Judging a Book by Its Cover
It's Halloween so I'm going to deviate from the original series to the "Give Yourself Goosebumps" Series. May I just say that that ape is going bananas! Har har har. But for real, that lab monkey seems to be in charge. He doesn't seem to be keeping his lab in very good order either. Whatever that liquid is seems to be spilling everywhere. Remember, in science the more interesting the chemical is, the more green it is. I think he is working on the formula for Hi-C Ecto Cooler which by the way is back and is still delicious. As you can see I had some while reading this book.
Once again I feel like the illustrator for most of the Give Yourself Goosebumps who took over the duties from the guy from the original series just isn't quite up to par. Something about the chimp's face is just a little off. Still it's a pretty good cover. It's a nice action shot. I am left wondering, is he Dr. Eeek? Or has he escaped the clutches of Dr. Eeek? Also, I didn't know they make lab coats in chimp sizes. I guess it is a little small as his biceps are busting out of it. This chimp must be shredded.
As per usual the "ooze" dripping graphic on the Give Yourself Goosebumps series is full of glittery shiny stuff. It gives off a fun vibe rather than a spooky one. I get why they did it, shiny objects impress kids. They're like magpies.
So if you are unaware "Give Yourself Goosebumps" is a "Choose Your Own Adventure" style of book. Instead of reading straight through you are giving branching choices. Like "if you eat the peanut butter go to page 11, if instead you eat the jelly go to page 93." Most endings usually result in death. There tends to be a couple "good" endings, and few endings where you don't die but everything is not great. I'll be doing 3 read throughs of this book taking different paths. Will I manage to get the good ending? Let's find out!
These books star "you" the reader. So I'm at Eeek Laboratories with my friend Sam. I'm looking for my mom who just started working here working with THE Dr. Eeek. While we're waiting for her Sam takes a glass of clear liquid from the receptionist's desk. He's sure it's just water but I'm not convinced. Because I'm a fucking idiot I think Labs just leaves chemicals in glasses on their receptionists' desks. He does a convincing Mr. Hyde impression before announcing it is indeed just water. First choice up ahead. Do I sit here and wait for mom or go and find her?
I'm feeling adventurous so I go out to track her down. We wander through the hallways and easily get sidetracked by a vending machine. While selecting our junk food of choice we are accosted by a chimp the size of a gorilla. Why it couldn't have just been a gorilla which is equally scary in its own right is anyone's guess. Turns out though, instead of wanting to eat us he just wants a candy bar from the vending machine. We can either follow him or go back to the waiting room and wait for my mom.
I will not be swayed by my quest by some sugar addicted ape. To the waiting room! My mom is there, but we're late and now we have to go straight to bed instead of going to the movies. I am also ridiculed for not having a sense of adventure. Well pardon me book for COMPLETING THE TASK THAT WAS GIVEN TO ME! I guess it would have much rather me died a horrible death!
Back in the lab with Sam waiting for my mom. Because I need to be adventurous apparently, I go off to find her, once again meeting the giant ape. This time, however, an inexplicable sense of ADVENTURE overtakes me and I follow the chimp. He leads us through the hallways until we meet a man in a lab coat who demands to know what we are doing here. A legitimate question given the circumstances. He seems to know my mom so things are cool. He introduces himself as Yzark (which is Krazy backwards the reader may notice) and the chimp is Oscar.
After introductions are over it's time to see his work. Apparently he has been teaching chimps to play checkers and video games. I bet he got a government grant to do it too. Oscar the chimp wants us to join the apes inside. As I am obligated to be adventurous, I go along with it. We get locked in with them. That seems a little odd an unnecessary. As soon as the door closes the apes close the shades and it becomes clear that Oscar is in charge here. Dr. Yzark get a treat and heads to his cage. Is this the beginning to a reboot of planet of the apes?
Yes it turns out that the apes are in charge here. This is a chance for them to study humans, an interesting and seemingly intelligent species. And it looks like they got two new specimens. Ok book do you see what being adventurous gets you? Locked up by damn dirty apes! I was mocked for getting home with my mom and getting to sleep in my own bed so now I'm in a cage. Thanks a lot!
