Book: “The Rich Girl” (Fear Street #44) by R.L. Stine
Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1997
Where Did I Get This Book: The library!
Book Description: Fear Street — Where Your Worst Nightmares Live…
Emma and her best friend Sydney always share their secrets. And now they have a big one: They found a duffel bag filled with cash and swore never to tell anyone. But Sydney broke her promise — she told her boyfriend, Jason.
Now Emma is terrified. She doesn’t trust Jason. She knows he would do anything to get the money for himself.
Even if it means killing someone who gets in his way…
Had I Read This Before: No
The Plot: Sydney Shue and Emma Naylor are best friends to the end. They’ve been BFFs for years, though Sydney thinks that they’re growing apart because Emma doesn’t like Sydney’s boyfriend Jason. But they get to spend time at work together, as they both work at the movie theater. During one of their shifts, Emma is talking about how she’s worried, because her mother needs an operation on her knee, but without insurance Emma doesn’t know how they’re going to pay for it. Emma and her mother are practically broke, while Sydney lives in North Hills and therefore isn’t lacking anything (but insists that she isn’t spoiled because her parents made her get a job). Emma is also worried because the diner her mother works at six days a week is threatening to fire her because her bad knee has made her slower, and some things never really change, do they? Sydney thinks that she probably never could understand Emma’s anxieties given that she’s rich, and while I appreciate the self awareness, I wonder if Sydney could do more than just acknowledge her privilege? At the end of their shift they are taking trash out to the dumpster, when Sydney drops her charm bracelet into the heaps of garbage. She insists that Emma help her look for it, and a dumpster diving we will go! Sydney finds it, but it’s stuck to a garbage covered duffel bag. They climb out of the dumpster with the bag, and as she untangles her bracelet they notice a fifty dollar bill poking out of the sack! And when they unzip it, they find STACKS of them! By Emma’s estimation, it’s probably close to 100,000 dollars!!! Sydney is ready to turn it in, but Emma says that they should totally keep it! If they keep it her mother can have her operation, Emma can go to college, AND she can buy some nice clothes! I don’t know if I care for this ‘the poor person is going to be the duplicitous one’ development. Sydney says that it’s wrong, and Emma tells her that she wouldn’t get it because she’s RICH and of course this is chump change. To which Sydney says that hey, SHE isn’t totally spoiled or anything! After all, she has a VERY tight allowance AND has to pay for the insurance to the car that her parents got her for her birthday!
Emma says that if the keep it they can split it and then Sydney can spend it on whatever she wants. Sydney points out that they have no idea where it came from, and that the police could be looking for it. So Emma suggests that they hide it for now, and if they don’t hear anything about it then they go back and get it. Sydney agrees, and ladies, this could possibly end with a crazed assassin chasing you down with a captive bolt pistol.
Emma and Sydney agree to hide it out in Fear Woods, and while they are digging Sydney starts feeling paranoid. After they bury the money a raccoon jumps out and scares her, and Emma says they need to stop being paranoid. When Sydney gets home and drives her car up the long driveway and to the horse stables (but don’t worry, since they ONLY have TWO horses they converted most of the stables to a garage), she sees Jason working on her father’s Beemer. She totally forgot that they were going to study that night! She gets out of the car and he asks her why she was late, and when she tries to lie and say that she had to work late he gets VERY mad and says he knows she’s lying. He demands to know if she’s been cheating on him. Because obviously THAT’S the only reason she could be late, of course. Sydney can’t think of another good lie on the spot, so she tells him about the money. I can think of a few lies that could have worked, dummy.
- “Emma was having a rough time because of her mother’s health issues and we had to talk.”
- “I realized that I forgot something at work and didn’t want to wait until my next shift to get it.”
- “It’s actually none of your business where I was.” And that’s not even a lie.
Once Sydney sings like a canary, Jason asks if it was her who found the money. Sydney says she found the bag but Emma was the one who opened it. Jason says that’s too bad, because since she has claim to it they would have to murder her if they wanted to split the money between the two of them. Okay, first of all, NONE OF YOU HAVE ANY CLAIM TO IT, and second of all, YIKES. Sydney is shocked, and Jason says he’s kidding. I, however, am not so sure.
