Recap #19: The Witness by R.L. Stine by

2 March 2015
The Witness by R. L. Stine

The Witness by R. L. Stine

Title: The Witness

Summary: This summer’s going to be a real killer…

Sand, surf sun… Roxie lives for the summer But this year things aren’t going the way she planned.

Because when she broke into Lee Blume’s house just to win a stupid bet, she saw something she shouldn’t have seen. And now she the only witness to something she can’t forget.

But someone’s looking for Roxie. Someone who wants to spoil her summer. Someone who wants her… dead.

Tagline: I know what you did…

Note: I will use “Bad Guy” throughout my reviews to refer to the anonymous killer/prankster/whatever. Doesn’t mean it’s a guy. Also doesn’t mean it’s ever successful at killing/pranking/whatevering.

Initial Thoughts:

I don’t think I read this when I was younger. I don’t remember it. I do remember reading it a few months ago, back when I first embraced this Stine feud. It is a terrible, terrible book. Terrible.

[Dove: I had also never read this before. And my life was better for it.]

[Wing: I know. I’m so sorry.]

[Edited 2 May 2017: Teen Creeps did a podcast episode on this book, which was also published under the title “I Saw You That Night”.]

Recap:

Oh, awesome. The book opens with a prologue and then chapter one flashes back to before the prologue. I hate when tv shows do that, much less when books do that. I find prologues and epilogues generally pointless and a cheap way to try to build tension, especially when the bulk of the story occurs prior to the events of the prologue, as happens here.

Basically, our hero, Roxie, broke into a house because of a bet and is now hiding and terrified she’s about to listen to a murder.

Roll Call:

Roxie Nelson: Our hero. Breaks into houses, takes bets far too serious, and apparently will stand around and listen to a murder. Awesome. She has dark hair and eyes and she tans easily. She’s very short and describes her figure as boyish.

Ursula Nordquist: Roxie’s BFF, or so we’re told. She has short blonde hair, is super competitive, and always gets the guy. Roxie describes her as some sort of Norwegian snow princess, and thinks Ursula only keeps her around because Roxie makes Ursula look even better. I’m super convinced that they are really BFFs, you guys. Super convinced.

Roxie, on Ursula:

Ursula’s sense of humor is her saving grace, Roxie thought. Otherwise, I’d have to kill her!

and

“I want to look like you,” she had confessed to Ursula early in their friendship. “You’re like a tall, graceful Afghan hound, and I’m a longhaired dachshund.”

Awesome. Because hot blondes and boyish brunettes can only be superficially be friends. Roxie does tell us that Ursula is a good friend, generous, understanding, a good listener, and always there when Roxie needs her, but that’s basically one sentence after paragraphs and paragraphs otherwise.

Friendship in Point Horror is so important, you know.

Fuck My Little Pony! Friendship is not magic!: 1 (Something strange and evil is happening. Since I hate all of my BFFs, it’s bound to be one of them.)

They play tennis for awhile, Roxie continues with the snarky internal comments, and then they start talking about Roxie’s boyfriend.

Terry: Roxie’s boyfriend. Ursula hates him because he’s loud, crude, and stuck on himself. Those are actually good reasons not to like someone, which is unusual in a Point Horror. [Dove: However, he displays none of these traits when we meet him. Not even when he becomes the subject of inevitable suspicion.]

[Wing: This is true. Informed traits. We also never really see his temper, and that doesn’t come up until much later, to be a red herring.]

Terry’s working at his father’s fish store, and Ursula complains that he is going to smell because of it. Roxie decides that Ursula is just jealous because Roxie has a steady boyfriend and Ursula doesn’t. Because of course girls must always be competitive, and a girl’s worth comes from who she is or is not dating.

Roxie then settles my hatred for her by talking about how retarded she is in French, so she has to take a summer class. This is not ok. Here’s why.

Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 1 (Essentially, “crazy” is a blanket term for a bad person with no qualms about killing anyone and everyone. Often because they are “crazy”. Because that’s how mental health works.)

