Things That Go Bump

Re-Reading RL Stine's Bizarrely Beloved Goosebumps Series

Book the Thirtieth: It Came From Beneath The Sink! 10/30/2012

Filed under: Goosebumps — Christy Admiraal @ 8:32 pm
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Tagline: “It’s warm! It’s breathing! And it doesn’t do dishes!” (Guys, I can’t tell you how much this tagline delights me.)

Synopsis: Kat and her family just moved into a new house and everything about it seems great. There are balconies and extra rooms and even a demonic sponge beneath the sink. Oh, wait, that last part isn’t a good thing! The sponge, Kat and her brother Daniel soon find out, is an ancient creature called a Grool that feeds on pain and suffering. That’s why it seems to pulsate and chuckle and grow whenever someone gets hurt in its general vicinity. Friendly little guy, that Grool. Kat and Daniel desperately want to get rid of the Grool, but if they give it away, they know they’ll die within 24 hours. (Death sponges come with a lot of caveats.) And it cannot be killed by any violent or negative means. However, that doesn’t mean it’s immortal, as Kat finds out when she tries being nice to the Grool, cooing to it, singing to it, telling it how much she loves it, and even giving it a kiss. The Grool shrinks until it’s nothing but bits of fuzz, Kat and Daniel’s dog comes back home, all those flowers that died reappear (what?), and everything’s great again. Of course, there is still that other ancient creature, the potato-like, energy-sucking Lanx, hanging out underneath the sink, but that’s a story for another time.

Creepiness factor: More disturbing than creepy. The idea of something that feeds on suffering is a little disconcerting, but this never feels legitimately scary.

Signature Stine moment: Don’t worry, they’re back in force, and I found some great clunky foreshadowing this time around.

“I lifted my eyes to the plastic cage and glared at the Grool. I felt a deep hatred for the little creature.

‘If one more bad thing happens around here, I’ll bury you,’ I promised it. ‘I’ll bury you so far in the ground that no one will ever find you or see you again. Ever.’

It was a promise I would soon have to keep.”

Accuracy of title: 100% accurate. Yes. Yes, it did.

Moral of the story: Not entirely clear. I guess I’d say it’s to be resourceful and clever, but that’s not really a moral, is it? Or don’t move into a new house. Or don’t touch the evil object beneath the sink in your new house. It’s one of those three.

Overall rating: 7/10. This is not a terrific Goosebumps book but it’s pretty enjoyable. And now that I’m done with it, I get to read the next Night of the Living Dummy. So there’s that.

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Book the Twenty-Ninth: Monster Blood III 10/22/2012

Filed under: Goosebumps — Christy Admiraal @ 7:15 pm
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And we’re back!

Tagline: “Evan’s growing up way too fast!”

Synopsis: Evan of Monster Blood and Monster Blood II fame is back, and this time he’s babysitting his freakish cousin Kermit. Kermit is a seriously unlikeable mousey looking kid who likes mixing chemicals in his basement laboratory. (Also, he has a dog named Dogface. This seems worth mentioning.) Kermit also has a tendency to cause mischief and force Evan into taking the blame. So Evan’s pal Andy decides there has to be a way to teach Kermit a lesson, and it probably involves Monster Blood. So Evan and Andy add Monster Blood to one of Kermit’s experiments, it causes an explosion, and somewhere in the fray, Evan ingests Monster Blood. Giant boy-related chaos ensues, that irritating bully from Monster Blood II resurfaces, and Kermit never gets his. He does concoct something to turn Evan back to normal size, though, so I guess everything’s OK. Or something.

Creepiness factor: Not scary. Not remotely. Monster Blood is not a scary concept, nor has it ever been. And I’m sure it won’t be when we hit Monster Blood IV, either.

Signature Stine moment: There aren’t enough of them. But hey, at least we have a detailed description of one of Andy’s neon-heavy outfits.

“Andy was wearing a sleeveless, hot pink T-shirt over bright yellow shorts and matching yellow sneakers.”

Accuracy of title: Yeah, whatever.

Moral of the story: Maybe just avoid Monster Blood at this point in your life.

Overall rating: 5.5/10. This is a serious letdown, considering what came before it. It’s not particularly clever and does nothing original with the Monster Blood trope–not that there’s much left to be done. I’m really hoping It Came from Beneath the Sink! isn’t this lackluster.

As an aside, I’m in the midst of a Goosebumps TV series mini-marathon on the Hub right now, and it’s just as delightfully awful as I remember it. Night of the Living Dummy III even involved a young Hayden Christensen! I can’t tell what’s weaker on this show: the special effects, the acting, or the writing. What I’m trying to say is you should probably be watching this, too.