Thomas Edison said, "Well, light bulbs sound cool, I guess I'll invent them."
Alexander Graham Bell said, "Well, I'd sure like to phone Watson, but I haven't invented a 'phone' yet. And also I'll need at least two and I'm lazy like you wouldn't believe. I mean, I could just walk to Watson but he's in the other room and this chair is so comfortable. I think it's made of oak? Could be oak. It's probably oak."
The Romans said, "All roads lead to us, so we better invent those plastic things on the end of shoelaces just in case it ever comes up."
Troy Steele said, "I can't believe there's not just a list online somewhere that tells you the twist endings to Goosebumps books."
Thus, out of necessity, in early 2006 Blogger Beware was born. I never intended to keep writing past the original series, but in case you don't read the comments or look to your right, I will be blogging into the next year. When the Horrorland series concludes, so will the blog. But until that day, expect the same "weekly" updates you've come to know and, well maybe not love, but like as a friend.
The following features are all culled solely from the first sixty-two books in the Goosebumps series.
NOTE: A retrospective of the covers will appear in the entry on Tim Jacobus' autobiography, It Came From New Jersey, so don't whine about one not appearing here.
the Goosebumps Collector's Cap Roundup Quiz
To capitalize on the POG craze (If you don't remember these, you're either too young to be reading the blog, or too old), Scholastic released two sets of Goosebumps POGS-- oh pardon me, POG is a registered trademark, they released "Goosebumps Collector Caps." Both sets came with bonus books filled with brief descriptions of the books pictured on the caps, along with word games and bits of trivia and new backstories. Think you've been reading the blog long enough to pass a test on Stine's exciting revelations? Take the quiz and find out. Answers will appear at the bottom of this entry.
01 RL Stine puts forth which two books as having the biggest twist endings?
A. Stay Out of the Basement and Be Careful What You Wish For...
B. Welcome to Camp Nightmare and Go Eat Worms!
C. Attack of the Mutant and the Girl Who Cried Monster
D. My Hairiest Adventure and Let's Get Invisible!
02 RL Stine proposes several potential Goosebumps-based rides in the section for A Shocker on Shock Street-- which one of the following is real?
A. the Headless Ghost 4' and under roller coaster
B. Ghost Beach water slide
C. My Hairiest Adventure petting zoo
D. How I Learned to Fly cordless bungee jump
03 The original title of the Horror at Camp Jellyjam was
A. Purple Rein
B. Snots Landing
C. Smelly Summer
D. Sports Sports Sports Sports-- Sports!
04 RL Stine's dog is named
A. Scholastick-ridden mutt
B. Doesn't matter, this was written thirteen years ago and his dog is now dead ;_;
D. Cat-- man, Stine's always twisting everything!
05 As of the fortieth book, which of the following was the best-selling Goosebumps book?
A. Welcome to Dead House
B. Guess Who's Dating a Werewolf?
C. Invasion of the Appleheads
D. Beware the Shopping Mall
06 Which of the following "facts" were actually given about gnomes?
A. Several members of congress actually just gnomes resting on the shoulders of large woodland dogs while draped in navy blazers from the Big & Tall store
B. Gnomes can be either helpful or harmful
C. Gnomes love you long time, Joe
D. Celebrated Anthony Michael Hall action comedy A Gnome Named Norm still most popular gnome-centric film of all time, with eight total viewings since release
07 RL Stine makes which of the following dubious claims re: Deep Trouble?
A. Fish sticks > fish fillets
B. Entire novel was elaborate Snorks homage
C. Mermaids are scarier than sharks
D. 'Tippi' Hedren could have really been something
08 RL Stine proposes a fun "touching" game inspired by Go Eat Worms! and suggests preparing an extra bowl to hold
C. Any vomit your friends may volunteer
D. Delicious Doritos-brand Cool Ranch tortilla chips
09 Least-shocking revelation about RL Stine:
A. Never played outdoors as a child
B. Is actually the pen-name of thirty-seven different men and women, and one centaur
C. Cracked magazine's demise actually the result of seven years of litigation from Scholastic's lawyers over ill-received "GooseDumps" parody
D. Goosebumps paid for his fleet of yachts, Fear Street for his wine cellar, and Superstitious for most of a McFlurry
10 RL Stine provides a new backstory for John Waters Shopkeeper from the Haunted Mask. What caused the old man to open an evil costume shop?
