MJN SEIFER's "Give Yourself Goosebumps" blog

All "Give Yourself Goosebumps" read, and rated.


Escape From Horror House
mjnseifer

Plot: Okay, let’s get this out of the way; at no point in the book does anyone “Escape” from a house.  This is mentioned on both normal Wikipedia, and the Goosebumps version, and is probably mentioned elsewhere too.  What actually happens in this book is that you are in serious trouble with your parents, because someone has been putting handprints on the walls, overturning chairs, turning pictures upside down, and other annoying things, but it’s not you who’s doing it – it’s a ghost! The book switches to a flashback and you learn from your friend Bobby that the only explanation is that a poltergeist is haunting your house.  R.L tries to characterize Bobby as the kind of kid who uses words that no one else knows because he’s a genius – which fails because R.L seems to think that “poltergeist” is a word no one knows.

Back in the present, your mother punishes you by forbidding you from anything you like and ordering you to clean up the mess that she thinks you made... and then leaves you home alone.  Yes, I know this isn’t as bad as the previous book where your parents left you on an entire boat, but would any parent actually trust their kid, especially one as troublesome as how the poltergeist is making him/her look to his/her mother to actually obey her while she’s gone?  Parents in the Goosebumps world... they just don’t care do they?  Anyway, once your mother has gone you shout to the poltergeist, angrily asking if it has finished haunting you, now that it’s finally gotten you in trouble. The poltergeist tells you it’s nowhere near finished and that its ultimate goal is to take over your body, by writing a message on the wall.

You answer a knock at the door, and find a woman standing outside who says that she can help you.  I was on Page 3 when I read the message, and was told to turn to Page 104 to answer the door, and now R.L tells me to turn all the way back to Page 5! For some reason that seems like bad placing for the book, but I may just be looking at it the wrong way.  Either way, the woman at the door is named Madame Matilda, and she is here to help you get rid of your poltergeist problem. However, you’re not sure if you trust her or not...

Story A: You decide to trust Matilda, and let her in to your house.  She invites you to join her in a séance and together you summon the poltergeist, who for reasons that I doubt even R.L himself can explain, the poltergeist isn’t the ghost of a human kid, but the ghost of a... “something”. He is described as a boy with pointed ears, and three fingers on each hand.  The poltergeist leaves the room, and Matilda just randomly falls asleep here, making it doubtful she’s be any help to you at all.  You have a short choice of attempting to deal with the poltergeist on your own, but the story moves on properly if you try (and fail) to wake her up, and then another ghost hunter appears at your door.  The ghost hunter, a man named Marvin, barely has time to hand you his business card before Matilda wakes up to accuse him of being a fraud, and predictably he accuses her of the same thing.  After choosing which one to side with (you can even try to get both to work together if you like) the story is about trying to exorcise the poltergeist with whoever you’ve chosen to work with.

Story B: Funny how I complained about the placing of the pages being too far away earlier – for now, I am already on the page I’m supposed to be on!  Anyway, you shut and lock the door before Matilda can get in, and then wonder what you’re going to do next, as there’s no way you’re going to face a haunted house on your own.  You decide that you should call in Bobby for help, as well as another friend named Lisa, who is described as being tough and not scared of anything.  I’m kind of disappointed in R.L. for simply coming right out and telling me who my character is going to call in for back up – this is a book about ghostbusting, and R.L. has just passed up the perfect opportunity to end a page with the sentence “Who you gonna call?”

Choosing to go down to the dark basement to send an email (yes, there is a choice to use the phone instead) because your mother has locked your computer (you’re grounded, remember?) you fumble around in the dark looking for a lamp, as the main light hasn’t been fitted with a new bulb yet, and after falling, fumbling, and (of course!) feeling something brush up against you, you finally find a lamp to turn on, but when you do you scream because you see ghostly faces in the walls of your basement, and run back out, but then force yourself back to send the email – hoping the faces won’t see you send the email.  However, you have no idea when your friends will get the message, and now the basement door is locked (the book mentions this a bit too suddenly) and if you choose to breakout you manage to succeed a little too easily.

You turn to see that faces on the walls have returned – and these faces, are no false alarms, for they are all stuck in a facial position of agony and pain.  The faces plead with you to help them, and if you listen to them you find that they are all former humans – and victims of the poltergeists (yes, that’s plural this time); apparently, taking over a body eventually burns out the body, and then it becomes one of the faces you are now face to face with.  The only way to stop the poltergeists, the faces tell you is to make sure that no one in your house exhibits fear or anger, as they are the two emotions that poltergeists thrive on.

Side Story C: Exists within Story B.  Instead of trying to break out of the basement, you convince the poltergeists that human bodies get sick, and break very easily, and are therefore not ideal bodies for them to take over.  They let you out of the basement when you promise to find a better body for them.  Bobby and Lisa arrive, and you subtly clue them in on your plan, and together you find new non-human bodies for the poltergeists.

Opinions: There’s something about this book, which gives it somewhat more... “Horror” aspect, than the other books in the series, even though Give Yourself Goosebumps is billed as Horror throughout.  For some reason, the deaths are a little more graphic than they usually are – even when you take in to account the fact that R.L. can’t mention everything that’s happening, due to the target audience, and even then he still describes a lot more in detail than I expected him too.  Take the ending when your head explodes for example; R.L. could have easily have just left it at your head exploding, but no, he had to write about the skin melting off of your face before your head explodes, didn’t he?  In fact “melting faces” seems to be the favorite bad ending of this book, and just in case you ever asked yourself “If my face was to melt off, would it be painful?” R.L. has to decided to attempt to answer that question, and according to this book, yes, it is painful – the book clearly describes you screaming in agony due to a “searing pain”, so now you can put your mind at rest with this one.

The book manages to describe the bad endings in a way that makes you understand what’s happening (very much so, in some endings, as I just touched upon) in order to make you feel inferior for making the wrong choice, and make you empathize with your character, and it is very easy to imagine what is happening to him/her/you.  The choices in this book are all just choices, there are no alternative methods such as coin flips, days of the week, or even item checks, but the book still provides interactive entertainment for the reader, albeit in the simplest form, and sometimes that can be all that is needed for a Choose Your Own Adventure book, at the end of the day – it’s just nice to do things a little differently for at least one choice.

However, if I’m really honest the one thing this book lacks is the traditional Goosebumps humor.  Aside from one “Should you stay or should you go?” choice (I included the same joke in one of my Choose Your Own Adventures, and assumed it to be original...) the only example of humor I could find was when Marvin and Matilda were too busy arguing to notice your character being eaten, and even that wasn’t as comedic as it could have been.  For a Give Yourself Goosebumps book, giggling at ghosties is thin on the ground, but this is still a decent, albeit somewhat graphic book in the franchise.

When I started reading stories, on one thing I could depend.
That all books have beginnings, and they only have one end.
I’d read all of the pages, in sequence then be done.
Then R.L. Stine showed, that there was a way that books could be more fun.
So now, Reader, you’re going to choose the scare, but you must beware.
You’ll see that making choices, brings out the fun in having fear.
So... Give yourself some Goosebumps.
...Whatever rhymes with Goosebumps.
Feel your fear extending
Checking out every ending
Find the most deserving
Of the Most Disturbing;
Like-endings-where-your-face-melts-off-or-endings-where-your-head explodes-or-even-endings-where-you-return-home-to-find-your-family-are-now-hideous-monsters-because-the-poltergeist-possessed-them-while-you-were...
(deep breath)
Goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooone.

 HAPPY HALLOWEEN

The Cover: A “monster house” with two windows being the eyes, and the door being the mouth.  This is about as relevant to the story as the “escape” part in the title.

Lazy Prologue: For some time now, Give Yourself Goosebumps has copy ‘n’ pasted the same paragraph at the end of the prologue (the one that starts with “This scary adventure is all about you.”) In the past they’d be altered at least slightly to go with the story, but then suddenly they just stopped caring.  This is pretty bad for this book because the paragraph always contains the line; “If you choose well, you’ll make it home again.”  The problem?  You’re already home during this book!


Ship of Ghouls
mjnseifer

Plot: You, your parents, and your best friend Glenn are waiting to board a cruise ship named the SS Finatic which will take you to Japan for a vacation. We are then given some mild backstory in that your father loves to come up with useless trivia, he and your mother own a business together, and Glenn is of the Give Yourself Goosebumps best friend variety that is a wimp (as opposed to being of the variety that is more adventurous than you).  Your mother’s mobile rings, and she is told that there is an undisclosed emergency at her undisclosed business, and the cruise will have to be cancelled, and because you’re twelve and not four, you decide to use logic as opposed to simply throwing a temper-tantrum. So, you suggest that you and Glenn take the cruise on your own, because nothing is more logical than two twelve year olds being on a ship for two weeks with no adult supervision whatsoever.  

A steward who your parents have never met before offers to keep an eye on you, and your parents agree to letting you stay on the ship, as do Glen’s when your parents call them.  Are all the adults idiots in this book?

You are your cabin by a crew member, who is described as being really pale and almost slimy looking, and you find a magnet shaped like the ship.  The first thing is important soon, but the second will be important at some point... maybe. Using a map you find, you and Glen explore the Finatic and typically the first room you come to is off limits.  Hmmm... I wonder if you’ll have to go in that room later in the book?   Glen then shows you that the mysterious room isn’t even on the map, so what we’ve got here, is an off limits room, that they are clearly trying to hide... yeah, if this is anything like a videogame, we’re definitely going in that room later in the book.  You and Glen notice a strange passenger with a bag glance around, presumably to check no one can see what he’s doing – and then enters the secret off limits room, and you and Glen follow him.  See? I told you we’d go into that room later – one whole page later!

Turns out the room is just a storage room (which is probably what you’d get if this was a videogame, but in that case you’d be able to use all the items there.), but you head into the next room to find the man you saw earlier, who tells you that you need to get off the ship as soon as you can.  Thinking he’s obviously insane, you politely apologise, and try to leave, and then the man, not only tells you his (actual!) name; Tom Bosco, but also that he has a bomb, that he is planning to blow up the ship, and he is actually going to let you go.  For a terrorist, he hasn’t really thought things through...

Glen thinks that Tom is just an attention seeker, and there’s no point in alerting the authorities about him.  You of course, are not too sure, and the book divides into the usual scenarios.

