Egg Monsters From Mars
© 1996 by Parachute Press. Cover Art by Tim Jacobus.
Egg Monsters from Mars was a refreshingly weird Goosebumps book. It had a good balance of the ridiculous and the grotesque. The pacing was solid and Stine avoided his most familiar tropes. The weakest point was its characters. Dana was a fine protagonist, but the plot relied on a villain with extremely questionable logic. I could also point out a few questionable choices made by Dana’s parents. There was a good steady build-up to the climax, even with the villain logic severely lacking. I was left wanting to know more about what the egg monsters were and what their true intent was. That said, I was also happy that there wasn’t a final-chapter infodump to try and over-explain everything. Stine’s tendency to infodump can really kill the magic; Say Cheese and Die is probably the most egregious example of this. Even though it left me wanting more, it was nice to see Egg Monsters from Mars avoid falling into that trap. I’ve said it before and I will keep saying it so long as I write these reviews: the best Goosebumps books are the ones that aren’t afraid to get weird. Egg Monsters not only embraced the weird, but it also delivered what might be the most disturbing ending I’ve come across in this series. I can’t say more without major spoilers, but you can rest assured that I have some thoughts to share below the jump.
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It might not seem like much, but it has a big impact!
Observations & Spoilers
Egg Monsters from Mars opens with Dana attending his sister’s “egg hunt” birthday party. Even though the party devolves into kids throwing raw eggs at each other, Dana manages to snag a really weird-looking egg. It’s green with purple veins running along the sides. While his little sister mourns her ruined birthday party, Dana hides the weird egg in his bedroom. That’s because he’s an aspiring scientist, and can’t wait to study it later. He forgets about it until he hears thumping sounds coming from his drawer. The egg has started pulsating. In the morning, he wakes up to the egg hatching. What emerges is a living creature that kinda looks like scrambled eggs.
Dana puts the creature in a shoebox and attempts to show his parents, but they have conveniently left on an errand. Then he goes to try and show his best friend Anne, but Anne’s mother tries to throw it in the garbage disposal. Dana recuses the egg monster from certain death and brings it to a “science lab” in town. Even by the end of the book, it remains remarkably unclear what sort of science is done at this lab. Dana meets a scientist there named Dr. Gray. Dr. Gray believes Dana’s story and takes him to a cold room where he has collected numerous other egg monsters. Dr. Gray explains to Dana that the creatures came from Mars and fell to Earth. He doesn’t elaborate on how he knows this, he just knows things. He also says he has been studying them. It should be noted that Dr. Gray doesn’t seem to have any idea what the fuck he is doing. This becomes all the more upsetting when he abruptly locks Dana in the freezing cold lab. His reasoning: Dana has been exposed to “alien germs” and therefore must be kidnapped. But it’s for science!
Dr. Gray does not provide Dana with a blanket or warm clothing and seems to think nothing of locking up a 12-year-old boy in a room full of aliens. Dana tries in vain to get out of the room. The egg monsters just watch him and tremble every now and again. He eventually hears his father’s voice outside talking to Dr. Gray. Dr. Gray lies to Dana’s father and says that no boy ever came by the lab. Dana tries to call for help but his Dad can’t hear him. Dr. Gray explains later that the room is soundproof. He then leaves Dana there for the night and remains infuriatingly indifferent to the fact that Dana is freezing. He also seems really casual about the whole kidnapping thing. He doesn’t run any tests or observations on Dana, which was his whole supposed reason for locking the kid up. Dana is alone and can feel himself going numb when the egg monsters merge into a singular form. They make a giant blanket of sorts, then they cover him and keep him warm throughout the night.
