Monday, February 25, 2008

#17 Why I'm Afraid of Bees

#17 Why I'm Afraid of Bees

Front Tagline: He's no ordinary human bee-ing...
Back Tagline: Right Brain. Wrong Body.

Official Book Description:
Gary Lutz needs a vacation...from himself. Bullies are constantly beating him up. His only friend is his computer. Even his little sister doesn't like him.
But now Gary's dream is about to come true. He's going to exchange bodies with another kid for a whole week.
Gary can't wait to get a new body. Until something horrible happens. And Gary finds out his new body isn't exactly human....

Brief Synopsis:
For those of you who enjoyed last night's "hilarious" bee montage on the Academy Awards telecast, good news, here's an entry all about bees! For the other 100% of you, bad news, here's an entry all about bees! The book opens with a warning that the novel will contain a lot of bees. Similarly, this entry will contain a lot of bee puns, some of which will bee unbeelievably bad. You've been warned.

Our protagonist Gary Lutz is enjoying a summer afternoon by himself, reading comics. He has no friends and is so clumsy that everyone at school refers to him as Lutz the Klutz. Despite the appealing rhyme scheme, based on my memories of middle school, I suspect his classmates actually called him far worse than that.

So Gary spends the July afternoon like most kids his age, spying on his next door neighbor. Is it a pretty girl he's peeping? No, it's the middle aged bee farmer and his bee hives. Because bee farmers often do their bee farming in a suburban backyard. Gary gets worried when he sees the bees overwhelm the bee farmer, Mr. Andretti. Mr. Andretti calls out, "Mama-Mia, Imma poorly-conceived angry Italian stereotype constructed by a sheltered white man for white children to read about! Also, the bees, they are a'attacking me! Run!" Gary does run and then Mr. Andretti mocks him for falling for his joke. Hey, aren't jokes supposed to bee funny?

The novel seems to bee in a race to emasculate Gary, as this is followed by Gary getting picked last in softball. They make a special rule for him that he can get four strikes beefore he's out and sure enough, he justifies the need for special rules. He then runs home crying, only to run into a trio of bullies who beeat him up. Upon arriving home, his younger sister Krissy also makes fun of him, with his mother chiming in to laugh at her daughter's scoring points off her son. Guys, it's pretty subtle, but in case you hadn't figured it out: this kid sucks. Gary makes Evan Ross look like Zack Morris.

Gary is doing no better in love either. He has a crush on the beeautiful Judy and thinks she's cuter than Amy Adams at the Oscars last night (as if such a thing were possible), so to impress her he starts hot-dogging on his bike. Unless she is the sort of girl who gets impressed by nerds who almost get hit by a car and spill-out into the street, his plan fails.

Back at home, Gary seeks solace on the internet-- Now I understand why the book is so popular. Reading an online bulletin board, he spies a message from a local business advertising a bizarre vacation. Clearly not a cautionary tale about internet dangers, Gary goes unescorted to the address in the ad. The shabbee building houses an office that reminds Gary of a dentist's, only with slightly better odds of not beeing anesthetized and molested inside. Inside a woman speaks to him via a microphone from beehind one of those protective glass shields found in banks and gas stations. For some reason, Gary still thinks it's a good idea to go into the back office. The director of the space-age vacation business, Ms. Karmen, explains that kids who sign up switch places, literally. The book gets more questionable as he's shown a binder of pictures of kids and asked who he'd like to put himself inside.

Ms. Karmen takes Gary's photo and the novel basically becomes that Gordon Jump episode of Diff'rent Strokes. A few days later, Ms. Karmen calls Gary at home and asks if she can come over. Gary thinks this is a great idea beecause his parents and sister are out of the house. Oh no. Ms. Karmen arrives and Gary tells her he'll bee right down, he just has to finish drying his hair. Ms. Karmen enjoys a cookie in the kitchen when

"So, did you have any trouble finding the place?"

But srsly folks, Ms. Karmen tells Gary that she's found a muscular skateboarder named Dirk Davis who wants to get inside Gary to get good at math. False sexual entendres aside, let's think about this: The premise of the program is that kids switch minds and live in another body for a week, so how is Dirk in Gary's body going to bee any different than Dirk in Dirk's body as far as math prowess goes? A bee flies into the living room as Ms. Karmen sets up her equipment. Ms. Karmen activates the switching process and Gary has switched places all right: he's switched places with a bee that flew into the room. Yet it's Dirk Davis in Gary's body.

What follows in the book is about seventy pages of bee adventures. I literally just read the book and can barely remember any of them. There's a scene where Claus the cat reaches up and grabs Gary the bee with one single paw, which is impossible but still more possible than Gary becoming a bee. The book mainly indulges in passages that smell suspiciously like learning, as Gary remembers back to a book on bees he read and applies his knowledge to his current situation. Applying knowledge from what you've read is a great skill and one I endorse. I'll never forget that time I was taking piano lesson that were simply murder on my hands and I thought back to what I'd read and remembered that RL Stine is a horrible writer.