Ok, in the lab with Sam. Waiting for mom. Instead of going off if the freakin' ape this time I'm just going to sit tight and wait for mom. Instead of mom a short lady named Vanessa greets us. She thinks we're here for some sort of Raster experiment. It will net us 50 bucks CASH. But I'm not here for some sort of experiment. I'm here for my mom. Vanessa goes off to get the infamous Dr. Eeek. He's wearing his lab coat backwards and has an odd squint.
He leads us to a genuine science lab with beakers and Bunsen burners and shit. It even has this weird green goo that the longtime Goosebumps reader (such as myself) might assume to be Monster Blood. He tosses the green goo which he calls G-substnce to Sam. It starts to grow up his arms and cover him all over. Dr. Eeek leaves, and we try to claw it off to no avail. Eeek returns and demands that we finally co-operate with the Raster experiment. We give in, and agree but the goo is still consuming us. Surely this is the end.
Luckily at the last minute Dr. Eeek whips out a sonic screwdriver that calms the goo. He leads us to a room with seats and headsets. Sweet, we get to test out the new Oculus Rift! I'm totally down for this. The graphics are great. We are in a tropical island. Falling. Wait what? Luckily I miss the rocks below and fall into the water. While drying off my virtual clothes I see a large Komodo dragon which is really dangerous. I mean not as dangerous as a Hungarian Horntail but still I probably don't want to get bitten. I could run, or I could freeze. You know I bet they are like a dinosaur and their vision is based on movement. I'm going to freeze.
It seems this isn't the way to go. The Komodo dragon appreciates the easy meal and starts chomping on me good. It seems I'm dead, in virtual reality. Does that mean I'm dead for real? It is remarkably unclear. Seriously, the book doesn't tell me. I did however get a "Game Over" so I guess I'm done reading.
What I Thought
I didn't do to well. Books like this are hard to review of course because unless you read every ending you really haven't read the "whole" book, but ain't nobody got time for that. So I guess I just have the 3 tries to go off of. I didn't get as far as I'd hoped.
So what was good? Well the setting was excellent. A crazy laboratory is the perfect setting for a book like this. All sorts of possibilities. Weird experiments, creepy doctors, so many things can happen! I mean even in my short read through I experienced cutting edge virtual reality, was attacked by a menacing ooze, and was made a lab human by a group of intelligent apes. Three very diverse sci-fi happenings, imagine what else could occur? Also I think the fact that it stars "you" works well specifically for this particular type of book. It may not be the best gimmick in the world but I bet young me loved it. Plus it's not like you have time to develop a protagonist anyway (not that Goosebumps protagonists are particularly well developed.)
The shortcomings? Well they are the same in this book as they are in every Choose Your Own Adventure style book. In an effort to get a couple dozen plot lines in there, you sacrifice quantity for quality. Also, your choices don't necessarily play out logically or anything. What you choose to do might as well be chosen at random because there is no real clue to make the "right" choice. It would be interesting if your knowledge of the main series of Goosebumps helped you navigate through these books. Granted that might make them sucky for people who don't have that knowledge.
So did this book particularly stand out among the legions of other books of its ilk? Not really. That being said it also didn't blow chunks. I had fun to the extent I read even though I didn't get a longer better ending story line. If I was young and dedicated I probably would have been driven to read every ending or at least until I got the best one. In fact, when I was a kid that's probably what I did.
Rating: 3 out of 5 science chimps
I am hoping to get back to the main series and the next entry would be The Horror at Camp Jellyjam. I really hope to get it done in November. Will I? Probably not. I am terrible at remembering to do these things each month. That said, I INTEND to do it. Intentions, eh? This is at least the second "Camp" Goosebumps book after Welcome to Camp Nightmare. By comparison camp Jellyjam sounds delightful. Delightful? Wait no, I meant delicious!