Judging a Book by its Cover
Tick Tock, You're Dead! It's going to be about time travel. There are no other options. It is a scary clock with a kid hanging from one of the hands. Here is the thing about scary clocks, they aren't scary. No one is concerned about a clock being out to get them. The only way they have to make a clock scary is if it can magically send you elsewhere in time. That does open up a lot of options. It could send you back to get devoured by dinosaurs, or forward to be conquered by aliens. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's not about time travel. But I doubt it.
Like other books in the series this cover has a shiny, reflective surface which is cool. Kids are easily swayed by shiny things. Hey, even as an adult I look at it and think, "Ooo shiny!" It also boasts 20 different endings. That seems cool until you realize 18 or 19 result in your untimely death. Oh well, reader beware it's time for me to choose the scare!
Now as per last time I am not going to read exhaustively through every option this book has to offer. I don't think it's in the spirit of things, and it's also not very fun. Especially not fun to read. Likewise I think only reading through once will probably result in a short "and then I died." So I am going to read 3 paths through this book to give a couple options of what can happen. Here goes!
We begin with a warning not to read this book straight through. You must look at the choices at the bottom
of each page and turn to them accordingly. Anyway it seems that I am in the Museum of Natural History when my little brother Denny runs off alone. While searching for him I find a Dr. Peebles who is described as "Strange." He says I can test his time machine, because obviously the way scientists test time machines is via random kids who wander into their lab. I get the option to search for Denny or travel in time. Like a wiener I choose to look for my brother and the book rewards my sense of responsibility by making fun of me and picking again. I guess I will travel in time! Except before I have the chance to test out the machine Denny runs into it like a brat! Where, or when has he gone? I have an arbitrary 2 hour time limit to find him before he becomes lost FOREVER.
I have the option of looking for him in the future or the past. I choose the past in hopes I can see some freakin' dinosaurs! I enter the machine and eventually two paths appear before me. One with a knight, and one with a dinosaur. As we have already established I am gonna big the freakin' dinosaur! It turns out Denny loves dinosaurs which of course I knew and did not go for purely selfish reasons. There are dinosaur all over the swamp happily munching on shrubbery when the ground begins to shake and I am faced with a T-rex. It savagely rips off the head of another dinosaur before it notices me and begins chasing me. On the plus side however it is then that I find Denny. On the negative side, he is stuck in quick sand. After struggling with him I manage to yank him out but the chronometer that can send is back to the present comes off and sinks in the muck. The dinosaur closes in. Do I scramble to find the chronometer or run the eff away from ol' T-rex?
I figure finding the chronometer can send us back and I couldn't outrun a T-rex so I better search for it as quick as I can! Denny searches too. The tyrannosaurus faces us and lets out a huge terrifying sound. A burp, apparently. And how does a dinoburp kill you? Well it apparently knocks me into the quicksand... somehow. Denny and I sink down...down...down. THE END.
Once again I meet Dr. Peebles and must find my brother Denny somewhere in time. Something tells me that maybe I should try finding him in the future. I step into the Chronoport and the doctor tells me there is one thing I must remember but then he is gone. I see before me a fancy futuristic looking city complete with flying cars. There is also a city that looks a lot like New York. I recognize the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center so it must be pre 2001 (boo! too soon!) I think I see Denny there and also I am curious to see when this New York is so I choose that. After looking around a bit I see a newspaper that lets me know I am in the future... 1 day in the future. What a bummer! I am almost about to pull out my chronometer when something startles me... but what?
...It's me! And my family! Future us are walking into the street about to be hit by a truck! I can use my chronometer to try and stop it. Do I go back and try and stop my family from going into the street, or to try and stop the driver. I figure I might as well try and stop my family. They'd listen to me... right? I go back in time 15 minutes. But do I want to distract them, or warn them? Distract them! I devise a cunning plan to toss money out for everyone to create a distraction. Time-traveling Denny joins me, and future me and Denny are delighted to watch. The truck speeds by them. I've successfully saved us. But now I need to get Denny to come back with me in time and he is being a real butt. Do I use my words and try and get him to come back or do I take him by force?
I try to force him but he runs off and of course runs smack into his future double. Tired of his shenanigans I grab both of them and hit the chronometer. Both of them follow me back in time. Now I have two little brothers. I saved his life, but my own is ruined! Oh no! THE END.
Ok this time, into the past but knights instead of dinosaurs. Sound like a plan? Surely now I will be able to save Denny and not have a future copy of him to annoy me in the present. I search for the night to a drawbridge over a moat. It is then that the Knight charges me with lance lower. Do I face him, or do I jump into the moat (though I am not a strong swimmer.) I figure if I gotta go out, I shouldn't go out like a bitch. I face the night. The solider informs me that this is king Ruthbert's castle. I must beat his challenge or else become food for the crocodiles in the moat. Good thing I didn't jump in the moat. I get to pick my weapon. I automatically choose the club because I have a plan. We will hit apples like they were baseballs and see whose goes the furthers in some sort of medieval home-run derby. Apparently now I (the reader) must flip 2 coins to see what happens. I have to have coins now? I though I just had to pick pages! No one told me I had to come to this book equipped with coins. Well damn.
So... I am being sentenced to be boiled in oil but I have a plan. I tell the king I have something that belongs to Denny hoping I can hand him the chronometer and send us forward in time. My plan fails though and I go plummet to the hot oil, pushing the button myself. I return without Denny. I count this as a win. The bastard tried to boil me in oil. Also know my family can sue the Museum for millions due to losing their son. Not just a win, a WIN WIN. THE END.
What I Thought
These books are so hard to have complete thoughts on. Any criticism comes more as a criticism towards these choose your own way books than the actual writing in them. Here is the thing about them, they are a fun little gimmick for kids, but ultimately they are unsatisfying. It is because instead of 1 solid decent story we are treating to over 20 tiny stories, most of which end poorly. If someone actually fleshed out these books so there were 20 lengthy well written stories in them, they might not be looked upon so poorly. But if you were gonna write 20 well done long stories, you would make them into 20 separate books and make 20 times the money.
Comments on the actual contents of the book though... This one is decidedly more sci-fi compared to the previous Carnival of Horrors... horrors. It was truly more based on horror convention while this used the time travel trope. It does lead to a lot of options. Just with my 3 read throughs I had plenty of variation. I saw dinosaurs, knights, and the present day. If I had read one more I probably seen what the future city was all about. That's pretty cool. But I can't help but think bigger is better. If there was even more too it, how cool would that be? I think the kid in me thinks that most of all.
My favorite one of the 3 I did was probably the Knights. Dinosaurs are awesome, but relatively little happened with them. The knights on the other hand let me best a warrior, and deal with my bratty bro. I know I was supposed to be sorry to leave him behind but he literally tried to kill me. What an asshole. That is what made it fun though.
While I am not a huge fan of the medium, this did as good a job as any at entertaining me.
Rating: 3 out of 5 clocks
The next Give Yourself Goosebumps book is Trapped in Bat Wing Hall. I don't own it. I probably wont ever own it unless someone feels like purchasing it for me off my wish list... here http://amzn.com/w/6REQ148ZCYQI
Yes, I am shameless. But really I don't expect anyone to buy it for me. Still if you'd like to, there is the option.
Happy Halloween to you and check back soon for your regularly scheduled Goosebumps book Return of the Mummy.