Judging a book by its cover
Yes, that is a rather large Corona. It pairs nicely with Goosebumps. Really I should have read the Spanish translation of Goosebumps. I remember in grade school my Spanish teacher tried to get us to read it, but the problem was we only really knew nouns. Since the book didn't read "Hello my name is apple banana bathroom pants," it didn't really work.
Anyway, the cover. It depicts a boy shocked that his mother was right, too much masturbating will make your palms hairy. Seriously though, there is a problem with this cover. It's not scary. Not all the book covers in this series are scary, true, but it feels like this one should be, and could be. A major problem is the giant chimpanzee ears. Now if he turns into a chimp, then I will apologize shunning this attribute of the cover, but I feel like it should feel more werewolf than monkey. Also the way the hair is growing on his hands look like furry hobo gloves. Of course, a book about a hobo chimp man would be pretty good but I doubt that this book is about that.
The front tagline is "It keeps growing... and growing... and growing..." which is neither clever nor funny. D-. The back tagline reads, "he's having a really, really bad-hair day..." Now bad hair day IS kind of funny. C+. The tagline of my Corona reads "La cerveza mas fina." It's clearly a lie, (it means the finest beer) but it is suitably in Spanish so I give it a B.
Time to crack open this brew and crack open this book.
We open on Larry Boyd, a tween boy being chased through the snow by stray dogs. He trips, which is whathappens when you are being chased in a horror story but luckily his friend and band-mate Lily is there to chase dogs off with a shovel. Lily is unique because she has two different color eyes like David Bowie. Together with their friends, Crazy Eyes Lily and Hairy Larry (a nickname these tease him with due to his crazy hair) form the hot new rock and roll band The Geeks. That name could change though. Previously they were known as the spirit. Crazy Eyes Lily wants to name the band Pirate Gold because she has a necklace made of Pirate Gold. The arch nemesis of The Geeks is rival band Howie and the Shouters. They'll get the chance to prove their superiority at the upcoming battle of the bands It'll be a challenge though, because the Geeks don't have a bassist, or even a drummer for that matter. What they do have is 3 guitarists, a singer, and a keyboard that they program drum beats on. Will they prevail? To do so they must practice!
Naturally practice can only go on for so long before you go out and play in the snow. Or if you are Larry, before you go pilfer through the neighbors garbage and fine fake tanning cream. If you are the kind of person who rummages trash you probably don't have any qualms about rubbing it all over yourself. Larry and his friends sure do not have any such qualms! When the expired Insta-Tan fails to instantly tan, the kids disgurntledly toss it into the woods and have a good old fashioned snowball fight. Suddenly, midst the fight, Larry falls ill. Has the tanning solution poisoned him? No. He has no ability to perspire and has to go to his annual doctor visit to get a shot.
That isn't the only thing making Larry uneasy though. When he gets home he is shocked to discover there is a thick patch of hair growing on the back of his hand. In a quick bout of "don't try this at home please" Larry uses his dad's razor to shave himself. His thoughts turn to the Insta-Tan. Have his friends grown hair?
Meanwhile at school Larry has to deal with typical kid stuff, like being teased, doing book reports, being tripped by Howie (of Howie and the Shouters) and growing hair all over his hands. Again. Larry runs out into the hall where a teacher thinks he is wearing gloves. Gloves! The solution to his problem. He puts on a pair so no one will be the wiser. With this clever trick he i able to right out the day. When he makes it home he lets his mom know that he put on expired tanning cream and has been sprouting hair. Unfortunately she was on the phone and not listening to him, so he decides not to push the issue. Once again he haves his hand hair.
The next day starts off ok. No hair grown over night! But the neighborhood dog horde is after him again! He runs to his friends who chase the dog off. They decide one of the dogs looks like their friend Manny. What a weird thing to point out. This couldn't possibly relate to the plot could it? We shall see. Meanwhile at school hair sprouts on Larry's knees so he wears his jeans to class. An easy solution. However, he didn't put the tanning cream on his knees. Why would the hair sprout there?
After school once again The Geeks meet to practice for their triumph over The Shouters. The problem is that Manny didn't show up. They go to his house, but he isn't there. In fact, no one is there. Nothing is there. Did he move? And not tell anyone? Weird.
Finally, Larry decides to tell his dad about the tanning and the hair. His dad is extremely worried and takes him straight to Dr. Murkin. Murkin, like Merkin. Merkin like pubic wigs... The doc gives him his usual shot for his condition but seems not terribly concerned about the hair. He took the wait and see approach, but assured the kid that the tanning solution wasn't the culprit.