Story A: You decide to tell the authorities that they might have a terrorist on board.  Glen still doesn’t believe, and giggles like an imbecile as you explain your fears to a crewmember – hang on, I thought Glen was supposed to be the variety of Give Yourself Goosebumps friends that got scared easily?  Now all of a sudden he’s of the variety that jokes around and doesn’t take anything seriously?  Anyway, the crewmember does take things seriously, and Tom is apprehended by several crewmembers, and is revealed to have a bomb like he said.  You and Glen decide that you now need to talk to Tom to check why he wanted to blow up the ship, because it’s not like you could have done that before you reported him.  You sneak towards the locked room that Tom was thrown in, and find out from him that the whole cruise was just a ploy by a lunatic to lure people in to one place to conduct an experiment, because what would a Goosebumps book be without at least one crazy experiment going on somewhere? The book forces me to turn a page before I learn that the experiment turns humans into monsters, and that the experiments take place in a room that is imaginatively named “The Room”.  The crew arrive to take Tom, to that very place, and it’s down to you and Glen to save him, and stop the experiments.

Story B: You choose to ignore Tom, as no one would be stupid enough to admit they had a bomb and then let you go when you could easily tell the authorities about them, unless of course you were in this book.  Since you are in this book, it is revealed that Tom did have a bomb and your cruise is interrupted by an explosion that rocks the boat, and even causes a hunk of metal to go flying past your head (this really sounds like a close call, but the book mentions it like it’s an every day occurrence.) and the boat starts to sink, as you realize that (and I could be totally wrong on this, it’s just my opinion after all) it just might have been a good idea to have warned people about the bomb threat after all.
The boat soon sinks, and you find yourself surrounded by debris trying to keep you head above water.   Depending on your choice, you and Glen are picked up by separate lifeboats, and the book then reveals that you are to share your lifeboat with four teenagers; Bob, Judy, Steve, and Hal.  The storyline here is; that all four of them are from the same school, and were on a field trip, but don’t actually like each other, but were ironically (read: predictably) the only ones to survive the shipwreck.  The problem with this is that at no point is ever even alluded to why they don’t like each other.  It’s all for the sake of moving on the storyline without actually having a storyline.  There is very little in the way of food, there are no other ships around, and you have the added guilt that you could have actually prevented all this somehow (you don’t actually feel like telling anyone that though), and you go for ten days without seeing a single ship or plane to save you, and pretty much doing nothing.  It is at this point I learn that the only thing more exciting than being lost at sea with nothing to do, is reading about being lost at sea with nothing to do.  Will you be able to survive being lost at sea?

Side Story C: Exists within Story A.  You and Glen attempt to blend into a crowded room in order to avoid detection.  You end up in some kind of Activities Lounge, and have to choose between taking part in either golf, darts, or a magic act (what?! We just did that!), and at least two of these are more serious than they sound, and one even contains an item check.

Opinions: Well, the fact that I took so damn long to review this book should tell you something right?  Though to be honest, I really don’t know why I find this book so non-motivating, there are certainly Give Yourself Goosebumps books that are far worst than this one, and it’s fairly well written (apart from Glen’s personality changing depending on the situation), but I just wasn’t too interested in either storyline, and the “B” storyline was the worst offender because it seems to take forever for anything to actually happen.  Though it does have some merits; this is actually where I learned that drinking sea water when you’re already dying of thirst will kill you (So, R.L.’s finally doing his research?!) and there is a twist towards the end of the story which kind of made the story semi interesting the first time I read it, and it seems to be the first time this kind of twist has been used in a GYG book, so it deserves praise for that if nothing else.  The “A” Story has more of an adventure to it, and the only thing really stopping me from enjoying at much as the other books is that I personally didn’t find the overall storyline that interesting – I just can’t quite my finger on why.  I get that the idea behind a ship run by fish-human hybrids could be an interesting storyline if done correctly, but I just didn’t feel pulled in as much as I have with the other books. 

There is also a moment on Page #63 where the book reminds you that you picked up a magnet on Page #9 earlier, when, this being a game book, it would have probably have been better the picking up the magnet to be optional, and then ask if you had it here, in my mind. In fact maybe another attempt at an item check, maybe even a fully used item check could have made the book more interesting for me.

While there are some choices that require some level of thought, but in my opinion it’s not quite up to the standard of other books, and the ones left over just don’t go anywhere.  One positive aspect of the book is that the usually mockery that tends to appear after making a bad choice is ever present, and there is some humor in the book as always, but even that was touch and go in my eyes, for example: Page #106 ends with two mocking sentences, and the first one was actually funny enough on its own.  Some of the characterizations seemed all over the place at times too; as mentioned before Glen kept changing personalities between pages, and the reader’s character was almost as inconsistent – how exactly can you be a twelve year old kid who can easily make his/her own compass, and is able to build a raft with no tools whatsoever and be someone who doesn’t know what sushi is at the same time?  That said the continuity between wrong and right choices was pretty good in places, and there were some bad endings that made you regret your choice to some extent - though once again, some of the other books did better at this, but this is still one of the books strongest points.

At the end of the day, this book is another one that had the potential to be so much better than it actually was, but is thankfully better than some of the lower books, but there are a lot that are better than it too.

Most Disturbing Ending: The closest I could find was the one where you die of slow paralyzing poisoning – three words that should never follow each other when describing how someone died.

The Cover: A shark with misted emitting from his mouth, and a sunken ship behind him.  There is a shark in the book, but only during one set of choices, so this probably isn’t the best cover.

Most “well, duh!” Moment: “You’ve eaten lobster before – but you’ve never been eaten by a lobster!”

Blurb Problems: In the UK version at least the blurb doesn’t mention Story B at all.


Hocus-Pocus Horror
mjnseifer
 
You are at the Civic Centre Auditorium with your friend Zack watching a magic act staring The Great Mysterio. Zack is enjoying the show because he thinks magic is real, and of course, you don’t, which of course means it is real – oh, sorry ***SPOILER ALERT***.  While you don’t care for magic shows themselves, you apparently have ulterior motives for attending the show; you want to stop Mysterio from harming any animals in his act, yes, it seems R.L. is finally attempting to appeal to the young activists in his fan base or something.   Mysterio performs a standard magic trick, and asks for two volunteers, causing Zack to volunteer, and you to slump into your seat (yeah, that’s not going to draw any attention to you...).  You and Zack are chosen, an instructed to go through a door.  When you do so, something weird happens, and you get a feeling as though you just “taken a fast lift down” and everything loses focus for a second or so.  You try to convince Zack to reconsider the magic act, but Zack taunts you until you agree with him.
 
When you arrive back stage, you and Zack realize that the place looks rundown, even though the Civic Centre is brand new, furthermore, Mysterio looks different; he is ghost-white and more evil looking.  Mysterio performs an act which involves him electrocuting a puppy, while asking him various things, leading to some lame puns based on the puppy barking. As you can imagine, this performance really disgusts your character, but you don’t have much time to act on it as Mysterio introduces his volunteers, adding that you’ll both remember this act for the rest of your live, which may not be that long...
 
Story A: You decide to run away, and this time Zack doesn’t need convincing.  As you head for the door, the puppy (whose name is Ralph) stands in your way, and you don’t take long to realize that he wants you to help him escape.  However, before you can do so, the three of you hear Mysterio shouting from the stage, causing Ralph to jump into a suitcase, and when you look inside the suitcase, you can’t see him anymore, but you can see a box of “Disappearing Powder”, which actually causes invisibility, not a disappearance.  You take the suitcase, and the invisible dog too, and escape from the magic show, but then when you look at the suitcase you see the following words; “MYSTERIO’S BAG OF TRICKS. DO NOT OPEN! DANGER!!!”.  This concerns you and Zack because, you’re not sure if you should leave the suitcase closed, as Ralph could be at risk, but you can’t really ignore the warning, and what happens if Mysterio decides he wants his suitcase back?
 
Story B: You and Zack decide to hide, but the only place available is behind the curtains, but when you do, you are eventually forced to peak out slightly for some air.  However, this gives you your first look at Mysterio’s audience, and you don’t like what you see – everyone in the audience is a phantom, and you realize that the only reason you and Zack didn’t notice in the audience is because you must have been Under the Magician’s Spell, oh sorry, that’s another book.  You return to your hiding place, and overhear Mysterio shout that he wants his “guinea pigs” on stage as soon as possible, and something about a space-time gate, which you realize with horror, can only mean one thing; you’re in a Give Yourself Goosebumps book with no continuity between scenarios!!  Oh, and you’re also in a different dimension.  Zoltan, Mysterio’s assistant finds you, and informs you that you are to be part of Mysterio’s act, and if you do well, you’ll be allowed to go home, but if you disappoint him, you’ll become a phantom, and be forced to watch his show for eternity.
 
Side Story C: Appears to be when you decide to run from the magic act in Story B, but it is just an extended method of getting two bad endings, and there are only two choices to make.  So this book may not have one.
 
Opinions: Well first things first; no this book is not a carbon copy of Under the Magician’s Spell although admittedly I did wonder if it would be when I first read it.  So thankfully that’s that of the way.
 
The storylines used for this book are fairly interesting.  I can see the potential of writing a book like this about having to participate in an evil magician’s act, and trying to survive his deadly tricks, and the scenario where you are trying to protect the dog throughout was a nice touch, purely because I like animals myself, so the fact that “I” was putting one first made it either for me to relate to my character, and indeed making choices that would put the dog at risk usually causes the book to end badly for you, but I realize opinions of non animal lovers may vary, but it was a nice touch in my eyes. 
 
However, the book is not without faults; the book contains a choice where it asks you if you believe in mind reading, which isn’t really a choice in a CYOA way, as if you don’t you need to lie and say you do, and there are quite a few choices that don’t leave to much evidence as to what would be awaiting you on the next page.  There is also one page where the reader has to choose between taking the orders of either a police officer, or a woman that you’ve only just met (and another choice where you ignore them both), if you choose to obey the woman, the next page has you throwing the bag at her, as though she’s the enemy – how is that taking orders from her?  There is also a bad ending in Story A that can be arrived at in two different ways; one way is a simple choice, and makes sense when you think about it (it’s slightly out of left field, but the good choice is beneficial to the dog, so it makes sense given the context of the book). However, the other way this ending is achieved, involves a load of choices (some of which involving spelling) that are ultimately irrelevant considering R.L. had planned on you failing from the get-go.  The fact that you have to spell a word is an interesting idea for a choice, and it is one of those words that has multiple versions (“there/their”), but the fact that it’s another one of those choices where you ultimately lose either way, it loses its impact one you realize what’s happening. 
 