At school the next day Sydney is a complete basket case because she can’t stop worrying about the money. But Emma is far from worried, she’s excited because there hasn’t been any news reports about it as of yet, and if that continues for two weeks it’s all theirs! Sydney says they shouldn’t talk about it so brazenly, and Emma tells her to chill out. As they are walking to class they approach the big cement staircase, a group of classmates sweeps in behind them, and suddenly Emma plummets down the steps, screaming! She lands on the concrete below, and Sydney sees that Jason is standing there, possibly smiling at this turn of events! Sydney runs down the steps to get to her friend.
Luckily, Emma isn’t dead, and after the school nurse checks her out Sydney drives her home and calls her family’s personal doctor to check her over. After he leaves, Sydney goes to sit with Emma, who confides that Jason pushed her! Sydney freezes up, and Emma asks her if she told him about the money, to which Sydney admits her dumb mistake. Emma says that he must be trying to kill her to try and get her share, and Sydney asks why he would do that given that he’s pretty well off himself, and Emma says that it’s because he’s GREEDY! Sydney doesn’t want to believe it, but she can’t help remembering what his face looked like…
Sydney confronts Jason the next day, and he says that no way, he didn’t push her! But he does admit to accidentally bumping into her, which sent her careening down the steps. He says that she’s never going to forgive him, and Sydney, relieved that her boyfriend isn’t an attempted murderer, tells him that he can just explain what happened. He suggests that he could look at Emma’s junky old car and give it a tune up as an apology, and Sydney thinks that’s a great idea! So later Sydney is back at home, and gets a phone call from Emma who tells her that Jason has fixed her car and it sounds much better now! She says that she’s still suffering from headaches, but that Jason also told her everything and she isn’t suspicious of him anymore. She then tells Sydney they should go to the mall so that she can plan out everything she’s going to buy with the money (though I THOUGHT that she was going to use it to pay for her mother’s operation and college? Both those things would eat up $50,000 I’d think). She tells Sydney to meet her at her house and she’ll drive, and Sydney agrees. After she hangs up, Jason calls and sees if she’s busy, and Sydney says she’s going to the mall with Emma in her now fixed car. Jason, of course, starts acting strange asking that she isn’t going in EMMA’S car, is she, and Sydney says yes, and he says that she should cancel and hang out with him instead! Sydney says no, and hangs up.
Sydney arrives at Emma’s house and the girls get in Emma’s junk bucket (though it sure does sound better), but as Emma is driving down a hill the brakes don’t work! Would she not have noticed this when she was pulling out of her driveway and through her neighborhood??? Regardless, the car is out of control and side swipes some other vehicles as it blasts through an intersection, and Sydney tells her to pull the emergency brake! The car eventually comes to a stop, and Emma says that it has to have been Jason! He IS trying to kill her, and while Sydney balks Emma’s fears do seem more realized. They get out and inspect under the hood, and low and behold, the break lines have been cut. Sydney admits that when Jason called her and she told him she was going to the mall in Emma’s car, he sounded strange, and for Emma that tears it! Emma says that Jason is so greedy he will probably kill Sydney next, and while Sydney doesn’t want to believe it, she starts to think maybe Emma is right. She wants to call the police, but Emma says no because she needs the money for her Mom’s operation!!
Emma then has a really good idea. She suggests that, so he won’t try to kill the girls for it, that the cut him in for a third of it. That way he will get more money than he had before, but he’ll stop trying to murder her and then probably Sydney. Sydney agrees.
