Hello, Spongey here.
Time to continue covering Modern Goosebumps with our 2nd Hall of Horrors entry. The only thing to bring up before we start is an interesting bit of backstory. See, sometime in the early 2000’s Stine planned a series called Goosebumps Gold.
It was canned because his contract ran out but some titles were announced and so far, most have actually been retooled in recent Goosebumps titles. The Haunted Mask Lives become Scream of the Haunted Mask and Slappy New Year….well, duh.
The only one that hasn’t happened is Happy Holidays from Dead House. Because a sequel to the first Goosebumps book ever totally isn’t the best idea ever.
The comes today’s book, which seems to be take from “The Incredible Shrinking 5th Grader” from GB Gold. That’s pretty interesting. Yeah, that’s all I got, just figured I’d share that. The first HoH Book was surprisingly good, so let’s see if this one keeps it up.
This, is Night of the Giant Everything
From now on, we’re skipping the wrap arounds with the Story Keeper, as there’s not much to say there.
The book opens with our protagonist Steven doing magic friends for his friends Ava and Courtney. Oh god, please be better than Bad Hare Day. Of course, he’s not that good of a magician and is friends mock for it in a way that makes me wonder why they are friends.
Steven does something with Silly String but Courtney grabs at it and gets a bunch on her face.
“Steven, do you know how to spell revenge?”
…..It was your fault, dumbass. Also, great friends you have there. They storm off angrily.
“I told you. They’re crazy about me”
We’re off to a good start.
Steven goes to his piano lesson, which as we know can be suicide. ….Wait. His teacher thankfully says nothing about his hands, and gives him cookies!
“He watched til I finished every last crumb. But there was nothing strange about that-right?”
I don’t even know what to say to that, this “Foreshadowing” is that obvious.
A bit later, Steven searches for the bathroom and finds a room that Mr.Pinker tells him not to go in. We get it, he’s going to be important later.
After that, he meets up with his “friends” who will be his assistants in a magic act for a talent show. Weird how they are still willingly after what happened. They practice some stuff and Steven juggles eggs with one landing on Ava’s head.
“Expect major revenge, Steven””
Okay, you officially have the worst friends ever. Also, who talks like this?!
Not that Steven is any better, as he laughs off this instead of calling them out.
Steven goes home to find that his parents now have some kind of bird that they say flew in the window. Don’t worry, they are putting up a lost and found notice in case it belongs to anyone, so I can’t complain too much about them keeping it for now.
After some small stuff, we move on to the big talent show thingy. The first thing to mention is that the crowd goes wild when Ava and Courtney come out which is…ew. And again, they still agreed to do this?
It actually goes pretty well at first. But he tries a trick with him juggling balls and drinking water at the same time. It goes wrong because the cup is not fill of water, bur something that makes him freak out and ruin the act.
And it turns out to all be Ava and Courtney’s doing.
“Just something we mixed up in chem lab”
And you’re officially on my list./ What the hell?! Doing all this for petty revenge over something stupid is bad enough but you gave him random Chemicals you don’t know about? You have no idea what those could do!
Giving him toilet water would have been safer and just as effective! Spoilers, this actually isn’t what makes him shrink, it’s just a fake out but for some of the book, you think this whole situation is caused by his friends.
Steven runs home and he suddenly finds himself shrinking. Sadly, his clothes don’t shrink with him so he’s naked now. Ew. Thankfully, the first thing he does is get some clothes a Ken doll.
Stine was thinking ahead of me for once.
This is where we get some Honey I Shrunk the kids Antics with Steven finding his way around the house. I’ll be skimming a fair amount of this because there’s not much to say about someone stumbling around.
I will this is the best part so far because it is interesting to see he handles being small and all that. He tries to call Ava but his voice is too small so she can’t hear him. This is reminding me that no one ran after him for some reason.
He mentions that his parents are out late tonight, meaning they weren’t at the talent show thing. Given this, I’m surprised this didn’t get the supernatural punishment.
He decides to go to Ava’s house to ask her what’s up but that means a pretty perilous journey is ahead of him. I gotta say, these scenes do get decently intense with how he has to get through a normal house while being really tiny.
That’s always the fun part of these kind of stories. Things get more dangerous when Bugsy the bird thing pops up. ..Then it goes away, which makes that part pointless. Then Steven bumps into a spider and has to fight it with a toothpick.
Bugys gets rid of the Spider for him, and Steven moves on trying to get of the house. After fumbling with a boot (don’t ask), he gets outside. As cool as these scenes are, they are almost padding as there’s more of this stuff then there is real plot and given we need an explanation for why this is happening…yeah.
