It Came From Beneath the Sink! This illustration takes the title pretty literally. There is a sink and clearly "it" is beneath it. What "it" is however is in doubt. Spooky eyes to be sure. It looks vaguely reptilian. Is a raptor underneath the sink? I doubt it would fit. In fact, I am not sure what scary thing could fit beneath the sink, you got pipes and all sorts of cleaners and such down there. For some reason their cupboard beneath the sink must go far back. Odd design choice, just begging for monsters to move in. Beneath the sink seems like an odd choice for something scary to be. The basement (which has been covered in Goosebumps before), the closet, and beneath the bed seem like more classic choices. Even the attic would work. This might as well be titled "It Came From My Underwear Drawer." Would be scarier in my opinion.
It's warm, it's breathing, and it doesn't do dishes. Is the tagline. Which is weird. The "doesn't do dishes" part is fine and good but, it's warm and breathing? Those aren't scary descriptions. "Please sir, describe the beast that ate your wife." "Well officer it was warm.... and breathing!" Most living things are warm and breathe! Doesn't make em scary. Presumably anything with creepy green lizard eyes would breathe. So really, I don't get it.
The back tagline is "Their Luck's About to Go Down the Drain..." Which is better. Applies to the sink, which is right there in the title. It's an actual phrase people say applied in a relevant way. Usually it's a way to just say you're having bad luck, but their luck is literally going down the drain to where "It" comes from.
Predictions as to what this book is about. There is a Narnia like portal in their kitchen that delivers cute seeming beasts that are actually evil and trying to conquer the world. The only way to get rid of them is with Draino. Do I actually think that will be what the story is? No, but it would be pretty cool.
Tween main character = Katrina "Kitty" "Kat" Merton. Goofy little brother = Daniel "The Human Tornado." Inaptly named cocker spaniel = Killer. Location = New house 3 blocks away from old house on Maple Lane. First jump scare = Daniel in a rat costume. Sorry, I am having a tough time finding the motivation to put any effort into this.
Ok, All back. That's better. So anyway Daniel the brat doesn't believe in a living sponge, at least one that doesn't have square pants (ok so that reference is anachronistic) but Killer being so interested convinces him and now the kids fight over it, because if there is one thing kids love it is a breathing sponge. Anyway when trying to inform their parents about this momentous discovery Dad has an accident where a light fixture falls on his head while he is on a ladder and he falls nearly breaking his ankle. Parents seem to think Kat pushed him but clearly twas the sponge that committed the crime.
Now Kat decided to throw the dumb thing away but the next day Daniel and his friend Carlo have rediscovered it. The encyclopedia says sponges don't have eyes but this creature does... sometimes. Carlo
thinks it is pretty rad and wants to borrow it, but the Mertons decide to keep it locked in a gerbil cage so it can't get out and run amuck like sponges tend to do.Unfortunately in the midst of caging it Daniels hand got eaten. Or not, end of chapter cliffhanger jump scare! Gotcha! But then something bad actually does happen when Carlo steps on a nail! Kat expresses how she wishes she never found the stupid sponge (which is somehow responsible) and as the narrator she explains that it is too late for them all. I guess later in the book the creature will go on a murderous rampage of leaving nails strewn about? The end of days will come when man is locked in an eternal struggle vs sponge beast.
In brighter news Kat's birthday is tomorrow and she is going with her friends to WonerPark to ride some roller coasters! Yay! Also Kat is planning to have her teacher examine sponge thing to see what it is. However, on the way to school a huge branch falls from a tree straight towards Kat! A "Kat little" pun later, little bro saves the day by pushing her out of the way. Strangely the sponge seems to hyperventilate when bad things happen. When Kat shows her teacher the sponge thing it doesn't breathe at all, but then the teacher smashes her fingers in a drawer and the sponge goes wild! Of course with injured fingers the teacher doesn't give a damn about investigating it.
Anyway Kat's belief that the sponge isn't bad luck is being put to the test. Their dog Killer ran away. She blames the Grool and throws it against her wall somehow managing in the process to stab herself with a pair of scissors. Carlo wants to borrow the Grool because what is cooler than a bad luck sponge? Kat seems fine with it but Daniel is legitimately worried about Kat dying. She decides to humor him and keep the stupid thing.
The bad luck continues when Kat's birthday party gets rained out. That's when she comes up with a plan to get rid of it. A complicated plan. A plan that requires a notebook so you can write down your ideas. The plan of digging a hole and burying it... Wait, why did she need a notebook for that plan? Anyway she buries it and then her brother disappears! ... Because he was hiding. He figured something terrible would happen. But things aren't so terrible. They go in to have birthday cake. Kat gets some sweet 90s presents like a discman and video games. There is even sparkling cider!
The good times can't stay for long though. The next morning she discovers that their entire lawn died. Damn
Later on Carlo sneaks off with the Grool. Of course they want it back for the whole "you'll die in 1 day" thing. They found him in the aftermath of a Grool related bike accident. He claims the thing is in his basket but it is nowhere to be found. They search around and even go down in the sewer where Kat sees dozens of rats (which in my opinion are scarier than a sponge.) Daniel thinks he found it when what he really found was a paper bag because he is clearly an idiot. But Carlo has an idea! He figures some other kids on bikes took it. You know, because all the kids just looooove sponges. I know when I see a kid has fallen off his bike the first thing I check for is any sponges he might be carrying. The kids who took it seem to be high schoolers. And they really really really want to keep the sponge? Why? Because high schoolers love a clean kitchen counter.The guy who has it tucks it into his pocket and goes to hit a baseball which beans him in the head. Oh Grool, you are the greatest. They get the diabolical thing back and then almost get hit by a truck. You rascally Grool! Then a bike tire gets shredded on a broken bottle. The Grool hat trick!
What I Thought
Ok first off, the cover of this book is a fucking lie. There isn't some large terrifying big eyed creature menacing the sink, there is a fucking bad luck sponge. Sponges aren't scary. Sure a bad luck charm can be a fright but Stine did not put it in a menacing package. Now of course you could subvert the "scary" trope by having a very cute cuddly thing be evil, but a sponge isn't even that. It's just lame. I kept thinking about the movie Gremlins. He should have ripped that off a little. Like here is a thing that looks like a sponge but if you treat it like a sponge it will turn evil. Don't get it wet! Or make it a cute little creature like Gizmo that becomes more menacing when you don't follow instructions, or something. Or heck, make the bad luck charm something kids would actually be interested in! A cursed Tamagotchi pet. Make it "The Ring" but with a Nintendo game instead of a video. Maybe a cute family pet that turns evil when parents aren't around. But a sponge? So lame!
Anyway, if we forget that the thing in question is spongelike the story isn't quite so bad. It is a pretty common "this thing causes bad luck." Story. It's almost like these kids didn't answer a chain letter or something. The bit about it not showing off its aliveness around adults was good except for the fact that it was a boring sponge. Of course by now we've seen it happen 30ish times. Parents never believe. You know, RL Stine should write a book where the parents are being haunted and the kids don't believe them. It'd be all topsy turvery!
Now the end. The end reminds me totally of Ernest Scared Stupid (which is yet another childhood memory.) Of course, I am not sure which came first Scared Stupid or this book. I do think that Ernest did it better though. Smothering a gross warty snot dripping troll with love is way better than a stupid sponge thing. Also Ernest had Miak. No Miak in this book.
In conclusion sponges are lame.
Rating: 2 out of 5 sponges