December 5, 2011


Sorry I haven't updated in awhile, I've been busy but I'll try to get the next review up before the new year! Regardless, Happy Holidays and don't let the cold weather give you Goosebumps.

October 12, 2011

#5 Curse of the Mummy's Tomb

Judging a book by its cover:

It's a mummy.

... Did you want me to say more? I don't have much to go on, it's kind of a boring cover. I mean, the mummy picture is competent enough but it's not very fun or imaginative. The tagline on front is, "What will wake the dead?" Not this illustration, that's for sure. Maybe the back has a better tagline...

Something dead has been here...? Well of course something dead has been here, it's a freakin' tomb! Where are the stupid puns or plays on popular phrases that tend to grace these covers? A bit of a let down but maybe the book is better. I do remember one of the Goosebumps books about mummies being my favorite of the series, is this the one? Lets find out!

Getting Goosebumps

This book stars young Gabe who is one of the only main characters with a name I remember after reading it. This however, is mostly because Gabe is kind of a dumb name. Regardless, Gabe is in Egypt with his parents visiting his Uncle who is a scientist that studies the pyramids. I also remember the Uncle's name, because it is Ben. Uncle Ben, like the rice guy. Stine even goes out of his way to call him "Uncle Ben," at every opportunity. All I could think of is the rice guy. Anyway Uncle Ben also has a daughter named Sari that constantly competes with Gabe to be the most annoying character in the book. I don't know if there is a clear cut winner.

So one notable thing is that this is written in first person, like Welcome to Dead house was, but all the other books thus far have been third person. I had some qualms about the first book being written that way, but Stine did a much better job this time. It came across more as a young kids perspective, instead of a middle aged man trying to make a young kids perspective. Unfortunately it's also kind of whiny. In fact I wonder if I thought these kids were whiny at the time or it just seems that way now that I'm old and curmudgeonly. Who knows.

Anyway, Plot! So Gabe is here with his parents in Egypt but they have to leave to do... something. This is a common occurrence in Goosebumps but it is more interesting here because he is in an exotic location. Good old Uncle Ben is recruited to serve him rice watch him. Despite being a serious scientist he is also a jokester. Our first meeting of him is when he and his daughter burst into the hotel room Gabe is alone in, dressed as mummies. It scared the bejeezus out of him, but his uncle and cousin found it hilarious. It was kind of a fitting scare because Gabe is way into mummies. In fact he has a mummified hand he found at a garage sale back home. I am not sure I want to know what sort of neighborhood he lives in that you can find goods like that at garage sales.

Well if Uncle Ben is gonna watch this young fella he might as well bring him into this immense unexplored totally not dangerous pyramid he is researching. Nothing bad could happen there! Besides the creepy silent Egyptian dude Ahmed is there to keep them all safe by warning them about a terrible curse. Excellent! Naturally the kids wander off and get in trouble. Those rascals. The whole time Sari tries to drown out Gabe's whininess with her own brattiness. The next day they have to stay at the hotel, which seems reasonable. Do they do it? Nah, they are smart kids they can totally handle themselves in a foreign country that speaks a language they don't know. They wander off to the museum which they browse for awhile before Ahmed the creepy scientist dude shows up and tells them their dad wants them back to the hotel and even though it isn't only a couple blocks away he insists on driving them there. They soon realize he is driving AWAY from the hotel. Fearing he is kidnapping them they run away.

I've been surrounded by mummies myself...
Dad is kind of confused by this, and also worried that two of his workers are dreadly ill. Could the curse be real? Better take the kids back to the pyramid to find out! But this time he has a fool proof plan to keep track of them... Beepers! This foolproof plan is foiled by the fact that he and Sari totally ditch Gabe almost immediately after entering the pyramid and Gabe is too much of a putz to use the beeper so instead he wanders off and falls into a chamber where he is surrounded by mummies. Mummies everywhere! Some are standing up, some are laying down, or propped up against a table. Kind of a weird way to spend eternity isn't it? Amazing accidental find by Gabe! Too bad he is getting swarmed by bugs. In his stumbling around he finds Sari who scolds him because she is sort of a bitch, and is just as lost as he is. Then comes Ahmed the creepy scientist attempted kidnapper. Turns out the curse he speaks of is real, because he is the one who carries it out. He is descended from the line of a 4000 year old priestess who swore that anyone who defiled her tomb should be cursed. Cursed of course means murdered. Ahmed wants to turn them into mummies while they are still alive.

Good news! Uncle Ben shows up. Bad news! Uncle Ben is a pussy. He gets knocked out and they are thrown into sarcophaguses. Sarcophagi? Anyway, turns out Egyptians put escape hatches on them so their souls can escape. I'm no Egyptian expert so I have no idea if that is BS or not, but one would think Ahmed the ancient Egyptian scientist woulda known this. Since he didn't, they escaped! Almost! Ahmed finds them, and is about to hand Uncle Ben's ass to him again when Gabe decides to do some ridiculous bullshit. For literally no reason what-so-ever he pulls out that mummy hand trinket and holds it above his head while spinning around. He even admits he has no idea why he did it. So what did that do? Well it woke up all the freaking mummy's because that just happened to be the hand of the 4000 year old priestess. Of course. Well they chase off Ahmed and then go back to their eternal slumber. They all celebrate by going back to the hotel and eating scrambled eggs. Then Gabe's parents show up. The end.

What did I think of it?

Well if this really was my favorite Goosebumps book back in the day I'm not entirely sure why. I mean it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great. The fact that it was in an exotic location like Egypt was kind of fun, and this attempt at a first person narrative was more successful than the previous but it was bogged down by several things.

First off, I can't help but feel that even back in the day I would have felt like these kids were overly bratty. I could see kids kind of identifying with Gabe though. Despite the fact that he is kind of a brat himself the way he sort of despises the snobby brat-like qualities of Sari seems familiar.  I know I had some bratty cousins I loathed having to spend time with. Of course if one of my cousins is reading this, it was totally not you, it was one of my other cousins!

Also, when I told my friend I was going to reread all my Goosebumps book he told me to get used to hearing the phrase, "I opened my mouth to scream but no sound came out." I half-way remember this, and silent screaming has already appeared the books but this is the first time it appeared that way basically verbatim, and twice. If you can't find new ways to phrase it maybe you should stop using it? I have the feeling it is just the beginning of that phrase though.

The ending was pretty disappointing as well. I thought I was going to like it more because it started wrapping up far earlier than previous novels so I thought it would be a little more coherent and less out of the blue. Then Gabe ripped out that stupid mummy hand for no god damn reason and I groaned. That ending wouldn't have bugged me as much if there were actual allusions to it, but it was just out of nowhere. It simply existed as a device to wrap shit up.

Plus: Uncle Ben. Why'd he have to be called Uncle Ben. And Always Uncle Ben too, never just Ben, or Uncle. Uncle Ben. Every single time I thought of the rice guy. Maybe that's just me though.