Yet for all the book's beeguiling attempts at teaching science, I guess Stine skipped the chapter on how bees don't have voices, as Gary flies into the vacation offices and, utilizing the microphone, pleads for the receptionist to make Dirk give him back his body. The receptionist tells him to go back to the hive and wait. God, even in books for kids, receptionists are just the worst.

Gary spies Dirk's address and goes to see the Human-Dirk, who has of course been occupied by the bee Gary is occupying. Gary spots Bee-In-Dirk in Dirk's backyard, trying to lick the pollen from flowers. Bee-In-Dirk tries to kill Gary the bee and something something I am just so tired of this book.

Gary takes matters into his own hands, first by typing a message onto his computer. When that doesn't work, he flies into Dirk-In-Gary's ear and pleads for Dirk to give him back his body. It turns out Dirk-In-Gary can hear Gary just fine as some of the bee cells combined with DNA during the switch. Wow that is not even close to how science works. Dirk-In-Gary tells him to buzz off, as he's having the time of his life turning Gary from a pussy to a pussy magnet. Dirk-In-Gary reveals that he has even been giving skateboarding lessons to Judy and her friends down at the park. I've seen Kids and I know what that means. He has also beat up the three stooges who were always beating him up and befriended Claus the cat.

Gary is so frustrated that he flies back to the hive, rounds up all the bees, and leads a swarm into Dirk-In-Gary's bedroom. Dirk-In-Gary doesn't freak out like Gary wants him to so Gary makes the ultimate sacrifice by stinging Dirk-In-Gary on the nose. As soon as he does it, he remembers that bees die after using their stinger. Gary the bee falls to the floor and fades to black.

When Gary awakes he looks down at his body and sees his human form. As if the book weren't insulting enough, apparently when you die you return to your original form? It's not explained, though Gary does look up Dirk and he apologizes for hogging Gary's body. So I guess via the program you can just switch bodies with someone, kill them, and then you'll bee returned to your original body? Well, even then Person-To-Person Vacation's method is still a slightly better business model than AmWay.

But the Twist is:
Gary is adjusting to all the positive changes Dirk imprinted in his life, but he still takes time to stop and smell and taste the flowers with his tongue. Beecause he's still like a bee or something? Jesus, this book.

the Platonic Boy-Girl Relationship:

Questionable Parenting:
When her son can't unscrew a jar of peanut butter, she quips, "I guess you forgot to eat your oat bran this morning!" Zing?

Early 90s Cultural References:
Taco chips, MTV Buzz Bin, Buzz Beamer, Buzz Lightyear, Buzz McCalister


Minority Alert:
While bees may frighten, Stine still embraces WASPs.

Memorable Cliffhanger Chapter Ending:
Ch. 19/20:
Gary the bee grimaces as a dragonfly bites him in half. Well, actually, the dragonfly doesn't bite him in two, Gary the bee jumped to conclusions. Oh great, even the insects in these novels have an overactive imagination-- everyone but Stine apparently.

Great Prose Alert:
(Which is great beecause why did the bee include periods when typing the above?)

The book ends with Gary-In-Gary calmly releasing the swarm of bees from his bedroom, begging the question: Why isn't the book called Why I'm Not Afraid of Bees? Though an even better title might bee Don't Read Me.


Anonymous said...

So you think with this book, it's a case of "Reader BEEware"?

...Someone had to say it. Well, maybe.

troy steele said...

It is every reader's duty to comment with a missed bee pun for this entry.

Anonymous said...


That might bee the best part of the review.

Brodie said...


Take me now.

Anonymous said...

Please do Deep Trouble next!

I will BEEEEE very happy :D

Zeph said...

"Seventy pages" could just as easily be "sevenbee."

Also, "Gary tells her he'll be right down," and "behind one of those protective glass shields." Bee and beehind.


MoxieHart said...

I just think that we should all bee happy that it's over.

troy steele said...

My apologies if any of you contract Post Traumatic Stress Syn-drone

Christopher said...

So the two kids turned out ok, but the bee was murdered? Unbeelievable! Then again, the bee probably probably merged with Gary since he didn't have his own body to go back to, explaining why Gary retained bee-like qualibees.

After you're done with the original Goosebumps series, and Goosebumps 2000, and the special editions, will you also review the Give Yourself Goosebumps series? They ARE Goosebumps books...

Christian A. said...

I don't Beeleive it!
Another horribley bad book from R.L. Stine.

Troy, I have BEEn a fan of yours for quite some time now, and I have loved your writing.

Anyway, when The most definately dreadful Goosebumps: horrorland series comes out, will you do reviews of those?

