““You had to pick Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, you couldn’t have picked Little Shop of Hamsters”.-Jack Black as RL Stine
Hello, Spongey here.
Well, time to continue Arc 2 of Horrorland with an…interesting entry. R.L Stine has said that he often comes up with the title first, and goes from there. This even goes back as early as Say Cheese and Die.
He loved the silly title for this book but…couldn’t come up with a fitting title. He said that he went through various drafts before he decided on the story we have now. He found the others a bit too silly or bad.
Given what we have now, I’d hate to see the other drafts. I’ve found that backstory interesting, given it’s rare to get full backstories for Goosebumps books. On a only semi related note, Stine admitted on Twitter recently that Go Eat Worms “isn’t that great upon rereading.”
Guess he agrees with Zack and I.
Since Arc 2 began on a fine note, let’s see if we keep being passable. Doubt it with that title, but I’ve been surprised before. Let’s get into it. Can’t be worse than the other giant hamster Goosebumps book.
This, is Little Shop of Hamsters
The book opens with our main character, Sam Waters, telling us about how he loves animals and wants a pet. But they don’t let him have one for reasons. He’s naturally visiting Horrorland with his friend Lexi, where they banter at Werewolf Village.
They get hungry and stop at a restaurant. Yeah, as you can now tell, the opening segment of the Arc 2 Book’s has them getting into some danger in Horrorland that has nothing to do with anything.
Maybe it comes into play in the finale, I don’t remember, but it feels liike padding as it is. Otherwise, no problems so far. Of course, the food there is very gross, and a shrimp basket Sam orders tried to eat him.
Still better than INSERT EATING ESTABLISHMENT YOU HATE HERE.
After that scare, they quickly leave. That was even shorter and more pointless than the clown stuff. They of course end up at Chiller House, only this time on their own so really Chef Belcher did nothing.
Sam is naturally interesting in something called an Insa-Gro-Pet. Tiny creatures that you drop into water and grow into big pets. I can’t see how that could go wrong at all. He buys it…along with a fake phone full of candy,
This guy is a smart shopper.
Then they leave, along with a tiny toy horror. End of Part one. Wow, they got through all that quickly. Makes it more pointless but at least wastes less page time.
Sometime later, they are walking and find a store called Little Shop of Hamsters. You know the drill, I’m not saying it this time. Then we get a false scare they think a guy in a hamster costume I the real deal.
This guy is Mr. Fitz,the owner of this new store. Sam thinks he could have a hamster, since they aren’t too much trouble, and his parents simply want him to prove he’s responsible. That’s a fair reason but this rarely turns out well in cartoons, so how high are HIS chances?
A bit later, they leave but Sam finds out that Lexi took a hamster from the store for him to keep. That’s stupid for a few reasons and thankfully, Sam calls her out but the store is closed when he tries to return the hamster.
But he can still walk in anyway, and returns the little guy but he finds himself swamped with hamsters trying to get at his candy. They seriously try to make this scene scary, or a little a tad tense. Mr. Fitz barging in is way scarier.
He explains the situation and Ftiz is cool with it. Huh, that was way too easy. I hope that scene gets a point later. At home, we meet Sam’s family, including a little brother named Noah who likes to bite.
You know, like most little brothers.
Then for no reason, Lexi out the insta grow pet and puts in Noah’s drink, where it becomes huge. Seriously, it’s so random and if it’s a revenge prank, then this is kind of dangerous. Especially since the grow pet becomes a big problem as it grows quite a bit.
It eventually gets small again but not before making a mess, and telling Sam’s parents a bad is a bad idea. Because getting a toy pet that is bad means he can’t handle a real pet, good logic.
Also, you might want to look into a gift shop that sells something so crazy like that. Oh, and Lexi does get off scott free even though this is her fault.
The next day she does apologize, but it’s a bit too late. Sam accepts it right away because reasons. Clearly he wanted to move on the more important topic of this cool new iPhone app.
Because Apple wanted some shameless plugs, I guess.
This takes up almost an entire page by the way. They check on Noah and see him eating an Insta-Gro-Pet. How young is this kid, if he’s biting people and eating strange things? Also, they would have noticed him earlier if it weren’t for being distracted by the phone.
Product Placement fail.
They take the thingy away from him, which he cries about. They calm him down with candy…and then Mom randomly comes in, without anyone hearing her, and bitches about how Sam is feeding the kid candy.
Okay, this is a beyond contrived thing to happen and it just makes me hate Noah. It was established she was gone and as I said before, how did they not hear her come in? She had to walk in early enough to hear the build up to this, right?
Later, Sam decides to apply for a job at the Hamster Store to prove he’s responsible. I’m sure this will turn out well. He gets the job and Lexi wants one too but the only thing she could do is dress up as a hamster in front of the store.
This…excites her. …This is worse than the cool attic thing. After some work, some of the hamster starts fight each other over the phone candy. Yep, our big scare has hamsters fighting due to candy.
Again, I would hate to see the original versions of this story.
He takes care of them and later leaves, seeing two hamsters watching him through the window. You know, this book could serve as a good parody if they just made it more insane.