Perhaps I'm being overly negative though. I could have had too high expectations since I remembered this book as being my favorite. The fact they were outside of typical suburban family neighborhoods was a nice change. There was more to worry about than just the super natural problem. There were pits to fall down and scorpions to sting. It added some extra tension and worry. In fact, the supernatural was really just tacked on at the end.

All in all it was decent enough, I just hope the sequel is superior and I can remember why one of these mummy books was my favorite.

Rating: 2 Mummies out of 5

Up Next!

Let's Get Invisible! What do I remember about this book? Almost nothing! Presumably someone gets invisible. Seems like we are on kind of a streak of obvious classic movie influences. From the Mummy to the Invisible Man. I really hope to get the next entry done faster than I did this one. Check back soon and see if I succeed with that goal.

August 30, 2011

#4 Say Cheese and Die

Judging a Book By Its Cover
Here we go, the Goosebumps book with what is probably my favorite title ever. It evokes both humor and terror! That cover really backs up the concept. A bunch of skeletons having a barbeque really highlights the fun horror can have. Of course being a Goosebumps book none of this is really scary, but that's sort of the point. This cover is clearly trying to have fun with the concept of fright, which is what I really think the Goosebumps books were all about. It's all summed up by the front caption which reads, "One picture is worth a thousand screams." It's actually pretty clever as far as these things go!

So this book is about some kid that finds a camera, but when he takes pictures they are all wrong. For example if he took a picture of you, the picture would have a black eye and you'd be like, "hey, I don't have a black e-" Then a hobo would have come out of nowhere and hit you in the eye freaking you right the heck out. Contrary to the cover I don't believe the book details some sort of barbeque apocalypse but instead some more subtle terror, like after several pictures that detail minor accidents that later come true a picture is taken where the person it is of isn't in it at all so they all freak out and think something terrible is going to happen to that person. Will something terrible happen? Lets find out!

Getting Goosebumps
The book kicks off with a group of kids complaining about the city they live in. "Pitts Landing is the pits," they say. Already it's obvious these aren't the most clever kids in the world. They debate about things to do to cure their boredom. There is Doug who is nicknamed Bird oh so creatively because he looks like a bird. Also Michael who tells shitty jokes. And Greg who is the main character and RL Stine a middle aged man has to awkwardly write text proclaiming him to be an attractive teen male. Finally there is Shari whose only discernible trait thus far is that she is female.One suggests they go to the comic book shop and get the new X-Force Comic. I'm pretty sure it's a real life comic, some sub-group of the X-Men. I'm wondering if Stine knew that or just made a random name that could be a comic book.

Anyway, instead of good wholesome comics they end up going to "The Coffman House." If this was a terrible movie, lightning would have struck exactly as I said that. The Coffman House is your typical spooky abandoned house. It has stories of haunting and the supernatural. As Stine puts it, "Most likely none of them were true." So it's pretty obvious something supernatural is in fact going on there. Though the spookiest thing we hear about is that a weird lanky guy who dresses in black called "Spidey" hangs out there.

They explore this place and Bird acts like he is in serious trouble. Turns out he was just playing a joke, because he's a total asshole. They bring up the boy who cried wolf, but Bird just continues being a smug asshole.

Then it happens. Greg, who just so happens to be very interested in cameras, finds a camera in a secret compartment in the basement. Stine goes through great efforts to explain that Greg feels like he shouldn't take this camera. Not because of moral reasons mind you, but simply because he feels like something bad may happen. Some odd curse, omen, or what have you. Whoever hid this away, obviously did it for a reason... but not because he didn't want it stolen, what are you, crazy?

So the camera thief goes ahead and takes a picture of Michael. The camera seems to be some sort of Polaroid dealy where it spits out the photo and you have to wait a bit for it to develop. Shortly after the picture taking, the railing Michael was leaning against cracked and he fell, messing up his ankle. Naturally this is when they hear footsteps upstairs. The escape via a back way out, carrying the gimpy Michael. Immediately when they get outside since there is no more tension or drama Michael's leg inexplicably is all better. What about that picture they took? It showed him mid-fall even though they took it BEFORE he fell, ooooooo!

Before they can ponder that too much Greg has to hurry home with his stolen goods. He notices his dad's brand new Ford Taurus station wagon which he admires waaaay too much for what a run of the mill vehicle it is. You'd think it was a Lamborghini or something.Of course he's gotta take a picture of it! How'd it turn out? Crystal clear? Any bad reflections, or over-saturation? Is the car in the picture completely wrecked even though in real life the car is fine? That last one? I bet dad really wants to go on a family drive now? He does? How's that gonna turn out? Well they ALMOST get completely flattened by a truck, but manage to swerve at the last minute. There, nothing to be afraid of about that spooky cursed stolen camera after all!

This guy sure is out of focus!
Now it's time to take a picture of Greg's older brother Terry in his room. He makes a goofy face of course. The camera however goes through its evil built in photoshopping techniques to make the picture of Terry looking totally horrified outdoors. What a wacky camera! It must be broken! Seriously that is his rationale for this. The camera is broken. I know Kodak's # customer complaint is that their cameras seem to predict horrible futures for people. It's right on top of the FAQ on their webpage. Later they take a picture of Bird at a baseball game that shows him sprawled out unconscious on the ground. Yup! It's broken alright! Bird says, "it's out of focus." I know I always confuse "knocked unconscious," with "blurry."

Well Greg and Shari try for awhile to pry the camera open and see how its evilness works. The camera however can't be opened. Then they notice bird is actually laying on the ground unconscious now! Actually, he was just faking it because I've already stated, he's a huge asshole. I hope he gets knocked out for real soon! Oh wait, he does? Awesome! Bastard deserves it. And right after he gets knocked out by a line drive for real, Greg's brother shows up looking terrified, just like in the picture! He informs them that their dad was in a horrible car accident. Man, when this evil camera rains, it pours!

Well they visit dad in the hospital and there are actually some parts that are pretty well written, describing how Greg can't focus. His disconnect from the reality of the moment. All he sees are colors blurring together. I was actually kind of surprised by some unique and well done description. Kudos Mr. Stine! Anyway it turns out dad just broke a crapton of bones but is otherwise just fine. The evil camera is obviously going to have to try harder! It's going to have the opportunity too...

Next up is Shari's birthday. She wants Greg to bring his camera to take pictures of everyone because horrible accident make for great parties. She is unreasonably intent on Greg using the camera given that she knows all the events that have transpired. I mean, she knows the pictures "turn out weird." And that's the whole reason she wants him to bring the camera... Never mind that all the pictures have corresponded to real life horrifying real life events! Begrudgingly he takes a picture of her, but when it developed she's not in it. He tries again and the same results. They decide to act like reasonable young teens and go into the woods to play truth or dare. When they come back out Shari is missing. It's almost like she... vanished due to an evil camera! The police show up and Greg sorta tells the police about the evil camera but for some reason the cop just doesn't take it seriously.

