Goosebumps #29: Monster Blood III
Monster Blood III is the sort of sequel you get when you start with a shoddy concept and then stretch it beyond any reasonable length. The Monster Blood books boast more sequels than any other in the original Goosebumps run, and it’s slightly baffling when you realize how none of them is particularly good. My theory is that the badass-sounding title and beautiful Tim Jacobus cover art of the first Monster Blood drove the book to best-seller status in spite of its weirdly bad plot. This brings us to this book. It was tedious. Andy and Evan, the one strong point of the first book, are stuck in a painfully stupid cycle in which they keep using Monster Blood in spite of its dire consequences. They have horrible ideas, and it’s hard to feel anything for them when things go awry. This time we add Kermit to the mix, who is a new kind of awful. There is nothing scary about green slime that keeps growing. It’s not even as gross as it could be. Also being a giant sounds fun, but that only happens for a relatively short section of the book. Most of it is Kermit being terrible to Evan and Andy. The ending could have been satisfying, but Stine has done similar twists and done them better. I also just didn’t care. Three books into a mini-franchise titled Monster Blood and we still have never seen a single monster from whom the blood supposedly originates. That, I believe, is the most unforgivable thing of all.
ERMAHGERD #29: Monster Blood III. Photo assistance by Lindsay Pacelli.
Observations & Spoilers
I enjoyed parts of the first Monster Blood in spite of its messy plot. Sarabeth was a laughably stupid villain whose plan made no sense, and Evan and Andy worked well for me as characters. Monster Blood II was an exercise in tedious repetition, and in a shocking twist, so is Monster Blood III. These books try really hard to sell the idea that growing green slime is scary, but they never manage to be convincing. It just isn’t. And I still have at least one more sequel to go.
The story picks up roughly where Monster Blood II left off. If you recall, the day was saved when the can of Monster Blood magically expired just in time to stop them from getting eaten by Cuddles the giant hampster. Evan still has nightmares about the growing green slime. He is now babysitting his nightmare of a little cousin, Kermit. Kermit does things to purposely get Andy beat up by the bully Conan. He’s a super genius and is always making weird potions in his basement. He made a potion that shrank Conan’s shirt and somehow blame Evan for it. Evan got punched because his character is basically a helpless punching bag. Kermit is never disciplined by his mother, who instead always blames Evan when things go wrong. Evan is frustratingly helpless due to anything because after three books he still has absolutely no agency. The only redeemable thing about this entire family is the fact that they have a dog named Dogface.
Andy thinks Evan is exaggerating about Kermit’s vindictiveness, but then she lets Kermit do her math homework for her. Kermit intentionally does every problem wrong and gets her a zero on the assignment. Andy and Evan become convinced they need to get revenge on Kermit. And of course their go-to is the green slime that they somehow keep getting new canisters of. This time, Andy’s parents conveniently bought her a new container of it overseas. All of this ignores the fact that the only reason the Monster Blood grew in the first place was that Sarabeth placed a curse on one canister of it. I guess we are supposed to assume the curse applied to all of the Monster Blood ever manufactured, and also that the curse abides by the expiration date stamped on the canister? Honestly, that’s not much of a stretch given how miraculously stupid Sarabeth’s original plan was in the first book. I still think about that plan from time to time and how terrible it was. I made a meme to illustrate it. It’s relevant here because Evan and Andy’s planning skills are not much better.
Evan and Andy finally decide to use Monster Blood. Evan is very reluctant but realizes they need to do something about this little gremlin of a human being. The final catalyst was Kermit slipping a laughing potion into Evan and Andy’s sodas, which caused them to laugh at the school bully who beat Evan up and put Andy in a tree. Their plan is to sneak it into one of Kermit’s potions. Evan distracts Kermit by pulling out and eating Kermit’s favorite candy bar in front of him, while Andy sneaks in the Monster Blood. Kermit’s potion starts growing rapidly; it looks like it’s going to work. But then it explodes. Because Evan was eating a candy bar at the moment of the explosion, he accidentally ingests some of the Monster Blood. And then he starts growing uncontrollably… which we knew would happen because of the cover. I just want to point out that it took us past the halfway point of the book for this to happen. The whole first part I described was a tedious slog.
Evan has to awkwardly squeeze out to Kermit’s basement. They break several things trying to get him outside. Evan forgets his worries when he spots Conan and uses his new massive size to scare the bully and place him in a tree. I was so tired of Monster Blood at this point in the book I was really hoping something much darker would happen. If Evan had really hurt Conan somehow, for instance. Then the rest of the book could have been about hiding a body, or trying to make things better but only makes them worse. It would have changed my opinion of the whole series. Instead, Evan goes and plays basketball in the park until the police show up to investigate the giant kid playing basketball. Evan hides at a construction site while Kermit brews up his shrinking potion. When Evan wakes up later that night, he realizes the potion worked better than expected. His dog Trigger picks Evan up in his mouth and brings him into his parent’s room. The End.
Bad villain planning aside, the most egregious sin of the Monster Blood series is that we’ve had three books and ZERO MONSTERS. Where are the weird bleeding forest trolls? Or the Monster blood bank that got robbed by a toy store owner? Seriously, there is a reason the first book was a best seller. Monster Blood has some exciting and terrifying implications. Spice it up with some amazing Tim Jacobus cover art, and you’ve sold the book. But three sequels with no monsters? I’m not counting the giant dog, hampster, and human child that made appearances. I wanted something delightfully weird along the same lines as One Day at Horrorland. I know Stine can deliver on weird and creepy while still keeping it PG. I feel like I’ve been deprived of monsters and I don’t like it.
I dislike the Monster Blood books more and more with each new sequel. My hate for them just keeps growing and growing. I would say let this be the last, but I know there’s one more to go. Monster Blood III joins the ranks alongside You Can’t Scare Me and Go Eat Worms as some of the least inspired books in the Goosebumps series.
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 III is ranked 44th of 62, placing it almost exactly in the lower middle of the series.
The concept of Monster Blood is stupid. The concept of a revenge plot backfiring and a giant 12-year-old holds some promise, but the results were meh.
The plot relied on Evan and d Andy making the same mistakes over and over again. It was tedious and predictable. That being said, as a plot it flowed. I just didn’t give a shit.
Evan and Andy were frustratingly stupid. Kermit was awful and his mother sucked too. Dogface was fine I guess but he wasn’t significant enough to dredge up a point here.
Scare Factor: 0/2
Growing green slime just isn’t scary. Being a giant sounds fun. This book was neither of these things.
I suppose it’s so derivative it almost circles back around to being original?
TV Adaptation – Bullet Review
Don’t miss the next post in my Goosebumps blog series:
Goosebumps #30: It Came from Beneath the Sink
Coming in November 2021.
Also, be sure to check out the latest from the Pulp Horror blog series:
Losi Duncan’s I Know What You Did Last Summer