The moments that just left me scratching my head.   SPOILERS!  Also, I can’t guarantee my memory of all these moments is perfect.

The film Super 8 has one of the biggest moments of this.  The story opens in the aftermath of someone being killed in an accident, an event which hangs over the rest of the film.  And then we see a group of teens cruising around in a car not one of them is old enough to drive, and it’s treated as no big deal.  To make matters worse, the kids driving without a license is actually the meet-cute moment for the boy who’s mother died in the accident, and the girl who’s father was responsible for it!  Seriously, how did that seem appropriate?

I checked out the lifetime film The Cheerleader Murders a while back, and I don’t remember much of it.  What I do remember- the main character’s father and sister were murdered a couple years before the events of the film, and one of her friends is played by Hannah Kasulka, recently of The Exorcist.  Hannah (don’t remember the character’s name) is shown to be crushing on a teacher, and when the main character, Hannah, and another girl are hanging out at Hannah’s house, the other girls tease her about her daddy issues.  Hannah says “At least I have a dad” to the girl who’s father was murdered.

This is particularly baffling since the whole conversation was, as I recall, pretty playful till that point, and even if it was more serious, how is that a good comeback?

Girl 1 – You have daddy issues!

Girl 2 – Your dad’s dead!  Yeah, suck on that!

The line is clearly there just so the main character will leave the house before the other two girls get attacked.  It’s so obvious that I spent a while thinking Hannah must have been in on the whole thing, and the conspirators wanted the main character to not be there for some reason.  This even though we see her react in fear when she’s attacked, and one of the girls
(I think it was her, but not sure)   was immediately killed.  And sure enough, she’s an innocent girl who we are apparently supposed to like, who just throws a murdered father in her friend’s face.

Okay, let’s go to a book, Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood by Eileen Cook.  The plot here is that two lifelong friends were at an orientation for the high school they would attend next year, and stumbled upon the traditional senior prank.  One of the girls ratted out the prankers, then went to the popular crowd and said it was the other girl who told, to ensure she would get in with the popular crowd.  The other girl become public enemy 1, but thankfully goes away for most of high school.  She returns for senor year, looking different and using a new name, determined to get payback. 

At one point she uses her knowledge of her old friend to sneak into her house and commit some sabotage, including weakening the seat of Lauren’s pants.  Lauren shows up at school with a huge rip in her backside, and no one even bothers to tell her about for much of the day.  All that is fair enough in a revenge story, but I was really taken aback that the author decided to say that Lauren was wearing a thong, and showing off a lot more than just underwear.  I don’t know, I thought that was going a step further than was really necessary. And from a logic standpoint, I can buy someone not noticing that their underwear is in direct contact with the chair they’re sitting on, but how did Lauren not notice it was actually her skin against the chair? 

Little Black Lies, oddly enough, has another underwear example.  It’s mostly a fairly straightforward story of a girl going to a new school, and lying about her family to impress new friends.  The twist here is that her father is actually the school’s new janitor, and suffers from OCD.  She meets her new best friend and general mean girl queen bee at the start of the book, when she notices mean girl’s bag is pulling up her skirt, revealing her underwear.  She tries to warn mean girl, who completely tells her off and waltzes down the hallway showing off her underwear to the entire school.  And she never seems bothered by this (maybe she never realized as it was happening, but word never got back around to her about it?).  The really weird thing is that the main character becomes completely fixated on mean girl’s underwear, trying to catch a peek at other moments.  This is apparently because the other girl was wearing day-of-the-weak underwear for the wrong day, and she wants to know if she just chooses the underwear at random, or has a system.  I guess this is meant to show that the main character might have some of her dad’s OCD, and couldn’t get away from it not matter how much she lied, but it’s a really bizarre thing for her to become obsessive about!  It kind of seems like the bag lifting the skirt moment would have made more sense as the climax of the story instead of happening at the beginning.  Say the main character has had the expected falling out with the popular crowd, but sees this happening to the mean girl and tries to be the bigger person and warn her.  The mean girl is a jerk, so the main character shrugs and watches as mean girl humiliates herself.  To me at least, that makes more sense.

Lies you never told me has a small moment, when the queen bee become an obsessive stalker about her ex-boyfriend getting together with another girl, she starts changing her appearance to resemble the other girl.  Creepy, but wouldn’t she more likely try to emphasize the difference between her and the other girl?  This also doesn’t quite work with the fact that the girl manages to make everyone else think the guy is the one being obsessive and dangerous.  Didn’t anyone else notice her sudden change in appearance, and suspect that there was something going on with her? 