I assume they'll be bullies in the next book
Greg is as you imagine pretty shook up from all these occurrences. He slowly makes his way back home from Shari's. He comes home to a completely torn up room. Everyone is gone visiting his dad, who could have done this... Oh yeah, SPIDEY! That dark drifter dude they haven't brought up in awhile. He must want his evil camera back. He discusses this with his friends the next day and they argue with him because returning stolen property is totally unreasonable! The friends want to play with the evil camera! They scuffle and accidentally a picture gets taken. Just then a pair of older teenage goons show up wearing heavy metal t-shirts. Just like in the last book... but these are different heavy metal hooligans. Apparently in RL Stine's world all bullies love Metallica. Luckily these head banging bullies are also lazy and don't chase them for the camera. Oh yeah, and what about that accidental picture of Greg? Well Shari (who is still otherwise missing) is in it and they booth look terrified...

Greg laments ever taking this camera. It is almost bordering on a morality tale at this point, and in a fit of anguish he rips up the last few snapshots he took. A little while later Shari calls and explains that she felt like she had disappeared for a few days and had no recollection of what had transpired, like she just vanished for awhile... Did it have anything to do with the fact he ripped up the pictures? Mayyyyybe...

Now Greg is positive the only thing to do is return the camera to the creepy old house Spidey stays at. I remind you, this isn't because of any remorse of the theft, but purely because he doesn't want bad things to keep happening. Besides the camera's "bad luck" there is the fact that Spidey tore up his bedroom. So when they see Spidey come up to them at the baseball field do they give it back to him? Nope, they run the heck away. He follows them for a bit until a neighbor bumps into them and asks if the creepy guy is chasing them. Spidey decides it would be wise to go hide in the shadows.

So later on the kids go to the spooky house to return the camera to the guy they just saw chasing them for the camera they had that they wanted to return to him... Right. So they go sneak into the creepy old house he's squatting at, and what do'ya know, Spidey shows up! This is where the origins of the camera are explained.... Kinda. Turns out Spidey was a scientist and his friend invented this camera. He stole it to make money off of it, and pointed out the folly of his greed. His friend as it turns out was even more evil than he was. He was into the "dark arts" and cursed the camera! You know how the aborigines supposedly think cameras steal your soul? This camera actually does! And now that the kids have returned it and he told them all about it they can never leave because they know too much. He could have, ya know... not told them anything and just skipped town... but no instead the creepy drifter who has been spotted chasing children is going to get rid of them. Why would police ever suspect him? ... Because he is a creepy drifter that has been spotted chasing them? Ludicrous!

There is a struggle to get free and grab the camera. They manage to flash a picture of... something, and make their way upstairs. Once they get up they realize he wasn't following. He was... dead! I was right, this IS a morality tale! The kids are guilty of breaking and entering (twice, theft, murder, and everything turns out a-ok! They even lie to the cops, telling them Spidey was dead when they got there and they just went into the house to get out of the rain. Kids could learn so much from this book...

Anyway, in the final moments of the book adding the little twist, or sequel setup Stine usually does, the heavy metal douche bags have found the camera and take a picture of themselves. Who knows what will develop!

What do I think?

Man, where do I begin. The book's premise was interesting. Rather than a supernatural monster or ghoul of some sort it was interesting having the "cursed" inanimate object. In this book I noticed less unknown hands grabbing shoulders from behind, and screams of terror that come out instead as silence. Granted there was a fair deal of people faking incidents to scare people which is common in these books. Overall it felt like a pretty unique entry though.

But then there is the "digging deeper." This is the first book I really felt like I could try and find a message beyond the general story. I joked about it while explaining the storyline but I'll talk about it more now. It seemed like at times it was really pointing at being a morality tail. Greg knew he shouldn't take the camera, and he knew he had to return it... But why? It wasn't any sense of decency. It wasn't because it was "wrong" to take it. It's the camera that was evil, and not the fact that he stole it. I am not sure that I really want Goosebumps to tell moral tales, but if you are going to do it, do it right.

Also of note, is the ending. I have notice a trend in the last couple books to just sort of quickly reveal something and wrap up the book. I am not sure anyone even needed to know where the camera came from or why it was cursed. I think the halfassed explanation kind of ruined it. Actually I was kind of hoping Spidey turned out to be a nice guy, like the creepy shoveling neighbor in Home Alone.

Ultimately however, it was a fairly unique and decent entry to the series. In a series of 60 some books, an interesting premise is sometimes enough to make a book stand out a bit.

Rating: 2 1/2 Haunted Cameras out of 5

Up Next!
Book 5 Curse of the Mummy's Tomb. I remember one of the mummy books being one of my favorite Goosebumps books but I don't remember if it was the original or a sequel. I seem to think it might have been Return of the Mummy that was my favorite so I am interested in straightening this out!

Also, I'd like to mention that I think my next entry is going to be shorter. The way I do things now is I have my laptop up while I read and I take notes and flesh out a big entry at the end. I think the next time I'm going to just read through the book and sum up from memory. It will go quicker in both the reading and writing, and I think may wield better results. I feel like so far my entries may be getting a bit "tl;dr"-inducing. If you're a reader (and I do have one bon a fide follower right now, yay!) feel free to let me know what you think. Check back soon for the next book!

August 6, 2011

#3 Monster Blood

Today I'll be revisiting Goosebumps Book 3, Monster Blood. I remember this being one of the more popular entries in the series, and wouldn't be at all surprised if it was his best selling book. There were 3 direct sequels to this book in the original series alone and I am willing to bet he revisited it in at least one of his newer series.

What do I remember about this book? Well, I believe that this kid goes to an odd shop and buys this mysterious stuff called Monster Blood, and despite the salesman's warning he feeds it after midnight and it turns into a Gremlin... No wait, that was something else. I am pretty sure he does buy monster blood from a weird store though, and I am not sure whether or not the salesman warned him about it or not, but I believe the stuff starts growing like crazy and I think an animal eats it and gets big... or maybe that was one of the sequels?

One memory of this book, is the Spanish version of it. In my elementary school we had a weekly Spanish class, and in 5th or 6th grade the teacher had a copy of Monster Blood in Spanish that she would loan out to people. Unfortunately all I had learned in her class was how to say, "Hello, my name Juan. How are you?", as well as a bunch of fruits and vegetables, number, and colors. Since it was Monster Blood and not "How are 6 Green Apples Named Juan," I was at loss for reading it and I am pretty sure everyone else was too. It was interesting that the books had achieved the level of popularity to be translated though. Anyway, enough with the memories, lets get cracking!