Cheer on the killer: 1 (Because the protagonist is such an insufferable wretch that you can’t help but side with anyone who wants him or her dead.)

They live in a town called Rocky Shores, and the beach is called Treasure Beach. And I drive a car called Four Wheels and an Engine. Since we’re being descriptive and all. It’s not actually on the ocean, either, which is pretty pointless if you ask me.

[Dove: Could’ve been worse. She could’ve lived in a town called Bad Things Happen, with Body Drop Cove by the beach. I’m totally writing a PH with those locations.]

[Wing: I would read the hell out of that.]

After way more tennis than is necessary, Roxie’s friend Shawna comes running up, calling for help, and, according to Roxie, covered in blood.

Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 1 (Cliffhanger endings of chapters for no reason other than to build false tension and piss me and Wing the hell off.)

Of course, she’s not bleeding to death, nor has she been attacked. Her boyfriend, Lee, broke up with her, and Shawna got so mad, she cut herself on the side of his boat.

Ursula bandages Shawna’s wrist and takes her to the hospital. While they talk, including about Lee’s temper, Roxie sits in the backseat and daydreams about Lee. Because that’s about right.

I beat you because I love you: 1 (Abusive relationships in any way, shape or form.)

[Dove: Really should be two points, because Shawna cut herself when she tried to hit Lee there. Violence against your partner is not ok, regardless of gender.]

[Wing: Yeah, I was just giving it a blanket for everything, because I expected this count to rise much faster than it actually did. Unfortunately, it was the cliffhanger count that blew up.]

Apparently, Roxie thinks Lee is great-looking in a sullen, moody way, what with his no smiling and his Sharks cap and his mysterious scar on his chin. Yeah, when a guy with a scar on his face doesn’t smile, he’s mysterious and moody and sexy. When I don’t smile, with the scar on my face, I’m a bitch.

Now, Shawna’s angry voice from the front seat of the speeding convertible interrupted Roxie’s thoughts. “Everyone thinks he’s so quiet,” Shawna was saying. “They haven’t seen his temper tantrums the way I have.”

I’d like to see his temper tantrums, Roxie thought wistfully. I’d really like to get to know Lee Blume.

I beat you because I love you: 2

Cheer on the killer: 2

I am only in chapter two, and already I want to bullet point everything. I hate this book. It’s boring, the protagonist is terrible, and I hate the romance.

A few days later, Roxie and Ursula run into Lee. Shawna’s already dating someone else. Roxie continues her inner monologue about him, and Ursula starts to flirt. You are both idiots. Lee takes them on a boat ride, and the description is boring and Roxie obsesses over Lee, and I want them all to drown. Well, maybe not Ursula.

While Roxie is admiring Lee’s arms (I can’t blame her for that, because arms are great, but he’s such an asshole), the engine dies and he says they’re drifting out into the open sea.

Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 2

The girls start freaking out, and then Lee starts the engine again. He was playing a practical joke.

Oh you wacky kids, with your hi-jinks and your pranks: 1 (“You say you found a corpse of a thirteen year old girl on the beach? Oh, you’re just pulling my leg.” When the protagonist experiences something genuinely frightening, such as finding a corpse, or that someone has been in their room while they were home alone, and it is treated as an attention-seeking prank. Or, when something is done that is written off as a prank or a joke, but is actually pretty damned spiteful.)

Roxie also decides that he has a cruel laugh, but that’s not going to stop her from pursuing him. They all fight a little, and Lee calls himself a real mean dude.

I can’t with this guy. That is the least dangerous thing anyone has ever said in these damn Point Horror books. A real mean dude. A REAL MEAN DUDE.

[Wing: Still stuck on this. REAL MEAN DUDE, omg so threatening hahahahahahahahaha.]

[Dove: I swear I’ve read that phrase in another PH before. Was it Beach House?]

The next day, Roxie meets up with Ursula, and sees that Ursula has snagged Lee’s file from the school office. She’s checking out his address. Which is creepy, damn. They joke around a little, but then Ursula accuses Roxie of liking Lee too. What the hell is the appeal of this guy? He just played a mean prank on them the day before. This is some shit.

