Goosebumps #18: Monster Blood II
The first Monster Blood book was a mess, but it was also a lot of fun to dissect. Monster Blood II on the other hand just felt pointless and boring. I didn’t even have a very illogical villain to make fun of this time. It’s odd how Monster Blood became such a formidable subfranchise of the Goosebumps series (becoming the only book to get 3 sequels). My theory is that they sold well based on the title and cover art because it definitely wasn’t based on substance. It’s baffling that Stine chose to go with ‘slime that can’t stop growing’ and a single giant hamster when the title lends itself to so many possibilities. OVerall Monster Blood II was a boring plot, with characters who learned nothing from the first book, and a major cop-out for an ending.
ERMAHGERD #18: Monster Blood II. Expertly photoshopped by yours truly.
Observations & Spoilers
Monster Blood II picks up a few months after the first book. Evan is in his new school, and his plan to impress his classmates with stories about Monster Blood has failed miserably. He’s the laughing stock of his classroom but he can’t stop himself from continuing to talk about Monster Blood and invite more scrutiny. He’s feeling pretty miserable when his friend Andy makes a surprise (and incredibly convenient move) to his town. And of course, Andy brought a canister of Monster Blood with her because otherwise there wouldn’t be a story. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.
It’s almost like it’s difficult to construct an interesting story around green slime that grows uncontrollably. So here’s a brief summary of the rest of the plot. First, Andy and Evan decide to bury the canister of Monster Blood because it’s too dangerous. But then it gets taken by Evan’s relentless bully, Conan! This means they have to break into Conan’s house and steal it back, which they do. After that, Andy (without telling Evan) gives a tiny bit of Monster Blood to Cuddles, the science class hamster. This makes the Cuddles grow big. The cover implies that the giant hamster is menacing, but in this case, it’s still just a hamster and only does silly hamster things. Evan tries to intervene and is about to get chomped down on when POOF! Cuddles is suddenly small again. Andy checks the canister of Monster Blood and realizes that it just hit its expiration date. Lazy plot twist to the rescue!
The story felt less like a plot and more like a random string of things that happened. Aside from the giant hamster, none of it was all that interesting. The expiration date cop-out totally ignores the fact that the only reason the Monster Blood grew in the first place was Sarabeth’s curse, and that was broken at the end of the first book. Even the main characters, who I liked the first time around, just felt tedious in Monster Blood II. It was as though the didn’t learn anything from the first book. In the end, I couldn’t care less about what happened to them.
Sometimes the messy Goosebumps books are the most fun to write about. They’re more fun when they have illogical villains and gaping plot holes. Monster Blood II just felt like a cut and paste job. It just went through the motions. It’s interesting how Cuddles became one of the more iconic characters of the series in spite of all of this. Slappy and Night of the Living Dummy felt really similar in that respect. I think it speaks to the power of Tim Jocobus’s cover art. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but there’s no question that covers certainly sells books.
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 overall idea), Execution (the mechanics of storytelling), Character (the protagonists, antagonists, and villains), Scare Factor (from a childhood standpoint), and Originality (subversion and reliance on genre tropes). Based on GoodReads aggregate ratings, Monster Blood 2 is ranked 48th of 62, placing it in the middle-low tier of the series.
There isn’t really much of a concept. The green slime is back, a hamster eats and grows big. The cover is scarier than what actually happens.
The plot was pretty straight forward; it just felt kinda pointless. The “expiration date” ending was a cop-out, too.
I liked Evan and Andy in the first one, but I found them tedious this time around. Did they learn anything from the first book? It turns out the answer is “nope.”
Scare Factor: 0/2
Silly, yes. Scary, no. The cover makes cuddles look menacing. In the book, Cuddles is just a giant hamster and does things a hamster would do. Which isn’t scary.
One point for giving us the iconic Cuddles, but that’s the only ground I’m giving.
TV Adaptation – Bullet Review
Don’t miss the next post in my Goosebumps blog series:
Goosebumps #19: Deep Trouble
Coming in August 2020.