Summary of "The Boyfriend" by R.L Stine

by Dan Harkins

R.L. Stine, author of the popular Goosebumps series of young adult horror books, has written a few hundred suspense-laden books -- and only some of them carry the Goosebumps moniker. "The Boyfriend," about a spurned boy allegedly back from the dead, is one of 20 books in Stine's Point Horror series.

The Setup

Stine centers "The Boyfriend" on a pampered young woman named Joanna and her doting suitor Dex. She likes Dex but loathes his other-side-of-the-tracks upbringing. The 18-year-old strays to the rich Shep after a while, but Dex is able to arrange another date with Joanna, albeit with his friend Pete along. During the date, Joanna sees Dex die by falling from a seaside cliff. Then, as she drives away in a panic, Joanna is badly wounded in a car accident.

The Result

Dex is dead, but he visits Joanna in a range of creepy ways. He appears to her in the distance, then disappears. He calls her, then hangs up. Finally, she arranges to meet with him, figuring he must be alive and hiding for some unknown reason, but he looks different. He looks as dead as he's supposed to be -- giving the conceited teen girl the willies she deserves.

Main Characters

Dex is a free spirit from the wrong side of town, living with his aunt in a ramshackle house and taking friends when and where they come. This upbringing eventually sours Joanna to him, and she decides to go with Shep, whose family is also rich and runs in the same exclusive social circles she is accustomed to. Joanna bounces the various obstacles she faces throughout the book off her friend, Mary.


Joanna thought she heard Dex's bones crack as he hit the rocks below, so his reappearance would strike fear in any mind, especially with the zombie-like appearance Stine describes. But Joanna has special reasons for fearing Dex's reappearance. It means she must confront her personal demons that allowed her to reject the better person in pursuit of shallow, self-centered goals -- a noble moral for young or adult literature.

About the Author

Dan Harkins has been a full-time journalist since 1997. Prior to working in the alternative press, he served as a staff writer and editor for daily publications such as the "St. Petersburg Times" and "Elyria Chronicle-Telegram." Harkins holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of South Florida.