Ursula teasingly threatens that she’ll tell Terry about Roxie spending time with Lee and being “hot for his bod,” which is a pretty shitty thing for her BFF to do (though it is also shitty that Roxie’s hitting on someone not her boyfriend when they’re apparently monogamous). Roxie then threatens to tell everyone Ursula isn’t a natural blonde. Ursula is a natural blonde, but Roxie knows everyone will believe her over Ursula.

Then they start making bets on Lee. At first it’s who will get a date with him first, but then they want to make it harder, and add that to win, one of them has to get his Sharks hat, which he apparently never takes off. That’s a damn gross hat then.

Roxie laughed.

It seemed like a simple bet. A fun bet between best friends.

Who would ever believe it would lead Roxie to a horrifying murder?

Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 3

Not only do we already know this from the prologue that was only a few chapters ago, but the next chapter does not open with a murder. Daaaaaamn you, Stine.

Roxie and Terry are on a date at the beach, even though Roxie previously told readers that while she loves the beach, Terry hates it. Instead of paying attention to her boyfriend, Roxie notices Ursula and Lee are together, and, because she doesn’t want to lose the bet, goes to try to sabotage them. Ursula makes a point to tell Lee that Terry is Roxie’s boyfriend, and Terry is understandably weirded out by Roxie taking off to go talk to Lee and Ursula without even talking to Terry about it.

[Dove: This is also the point where Roxie internally complains that Terry treats her like a possession. Because he put his arm around her. That is her only evidence. It’s wrong if someone does treat you like a possession, but Roxie’s issue is that Terry has just demonstrated he’s her boyfriend in front of the guy she’s trying to impress. So blaming him for her problems? Not cool.]

Then Roxie comes up with what she thinks is a devious plan: sneak into Lee’s house while he’s out at a fundraiser with his parents and steal his Sharks hat.

So now Roxie is a cheater in more ways than one. She spends a lot of time thinking about how unfair it is that Ursula is pretty and gets what she wants.

Cheer on the killer: 3

It takes forever for Roxie to actually sneak into the house, and then this happens:

She reached out – and swallowed hard as her hand touched something soft and stringy. And damp.

Hair. Someone’s hair.

“Uhhhh!” A low moan escaped Roxie’s throat. Her hand grasped the hair. Long hair. Girl’s hair.

Someone is here in the darkness with me, Roxie realized, pulling her hand back in terror.

Someone is here. Someone cold and dead.

Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 4

Oh. My. God.

Why, Stine? Why with all the unnecessary cliffhangers that do nothing to carry on the story? I might actually not hate this one (even though it’s obvious it isn’t the dead body because THERE’S ALREADY BEEN A GODDAMN PROLOGUE), but because all the others have happened, I hate it.

Also, this is such a horror story cliche. It’s a mop. Of course it’s a mop.

Roxie goes upstairs and searches Lee’s room for the Sharks cap, but can’t find it. While she’s searching, she hears someone come in through the front door. It’s a guy and a girl, and they’re arguing, but Roxie can’t make out what they’re actually saying.

While she tries to figure out how to get down the stairs and out of the house, their fight escalates and becomes physical. There are slaps, crashes, and still Roxie doesn’t do anything but hesitate on the stairs.

Finally, she runs down them. It’s dark downstairs, but then the camera flash goes off and she momentarily sees Lee’s face and a girl with ringlets of hair. Then she’s out the door.

Roxie never calls the police, never stops to make sure the girl is okay, just runs home and goes to bed. [Dove: When Kelly ignored the blood in The Pool, that was funny. This is just wrong.] [Wing: Yeah, the way that was presented in the text was hilarious in the Pool. This is not that.] The next morning, she’s woken by a call from Shawna, calling to tell her that something’s happened to Ursula.

Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 5

Of course, Ursula being hurt has nothing to do with Lee. (First of all, wouldn’t she have recognized Ursula?) Ursula sprained her back while windsurfing. Windsurfing is awesome, by the way.

