Childhood FOMO Made Me Read Goosebumps

Everybody loves a good old FOMO sesh every once in a while, right? Just a gripping, sudden fear of missing out on anything and everything people have done and experienced that you haven’t yet?

Well, that’s exactly what led me to the Goosebumps series. Perpetually frightened child I was, horror books never particularly struck a chord with me when I was little. Even now, I tend to stray from them in favor of anything mysterious or thrillerish.

That being said, I have been catching up on some of the books I missed out on as a kid in the past few years. (The Chronicles of Narnia and A Series of Unfortunate Events are two of my particular favorites, but the amount of guilt I feel knowing I could have grown up with those books instead of reading them at the age of 20 or 21… Perpetual anger, I tell you.) Bottled up rage aside, or perhaps because of it, I gave the Goosebumps series a chance. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed.

For starters, it turns out R.L. Stine is a fantastic author. Goosebumps are kids’ stories, and that much is clear as soon as you start reading, but they’re written in such a way that they’re entirely readable, and not at all annoying, from the perspective of an adult. Though I tend to use the term adult very loosely when speaking of myself.

Beyond the writing, I have to say I really liked the story structure and the way it was written in such a way as to keep it lighthearted enough to not scare the daylights out of children, but spooky enough to actually give you a minor case of the creeps.

Don’t quote me on this because it was a while ago, but I remember watching an interview with R.L. Stine where he described how, as a child, he was afraid of literally everything. I think that comes across really well in this aspect of the books, where he is able to play to both the scary and fun aspect of a children’s horror series.

One part, in particular, I couldn’t get over was the excessive use of the word excellent by the children in the books. It’s absurdly funny to me to picture 10 year olds running around, yelling the word excellent to one another. But honestly, it just dates the series back to the 90s, which makes me love it even more.

I’ve only read a tiny portion of the series so far, but a few I would definitely recommend are: One Day at Horrorland, Stay Out of the Basement, and Night of the Living Dummy. And allow me to say, Mr. Wood is an absolute legend. The best and most offensive roaster of all time. 10/10 would walk out of a conversation with him with lowered self-esteem.

To sum it up, I don’t care about your age. Goosebumps is a must read. Need I say more?

P.S. Better Luck This Time is getting even closer! Ahh! Meet my sequel to The Half Theft on October 1st.

Killer Clowns and… President Trump?

Yes, this is a book review.

Yes, the title will make sense in time.

It’s been so long since I’ve written a blog post here. I’m not exactly sure what happened. I just sort of lost my enthusiasm and let myself slip away from my weekly posts. Soon enough, I figured it didn’t much matter if I posted at all.

I obviously changed my mind on the issue, seeing as I’m here now, and I hope to give my blog a little jumpstart and get going with it once again. I’ve had so much fun with this blog and every one of my readers ever since the day I started it. A couple months down the road, I had an even more amazing experience when I shared my debut novel, The Half Theft, with you. The amount of support I received from my fellow readers was unbelievable and so heartwarming.

To put it simply, I missed you all, so I’m back.

I’ve been up to a lot since I disappeared, including co-hosting my podcast, We Talk Books, which leads me into today’s post.

I picked up a copy of Clown in a Cornfield (by Adam Cesare) from my local library last week in hopes of reading it for the podcast. After the prologue, I had a feeling my sister (aka my podcast co-host) wouldn’t have very much fun reading it. It’s a bit too gory and modern-teen-centered for her taste. I, on the other hand, couldn’t help but continue.

Just to be clear, at the end of the book, the author specifically asks for people to review his work, whether or not they enjoyed it. I appreciate that, and I give him a lot of credit for putting himself out there in that way. I normally shy away from negative reviews, but with the combination of that and so many other things, I simply had to write a review.

For starters, I can honestly say I’ve never read a book that uses “GTFO” in an unironic and non-texting sense. That wasn’t the only instance of odd texting abbreviations in the story, but it certainly was the one that made me laugh the hardest. I cannot stress this enough: people don’t actually say the letters G-T-F-O in real life. That part I could live with. It was goofy, but it didn’t ruin the story.

What did bother me was the fact that the entire mysterious part of the story can be inferred from the synopsis inside the cover. I don’t even know what to make of that, but I certainly thought it meant the revealing of the clowns would be something exciting and unexpected, not literally the exact thing it said on the inside of the book jacket.

START OF SPOILERS

Now, this is one instance where I truly wished I had read reviews before jumping into the story. It turns out that the whole book is a political metaphor for the Cesare’s view of Trump supporters… except it’s not really a metaphor at all. It literally says the killers are Trump supporters who want to exterminate a whole generation of kids because they have smartphones and cause trouble or something like that? At the very least, I was hoping for something a bit supernatural or at least more complex.

END OF SPOILERS

To top it all off, Clown in a Cornfield has an oddly Riverdale-ish feel to it, down to two of the characters being names Ronnie and Cole. A coincidence, I’m sure.

Now, on the other hand, if you like the show, I genuinely do recommend the book to you. You’d probably enjoy it. I haven’t watched it in years though, so I guess I might have just outgrown the phase of my life where I found that sort of thing enjoyable.

On to the horror aspects of the book—the parts that were meant to be scary were definitely written in a superior fashion to the rest, if you ask me. I did find parts of it spooky. I only wish there would have been more of that since it is truly where the writer excels. The multi-chapter-long action sequence at the end really wasn’t bad.

There were corny parts, such as the rant Cole went on in the back of the car in which he somehow related murderous clowns to global warming. A weird moment, for sure, but something a Riverdale character would definitely bring up. See? I told you it had the same vibes!

All in all, I can truly say this is not book for me. A one-starrer, I’m sorry to say.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I hope, through this review, I can not only deter the right people from reading the book, but also draw the right people toward it. Cesare’s writing is clearly an acquired taste.

But please remind me not to read any more Riverdale-esque political metaphors in book form. They’re not quite my thing.

Question of the Post: What are your thoughts on the genre of horror in books? Have you read any great horror books? Any you wish you could unread? (If not, what are you currently reading?)