So they go to confront Jason about the brake lines, and he swears, SWEARS that the car was fine when he was done with it. Sydney thinks he’s telling the truth because he looks ‘so upset’, and Emma proposes that they give him a cut of the money. Jason is ecstatic! 33,000 dollars is no joke, and they all seem happy with the new arrangement. Jason then says that they should go look at the money right now! Sydney is hesitant, but the eventually decide that they can just quickly go and dig it up to take a look. By the time they get out to Fear Woods it’s dark, and Jason grabs the shovel from Sydney’s trunk and they trek out to the site. Sydney gets cold, and goes back to her car to get her sweater, but as she’s coming back she hears Emma screaming! She runs the rest of the way and sees Jason and Emma struggling! When Sydney yells at them to stop, Jason turns to look at her… and Emma smashes him in the head with the shovel! He falls to his knees, and then falls on his face. And doesn’t get up. Emma checks on him, and tells Sydney that he’s dead!! Sydney asks what the FUCK happened, and Emma says that he tried to take the money, and when she tried to stop he he went nuts. She offered him half, but he said he wanted it all and tried to hit her with the shovel! They struggled, and that’s when Sydney arrived. Sydney says that they’re murderers, and Emma says that SHE is the murderer. Sydney wants to call the police, but Emma says she will take care of everything! She will sink his body in Fear Lake and none will be the wiser! She tells Sydney to just sit and relax (?!) and she’ll take care of it. Sydney falls against a tree, and Emma buries the cash again and drags his body into the darkness. Sydney hears a splash, but then Emma calls for her. Sydney comes running, and Emma says that his body won’t sink! Sydney gives her her belt so that she can tie it to his body to attach a weight to him, but then is feeling way too sick all of a sudden to help Emma find something to weigh him down. Emma is surprisingly cavalier about the whole thing and says she’s on it. Sydney looks away, and eventually Emma finds her and tells her that it’s over.
Sydney drops Emma off, who starts to cry as it starts to hit her just what she did. Sydney assures her that no one will know what happened and that they had no choice. That seems to calm Emma down, and Sydney goes home. She tries to study for her upcoming history test, and then goes to bed. But in the middle of the night she wakes up to see waterlogged corpse-y Jason standing at the foot of her bed, glaring at her!!! She screams and jumps out of her bed, but when she turns on the light there’s no one there. Just a dream…. But then the next morning she finds muddy footprints on the floor by her bed! And they’re size JASON!!!
At school that day Sydney is telling Emma all about this, and Emma says that she has to be imagining things. A dream can’t leave foot prints, after all, and they must just be Sydney’s footprints because she was in such a daze. All day people keep asking Sydney where Jason is (AS IF SHE’S HIS KEEPER), and her guilt gets worse and worse. She ‘s sure she flunks the history test, and then when she opens her locker she finds an envelope… and inside is Jason’s class ring, all muddy!!! Sydney freaks out and shows Emma, and tells her that it was on Jason’s corpse last night when he was in her room! Emma says that she has to be mistaken, she didn’t see the ring on Jason’s hand. Maybe he left it for her yesterday, but Sydney doesn’t remember seeing it. But then again, Sydney feels like she’s going crazy! Emma tells her to calm down and not to lose it. Sydney tries to get a grip, but doesn’t have a chance in HELL of doing so because when they get to her car, they find the muddy and bloody shovel in her back seat!! Emma says that she forgot to hide it, and now they think that someone must have seen them! They get in Sydney’s car and drive back to Sydney’s house (after Sydney thinks that someone is following them for a bit). Sydney THEN finds a note in her stack of mail that says ‘I saw you in the woods, I know your name. It’s MURDERER’. Sydney starts to panic again, and Emma says that even if this person DID see them, they have no proof that they killed Jason… But then Sydney points out that they used her belt to tie a weight to him! Emma says that they can’t go back to the lake, but Sydney insists. SO, they drive back out to the lake so they can retrieve her belt. Emma leads them to the pond scummiest part of the water and says this is where she dumped him, but when Emma plunges her arms into the water to grab for him, she can’t find him. Emma insists this is where she dumped him, but the body is gone!
Emma says that someone must have moved the body. It couldn’t be the police since they would have told Jason’s parents about his death. Sydney is on the verge of a nervous breakdown as they’re leaving.