Roxie is snarky about being woken up for this information. Shawna rightfully points out that she called because Roxie is Ursula’s best friend. Probably she should, you know, care.

Fuck My Little Pony! Friendship is not magic!: 2

Roxie promises to call Ursula, but doesn’t. Instead she goes downstairs to listen to the news, because she’s worried about the girl. Even though she did nothing last night when she had the chance.

Sure enough, the body of a teenage girl has been found on Hunter’s Dunes (again with the conveniently descriptive names).

Roxie is now obsessing and remembers that she might have gotten a picture. She heads off to the one hour photo place to have it developed (physical film to be developed, OMG THIS BOOK IS SO OLD, I love it).

She runs into Terry, who wants to know where she was last night. Yeah, Roxie, where were you last night? And why does your name rhyme with your boyfriend’s name? [Dove: to quote our beloved Steve Austin: what?] [Wing: Steve Austin FOREVER.] I find that so weird. She claims she was just, you know, out, and asks where he was. Terry was hanging out with Ray Metzger, who apparently Roxie doesn’t like. This means very little to us, though, because who the hell is Ray Metzger?

Roxie blows off Terry, who wants to go to the movies because it’s a gray day, not really a beach day, drops off her film, and tries to kill an hour. She finally calls to check on Ursula. Some best friend.

Fuck My Little Pony! Friendship is not magic!: 3

Turns out, she did not get a picture of Lee and whoever he was with. Instead, she got a picture of the ceiling. Useful, that.

Since she doesn’t get any information from the photos, she heads out to where the body was found. Because that’s not creepy and weird, a teenage girl just turning up. The body is still there, plenty of cops, lots of spectators. Roxie starts making her way closer, despite being told to stay away, and finally she sees the body. We’re not told that it’s the same girl, though, we’re given a pointless cliffhanger.

Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 6

She then goes to her dad (a lawyer, fuck lawyers) and tells him that while she didn’t know the girl from school, she thinks she knows who murdered her. She says she was outside Lee’s house and the front door was open and she heard the girl scream. Her father takes her to meet with the police chief.

We get yet another pointless cliffhanger when the police chief, a friend of her father, threatens to arrest her for murder.

Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 7

It’s his favorite joke, apparently, and Roxie is understandably shaken by it. Chief Harms isn’t quite so funny when he learns that Roxie is there to give him information about the girl’s murder. [Dove: I assumed that her dad would’ve called ahead, since he’s friends with the Chief, and therefore that joke was really insensitive. It wasn’t, it was just stupid.] [Wing: Oh, man, I would be 100% behind the joke if it was insensitive.] Of course, we don’t get to see any of the conversation, instead the story skips to Roxie talking to Shawna about what happened. But not her BFF Ursula, huh?

Roxie had to tell her story three times, and then the police went to pick up Lee for questioning. Even though the police promised Roxie that they wouldn’t tell Lee who turned him in, Shawna freaks out, because what if Lee saw her at the house? Then he’d know she was the witness, and he could come after Roxie next. I’m going to give them this, actually. Shawna, at least, already knows about his temper, and therefore if he knows who the witness is, there’s no reason for him not to come after her. Roxie doesn’t believe the cops will let him go.

Ah, apparently Roxie tried to call Ursula first, but she was asleep due to the pain pills. She’ll be back at work the next day, and Roxie will tell her in person then.

When Roxie goes to tell Ursula about Lee, Ursula is at first more shocked by Roxie cheating to win the bet than anything else (because that’s something Ursula would do, not Roxie, hahahaha), but then Ursula is actually really sweet to Roxie, concerned about her, giving her a big hug, showing emotion. And to think, you’ve complained about her throughout this story. They talk some more about Shawna warning them about Lee’s temper, and how there’s no way the cops will let Lee out, he must be locked up.

Ursula has to go back to work, and Roxie stays on the beach, relaxing in the sun — until Lee appears, standing over her, staring down at her.

“Roxie,” Lee said softly, “I saw you.”

Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 8

He repeats it, with a strange, leering smile, at the start of the next chapter, then says he saw her on her way to school this morning, and asked if she heard him calling. Roxie decides he did see her at the house, and now he’s teasing her, torturing her. Right? She can’t quite convince herself.