Larry remains unconvinced. At the next Geeks practice he inquires about the hair status of the rest of the group. Most of them tease him with the "hairy Larry" chant but Lily seems embarrassed. When questioned about the hair, she says she doesn't want to talk about it.
Later he decides to investigate the Insta-Tan hypothesis further. He goes to find the bottle of it he tossed to bring to Dr. Murkin. When he discovers it, dog horde emerges and causes him to drop and break the bottle. Drat! Meanwhile his hair growing is going wild. Meanwhile Lily is missing. And more curiously a dog with different color eyes and Lily's pirate gold following Larry. It has to be Lily! Plus, Lily's parents, when confronted, claim there is no Lily. THERE IS NO LILY. What a weird way to put it. Her parents are also moving.
However the show must go on. The Geeks replace singer Lily with Katrina who plays guitar in the band.First they had to wait through Howie and the Shouters who were AMAZING. The Geeks were a bit sloppy. Larry messed up his solo yet the crowd cheered in amazement. "What great special effects" they cheered. What special effects? Larry was getting hairy again! Hairy Larry! But Hairy Larry won the Battle of the Bands. It is a bitter victory though because of his affliction. Finally his parents tell him what is going on. He isn't getting hairy because of the Insta-Tan. He is getting hairy because... He is a dog. Yep. Dr. Murkin's shots have been to keep him a boy, instead of a dog, but the shots wear out. He has decided not to change dogs into human anymore. It's too hard for the families when they turn back to dogs. That's ok though, because Larry is happy as a dog. He still gets to see his parents from time to time too. They got a new baby even! A little one named Jaspar... just like Larry's old cat.
What I Thought
I always rush to talk about the end, because the end is what I most immediately think of and frequently it is a twist that is stupid enough for me to want to talk about right away. This book is no exception but I always say I should talk about the rest of the book first, and finally I am going to do that.
So this book is a little unique amongst Goosebumps which is always a good thing. It's not scary in the traditional sense of having a monster or beast of some sort. You have hair growing all over. That is kind of scary in a different way. A medical way. Of course, hair is more embarrassing than deadly, but hey these are scares for kids. Also for a 12 year old, hair growing where it hasn't before is a very real worry. If he was a better author I would be convinced this was a deliberate take on puberty.
Having the battle of the bands aspect was kind of interesting too. While not all kids had a jr. high band, many did and those who didn't probably wanted one. It set up a nice rivalry with douchebag Howie and his shouters. I think everyone in school had at least one kid they kind of loathed. Someone who was better than you, but also kind of a dick.
Now we have the ending. Of course the ending was strongly hinted at. Larry can't perspire, neither can dogs. Feral dogs ravaged the neighborhood. I, however, hoped the ending would be that he was a werewolf. A bit cliche but far less lame. That would be a bit too much like the plot of Teen Wolf though. Still I didn't entirely see the ending coming because I refused to believe such a stupid ending would happen. I also thought that maybe the Insta-Tan could have been related just because the parents were so strongly opposed to that notion. Insta-Tan as werewolf potion?
Seriously though, why would a doctor turn dogs into children? I suppose just to show you he could, would be one thing. But we have enough god damn kids. No one needs to turn too many puppies into even more too many kids. What was his motivation? Better that he was turning kids into dogs as some sort of devious plot. Or breeding werewolves, which are much cooler than dogs which is why I thought there would be werewolves in this god damn book. Also, where are the lawsuits? This really can't be an FDA approved treatment could it? Do these dog-people have birth certificates? Social security numbers? If they got old enough could they vote?
All valid questions I think
2 out of 5 dog bones
Now there was an interesting thing in this book. RL Stine named dropped Bruce Coville who was also a children's author. I only remember reading one of his books and that was Bruce Coville's Book of Monsters. I remember nothing about it except the cover. In my box of old Goosebumps books there were 2 non-Goosebumps books I have considered reading along with the them. Unfortunately the Book of Monsters isn't one of them, because I can't find it! I know I owned it! I'll have to look for it, because I'd be really interested to see what other horror was marketed at young people of the day. Some day I will find it and post a review up here, I swear.
Meanwhile, however the next Goosebumps book is A Night in Terror Tower. Clearly this is about a haunting in a Disney Ride. Right? Nah, I am pretty sure they went to some European castle or something. Who knows. I really don't remember any of these friggen books anymore. Also, after I read them, I forget about them really quickly. They all kind of blend together.
Oh well, until next time.