Saturday, 13 April 2013

Parody Week: Blogger Beware

SATURDAY, APRIL 13, 2013

#42 Egg Monsters From Mars
#42 Egg Monsters From Mars

Front Tagline:
 They’re no yolk!
Back Tagline: Which came first, the Monster or the Egg?

Official Book Description:
An egg hunt. That’s what Dana Johnson’s bratty little sister, Brandy, wants to have at her birthday party. And whatever Brandy wants, Brandy gets.
      Dana’s not big on egg hunts. But that was before he found The Egg. It’s not like a normal egg. It’s about the size of a softball. It’s covered with ugly blue and purple veins.
      And it’s starting to hatch….

Brief Synopsis:
Dana Johnson is a bespectacled, slightly chubby, science nerd with an unfortunate name and a little sister named Brandy that he hates because she ‘always gets what she wants’. And for her birthday, Brandy wants an egg hunt. This seemed like a normal request, until I realized that this wasn't the kind of ‘egg hunt’ where you find chocolate eggs, but rather was a hunt for chicken eggs. Maybe it's an American thing . . .
Dana’s best friend, Anne Gravel, is invited to the egg hunt as well because her parents have allowed the egg hunt to extend into their backyard in an effort to Keep up with the Johnsons.
Anne & Dana, realizing that this game is incredibly lame, decide to make things a little interesting, with a wager of five dollars to up the stakes. In a universe where five dollars is barely enough for a car wash, I would call this a lame bet. But on the upside, at least they didn't try to play egg toss.

They start searching for eggs, when a young girl accidentally breaks her egg and gets yolk all over herself. I already thought a non-chocolate egg hunt was strange, but now we learn that Mrs Johnson was too lazy to hardboil or even paint the eggs?
How is this game fun?
Pretty soon all of the other kids realize how stupid this game is as well, and instead of hunting for eggs, they start hunting with eggs as they run around pelting the house, yard and other partygoers with eggs.

The game quickly becomes a full on food-fight, but when Dana joins the fray, he discovers that the egg he picked it up less than 2 pages ago isn't small, egg-coloured and not covered in veins. But rather it's pale green, the size of a softball and is covered in blue-and-purple veins that suggest this may not be an egg, but rather a giant, alien gonad. Dana wants to examine it on his workbench, presumably to perform some kind of invasive surgery, when Anne's dog runs in front of Dana, tripping him and he falls on top of the egg with a sickening crunch.

When he stands up, however, the egg is fine. So, ignoring his broken ribs, Dana tries to show the egg to Anne, but she's so busy throwing eggs at people, she just pegs it at some small children.

As his parents try to break up the fight and clean up the mess, Dana sneaks inside with the egg, which is now hot to the touch, and wonders if perhaps the egg is a turtle egg, because although turtle eggs aren't commonly green, it's a little known fact that Dana is a moron. He hides the egg in his sock drawer and heads back downstairs to watch his dad scream at his little sister:
"Why did you let this happen?" which, considering this is entirely her mother's fault, just feels like child abuse. When Brandy points this out, she manages to con her parents into agreeing to a "Make Your Own Ice-Cream Sundae party" for her next birthday. Man, I am not looking forward to reading Ice-Cream Monsters from Mars.

Dana & Brandy then visit their grandparents, in a blatant effort by Stine to pad out the book, and when he gets home to sleep he hears the egg thumping around in his drawer, so he checks it out to see if a turtle has hatched. At one point Dana mentions that he owns a 'book about turtles', but it's clear to me that he never read the damn thing.
Anyway, when he grabs the egg it burns his hands. Then, despite having burned his hands on it just six sentences ago, he picks up the egg and takes it to his parents to show it to them. At mention of eggs, Dana's dad tells him to "sit on it and hatch it." Wow, Mr Johnson is a jerk.
Desperate to show off his alien egg-sac, Dana tries to show his egg to Brandy, But she too has Post Traumatic Egg Disorder, and refuses to listen to him, so he goes to bed.

He wakes up the next day, to the sound of the egg hatching, which at first Dana confuses for his sister cracking her knuckles because that's something ten-year-old girls are known for. He sees the egg cracking and quickly decides that this is not a turtle egg, but more likely a flamingo egg. Clearly this book is R.L. Stine's jarring commentary on the downfall of the American education system. The egg hatches, making a mess everywhere and Dana struggles to think of more animals that this couldn't possibly be.
The creature looks like scrambled eggs, criss-crossed with green veins, with round, black eyes on top of it, so Dana's first reaction is to say:
  "You're not a chicken."
I really hate this stupid kid.

