Thursday, February 02, 2006

#60 Werewolf Skin

#60 Werewolf Skin
Why is "werewolf" written upside down on the box top?
Front Tagline: All dressed up and no place to howl!
Back Tagline: It's A Full Moon...Do You Know Where Your Werewolf Is?

Official Book Description:
Picture this-- Alex Hunter, photography freak, hanging out in Wolf Creek. Who lives in Wolf Creek? Alex's uncle Colin and aunt Marta. They're professional photographers.
Uncle Colin and Aunt Marta are pretty cool. They only have two requests. Don't go into the woods late at night. And stay away from the creepy house next door.
Poor Alex. He just wanted to take a couple off pictures. But now he's about to find out the secret of Wolf Creek. Late one night. When the moon is full...

Brief Synopsis:
Alex Hunter has been sent to the small town of Wolf Creek the week before Halloween to live with his Aunt Marta and Uncle Colin while Alex's parents conduct business in Paris. Luckily for Alex, Marta and Colin share his love of photography. While driving home from the bus station, Alex tells his aunt and uncle that he would like to dress as a werewolf for Halloween. This news causes Uncle Colin to drive into the incoming lane of traffic and almost get hit by a truck.

When the family unit arrives at the house, Alex learns of the next door neighbors on either side: the Marlings, who are apparently not very friendly and Alex is warned to stay away from them, and Hannah, the young girl who lives in the other house and probably has a family although they are never mentioned or referred to in any way.

Hannah and Alex go exploring the vast series of woods behind all three neighboring houses. Hannah warns Alex that the woods are dangerous, and also gives another vague warning about the Marlings. While in the woods Hannah and Alex run into two teenage boys who have a dark and disheveled look to them. The boys swipe Alex's camera and Hannah engages in a fierce verbal defense of Alex that goes on for like five pages. By the end of reading all of Hannah's tenacious fighting of Alex's battle, even I felt emasculated.

Hannah and Alex return to the house and Hannah stays for dinner. After she leaves Alex goes back to his room and while daydreaming out the window spots an animal-like creature leaving the Marling's home. Reaching for his camera, he realizes he left it outside. With the night air threatening rain, Alex runs through the house getting ready to venture out into the woods to retrieve his camera. Along the way he runs into Hannah and Aunt Marta in the attic. In a turn of events that makes even less sense typed out, Hannah returned to the house and enlisted Marta's help in procuring a Halloween costume, all without Alex ever knowing she was there. Alex grabs a flashlite and safely retrieves his camera, but the downpour disorients him and he becomes lost in the woods. While stumbling about, he encounters some freshly slaughtered animals. He also sees animal footprints leading into the Marlings' backyard.

The next morning, the Marlings are calling Alex's relatives to complain about him snooping around their house. Apparently they saw Alex the night before outside their house. Uncle Colin explains that the neighbors are very unfriendly and also that they have two giant german shepards. Alex makes the connection and feels a lot better about the whole thing, at least until he tells Hannah about it on the way to school. Yes on the way to school. Even though he's only living with his Uncle and Aunt for two weeks, he still transfers schools. What. Anyways, Hannah informs Alex that the Marlings don't have any german shepards. Also they're werewolves.

In a refreshing change of pace, Alex our narrator doesn't buy into the ridiculous theory. He even makes fun of Hannah, which is always the way into a girl's heart. At school Hannah and Alex's teacher, reading from the lesson plan entitled "Plot Extrapolation,"conveniently talks at length about Lycanthropy. According to Mr. Shein, a werewolf has an actual coat-like "skin" of fur that they wear when hunting and during the day they shed the skin and keep it in a safe place. To kill a werewolf, one must find the skin and burn it. When the teacher asks the class who among them believes in werewolves, every hand but Alex's goes up. After class, the two troublemaking teens from earlier stop Alex and tell him that since his hand didn't go up, maybe he'd like to see a real werewolf? The two tell Alex to meet them in the woods at midnight and to bring his camera to take lots of pictures of the werewolf that is always spotted in the woods.

Later that nite, Alex readies himself to go out and snap pics of the werewolf. He's nervous but also quite excited, and also locked in his room he discovers. Not only did his Aunt and Uncle lock his door from the outside, but they also installed metal bars outside his window. He's trapped in his room and unable to escape to capture pics of the werewolf with the two boys from class.