They talk a little, and Roxie keeps wondering if he’s going to grab her, kill her, super tense (as you would be in this situation, not hating her for this), until we get another pointless cliffhanger:

Lee’s eyes narrowed. Before Roxie could back away, he pulled his hand from his jeans pocket – and reached for her throat.

Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 9

He’s reaching for her delicate heart locket. Roxie flees from him after a bit more scaring.

That night, she tries to talk to her dad about it, even though her mother doesn’t want to talk about such things at dinner. Finally, her father says that the police had to let Lee go because he had an alibi: his parents said he was at the charity fundraiser the whole night. The police talked to a dozen people, and they all saw Lee there.

Roxie doesn’t like this answer. She says he could have sneaked out, and he can’t believe the police just let him go. When her father says they had to because they had no reason to hold him, she freaks out because he killed a girl in his living room and that’s reason to hold him. The police searched the house, too, and didn’t find anything.

Roxie’s upset about this, and wants to know if her father thinks she’s crazy (fuck you, Roxie) or making it up.

Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 2

Her father tells her no, he believes she heard something, but she didn’t see anything, based on the story she told, she didn’t actually see Lee Blume, it could have been anyone. See, Roxie? Your lies are coming back to bite you in the ass.

She asks her parents what she should do now, and her mother tells her to stay away from Lee. Her father tells her not to go to the beach by herself until the whole thing is solved.

After dinner, Terry drops by (you know, her boyfriend), and asks her to go for a walk on the beach. This feels like a red herring, especially when Roxie thinks about Terry having a temper too.

Terry also knows the girl they found at Hunter’s Dunes. Her name was Maddy Andrews (I like that name), and he knows her from the camp where he was a junior counselor a couple years ago. Roxie is immediately suspicious because he’s blushing, and demands to know how well he knew her. Terry is evasive, simply saying that he knew her pretty well. Gee, red herring much, Stine.

Red Herrings: 1 (Fairly obvious, but in Point Horror, there’s basically a neon sign above them stating “sinister as fuck”.)

The full moon is still low in the sky as they walk along the beach. NEEDS MORE WEREWOLVES. Stine does a decent job of describing a beautiful nighttime beach scene, and it cheers Roxie up. Terry piggybacks her down the beach, one of their favorite games that involves him neighing like a horse (PONYPLAY) [Wing: Note, site may not be safe for work.], and then he pretends to fall into the water. They joke around, snog, pick up shells — basically, just have what could be a fairly cute date, if I didn’t dislike Roxie so much already.

Then, Roxie sees someone sitting on the lifeguard station, not moving, just staring. Not someone. A skeleton.

Oh wait, no, not a skeleton, a bunch of stones piled up to look like a human figure.

While she’s still freaked out from this, she sees a dark figure running closer. Turns out, it’s Lee, still with his leering smile and menacing voice. He says she looks like a frightened rabbit. Roxie doesn’t talk to him, just looks for Terry.

Terry is gone.

Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 10

Lee starts talking about how back home in Springdale (where the murder victim was from), he had to drive for hours to get to a lake, much less walk on the beach. He looms over Roxie, she freaks out, Terry turns up suddenly.

Apparently, Terry was off finding a turtle climbing on the rocks. The boys talk about keeping the turtle as a pet, and it’s all very weird. In the end, Terry gives Roxie the turtle as a gift, and Roxie says she’ll keep it at least for awhile, because her cousin will come visit and will love it. Now, I know people with turtles as pets, but this seems like a weird gift to give Roxie, especially since she calls it gross at least once.

That night, Roxie calls Shawna, wanting information from her, but first they talk about bullshit things like the turtle, tv, whatever. Finally, Roxie asks if Lee ever mentioned Maddy before. Shawna says that Lee used to brag about having lots of girlfriends back in Springdale, but otherwise never talked about it or them, because he got into some “heavy-duty” trouble and wanted a new start.