He tries to find his parents, but they've both taken Brandy to her piano lesson, so Dana decides to show the thing to Anne because she owns a dog, so must therefore know how to take care of a yellow, alien cowpat. The only problem is, it's basically scrambled eggs so he has to find something to carry it. After six pages of faffing about, he picks up the egg monster with his hand and puts it in a shoebox.

Stine then starts channelling Wordsworth for a paragraph as he describes a Spring morning while Dana heads over to Anne's house, where she's eating a breakfast of, you guessed it: pancakes.
Mrs Gravel keeps offering Dana different kinds of eggs to eat while Dana manages to, again, trip over Anne's dog, named Stubby. I guess he stubbed his toe.


[If you don't like that pun, just think about how many times I could have made an egg pun so far, and be thankful for my restraint.]

The egg monster falls on Anne's plate, and her mother tries to wash it down the garbage disposal. Dana saves it just in time, but Mrs Gravel shoos him outside, because the egg monster is dripping goo everywhere. I like to believe it's crapping itself in fear, but it's never really established.
Anne follows Dana outside where he brings her up to speed on what happened in the first ten chapters, and Anne makes fun of Dana for having thought it was a chicken. It was then that I decided this book would be much better if Anne was the main character. Sadly. she isn't, but I just enjoyed reading as Dana tries to figure out what it is, while Anne continues to make fun of him.

The book then takes a turn for the stupid when Dana decides to take the creature to "that little science lab" that's apparently just three blocks away.
Anne, who is the audience surrogate at this point, expresses disbelief at this eventuality, so Dana tells her she's not invited to the rest of the book and pedals off to the science lab on his own.
Just before he leaves, however, Stubby runs in front of him for a third time, and nearly trips up Dana again. The best part is, this isn't even significant to the plot. Clearly this book is R.L. Stine's jarring commentary on the hidden underbelly of suicidal housepets.

Dana gets to the lab, and dropping his bike on the grass, he races up to the lab and rings the doorbell, but sees there is a sign saying the lab is closed on weekends. Wait . . . do science labs have doorbells? Before we can find out, a wrinkly old scientist answers the door anyway, which defeats the purpose of putting up the sign, but whatever.
This mustachioed scientist asks how he can help, and as soon as he hears about the egg, the scientist ushers Dana inside. He introduces himself as Dr Gray, and if this book turns out to be a Gray's Anatomy crossover I'm going to punch someone.


Dr Gray leads Dana deeper into the lab, where Dana shows him the egg monster. Dr Gray rattles off some exposition about a storm on Mars that supposedly blasted the eggs into space in a sad attempt to make the title of the story relevant in some way.
Dr Gray leads Dana to a viewing room, where he shows off a room filled with dozens of egg monsters. Leading Dana inside the freezing room, he explains that they have to keep it cold because too much heat will make the egg monsters melt. When you think about it, that is really disgusting.
Dr Gray picks up Dana's egg monster, and adds it to his collection, so he can study it along with the others. Feeling sentimental, Dana asks if he can visit the creature from time to time, but the doctor explains that he won't have to worry about that, since he's going to lock Dana in with the creatures.

Dana doth protest very much, but Dr Gray says that he's "just doing his job" because he doesn't want people to panic about the ongoing Martian invasion. This wouldn't have been a problem if he hadn't told Dana about it in the first place.
When Dana points out how ridiculous this is, Dr Gray explains that he has to keep Dana under quarantine as well, because he touched the creature and might be infected with Martian germs.

Now hang on a minute. Just six pages ago, the doctor himself picked up the egg to put it on the floor, and he wasn't wearing gloves. I understand that when people ghost-wrote the Goosebumps sequels, they didn't bother to read the original. But is R.L. Stine forgetting to read the last chapter before he writes the next?

After testing the door and realizing that his kidnapper wasn't stupid enough to leave it unlocked, Dana tells the doctor: "I'm a boy. Not a specimen." in an emotional scene, reminiscent of The Elephant Man. After whinging a bit more, Dana turns back to see the egg monsters are chatting amongst themselves. The creatures start forming different shapes together, and Dana guesses they are trying to communicate. He makes a circle shape with his fingers, and the eggs copy it. He then makes a triangle, and they make that shape as well. Considering this parlour trick like some kind of new discovery, Dana feels a bond with the creatures, but before he can keep playing this game, Dr Gray slides him a tray of macaroni and cheese to eat. Then, in a complete disregard for logical priority, Dana starts complaining that he hates macaroni and cheese.
Did I mention that I hate this stupid kid?