Q & T said...

This is godly. We've got an Arrested Development reference. We've got beelightful puns. I read this when I was in the first grade. I still found it to be awful back then. Best review ever.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of HorrorLand, I wonder if any fans of the original are familiar with:

Anonymous said...

Another hilarious entry. Glad to know you're a Arrested Development fan. Did you know they're making a movie?


troy steele said...

Yes and one time I sat behind Michael Cera and his girlfriend at TGI Fridays. This was before the whole Fox Searchlight thing, otherwise we would have had much to discuss over Jack Daniels wings.

I will definitely be doing the Horrorland books (and based on the sample chapter posted on the website, looks like more of the same from Stine), but not until after Series 2000-- maybe. It might be hard to resist tackling them sooner. We'll see.

As for Give Yourself Goosebumps, I've been threatening since I started the blog to do at least one of the books and outline every possible outcome, but that would require far more energy than I'm willing to exert right now-- maybe in a few months.

And as a special treat for readers of the comments section: the Ghosts of Fear Street series is also on the horizon.

Rainbowfeet said...

Ooh, lots of good stuff to look forward to.

This one was amazing, thank you. I'm always up for some good bee puns.

Christopher said...

Looks like we're in for some fun. I read "Attack of the Aqua Apes" when I was in fourth grade so I'm looking forward to that one, but as for "I Was a Sixth-Grade Zombie"... (shudders)

Brodie said...

I got the Ghosts of Fear Street book that took place at Christmas for said holiday once, along with a bunch of Transformers comics.

Guess which I remember fondly?

eric said...

Why did Gary join the Army?
He wanted to Bee all that he could Bee.

What's his favorite quote from Hamlet?
"To bee or not to bee..."
Alternately, "The play's the sting!"

What's his favorite band?
Queen. Or possibly The Hives.

I never did like Gary. He's a bit of a bumble-ing idiot. Why does he insist on that stupid buzz cut? He sat on a tack yesterday; now he's got a thorax.

Hmm. I'm going to stop beefore these jokes get totally indecipherable.

P.S. The Mr. Andretti bit killed me. Good work, Troy.

endoskeleton said...

well this was bound to happen from the moment it was requested. i'll take the blame, but it's alright. at least you can't scare me is a good one. now you'll have to do the first three books of the fear street sagas and maybe i'll actually read vampire breath. it's the last goosebumps book i own and i never made it past the first few chapters

Q & T said...

If you do the Choose Your Own Story ones, do the Purple Eating One. The one where the guy shrinks. It has some really creepy cover art. You can also use the even more creepy interactive stories at as fodder.

Jesus, Troy... When you read any of these stories, you will want to get them out of your head. But... You never can. It will stay there for eternity.

This ain't safe for work. You can tell how bad it is going to be if it's NSFW.

I apologize for whoever clicked this link. Now... The next one... Prepare to be warned.


I apologize even further for this one. So, Troy, you could have met George Michael. You should have asked, "Is that your girlfriend?" If he said, "Yes." Then, you should have said, "Her?" That would be awesome. Well, for him. If she didn't see the show, I imagine it would be a little awkward.

Anonymous said...

I think you're talking about Curse of (or possibly Beware) the Purple Peanut Butter. I didn't read many Give Yourself Goosebumps, but even back then Purple Peanut Butter and Secret Agent Grandma were disappointments (although with titles like those, you get what you ask for). If I recall correctly, the title only covered about half of each book, if that.

Kokomo said...

You mean 'Beware of the Purple Peanut Butter'? Good times! Depending on your choice it was either a re-tread of Honey I Shrunk the Page Length or Big!

If you do feel like inflicting a Give Yourself Goosebumps on yourself any time soon, Troy, I recommend 'Escape From Camp Run From Your Life'! I don't like to touch the front cover of that one.

Christopher said...

I just read Give Yourself Goosebumps #41: Danger Time, and it was actually really good.

Brodie said...

Give Yourself Goosebumps made it into the 40's? Seriously?

Anonymous said...

I think this book was a little bit better than you gave it credit for. A little bit. But, still, some of the plot holes were terrible.

Oh, and you're right! Amy Adams was great!

Patrick said...

I remember in Beware Of The Purple Peanut Butter, the first meaningful choice you had was to eat either the titular substance or, er, some cake. Eating the cake led to a whole series of events that didn't involve the peanut butter at all. Bizarre.

Why I'm Afraid Of Bees was the first Goosebumps book I ever read. You can see how I got hooked on the series.

Anonymous said...

Doing some research, it seems there were about fifty Give Yourself Goosebumps. I... wouldn't confuse quantity with quality, though.

Laura said...

I remember reading this book around 1994-ish, and during the scene where Gary gets on the "message board", I remember thinking, "Whoa. What is he doing? How does he talk to those people over the computer?"...