The B Storyline where you are actually in the magic act contains choices which once again deal with what hand you are, but neither of the answers lead to an ending directly, but rather two more choices one of which leads to an ending, which is a little different, but on one of them, the ending just seems far too abrupt (you survive, but the book just ends, and doesn’t really tell you what happens next), there are some choices that do make you think slightly, such as choosing between picking one of two cards, with one of them being one that Mysterio clearly wants you to choose (you can tell by the way he holds it), but was interesting that there are no points in the book where the reader has to draw cards themselves, when it seems like an appropriate book to include it, especially after make such a shoddy job of it on the otherwise decent Under the Magician’s Spell – it would have given R.L. the chance to rectify it, especially after how he has now proved that he has learned how to do card based choices properly (note: there is a chance the card trick was meant to be unwinable deliberately, but the whole thing still felt like a waste of time).  Some choices are things like “Should I move, or stay put” or “should I go along with this trick, or not” which is basically what you’d expect in a story like this, and in some cases (like the former) the ending if you get one is pretty well done, and kind of fools you for a second into think that you’ve gotten away safely.  The latter however, is pretty flimsy when it comes to deciding whether you get an ending or not.
 
The bottom line here, for some reason, is that the storylines used in this book are interesting, but have been poorly implemented.  The majority of choices in this book just don’t connect enough to each other, and at certain times it’s just “oh yeah, this was a bad choice all along”.  There are choices which, as mentioned are impossible to do without cheating/lying – unless you really believe that Zack can read your mind (and the book says he can’t when you say he can, but gives you a bad ending if you say he can’t).  Zack is just a bland add on, who is just there for the sake of it, and there just isn’t enough obvious chemistry for you and him to notice – it was like R.L. just sat down and thought “Okay, for this book, you don’t like magic, your friend does, and the book’s about magic.  Done.”   The most likeable aspect of this book is that you were mostly trying to save someone else in one of the stories – and a dog no less, which made me find “my” character more compassionate than the other “me”s that appeared in the books.
 
At the end of the day, this book had the storylines to be a good book, but the way the majority of choices where handled let it down.  The sad thing is that this seems to be the first time this book has been reviewed in detail online (Demian’s Gamebooks ignores it.), and I really hoped I’d be able to do a somewhat decent review on it, but in the long run the majority of the book just doesn’t gel in my memory as much as the others – my thoughts of it are basically; “Right, there’s a dog that needs saving, who turns invisible, either you or you friend can turn invisible, and I think there’s a magician involved.”
 
Most Disturbing Ending: Being pulled into a coffin by a skeletal hand.
 
The Cover: Shows a monster in a top hat bighting a wand.  This is actually you, but only in one small part of the book, so why this was used as the cover is beyond me.
 
Prologue Problems: The prologue of the book seems to imply that both you and Zack are fans of magic shows, but the book clearly states you’re not.  I am hoping for R.L.’s sake that it is someone else who writes the prologues, because they keep contradicting what the book says.
 
Line of achievement award: Page 51: “The nasty gleam in its eye tells you this rabbit is hopping mad!”
 
Nothing Needs Explaining: Why does Mysterio have a genie that gives spelling tests in his suitcase?

Elevator to Nowhere
mjnseifer

Plot: You’ve got to do some sort of science project for your school, and you have been paired up with a girl named Jamie, who’s uncle just so happens to be an inventor.  There’s actually an exclamation mark in the book during that part, seemingly to emphasise how amazing it is to have a friend who has an inventor for an uncle, but that just seems like pretty run-of-the-mill stuff in the Goosebumps universe to be honest.  You’re really enthusiastic about how easy the project is going to be, and Jamie warns you that Uncle Darius is “Extremely extreme” (yes, she does), and that it would be best not to let him demonstrate his inventions because they hardly ever work the way you think they would.  Once again, pretty textbook stuff so far, also if you’re not supposed to ask Darius to demonstrate his inventions, how exactly is he going to be any help to you project?  This is my question, not your character’s question, your character’s much more interested in some story about “Escalator Shoes” and the look of Uncle Darius’s house.

 

The house has broken and barred windows, and looks like no one has lived there a hundred years, according to “your” thoughts, and yet there is no assumption of it being haunted – I am reading a GYG book, right?  You and Jamie figure that Darius probably just doesn’t have time to look after the house due to all his inventing taking up the time, and there’s a quick appearances of Darius’s cat, just to point out that he has one I guess, and also to set up something later on, and the two of you enter the house and gaze at several machines, none of which are described yet, and a pair of hands suddenly grab your shoulders, but since these hands couldn’t, you know, belong to Darius or anything like that I am literally brimming with suspense as I turn my eyes towards the next page.

 

Turns out the hand do belong to Darius after all (R.L., how do you do it?) he invites you into the lab, not bothering to go over the safety procedures, because it’s not like kids can come to any harm in a room full of untested inventions, and announces he’s about to test out one of his inventions – “The Transuniversal Transvator” which you think looks like an elevator, because it is one.  Which is strange because Darius’s house is only one floor, but he goes on to explain that instead of taking you to different floors, it takes you to different universes – wait, does that mean that the Elevator to Nowhere is really an Elevator to Somewhere? You of course, think Darius has lost it, but humor him by asking if you can have a go at it.  Darius however, tells you it is dangerous as all the universes are the same as this one, but with one deadly difference.

 

Darius steps into the Transvator, and after a while come back out again, and seems somewhat different, in that his voice has changed, and that he casually hands you a box with your own head in it.  As Darius approaches you and Jamie with a machete, the two of you decide that it’s probably for the best if you get away from him, and once you do Jamie explains that this can’t be the same Darius – it must be one from one of the other universes.  She remembers out loud that the real Darius once told her about a universe where head-hunting is actually a sport, and happens all the time, so this Darius must have come from there, and the real Darius must be in that universe, and you have to save him.  You feel somewhat panicked when you realize that the “other” you has already died, and that the Evil Darius may decide he wants a “matching pair” of heads, and will come after you, but you can’t escape because the doors have locked, and the controls are somewhere in the lab, were Evil Darius is, and Jamie suggests that you and her journey to the Head-Hunting Universe to find the real Darius, but you’re not sure if being in a world with several head-hunters is any better than being in your own world with just one, but you realize that saving the real Darius may be your only chance at stopping the evil version.  Jamie then suggests, that maybe you could use one of Good Darius’s inventions to capture Evil Darius, and as you can imagine; the choice is yours...

 

Story A: You decide to use the Transvator to journey to the Head-Hunting Universe to save the real Darius, because – in R.L.’s words; “Who knows what’s happening to him in the head-hunting universe?”  Well, I’m no expert, R.L., but I would assume he’s being head-hunted.  You and Jamie make it safely to the Transvator, and narrowly escape from Evil Darius and his machete.  Jamie orders you to press a button, that will take you to another world before Evil Darius gets the doors open, and you see that five of them are labelled, so you have to choose which one to press, and there for which universe to head to.  I just realized I said “head” to.

 

Story B: You decide to stay in your own universe, and use Good Darius’s inventions against Evil Darius, in order to force him to take you to where Good Darius is.  Of course, this isn’t as simple, as you have no real idea what the inventions do, and Jamie can only help with what she knows.

 

Side Story C: You’re not getting one.

 

Opinions: Oh dear, what can I say about Story A?  I guess I might as well just come right out and say it – It’s too easy!  The adventure begins with you and Jamie deciding which of the five buttons, leading to five universes, to push, and you have to hope you choose the right one, which is of course, the head-hunting one.  Well, guess what – you can tell almost straight away which one is the right one due to process of elimination, as while the label on the one you want to press doesn’t scream out “Head-Hunting Universe” immediately, the other four labels couldn’t possibly be the right one, as the words used don’t match up to it, and the only one left, suddenly makes a lot of sense.  The other universes house plenty of ways to die, or lose in some other way, but the only way you’re going to see these is if you pretend that you don’t know which the correct one is (on each incorrect universe, you eventually decide to go back to the Transvator if you survive).  If R.L. had designed this scenario the way he designed Story B for “Shop Till You Drop...Dead!” and made it so you need a collection items before you enter the head-hunting universe safely (and maybe even some items to survive the other universes), then this scenario would have been more challenging, and there for more interesting, but sadly he didn’t (ironically one choice in one of the wrong universes asks if you real you has a particular item on your person).  The book does have a couple of choices that you need to think about once you reach the head-hunting universe I will admit, but I would have preferred it if there had been a way to either ensure that all worlds need to be explored, or to make the answer less obvious.

 

Story B is thankfully not as in your face easy as Story A, but unthankfully, there are a one or two choices which lead to ending which, you couldn’t have foreseen too easily, and there is quite a lot of hoping for the best to be involved, rather than actual skill at times.  Another problem is that, the majority of endings in this scenario is you being killed by Evil Darius, which kind of makes sense, but you kind of expect the inventions to be dangerous too – there are of course a few bad endings which you achieve by either using the wrong invention, or using the right invention in the wrong way, but the endings don’t actually have you being killed by the invention, hearsay, but rather, just have the invention incapacitate you until Evil Darius kills you.

 

The book’s choices are mostly the usual kind, but at some points an alternative method will appear, these consist of; the usual coin toss, a Rock Paper Scissors game, and a question on whether or not the real you fell off a climbing frame recently, the first two add a bit of something to the book, but not that much, the third is touch and go, but it ultimately leads to nothing.  The storyline in the book is interesting – I like the idea of visiting alternative universe, and I can see its potential as a plot for a CYOA book, but as I said earlier, your not given much of a challenge in achieving your goal to its fullest potential, and in contrast there is no real way you can use any skill in the other scenario, with the exception of the Escalator Shoes (which, if you paid attention at the beginning of the book, you’d know if they’re a good idea or not), but that’s really about it to be honest. 

 

So what we basically have here is a Give Yourself Goosebumps book with a Story A that is too obvious with its most important choice, and a Story B that has barley any logic whatsoever.  Have fun reading!

 

Most Disturbing Ending: I didn’t see one.

 

The Cover: A picture of Darius trying to get through the Tranvator’s doors.  I think it’s the good one, because he looks more horrified than horrifying.  Also, the books description seems to match.

 

Do Your Research R.L: Rock Paper Scissors is also known as Janken.