Before he can complain about the lab's colour scheme, or anything else that doesn't matter, Dana falls asleep. Only to wakes up at the sound of his father's voice.

Thinking he's about to be rescued Dana starts screaming at the top of his lungs and banging on the glass to get his father's attention, but Mr Johnson doesn't see or hear him, because, as it turns out, Dana was a ghost this whole time.
Not really. The truth is actually much stupider. Dr Gray explains to Dana that the glass is one-way glass; the room is soundproof; the glass is shatter-proof and that he accidentally left the sound system on, which explains why Dana could hear him. Even if that kind of glass does exist, how could a lab this small afford it?

Dr Gray then gets as tired of Dana's whining as I am, switches off the light and tells him to go to sleep. But before he can get some shut-eye, the egg creatures all bunch together in another egg-wave and accost him. They roll up over him, and form a kind of throbbing, sticky, eggy blanket.
Dana believes the creatures have banded together to stop him from freezing to death. It's a sweet, if somewhat disturbing and sticky gesture.

The next morning, Dr Gray, seeing the egg blanket, shakes Dana awake screaming: "What have you done?!" just like Dana's father did with Brandy earlier in the book.
Why do all the adults in this book blame kids for stuff they couldn't possibly control? Then, because Dr Gray is a sixteen year old girl, he tells Dana that he 'ruined everything' by turning the egg monsters into a blanket.
He throws the egg blanket against the wall, and Dana tells him that he's hurting the egg monsters, but Dr Gray ignores him, apparently horrified that Dana would touch the egg monsters, despite the fact that he locked them in the same room together.
Behind his back the egg blanket starts to get mad. [Only R.L. Stine could allow me to honestly write a sentence that stupid.]

Dr Gray then decides that the only logical course of action is to kill Dana. He wants to lock him in the room, turn up the temperature and let him freeze to death. Of course, this idea is fundamenally flawed, because Dana could just wrap himself up in the egg blanket again. but before Dr Gray gets the chance to fail at his plan to kill a twelve-year-old, he is attacked by the egg monsters.

Dana then runs outside, conveniently finds his bike behind a dumpster and rides home as fast as he can. He gets home, finds his parents, and title-drops several times to tell them that the evil Dr Gray is being attacked by the Egg Monsters From Mars.
But despite being parents in a Goosebumps book, his parents actually believe his crazy story and they drive up to the lab. But when they get to the freezer room, both the egg creatures, and Dr Gray, are gone.

They head home, and since Dana isn't feeling well they call the doctor and he suggests bedrest.

The next day, Anne comes to his house, and asks him if he wants to come to her house to play a videogame.
Dana, feeling better, says he'll be right over.

But the Twist is:
Dana gets dressed and heads outside, admiring the beauty of the world. Then, halfway across Annie's lawn he stops, crouches down, and lays an egg. What.

the Platonic Boy/Girl Relationship:
Dana Johnson and his best friend Anne Gravel who disappears about a third of the way through the book.

Questionable Parenting:
Mr Johnson yells at his daughter for no reason, makes fun of his son when he's asking for help and when his son is missing, does a half-assed job. Also, Mrs Johnson let her children play with raw eggs. They were Cage Eggs too, I'd bet.


Questionable Scientisting:
Dr Gray locks Dana away is so that he won't tell anyone about the aliens. It's bad enough that he's resorted to kidnapping, but what kind of scientist keeps his discoveries a secret?

Early 90s Cultural References:
Battle Chess on CD-ROM, The Ninja Turtles, Ninja Turtle Pizza Pie-throwing game (this actually existed), books about turtles, turtle eggs.

R.L. Stine Shows He is Down With the Kids:
Turtles. Egg Hunts.

Memorable Cliffhanger Chapter Ending:

Ch. 5/6:
The egg starts making a thumping noise from within Dana's sock drawer. Should he open the drawer and check it out, or ran as far away as he can?
  . . .
What kind of wuss would run away from a noise?


Great Prose Alert:
I ducked as an egg went sailing over my head. It landed with a craaack on the driveway.

Conclusions:
This book is bad. It's not Chicken Chicken bad, but what's really weird is that there are so many sexual undertones in this book. That's not a trait exclusive to this book, a lot of the lines in Goosebumps can sound sexual when taken out of context. But seriously, the egg is covered in pulsing, blue-and-purple veins & is warm to the touch; the communicates by thumping and grunting; it 'cracks' in his sock drawer, spilling thick goo everywhere & the egg monsters sleep with him and, evidently, impregnate him during the night, without his consent.