Judging a Book by Its Cover

Lets see, we have some green goop which is presumably the monster blood flowing down stairs. Stuck in the goop are a pair of glasses. Did the monster blood eat a nerd, or does it have an astigmatism? You know it kind of reminds me of the "Ooze" that mutated the Ninja Turtles. I think there were a few real life products going around that were like this fictional monster blood except the only disaster they ended with was getting stuck in the carpet and making your parents yell at you. I know they marketed a real life version of the turtle ooze, and there was this similar stuff called "Gak" that was all soupy and squishy. They all usually came in little containers like silly putty or play dough, the only difference is you couldn't do a damn thing with them. You would roll em around your hand for awhile and go "ewwww" and that was basically it. They weren't mold able, and if you used them too much the would get cruddy and gross. I wonder if they marketed a real life version of Monster Blood? It wouldn't surprise me, Goosebumps was a marketing machine.

Anyway, so the tagline on the front is, "It's a monster blood drive!" Which I suppose is moderately clever. The tagline on the back is "Blood, blood, everywhere..." which is kind of horrifying if you think about it. Before you understand that the monster blood in question is just a slimy substance and not actual blood from some monster it seems... especially gross. I would, however, read an RL Stine book about a guy who goes around stabbing monsters and collecting their blood but I'm not sure that would have gone over real well, especially with parents...

Oh well.. What is there to say about this really? Green slime, green slime, green slime. This was the perfect book for the Nickelodeon generation. He could have written a crossover where the slime from double dare starts devouring contestants!

Anyway, lets jump to the book and see what actually happens.

Getting Goosebumps

Well this book stars a family that needs to move to a new house... because apparently every family in Goosebumps has to have a recent move involved! Thankfully there isn't too much else overly similar in this book when compared to the previous 2. This one stars a 12 year old boy named Evan, who is an only child. For reasons that I don't think are ever elaborated on, his family needs to move to Atlanta, and quickly. Since mom and dad are going to be busy with that, they drop young Evan and his old cocker spaniel Trigger off with his crazy old Aunt Kathryn. Staying true to the actions of young males in the series so far, he gets overly emotional and throws somewhat of a tantrum. Luckily he tends to get a little less moody as the book goes on.

So about that crazy old Aunt Kathryn, what makes her so crazy? Well for starters she is totally deaf and refuses to learn sign language or lip reading. She doesn't do much communicating with people, as you would guess. She is a large woman with dark black hair and a very mannish sounding voice. Oh, also she has a black cat, any crazy old lady wouldn't be complete without a cat. She completes the whole motif by continuously joking that she is a witch... or maybe she's not joking?

Well Evan doesn't care much for being around his weird aunt and his mom had given him 10 bucks to buy himself something while he is there, so he decides to head into town. On his way in he meets a girl named Andrea, who insists he call her Andy. After a weird conversation about stupid names, and stupid things, they both decide to head to the local toy store. Evan finds a dusty old can labeled Monster Blood in the back and decides to buy it. Andy is really jealous and wants some herself, but it's the only can. The owner is rather reluctant to sell it because it is "no good" and "too old." Eventually Evan convinces him to sell it to him anyway, I'm sure he wont regret this purchase!

They take it back to his aunt's place. She seems mildly interested in seeing what it is. After inspection she tells him to be careful. Nothing ominous about that! Well the kids play with it in various ways. The stuff does all kinds of stuff, it glows in the dark, stretches out, holds its shape in a ball, and bounces when you drop it. Sounds pretty neat, I hope it's not evil or something! They go outside to play because it stains things... and you know the first thing you do with a goopy mold-able toy of sorts is bring it outside! I know the first thing I do with a fresh batch of silly putty is play with it out on the lawn... Anyway, so the dog ends up eating some of it. Andy gets pissed because now there isn't enough to share. Evan however, seems a little more concerned on whether or not his dog is gonna... ya know... die.

Well the dog doesn't die, and time goes on. The aunt keeps joking that she is a witch and Evan starts thinking that she may be. It doesn't help that he notices she wears a bone as a necklace and talks to her black cat which she describes as being "evil." All this things definitely send of the "maybe she really is a witch" vibe.

Imagine the twins like this... only 15.
The weird aunt isn't Evan's only problem though . One day he was going to visit Andy and he got jumped by two 15 year old heavy metal loving twins. Andy shows up while they are hassling him, and they decided to quit hassling him and steal her bike instead. She is rather familiar with these neighborhood bullies, and refers to them as two "heavy duty dudes." Did people in the 90's talk like that? I mean, I was there and I don't remember people talking like that... Oh well.

In reality the bullies may be the least of his problems. When he gets home he discovers that his dogs collar is too tight and is choking him. He manages to gets it off and wonders how it shrank, or alternatively thinking that perhaps his old dog had grown. That would be crazy right? Later he discovers that his monster blood had grown and was oozing out of the can. There couldn't be a connection could their?

Then Evan goes to bed. When he wakes up he discovered that his dog has DOUBLED in size. Since its a cocker spaniel being double sized would make it about, oh 50 or 60 pounds? Or as RL Stine puts it, "the size of a pony." Seriously Stine, you think a pony is twice as big as a cocker spaniel? Well fortunately it was just a dream so rational measurements don't matter. As Evan wakes up he realizes that actually he had been the one growing and was now totally enormous! Wait, that was another dream. What is this, the movie Inception? Well I wouldn't know because I've never seen that movie. I just know that this false waking up chapter was 2 pages long. Seriously, two pages. I know this crap is supposed to be easy to read, but come on!

Anyway what is really growing out of control is the monster blood. It outgrew the can, the coffee can they replaced it with, and a large bucket to replace that. Evan decided to stick it in a large bathtub he found in the basement. His aunt's cat scared the crap out of him and knocked him forward into the tub and it felt like the monster blood was pulling him in. He managed to get himself out but quickly realized this was getting out of control. He and Andy filled up garbage bags with it and decided to take it back to the toy store. The store was out of business. Who saw that coming? Almost everyone. Couple this with the fact that the heavy metal twins beat the crap out of Evan and it seems like perhaps things are just not going his way.

They head home and notice Trigger has actually "doubled in size" now... ya know... to the size of a pony... and this dog manages to knock over the garbage can that the monster blood is now in. The huge mass of green glop goes crazy and seems to be alive. It's coming after Evan, and manages to roll over and envelop a robin. The weirdest thing to me, is that Monster Blood seems to be bouncing around like a Spheroid from the Ball Planet on Futurama. As this stuff bounces around like mad, the heavy metal twins show up again just in time to be consumed by the Monster Blood. Then the Monster Blood heads inside after Evan's aunt. What does this weird old lady have to say about all these goings on? "I made this thing now I must die for it." Apparently the whole "maybe she is a witch" thing has some merit...

Well it turns out her cat really IS evil. She turns into a woman and it's revealed that she cast spells on Aunt Kathryn to keep her deaf so she would have control over her. Seems like there may be better ways to make someone your servant, but oh well. Anyway it was the cat who forced the aunt to cast a spell on the Monster Blood because she was worried that Evan would find out about the secret and free his aunt... it's not like he was pretty much totally avoiding his aunt because she was weird or anything, or like he was leaving very soon. In fact right before this hubbub he found out that his parents found a house and were going to pick him up any time now.