The next morning his aunt and uncle apologize for locking him in but they explain that the Marlings threatened to call the police, so they wanted to make sure he didn't get into more trouble. Later at school, the two kids tease Alex about going to see the werewolf, as they were only joking and assumed he had actually gone to the woods last nite. He tells them he did and that he saw the werewolf and snapped off a whole roll of pics. That night, Hannah reveals her new Halloween costume to Alex: A Rag Doll. In the single scariest moment of the book, Aunt Marta sings a song about a rag doll while Hannah dances an impromptu jig.

Later that nite, after jamming some bubblegum in the doorjam to ensure it doesn't lock correctly, Alex sneaks out with his camera. He stops by Hannah's window, the location of which he knows despite having never been to her house, and attempts to get her to accompany him on his werewolf photo shoot. She tells him that she really believes in what she said and that it's too dangerous to go out into the woods. Dejected, Alex heads out into the woods on his own and spots a couple exiting the Marling's house wearing wolf capes. As he watches he can just barely make out the human forms slowly morphing into the wolf forms, the cape growing over their entire body until the two are fully werewolves. Alex attempts to take their picture when he accidently drops his camera, alerting the two werewolves. This leads to an extended sequence in the novel that is actually quite tense and suspenseful as Alex and the werewolves play cat and mouse in the woods. At one point the wolves grab a bunny and one snaps its neck and the other rips out the rabbit's belly with its jaws. Later the wolves snatch a baby deer and are about to feast on it when Alex distracts them with a wolf call of his own and startled, the two wolves let the deer go. Once Alex is fairly sure he's safe (apparently a rabbit being slaughtered infront of you isn't a good enough motivator-- between this and the Hannah thing, this kid is hopeless), Alex indeed takes a full roll of photos of the wolves.

Morning breaks and apparently eight hours of werewolf watching have passed and Alex hides behind another in the long line of Hiding Trees in the book and watches as the Marlings return home and transform back into their human shape. They look awfully familar. Turns out Aunt Marta and Uncle Cecil are the werewolves! The two bring their werewolf cloaks inside and then exit through the front of the Marlings' house, running across the lawn back into their house. Alex is worried about what they might have done to the Marlings so he goes into the Marling House to investigate. Once inside he is shocked to find the house is abandoned save for two neatly folded werwolf cloaks in the living room closet. Realizing that there never was a Marling family, he decides to warn Hannah and her family so they can escape before his Aunt and Uncle try to harm them.

Alex explains everything to Hannah and she comes up with a plan. Since they don't want to kill his aunt and uncle, they can't burn the werewolf skins. However, if they hide the skins where the two can't find them and the full moon passes without them being able to transform, the curse will be lifted. The curse will be lifted just because she said so, I guess. Hannah decides that the best way to keep the skins hidden from the aunt and uncle is for Hannah and Alex to wear the cloaks themselves. They'll leave in their planned costumes and then go next door, change into the werewolf costumes, then go out trick or treating where they can't find them. Alex agrees to this, probably more because he's in love with Hannah than because it makes sense, as the plan of course makes less sense than anything ever has.

Halloween nite, Hannah goes next door to get into the werewolf skin and Alex soon follows. She hands him a skin and they both exit the Marling home in werewolf skins. As they're walking down the street, they hear the loud scream of Alex's aunt and uncle yelling after them "GIVE US OUR SKINS!" The two give chase after the kids and eventually collapse on the ground in agony. After some anguish, the aunt and uncle burst into joy as they inform Hannah and Alex that they've successfully lifted the curse! The two kids remove their skins and all four head back home to celebrate.

But the Twist is:
On the way home, Alex tells Hannah that they should both drop the skins back off at the Marling house. She seems hesitant to go back so Alex goes alone. Once inside he sees that there's an extra werewolf skin on the floor near the closet. He turns around to see Hannah in the werewolf skin. She explains that there's an extra because she didn't use the skin from the Marling house, she brought her own. Hannah attacks and presumably kills and eats Alex.

the Platonic Boy-Girl Relationship:
Alex Hunter, amateur photographer, and Hannah, a young girl without a last name, who's family disappears throughout the entire novel.
Just a note here, this is one of the few Goosebumps books where the boy-girl relationship is not entirely asexual, as Alex clearly lusts after Hannah and spends copious amounts of time describing how much he loves her deep smoky voice.

Minority Alert
In a rare non-caucasian showing, Arjun, half of the dubious schoolmate twosome is Native American for no reason.

Creepy Crush Alert
Alex sneaks a few photos of Hannah, who clearly doesn't want him photographing her.

Questionable Parenting:
Alex's parents are in Paris on "Business," yet apparently they don't have phones in Paris because Alex is forced to communicate with his parents via letter-writing.

