#54 Don't Go To Sleep!
Front Tagline! Rise and shine. Forever. (What does that even mean?)
Back Tagline! It's A No-Snooze Situation!
Official Book Description!
Matt hates his tiny bedroom. It's so small it's practically a closet! Still, Matt's mom refuses to let him sleep in the guest room. After all, they might have guests. Some day. Or year.
Then Matt does it. Late one night. When everyone's in bed. He sneaks into the guest room and falls asleep.
Poor Matt. He should have listened to his mom. Because when Matt wakes up, his whole life has changed. For the worse. And every time he falls asleep, he wakes up in a new nightmare....
I should preface this entry by breaking the bad news: Nothing on the cover of the book actually occurs in the book. Not even the scariest thing, the drop ceiling. So, with that in mind, what does appear in the book? Well... how about a twelve-year-old geek throwing a hissy fit and beating up a life-size cardboard cutout of a Klingon? I guess that was simply too scary to put on a book cover.
How much of a loser is protagonist Matthew Amsterdam? Well, after hearing his spaz-out on poor Worf, his two much older siblings come into Matt's messy room to mock him properly. His brother Greg, a senior in high school, is making a documentary about how lame Matt is and his sister Pam, a junior, joins in with play-by-play. Even the family dog, a dachshund named Biggie, hates the kid. Matt for some reason is scared of the small wiener dog. Biggie Biggie Biggie can't you see, sometime your woofs just terrorize Matt.
Matt tries to reason with his mother to let him move into the guest room, which is twice as big as his small room. She tells him that the guest room is for guests. While he grasped the concept without her explanation, he still thinks that their only annual guests, his grandparents, wouldn't mind sleeping in his room. Then over dinner, Greg continues his documentary on how much Matt sucks and when Matt gets huffy, Matt's the one who gets punished. Though Matt is frustrated with how mean his family is, I wonder if, as the book progresses, he'll grow to appreciate what he has... hmmm.... I'm rubbing my chin in an exaggerated, sarcastic manner. It is so sarcastic, this chin-rubbing.
That night, Greg and Pam sneak the dog into Matt's room and it bites him on the face. It's not revealed, but I sure hope Matt responded by throwing his nightcap to the ground and stomping on the hat while hollering "Doggonnit!"
The next day, Matt decides that since his single mom works late at a second job, she'll never know if he sneaks off to sleep in the guest room. So his idea of defiant rebellion is to just sleep in a different room? Greg, I'd like to invest in your documentary. Matt's plan to fall asleep works perfectly, but only because he'd been practicing every night of his life. However, his plan to wake up the same as he fell asleep runs into a hitch, as he wakes up as a sixteen-year-old. That's right, it's one of those books.
Much to his surprise, Greg and Pam are now 12 and 11 and just as annoying. Shocked to discover no one remembers how life used to be, Matt finds himself stuck in a new life. His mother drops him off at the high school, where he immediately gets threatened by a bully. In English class, there's some "comedy" at the expense of Anna Karenina. A piece of advice for RL Stine: It's probably not a good idea to try to score points off a book that is actually good within a book that is unequivocally not.
Matt has a lot of trouble adjusting to his new body. He keeps running into walls and tripping over his feet. He also knocks out a girl with a volleyball during gym class. In the hall between classes, Matt runs into the bully again. Matt realizes that high school can be a scary place. He decides to leave before he encounters more typical high school situations, such as peer pressure or knocking up Manny. On his way out of the school, he bumps into a cute twelve-year-old girl with a ponytail named Lacie. I mean literally bumps into her, as he knocks her down a few times by accident-- at least I hope.
That night, Matt must again sleep in the guest room. When he awakes, he's pleased to discover he's a twelve-year-old again. He's less pleased to discover his parents have been replaced with complete strangers and he's now an only child. He gets dropped off at a different middle school and runs into Lacie again. Because of overpopulation, the school had to add more lunch periods and so Lacie's is at 8:30AM-- this is actually a pretty good joke on Stine's part and deserved to be part of a much better book.
Lacie and Matt decide to eat outside and they're enjoying their brunch when two boys in leather jackets take a break from leaning up against cars to chase after Matt. Lacie holds the street toughs off while Matt makes his escape. Back at home, he tries to call his relatives but they don't exist, so there's no one to accept the charges. He's also a total jerk to his new mom for no reason. He tells her to mind her beeswax and whoever previously owned my copy of this book sure loved that line, as it's been underlined in brown crayon. I guess if you have to underline something, you might as well do it at this point in the book, because it only gets worse.
Matt goes to sleep in the guest room and wakes up to discover he's eight. And he has a pet monkey. And he wears a blue spandex suit. And lives with an extended circus family. And this wasn't what I was talking about when I said it got worse either, so start finding a way to deal with what's coming up.
