Friday, January 27, 2006

#10 the Ghost Next Door


#10 the Ghost Next Door

Front Tagline: There's a strange new kid on the block...
Back Tagline: "How Come I've Never Seen You Before?"

Official Book Description:
Hannah's neighborhood has just gotten a little--weird. Ever since that new boy moved in next door.
But when did he move in? Wasn't the house empty when Hannah went to sleep the night before? Why does it still look deserted?
She's not getting any answers from her new neighbor. He just keeps disappearing in the oddest ways. And he's so pale...
Is Hannah being haunted by...
...the ghost next door???

Brief Synopsis:
Hannah Fairchild is having a boring summer at home after all her friends leave town for the break. She tries writing to them but they don't ever seem to write back. She spends some time with her little brothers, even making a campfire in the backyard and telling ghost stories one night, but it doesn't really seem like enough. However, the day after having a horrifying dream about her room being on fire, she meets her new next door neighbor, Danny. She doesn't remember Danny moving in and he claims he goes to her school and though they are supposedly in the same grade they don't any of the same people. Hannah begins to suspect that Danny is not all he seems, as he keeps disappearing into thin air everytime she turns around. It is then that she makes the logical conclusion that this boy is a ghost.

After she spies Danny downtown with a pair of trouble-making kids, Alan and Fred, she is persued by a shadowy figure. This same shadowy figure will persue her more and more as the novel progresses, even slipping out of the bushes in front of her house and threatening her to stay away from Danny! All the while Danny is getting into worse and worse trouble with his excursions with Alan and Fred. The two dare him to steal ice cream cones and destroy mailboxes. After they are caught trying to break the Postmaster's mailbox and Danny gets treated in a less than Fragile manner by the man, Alan and Fred tell Danny that they have to get back at the Postmaster! Naturally, Hannah has been following the three around town the entire time and has spied the whole ordeal! She tries to warn Danny but he is less than responsive to her pleas, especailly when she accuses him of being a ghost. This is immediately followed by Danny accidently putting his entire hand through Hannah's chest and running off in hysterics.

Turns out that Hannah is the ghost. Approximately two minutes after she figures this out, a realtor shows up at her house and explains in the most expository passage in Goosebumps history that Hannah's entire family died five years ago when their house caught fire. As if that wasn't bad enough, turns out the fire was started when Hannah didn't extinguish the campfire in the backyard. If you hadn't figured out already, this is by far the most depressing and guilt-inducing novel of the series.

Hannah sort of experiences weird black outs of time and when she wakes up she attempts to stop Danny from getting into perilous danger but she scares the hell out of him again and he takes off on his bike. Luckily in RL Stine World, ghosts can ride bikes so Hannah gets on her bike and rides to catch up with him. No I don't know if the bike died and that's why she could ride it, but thanks for asking.

Hannah catches up with the three as they break into the Postmaster's house and set it on fire while still inside. Alan and Fred manage to escape but they leave Danny in the burning house: it's up to Hannah to save him! But who should appear but the shadowy figure! Okay, bear with me, because I know this is confusing, but it makes exactly as much sense in this synopsis as it does in the book: Hannah pulls down the shadowy figure's hood to reveal Danny's face. The Shadow-Danny tells Hannah that Danny must die in the fire so that he, the Shadow Danny, can live and the real Danny can take his place in Shadow World. What.

Hannah escapes Shadow-Danny's grasp and rescues Actual-Danny, leaving Shadow-Danny to burn in the flames. In the ambulance Danny tells his mother that Hannah rescued him but she acts like he's crazy. After all, Hannah and her entire family died five years ago in a fire. Hannah realizes that in a case of celestial ineffeciency her entire family was put back on Earth in ghost form to make sure Danny didn't also die in a fire. What.

But the Twist is:
...there is no twist. The book ends with Hannah calling out to Danny as she goes to join her family in the afterlife.

the Platonic Boy-Girl Relationship:
Hannah Fairchild, the bored girl next door, and Danny Anderson, the mysterious boy next door whose hand disappears into Hannah's body half-way through the book.

Questionable Parenting:
When Hannah's younger brother throws a ball at the stovetop while her Mother is cooking breakfast, the mother threatens to cook and serve the ball. Now, I'm no gastrological science expert, but I'm pretty sure you shouldn't feed children balls.

Early 90s Cultrual References:
Hannah wears an outfit composed entirely of DayGlo neon colors.

Reinforcement of Negative Stereotypes Alert:
The city's Chief Postal Inspector threatens twelve-year old children repeatedly that he will go after them with his shotgun.