Roxie talks some more about how Lee is freaking her out, and Shawna says that he smiles that leering smile all the time because he thinks it’s sexy. NOTE: leering smiles are not generally sexy.

[Dove: About 10 years ago, I read a story called “Mary Sue Gets Murdered” or “How Mary Sue Got Murdered” on ff.net. She was so busy leering over some hot, yet clearly evil, guy, assuming the could make him good by the magical power of her love, she didn’t even notice he murdered her. Every scene with Lee reminds me of that.]

[Wing: She didn’t even notice he murdered her? SHE DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE HE MURDERED HER?!

I need a drink.]

[Dove: It was intentionally parodying all of the stories that have this as their opening scene, leading to a sickening love story. Lovely little 600 word dig at fandom. And Mary Sue did finally notice, seconds before death.]

Their call is interrupted by knocking on the door downstairs. Roxie hangs up and goes down to check, but this takes forever. She listens, there’s only knocking, she asks who is there a couple times, no response, blah blah blah, and finally, she opens the door. It’s Lee, of course, and we get another cliffhanger ending.

Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 11

He’s brought her the blue sweater she left at the beach. He looms, she freaks out, he invites her for a ride on his boat the next day, she says she can’t, and he leaves.

The next morning, some dude named Eric Frasier asks if she really saw the murder. Well then. Apparently, everyone is talking about how Roxie saw the murder. Eric mentions Ursula, and Roxie is furious, tries to confront her at work, can’t, and then after school, it turns out that Ursula isn’t telling everyone, the way Roxie assumed, but only told a couple people, one of whom was Shawna who already knew, way back when Lee was still in police custody.

They decide to go skating that night, and when they get to Roxie’s house, they find the turtle dead, smashed by a heavy steel mallet. This is some fucked up shit, I’ll give Stine that. There’s a note, too, threatening that Roxie will be next if she keeps talking. It’s written in brown crayon, printed in block letters to look like a child’s writing.

That night, they go skating, and Terry pretends he doesn’t know how to rollerblade, even though Roxie tells us he’s really good. They all skate for awhile, racing and teasing and having fun. Roxie takes the time to tell Ursula (and us) that her dad called the police about the turtle. There are actually some smart decisions being made in this book. What happened, Stine?

Roxie finally relaxes and admits she’s having fun, and says that she’s forgetting what it’s like to have a normal, happy life. And then come the screams of terror. Screams from Ursula.

Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 12

Once again, Ursula hasn’t been attacked. Her back gave out and she fell, hurting her ankle. Her back wasn’t strong enough for skating. I absolutely believe that her back is still hurt, and that she would feel better and assume she could do anything. Good job, Stine. Believable characterisation.

Her ankle isn’t broken, but she can’t walk on it well. Terry decides to give her a ride home. Even though her BFF is injured and both her boyfriend and her other good friend are leaving with her to make sure she’s ok, Roxie decides to keep skating for awhile. Roxie, you complain about Ursula’s competitive side, but you are not a good best friend. [Dove: Seconded.]

[Wing: Dove, I promise I wouldn’t just keep skating.]

[Dove: *preens*]

Fuck My Little Pony! Friendship is not magic!: 4

Roxie skates until the rink is empty and then walks home alone. She does think that she should call and check on Ursula when she gets home, and hopes that Ursula didn’t have to go to the emergency room. If you are so concerned, why didn’t you go with her? SOME BFF.

Fuck My Little Pony! Friendship is not magic!: 5

Once again, Lee comes lurking out of the shadows and murmurs that he saw Roxie.

Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 13

He saw her skating. HOW MANY TIMES WILL YOU GO BACK TO THE SAME WELL FOR THIS CLIFFHANGER, STINE? ALL THOSE POSITIVE POINTS YOU GAINED FOR BELIEVABLE WRITING ARE OUT THE WINDOW.

Lee offers to walk her home, and then walks with her even after she says no, because they’re on his street, and he’ll just walk with her to his house. Creepy. Lee keeps asking her why she’s so scared of him, and saying she needs to relax, go out on the boat with him. They walk right past Lee’s house, and Roxie points out that they’ve passed it.