Well the Aunt thinks that she can die and the kids will go free. Evan and Andy however know too much... because she just explained freakin' everything to them, so they have to die. She commands the Monster Blood to come eat them but once again que the giant dog to come in and knock something over. This time it was the cat-witch-woman into the Monster Blood. It seemed to consume her all, leaving no remains and then for some reason the monster blood started disappearing revealing a scared but still alive set of twins who run the heck away. Just then, Evan's mom shows up. Boy does she have some things to be filled in on!

The book gets wrapped up quickly. Kathryn now can hear and explains everything to the mother. Evan and Andy awkwardly promise to keep in touch even though he is moving. She wants a piece of the monster blood to keep as a memento of sorts but mysteriously... it's gone...

What do I think?

Man, I really didn't see the "cat is a witch-lady" thing coming. I remembered a whole bunch of the book very well but that part I didn't remember at all. I knew his aunt was involved somehow, and remembered she turned out to be "good." But... man... the cat is a person controlling her? Didn't recall that at all. Maybe because the ending was exceedingly short. The ending, however, wasn't the only thing that was short, this book has crazy short chapters. It was 128 pages, with 29 chapters which means the average chapter length is like what... 5 pages? I swear there was a chapter that was hardly one page long. Seems unnecessary.

Regardless, I think this was yet again an improvement to the series. I like that it featured a boy who was a single child, and was staying with an extended familiar member. It felt like a pretty decent change from the last two books. The book also continued to exude the notion of kids feeling powerless or unheard which I think was pretty relate-able to its audience. I liked the heavy metal bully twins. They were kind of an added "enemy" besides the obvious supernatural one we all knew was coming. Plus, A simple toy turning evil is a pretty fun premise from a kid's perspective I'm sure. Though it was obviously inspired by movies like "The Blob," it felt pretty unique for the series and I think there is a reason this is one of the more popular books.

Still it is funny seeing all the silly things Stine does in each book. Once again there was a point in this book where an unknown person startled him by grabbing his shoulder from behind. I really wonder if its going to happen in every book because so far we're 3 for 3. Also Stine loves throwing out references to stuff like Nintendo and Indiana Jones to appeal to kids.

Fun book, my favorite so far and I am kind of curious to reread the sequels to it.

Rating: 4 slimes out of 5


Up Next!
Book 4, Say Cheese and Die! is next up in the series. It is probably my favorite book title in the bunch except maybe for its oh so creatively titled sequel, "Say Cheese and Die Again!" Be sure to check back and see what I have to say about this one, maybe it'll be even be clever or funny or something!

July 30, 2011

#2 Stay Out of the Basement

Judging a book by its cover:

There's something waiting in the dark....

Ah now here is a cover with a little more character than just a "creepy house" as per last book. Stay out of the basement, because there is a green handed dude down there! However, the tagline on it, "There's something waiting in the dark...." is still pretty bland. I am reasonably sure the first time I looked at it I was oblivious to the fact that the hand has little stems and leaves all over his hand. Maybe they could have used the line, "Leaf him alone!"

See, this book, as I recall and the short teaser on the back confirms, is about some kids with a father who spends all his time growing plants in the basement. He is either growing weed, or trying to engineer a race of evil plant people... Actually I don't really recall what his motivation is. Was he just way into plants and the human-plant-monster-thing was a happy accident? Or was he plotting this all along. Seems odd that a father would be purposely doing that. I am just going to stick with my theory that he's trying to grow some primo weed and something went wrong. The result of course is, (as the back tagline says) "Live plants.... dead people?" Which... really doesn't make sense. I mean I don't think it is based off any saying, it's not clever. I am not really sure  what is up with that. That's 0 for 2 in taglines this book. Hopefully he is saving all the clever writing for the inside of the book.

Let's find out!

Getting Goosebumps

This book is about an intelligent girl in her tweens with an annoying 11 year old brother that have recently moved into a new house with their parents... Wait.. This sounds familiar! Luckily besides perhaps reusing a few stock characters things are different here than in Dead House. Most notably that this book uses third person instead of first. Like I thought, this works far better.

Anyway, Margaret is the main character here, with her brother Casey and her parents Dr. and Mrs. Brewer. They have moved to California fairly recently because Dr. Brewer (a botanist) got a job at the labs of "Polytech." He got fired and has been spending all his time in the basement growing plants. Mom's sister in Arizona winds up in the hospital for reasons I don't believe are ever specified, however, it is implied it is important enough for mom to go be with her but not important enough for people to worry she's gonna die. Thank goodness!

The first few chapters show the kids being kids. They drink juice boxes, play frisbees, call each other dork, mention "playing Nintendo," the movie Robocop, and Casey watched an unspecified Schwarzenegger movie.Given that it is mentioned lots of stuff gets shot at and blown up I'm guessing it's not the 1994 classic, "Junior." All this certainly does detail the era and up the nostalgia factor.

Unfortunately it's not all fun and playing Nintendo. Dad is acting strange and ignoring them in favor of the mysterious goings on in the basement and with mom leaving the kids are worried. It doesn't help that at the end of chapter 1 dad semi-threateningly tells them to "stay out of the basement." Twice! I kind of expected them to say the title in the book, but so soon, and twice? Seems a little premature. Surely they will stay out of the basement after this prompt and stern warning!

Que their friend Diane. She shows up full of typical youth-filled boredom and curiosity. Wondering if perhaps her friends' dad was a mad scientist she cons them all to go check out the basement using the ultimate motivator: calling them chicken. So of course they all go down there and discover a basement full of jungle-like plants. Lots of vines, ferns, stems, stocks, and the word tendrils get tossed around like crazy. I liked the fact that they all reach out and touch the leaves of one odd plant. It's not like any plants ever gave anyone terrible rashes or anything! Fortunately instead of making them itch all these plants did was breath and moan. Wait, are plants supposed to do that? No?

Predictably dad finds out they didn't STAY OUT OF THE BASEMENT! And while he is upset with them he doesn't yell at them or punish them in any way. In fact he acts distant and weird. Margaret catches him eating plant food. She sees him shed green colored blood. Also, he hasn't called her by any of her nicknames in a long time. Nicknames like "Princess" or "Fatso." Yes, Fatso. Don't worry though, it's not offensive because she is extremely skinny. I am pretty sure it is sound parenting to call your young daughter fatso. I am positive the fact that she is underweight has nothing to do with this loving nickname! To add to the oddness he has been wearing a baseball cap all the time. This can only mean that a) he has decided to be a dodgers fan. B) he is trying to mask the fact that he is going bald. C) he has leaves and stems growing out of his head. I'll let you figure out which is correct.

