YMMV / Pen Pal

  • Complete Monster: In the original Creepypasta, Dathan's nondescript, unnamed stalker manages to establish himself as an irredeemable monster despite never even appearing in the story proper. A pedophile who happens to receive a letter from Dathan as a kindergartner as part of a school project, this man spends the next ten years obsessively following him. Motivated by jealousy, he gruesomely murders anyone whom Dathan gets even remotely close to. He tricks Dathan's senile old neighbor into letting him into her house, then cuts her apart because she was kind to Dathan. He also hits a young girl with his car due to Dathan's crush on her. The girl dies from her injuries, and the stalker steals her phone and texts Dathan as her in a bid for his attention. Apparently realizing that he'll never have Dathan, he later kidnaps his best friend Josh instead. He holds Josh captive for two years, forcing him to change his appearance to look like Dathan and doing other things to him that are not elaborated upon. Finally, he tricks Josh's father into burying him and Josh alive. As it is established that he stalked Josh in addition to Dathan, he probably did this intentionally as an unnecessary additional act of cruelty. He gets almost exactly what he wanted, and dies blissfully on his own terms with a smile on his face. Though he uses several different methods to express his "love" for Dathan, the stalker is a vile, disgusting individual who ruins multiple peoples' lives, commits murder, and severely damages relationships just to satisfy his own pedophiliac urges.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The stalker crosses it, either after chopping up Miss Maggie or killing Veronica and then pretending to be her and contacting Dathan depending on who you ask. Some say that he crosses it even earlier, when he abducts and kills Dathan's cat, Boxes.
  • Padding: While the story has generally been well-received, this is one of the most common criticisms of the book version. While a lot of new information is added and a few scenes are changed, none of the additions in the book really do anything to help move the plot forward any more smoothly. One of the most egregious examples of this is the lengthening of the part where Dathan and Josh play "rock paper scissors" to see who'll go under the house to look for Boxes. In the original, it's a simple "I lost," while the book rather unnecessarily gives a whole play-by-play of Dathan and Josh's game.
  • What an Idiot: Dathan's mother, in spades.
  • The Woobie: Almost everyone in this story is a woobie to some extent!
    • Dathan gets stalked for a decade by a murderous psychopath. As a result of this, he ends up having his cat, a sweet, elderly neighbor, and his crush murdered, his relationship with his mother becomes very strained, he has a falling-out with his best friend, and later said best friend gets kidnapped and killed by the aforementioned psychopath.
    • His mother has to deal with the stress of the pedophile who is stalking her son, and eventually her desire to keep him safe damages their relationship severely.
    • Josh has to deal with his best friend moving away, and the trauma of encountering the stalker. Said trauma strains his friendship with Dathan and they eventually only see each other veryoccasionally. To top it off, the stalker kidnaps him, tortures him for about two years, forces him to change his appearance to look like his best friend, then finally has his own father unwittingly kill him by burying him alive.
    • Veronica. Though she's cheerful and perky, the story hints at her being a Stepford Smiler because of her brother "running away" (really getting kidnapped by the stalker). There's also the fact that the stalker runs her over with his car just because Dathan likes her, and she might like him too. The extent of her injuries is described in horrific detail, and she eventually dies from them.
    • Josh and Veronica's parents lose both of their children. Their son is kidnapped, with the kidnapper leaving a forged note telling them that he'd run away, and their daughter is hit by a car driven by the same person who kidnapped their son. She has nearly every bone in her body broken, and dies in the hospital from her injuries. The resulting trauma has a profound effect on them, particularly the mother. She undergoes a Sanity Slippage that forces her to quit her job, and she develops a tendency to leave her home and call out to her lost children to come home. To make matters even worse, the father is tricked into killing his missing son by unknowingly burying him alive with the very person who kidnapped him.