Questionable Teaching:
For some reason, Hannah and Alex's teacher Mr. Shein spends an entire day-long class period talking about Lycanthropy. This would be bad enough but he also doesn't even get the made-up facts right.

Confusing Chronology Alert:
Sometime between when he got home from school and when he went to bed, Alex's Aunt and Uncle somehow constucted an entire set of metal barring over his window.

Memorable Cliffhanger Chapter Ending:
Ch. 11/12
Lost in the woods, strange animals chasing after him, something horrible drops on Alex's head. What is it, what is it, what is it... it's a bird's nest.

Great Prose Alert:
"You guys are about as funny as dog puke," Hannah sneered.
"You ought to know, you eat it for breakfast!" Sean replied.
He and Arjun laughed and slapped each other a high five.
Hannah sighed. "Remind me to laugh later," she muttered, rolling her eyes.

Werewolf Skin reads like a reaction to Goosebumps rather than an actual book in the series. It takes every boring, predictable convention of the series and completely messes with it. The chapter endings where a character jumps to a conclusion and there's something horrible happening, in this book the horrible things are happening. The main character is a little slow but he also doesn't immediately start irrationally assuming that something supernatural is going on. The novel is also filled with numerous misdirections, as with the two kids in the woods, who are repeatedly set up to be the werewolves. The most important aspect of the book is the Hannah-Alex relationship and the English major in me recognizes the quite genius sexual undercurrent to the book, which is a really clever statement about the dangers of prepubescent idolization and sexual romanticization. But let's leave deconstructing the book to a community college term paper.
This is one of the last books in the series and I have two theories:
One, RL Stine was nearing the homestretch of the series and his enthusiasm for the project shines through in the text.
Two, it's a fairly well-accepted suspicion that many of these books were ghostwritten. This is probably one of them. If more of these books were as well-crafted as Werewolf Skin, this blog wouldn't exist.


Anonymous said...

man, rl stine used the names hannah and alex a lot.

mehan said...

yeah, i can think of at least two reasons why this would be spinny's favorite goosebump

13 hours away Matt said...

The first Goosebumbps I ever read was The Werewolf of Fever Swamp, I think it was around number 18 or so. I seem to remember it being similar in plot and ending, but to be fair, I guess it's kind of hard to think up 60 DIFFERENT juvenile-targeted ghost stories.

Anonymous said...

Way to fuck up the only minority ever in your books, Stine. Arjun is an Indian in EAST in from India the country...not "Indian" as in Native American.

I miss "Fear Street."

Anonymous said...

That "Great Pose" segment of dialog from the book gave me a douche chill so bad it felt like someone snapped off a cigarette spark into the center of my exposed asshole.

Anonymous said...

I definitely agree about this one being one of the stronger books in the series, it was always my favorite.

Anonymous said...

who the fuck reads these books
cock sucker approve this i hope you like your 69er

Anonymous said...

shut up anonymous person at least were not too pussy to say our name i bet your one of those kids who read picture books by the way this is an great book asshole.

Anonymous said...

this is a great book and the anonymous person shut the fuck up and shove that comment up your ass don't judge a book by its cover motherfucker!

Anonymous said...

Talk about dangerous: locking up a kid in a bedroom at night?? Um, call child protective services, please! (oh, and the fact that they are werewolves, too)

Anonymous said...

Ha. I remember this book from being a camp counselor and getting stoned after our campers had gone to bed. Basically one counselor was a Shakespearian actor and would read it out loud with funny voices, sweeping gestures and interpretive dance. Great overview!

Anonymous said...


Dr. Hiroshi Fujiyama, PhD said...

You horrible man. This mildly positive review is actually making me want to read this turd of a book.

Jacquie said...

I hope the rag doll song was actually 'Rag Doll' by Aerosmith, because I would have totally done an impromptu jig to that as well.

Anonymous said...

"shut up anonymous person at least were not too pussy to say our name"

Your not "pussy" if you use the anonymous title. People only use it if they don't have a google acount or can't get theirs working. Quit being a jerk to this random guy just because he doesn't like "Werewolf Skin".

moe said...

Sorry anonymous #2 for being unkind.

Robyn said...

I liked this one. It's one of the books where there is a main monster/scary creature, but other than that, the events are basically logical and make sense. There aren't as many ridiculous coincidences and convenient events (such as when Sari and Gabe from #5 are locked in a coffin, and then it turns out that their uncle is suddenly in the coffin with them because of secret passageways or something).

Anonymous said...

If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I think if you don't want to be an idiot read the books!!

lalouve said...

