Things That Go Bump

Re-Reading RL Stine's Bizarrely Beloved Goosebumps Series

Book the First: Welcome to Dead House 12/29/2011

Filed under: Goosebumps — Christy Admiraal @ 10:44 pm
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Premise: Amanda’s family inherits a big, spooky house from a distant relative. Upon moving in, Amanda begins seeing children traipsing throughout the house. Soon enough, she encounters said children and more around the neighborhood. She and her brother spend some time with them and discover within 100 pages that all the other kids are dead, and they think it would be really, really cool if Amanda and her family were too.

Creepiness factor: Extremely low, but we do get this delicious passage when Amanda’s brother Josh shines a light on ghost boy Ray: “Ray’s skin seemed to be melting. His whole face sagged, then fell, dropping off his skull. I stared into the circle of white light, unable to look away, as Ray’s skin folded and drooped and melted away. As the bone underneath was revealed, his eyeballs rolled out of their sockets and fell silently to the ground.”

Signature Stine moment: This exchange among Amanda, Josh, and their father.

“But, Dad, it’s so weird!” I insisted, still feeling scared. “The curtains were blowing like crazy, and the window was closed!”

“There might be a pane missing,” Dad suggested.

“Amanda is a pain!” Josh cracked. His idea of a really witty joke.”

(Fact: R.L. Stine wrote joke books pre-Goosebumps. This makes sense somehow.)

Accuracy of title: None. “Live House” would be a better name for Amanda and her family’s new home, as it’s where living people go before moving on to skulk about the town, as the dead do.

Overall rating: 4/10. This was not a notable Goosebumps title, though that face melting bit was just riveting. I don’t think it deserves a haiku. But we’ll get there.

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Reader Beware

Filed under: Goosebumps,Well Hello There — Christy Admiraal @ 7:57 pm

Today, I read a Goosebumps book.

It wasn’t really scary, and it wasn’t really suspenseful. I saw the twists coming from a mile away, and there were no grounds on which I could sympathize with the characters.

But none of that mattered, because R.L. Stine’s 50+ book series isn’t really meant to frighten readers. It’s meant to make reading more appealing, it’s meant to be an escape, and more than anything else, it’s meant to be fun. And you know what? It is. The relatively flat characters, the cartoonish settings, and the entirely obvious plot twists make the books what they are, lovely little diversions that provide more pure enjoyment than most classic children’s literature ever could.

And that’s why, dear reader, I’m going to read these suckers one by one and tell you about them. I’ll tell you when they were at their creepiest, explain how you can tell it’s the nineties, and maybe even write a haiku or two. I’d be willing to bet it’ll be fun for me. And hopefully, it’ll be fun for you, too.