Judging a Book by its Cover
My oh my, that cuckoo bird doesn't look particularly scary. It just looks... annoyed. Like, it is totally sick of this shit. Popping out every fucking hour? God, what an existence! Also, that has got to be the longest fucking perch for a cuckoo bird ever. Pretty typical though, Goosebumps covers like to have weird angels and crazy proportions. It's creepy I guess?
As for the taglines, the front's is "keep your eye on the birdie!" Is that... a badminton reference? Or... I don't know where else that would come from really. Not particularly clever, funny, or anything. The back's is "don't beat the clock." Which... I also don't get. So beat the clock means you are timed and you get done in time, right? So... don't.... do that? Or... don't... physically assault your clock? Whatever.
One thing on this cover I do like is the color scheme. I comment on color schemes every so often. Some of them just seem sort of randomly chosen. This one compliments the blue walls and yellow bird. I like it!
Michael is a pretty average 12 year old kid. Because all of RL Stine's main characters are pretty average 12 year old kids. But Michael's little sister Tara is not so average. She is kind of a pain in the ass. In fact, she is sort of an evil cunt. Now that's not something I usually say about 7 year old girls, but she's fictional so whatever. His parent's always think she is the sweetest little angel, but Michael knows better.
Now speaking of his parents, his dad totally loves this antique cuckoo clock from the antique shop. He's been looking at it for years in a nearby antique shop, and the owner finally decided to sell it because there is a small flaw in the clock. Since no one can tell what the flaw is, it doesn't bug them. One weird feature is that it has a hand that points to what year it is, up to the year 2000. I guess the makers of the clock figured Y2K was gonna end the world at that point, so no need to go higher. Oh also, apparently the clock is magic. If you know the secret of the clock you can go back in time! Har har, surely Dad is just making up stories.
I guess now you can understand while Michael would want to get back at her. During one afternoon their
dad caught Tara playing with the cuckoo clocks dials. Now if Michael messed with the clock the parents would think she did it! So he sneaked out one night and turned the cuckoo bird's head backwards. Not the most clever of tricks, but perhaps it shall do the job.
The next day, instead of the glory of framing his sister he instead got... deja vu. His parents were acting like it was his birthday again. In fact... it... was his birthday again. He got his bike again. Tara scratched it again. Every horrible thing she did on his birthday happened again. In fact, despite knowing what was going to happen he couldn't even prevent himself from falling into his cake. It was terrible!
The morning after he woke up really early and had to talk to his parents about how his birthday had already happened before. His parents didn't understand him though, because his birthday is 2 days away! Maybe that clock really is magic! But wait, the cuckoo clock is gone... because it is before his father bought the clock! It must still be at the antique store. Naturally his attempts to convince his family that something is wrong are futile. He has to go to school and relive a day he already lived through. He remembered everything that happened and... oh no! The day his female friend see him in his underpants. Even though he knows its coming he can't find a way to stop it. The next day he relived the incident of getting beat up by the athlete.
Things didn't get better from there. The next day when he walked into class they wondered what a third grader was doing there. A THIRD GRADER!??! He went back in time 4 years in just 1 night. Back and home things weren't any better. Even as a 3 year old Tara is a cunt. She still tormented the cat, and she pulled Micahel's hair. The next day he was a second grader. 2 year old Tara poked him in the eye. Was she a cunt from birth?
Finally Michael came up with a plan. He rode a bus to the antique store, which is slightly odd for a second grader to go. He managed to claim his parents were cool with it. He had to be careful though, his dad works right next to the store and he can't be spotted. Especially because he's going to have to break his way in. The antique store owner is on vacation! He ventured off to find a brick and came back. Just when he was about to throw it, his dad came up from behind him, surprised to see him. Despite Michael's attempts to get dad to go get the clock, it was not to be.
