Things That Go Bump

Re-Reading RL Stine's Bizarrely Beloved Goosebumps Series

Book the Twelfth: Be Careful What You Wish For… 02/10/2012

Filed under: Goosebumps — Christy Admiraal @ 9:12 pm
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Tagline: “It might come true.” (Seriously? The tagline finishes the sentence started by the title? My name is Christy Admiraal, and I do not approve of this idea.)

Premise: Samantha Byrd, an extraordinarily clumsy young girl, helps a crystal ball-wielding lady out of a jam. In exchange, said lady offers to grant Sam three wishes. Sam, who’s tired of being treated badly by resident mean girl Judith Bellwood, wishes to be the strongest basketball player on her team. Clearly, that’ll stop Judith from always saying, “Hey, Byrd, why don’t you fly away!” Unfortunately, the wish weakens everyone else and Sam remains a terrible basketball player. Sam’s next wish is that Judith would simply disappear. This causes everyone in the entire world to disappear. On her third go-round, Sam wishes everything would be the way it was before, except Judith will love Sam rather than hate her. This results in Judith developing stalker-like tendencies–showing up in Sam’s closet, cutting her hair to look like Sam’s, that sort of thing. THEN, seeing how unhappy Sam is with this, Ms Crystal Ball comes back and allows Sam to cancel her third wish and replace it with a new one. Sam wishes she’d never met Ms. Crystal Ball and that it had been Judith instead, Ms. Crystal Ball makes it so, Judith repeats her catchphrase, and Sam turns into a bird.

Yup, that’s right. The protagonist turns into a bird.

Outstanding.

Creepiness factor: Pretty low. Goosebumps titles tend to oscillate between scary and just plain weird. This one doesn’t ever really ratchet up the scare factor as much as it’s very, very silly–almost profoundly so, if a Goosebumps book can be profound. (Spoiler alert: it can’t.)

Signature Stine moment: Judith (intentionally) knocks the wind out of Sam at basketball practice. This is how it feels on Sam’s side.

“I uttered a weird, gasping noise, sort of like the honk of a sick seal–and realized I couldn’t breathe.”

Stine seems more self-aware than usual here, qualifying a pretty weak simile with “sort of like.” Hat tip, RL.

Accuracy of title: Accurate indeed, though the ellipsis is completely unnecessary.

Moral of the story: If someone offers you three wishes, don’t accept them. There’s no possible way it’ll turn out well for you.

Overall rating: 7.5/10. That’s right, I enjoyed Be Careful What You Wish For… just as much as I enjoyed The Haunted Mask. It strikes a great balance of goofy and compelling while putting a fun spin on the age-old concept of what one does with three wishes. Coming up: Piano Lessons Can Be Murder, which had perhaps the single most horrifying television adaptation I can recall. Exciting!

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One Response to “Book the Twelfth: Be Careful What You Wish For…”

  1. jessdewent Says:

    I used to have nightmares about Animorph books, so maybe I’d get a kick out of this one. With her, you know, turning into a bird and all.


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