Sydney gets home and sneaks into the house so she doesn’t have to explain to her parents why she looks like she just crawled out of the Black Lagoon. After she showers her mother tells her that she and Sydney’s father are going to a fundraiser for the evening. Sydney is happy to stew in her guilt alone, and as he goes into her room she notices that someone has tied something around her teddy bear…. And yeah, it’s her belt, with a note in Jason’s handwriting that says ‘murderer’. She calls Emma and tells her what she found, and asks Emma if she was sure that Jason was dead, and Emma says yes, she was sure, and Sydney asks if Emma believes in ghosts. Emma says that she got a note too, and it must be someone from school and Sydney can’t get hysterical. But Sydney says she’s pretty much already there, so it’s a little late for that. Emma says she’ll come over. Sydney can’t be in the same room as the belt and note, so she goes to wait for Emma on the porch. When Emma arrives Sydney takes her to her room to show her the note, but of course the note and belt are gone!!! Sydney starts to tear her room apart looking for them, and Emma watches her, telling her to stop! Sydney says that she isn’t crazy, but when her Mom knocks on the door she tells Emma she can’t let her mother see her like this, so Emma covers. Mrs. Shue says she and her husband are leaving for the fundraiser. Emma helps Sydney clean up her room, and tells her that she needs to get some sleep. Sydney says she’ll at least walk Emma out, and she watches her friend drive away. But when Sydney goes back to her room, algae and mud covered Jason is standing there! Sydney tries closing her eyes, but when she opens them he’s still there! He starts to lurch forward, rasping about how she let him die, and he descends on her.
Cut to a hospital waiting room, where Emma is sitting. When a doctor comes out, JASON is following him! The doctor says that he thought that his patient was ready to see him, but apparently not. Jason says that he’s so sad that she sees him as a monster. He and Emma leave the waiting room, and when they get to the car she asks if all is well. And he says that yes it is: Sydney is completely nuts! And they drove her to it! Yep, they faked his death and used it to drive her mad. The night after Emma and Sydney found the money, Emma went to Jason with the plan to drive Sydney crazy because she knew that her conscience would get the best of her. They figure that she’s so rich already that she doesn’t NEED the money! Plus, they’d been hooking up behind Sydney’s back for awhile, their antagonistic relationship all a ploy. Now Sydney is in a mental institution, and even if she does get out and get better, no one will believe her because she’s been diagnosed as delusional!
So the whole time it wasn’t “No Country for Old Men”, it was “Les Diaboliques”. Now that Sydney is out of the way, Jason and Emma are content to take the money for themselves and now they can really be together. They go on a shopping spree with a handful of the cash, and pick out a lot of really expensive clothes to buy! But when they get up to the cash register, the clerk laughs at the money. When Emma looks down at the cash, not only does it say ‘UNTIED STATES OF AMERICA”, it also has Ben Franklin sporting cross eyes and a backwards baseball cap. Emma is about to faint, and the sales clerk asks her if she ‘brought any real money?’ The End.
Body Count: 0. I wish there had been a zombie plot line, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Romance Rating: 0. Jason was cheating on Sydney with her supposed best friend and they gaslit her to the point that she had a mental breakdown. Gross.
Bonkers Rating: 4. I am giving it a four because sure, there was a big crazy twist at the end there, but it’s, like I said, just a rip off of “Les Diaboliques”! It’s not original in any way!
Fear Street Relevance: 6. They buried the money in Fear Woods and then dumped Jason’s ‘body’ in Fear Lake.
Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:
“‘Come here!’ Emma’s voice shook with fear again. ‘You’ve got to see this!’
Sydney scrambled out of the car, rushed up to Emma, and stared under the hood. ‘Huh?’ she cried, her heart racing. ‘I don’t see anything. What are you showing me?'”
… This isn’t a cliffhanger!!! This would have been a cliffhanger if you stopped at ‘You’ve got to see this!’
That’s So Dated! Moments: Given that there is talk of pre-ACA insurance issues, I’d say that dates this, but not in a fun and kooky way. But I did have to laugh that one of the extravagant gifts that Sydney bought Jason in the past was a beeper. I feel like even for 1997 those were on the way out…
“‘That’s their fourth breakup and make-up this year,’ Emma remarked… ‘Let’s see, this is April, right? They’ll probably break up and get back together at least two more times before school’s out. They’re definitely going to set a record.'”
It’s not great, but there wasn’t much to work with.
Conclusion: “The Rich Girl” was ultimately disappointing and a serious bummer in a lot of ways. It wasn’t as bad as some of the other books I’ve read in the series, but it’s definitely one of the most frustrating. Next up is “Cat”!