I loved Goosebumps as a kid, along with every other child my age. There was always a Goosebumps laying within arm's reach of me, even if it had to be hidden in my backpack. I was a member of the R.L. Stine fan club and got an autographed picture (which was banished to the back of my bookcase because Mr. Stine's gaze kind of freaked me out) and a t-shirt, which I proudly wore to meet Darth Vader with my dad and kid brother:
And, of course, as I got older, my fascination with them faded away. I sold them to Bookman's, gave them to neighbor kids, passed them on to my brother, and generally forgot about them, 'til I started working in a public library, and they entered my consciousness again. But why reread them? They're not like other kid's books, like the one I recently finished (The Name of this Book is Secret), where an adult can enjoy them too. Or are they? When a couple of Goodreads friends, Caris and Ben, started talking about them, I decided to read one too.
I picked Say Cheese and Die
because I remember it being one of my favorites. I liked photography and the picture on the front, of a skeleton family enjoying a backyard barbeque, creeped me out in a fun way. I was kind of disappointed that the copy the library has is a different color, a much more modern style that, well, just doesn't make any sense. There's a camera, which is definitely not a Polaroid style camera, and some kind of deformed skull inside the lens? The heck does that mean? Seriously people. I yearn for the covers of my youth.
ANYWAY, I was expecting it to be crap, like the one Caris reviewed, When The Ghost Dog Howls. But it is actually... not that bad. It's only the fourth book in the series (following Welcome to Dead House, Stay Out of the Basement, and Monster Blood
), so it's not part of the mass-produced crap that came later. The plot follows four children, mainly Greg, who find an old camera in their town's haunted house. The camera, which is a Polaroid style and prints the photo immediately after it was taken, seems to predict an ominous future for the subject of all its photos. Greg is somewhat dimwitted and it takes him forever to catch on, but the plot actually moves at a fairly brisk pace once the book gets past its amazingly slow first five pages. Of course the dialogue is terrible and the characters are one-dimensional, but it's readable. It's not complete dreck and the plot doesn't meander or introduce too many characters to be confusing, which I remember from later Goosebumps books.
They are definitely not books that are truly enjoyable at any age. I think they remain firmly within their audience of 8-12-year-olds. Something about these books is absolutely entrancing. I still remember thinking 12 was the best age ever, because that's when you get to have all these cool adventures.
Now I'm actually kind of disappointing. I mean, I thought I was going to embarass my 10-year-old self for ever reading these books. I think I need to move on to the later stuff to find the really crappy books.