Dr. Gray returns the following morning and has the nerve to get mad at Dana that the egg monsters have merged. Maybe if you had controlled your experiments instead of locking everyone in one room together, or if you had just given a blanket to the kid you were imprisoning, none of this would have happened. Dr. Gray is not one to be deterred by logic, though/ He accuses Dana of destroying his “work” and throws the egg monster blanket against the wall. He threatens to make the room even colder for Dana and claims he doesn’t care if the boy freezes to death. This is when Dr. Gray is attacked by the giant blanket of egg monsters. Dana sees an opening and runs for it. He finds his bike hidden behind some dumpsters outside and pedals home to some very relieved parents. He returns to the lab with his parents, but Dr. Gray and the egg monsters are all gone. There is no mention of a police investigation, or psych evaluation post kidnapping, or a swarm of local news reporters looking into the mysterious scientist who kidnapped a child. Everyone’s just cool with it I guess?
Dana sleeps it off in bed for a little while, then he goes outside and lays a giant egg on his neighbor’s lawn.
That’s it. That’s how the book ends. With the main character laying an egg. There are some really disturbing implications here. They only get more fucked up the longer you think about it. I was reminded of Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild. I know I have never said that about a Goosebumps book before. Did the egg monsters impregnate Dana? Was that their real mission here on Earth? Is that why they protected him from Dr. Gray? Was laying the egg painful? Where did it come out? I have so many questions and I honestly don’t know if I want the answers. That ending was so far out of left field. Up until that point, I had been caught up in wondering how Dana’s parents seemed so chill about the fact that a grown man kept their son locked up in a freezing science lab overnight. I still am wondering about that, but I’m a little distracted by the body horror that RL Stine introduced in the last sentence of the book.
I also need to go back and drill down on Dr. Gray. I have concluded that he is either a sociopath, an idiot, or both. He gave me trust fund vibes. He is very clearly a bad scientist who had no idea how to run controlled experiments. He was mad at Dana for messing up his research? Dude, you threw a child in a refrigerator with no warm clothes and a bunch of aliens. Did you expect things would magically yield results? I said before that the characters were the weakest part of this book, and Dr. Gray is by far the weakest link on that chain. Other than wanting to get famous for his discovery, he doesn’t seem to have any discernable plans. He’s super casual about kidnapping a child and possibly killing him. He doesn’t isolate any of the aliens from one another, there’s no control in any of the experiments he’s supposedly running. He’s a bad person who’s bad at science, which made the ending satisfying in a way. He has more than earned a coveted spot in the Hall of Fame for Astoundingly Illogical Goosebumps Villains (working title), right next to Mr. Toggle and Sarabeth.
For the scoring of each book, I decided to rate them based on five criteria worth 2 points each.
I then split that in two to give it a rating out of 5 stars. Those criteria are:
Concept: the strength of the overall idea
Execution: the mechanics of storytelling
Character: the protagonists, antagonists, and villains
Intent: does it succeed in being the kind of book it wants to be?
Originality: subversion and reliance on genre tropes
The idea for the egg monsters was refreshing and weird. I only wish things went a bit further with explaining their potential alien motives. I suppose I prefer no explanation to an info dump that over-explains ad nauseam, but I still wanted more here.
The pacing was solid, giving us gross in the beginning, and some real scares as the plot heated up. Questionable character logic aside, the mechanics of this one worked well.
By far the weakest part of the book was its characters. Dr. Gray is one of those villains who seems impervious to logic. Also, Dana’s parents also seemed way too chill about a scientist locking their kid in a lab overnight. Dana was fine as a main character, just a tad unremarkable.
There was plenty of weird, a fair amount of grotesque, and a few good scares. Not to mention a twist ending that has massively disturbing implications. This delivered what I have come to want and expect out of a Goosebumps book.
This one is a definite standout for a few reasons. It avoided tired tropes and gave us something that felt uniquely Goosebumps.
TV Adaptation – Bullet Review
There was no episode made of this one! This makes sense because it would have been very CGI-heavy.
I would say there’s also no small chance the show’s producers might have considered the implications of the ending and decided to just leave it alone.
Don’t miss the next post in my Goosebumps blog series:
Goosebumps #43: Beast from the East
Also, be sure to check out the latest from my Fear Street blog series:
Fear Street #15: The Prom Queen