Dad understands the kids are concerned however and is ready to put their minds at ease. All that is going on is that he is using the basement to genetically engineer a race of half animal half plan monstrosities. I know my mind is at ease!

Later on Dr. Brewer's old boss Mr. Martinez shows up. Turns out he is interested in the work he was doing and wished he didn't have to fire him. Great to see that someone appreciates his fine work in the field of monstrosity engineer! This and the fact that mom is heading home put the kids at ease. Finally everything can go back to normal. Before that however, perhaps they should take another trip to snoop around in the creepy plant filled basement to find some kites, because if there is any way to celebrate your mom coming home it's with some good old fashioned kite flying! So what do they find in the basement? Mr. Martinez's pants. I assumed he was just doing a little "pollinating" with their dad, but the kids think something more sinister is going on. There is thudding coming from a large cabinet which seems to confirm these suspicions. Inside they find... their dad! But their creepy, distant, inhuman, plantlike, probably evil, dad is gone picking up their mom. Who could this tied up guy REALLY be?

Well after bit of debate Margaret finally decides to rip the tape off of tied up dad doppelganger who informs them that the guy walking around looking like him wasn't really him, it was a lab accident plant-clone that looks like him. He expressed all this with human concern and emotion. They untie him, but he goes crazy and grabs and axe. Just then mom and other dad show up. Mom does the only thing she can do, and yells, "No" because you can't yell "what fuck is going on?!" in a kids book.

Que the "which one is the real one" scene. The Dr. Brewer with the baseball cap informs them that the tied up escapee isn't really their dad, he is a plant. The escapee responds as closely to "I know you are, but what am I?" as you can respond without getting sued by Peewee Herman. To break up the insanity mom yells at the kids because it is obvious it is their fault that there are two versions of her husband.

Well escaped dad pleads with them using emotion and concern. The other cold emotionally distant dad acts... cold and emotionally distant. There is no telling which one is human! While one keeps droning, the axe wielding one gets more and more worked up. Margaret thinks dad would never act like this... ya know, trying to destroy all the evil monstrosities he unleashed on the world. He'd want to lock em up in a closet and keep working on them, clearly! But then the escaped dad calls her Princess. I guess he didn't think calling her Fatso would have the right effect at this time, but good ol' Fatso had a surefire way to tell if he is really her dad. She stabs him. It reveals red blood, meaning he is their real dad unlike the green blood giving fake, and then dad takes care of business and chops the fuck out of plant dad with his axe. Turns out he really was just steams and whatnot on the inside. Oh yah, and Mr. Martinez was found locked up in the cabinet too, all safe and sound.

Anyway things go back to normal. Dad gets his job back, which is fitting for a scientist who tampered with nature and unleashed a crazy plant monster that took over his life and could have done only god knows what to the world. He gets rid of almost all of his breathing, moaning, hellish, tortured plants. Only a few normal plants are kept, replanted in the back yard. The basement is turned into a game room. All is well. The end.

Oh wait and the last sentence says a little yellow flower tells Margaret that it is her real dad.

And they all lived happily ever after!

What did I think of it?

I thought this was an improvement over dead house. I was a little disappointed by the fact that there were a bunch of character similarities. The son and daughter in this book are pretty interchangeable with the last one, but I guess he was trying to write them very hard as very "average" children. Really the most important character in the book was Plant-dad who did get a fair amount of characterization. Some of it was pretty silly, but that's to be expected.

There were other reoccurring things I found kind of lame. For example, there was yet another scene with the young girl trying to count to fall asleep. Couldn't' come up with anything else besides counting?  There was of course at least one moment of someone grabbing her shoulder from behind and startling her only for her to realize it wasn't who she was concerned about. If this keeps up over 60 books it's gonna get kind of annoying.

More positively however, I think this plays on a real fear kid could have. Having your dad acting strange, like someone else who can't be trusted is an eery thing to think of as a youth. Going between wanting to trust him because he is your father, and being skeptical because of the weird goings on is a smart thing to play on.

Also of note, the actual writing of the book felt more solid. There were less run-ons and fragments. Things felt a lot less clunky because of this and the fact that he switched to a third person narrative. The fact that his narrative "voice" is almost entirely unchanged by the move explains why first person just didn't work well for Mr. Stine.

Ultimately the greatest strength of this book over Welcome to Dead House is that Plant Man is far more unique and interesting than a generic haunted house. All hail Plant Man! With that, please enjoy this music video:


Rating: 3 1/2 evil plant things out of 5. 

 Up Next!

Check back next time for Book 3 in the series: Monster Blood. I remember this one being extremely popular. I think it was one of the few ones that got a direct sequel. Actually off the top of my head I think it got at least 2 sequels. Until then feel free to spread the word of this blog if you like it. There are all sorts of buttons on this thing so "like" it, "+1" it, leave a comment, subscribe to the rss, link your friends to it, all that good stuff. Or not. Just checking back and reading more would be cool too.

July 24, 2011

#1 Welcome to Dead House

Judging a book by its cover:

This blog is about so much more than the actual contents of the books but the actual exerpience of Goosebumps. The Oozy Logo, the two-tone color schemes, the silly taglines, all of. Since this is the first book I'll probably touch on it a bit more than later ones since so much of it will apply to the whole series, but here we go.

It will just kill you

Look alive!
Ah yes, now this just feels so familiar. The look is so iconic. It's funny how it is really simply and appealing to children without feeling like it saying THIS IS FOR CHILDREN! The Goosebumps logo actually has pressed up bumps- a nice touch that I had forgotten about. The cover art for this kind of a generic looking spooky old house with a creepy gnome looking dude peaking out the window. Each book always had a tagline for the cover art. This cover art's is "It will just kill you." Not the most clever thing in the world. There is also usually one on the back if I remember right. This one's "Look Alive!" Slightly more clever with the double meaning and all. You know I am not actually sure who did the cover art for the books and the inside doesn't seem to mention it. Sucks to be that dude! Although assuming the same guy did all of them (and they do seem to all be similar style) he probably made a bundle.

If we go inside the book we can see that he already had the next two books out (or on their way)
when this one was released. I wonder how many books at a time they contracted him to write.

In back there is a listing of books you can mail away for. I remember this being pretty common for kids books. Interestingly even though the front of the book lists 2 more books in the back you can buy books 1 through 20! I guess this is good evidence of my "I didn't start reading until the teen number books" theory.

Well the fact is, I remember very little about this book. Actually, I always remembered it being "Welcome to THE Dead House." I'm not sure why my brain added the 'The." So beyond this book being obviously about a haunted house of some sort I can't recall details.The back of the book says it's about kids named Amanda and Josh moving into a spooky house in a strange place called "Dark Falls." Their parents don't believe them. Shocking! They want to make friends, but their potential new friends want to be friends.... FOREVER! Ooooooo. Well then since I have nothing else to say about it, time for me to read the book. Be back in a second!