At home, Sam realizes he left the candy phone at the shop. Whoops, guess he has to get it back the next day. Thankfully, Fitz hasn’t noticed a phone in the middle of a hamster cage. Sam sneaks into one to get the phone.
He finds it…but it’s empty. Wah wah. He gets out before anything happens, but he knows the hamsters are waiting for him. That’s a sentence I just typed.
Later, Sam finds the box the phone came in and tries to call the company to see if they can help. Gee,i wonder if he won’t get to them or if they will be of no help. Actually, he gets through to them.
I like being wrong sometimes.
However, he is no help because he’s never heard of the candy turning things into monsters. Well, now I don’t know why the hamsters are monster since he seemed pretty legit. Well, I do know but it’s funnier if I don’t.
The next day, Sam goes to work and tries to tell Fitz about what happened but he has his ipod on and didn’t hear him. Wah wha. Well, you can just tell him again…or not as he forces you to clean hamster shit.
Whatever. Also, how he has his noticed the Hamsters being weird yet?
He goes in and faces the evil hamsters which are fighting each other as well as him. He tries to tell the Hamsters that he has no food to keep them from bugging him, but it doesnt’ work on my dog, and it doesn’t work on them.
A hamster gets it’s hands on an Insta Gro Pet Sam had in his pocket and eats it. Yeah, turns out it’s those things that make them grow. That’s kinda clever and kind of dumb. Sam got two things, and they first make you think one is pointless, so it’s shocking when that seems to do soemthing.
But whoops, it’s the first thing actually. That’s clever, but also predictable because all of the summaries of the book mention the Intsta Grow, making it clear it will come into play later. Nice try, but no nice.
I don’t remember them eating the thing, by the way. As a last resort. Sam eats one to grow big and fight the monsters….You are now rehashing the climax of Monster Blood 2 now? Using the idea wasn’t bad enough?
He fights them off until the Insta Gro wears, returning them to normal. He gets them back in the cage before anything too bad happens. Epic climax!
Fitz come in and..
“That was FABULOUS!”
No comment on his choice in words. Why is he happy? Because it wasn’t the candy OR the Insta Gro! It was this special water that was mentioned like once earlier. Yeah, I take by everything I said, now it’s just an asspull.
The water is an anger drink he’s been testing, and it hasn’t worked until now. See, he wants to then them vicious in order to start a Hamster Wrestling Leauge and get rich off of it.
Allow me to repeat that: The villains plan is to make hamsters evil to start a Hamster Wrestling League. That is something that happened. He even wants Hamsters to replace guard dogs, and even use them for the army.
That….is…amazing. The most hilariously stupidily awesome thing ever. Why couldn’t the rest of the book be like this?! This is the stupidest thing ever but it’s so ….silly! It makes no sense but the sillyiness makes up for it!
Also, the Insta Gro was kind of useful in making them big but it didn’t happen until near the end and the big thing going on had little to do with it anyway. Of course, he wants to Insta Gro to help his cause.
“I could rule the world with an army of giant Hamsters”
That’s another thing I typed. Also, ….you know the joke.
He escapes so quickly that it’s not even funny and meets up with Lexi. Cool but Fitz still has the water so he can still do some bad stuff. Just saying. Wait, Lexi drank some of that water. I know where this is going.
Sure enough, she attack him. Fitz said the hamsters have been drinking it for awhile and it took until now to kick in, so this makes sense. Also, the end. Abrupt ending, yay. We do have an Epilogue, but it’s the same as before.
We are told the anger juices wore after a day and not much happened. She was kept on a leash at home and her parents didn’t question anything for some reason. I’m glad we got a follow up to that but it’s still kind of dumb.
Again, that night the little horror glows and he’s taken to Chiller House to pay for his toy.
“The fun is just beginning! But first, we have to wait for the others”
So we can just skip til the last book, got it. The end, for real.
It’s weird to say I was disappointed by a book called Little Shop of Hamsters…but I was disappointed. I like the grounded idea of a kid wanting a pet and it going wrong, but the execution is lacking.
The main problem is there isn’t much of a story. It just kind of meanders without much happening. There’s filler, and the main driving force is angry hamsters. Seriously. Stine does nothing with the concept and they are in a cage he has to go, so it’s not much danger.
And like the first Monster Blood, it’s weird on how this is happening. The phone is pointless and the Insta Gro only kind of does stuff. The best part is the ending where it finally goes batshit but it’s so late that it does little with it.
If it went all out the whole time, this could have been hilarious dumb fun. As it is, it’s just kind of dull with one really funny part. It tries to find a middle ground between taking the concept seriously and going all out with it, but come on, no one expects you to take this seriously.
So it really fails on all fronts, too dumb to be scary (the Kids Next Door episode with the ghost hamster was genuinely creepier), too boring to be fun.
It’s done better than in Monster Blood 2 but it still could have been better. It’s readable I guess but not interesting enough to waste your time on it. Not terrible but very average. The most boring book about evil hamsters ever written.
Again, this is what Stine accepted after many rejected drafts? Ouch. Next time on the HorrorLand reviews, I try to make as few head puns as possible.