Hello, Spongey here.
Well, it’s finally time to end the Most Wanted series, with one of the last reviews of the year. This series has been a pain in the butt to review but I’m glad we can end it and move on to…the same but with a different gimmick.
I’ll give my wrap up plus an announcement at the end, so we’ll just dive in. Will Most Wanted end with a bang? Or at least be actually interesting? Oh boy, we’re in some something if it’s anything like I remember it.
That said, let’s finally finish and see if this one will be wanted.
This, is The Lizard of Oz
The book opens with our main character Kate Lipton telling us about how her parents quit their jobs to sell miniature horses. And right away we seem to have stepped into a Simpsons or Family Guy episode.
Seriously, this is the kind of random dumb thing Homer would do, we’re off to a great start. Kate thankfully knows how stupid this is and to the surprise of no one, 3 months later they have not sold a single horse.
“Middle Village Is a pretty small town. And people just don’t have room in their backgrounds for miniature horse”
You’d think two adults would have thought of that, but nope. These are already the stupidest parents in Goosebumps history but oh boy do things get interesting with them.
They turn their farm into a petting zoo but that doesn’t work either. So of course they’re next plan is to go to Australia and find a Lizard. Wait, what?
“Australia, Dad says, is the place for lizards”
Dang, should have brought Noddy in for this one to tell you you’re wrong.
They go to some Lizard preserve where at one point Dad claims one is attacking when it is not. And he just went from “Stupid” to “Asshole”, joy. They plan to start a lizard farm, which is in line with their other choices so far.
This random guy pops up while they’re looking and says he has a lizard they might be interested in. He does not work for the reserve “Anymore”. I’m sure he’s trustworthy.
The lizard is more or less the mean fellow you see on the cover, but thankfully he isn’t much of a meat eater. And he wants to sell them some lizard eggs instead anyway, since they will be easier to take care of. He also brings up that they will be easier to get through customs.
I know most horror stories require the characters to ignore obvious warnings to get the plot started, but this is really pushing it. At least Kate is again thinking all the obvious things, like maybe doing research on these lizards of this Dr. Clegg follows.
She doesn’t say those out loud though, but I bet she’s at least nervous and expected her parents to think of these first. Before I can beat a dead lizard, Clegg’s assistant pulls Kate over and says not to take the egg.
She’s interrupted so this warning can be as vague as possible. (Also, we never find out what her deal is and the twist makes this pointless) So with that, they have some eggs and the next day they’re headed back home. Then Mom and Dad say….this:
“You know, a lot of times Australia is called Oz. That’s because an abbreviation for Australia is Aus. And Sydney is sometimes called the Emerald City’”
“Like the City in the Wizard of Oz.”
“That;s right. So…guess what I have in my lap here? The Lizard of Oz?”
Agreed. I think I should apologize to Suicide Squad, holy crap. They turned a title drop into a Dad Joke, that’s…something.
Anyway, back home they turn a room into an Egg Hatching room and we get another chapter break caused by Dad randomly playing a dumb prank. We’re only 30 pages in and I’ve ranted about this terrible dad many times, that’s a good sign.
“What’s funny Kate, is that you always fall for them”
The next day at school, Kate tells everyone about her trip.
“I finished with my selfie of-”
And 0/10, worst book ever.
A classmate named Adele (Yes) is of course a bitch and doesn’t believe her about having this egg so Kate wants to invite her over to see it. This is a bit dumb but I guess Kate had to some of that stupid gene.
“What was I thinking?’
At least she’s self aware.
So later they go to Kate’s house to take a peek at the egg. But of course they go further and start holding, which leads to it being dropped. And of course Dad shows up right at the very moment.
…But it turns out he switched the Lizard egg with a regular egg as a joke, with plans to pull it later. …I don’t even words anymore, and we’re really only in the first quarter of the book.
Dad shows them the real egg but he has a sneezing fit when a takes it out, so he ends up dropping it for real. Wah wah. Even worse, nothing comes out and all his plans are down the toilet.
I’d be a tiny bit sadder if it were not for…everything else he’s done, frankly. Kate being sad does a better job of making me sad. She cleans up the mess when she finds a tiny creature in the broken shell that really should have been there when it dropped.
He’s a tiny cute little guy that ends up biting Kate. Oh boy I just remembered where this goes and that will be fun when we get to it. The wound is cleaned up and the little lizard is put in its proper place.
Things calm down and go out for dinner, but Kate starts to notice her skin looking a bit cracked, dun dun dun. But she has to brush it off for now as she has to go to school to do work for the play.
This wasn’t mentioned at all before now, by the way. She did forget so I guess that’s their excuse but come on. Anyway, I’d rather make fun of how the teacher is named Mr.Coatley. Seriously.
If the next teacher is called Mr. Enterly or something, I’m out.