You know, the Alien film was made with symbolism and overtones all about rape because the filmmaker wanted to freak out the male audience. Well, I'm starting to think that's where Stine got the idea for this book, since there are an awful lot of similarities. Which just gets disturbing when you realize that this is a book for children.

But even if none of that other stuff existed, the story doesn't really have a point; many of the characters don't act like normal people and most importantly eggs aren't scary. Yeah, they're gross and slimy, but the book doesn't really play that angle as much as it should except when characters are looking at the egg monsters. Maybe if it had, I wouldn't have read a kid's book wherein a twelve year old boy is locked in a freezer and gang-raped by scrambled eggs.




         UPDATE
         STATUS:
         It's Complicated


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If you live in a world where Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place jokes are too esoteric, check out the 
fan-compiled reference guide


Header art graciously provided by the Talented Mr. Anderson, sketching the work of the inimitable James Harvey


GOOSEBUMPS: BOOK BY BOOK

01 Welcome to Dead House 
02 Stay Out of the Basement
03 Monster Blood
04 Say Cheese and Die! 
05 the Curse of the Mummy's Tomb
06 Let's Get Invisible!
07 Night of the Living Dummy
08 the Girl Who Cried Monster
09 Welcome to Camp Nightmare 
10 the Ghost Next Door 
11 the Haunted Mask 
12 Be Careful What You Wish For... 
13 Piano Lessons Can Be Murder 
14 the Werewolf of Fever Swamp
15 You Can't Scare Me! 
16 One Day At Horrorland
17 Why I'm Afraid of Bees
18 Monster Blood II
19 Deep Trouble
20 the Scarecrow Walks at Midnight
21 Go Eat Worms! 
22 Ghost Beach
23 Return of the Mummy
24 Phantom of the Auditorium 
25 Attack of the Mutant 
26 My Hairiest Adventure
27 A Night In Terror Tower
28 the Cuckoo Clock of Doom
29 Monster Blood III
30 It Came From Beneath the Sink!
31 Night of the Living Dummy II
32 the Barking Ghost 
33 the Horror at Camp Jellyjam
34 Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes
35 A Shocker on Shock Street 
36 the Haunted Mask II
37 the Headless Ghost
38 the Abominable Snowman of Pasadena 
39 How I Got My Shrunken Head
40 Night of the Living Dummy III
41 Bad Hare Day 
42 Egg Monsters From Mars
43 the Beast From the East 
44 Say Cheese and Die-- Again! 
45 Ghost Camp
46 How to Kill a Monster
47 Legend of the Lost Legend
48 Attack of the Jack O'Lanterns
49 Vampire Breath
50 Calling All Creeps!
51 Beware, the Snowman
52 How I Learned to Fly 
53 Chicken Chicken 
54 Don't Go to Sleep!
55 the Blob That Ate Everyone
56 the Curse of Camp Cold Lake
57 My Best Friend is Invisible
58 Deep Trouble II
59 the Haunted School
60 Werewolf Skin 
61 I Live in Your Basement! 
62 Monster Blood IV
--Retrospective on the series

Goosebumps Series 2000
01 Cry of the Cat
02 Bride of the Living Dummy
03 Creature Teacher
04 Invasion of the Body Squeezers: Pt 1
05 Invasion of the Body Squeezers: Pt 2
06 I Am Your Evil Twin
07 Revenge R Us
08 Fright Camp
09 Are You Terrified Yet?
10 Headless Halloween
11 Attack of the Graveyard Ghouls
12 Brain Juice
13 Return to Horrorland
14 Jekyll and Heidi
15 Scream School
16 the Mummy Walks
17 the Werewolf in the Living Room
18 Horrors of the Black Ring
19 Return to Ghost Camp
20 Be Afraid-- Be Very Afraid!
21 the Haunted Car
22 Full Moon Fever
23 Slappy's Nightmare
24 Earth Geeks Must Go!
25 Ghost in the Mirror
--Retrospective on the seriesTales to Give You Goosebumps
More Tales to Give You Goosebumps
Even More Tales to Give You...
Still More Tales to Give You...
More and More Tales to Give You...
More & More & More Tales to Give...

Triple Header: Book 1
Triple Header: Book 2

Live On Stage: Screams In the Night

Ephemeral Blogger Beware posts

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