Getting Goosebumps

So now I've actually read the book. It's written in a first person perspective from the view of 12 year old Amanda. Being the first book I reread I'm really wondering if first person narration is standard for the series. I suppose it would make sense, but it makes for some awkwardness. Stine does an acceptable job of narrating for a 12 year old girl some times, but then there are times where he tries to shove in details that and author would and it just doesn't make sense. Why would Amanda tell you what kind of shorts she was wearing when things are happening? Also the Stine-ster really enjoys starting sentences with "but." I get that sometimes this works out just fine. But it doesn't always make sense.

Anyway, Amanda, her 11 year old brother Josh, and her parents I don't remember the names of but that doesn't matter because they aren't particularly important, inherit a house from a great uncle that no one knows in a place called Dark Falls. Nothing odd about that right? They go there to check it out and of course everything is spooky. There are tall spooky trees, with dead spooky leaves on the ground. Their house is big and spooky. Stine probably uses slightly better descriptors, but that is the gist of it.

A dude name Compton Dawes is showing them around the place while Amanda's brother Josh is busy being a whiny bitch. This whiny bitchness continues pretty much through the entire book. At the end of the first chapter he is missing! Unfortunately he gets found. Turns out their dog Petey ran away and Josh had to go find him at, where else, the cemetery.. The dog is tweaking out and barking at everything which standardly means, "this shit is haunted, yo." Just because throughout the rest of the book the dog happens to bark at every single person in town doesn't mean they are all dead, does it? SPOILERS: it does.

So anyway they find the brat and the mutt and head back home to pack up for their move. At this point you can really tell Stine's trying to relate to kids. Amanda's having a hard time moving away from her friends. For youngsters with little life experience, this is something that they have actually probably gone through. I recall a couple of friends moving away, and back in the 90's you couldn't just be like, meh, we'll still message each other on facebook. You had to write actual letters to each other. Who is going to do that for more than 3 weeks? No one, that's who.

Amanda, by the way has the best friend ever even though no one expects them to be good friends. Why is that you ask? Well for starters, they look different. I'm shitting you not, this is the example given for why no one expects them to be friends. Amanda is tall and skinny, Kathy is sorta chubby. Amanda has dark hair while Kathy is blonde. How on earth did that friendship last?!

After their tearful goodbye Amanda's family heads out to make Dark Falls their home. It storms while they move in of course. Then Amanda keeps seeing people inside her house and hearing voices, but is it only her imagination? But she just making things up? But is it real or just in her head? Sorry, but the book asks it so often I just thought I would too. Of course she isn't imagining it, this is a Goosebumps book! If it was all in her head it would suck.

So she meets some kid named Ray and the dog barks at him and he introduces her to more kids and the dog barks at em and then the kids act menacing and the dog barks at em and that Compton guy shows up and the dogs barks at em and then the kids are nice again and the dog barks at em. GEE THINK THEY ARE GHOSTS? Well one day they are playing softball with the totally not ghost kids and their dog breaks loose from his leash. Amanda and Josh try to find em but can't so they go home where there mom tells them to eat dinner before they look for the dog some more. Seriously? You can't go cruise around dog searching in a car for awhile before eating? Isn't the family dog a little more important than PB and J?

Well eventually they rode around in the family car looking for Petey but the parents gave up because they had more important things to attend to. Party time baby! Gotta go have cocktails with the neighbors, who cares about some dog. They ditch the kids and go off gallivanting about but do the children give up? Yes. At first anyway, until midnight when Josh has a brilliant idea: Maybe the dog is at the cemetery like he was the first time? Could it be? They get flashlights and head there. On the way Ray the first boy they met in town finds them and wonders what they are doing. He seems oddly disturbed by the flashlight and tries very hard to keep them from getting to the cemetery. Not suspicious at all.

Oh but they got to that cemetery all right. They found some weird outdoor auditorium there, the tombstones of all the friends they just made in town.They also found Petey! Too bad he was dead... well undead. Still though ghosts kill a dog in this book? Harsh. They didn't even do a good job of dog killing because I didn't cry my eyes out. Old Yeller this is not. Anyway turns out Ray was "The Watcher" which actually manages to sound way creepier than Ray "The Undead Spirit Kid." His job was to make sure Josh and Amanda didn't find out about their deadness. Way to drop the ball dude. Turns out he shockingly made up the dead great uncle story to get them in the house, and most of their other kiddy ghost friends had lived in that house, because they need "new blood" once a year. Unfortunately for Ray whatever form of zombism, vampirism, or ghostliness he was afflicted with seemed to not be very flashlight resilient because Josh definitely melted his flesh off. Do the undead need flesh? Apparently, because Ray seemed pretty dead-dead after that.

Despite the fact that they have a fool proof method to slaughter any of these dead dudes they book it home in terror. I get it, I mean even if you could stop these dead things it would still be pretty creepy and they had their parents on their mind. Unfortunately their parents were still at the party. All the ghost kids (sans Ray) show up to spook Josh and Amanda good and deliver the best line ever, "We used live in your house. Now we're DEAD in your house!" Clever shit right? Too bad it gets broken up by good old "Couldn't Be A Ghost" Compton who shows up to help. Turns out their parents were in trouble too! So Compton takes em back to cemetery where we find out *gasp* Compton is dead too. Apparently Dark Falls was a fine little community until some yellow gas was released. Now everyone is dead. "Dead and buried." Wait what? If they all died, who buried them? Did they each die one at a time until everyone got buried but the last guy? Why are there different dates of death on the tombstones? I guess the "new blood" they trick to come in each year would have a different date of death... but why on earth do they bury them? Is that really necessary?

But I digress, so light kills these undead guys and they have a flashlight so of course they take the utmost care of theirs right? Wait, no? They break it? Of course. Josh does however literally chuck it at Compton's head, so bonus points for style. They run away and find their parents tied up at the cemetery auditorium thing. If only it was getting to be daylight out! Oh, it is. Unfortunately for them this tree does a hella good job shading the cemetery. Unfortunately for the undead, the tree is old and brittle and the push it over, obliterating all the undead mofos.

The last chapter is really brief and pretty much explains that after the incident the family immediately packed up and got the hell out of there. Personally, if I just conquered a gang of ghouls and secured myself a rad uninhabited town I'd probably run wild for awhile, but I suppose high tailing it is also a valid option.

So what did I think of it?

You know this book is kind of hard to "review." I mean, is it cliche? Of course. Is it well written? Not particularly. It was competent enough and had more descriptions that I would have expected, but a bit of it was rather clumsy. RL Stine can't decide sometimes if he'd rather make a run-on or an incomplete sentence. It doesn't overwhelm the book, but as an adult it's noticeable.

One thing I did like however, is that he tends to leave you hanging at the end of each chapter. There are sort of mini cliff-hangers that keep you reading. Also, since the chapters are like 5 pages each it's hard to tell yourself not to read just one more.

