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!

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