 

Title Failure: So were did R.L. get “Elevator to Nowhere” from anyway?  This title really doesn’t work in long run, as the elevator (really the Transvator) does lead to somewhere.  Surely naming the book after the Transuniversal Transvator wouldn’t be too bad, seeing as we soon learn what it is.  Did R.L. watch that episode of The Simpsons which included an Escalator to Nowhere, while he was writing this?

      



It Came From the Internet
mjnseifer

Before We Begin: The same as the Hotel book, this book has only one storyline, so the recap may flow a bit differently than it usually does.

 

Plot: Today’s adventure begins with you explaining to your friend Mark that you saw a “bump” on your computer’s monitor which moved around like it was alive.  Mark doesn’t believe you, so you take him to your house and show him, and you boot up your computer and sign on to the internet, so far so good.  Suddenly, however, a message appears on your computer, talking about a virus, and then Mark’s disbelief rivals that of my own when it’s revealed that “you” don’t even know what a virus is!  Yeah, I get that this is a convenient way for R.L. to explain to non computer fans what viruses are, but he could have just done so in non dialogue or something, especially as Web Crawlers are explained that way later on.  Anyway, you now know what a virus is, and want to get rid of it, but suddenly your computer lets out a long beep, and another message appears, this time, the message is more urgent, and actually makes it look like your Web Crawler is in pain, and begging you to help it, as though it’s alive.  I’d just like to point out, as a self-confessed computer geek, that even without all the extravagant Goosebumps style stuff we are no doubt about to face, this book is already pretty horrific in concept – I mean, for guys like me, what could be more scary than a computer virus?

 

It is revealed that your Web Crawler is a program called “Spyder”, and you have absolutely know idea of its true origins, as it was given to you for free, which Mark explains is often dodgy, I’m impressed so far with the computer related stuff, it’s far more accurate than I expected.  You make a few choices as to what to do, to delete the virus, and save your computer, when eventually you notice something strange on the screen of the monitor – the face of a monster, which judging from it’s appearance, you and Mark deduce that somehow, this is actually your Web Crawler, but the fact that you can actually see your Web Crawler as a monster doesn’t phase you in the slightest – in fact you act like it’s cool, and just casually try to delete the virus, but then another message tells you not to delete the virus.  However, you continue to try to delete it, but you can’t move your mouse anymore, and then “Spyder” gets out of the computer on to your desk (it uses that “bump” to do so, so no, R.L. hasn’t forgotten about it – even though I had.)

 

Spyder is angry with you for not helping it when it asked, and blocks your exit, and bites you on your neck!  The monster gets away, and you have to make some more choices on what to do next, but whatever path you take (even ones that “doom” you) you realize that Spyder’s has affected you very seriously – for you are beginning to feel really ill, and worst yet, you are beginning to forget things that you really should know, such as your parents names, and the way around your home (because computer viruses erase memory – get it?).  You now have to find away to get cured, and of course, get rid of Spyder.

 

Opinions: This book is a concept I find somewhat interesting, seeing as I am interested in computers, but the computer side to it isn’t always used so you can probably get into the book even if you’ve never used a computer before, as you really don’t need to know the ins and outs of computers to really know what’s going on.  At the end of the day, the main story is the fact that a “something” has infected you with a deadly illness that also causes amnesia – it just so happens that the “something” is a living computer virus, and at times, finding the cure does involve technical stuff as well. 

 

There are various paths you can take, even though this book only has one storyline, and you have the option of trying to cure yourself/catch Spyder in the real world, but there is also an option to use a sort of Virtual Reality style Internet as well, which was pretty interesting moment for me, as it seemed kind of cool to think what it would be like to do that.  The references to computers and the internet were far better than I thought they’d be – stuff like “screen names” were used, and the people in the virtual internet were represented by their avatars, even though the word “avatar” wasn’t used (we are still allowed to call them “avatars” right?). 

 

The book’s writing is much more on form when compared to the last one, and some of the endings are once again well described, and do their jobs well, and there are even some choices where you have to do a bit of extra thinking, and/or remember something you learned in the book previously.  There are a couple of events where you have to figure out the page number yourself, based on some clues, a maze that is designed to look more like a map (and resembles the ones I remember from kids game books), and a word puzzle.  However, sadly, none of these are as clever as they should be; one of the “hidden” pages is very close to the page you’re on already, the word puzzle doesn’t really need to be solved, as the second you turn to the next page the book tells you the answer, rather than give you a choice to test you really did it, and the maze/map thing doesn’t even try to catch you out – it’s just another example of “Turn to this page if you made it/Turn to this page if you didn’t”  (Message to R.L.: People are capable of lying.) the book does try to make sure that you only have one shot at the maze, but it’s something that we’re all very unlikely to do, because why would you?  There are also the odd choice in the book that has absolutely no evidence on what good it will do (if any) and a couple of endings seem to just appear out of nowhere, but at least for the most part the story follows a coherent path, which is more than can be said for the last book (and yes, I realize that was the point).

 

 The fact that the book had only one storyline was confusing on my first go (I read this before I read the Hotel one), and a couple of early choices made it look like they were going to be the part where A and B go there separate ways, so I was surprised to find I kept hitting a bad ending, but I got around that, and found the book to be an interesting read, and as mentioned before, the majority of bad endings were described well, and the fact that your character is already dying through out most of the book added some interesting urgency.  The amnesia stuff was an interesting idea for a CYOA, and one that is used better in a later, superior book, but it managed to serve its purpose here when needed.  At the end of the day this book was interesting, as it had a fairly decent storyline, and clearly showed the potential to be a bit clever with some of its choices, but sadly it failed to do so, and looking at this it’s as if the more clever books in the series never existed, and R.L. forgot to make it so that cheating would be punished with a bad ending.  Thankfully the book is still readable for most of its “normal” choices, and it still feels like a Give Yourself Goosebumps book for the most part.  Bottom line is, this is a book I like, but it’s not normally one I rush to re-read, despite my love of computers, but it’s still more entertaining that other books I could mention.  At the end of the day, I’d recommend reading this book, but there are other GYG books out there that are a lot more of a challenge.

 

Most Disturbing Ending: Doing something that causes Spyder to explode in front of you, and its remains landing on your skin and causing an effect that (in the words of the book) “makes leprosy look like beauty treatment”.

 

The Cover: The Spyder coming out of your computer, which is a very appropriate cover.  Your computer looks pretty basic though...

 

Why Would Anyone Do That?: For the map/maze thing, R.L. orders the reader to use a pen not a pencil to draw his/her route – obviously to avoid them cheating, but like really going to permanently mark the book!

 

Self Advertising: At a few points in the book, the official Goosebumps website is mentioned, and why not?  However, it would have been cool if the real you actually had to use the real Goosebumps website to help you (say there really was a clue on there for the book) it would have added a new twist to the CYOA genre, and made the book more unique.  The only danger with doing that though is that if the Goosebumps website needed to change drastically, or was shutdown for some reason, it would make the clue useless, but still a nice idea.

 

Why De-Americanisms Aren’t Needed: In America, an alternative name for ones mother is “mom”, in the UK that term is not used, and “mum” is more common, obviously in UK versions of this book (and any other GYG book) “mom” is replaced by “mum”.  Unfortunately however, this has a negative affect on one page where “you” try to remember who your mother is, and what you call her.  You think to yourself certain words like “mub” and “mup”, which aren’t words, but in the American version it was probably “mob” and “mop” which are words, it’s obvious why they changed, but still...



It’s Only a Nightmare!
mjnseifer

Plot: The book begins with you down a hall way, with a “something” following you, and then suddenly you’re on a roof, and you fall off trying to escape, or something.  Basically this whole page is a nightmare, which was pretty obvious by not only by the share randomness of the scene, but also by the fact that the book is called It’s Only a Nightmare!  When you wake up, you remember that you are staying in an inn with you parents, who are asleep in their own room, and they love this inn, but you find it creepy, also seeing as this is a Give Yourself Goosebumps book, you might be wondering why R.L. didn’t do some sort of “Hey!  This isn’t your room!  Oh, wait – you’re just at an inn.” Style fake cliff-hanger here, well that’s because he’s got another one in mind; as you start to try to relax and get back to sleep, you hear a sound, and turn around to see that there is an actual gargoyle in the room.

 

But it turns out to be a decoration on your bed’s headboard, in fact there are four gargoyles in total, and you deduce that these are probably what caused you to have a nightmare.  You sit up, and start thinking about all the nightmares you’ve had since coming to this inn, many of which involve a strange character known as The Sleep Master, who regardless of what form he takes in the dream, he always has grey pupil-less eyes, and every time you see him in your dreams he always says the same thing; “Wake up!  Your whole life is a dream.  What you call the dream world is reality.  Wake up and live it!”  Oh, great!  It’s one of those stories!  You begin to doubt you’ll ever get to sleep now that you’ve got The Sleep Master in your mind, you try to think of a way to relax yourself, and it all boils down to a choice between heading downstairs, or trying to go back to sleep.

 

Story A: You decide to go downstairs, and once there you spy an old bookcase in the sitting room, and decide that perhaps if you read a book, you could fall asleep.  As you search the bookcase, you notice one of the books is “Dr Morphos’s Sleep Remedies” which you decide to read, and it turns out to be a book about helping a person fall asleep.  You assume it’s too old to be of any use, but decide to try it anyway, and notice that there is a warning about using these self-hypnosis techniques at the top of the page, but you make your choice about which one to try out, and you’re soon drifting away into the dream world, and decide (presumably) to go flying, which when you know you’re dreaming is very easy to do.  Soon, you are soaring through the air having the time of your life, until you eat a moth that is!  You realize something has gone wrong with your dream, and you have turned into a bat – wait a second, did I suddenly give up on It’s Only a Nightmare, and start reading an earlier, far superior Give Yourself Goosebumps book?  No I didn’t.  Anyway, you are now a bat, and you head straight for a cave, wondering why you’ve lost control of your dream so easily, and then The Sleep Master appears, and you (probably) decide to try to escape him.  Throughout this dream you alternate between various forms (including human) in ever changing locations to escape from The Sleep Master, and return to the real world.

