Judging a Book by its Cover
Alternate Title: Attack of the Giant Hamster. He's a pretty mean looking bugger. The perspective of the photo makes it look scarier. Like you're looking up at him, because your tiny. Really that would just mean he's on a giant desk though. And the monster blood is oozing off of it. It's one of those rare times when the book borders compliment the book, being that they are pretty much green ooze themselves.
The tagline on the front is "He's one hungry hamster!" That just makes him sound obese, and not enormous in a scary way. "It's baaack...." is the uninspired tagline on the back. Disappointing.
All in all, I only have one thing to say, "Rodents Of Unusual Size? I don't think they exist!"
At least everything goes smoothly with cleaning the hamsters cage, right? Wrong. Cuddles the hamster escapes and rather boldly for a hamster, jumps out the window and scurries around the school grounds. Guess who finds him? Evan? No! Conan, and he wants to force Evan to sing to get Cuddles back. What a dick. The science teacher shows up just in time for Conan to make Evan look even worse. Things just aren't going well for this kid. You'd think it was all uphill from his first dealing with monster blood.
Well in a convenient turn of plot, Evan's old tomboy friend Andrea, or "Andy" shows up in Atlanta. Apparently her parents moved somewhere and she is staying there with relatives as long as is necessary for the book. She even brought the old canister of monster blood with her! And, uh-oh, there is still some inside. On top of that, it's growing! While they briefly consider using it to prove Evan isn't crazy, after it nearly turns up in the hands of Conan they decide they need to dispose of it.Burying it is deemed the best method.
Later, Evan goes to tryout for the basketball team. After being slammed in the face in with a basketball, and somehow being dunked in the hoop by a middle schooler Evan fails to make the team. And Mr. Science teacher coach is blamed for letting Conan walk all over Evan. Andy dreams up the idea of using the monster blood to feed to Cuddles the hamster as a way of getting back at Mr. Science Teacher Coach. Evan goes along with it but when they try and dig it up, the monster blood is gone! Conan is the suspected culprit, and to prove it they commit breaking and entering.
Once they retrieve the can of monster blood and narrowly escape being caught by Conan they decide the best course of action is just to bury it again. Or do they? Well it turns out Andy decides Evan "needs a laugh" so she fed Cuddles the hamster some monster blood. By school the next day, Cuddles is the size of a large rabbit. Evan comes in early the morning after to discover that Cuddles got big enough to bust out of its cage. He puts a conveniently placed dog leash on it, and cuts class. The teacher however, thinks it's pretty rad to have a giant hamster... that is until the next day...
Yes, Cuddles is like 10 feet tall the day after. It is raising all sorts of hell, with the teacher trying to tame him like a lion and having no success. There is only one solution: Evan has to eat some of the monster blood to combat it. He eats enough so he starts growing immediately. When he himself is 10 feet tall he tries to confront the beast, but as he is still outweighed the hamster dominates him. Evan stops growing and can't figure out why. Just as the hamster is about to sink its teeth into him, POOF everything is back to normal. What the hell? Well, it turns out that can of monster blood has an expiration date, and its today. CONVENIENT!
In the end, Conan made to look like a fool because he was crying for mommy when confronted by Cuddles. Evan was made to look like a hero since he bravely ate the repulsive goo. As a reward, he received the now normal sized Cuddles. Andy, the loyal side kick, got a package in the mail from her parents. Guess what it is? More monster blood! Oh man. Hey, where is Cuddles? HEY! WHAT IS CUDDLES EATING?
What I Thought of it
Hamsters! Not what I'd call a scary monster. Even a big one doesn't seem particularly scary to me. Maybe if it was Godzilla sized. That might have been cooler. Still, I guess it is something familiar to kids and the idea of one getting huge and terrorizing the school is pretty fun. Sadly however, it's reign of terror is short. In Stine's books there is a decent amount of buildup but then everything gets solved in a couple really short chapters. Sometimes I think if he just lengthened the books by about 50% they would improve about 100%. And it's not like kids couldn't read just a little bit more.
Anyway. Sequel. I believe this is the first direct sequel to a previous book. Truth be told, I already forgot about a bit of the previous Monster Blood. Andy I like as a character. She is a bit memorable as far as Goosebumps characters go. Evan is as generic a protagonist as they come. He doesn't grow as a character any, but I suppose that isn't what these books are about. They are about having fun with kind of freaky events. This book is more fun than freaky. But as its aimed at 10 year olds, that's probably ok.
Now, about the ending. 9 times out of 10 the overly silly stupid Stine ending bugs the crap out of me. This one I kind of liked. Sure it being the expiration date was kind of a lame gag... but it was lame enough to make me chuckle. The notion that this sci-fi, magic, poweful mystic goo has an expiration date? Classic! I'll allow it.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Conans
Next up in the series is Deep Trouble which I believe is part Jaws, part Creature From the Black Lagoon, and Part Splash. However, the next book I read is gonna be a special surprise. Check back in a couple weeks for that.