A. Freak chemistry lab explosion
B. Perfectly normal chemistry lab explosion
C. Elaborate ploy for Eric Stoltz's affections
D. The lines at the city registration building for opening any other kind of shop were too long
11 The Scarecrow Walks At Midnight was inspired by
A. That time RL Stine saw a scarecrow walk at midnight
B. That time RL Stine said cheese and died-- again
C. That time RL Stine didn't go to sleep
D. That time RL Stine lived in your basement
12 RL Stine gives a backstory for the Darks from the Girl Who Cried Monster. Where did the family immigrate come from?
A. Convenientending, Germany
C. Mexico. Is this why Republicans want that wall? To keep out monsters?
D. Vatican City, as the entire book is elaborate precursor to Angels and Demons
13 Stine reveals some new ways one can become a werewolf. Which of the following is one of them?
A. Drink after a werewolf without wiping lip of glass first
B. Have unprotected sex with werewolf
C. Accidentally give werwolf the same Christmas present you gave him last year
D. Rub self with plants
14 RL Stine refers to plot holes from Phantom of the Auditorium as
A. Proof of his gross incompetency as an author
B. Unanswered questions
15 RL Stine takes Conan the Barbarian down a peg by revealing he sleeps with
A. Sienna Miller
B. A teddy bear named "Fluffster"
C. A loaded shotgun
BONUS And finally, in the most amazing bit of revisionism, what were the employees of Horrorland before they were monsters?
A. Burn victims
B. Car crash victims
C. Members of Ice-T's wife-bronzing posse
D. Um, monsters?
Goosebumps By the Numbers
Percent of books with no twist: 11%
Percent of titles ending in exclamation point: 13%
Percent of books with a platonic boy-girl relationship: 89%
--Percent of remaining books that are just Monster Bloods: 57%
Percent of books written in first-person: 82%
Percent of books with a female protagonist: 35%
Total number of minority characters: 20
--Percent which are Egyptian: 45%
Total number of books with minority characters as protagonists: 3
--Percent which are Egyptian: 67%
Total instances of "What.": 43
Ten Best Goosebumps Characters
01 Andy from Monster Blood
Ten WORST Goosebumps Books
It probably goes without saying, but this list was far harder to whittle-down than the Best list.
10 My Best Friend Is Invisible (#57)
How bad is this book? It bumped both My Hairiest Adventure and the Horror at Camp Jellyjam off the list. That's pretty bad.
09 Say Cheese and Die-- Again! (#44)
Sequels rarely get love from the blog, and this abomination is no exception. Rapid weight gain is fine if you're DeNiro, but when it's a twelve year old boy gaining massive amounts of weight just so Stine can make poorly (portly?) constructed fat jokes, I'd rather say "No thanks-- again!"
08 Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes (#34)
I still remember.
07 Deep Trouble II (#58)
Sometimes I realize that no matter how ridiculous the book is, I can never quite sell its badness for readers of the blog. You may have some vague notion of the book's badness, but its true terribility remains ungrasped. Be thankful.
06 the Abominable Snowman of Pasadena (#38)
An adventure book that's about as exciting as buying socks and bar-none the strangest final twenty pages of any Goosebumps books are but two of the strikes against the peculiar novel. If the Geico Cavemen have taught us nothing else, and they haven't, it's that no one chooses to experience fictional ape-men on purpose.
05 Egg Monsters From Mars (#42)
Sometimes I considered revisiting the first four or five books I covered and redoing their entries in the more recent style. Eventually I decided that the first book I ever read for the blog has the entry it deserves.
04 A Shocker on Shock Street (#35)
One of the worst examples of what would become a growing trend in the series, the "Let's just line up crazy things in a row from the beginning of the book to the end" approach. Two problems. Firstly, that's a really unwieldy name for an approach. Secondly, despite how easily mockable these sort of books are, thus making my job easier, they are still infuriatingly bad.
03 Attack of the Jack-O'-Lanterns (#48)
I still remember getting to the last twenty pages or so, putting the book down, and actually saying out loud "Really? Really?" Like I was going to get a response from a book. The lesson here is don't try asking a book a question, it won't work.
02 the Legend of the Lost Legend (#47)
I reread this entry recently and even I couldn't believe I didn't just make half of it up.