...because at the time, I had never heard of the Internet.

Yeah. I know.

Robot Devil said...

How was Stine not sued by whoever wrote The Fly?

Anonymous said...

The sad thing is I understand virtually every reference you use in these, yet would never think to use them myself. I guess that's why you're making the big bucks and I'm terrified of that bear at Showbiz Pizza.

Anonymous said...

Stine needs a good firm beeating

EC said...

why is couldn't there bee any BEE THROWING?
(referencing book #15)

troy steele said...

Oh my God, I can't believe I missed such a golden opportunity to bring that one back!

Christopher said...


I love you.

Anonymous said...

Dirk was a real buzz-brain.

The really sad thing is I actually used that line in my 5th grade book report of it.

Anonymous said...

Give Yourself Goosebumps made it into the 40's? Seriously?

Reply: Yeah. The last book of the Give Yourself Goosebumps series is #42 called "All Day Nightmare". There are also eight Special Edition Give Yourself Goosebump books, two of which are based on books from the Goosebumps series (one centers on the events from "A Night in Terror Tower"; the other is based on the events from the two-part Goosebumps 2000 book "Invasion of the Body Squeezers")

Anonymous said...

"But srsly folks, Ms. Karmen tells Gary that she's found a muscular skateboarder named Dirk Davis who wants to get inside Gary to get good at math. False sexual entendres aside, let's think about this: The premise of the program is that kids switch minds and live in another body for a week, so how is Dirk in Gary's body going to bee any different than Dirk in Dirk's body as far as math prowess goes? "

I don't mean to nitpick, but the point was that Dirk wanted Gary to do his next test for him. Otherwise, a great recap.

David T. said...

The other half of the Platonic Boy-Girl Relationship should have been the bee. Drones make perfect platonic partners.

Anonymous said...

Holy fuck an Arrested Development reference.

Also: I hate bees. They terrify me. As such, I never read this one as a kid. I don't feel as if I missed out. "Jesus, this book" is right.

如丹 said...


I got you beat. Not only am I slightly afraid of bees (as in beeing stung, not the insects themselves really) but I am also allergic.

And it only took three stings to figure that out.

Anonymous said...

But no one threw bees.

I expected after you obsessed over Courtney THROWING BEES (Bee throwing bee throwing bee throwing what) in whatever previous book it was, there would bee at least one BEE THROWING incident. I am saddened.

Anonymous said...

i would like to BEE a BEE.
oh yeah im so unBEElievibe.

Anonymous said...

Bees. My God

Anonymous said...

Man. Two years after this was written, and it's still gold.


Anonymous said...

That Kids reference is great.

Groggy Dundee said...

"I'll never forget that time I was taking piano lesson that were simply murder on my hands and I thought back to what I'd read and remembered that RL Stine is a horrible writer."

This might be the singlest funniest thing you've ever written.

Anonymous said...

The reason Rick wanted to switch was so Gary would write a math test FOR him.

Anonymous said...

benny here this is the first goosebumps book i read when i got older and i liked it. shouldive gotton a tv show. 7/10 good.

Beth said...

I BEElieve I bloody love this blog, you're a genius. :}
Can someone explain:
to me please?

Anonymous said...

I thought this book was generally good, but the part where Gary attacks Dirk was a total buzzkill. Reading that really stung.

Also, now that it's 2011, I think a Justin Beeber joke is in order.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but the author of this blog is just jealous of R.L Stine and his success! The goosebumps books are awesome and you suck!

Anonymous said...

i have a book report and where did this book take place please reply by september 16

Anonymous said...

benny here. This one did not make it as an episode. Of course it would have been better than the book.

Anonymous said...


ShaggE said...

I have never been so happy to have my childhood destroyed book by book.

jbwarner86 said...

I remember this was the first Goosebumps book I ever read. My mom bought it for me when I was eight, because I was terrified of bees and she thought it might help me overcome my fear. Yes, mom, reading a book where a young boy is turned into a bee and gets locked in a hive with hundreds of other bees is going to rid me of my apiphobia.

But it did get me into the other Goosebumps books, and I enjoyed the heck out of them for the next few years. I ended up collecting nearly the entire original series. Then when I was in high school, I dug out my vast Goosebumps collection and re-read a few of them and went "Holy hell, these books suck." I don't know why R.L. Stine decided that psyching out the reader took precedence over telling a coherent story. (Of course, it's not like an eight-year-old cares.)

Anonymous said...

needs more quotes noob bitch

Anonymous said...

noob put quotes

Anonymous said...

please put quotes

troy steele said...

Buzz off

Anonymous said...

I seriously felt sorry for Gary when I read this book. If not for the events of this book, he probably would've ended up going Virginia Tech on everyone.