Adele is there and doesn’t believe Kate about the lizard being real cuz we’re still on that. Kate then sees she has these weird lines that form patterns on her arms.
And just like the skin thing, it’s just brushed on so we can move on to the next scene. Is this another book where all the interesting stuff is skipped for no reason? Anyway, a few days later they have some press over to see the legendary lizard they have.
Then Kate takes cues from Swampy by eating some bugs. Ew. This one they actually do linger on, which is lovely. But hey, turning into a lizard is a neat idea so at least we’re getting somewhere.
I do like how she doesn’t want to spoil Dad’s big day by getting him worried about her problem, it’s nice on her part. Even if I could not care less about Dad’s big lizard.
She tries to take her mind off this by showering but that just exposes her lizard skin more. Lovely. Thankfully the reporters are gone but Dad seems to be missing too. She goes to his room only to find a giant lizard man.
Darn, hate it when that happens. …My only other joke would spoil a pretty crazy twist, okay?
She goes downstairs and eventually finds Dad, right as he is about to leave an important business thing. I don’t doubt that business things that require to drop everything this quickly do happen but it adds to how contrived this book can be.
Oh and Mom has been visiting an aunt who is currently sick, if you wondered why she hasn’t been mentioned by me in a while. At least her not doing anything is explained. The brother is so useless I’m only mentioning him now, and only to point out how useless her is!
While Dad is out, Mrs. Overman will take care of the kids. Okay, that’s just a lyric from Ocean Man. When he leaves, Kate tries to get Freddy to believe her about the lizard man she saw but he refuses to even check the room again because he is just that useless.
He’s also annoying, even by Goosebumps sibling standards, so I’m glad he isn’t useful. She looks around and finds nothing, then Overman pops up for a false scare. She let herself in and somehow no one heard her and she she couldn’t find Freddy despite him being in his room which I can’t imagine is that far from the entrance.
Okay, I’m getting nitpick-y but I notice these things more when not much else is really going on. The next day at school, things are fine until it is time for gym where her weird skin would not be welcome.
She’s able to get out of changing but she still gets some lizard urges, like crawling on all fours. And wah wah, Adele happens to see it and film it. You just know some sick weirdo would fap to that video.
Kate comes up with a dumb excuse and then we just move on. Adele claims she won’t post the video and even Kate knows she’s lying but we’re still gonna move on? Whatever.
Later at some Kate continues to fight with her lizard nature which is actually pretty interesting and are the best scenes in this book. There’s a part where she lashes out at Freddy which is the first time he’s actually been useful for the plot in any way.
While they do move on, we do get her lashing out at the lizard who seemingly started all this. Weird how she’s only just now remembering him. Thankfully after I say this, she figures she needs it to possibly find a cure so a chase begins.
She gets him back in the cage but she’s still worried about possibly being a lizard forever. Again, these scenes actually work pretty well, especially compared to what lead up to it.
She goes through some photo albums to work on a school project to get her mind off things, but of course she finds something scary. A photo of her captioned “Almost Here”, next to a photo of an egg that says “can’t wait to see my baby”.
You can already tell what the twist is now but we’ll humor the book for a bit longer. Before they can react, that lizard man shows up but soon turns into….Dad.
Yep, the twist is that Dad is actually a lizard person or something and so are Kate and Freddy, hence the egg photo. He’s the lizard man from earlier, which makes me wonder how he teleported so quickly but whatever.
They had been meaning to tell the kids but they ended up finding it out this way, while Mom was gone helping their Aunt hatch a new egg. That bite did nothing to Kate and she was turning because it was time.
It’s not Freddy’s time hence why he’s still fine. Dad regrets not telling them before he left for Canada, so that really was work stuff and not lizard stuff. Even he doesn’t know where this lizard family thing comes from and his whole lizard obsession was him trying to look more into that.
So yeah, it’s a girl who cried monster thing, with this twist making a tad more sense and looking a tad better on the monsters part I suppose. I’m mixed on this twist. On one hand, it is a rehash of other books (even one from this very series) and actually does explain part of why Mom and Dad were so crazy about lizards.
…But as usual, I have problems with it. I get it, he admits to having a hard time telling his kids so I can’t be too hard on him for it. But this really doesn’t explain why they dropped their job to sell freaking horses, which has nothing to do with lizards.
Them trying to get rich off lizards was a cover up, I get that. But they still really should have told their kids the real reason or did a better job of not looking like fools.
There’s also the matter of playing cruel pranks for no real reason. Hell, seeing him clearly caring about his lizard children makes that so much worse now! So while this makes him slightly better, I’m still calling him one of the worst parents in Goosebumps history.
ANYWAY, Kate just sort of accepts this and is only worried that Adele still has that video of her being a lizard which Adele is blackmailing her with. Their solution? To crib from Girl who Cried Monster some more and invite her to dinner with plans to make her the dinner.