R.L. Stine Shows He is Down With the Kids:
Knocking over mailboxes, stealing ice cream cones from local parlours, these are some James Dean-level shenannigans.

Official Dream Sequence Tally:
3.

Memorable Cliffhanger Chapter Ending:
Ch. 16/17:
Hannah goes up to her room to go to sleep when suddenly the shadowy figure is by her bed! Oh, by shadowy figure she means her jacket. What a spooky jacket, Hannah!

Great Prose Alert:
Hannah writes a letter to her friend at camp:
"Things are definitely WEIRD around here. Do you remember I told you about that boy who moved in next door? His name is Danny Anderson and he's kind of cute. He has red hair and freckles and SERIOUS brown eyes."
Also every third word in this book is an adverb. Seriously.

Conclusions:
This predated the Sixth Sense by a few years, so it's important to realize that RL Stine should have been nominated for an Oscar. That said, this novel was incredibly sad and elegaic. Outside of the Shadow-Danny stuff, which really just feels tacked-on to make the novel "spooky," it didn't really feel like a Goosebumps book at all. In fact, it is the only book in the series I've read thus far (with the possible exception of the Horrorland one) that doesn't have a twist ending. The gravity given to the fact that the immensely likable narrator is the one responsible for the death of her family makes the book a heavier read than you'd expect.

37 comments:

Tom Foss said...

This is a fantastic blog. Please, please, keep doing these reviews!

mehan said...

i LOLIRLed a few times while reading this one

Anonymous said...

I thought I remembered the shadow being Danny's death or something. Maybe that was in the TV version or in a completely different book.

Anonymous said...

Awesome blog. I love it!

In the TV version, the spirit tries to teach her how to be a ghost and haunt things, a la "Ghost." (Um, except she can't lift certain things, but she finds it easy to ride a bike...what?)

Oh, and his mom's deaf.

Kristin said...

This one sounds like it could have been influenced by "Wait Till Helen Comes," which I also read in the 90s and which was much scarier. It also featured a little ghost girl who died in a fire. I don't particularly remember reading this one, but it sounds like one of the better Goosebumps books. I love the blog!

Jaya Lakshmi said...

This was my favorite Goosebumps book. I cried a little when I read the ending. This twist I did NOT see coming.

Sol said...

This one made me teary-eyed like The Haunted School...

But as for the TV version, LOL at the acting.

Anonymous said...

Yeah the acting in the show is pretty hammy and canadian, but i think the show is setup better than the book. Hannah's family isn't with her, and she makes noise and gets the postman to save danny. (i dont remember if she did that in the book). And shadow-danny was some separate douchey shadow monster that wanted danny's form. It was alot better than thought, i mean: it's friggin goosebumps!

Anonymous said...

thanx this really helps me with my homework!!! if it weren't for however you are... i would of gotten an F on my report!

ragweed said...

this book is the only one i care to read again now that i'm grown.

Zoƫ Moss said...

oh god, I remember reading this on a plane and actually crying at the end... but I don't really remember much else about it, so thank you for this entry (and the rest of this blog, damn it!).

weird note: years later I was watching fox when they had those creepy segment shows on. One of the stories was about a girl ghost whose family died in a fire and she thought some guy working in the woods was the ghost. But holy crap, the bratty little brother is the one who caused the original fire in the first place and we actually get to see the ghosts of the family with BURN SCARS???

bah, it was a lousy show. Not like this blog which is a good show. what

Anonymous said...

it may have a little twist. danny would have to live his life in dispair in greif because he'd never see hannah again. but it really was a good book

Alison said...

Wasn't Danny's mom deaf in the book? And that's one of the reasons Hannah initially thinks the family is ghosts? I distinctly remember this, even though I don't think there's anything anywhere about ghosts being deaf.

Anonymous said...

This is immediately followed by Danny accidently putting his entire hand through Hannah's chest and running off in hysterics.So wait... if Danny didn't know she was a ghost at the time, was he trying to grope her, or what?

Anonymous said...

I nominate this one for best book in the series.

As I remember it, Danny wasn't trying to grope Hannah, he fell when they crashed bicycles or something.

Information Geek said...

I don't really like this book much since it ends so sadly. Don't get me wrong, this was a good book with great twists to it, but the ending depresses me so much that I've only read the book once, unlike every other book in the series which I have read repeatly.

Anyways, good book, very sad ending.

Anonymous said...