I suppose that as an adult now I also appreciate that these are b-movies for kids. Not just subject-wise, but quality wise. I can also appreciate that there isn't anything essentially wrong with that. People who criticize them for being simple and silly are just kind of missing the point.

For kids, I feel like there was a bit to relate to. I already touched on moving away from friends. Beyond that, there was the fact that the parents never listened to the kids about the spooky goings on. Parents never listen, do they? And what do they get for it? Almost killed, that's what! Serves em right, kinda. 

I'll say though, that this book did feel a little overly cliche. The classic "haunted house" and dogs barking at ghosts... I don't know, I always remembered the series being a little more uniquely cheesy than this. Oh, and Amanda kept getting grabbed on the shoulder from behind, all. the. time. Who could it be? A ghost! No, it's only chapter 2. What about this time? It's chapter 3, so it's probably still not a ghost. Chapter 4, is it a ghost grabbing her this time? Nope!

Ultimately though, being a bit generic is a decent way to ease into things. If by book 20 I'm still complaining about how generic things are, I'll be disappointed. With titles like "Say Cheese and Die" and "Piano Lessons Can Be Murder" coming I think I wont have to worry about things being too overly generic though.

So lets get to some ratings:

How familiar was this book: About 40%
Just picking it up and looking it over I remembered very little. Actually reading it however I thought, "oh yeah, I remember that!" all the time. A lot of it blended in with other books in the series though. Tends to happen with books with over 50 entries I suppose.

Overall rating: 3 Tombstones out of out of 5.

Despite being first in the series, it's probably not the first one I'd recommend. Still, it does a decent job of setting the pace for things to come.

Overall all rating for this blog entry: 2 out of 5 interwebs

I'll be honest, I babbled more than I intended. Who is going to read a blog this long? We'll see I guess! I'm still working out exactly how things will go down, so don't expect each entry to be exactly like this one. Feel free to leave me constructive criticism. "You suck," is only valid if it you tell my why I suck!

Up next!

One thing I half forgot about Goosebumps is that they include a preview chapter of the next book in the series. This is kind of clever, but I don't think I ever actually read them because I usually already owned the next book in the series! Anyway, check back soon for book #2, Stay Out of the Basement.

July 22, 2011

It Begins

So if you're here and you don't know what in the hell this page is all about I made a convenient entry that may explain it a little bit, aptly titled What is this blog and why does it exist?. Go there if you have no idea what the hell is going on. If you do know what the hell is going on, read on!

The Unveiling: First Impressions

So here it is, my Goosebumps collection. I have books 1-39, 41, 42, 48, 54 of the original series. I am pretty sure there were about 60 original books and I didn't ever have every single one of them but I am pretty sure I owned #40. I am not sure why it isn't in with the rest of y books but I am almost positive I owned it and that it was Night of the Living Dummy III. Though a lot of these series is really foggy in my mind I kind of remember that book as being sort of the end of my enjoyment of the series. I stuck with it a little past that one but didn't feel compelled to get every book after it. That book in particular just seemed to exemplify the "more of the same"ness I had been feeling about the series.

Besides the original series I also have #1, 2, 5, 10 of "Give Yourself Goosebumps" which was a side series they had towards the end that were "Choose Your Own Adventure" style books. I am really not sure how many of these they ever made.

Also, while it isn't officially connected to the series I have one "Gooflumps" book. It was a parody series of Goosebumps made by an author who called himself "RU Slime." Clever, right? Again, I a not really sure how many there were and while I remember these books existing I remember very little about them.

Oh, and there were 2 cards in with these. They appear to be some kind of "trading card" that basically just has a picture of a book and random junk about them. I assume they came inside one of the books or something but I really don't know. These books were enough of a collecting job in their own right. I don't know if they really thought kids were going to collect cards on top of that?

So a few thoughts before I delve into the series more and actually look things up. One thing that strikes me is how utterly uniform the entire series is. Not just in the logos, layouts, cover art and whatnot but even just in size. They all seem to be almost exactly the same length, or at least book thickness. It makes me wonder how formulaic they were. I mean it goes without saying that these kind of books are going to go by a formula but to be so precise in length? You gotta wonder if Mr. Stine ever hit 100 pages and was like "oh shit, I gotta wrap this up."

Also, wouldn't RL Stine be the absolute best puzzle answer for the final round of Wheel of Fortune? I mean, you get RSTLNE as free letters, you could nail that shit.

And now I've looked up some actual facts!

So apparently the original series ran from 1992 to 1997. I would have been 7 when it started and 12 when it ended. I probably started reading when I was about 8 or 9. There were 62 original books. That is a pretty impressive output. The "Give Yourself Goosebumps" series I've already mentioned had 50 books (8 of which were "special edition" books and I have no idea what the hell that means.)  These were made from 1995 to 2000. Jesus Christ. With these 2 series alone this man wrote over 100 books from 1992 to 2000.

Shall I go on? Well lets see, he wrote 8 collections of short stories that went under the titles "Tales to Give You Goosebumps" and "Goosebumps Triple Header." The former I vaguely recall existing but never read. The latter I had absolutely no idea about.

Apparently from 1998 he made a "new" series of goosebumps books called "Goosebumps 2000." I think what happened was when he "finished" the series in 1997 after a few months he thought to himself, "You know what I miss? Paychecks." There were 25 of these made and I absolutely don't remember that these existed. Their covers look pretty intense though...

After this I guess there was a planned series called "Goosebumps Gold" that never happened for some reason. And now? Well apparently there is a new series still going on called "Goosebumps in Horror Land" that started in 2008 and has 20 or some books already.

I'm seriously starting to wonder if this guy uses ghost writers (which would be fitting, ya know.. GHOST writers? har har har...) or what. All this stuff and it doesn't include his Fear Street series of books which were also spooky books aimed at youths (though perhaps slightly older ones.) There was the Original Fear Street Series, New Fear Street, Fear Street Super Chiller, Cheerleaders (which apparently was a Fear Street Series?), Fear Street Saga Trilogy, Fear Park Trilogy, Cataluna Chronicles Trilogy, 99 Fear Street: The House of Evil, Fear Street Sagas, Fear Street Seniors (if this is about Old people I totally want to read it,) Fear Street Nights, Ghosts of Fear Street, and god knows what else? This guy is a literary madman!

Anyway, even though all these series exist, I only plan on focusing on the Goosebumps books I owned and read as kids. I may try and flesh out the end of the original series collection with trips to the thrift store but who knows. I also wouldn't be opposed to visiting the newer series, but first things first.

So now that I have this out of the way it's actually time to go through the books one by one to read and discuss them. I have no idea how often I'll get to update the blog but ideally at least once a week I'll be posting. So check back soon for my entry for Goosebumps Book 1: Welcome to Dead House.

(Did I mention that RL Stine apparently also wrote books under the pen name Jovial Bob Stine? Makes sense, that is one jovial looking dude.)