Lee says that’s not his house, his is a couple houses away. Roxie is so surprised she gasps out loud. SUBTLE. Because that night, that night she was in the wrong house.

Lee says he’d invite her in, but his parents have company. Roxie’s still shaken by his revelation, and asks who lives in the Murder House. Lee’s not sure, people aren’t friendly in the neighborhood, he thinks its the Metzgers. As in, Ray Metzger, Terry’s best friend, the one Roxie hates.

Now Roxie decides that the voice in the Murder House that night sounded familiar because it was Terry fighting with the girl, not Lee. She didn’t want to believe it was Terry, so she convinced herself it was Lee.

Why doesn’t she assume it was Ray? Roxie already hates him. [Dove: Exactly my thought.]

This is all very weird and convenient and out of nowhere, considering how close to the end we are.

Now that Roxie thinks it was Terry in the house, she asks if she can go on that boat ride with Lee, even though he’s been freaking her out all this time.

He’s the killer! He’s the killer! He’s … my LOVAH!: 1 (The protagonist has spent 200 pages convinced he’s the bad guy, but now we’ve found the real killer, they’re going to start a relationship. Uh-huh.)

I want to give this whole scene another point, but I can’t settle on what I want. It’s not exactly a red herring, but it’s not exactly not a red herring either. Fuck, whatever, giving it.

Red Herrings: 2

I’m done. Bullet points it is.

  • Terry turns up to give a jump scare at the end of the chapter, because of course he does, we haven’t had enough of those, STINE. Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 14
  • Roxie does tell Ursula about what happened, which surprises me. Ursula suggests she go to the police, but Roxie won’t, because she doesn’t think they’ll believe her. There’s some ableism every time Roxie thinks about going back to them, because of course. Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 12 (+10 because I’m mad).
  • Roxie’s going out with Lee, but hasn’t yet broken up with Terry. She says she’s going to break up with him, but she doesn’t know when.
  • Roxie and Lee go to the movies to watch some “mindless California beach [movie] with a bunch of college nerds chasing after blonds in bikinis.” Stine, that’s basically exactly what you write, why the hate?
  • After the movie date, they kiss goodnight, and then Roxie gets a call from Terry telling her he saw her and she shouldn’t have been there. Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 15 Of course, she assumes this means he saw her at the Murder House, not that her boyfriend saw her on a date with another guy. WTF, Roxie?
  • Roxie visits Ursula at her job to make sure she’s ok, and tells her about Terry’s threat. Ursula tries to tell her something, but Roxie won’t let her get a word in edgewise. Jesus, Roxie, shut your face and let your BFF talk.
  • Roxie goes to see Lee at his boat. He drops his screwdriver into the water, but she thinks she has one in her glovebox because her dad makes her carry tools in case the car breaks down. Now, this is actually a really smart thing to do. I carry an emergency kit in my car, too. The thing is, usually it’s not carried in the glovebox, which is small, but in the trunk. Roxie carries in her glovebox because that’s also where she put those pictures from the Murder House. Convenient, Stine. Very convenient. Who cares if it makes sense? My, that’s awfully convenient: 1 (“Oh, gee! You mean Billy-Bob has the exact information we need? What are the odds?”)
  • Of course, Lee sees the pictures and asks where she got pictures of his bedroom. Because both Roxie and Lee are idiots. Lee realises he’s messed up, and decides he has to kill Roxie now too. I might not give this cliffhanger points on its own, because it’s not a terrible use of it, but this is 16 cliffhangers in 24 chapters, so no. Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 16 [Dove: At this point I texted Wing with “Wait, the bad guy was actually the bad guy? WTF did I just waste my time on?” Wing’s response was to laugh. An actual “Mwahahahaha”. And I’m tempted to give a point for Wing’s evil laugh.] [Wing: MWAHAHAHAHAHA.] [Dove: Wing gets 5,000 points, just for making me read this nonsense.]
  • Lee uses her screwdriver to force her to get into his boat. He’s going to give her a chance and only take the boat out four or five miles before he dumps her. Maybe she can swim back that far.
  • Terry shows up before they take off. He and Lee fight, and then Lee plunges the screwdriver into Terry’s throat. Blood, screaming, and then he falls. He’s dead! He’s dead! HE’S FUCKING DEAD! … oh wait, he survived: 1 (Where the story tries to convince us that there really is a body count, only to later reveal the victim only sustained minor injuries.) Well, we don’t actually know for sure that he survives, but I don’t see this book having any actual death.
  • Lee forces Roxie back into the boat and heads out into open water. While he’s distracted, she dives into the water, only a short swim from the dock. Lee tries to run her over with the boat, tries to use the blades to cut her up, but she dives beneath them. He does this a couple times, and on the last one, she tries to dive, but the boat is right there on top of her and the blades are coming for her. Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 17
  • The next chapter opens with silence, and Roxie thinks she’s been cut to pieces and she drowned. This is just weird.
  • Cops show up, Terry’s going to live, Ursula to the rescue! She tried to warn Roxie back at the office, but Roxie didn’t listen, because Roxie is an idiot and Ursula is awesome.
  • Except that she grabs the Sharks cap that has been left behind, and decides she wins the bet. Because that’s the important part here.