The Ghost Next Door is like no other book in the series. Stine really keeps the reader thinking that Danny is a ghost, until Hannah realizes that she is the ghost. Cleverly-written and sometimes depressing book, it has a surprising twist in the middle.

Millie said...

I hate to admit it but this is one of only three books that's ever made me cry (and I NEVER cry!) It might even bring a tear to my eye if I read it as an adult. That's saying something.

Wasn't there also something about Hannah's family disappearing one by one as it hits them that they are ghosts? I don't think we meet her father at all, then suddenly her mother is never at home, then her little brothers vanish and then Danny puts his hand right through her? Or am I thinking of some or other story?

bobs chilli said...

hey this someones written this review on wikipedia without the jokes

Adrian Clyde said...

I remember when this book came out all of those years ago. It did strike me as bit of a sad one...

Anonymous said...

Alan and Fred are obviously trouble makers names, aren't they?
This is awesome ^_^

Sexy Sadie said...

When I read this book a kid, I blamed Hannah's parents for the fire because they wouldn't let Hannah go to camp, and that's why she had a campfire in the backyard to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow. This one was one of my favorites as a kid, even if the ending is...depressing as all hell. I remembered the ending pretty much killed me as a kid, and it... still kind of does.

feels bad, man.

AnneC said...

Oh wow. I read this one as a teenager, when I was babysitting some neighbor kids. It was night and the kids were asleep, which made it actually kind of a creepy read. Wigged me out even though (at about 16) I was older than the book's target demographic. But the funny thing is that when I saw "Sixth Sense" a few years later I managed to guess the movie's "secret" very early on, as a function of having read this book!

Anonymous said...

Isn't the twist that Hannah's a ghost? Sure it doesn't come at the very end like the other books, but...

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous

No, Danny didn't try to grope Hannah. LOL! Goosebumps is for young kids. No adult scenes! He was so upset that she kept calling him ghost. So he pulled her.

BTW, Actually several years ago I wished I would ask this to people :

1. How could Fred and Alan see Hannah ?

2. If Danny's mother was deaf, how did she hear his son speak when they were in the ambulance ?

...I'm pretty sure you shouldn't feed children balls.

NO, I WOULDN'T FEED MY CHILDREN BALLS. THEY'RE STILL TOO YOUNG TO UNDERSTAND SUCH AN ADULT THING!

Tuvia said...

I remember reading this one as a kid. You hit the nail on the head: aside from the random tacked-on shadow demon, this was an honest to god GOOD story. Probably the only one R.L. Stine ever wrote.

Anonymous said...

benny here. i thought the ending was good. and when she discovered she was the ghost now that was clever. so i give this a 7/10. really suspensful.

Anonymous said...

It was a fantastic book! Means the starting of the book, it was not a dream but real fire! But how come Danny and friends could feel her when she was a ghost and the others could not?

Known Unknown said...

I remember this one being by far the best of the Goosebumps books. I think it might be the only one I could probably read again today and not feel even the tiniest bit foolish for doing so.

Anonymous said...

benny here why are you on hatius for.

zuzu said...

This is the one! I have had a memory of the room-on-fire scene ever since I read it, probably 12 ish years ago. Never remembered what book it was from. Very powerful scene.

Shadowking said...

Good review, although I do hate the douchy "what" you put occasionally. Especially in this case where "shadow Danny" actually does make sense.

Shadow Danny is actually Danny's ghost. If Danny dies, "shadow Danny" comes into existence. If Danny doesn't die, the 'Shadow Danny' goes back to the shadowworld. It's not hard to understand.

Seems like you were just nitpicking there for no reason. Like you though "hang on, there's nothing to mock in this story so I best find something so I can shoehorn in one my douchy "what" comments."

Anonymous said...

/\It doesn't make sense because Danny's ghost exists before Danny dies.

Gurleen Gill said...

Actually M. Night Shyamalan got the idea for "The Sixth Sense" from the an episode of the show "Are you Afraid of the Dark" I'm not sure which came first though. That episode the movie is based off of or this book. I'm pretty sure the episode came first though because that show was on mainly in the early 90s.

Anonymous said...

Danny and his friends could see Hannah because they were going to die in the same way she did. Now the confusing part is Fred and Allen escaped without Hannah's help. I think Stein did that because we are supposed to like Danny more than Fred an Allen. Even though they all broke into someone's house,vandalized their mailbox,burned it down which are all crimes. Also if Shadow Danny can appear to people and hurt them why doesn't he just push him out into the street.

Bill Mockings said...

This is Fantastic, I can now read the it myself, note it myself and read yours! Thanks. P.s Please Do More!!