and Emma drive away. A few minutes later, she notices a blue car that appears to be following them. Paranoia or a true stalker? I think you know the answer to that. When Sydney and Emma get to Sydney's house, they go upstairs to her room where Sydney finds a note for her in a stack of mail. "I saw you in the woods. I know your name. It's Murderer." This is just getting pathetic. It's laughable! Sydney proceeds to FREAK for the millionth time today (a new record) and says she and Emma have to go back to Fear Lake to get her belt before someone finds it. I'm speechless. Really, she has reached new heights of stupidity. Emma agrees to the plan so they go to the lake. In a shocking twist (by shocking, I mean the total opposite) there is no body. Emma is certain they're in the exact spot where she dumped him. Back in the car, Emma says someone had to have moved him and Sydney just sits there shaking.

Sydney drops Emma off and goes home where she sneaks upstairs to prevent her parents from seeing their precious spawn covered in lake slime and guilt. After Sydney takes a shower, her mom comes upstairs to tell her that she and Dad are going out for a while. Once they leave, Sydney goes into her room where she finds a gift: her red belt and a piece of paper that says 'Murderer'. She recognizes the handwriting as Jason's, starts screaming, and calls Emma. Emma listens to Sydney's hysterical rambling and calmly says she received an identical note and she believes it's just someone from school, maybe a friend of Jason's. That doesn't make any fucking sense.

A few minutes later, Emma comes over and tells Sydney to show her the belt. They rush to her room and the belt and note are missing. Of course they are. Sydney trashes her room looking for them until Emma tells her to chill out because there's nothing there. Sydney decides to go downstairs to get a Coke...and spots Jason lurking right outside the sliding glass door. He's all moldy and gross and Sydney thinks she can smell rotting flesh. Her belt is tied around his leg for some reason I don't care to know. He creeps inside, whispers that she helped murder him, and starts choking her.

Later, Sydney is at the hospital...the mental hospital. Emma and Jason are nearby, overjoyed that their plan to drive Sydney crazy and get rid of her actually worked. Indeed it was all for the money. They both believed Sydney got more than enough from her rich parents and didn't need a cent more. To prevent her from telling anyone about it, they had to put her away. Now, if she mentions it, no-one will believe her because she's gone daffy.

Emma and Jason go on a little shopping spree. At least they attempt to. At the first store they go into, the cashier laughs when they hand him the money: "It took Emma a few seconds to see what the clerk was talking about. She was totally confused until she read the words across the top of the bill: United States of America. Then her eyes lowered to the engraved portrait of Benjamin Franklin. His eyes were crossed and he wore a backwards baseball cap over his wig. Emma grabbed the counter to keep herself from falling. Slowly she raised her gaze to the red-haired salesclerk. 'Did you bring any real money?' he asked." You idiots truly deserve it.

Conclusion? This book is filled with more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese. I've got plenty of questions: were Jason and Emma enemies in the beginning when he sliced her brake lines and shoved her down the stairs? Or was that part of their idiotic plan? Who in their right mind discovers a bag of money and doesn't even examine it to see if it's fake or not? How did they fake Jason's death? Sydney saw Emma hit him HARD so how they did they fake that? Why didn't Sydney think of calling Jason's parents? If she had, they would've TOLD HER HE WASN'T DEAD! Considering how long they had been together, I should think she would have been fairly close to his parents. Next to last question: how fucking stupid can three people be? Last question: how did this get published?

Next time: "What Holly Heard"

Attack of the Jack-O'-Lanterns (Goosebumps #48)

PUMPKIN POWER! Nothing beats Halloween. It's Drew Brockman's favorite holiday. And this year will be awesome. Much better ...