His irate lion tamer father insists Matt practice the new lion riding trick, and so he tries to throw his son into a cage with a lion. Matt makes a break for it and hides underneath a truck in the parking lot. Then he runs into the two leather-clad toughs and they chase him back to the same lion cage. He runs inside and hides behind the lion. He threatens to sic the lion on the toughs if they come any closer. When they don't believe him, he does in fact sic the lion on them. I guess he wasn't lion after all, amirite
That night, Matt gets very excited about falling asleep, thinking that maybe he'll wake up as a sports superstar or in a different book. No such luck. Matt wakes up and discovers he's an old man. Deciding that the subscription to the AARP's magazine isn't worth it, he rushes back to sleep to will another fate for himself. This new reality is only marginally better, as he wakes up to find he's now a seven-foot lizard monster.
Monster Matt has sharp teeth and horns and striped oozing lizard skin. He flees his house and starts accidentally terrorizing his neighbors, causing car crashes and the townspeople begin to swarm away from this monster. Feeling only marginally more ostracized from others than he was at the beginning of the book, Matt adjusts remarkably well to being a lizard monster. He stops a speeding car with his claws and begins to eat it piece by piece. So he has trouble adjusting to being a sixteen-year-old boy but eating a car is no big deal? He's munching on a car door when he spots Lacie, who leads him away from the onlookers. They run down alleys and backways until they come across an isolated house.
Lacie leads Monster Matt into the house and... into the hands of the two leather-clad street toughs, who thank her for her work. Then they throw a magical net over the lizard monster. It's times like this that I am reminded of how superfluous those parody books of this series were. RU Slime has nothing on the real deal.
The three lead the netted monster into a jail cell inside the house. When Matt wakes up, he's a fourteen-year-old boy. Finally Matt and the reader are given some answers regarding what's happening. See, when Matt slept in the guest room, he accidentally triggered A Reality Warp. This is revealed to Matt as though it were obvious. Possessing well-reasoned logic that not even fanfic would touch, Lacie proceeds to explain that by triggering A Reality Warp, every time Matt wakes up, he changes reality for everyone in the universe. In the liminal justice system, reality-based offenses are considered especially heinous. Lacie and the two toughs-- who are named, hand to God, Bruce and Wayne-- are members of an elite squad known as the Reality Police. This is their story.
The Reality Police decide that the only way to stop Matt from changing reality is to put him to sleep-- forever. He thwarts their plan however by falling asleep and waking up as a squirrel. He escapes through the bars of the jail cell window and flees into the night. He decides that if he can just make his way back to his home and fall asleep in his old room again, he can undo all the events of the book. Aspiring writers, if you ever want to pour salt in your wounds, remember any time you submit something for publication only to get rejected, this book was accepted and its author paid.
An extended sequence follows between Matt the Squirrel and his sister Pam. Pam tries to keep the squirrel as a pet, which works fine for Matt because he thinks he can just squirrel into his room, go to sleep, and wake up cured. However, this plan fails and Matt the Squirrel barely escapes being locked inside a hamster cage. He climbs up a tree in the front yard and falls asleep. When he wakes up, the tree limb he was resting on as a squirrel crashes down, due to Matt now being a morbidly obese child. Ha, RL Stine sticks it to all the regular targets in this book: Fatties, Geezers, Lizard Monsters, Reality Police.
Fat Matt tries to gain entry to his house by ringing the doorbell and asking if he could sleep in their house. This plan doesn't work because Matt isn't capable of changing the universe to the extent that everyone is as stupid as he is. So the fat kid runs outside, climbs up the tree and attempts to jump onto his bedroom ledge from two stories up. Thrilling action commences as the fat kid jumps and then dangles from the gutter by his fingertips, managing to land on the ledge before he could fall to his fat death. He successfully breaks into his house and falls asleep in his bed, which exists even though he doesn't... well, I guess when the reader is this close to the end, Abraham Lincoln could have shown up and it would get the same mild confused shrug in response.
Matt wakes up and he's back in his old room. Everything is just as it was. Matt realized in their absence that he does love his family, even though they can treat him lousy at times. RL Stine realizes that the VHS rental of Home Alone can be written off on his taxes as a business expense.
But the Twist is!
Matt is so caught up in celebrating his safe return to reality that he forgets that it's his birthday. When he arrives home from school, his mother surprises Matt by revealing that she's moved all his stuff into the guest room, which is now his room. Matt responds by screaming like a little girl.
the Platonic Boy-Girl Relationship!
Matt and Reality Police Junior Officer Lacie, who disappears halfway through several realities in the book.
Matt tries to tell his mom about how mean his siblings are and she just tells him that they're wonderful. I guess I know what her second job is: Night Contrarian.
I Guess No One Bothered To Read or Proofread These Books Alert!
Actual line from the book: "How can Matt can stand it?"
Has RL Stine Ever Seen a Dog? Alert!
Biggie is described as possessing "gaping dachshund jaws."
Memorable Cliffhanger Chapter Ending!
HALL OF FAME CLIFFHANGER:
Matt tries to tell the high school principal that he's only twelve, to which she replies "Yes, I know" ....
"Yes, I know you read a lot of science fiction."
Great Prose Alert!
I'd much rather be on the planet Pluto than in my own house-- even with giant ants shooting spit rays at me.
Do you really need me to connect the dots on this one? In any reality, Don't Go To Sleep! eats.