The Babysitter. by R. L. Stine
Jenny Jefferson takes a new babysitting job for a couple she meets when she stops their small child from falling into a fountain at the Mall. The kid is angelic… When meeting the family in their isolated and rundown house, the Father is neurotic and the Mother is just tired.
When the school joker starts toying with her mind, Jenny is under the impression he is messing around, toying with her.
Who is tormenting her whilst she is babysitting the angelic child? Is it the little cherubic son? The pain in the arse class clown? Or the creepy neighbour?
I didn’t read this book when I read the others in the 90’s. I can’t think why I avoided it. It was a quick read. Sailed through it. Typical jumps and scares, a twist you don’t quite expect, but a good page turner. Now for Part 2.
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What I didn’t put on Goodread….. Spoilers ahead!
So, when I started reading this book, I was instantly reminded of how gender stereotypical the writing was in the 90’s. Jenny is a girl who spots an angelic little boy running towards a water fountain. Can’t see any parents and stops this gorgeous child from falling in. The parents, the Hagen’s, suddenly appear. They thank her for saving their child and then mention that they are looking for a babysitter. Because hiring girls you have just met to babysit your child, is perfectly normal in the 90’s.
The emphasis is placed on how isolated the house it. How rundown and creepy the house is. The father is a bit of a nervous wreck. The mother is tired. Tired of his shit or of the child. Who knows! Whilst Jenny is babysitting on the first night, the phone rings. Heavy breathing. Because, you know. Without the internet, back in the day, it’s how ‘creeps’ got their kicks. After terrifying the child she is babysitting, Jenny heads back downstairs. The creepy house is freaking her out. The phone rings again. This time it has a message. Jenny freaks out. The parents return and the mother places emphasis on Jenny that if anything worries her, she is most definitely NOT to mention anything to the father, because I don’t think she wants him freaking out any more than he is, but then the bitch just leaves her to it. Not actually giving Jenny the chance to tell her about the calls.
The creepy neighbour turns up on the next night. Cliché I know.
Shit gets weirder. The little cherubic child isn’t as angelic as he looks. In fact he is one of those kids you’d quite happily tape to a chair, just so you know where they are. I mean who the fuck let’s their child, UNDER 10, watch Poltergeist??? That is just fucked up.
So yeah, basically, the weird neighbour starts appearing more often. The kid doesn’t listen and starts being a shit but she let’s him off because he is a cutie [“I can’t imagine what he’ll be like when he’s older!”]. Gorgeous white kid gets away with murder, who’d have thought!
Class clown kid admits he makes the first call, but the other two weren’t him. This is after he decides to turn up at the house with a freaky looking mask on to scare the shit out of Jenny. Jenny is now conflicted. Should she trust him, should she not…. They snog in the house of the kid Jenny is babysitting.
Time goes by.
In school Jenny receives a note with the exact same words the creepy whispered voice said over the phone to her. Jenny freaks out. Creepy neighbour dude follows her from the bus stop. Jenny finally gets demon child to sleep, her friends show up for a “study group” (yeah, did those actually happen in the 90’s? Seriously. Because ALL teenagers met up whilst babysitting just to cop off. /sarcasm).
Father turns up and is atomic. Mother chills him out. Jenny goes upstairs to get her coat, which for some strange reason couldn’t be placed on the bannister or over a chair but had to be placed in the parents bedroom closet from day one…. Important Plot Note!
Jenny finds shit she shouldn’t see. Freaks out. All hell breaks loose in traditional scary fashion!
All through this book, the funny boy narrative is played out to extreme. BUT it’s okay because he is nervous as fuck around the opposite sex, so it’s okay for him to be a complete fucknugget around them. Scaring them for shits and giggles. Erm, NO. Thank fuck it’s not the 90’s any more. Although, I am worried about the young people who are reading these books today and wondering what the fuck a VCR is… It’s a video cassette recorder. It came long before Tevo or Sky+ and DVD’s. We had to wait forever to rewind tapes, because if you didn’t rewind them, all hell would break out.
All in all, not a bad book. The emphasis on the father’s ‘zany’ behaviour is slightly uncomfortable reading when you suffer anxiety yourself. The ableist narrative is hard to stomach but again, I am going to say, it was the 90’s everybody thought it was okay to be saying a bunch of shit that if spoken today would get your teeth rammed so far down your throat you’d be firing them like bullets when you farted!
As an introduction to the Point Horror books, it wasn’t a bad start. A little predictable, but then this type of story has been played out repeatedly since the 90’s, so it will seem familiar.
Now on to The Babysitter II