My rating: ★★☆☆☆
Hit and Run is typical R.L. Stine fare. There’s absolutely nothing new here; the only surprise is that Stine has the decency to leave out the supernatural nonsense in favor of bullshit psychology.
As usual, the characters pass around the Idiot Ball around like they’re playing “hot potato”. The four main characters are teenage boys Eddie, Scott, and Winks along with their female friend Cassie. Winks is a grade-A asshole under the guise of class-clown, while Scott and Cassie with their ridiculous budding romance laugh along with their friend’s incredibly cruel “jokes”.
Then we have Eddie. Eddie’s the weak link in the school and the group; Winks terrorizes the kid. Again. And again. And again.
Seriously, it’s vile; at one point, Winks even goes so far as to get a genuine human eyeball to scare Eddie with. Watching these so-called friends terrorize one person like that… I was disgusted. Why didn’t either Cassie or Scott get their shit together and help him–it was incredibly obvious throughout the book that Eddie was unraveling psychologically.
So it’s no surprise what happens: Eddie, humiliated by his friends, filled with self-loathing, and convinced that everyone hates him, gets even. And that should have been either wonderfully cathartic or heart-wrenchingly tragic. It wasn’t.
Eddie convinces his cousin–the same idiot who let Winks have a human eye–to let him borrow the corpse of a homeless man. Eddie props it up in the middle of the highway, and uses it to pretend he ran someone over while illegally driving with his friends. Everyone’s willing to let it go… until Eddie launches his efforts to trick them into thinking the man is back from the dead.
It doesn’t go off quite as he planned; Cassie, Winks, and Scott are frightened but unconvinced. Furious and facing increasing loneliness and humiliation, Eddie steps up his game. He runs Winks down with his car.
Then he sends his friends a photograph of the corpse in the driver’s seat, and it’s enough to convince them. They’re terrified and confused, but they’re still trying to get to the bottom of it. They still don’t want it to be true. They still want to find some other answer.
They do, eventually. After Cassie starts to suspect Scott, she and Eddie are driving when Eddie gets a flat tire. Eddie wasn’t ready to kill her yet, but when Cassie finds the corpse in the trunk instead of the spare tire, he doesn’t see any other option. He starts monologuing, conveniently tying the plot together and buying Cassie valuable time for idiot!cousin to show up and save the day.
Yadda, yadda, yadda, everyone lives. King Winks of the Assholes makes a full recovery. Cassie and Scott live happily ever after with their jerk-love. Jerry the Idiot Cousin who Works at the Least Responsible Morgue Ever keeps playing with the corpse because that’s a totally acceptable thing to do. Eddie is “getting treatment from good doctors”.
God. If Stine had the slightest ability to handle psychological issues with even the vaguest hint of finesse, this would’ve been enjoyable. But it wasn’t, because he doesn’t. Stine uses mental illness as a cheap plot tool, and it is goddamn insulting.
You’ve heard of “Rape is the New Dead Parents”? Yeah. Stine uses “Mental Illness is the New Rape”. In his world, it’s just an excuse to kill people.
No respect at all.