 

Story B: You decide to stay in bed, regardless of the gargoyles.  To relax yourself, you tell yourself out loud that they’re not real, and then one of the gargoyles insists that they are real!  At first you’re scared, but then you force yourself to speak to them, and they tell you that they are in your dream.  You feel a bit better now that you know you’re asleep after all, but you want to wake up now, presumably so you can return to sleep and have a nicer dream.  One of the gargoyles stops you from trying to wake up, and tells you that there is a secret about this bed; apparently you can choose what you dream about and it will come completely true.  You are warned to be very careful what you decide to dream about for that very reason, but you assume this is all just part of your dream, but at the same time you are intrigued at the thought of controlling your dreams, and I can see your, I mean my, I mean... I can see the point R.L. is trying to make with this storyline, such as it is.  I do think it would be cool to have control of your dreams, but for them to be real?  I’m not so sure...  Anyway, you have a choice of what you want to dream about, and during that dream you can continue to dream how you want it to play out, but you must be very careful, as each dream is also real, and dreams are still not completely under your control.

 

Side Story C: Exists with in Story A.  Instead of trying to escape from The Sleep Master, you decide to hear him out, and he tells you he was once a kid from your world until he fell asleep and became The Sleep Master, and is unable to return to the real world because the ruler of the dream world, Lord Morphos is preventing him from doing so.  Apparently, Morphos traps people while they’re dreaming and keeps them in the dream world, and now of course it is your turn.  The Sleep Master tells you that you might be able to escape if your were to defeat Lord Morphos, which is easier said than done because he can manipulate the dream world anytime he decides to.  Also, I’m not even going to try to decide on whether any of these three scenarios are linked to each other or not...

 

Opinions:  Okay... this is certainly a strange book to read!  The whole thing is pretty random, regardless of what scenario you follow, the choices are really unpredictable at times, and you may find yourself suddenly faced with a bad ending, with little or no warning beforehand.  The book is somewhat difficult to gauge what could be a helpful choice, and what could be a harmful choice, the book changes pace with very little warning, and very little things in the storyline make sense.

 

But then, that’s the whole point, isn’t it!?       

 

The storyline of this book is that you are literally in a dream, but it’s also real – the rules of dreams still apply (i.e. anything can happen, and the moment you start to think of something, it affects the dream), but it has the added hindrance that it is also real life as well, meaning that you can die, or be harmed some other way meaning you are at great risk throughout the book, and sometimes the endings are completely unexpected, and come somewhat out of nowhere, even if you can tell that your choice effected it, it is a pretty thinly veiled link to what eventually befalls your character, and even when you’re not dealing with actual endings themselves the book is still pretty random, it’s like how in one section the scene suddenly shifts from a board meeting to a fast food restaurant in a matter of seconds, where of course things start to go really weird, and actually pretty deadly.  However, like I say, the whole randomness does make sense, because you are literally in a dream – it may be “real” in the sense that you can die, or be affected in some other way, but it is still a dream, which means it is entirely possible for the whole world to suddenly “go mad” for no real reason.

 

Story A is for the most part the same thing all the way through, you are trying to escape from (and sometimes, defeat) The Sleep Master, which is made harder because the randomness of the dream is used against you, and sometimes what really seems like the safest choice, will suddenly go all topsy-turvy without warning, and it suddenly becomes a fatal mistake.  On the other hand, Story B is, at a stretch, Scream of the Evil Genie part 2 in that by choosing what to dream about, and it all going wrong, is actually pretty close to making wishes and having them turn out to be a bad idea.  The story even has moments where you dream about something else, during your chosen dream (be it by accident, or on purpose) and it happens, but not the way you expected it to, it really isn’t that different to what happens with Jenna’s wishes in Scream of the Evil Genie, albeit a bit more random, but in both books most of the bad wishes/dreams are basically “They completely twisted my sentence, and now I got something I didn’t ask for!”  The added difference is of course, is that unlike last time, R.L. is not limited to just three wishes this time – you have a choice of four “starting points” in your dream, but then you continue to dream about more details to make it better, or worse.  The Side Story is just an alternative, shorter version of Story A, with a different enemy, and I can take or leave it.

 

On one hand, this book’s storyline is an interesting one; the idea of being in a dream/nightmare that can actually affect you in real life is an interesting one, and I like the idea of being able to choose your dream, in Story B.  The book’s bad endings, random as some of them were, and as odd as some of them were, are again bad enough to make the reader understand their character’s fate, but on the other hand, even though the randomness makes sense in the context of the book, it is still randomness, and it did get somewhat annoying at times, even though I got why it was there, and to be honest, it really seemed like R.L. simply had a load of weird ideas for scenarios and endings, that he couldn’t put in any other book, so he made this book purely for them, with the explanation that, because it’s a dream, it’s actually very plausible.  

 

At the end of the day, this isn’t one of the absolute best books in the series if you are the kind to play these books properly, with skills and planning, but it is still an okay read as a book itself, and as long as you realize that the randomness, is there for a reason, it can be pretty forgivable, at least sometimes, but I really wouldn’t judge the series on this book because it is just too random!  Practically every Give Yourself Goosebumps book has at least one bad ending, which has very little to do with anything, but this book is full of them, and the whole thing soon becomes a Choose Your Own Death rather than a Choose Your Own Adventure.  Also, you are once again referred to as “he” on at least one page, sorry girls!     

 

Most Disturbing Ending: Using the wrong method from “Dr Morphos’s Sleep Remedies” which causes you to fall into a nice deep sleep – only to wake up seventy years later!  Apparently your sleep was so good you slept most of your life away (this ending may also reveal your gender, unless it’s possible for women to go bald with age).  The worst thing about this ending is that the title of the page to turn to in Dr Morphos’s book, is also the title of one of my favorite songs – so of course I’m going to choose that one!  Thanks a lot R.L.!!

 

The Cover: Is a picture of The Sleep Master, who looks very much as he is described right down to his pupil-less eyes, but just in case you don’t recognise him, he is wearing a sleeping hat with his name on it for you.  He is sitting up in bed, but I can’t see any gargoyles so I don’t think it’s the bed from the story.   

 

Keep Dreaming R.L.: Early on in Story A you have a choice of reading a non-existent Give Yourself Goosebumps book entitled “Nightmares Are No Fun”  and it is listed as number 456.  Yeah, there’s no way I’m blogging all the way up to that one! J.

 

But as for real Goosebumps books: Why isn’t “Don’t Go to Sleep!” mentioned?  It would fit in perfectly.



The Werewolf of Twisted Tree Lodge
mjnseifer

Plot: You wake up on a bus, as the driver announces that you’ve reached your stop – the titular Twisted Tree Lodge.  You are the only passenger on the bus, and you are heading to a horror convention, held at the lodge.  Some back-story explains that you have won a competition for writers with a story called Revenge of the Werewolves, and the prize is to attend said horror convention, which will be attended by famous writers.  The only thing is, you won under false pretences – you never actually wrote anything, but rather found an unsigned story in a bin, and signed your own name on it as a joke (as we’ve all done at some point in our lives?) and then lost it before you could even read it, and somehow, it ended up winning the aforementioned competition.  Now that you’re here, you’re feeling a bit guilty seeing as by rights, you shouldn’t even be here.  The driver makes it worst by announcing that “This is the end for you” referring, actually, to the fact that you’ve arrived at the lodge.  Couldn’t he have said something like “This is the end of the line”?  It would be more believable, and still give the foreshadowing it’s supposed to... 

 

Twisted Tree Lodge is named because there is a twisted tree in front of it.  The bus drives away, and suddenly you are all alone in front of the lodge.  Suddenly, you notice a movement in the bushes, and then, in what is by far the most blatant moment of self advertising ever; a man dressed entirely in black, with a black hat obscuring his face, carrying a black briefcase emerges from the shadows, and, yes, you’ve guessed it, his briefcase suddenly opens, and all the pages fly out, scattering in the wind.  However, at no point do any of the pages turn into a ghostly “G” and float around random places, but rather simply land at your feet, and you realize that they are all part of a horror story, and you try to call the man over, assuming he must be one of the writers, but he’s suddenly vanished.

 

You look at one of the pages, and see the title of this man’s story is The Revenge of the Werewolves, you gaze at the title with your mouth open, and think to yourself; “You know something?  The Revenge of the Werewolves is a much better title than The Werewolf at Twisted Tree Lodge”, no hang on a second – that was what I was thinking.  What you’re thinking is that The Revenge of the Werewolves is the name of the story that you inadvertently plagiarized.  The story is about a kid who arrives at a lodge after winning a competition, and sees a man drop his story from a briefcase – are you actually in a story right now?  You check one of the other pages, and read about how everyone at the lodge is in danger, because their creations will come to life and take revenge on them for how they’ve been portrayed in their stories, so basically it’s not The Revenge of Just the Werewolves after all.  Your reaction to the story is to pretend that you’re me, and that the story is Please Don’t Feed the Vampire, and state out loud that you could have written a better story yourself.

 

You decide that the first page must have been a coincidence, but also decide that you better find that man, and return the missing pages to him.  You approach the lodge, which has a wolf’s head carved on the door, and prepare to go in, but then you see the man in black walk past some hedges, you call him, but he doesn’t hear you, and now you must decide whether you want to go in or follow the man.    

 

Story A: You enter the lodge, and it appears to be empty, but someone had to let you in, so you search the rundown lobby for signs of life, and come to a front desk and ring the silver(!) bell resting on the surface, which causes no one to arrive, so you are about to try again, and someone grabs your arm and tells you not to ring the bell, as you don’t want the people at the lodge to know that you’re here, apparently.  The guy who stopped you is a boy your age, named Corey, and not only is here another competition winner; he’s also another accidental cheater as well.  A bit more chatting reveals that neither of you really had a chance to even confess your guilt, which really does sound some kind of excuse kids would use when they are caught, but I’m pretty sure R.L. wants us to take this as fact. The two of you hear voices, and you both hide in a cupboard under the stairs, and Cory explains that something strange is happening at the lodge, and that the writers are being lured here for some reason, and that the two of you should hide until you know what to do.  Choosing to leave the cupboard introduces you to three famous (fictional) writers, but it doesn’t take you long to realize that this is a dangerous place.