Somehow that isn’t the worst thing Dad has done in this, at least Adele kind of deserves it. More so than Mortman, even if he actually did do something wrong despite what certain reviewers might say, sorry.
Thankfully, when the time comes to eat her, she’s so scared she deletes the video right away so there’s that. She runs off, with the family hoping she’s not dumb enough to blab about lizard people.
Then they stare at some mice, while wondering what to have for dinner. The end. …Yep, that’s it. I like that we have a happy ending but it feels so…abrupt, like nothing mattered that much.
Not the worst ending but still mixed. Just like this damn series.
This book was…not very good. It was about as bad as Dr. Maniac Will See You Now, to be honest. Usually these will start with a good idea but it takes way too long for it to even flirt with a good idea.
It gets alright when she starts getting lizard urges as Stine does a fine job of putting us in her shoes, especially as she has to hide this from the public. And the twist explains a few things fine and the very ending is at least not weirdly cruel for no reason.
But most of this just kind of sucks. The plot only happens because the parents are impulsive idiots for no reason, and nothing every feels natural. It’s not even for the sake of a good premise as that doesn’t kick in until she starts becoming a lizard.
The book is mostly a waste, with a poor set up, a terrible dad, and some useless side characters. Freddy is annoying and barely serves any purpose in the end.
The stuff with her fighting her lizard stuff is the only reason this one isn’t worse. It’s less creative than Maniac but also has a better ending, so it’s a draw. The sad thing is that this could have worked as a weird coming of age story.
Instead, it’s a waste with a few good moments here and there. Not the worst Goosebumps book ever, but it’s pretty weak.
MOST WANTED THOUGHTS:
This was a longer sub series and that did not help it. Honestly, it was mostly fine but the amount of books makes the lack of stand outs worse. There’s some I quite enjoyed, like 12 Screams of Christmas and Frankenstein’s Dog.
However, almost all of them wasted good ideas. Even the best ones drop the ball before they can become something truly special. Yes, these books are for children but that hasn’t stopped Goosebumps from giving us some good stories here and there.
How I Learned to Fly, The Haunted Mask, The Haunted School are all pretty solid stories that use their ideas well. And even modern ones like Help We Have Stranger Powers are solid.
I still like most of the entries in this series, and what I say does not prevent them from being solid Goosebumps books in their own right, but they had so many chances to make them great but they didn’t take them.
No book here rose above “solid”, even the one I somehow used to love. I had fun with some of these, but I struggled to review some of these because they either didn’t give me much to work with or doing so many of these took a toll on me.
Most Wanted didn’t even live up to the name, very few had famous villains or even memorable ones. Hell, this one has no villain! Except Adele I guess.
Add some needlessly long specials and you have a series that’s perfectly fine but more often than not wastes good idea son merely decent books, with a few stinkers. Some of the first for the series in quite a while.
A fine series made annoying by wasting good ideas and have no major gems. Sigh.
With that done with, I have an announcement to make. Doing these monthly reviews has been fun but tiring. You can tell I’ve been suffering burnout as not every book is fun to discuss like this one was.
One of my 2019 goals is try cut out the fat on this blog, so to speak. I often can’t do posts I want to do because I have other posts I feel obligated to make, like these monthly Goosebumps reviews.
I enjoy these but then burnout is real and spoilers, I’ve read the next few books and they won’t fix the issue. And honestly these don’t get many views and no one cares TOO much about these. And even I am having trouble making some of these interesting.
So starting January 2019, these monthly scene by scene Modern Goosebumps review are over. HOWEVER, once SlappyWorld ends and I have them all, I will be doing a post where I review them all in one sitting.
I actually wanted to do this for Horrorland but thought this was would be more fun but now it’s taking a toll on me. I personally think cutting these out will be REALLY helpful in the long run.
And you’ll still get reviews of these eventually, you’ll just have to wait a fair bit. I will possibly say some thoughts on Twitter if you’re really interested to see a teaser but otherwise I’m holding off until I get all the books and in some way and it’s all done.
And hell, I may do a review one for old times sake. Plus, I got some Series 2000 and Fear Street books in my closest I haven’t touched yet. I’m in no way done with Goosebumps, I just want to cut the fat from this blog so I can focus on what I truly want to do.
And also I’m reviewing that Goosebumps movie sequel you already forgot about, Stine ain’t out of the woods yet. These reviews are fun, I just want to shake things up so hopefully you understand and will enjoy the Goosebumps content you will get even if it’s not the same as before.
Thank you all for reading these Modern Goosebumps Reviews and stay tuned to my look at SlappyWorld when that finishes. Check back soon for a special review and really come back tomorrow for my Best/Worst stuff I reviewed list.