The New Girl is the first book in RL Stine’s Fear Street series.  We follow Cory as he falls in love with new girl Anna, undeterred by the bizarre behaviour of her family, who insist that Anna is dead.   His best friend, Lisa, who harbours a pretty obvious crush on him, become the most sympathetic character in the book, since Cory is a frustrating dolt at best..  Then she starts being threatened, including a dead cat being placed in her locker.  She initially seems appropriately horrified, but then comments, “Good thing I don’t like cats.”  What a strange, borderline sociopathic thing to say in such a situation.  I mean, I don’t go to Stine for in depth characters, but this was not a great moment for what was really the only likeable character in the story.

I have noted in the past that one of my least favourite things in fiction is the abrupt reveal that a character who has been evil, or at least an ass, for the entire story is actually one of the good guys.  Draco in Leather Pants, High Heel Face Turn, or whatever else this can be called, I don’t care for it unless it’s done really well.  Perhaps the biggest example of this comes in Gail Carriger’s Finishing School Series with the character of Monique.  The problem here is that Carriger based Monique on people she really disliked, but also wanted to show that sometimes you have to work with people you don’t like, and these two things end up conflicting with each other.  The issue isn’t so much that Monique is completely selfish, it’s that she is made into a bit of a joke, since Carriger enjoys putting her through two pretty epic comeuppances.  And then she shows up as the cavalry to save the day in the final book, and we are supposed to take that seriously.

So, in book one, Monique goes outside at a party to hand over an artifact to someone, and the main characters need to thwart her.  They do this by the lead supposedly accidentally bumping into her and ripping he dress, “making sure to expose plenty of undergarments.”  Monique drops the bag with the artifact, and it gets switched.  To make matters worse, a mechanimal (this is a steampunk book) sets her dress on fire and Monique has to squirm completely out of it as the main characters return to the party.  When she realizes the switch was made, Monique is so enraged that she storms into the party and confronts the lead for a moment, before being led away in tears.

In book three, Monique and the lead face off.  Bear in mind they are both trained assassins (the Finishing school teaches them to finish people, see?).  After suffering a minor wound Monique flips out, screaming and crying so loudly that everyone else stops their own fight to stare at her.  The lead ends up helping her with the wound, then leaves her  in the doorway (of a train they are all on) with her hands bound and looped over something, keeping Monique there for at least an hour as she whines and begs to be freed.  It’s even noted that they pass another train where people probably could see Monique, and they just shrugged and left her to hang there.  After putting her through some indignities for a while, they eventually toss Monique into a dirty looking body of water as they pass over it, and Monique is pretty much cemented as a joke.  Then, as noted before, she shows up to save the day, and it just doesn’t work for me.

Finally, we go to 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough, which is supposedly being adapted, though nothing has come out about that recently.  The wtf moment happens at the very end, so if you want to read the book or see the adaptation witho9ut knowing everything coming, turn back now.  The book takes place after Natasha is revived after being found in the lake, dead for 13 minutes.  She reaches out to her old friend Becca, who Natasha dumped when she got popular.  The duo become even closer as suspicions mount that Natasha’s current friends might have been behind her brief death.    The book shifts between Becca’s POV, and Natasha’s diary entries.  Ultimately, Tasha’s two current friends are arrested for trying to kill her, and actually killing another classmate accidentally, but Becca feels something doesn’t add up, and she’s right.  Natasha set the whole thing up to punish her friends, after learning they were sick of her controlling ways.  She knew her diary would be confiscated by the police, so those entries were less than truthful.  Natasha had planned to be rescued by a guy who walked his dog at the same time each day, but the dog acted up that morning and they were behind schedule, leading to her near miss.  Becca tries to get a taped confession, but when Natasha realizes what she’s up to, they fight and fall into the water.  Becca is rescued, but Tasha suffers a karmic death.  Then we get an epilogue, which ties back to the fact that Natasha was actually dead for several minutes, where as she drowns she sees a ghost of herself from that event, preventing her from leaving.  It feels like a complete departure from the rest of the story.  But really, the book was over at that point, and I guess Pinborough just wanted to give the readers a final moment with Natasha as she realized she wasn’t going to get her way.

Published by Andrew Clendening