 

Story B: You decide to follow the man in black, so you can give him back his manuscripts, but when you go in the direction he did, he’s nowhere to be seen.  However, there are more pages on the floor, which you examine, and then you look up to see a boy climbing out of a window from the lodge in the way everyone does on TV, but no one does in real life – by tying a load of sheets together (seriously, has any actually tried this?).  The boy tells you that he is trying to escape, just in case you confused his clichéd escape routine for something else, and that a woman locked him in his room, and told a man off for including to many characters in this story, and then the man briefly entered the boys room, and told him to wait until the other “character” arrived, and it looked like the man had clawed hands.  You ask the boy who the man was, and the boy points at the man in black who is now leaning out of the window.  The boy warns you that your life is in danger, and runs into the woods, but the man tells you to return the pages.  After a load of palaver and choices (some of which are a bit out there, it shall be admitted) you end up in the woods with the boy, who is actually Corey again – he just got introduced differently this time.  Throughout this storyline, you will sometimes refer to the pages as potential hints on what to do next.

 

Side Story C: Takes place within Story A.  If you choose to leave Corey behind in the cupboard, but instead of going back there to check he’s okay, you ask the man in black (who by now in the story is revealed to be called Fred) if he’s seen him, he hasn’t and it soon becomes time for you to talk about “your” story with the writers.  You already know you’re in trouble, but you’re not banking on what happens next – apparently in this place (for this side story only of course) all the writers are really what they write about (the one who writes about vampires is a vampire herself for example).  Obviously, because you supposedly wrote a story about werewolves, they are all under the impression that you are one...

 

Opinions: Those who read my review for Night in Werewolf Woods should know my opinions on werewolves, so naturally this book already has one thing going for it.  This is second time in a Give Yourself Goosebumps book where werewolves have been the main point to the storyline ever since after Night in Werewolf Woods (and even before that book if Trapped in Batwing Hall is included) werewolves have popped up in Give Yourself Goosebumps for no real reason other than the sake of being there, but I am pleased to see them in their own story again.

 

This book is one that I really enjoyed reading, but not just because I’m biased towards werewolves to some degree, but because I actually found the story to be interesting; I liked how the main plot of the two main stories was that written characters were to come to life, and take their revenge on the writers, and readers, and I found it cool how the second story incorporated the manuscripts into the story, and your decision making.  For the most part in this book the choices were good to do, and some of them did well at relying on the thought of the reader, but there were some that I wasn’t too prepared for, so there is a chance, that you may be unprepared too.  Also, Story B features another example of book throwing last seen in The Curse of the Creeping Coffin except thankfully one of the choices does actually help you this time, but of course that doesn’t stop the other choice being a bit odd, but it fits in with the storyline – basically the story is real, and you are part of it, which is basically the case for all these books anyway – it was like the book was actually aware of being a Give Yourself Goosebumps book, without coming right out and saying it.

 

The book is about werewolves, but it doesn’t limit itself to them; vampires, zombies, and various other threats all have the chance to get in on the action.  Which brings me to the title of this book – why is it called The WereWOLF of Twisted Tree Lodge?  Forget that there are other threats to deal with for a moment, this title implies that there is only one werewolf in the entire storyline, which isn’t the case.  R.L. should have at least pluralized the title, or thought of something else.  I’m guessing he wanted to “advertise” the stories location in the title for some reason.  Thankfully the book more than makes up for the title, what with its humor, and entertaining storyline, and the majority of endings had enough of an impact to let you know it was a bad ending.  Of course, as this is a werewolf book, it’s pretty obvious what kind of ending will be featured at times, but there are tons of other endings as well to befall your character.

 

Although the two main scenarios share the same main storyline of stories becoming real, the book’s continuity is not perfect, as sometimes it can change as to who is on your side and who isn’t depending on previous choices; even “C-C-Corey” as your character refers to him, at least twice can be an unpredictable character at times, however, to be honest, I don’t think the continuity cheats harmed the book too much, as it kind of made sense within the story – most of it, depended on who the werewolves had got and who they hadn’t.  The only other continuity cheats where the majority of the side story (with the writers being monsters), and a joke ending on Story B. 

 

As far as stories went, both A and B were pretty close together, and the side story was okay as well.  I had fun reading this book, and would recommend it to fans of the Give Yourself Goosebumps series, but I would not however recommend you start with this book, the reason being it is plain to see that R.L. wrote this with fans of the series in mind, what with its pseudo fourth wall breaks, and “expected behavior” There are various points which were basically “Come on, you’ve read these book before, you know how it’s gonna turn out!”  At one point, the book even makes note on how synonymous Give Yourself Goosebumps is with the phrase The End.  Basically, this book “knows” that you are fan of the series, and wants to have a bit of fun with you, which I found a really nice touch, but if you haven’t read at least a few of the other books before hand it will be a bit lost on you, which is probably why R.L. waited until book #31 to do this, assuming it wasn’t just something he decided to do, of course, but I’m pleased he did either way.  Not devoid of faults, but certainly one of the better ones.

 

Most Disturbing Ending: Some endings state that you may die slowly and painfully by being ripped or something. Also depending on how you look at it, the ending where you keep falling and never land could be disturbing because that’s your life from now on.    

 

The Cover: An unconvincing werewolf reading a book full of what I assume to be gibberish, as what I can see doesn’t translate into anything.  I suppose it could be Latin, but I don’t know for sure.

 

Line of Achievement Award: “If you open the coffin to see what’s inside, go to PAGE... Never mind, you don’t have a choice.”

 

Do Your Research R.L.: What the Hell, is a bell made of silver doing at a place run by werewolves?!

 

Ironically: There is actually a full moon as I type this entry.   



You’re Plant Food!
mjnseifer

Plot: You’re on a class trip to the E. Ville Creeper Botanical Gardens.  The place is very rundown, old, and, from the fact that it is covered in moss, and over grown vines, seemingly abandoned – so it must be haunted right?  You and your best friend Kerry are excited about the visit, with Kerry going as far as saying it will be “the best field trip”.  The bus stops outside the gardens, and as you all get off, it revealed via recap dialogue that your teacher, Mr Denmead knows the owners of the place I’m going to just refer to as E. Ville, now that I’ve already given you the full title, and that E. Ville had been closed for “as long as [you] can remember”.   Kerry is more interested in the prize going to the team that gives the best report on what they see, and you’re more interested in exploring this weird place.  Mr Denmead announces at the end of the page that he needs to warn you all about something, but on the next page it’s revealed that he’s just doing the usual speech teachers give on field trips about you behaving yourselves – see R.L. that’s how you do it!

 

The inside of the E. Ville Gardens is old and decaying, and Mr Denmead almost falls through a weak area on the floor, until you stop him.  After thanking you, Mr Denmead expresses doubt about whether it would be good idea to hold a field trip in such an unstable location, he tells you all to wait outside while he goes to investigate the back door, while you and Kerry hope that he doesn’t cancel the trip, and decide to explore the place yourselves.  You see that you could either climb through a window further down, or go through the door and try jumping over the weak area on the floor, but of course you run the risk of being caught either way.

 

Story A: You decide to climb in through the window, and up in the main hall. You begin to stare at the area, and then you realize the rest of the class have come in through the back door, meaning that from the looks of things the field trip is going to continue after all.  Some annoying kid called Chris tries to find out how you got in, but you don’t answer, and move away from him.  While you putting some distance between yourself and Chris you spot a poster tacked to a thick vine, which mentions details of a deadly plant virus, which can affect animals too (props to R.L. for remembering that humans are animals), you are unsure as to whether you should hide the poster or not, seeing as you don’t want the trip to be cancelled.  Assuming you decide to tell everyone about the virus, you and Kerry try to get Mr Denmead’s attention, but then Kerry gets you’re attention and points out that some man is watching you.

 

In yet another fake cliff hanger, the strange man is revealed to be the son of E. Ville Creeper.  The man, Max Creeper, explains that his father actually created some new plants of his own, and also warns everyone about the virus, so that danger is over and done with (yeah, right!) and that the plants are expecting all of you, which reaffirms your suspicions that Max is a weirdo.  When Max is gone, Mr Denmead leads you all to a directory, which is presented in detail on Page 100.  The rest of the rest of this section is very much like Shop Till You Drop...Dead! in that you have to choose from a list of pages to do in whatever order you choose, but being careful of the order.

 

Story B:  You go in through the door, being careful not to step on the weak section of the floor.  However, that may be difficult to do because, basically; the entire floor is weak, as you and Kerry discover when you fall through.  Thankfully there is some straw at the bottom, so you have a soft landing.  You appear to be in a basement, and need to find a way back to the higher floor, so you head to the staircase in the far corner, and climb up to the main hall of the gardens, which has green slime all over, and a scuttling sound can be heard.  You and Kerry hide and watch as three giant bugs enter the room, one of them holding a rope net.  They appear to be trying to capture your class, so you have to stop them.   After another choice, which may or may not to you learn of the origins of the bugs, and the fact that the two scenarios are not connected, you’ll come to a room where your class have been captured in some plant pods, and you need to work out how to save them.  Once you’ve either succeeded or failed to save them, you’ll go up against the bugs themselves.  Despite the fact that these stories are not connected, the locations used are mostly the same.

 

 

Side Story C: There isn’t one today.

 

Opinions: This book is for the most part an interesting one to read, and does very well describing the deaths and other bad endings in detail and the actual storylines are pretty good.  The by choice choices are touch and go, as they all require some thought, but there are the occasional ones, where neither choices stand out as the safer option, or the more dangerous one, so there will be the odd moment where you may die without any prior warning, but thankfully this doesn’t happen as much as the previous book, and most of the choices are done by thought, and some of them require memory of what was previously learned in the book.  There are also some “by chance” choices as well, which are always a nice touch, and alternative to the main choices, but sadly these ones have been implemented badly; at one point, your character may find himself/herself locked in a room with a door that requires a code number to open, and s/he decides between one of two numbers, and the reader must turn to one of two pages.  If one number is chosen, the door opens, and you’re safe for now, however, if you choose the other number, the door still opens, except there’s someone on the other side, you don’t want to see.  Another one is a moment when you have to flip a coin to decide which exhibit to run to, and obviously one is a bad choice – nothing wrong with that, however the reason it’s a bad choice is because (get this...) the exhibit in question doesn’t exist!  Why was there a sign pointing towards it then?  It’s not a trick to check you were paying attention or anything, just a random bad ending that’s there for no reason.