01 Monster Blood IV (#62)
The nadir of the series, and proof that the end of the original Goosebumps line was a mercy killing. I wrote in the initial entry that this book was only slightly below Chicken Chicken solely because it lacked the ugliness of that tome. So what was true then remains true now. Monster Blood IV is nothing but the worst traits of the series, lined up one after another (and occasionally simultaneously) in one-hundred-plus pages of middle fingers to the reading audience. Truly Monster Blood IV is the worst Goosebumps book ever thrown at a public. That it was received by readers with the same enthusiasm as being peed on solves once and for all the question of how the original series earned its fate.
00 Chicken Chicken (#53)
This book doesn't deserve a number. It doesn't even deserve to be listed. To list it implies some value, even as a marker for the lows of the series. But this book doesn't deserve the attention it will garner just by virtue of its position. This isn't a case of "So bad it's good," this is "So bad I want to vomit, quick get me that bowl from the Go Eat Worms! game." Chicken Chicken very nearly ended the blog two years ago, but I ultimately decided to push forward. I don't know what else to say except it really is that bad.
Ten BEST Goosebumps Books
10 How I Learned to Fly (#52)
Sometimes RL Stine didn't try to scare his readers, sometimes all he wanted to put forth was a mild fantasy. This is surely the best "non-scary" Goosebumps book, with a genuinely weird concept and easily the sweetest twist ending in the series. Plus it filled that flying dog void that Underdog had left empty for several decades.
09 Stay Out of the Basement (#02)
I don't ask a lot from children's literature, but this is the only Goosebumps book to actually fulfill my Axe Murderer Quota.
08 Welcome to Camp Nightmare (#09)
For this retrospective, I resisted making a list of best and worst endings, despite it being a seemingly given category to cover. The truth is, most of the memorable endings are hard to classify as either, and the majority of those endings are from books on either list anyways. Everyone who read this one as a kid remembers this ending, and I'd wager most if not all felt cheated back then. However, this was one of the biggest revelations from revisiting the series-- what seemed ridiculous as a child now seems perversely appropriate. In case you forgot, this is the one where they all turn out to be aliens or something.
07 the Ghost Next Door (#10)
No other Goosebumps book ever attempted gravitas on this level, but given how successful this deeply depressing book is, you'd think Captain Yuks would have written more like it. Clearly evil sponges and sports camps were just too darn tempting.
06 the Headless Ghost (#37)
I don't particularly think ghosts are any more terrifying than vampires or ventriloquist dummies, but it's hard not to notice that Stine's ghost-centered books are among his finest achievements. I guess he should have let the spirit move him more often huh
05 the Haunted School (#59)
Slightly less terrifying than Pleasantville, this is another of Stine's last-minute bursts of creativity. The ink-spitting orgy remains the most bizarre moment in any Goosebumps book-- except for maybe when the car wash cost five dollars.
04 You Can't Scare Me! (#15)
Another Goosebumps book that aged into being appreciated, like fine wine or a British actress. Any book that contains bee throwing and still earns a spot must be really good.
03 Werewolf Skin (#60)
Well, it wouldn't be a real Goosebumps list without werewolves somewhere. An early favorite since the blog began, this one has it all: Werewolves and things that aren't werewolves.
02 Ghost Camp (#45)
The closest a Goosebumps book has come to being scary. The novel is atmospheric, darkly comic, and ingenious-- three descriptors rarely lobbed at this series. If all Goosebumps books were of this quality, this blog wouldn't be so popular.
01 Be Careful What You Wish For... (#12)
For better or worse, this book is Goosebumps. It is deeply flawed and contains many of the worst problems the series suffers from, yet remains just as disturbing and memorable as it was the first time I read it in grade school. The finale, with its completely unfair and entirely out of proportion punishment, remains the single greatest reminder of why kids everywhere loved these books. The book reminds us all of how we were able, for at least a little while, to look past the flaws and embrace the series. We read the books to be surprised. We read the books to be entertained. We read the books to be scared. Perhaps we even read the books just because everyone else was too. Regardless, the twelfth book in the series gives the reader the entirety of the Goosebumps experience in one shot. Be Careful What You Wish For... is the definitive Goosebumps book, and the best.
ANSWERS TO QUIZ
1 C 2 B 3 C 4 C 5 A 6 B 7 C 8 C 9 A 10 A
11 A 12 B 13 D 14 B 15 B BONUS A
Well, what now?