Book Review: The Girlfriend by R.L. Stine

Oh Scotty, baby, baby, baby, you idiot….

That’s what I found myself thinking as I read R.L. Stine’s 1991 YA suspense thriller, The Girlfriend.  Scotty is the book’s main character.  He’s got a great life ahead of him, despite the fact that he’s an idiot.  Scotty has been accepted to Princeton.  He’s the quarterback of high school’s football team.  His family is rich.  He’s dating Lora, the head cheerleader.  He and Lora have just been elected homecoming king and queen.  However, Lora and her family are going on vacation to Paris and that means that she’ll miss the homecoming dance!  Scotty will be a king without a queen!  Scotty is so upset over this that he makes out with Shannon.  Shannon has just moved to town and no one knows anything about her.  Scotty certainly knows little, beyond the fact that she claims to have three overprotective older brothers and that one of them is former wrestler.  Oh, and Shannon’s in love with Scotty.  She likes to call him “baby.”

Now, when I say that she likes to call him “baby,” what I mean is that the word “baby” appears close to a million times in this book.  I didn’t actually sit down and count all of the times that the word appeared, of course, but I am a fairly observant reader and it seems like a million is close to the right number.

Of course, overusing the word “baby” is not the only thing that Shannon does.  Shannon turns out to be a bit unstable and more than a little possessive.  She sets out to make Scotty and Lora’s life as miserable as possible but you know what?  Good for her!  Seriously, Scotty is a jerk and Lora’s incredibly bland for someone who can go to Paris whenever she feels like it.  Shannon provides the book with what life it has.  She’s a jolt of pure energy, forcing all of the dull people around her out of their complacency.  Though it may or may not have been Stine’s intention, it’s impossible to read The Girlfriend without spending the whole time looking forward to what Shannon is going to do next.  Unfortunately, she does kill two pets and, as a result, I can’t really be on Team Shannon but, even after that, she’s still more interesting to read about than either Scotty and Lora.

Anyway, The Girlfriend is an entertaining work of Stine fiction.  Scotty is a uniquely unlikable lead character but Shannon brings a much-needed jolt of life to the proceedings.  It’s too bad that she never returned for a sequel.  Of course, it’s not too late.  Scotty’s probably still working at his Dad’s architectural firm.  Maybe it’s time for Shannon to stop by for a visit.

What do you think about that, baby?

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