 

As I mentioned before, the book’s Story A is similarly done like “Shop Till You Drop...Dead!” in that it involves you choosing from a list of locations in whatever order you choose, hoping that you’re going in the order that you should, as not doing so could get you killed as you’re not prepared for what you’re going to face.  Unfortunately, this format of gameplay isn’t as good as Shop... as the item check isn’t as important this time except for a few select choices, but it is still present, and for when it’s used, it works pretty well, I just wish it had be utilized a bit more.  Story B doesn’t rely on item checks or doing things in order, but is still fun to do, and for the most part acquires thought, aside from the problems mentioned earlier.  Also, I like how in this section part of the main storyline is you saving your entire class, which is something I always thought would be kinda cool to do as kid, and the fact that you may or may not succeed depending on your choices earlier makes it more interesting, and will affect the scenario’s ending.  The A Scenario also has a test at the end to prove whether you visited every room, seeing as you can just skip to the last part if you want to, just like in Shop you could go straight to the Final Showdown if you wanted to, but wouldn’t get very far without the items – oh, yeah, that another problem with the item check; it’s not the final page where it ultimately matters – the place where it does matter is on a optional page.  So you may not notice it on your first play-through.

 

On the whole, this is a decent book, which contains some interesting storylines, is entertaining, well written, and even contains a test on a previous book, in the form of Secret Agent Grandma.  Barring a few low points already mentioned, I would recommend reading this book.

 

Most Disturbing Ending: There’s on ending where you put some stuff on you that burns you to death, and another where some sap burns you.  Both seem really painful ways to die – I like how the latter is somewhat justified and deserved though.

 

The Cover: A boy (*sigh*) surrounded by plants, and looking like he’s starting to become one himself.  I really wish they’d either not have included the kid on the covers or alternated between boys and girls to keep it fair.  To be fair on R.L. though, I have no idea if he had any control over the covers or not.  The kid becoming a plant isn’t that relevant other than one moment.  I’d have thought a Shop of Horrors like evil plant would have matched the title better.

 

Scenario Confusion: Okay, as I said above there’s a small point in Story A, where you become a plant, but the blurb, prologue, and cover make it look like it’s a main storyline, and imply that it’s the effect of the Plant Virus, which it’s not, at least not The Plant Virus anyway.  Furthermore, the prologue states that the bugs in Story B start chasing you after you become a plant – and they’re not even in that scenario!  Does R.L. get someone else to do the prologues for him?  The blurb I have is the UK version, I’ll get back to you on what the American one says.

 

Does the book live up to its name?  Oh, yeah.



Invaders from the Big Screen
mjnseifer

Plot: You are standing in a queue at the cinema with your friend Laura, and are trying to decide which movie you’d both like to see, and the first one mentioned is of course a horror movie, because what’s a Give Yourself Goosebumps book without at least a vague implication that your character is interested in horror?  Laura however does not share “your” interest, so seeing House of a Hundred Horrors might not be the best option.  Another movie you consider seeing is Going Ape which is a movie about a giant ape, and is in no way based on any movie in real life whatsoever.  The appeal of Going Ape is that is shown in “Blastovision” – which is an effect that allows you to feel as though you’re in the movie.  So it’s basically 3D then, right R.L.?  Your final choice is the latest Agent Z movie – Agent Z (who, curiously I pronounce in my mind as “Agent Zee” rather than “Agent Zed”, even though “Zed” is the preferred pronunciation in my part of the world) is a superhero you and Laura are fans of, and the page doesn’t give you any more information other than the villain of the movie being called “Dr Aqua” 

 

You and Laura reach the ticket booth, and Laura allows you to decide on the movie, and Please Don’t Feed the Vampire slinks into the background as its record for supplying the reader with a choice on the earliest page is snatched by this book – on only page one, the choice is yours...

 

Story A: You decide to see House of a Hundred Horrors the title of which sounds more like what a movie would be called when it is still in the working stages.  There’s a short moment of Laura acting nervous about seeing the movie, and you taunting her for being nervous about seeing the movie, and then, as you reach for the door a hand grabs you, and a voice asks where you’re going.............. without your 3D Glasses?  Unbelievable.  I’m all for the traditional Give Yourself Goosebumps fake cliff-hanger thing, but aren’t you supposed to wait until after I turn the page R.L.?  I mean, don’t you read your own books?  Anyway, an old lady hands you some 3D glasses, and then just vanishes.  Whatever.

 

You and Laura sit down to watch the movie in the front row – I seriously doubt anyone stupid enough to watch a 3D movie in the front row is going to fare very well in this book.  The movie shows two twins; John and Wendy looking for their aunt in a haunted house, and you’re such an expect on horror movies you second guess the whole thing.  On screen, John falls into some sort of secret panel, and the 3D makes it seem like you’re falling as well – 3D wasn’t that good back then was it?  You then realize that what actually happened was you and Laura fell out of your seats, but as you turn to face the laughing movie viewers behind you, they’re not there, and neither is the cinema!  You are suddenly in a dark room, and you’ve probably worked out what’s happened, but I’ll turn the page anyway, to find that there’s someone else here with you, and the page needs to be turned again to find out who it is – come on, everybody’s figured it out by now!  The people with you are John and Wendy from the movie, but it’s not the actors, it’s them!  Somehow you have now entered the movie, and must find your way out.

 

Story B: You decide to see Going Ape even though you don’t think much to the plot, but you are interested in seeing a movie in Blastovision, which according to Laura is even better than 3D, meaning it’s not the same thing after all.  The usher asks for your tickets, and then hands you appear of 3D Glasses, prompting Laura, the girl who was just talking about 3D, to ask what 3D Glasses are for – seriously?!  You enter the cinema, and it’s empty, which leads Laura to start taunting you for choosing what must be a flop of a movie if no one wants to see it, but you both sit down regardless, and a seatbelt fastens you both to your seats, leading Laura to joke that the movie must be so bad they have to make sure you stay ‘til the end.

 

The movie starts, and now the time has come for R.L. to explain what Blastovision is, basically it is 3D, except you can also smell whatever scents are supposedly present in the movie, such as exotic plants in the tropical forest, where the movie’s first scene is set, and when required, the seats moves to go with what’s happening in the movie, such as the ape stomping on the ground.  So basically it’s 4D then...

 

Everything starts moving around really violently, and the seatbelts unfasten, and you are given the chance to leave this movie and try one of the other choices, but if you choose to stay, you decide to put on your 3D Glasses, even though the movie started ages ago, and the whole 4D with the stupid name, had already taken effect, it only occurs to you to put on the 3D Glasses now.  I’m really having a hard time concluding whether it’s you or Laura who’s supposed to be the idiot in this book...

When you put your glasses on however, you can’t see anything, so you think about taking them off again, and then you feel yourself being lifted out of your seats, and as you take of the glasses, you see that the ape has reached out of the screen and picked you up!  Once you get out of that situation, you basically have to do what you have to do in Story A, except with an ape, and you’re in a jungle.

 

Side Story C: You decide to watch the Agent Z movie, and the scene jumps ahead to a scene with Dr Aqua on a Jet Ski announcing he’s going to flood the world, and Agent Z arriving to stop him.  I’m a little skeptical that all this would happen at the beginning of the movie to be honest.  In the movie, Dr Aqua throws a grenade at a dam causing the water to flood the area, and of course come pouring out of the screen much to “you” and Laura’s amazement, and begin to flood the cinema.  The other people in the cinema go into panic mode, and dash for the nearest exit, which is easier, said than done, when the room is flooded with water that came out of a movie – at that this rate Jamiroquai is going to start singing any second now.  You and Laura also try to escape, but then a Jet Ski zooms over you!  Agent Z then appears and explains that that was Dr Aqua’s Jet Ski, and he is now in your world, and you have a choice of either searching for him, or following Agent Z back into the movie to help him.  This is actually the only time in the entire book where the title makes sense – Dr Aqua really did “invade from the big screen”, but in the main stories no one invades your world.  Still it’s a more accurate title than Escape from Horror House I suppose...

 

Opinions: My views on this book are pretty close to my views on Secret Agent Grandma – I don’t find it mind numbingly tedious, but I don’t find particularly engaging either.  This book is a little better than Secret Agent Grandma in the sense, that there is some level of thought to be had with some of the choices, but nowhere near as much as some of the better titles in the series, and when it does happen it seems all over the place at times – on one page; you are asked if you know what a word means, and you later find that getting it wrong was the key to your success, and there’s no logical explanation as to why that is.  For the most part, you’re pretty much guessing what to do and hoping you’ve made the right choice.  The only real standout is one moment in Story A where you have to read some music notes, and work out what they spell (music can also so written in letters, remember?) which is a pretty interesting idea, and one that actually makes this book unique when compared to the others, but that is marred by the fact that less thought was put in to the “normal” choices.

 

The book is not a complete failure, however, the usual humor is ever present; I particularly liked the “And whose big idea was it to [do what lead to this bad ending]?  Oh, right – yours!” line used in one of the endings – as I’ve said before, this is the kind of tone I want to see during a bad ending; they should not just look like they were the wrong choice, but also make you feel like an idiot for choosing them, but on the other hand, the correct choices should also have an air of “I carefully looked at the options, and figured out the best choice from what I knew” to them, at times, but this book doesn’t have that!  I don’t mind there being some choices which is pretty much guess work, as it sometimes makes more sense that “you” would only have about a second to decide your next move, but having practically every choice like that, takes away the skill.

 

The books plot is a nice idea, but ultimately falls short of what it could have been – all three movies, are really just cliché examples of the genres of movies they’re supposed to be representing, but in a way, I do somewhat appreciate that as a joke/parody, but even that isn’t used to its full potential.  The book might have also been a bit better if the Agent Z movie had been one of the main storylines, seeing as it is about a superhero that “you” are a fan of, so that way the whole “I’m part of the movie” aspect to the plot could have been more enforced in that storyline.  In the two main storylines once you’re in the movie that concept is pretty much forgotten, with the occasional mention of it.  At the end of the day, this is in no way the best book of the series, but thankfully it’s not the worst either, as it is still readable, but there are quite few book that are better written as far as gameplay goes.

 

Most Disturbing Ending: Not one to be found... Not even in the Story about a horror movie.

 

Could have written that better: The painting has made time slow down.  Way down. Stop.”  



Night of a Thousand Claws
mjnseifer

Plot: This book begins as you, and your family step of a ferry, and prepares to board a taxi, to begin your vacation at Cat Cay, which is an island at Nantucket – I think a man was once from there.  Anyway, you are stuck with the job of looking after your two brothers; Donny and Sam, who are twins.  This annoys you, as you always have to look after them, but you don’t complain, and your parents help the driver put the suitcases in the taxi, and then you all get in the car, and your mother gives the directions, which leads the driver to ask if you’re really going to stay at the madhouse, which gets your attention straight away.  Except, he didn’t say “madhouse”, he said “Madd House” and it is called that because it is owned by a woman named Katrina Madd, but even though, the driver still looks concerned when you see his face on the rear-view mirror.  I wonder if the fact that the house is called “The Madd House” will turnout to be extremely apt, despite the fact that its name has just been explained?  We’ve done this before R.L.!  At this rate, we’re going to end up with a book set in a place owned by some guy named E. Ville or something...