Haha I've think the same thing concerning Alex's attirance cause he like the voice of Hannah and he said he have prefered to meet a boy !

Unknown said...

Um if there was 1 skin left why did BOTH of them not have a skin and BOTH scream?

Anonymous said...

Actually, among the many, many ways of creating a werewolf, the simplest is putting on a belt of wolfskin. It's just not one you really see that much these days.

Bill said...

yup! i will try to make on werewolf skin costume i know it would be tough but i will try

Sonya Somers said...

Aww, I loved this book when I was a kid! It was one of the few I actually owned. But then I brought it to school in 6th grade for a book trading/ sharing thingy we had to do and some jerk of a 6th grader took it and never gave it back!

so uh, thanks for bringing back memories of my beloved stolen book. Your blog is awesome! {=D

Anonymous said...

By the way... I don't think, that Hannah wants to kill Alex. Indeed she seems to be still herself at the end of the book mostly. I always got the impression that she makes Alex a werewolf, too.

AJ said...

I bought this book few days back.Worst part- the last two chapters are from another book!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

benny here. loved it good tv episode fabulous. 8/10 great.

Anonymous said...

Haha, I don't think I've read this one. I saw the tv version though, and I have to admit I kind of enjoyed it. It was sort of enjoyable. There, I've said it.

CheeseVision said...

Yeah this one seemed like it was written slightly different than the other books.

Anonymous said...

I remember seeing this at a bookfare when I was younger, but passed on it to get Deep Trouble 2.
I'm now disappointed in my childhood decisions... hell, this blog makes me kind of wish I could get a mulligan for some of my earlier purchases as it seems like I skipped all the good ones.

Harry Manback said...

What the fuck, man. This is one of the more bizarre comment sections on your blog for sure, haha. Such hostility! Such excitement!! So many exclamatory statements!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I love this one u muthafuggers!!! Its the best goosebump book out of all off them. Please read it. 9/10

Anonymous said...

I love this one u muthafuggers!!! Its the best goosebump book out of all off them. Please read it. 9/10

Anonymous said...

I agree, it was the best book in the series...but that's not saying much

Anonymous said...

For no reason? Oh for... You people shriek your bloody heads off when non whites aren't used. You shriek when they are! Why does he need a 'reason' to represent a racial minority? I thought minorities were just people and didn't need to be caricatures or have their races made a thing of. Make up your minds, SJW fools. You don't get to have it BOTH ways.

troy steele said...

I am a lot of things, but a SJW is not one of them. I am, however, a SWF. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have Bridget Fonda tied to a chair

Anonymous said...

I was randomly reading some old Goosebumps books 'cause of this blog (I never read How I Learned to Fly the first time around so it was good advice) and just felt like pointing out that the minority character in question was specified as Indian, so it makes total sense that he had an Indian name rather than native american.

Cyberchao X said...

I've been going over these summaries again, and I've found that that's sort of a rule in Goosebumps books. If the "platonic boy-girl relationship" ever starts to look like it might not be entirely platonic, it's a pretty safe bet that she's actually some sort of monster. Hannah here, Lucy from Ghost Camp, Marnie from the first novella of the second Triple Header--all monsters, and probably among the closest things to romances these books have had. Also at one point in How I Got My Shrunken Head, Kareen shows up before the male protagonist in only a nightgown, and she turns out to be evil, too.

This is also further evidence that whichever ghostwriter penned How I Learned to Fly had no idea how Goosebumps books work.

AJ.E said...

I have revisited your blog after, I think, about a year. I wish you had new content, specially since there are tons of new Goosebumps books, and the movie's coming out, too.

Anyway, I don't know if I missed this, or maybe it's implied, but I always thought that it was slightly clever that "Marling" is an anagram for Martha and Colin. I think it needs a mention since we really don't get these a lot.

Jack S said...

Heh, I just read this one in response to this blog and Alex DOES talk about how sexy Hannah's low/deep voice is rather often.

The book does have some good foreshadowing though.

1) it's revealed early on the book that night creatures don't like to be photographed, and Hannah reacts with exaggerated anger/discomfort whenever he takes her picture

2) When the teacher discusses werewolves, he repeatedly refers to them as "he" but Hannah interjects to note that women can be werewolves too.

The only part that I thought was weak was the ending. Hannah implies that she just became a werewolf the previous night, but it's not clear how or when that would happen. Since the twist ending hinges on this IMO he should have fleshed it out a bit more, or just have Hannah be a werewolf the whole time he knew her.

Bill the Butcher said...

Arjun is about as Indian as you can get. It's the name of one of the main characters of the epic the Mahabharata.