Things That Go Bump

Re-Reading RL Stine's Bizarrely Beloved Goosebumps Series

Book the Fifteenth: You Can’t Scare Me! 03/04/2012

Filed under: Goosebumps — Christy Admiraal @ 8:10 pm
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Tagline: “They’re coming for you….” (Yes, another four-period ellipsis. Terrible.)

Premise: Remarkably skittish protagonist Eddie and his friends (including a kid referred to only as “Hat,” after it is explained that no one has ever seen one without one) are sick and tired of class hotshot Courtney showing them up, making them look foolish with her fearlessness. So they decide it’s high time Courtney get embarrassingly terrified of something. After failing, time and again, to scare Courtney, Eddie cooks up what he thinks is the perfect plan, bribing his brother and his brother’s friends to dress up as Mud Monsters, basically a hyper local version of Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster. According to legend, the Mud Monsters rise up once a year–on the night that Eddie and his friends convince Courtney to scope out the monsters in the woods. In the end, the Mud Monsters are real. Yes, that’s the twist: the monsters we’ve been familiar with since the beginning of the book are real. There’s no contrived or fun twist here, just the dullest conclusion we’ve seen yet.

Creepiness factor: Extraordinarily low. I get that the Mud Monsters might pose some kind of threat, but they don’t do anything. They just stalk after Eddie and Company until we get some clunky denouement about how long ago that fateful Mud Monster Return Night was, and how scared they all remain.

Signature Stine moment: The only thing about this book that isn’t signature Stine is the lackluster ending. But since it’s been a while since we’ve had one of these, here’s an overly specific description of Eddie’s friend Molly’s outfit, which she wears when playing croquet with Eddie, Hat, and Charlene:

“She straightened the bottom of her yellow t-shirt over her black Lycra bike shorts and prepared to take a turn.”

It’s a good thing it was clarified that those shorts were made of Lycra. Otherwise the visual just wouldn’t have been complete.

Accuracy of title: Not particularly accurate. Yes, the book is about scaring the unscareable, but the title implies that the protagonist is fearless, not the presumptive antagonist.

Moral of the story: Local legends are true. That’s literally all there is to it.

Overall rating: 4/10. This is a largely un-engaging book further marred by an unsatisfying ending. Here’s hoping One Day at HorrorLand can help me get over it.