The next day Michael woke up in Tara's room. That's weird. Mom and dad don't seem to know where Tara is. That's because she hasn't been born yet! Now life as a kindergartener sucks. He has the mind of a 7th grader but has to go through shit like "learning" to tie his shoes. Throughout his day he couldn't think of a way as a kindergartener to get to that antique store.
Well he woke up next day and his arm was fine. Unfortunately he was in a crib, wearing diapers. And his mom... had to ... change his diapers. I gotta imagine that's unpleasant for a 7th grade mind to go through. Luckily though, it just so happens at this point in time Michael's parents had to go to the antique store and look for a table. With some babyish requests to get down out of his stroller, he toddled over to the clock. And as luck would have it, it just started to chime! But how could he reach it as a toddler? He pushed a chair up to the clock and turned the birds head around. He managed to turn the year setting back to 1995 before his parents caught him and pulled him from the clock. The store owner was trying to set it back to the right year but then a flash of light happened.
Did it work? Well it was back to the day of his birthday! I guess that's good and bad, it means he got the time right but he is going to have to relive all those horrible things for a 3rd time! Oh no! But wait, he got the bike and Tara didn't come in and scratch it. Where is she? Mom and dad don't seem to know who Tara is. Her room is now a guest room? Oh well, he had the best birthday party of his life? Maybe something about the flaw in that clock has to do with why Tara is gone? Michael examines the clock and notices that on the year gauge, the year 1988 is missing... The year Tara was gone. He really probably should go back in time and fix this. I mean... Maybe... Whatever, he might get to it... Perhaps...
What I Thought
I liked it! I actually thought it is one of the better books in the series so far. For once there was a character I felt pretty strongly about. Now granted I hated her, but those are strong feelings! And you were supposed to hate Tara. Also there was no twist ending that made everything stupid. Like... the clock also being a vampire, or him being a Benjamin Button kid and the clock having nothing to do with it or something.
Now I think this is an interesting example of not completely linear story telling for kids. I feel like they probably don't experience that much until they get older. Now granted it wasn't an extreme case of that, but they did do it. Michael explained about his recent life, then went back to days before, and then to days before that. I think exposing kids to flash backs like that makes them think a little more than usual. Also it sort of foreshadowed how he was going actually go back in time. If I didn't know better I might think he did it that way on purpose.
I liked how even though Michael knew what was happening when he was back in time, he was powerless to stop the terrible events from reoccurring. It wasn't some mystical force keeping him on the same track, it was just happenstance, perhaps things he forgot or couldn't figure out. But it was interesting how he was doomed to repeat the embarrassments.
Also it was interesting how the villain was sort of his little sister. I mean, usually there is some villain at work here, but the only despicable being working against Michael was Tara. The actual mystical things happening were just an accident, not the work of an evil wizard or a scientist or something. So while he was working to undo the time travel, he wasn't working against a villain. The only one he was clashing with was his little sister. And I think anyone who has a sibling probably knows about not getting along with them, even if it's not to this extent. I mean I had an older sister, but she was also pretty evil to me growing up.
So the favorite thing was the ending. Stine could have very easily turned this into some moral tale. He could have gone back in time and see how his little sister actually really loved him when she was little and was just going through a phase. Or he could have gone back and seen that he did something really awful to her when she was younger and changed it so she wouldn't have been so mean to her. But nope, Stine wasn't having any of that shit. He just erased her from assistance and shrugged and said "meh." And that is fucking awesome. I mean normally I would be for there being some sort of lesson or moral or something more to the story. But come on, the kid wished his little sister was never born and didn't go through some trite Jimmy Stewart It's a Wonderful Life BS. I approve.
Rating: 4/5 clocks
The next book in the series is Monster Blood III. That wacky blood is at it again I guess! I think Monster Blood is the most sequeled book he wrote, at the very least in the original series. Understandable, because it was one of the more popular books.
However, Halloween is coming up soon and I want to do something special for it. The past few years I have done some of the "Give Yourself Goosebumps" series of books, but I am doing something different this year. So check back on Halloween for that, and sometime in November for Monster Blood III.