 

As the taxi takes you to your destination, you look out the window at all the cats perched on the high sand dunes in the distance.  There are apparently dozens of cats gazing at the taxi at goes by, which makes you shudder, because you hate cats, and when I say “hate” I mean you hate them.  The book reveals that you not only find all cats to be unfriendly, but you also think that they’re always up to something, and that they must all think they’re all (in the book’s words) “so special”, and yes the word “so” is written in italics in the book.  I’m really not getting this extreme hate towards cats, even though it’s relevant to the plot.

 

You also notice that all the shops are shut, and the last remaining people are hurrying inside their houses, even though it isn’t that late.  Soon the town is deserted, and you drive on through, and eventually arrive at the cottage your parents rented (The Madd House, of course) and as you get out the taxi, the driver pulls you over, and warns you to never go out at dark, and to watch out for Katrina, but before you can ask him for more information, he drives away clearly in a hurry to get as far away from here as possible.  Shouldn’t he have told your parents this as well?  I mean it’s not like people are going to believe some kid is it?  Especially now the driver’s not there to back him/her up.  Soon, a cat runs out and hisses at you and you angrily tell him/her that you’re going inside.  This whole book is just one big “Are you kidding me?!”

 

You enter the cottage, and suddenly the door behind you opens again, and you turn around to see Katrina Madd standing in the doorway, at first she doesn’t seem to know who you are, but then she suddenly remembers, and tells you that you’ll be seeing her again soon before she leaves.  You head to the dining room, to complain to your family that Katrina seems weird, and, after scolding you for being rude, your mother agrees, and your father says that Katrina’s brother, Jacob is also a bit strange, and he lives in the lighthouse, and you decide your going to stay away from the two of them.  Later that night, your just getting ready for bed when Donny runs into your room, and announces that Sam is missing, but he tells you, the older sibling, not to tell your parents because you’ll both get in trouble for something that isn’t your fault in the slightest, but I could understand you telling him not to tell as that’s probably what kids of this books age group might do, but I’m not really convinced here.  Anyway, the two of you step outside, hear a scream which might be Sam’s, remember that your not supposed to be outside, and argue with Donny about whether the scream came from the lighthouse, or Katrina’s cottage (not The Madd House).  This really seems like the place for the book to divide into its “A” and “B” sections, but it’s not going to do that quite yet.  I am in serious danger of getting a tl;dr response here...

 

You decide to check out the lighthouse, as it is closer, and you can easily turn back if you turn out to be wrong.  On the way there you become more and more paranoid, like someone might be watching you in the shadows.  When you get to the lighthouse, Donny climbs through and open window, and you follow him, causing a security alarm to start “JOUWOPing”, because, according to R.L. “JOUWOP” is the sound alarms make.  You try to escape, but the window slams shut, and a man grabs hold of you, but then Donny comes to your aid, and the man shouts at Donny for not staying put like he asked, Sam then arrives, and says that it was he who was asked to stay put, not Donny.  Once that’s all sorted out, The man explains that he is Jacob Madd, and he used to live in the Madd House, but now hides in the lighthouse to protect himself from “those evil cats”, and even you, a cat-hater thinks he’s exaggerating here, but Jacob insists you must stay here with him, where it’s safe, but you’re not so sure you trust him yet, but then you see all the cats staring at you from outside the window, and then the alarm goes off again, and Jacob wonders aloud if a cat has broken in, and you now have to choose between staying in the lighthouse, or risking going outside.

 

Story A:  You decide that the three of you should leave the lighthouse and Jacob as fast as you can.  You run out the door, but you still feel paranoid about the cats, just in case they really are evil.   Sam sees a group of cats moving towards the sand dunes, and he and Donny want to checkout what they’re all doing, and after another choice in the book, you agree with them, and go to investigate – don’t these people realize that curiosity gets you killed by the cat?

 

The three of you look over the dunes, and witness hundreds of cats doing some kind of ceremonial dance around a fire, and then you see that Katrina is also there, and she begins her speech for the cats, and states that her time as “Keeper of the Cats” will end soon, and she must now search for a replacement.  At first, you think she’s just living up to her last name, but then right in front of you, she transforms into a giant white cat – I think the book means “giant” by regular cat standard, and you and your brothers have to find out what the cats are up to and how to stop them.

 

Story B: You decide to risk staying in the lighthouse, not wanting to risk going outside, now that you know how strange things happen on this island, and the cats are outside waiting for you.  Jacob barely has time to tell you that he has booby trapped the lighthouse, when the lights suddenly turn off, and the four of you hear the sound scratching against metal as the cats try to get in.  It is then revealed, that not only that the cats were up to something, but also did switched the electrical and water supply.  Soon, the cats all find their way into the lighthouse, and you and your brothers try to escape, and Jacob is injured trying to stop the cats from getting in.  He weakly tells you to go to “the light”, and you must now decide if that’s what you want to do, while at the same time protecting yourself from the cats.

 

Side Story C: This is the real Side Story C; I seriously wish I was joking though...

 

Exists within Story A; instead of following the parade of cats to see what they’re up to, you decide to just go back to your cottage and forget about the whole thing.  The next morning, it is not nice enough for the beach, so you decide to go bike riding, and of course, your mother makes you take Donny and Sam too.  The three of you bike into town, and you notice some black cats that appear to be following you – the book is quick to point out that they are black cats, so I think there may be a “Do your research R.L.” section in this review.   You continue along your way, as each twin decides they want to do different things, and suddenly the cars behind you start skidding, and almost crash as two black cats stroll on by (I can’t believe I already know what the storyline’s going to be here, and we haven’t even reached a choice yet) and the cars all turn around at the sight of them.  You decide to get some ice cream, before you have to decide on which twin gets to decide on what activity you’re all going to do when, some one pulls you aside suddenly.  It’s the driver from last night, and he tells you that a black cat was about to cross your path (oh, here we go!) and that black cat bring bad luck if that happens... this isn’t entirely correct, but in this world it is.  You of course don’t believe it, and must now choose what activity to do.  Of course this is no easy task, as this non existent curse is now upon you.

 

Opinions: As you’ve probably gathered, this book annoyed me in some places – the worst offender being how they made your character to be an over the top cat-hater before we’d even got going.  Yes, I understand that the cats in this book are evil, I get that they really were up to something, but the fact that “you” already hate cats took the sting out of it for me.  Furthermore, the main character is supposed to be “you” for all intense in purposes, I mean, sure, sometimes there’s a bit of forced opinion like how “you” always have to be interested in horror, but that’s because that’s what Goosebumps fans are expected to be like, so it’s forgivable, but to openly insist that you apparently hate, and I mean physically hate a particular animal to the extremes that “you” do in this book makes it really hard to suspend your disbelief if you don’t.  I think it would have been better if R.L. hadn’t revealed your character’s initial opinion of cats, but still implied that “you” think these particular cats are behaving oddly when you first notice them (they’re all watching your taxi rather than just doing their own thing), and then when they are revealed to be evil you could react the way would in your mind depending on whether you like cats, hate cats, or are indifferent to cats.

 

The book does work at some points though – the fact that the majority of it is set at night (with the lighthouse in Story B, being in darkness as well) gave it a much needed creepy edge, and the idea of a land taken over by evil cats, is admittedly a cool idea; even myself – someone who actually likes cats could easily see the potential in this storyline had it been executed a little better.  Story B is the strongest of the storylines in terms of game play and thought as there are a few sections where you have to remember what you had been told earlier and at one point you are not only asked if you found two items that could potentially help you, but are also told to write down the items on a piece of paper each in real life, and the randomly pull one out of your pocket to determine which one your character is going to use in the book.  The B Story is somewhat like The Creepy Creations of Professor Shock in that the continuity zigs and zags when concerning on which of the human(-ish) characters are good and which are evil, but it still the most well structured of all three scenarios.  Story A is somewhat interesting as well, but there are times when making one mistake can cause you to enter what seems like a never ending chain of bad endings, and you suddenly realize you have to go back really early in your adventure to verify exactly where you went wrong, and a few of the choices do very little to even imply what could be awaiting you at the end, so the bad endings in this book are pretty random, the same is sadly true at times in Story B, and the disastrous Side Story.  Add that to the fact that Story A doesn’t even have a 100% good ending!  The two times you survive, there is a twist at the end...  The Side Story is yet another unwinable game, although one ending is more of a cliff hanger than an ending, but as I stated earlier the side storyline was pretty silly.

 

The end result is that when this book does right, it does right, but when it does wrong, does it ever do wrong.  I was looking forward to reading this book when I heard about it, because I actually do find the idea of cats being the main threat in an adventure to be a nice idea, but I wasn’t expecting my character to so set on “his” (for me it is a “he”, but it should only be so in my mind, and other male readers) opinions on cats which were in total contrast to my own, so it was disappointing in that respect.  It’s bad enough when a book makes it really hard for the reader to relate to the main character, but when the main character is supposed to actually be the reader it is far worse when this happens.  The book still has the things that make Give Yourself Goosebumps what it is, namely the bad ending being bad enough for you, and the humor being used in the writing, and R.L. clearly dared himself to insert as many “cat” based puns as he could, which would have made the book even more disappointing had they not been included.  I mean come on!  It may be billed as a Horror Series – but it’s the lame jokes that are the real staple of the Give Yourself Goosebumps franchise!

 

Most Disturbing Ending: Either being ripped apart in a cemetery, or being set upon by ghost cats, both endings are pretty close together on your chosen path.

The Cover: Some kind of cat/human.  It's somewhat relavent, but somewhat fools you into thinking that the entire book is about anthropomorhic cats, when it's not.

 

Do your research R.L.: Yeah, it’s harming black cats that’s bad luck, not the cats themselves.  A few people get this wrong, and even I thought this was the case at first, despite never having anything against cats myself, but still...

 

Wasted Opportunity: So, you’re a kid that hates cats, like a lot, and yet there’s no ending in this book where you become a cat?



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