He’s able to make it across the street way more easily than I expected and goes through a convenient cat door and into Ava’s house. She also conveniently has no stairs so he makes it to her room easily.
He’s able to get to her and tells her what is going on, after she freaks out a bit. He think she can fix this, but it turns out that thing he drank was not chemicals, it was just vinegar. While actually getting chemicals is worse, lying about it and scaring is also really bad.
So yeah, I still hate these two “friends”.
On the bright side, she’s willingly to help. It’s almost like now all the crap with them was pointless. Unfortunately, a gust of wind blows him out the window and he goes on a little adventure and winds up near the piano teacher’s house. Time for him to become relevant!
Steven goes in and stumbles upon that secret room and it’s full doll houses and buildings for a little town. He finds it odd but eventually leaves and bumps into Mr Pinker making cookies. Then he realizes maybe those cookies made him shrink.
Sure, why not. They foreshadowed it enough…Then a couple pages later, he talks to him and he reveals there was nothing in the cookies and they are just store bought.
Eh, it was still wasn’t the most far fetched theory involving Steven. This has been your obligatory joke of the day.
But yep, that’s now TWO big pointless red herrings. Great writing. The dollhouse stuff is just an…odd hobby. He didn’t want him in the room because….reasons.
Mr. Pinker thankfully helps him by taking him home but they find two guys standing on the front stoop. They claim to know what is going on and say they have “parents permission” to take him away.
Pinker calls out this lie but they just take Steven anyway. Wah wah.
They tell him that Bugsy is their bird. Ah, at least one suspicious plot element wasn’t a red herring. The bird was a giant hawk that they shrunk down and it’s responsible for all this..
“The Shrink Hormone is carried in the bird’s saliva. I know it sounds crazy”
“A bird’s tounge did this to me. How crazy is that?!”
Yeah, one one hand this was “foreshadowed” but it’s also…extremely contrived and silly. This lab shrunk a bird and made it so it’s tongue shrinks things? Both of Steven’s theory, while dumb, would have worked a lot better.
Which is saying a lot given how I feel about the Ava and Courtney thing.
They take Steven to their lab and lock him up. To the surprise of no one, they want to keep him here so their secret doesn’t’ get out. Also, they don’t know how to fix Steven.
Between this and losing a dangerous bird, worst Scientists ever!
Steven mentions that Mr. Pinker knows they exist but they just kind of ignore that because Steven also claims his parents know and they spend more time debunking that. Okay then.
He tries to think of a way to escape.
“Dr Beach and Dr Marcum weren’t even good at keeping birds prisoner”
When a kid points out your stupidity, it’s time to pack it in.
After trying the normal methods, he has a canary kiss him. I don’t know what to say to that. This…actually works and he gets bigger again. I’m not sure how this works or why Steven thought it would work but whatever.
Wait, if it’s that easy, how did these scientists not figure it out or try it?! Maybe they knew and were being evil but then why put him next to the thing that can make him grow?!
Like I said, Worst Scientists Ever.
Steven then escapes the lab so easily it really confirms my statement. And yes, he’s back to being Naked. Lovely.
He makes it home as his parents are there and he explains it all to them. They believe every word of this because we don’t have much time left. That and when your son appears naked, you’ll believe anything.
After dinner, he enjoys being big again. But then Bugsy randomly flies in and kisses Steven. The end!
….Yep, that’s it. One of the most abrupt endings in awhile. Yeah, not much to say about the ending other than it’s abrupt and hurts the book quite a bit in terms of story. Yeah.
This one was…eh. Especially after a surprisingly solid first Hoh Entry. I like the main adventure. It’s nothing I haven’t seen before but it is interesting seeing how he deals with being small. There’s some creativity there and that stuff is pretty enjoyable.
The rest is…eh. As I said, there are two very blatant red herrings, which one leading to two of the most hateable Goosebumps characters in awhile. The fact that they are pointless makes it even worse.
I know this is Goosebumps and I will give it some leeway on some level, but a lot of this is just too dumb, especially the real reason this is all happening. None of it makes any sense and once again, these are the dumbest scientists ever.
This stuff makes for a fun book to riff on, but not exactly a well written one. I think that sums it up: The shrinking adventure is enjoyable, the rest is poorly written and stupid. There’s far worse written GB books out there but this was a…mixed bag.
It can be enjoyable though, only you know what is piss me off bad here. That’s really all there is to it. It’s pretty average when you put the pros and cons together.
A bit disappointing after claws but ah well. The next one is better from what I recall. Hopefully it is.