Final Thoughts

I hate you, I hate everyone but Ursula, I hate Stine.

[Dove: Is it just me or is Lee the most inept villain ever? He walks around being openly antagonistic to everyone. He scares people, and commits murder, despite the fact he was trying to get a fresh start in a new town. Dude, either stop doing bad things or get better at hiding it. I’m adding a count:

Dexter wouldn’t pull this shit: 50]

[Wing: I approve of everything in this comment.]

Final Counts

Cheer on the killer: 3
Dexter wouldn’t pull this shit: 50
Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 17
Fuck My Little Pony! Friendship is not magic!: 5
He’s dead! He’s dead! HE’S FUCKING DEAD! … oh wait, he survived: 1
He’s the killer! He’s the killer! He’s … my LOVAH!: 1
I beat you because I love you: 2
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 12 (+10 because I’m mad).
My, that’s awfully convenient: 1
Oh you wacky kids, with your hi-jinks and your pranks: 1
Red Herrings: 2

I am the evil twin. I'm in a feud with R.L. Stine, who is terribly prolific. Every story needs more werewolves.

Categories: Point Horror Recaps
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5 Comments

  • Mimi says:

    I must have missed this book when I was young and addicted to all things Point Horror. Judging by the recap, I’m kind of glad I did. Wow, this book was a hot mess.

    I think Stine influenced my middle school writing in a very negative way. I found some old stories I wrote back then and they were awful with stupid cliffhangers at the end of every chapter. I couldn’t figure out why I did that because it was obnoxious. Then I read your recaps and I realized my brain soaked it up from Stine. Damn him. He’s a life ruiner.

    • Dove says:

      I know what you mean, Mimi. I wrote something to make Wing laugh, in the style of Point Horror, and I had to throw out all the good habits I’ve learned for writing. For example, chapter breaks. Every sensible place for a chapter break, I just moved it six lines up or down, whichever was most annoying! 🙂

    • Wing says:

      I think a cliffhanger chapter can work well to increase tension and pacing, but not when ever. single. chapter. is a cliffhanger. STINE.

  • Mike says:

    I really do not understand, I have this book, same story, but it was released as I SAW YOU THAT NIGHT. Why did they change the title of the book? It’s like they did with the Horror Hight Series where they related THE DEAD GIRL FRIEND AND GIRLFRIEND but with different titles and also changed the names of the characters but the plot is the same.

    • Wing says:

      Right? I didn’t know this had also been released as I SAW YOU THAT NIGHT (and with a very different cover) until after I’d read it for this recap. Sometimes, I can understand why title and cover changes are made (generally for marketing or regional purposes), but this one makes no sense. Maybe they were trying to tap into the popularity of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER? Though the cover that goes with I SAW YOU THAT NIGHT does not really match up with that theory.

      I’ve never read any of the Horror High series. Did you like them?

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