I know, I know. It’s not quite Halloween any more, but hopefully this wonderful book (with it’s pumpkin-headed villains and WTF ending) will still be a treat. Note the trick-or-treaters on the cover–obviously wearing your normal clothes, but jamming a pumpkin on top of your head works for a costume.
I guess I can’t complain. Last night I wore a stocking cap with cat ears on top and said “meow” occasionally. I was going to be Little Red Riding Hood or maybe Zombie Blair Waldorf, but I just didn’t pull it together in time. Makes me think that these kids were like, “Crap! We don’t have costumes. Let’s just wear pumpkins! That’s BRILLIANT!”
Back Cover Blurb:
Nothing beats Halloween. (Except for maybe Chuck Norris.) It’s Drew Brockman’s favorite holiday. And this year will be awesome. Much better than last year. Or the year Lee and Tabby played that joke. A nasty practical joke on Drew and her best friend, Walker.
Yes, this year Drew and Walker have a plan. A plan for revenge. It involves two scary pumpkin heads.
But something’s gone wrong. Way wrong. Because the pumpkin heads are a little too scary. A little too real. With strange hissing voices. And flames shooting out of their faces…
Half of this damn book is a flashback. I think I should just get that out in the open right now if you’re expecting action-packed thrills and chills (which I know is what all adults want when reading the Goosebumps series).
Our protag, Drew is pretty fed up with these two assholes who live down the street, Tabby and Lee. Drew freaking loves Halloween, so you’d think she could take a scary joke or two, but you’re dead wrong there. You won’t see Drew auditioning for the new cast of Jackass any time soon–the girl cannot appreciate a prank.
I guess Tabby and Lee’s pranks aren’t that amazing, but they’re the kinds of things that we all laugh about on YouTube, so I don’t think they’re so very bad. On Halloween, they enjoy doing things like… I don’t know… hiring two high school boys to come into Drew’s Halloween party and pretend to take over the place like a couple of terrorists.
They also like hiring these same boys to sneak up on Drew and Walker to scare the crap out of them right before they start trick-or-treating. I’m surprised they didn’t ask the guys to dress up as the grim reaper and pop out of Drew’s refrigerator or something.
Speaking of which… Isn’t it weird how all these people do is scream and cry? I’m not a bad-ass or anything, believe me. I’m such a chicken-shizz that at the first sign of danger, I go into ultra-panic-self-defense mode and kind of overreact. One time I was alone in my mother-in-law’s scary basement, and when I heard a noise, I totally freaked out and grabbed a wrench to defend myself.
So yeah, I’m just saying… Only try to scare people with normal temperaments. If you get someone like me who is weirdly paranoid, something not-so-funny could happen.
Well, it might be a LITTLE funny.
Anyway, Drew wants to give Tabby and Lee some payback. Besides being pranksters, Tabs and Lee are kind of rude assholes. Tabby is supposed to be a pretty little girl who loves to rub her beauty in other people’s faces, and Lee just sounds like a smug little creep.
She enlists her best bud, Walker (no personality traits to speak of, by the way) and the twins who live down the block, Shane and Shana. Drew says Shane and Shana are cute blond kids with round faces–slightly funny-looking sometimes, but adorable in the way those creepy Precious Moments dolls can be.
I’m imagining them like this:
I don’t care which one would be Shane. Really, I don’t.
So the four of them come up with an awesome idea–why not get Shana and Shane to dress up in super-scary costumes to terrorize Tabby and Lee? It could totally work!
Tabby and Lee are pranksters, okay? That means their sensitivity to this kind of shit is pretty low. They probably get messed with all the time by their older brothers and sisters, so a couple of scary costumes aren’t going to do the job.
And you know what? They don’t. On Halloween, when Drew and Walker are out with Tabby and Lee, Shane and Shana show up as scary pumpkin heads who definetely do NOT scare the crap out of Lee and Tabby. As a matter of fact, the two of them are more interested in how the hell they managed to get those cool fire effects to come out of the pumpkins.
Drew is bummed that Lee and Tabby aren’t frightened, but they all go out trick-or-treating anyway. The pumpkin heads are really into trick-or-treating, which is cool at first, but then the kids get tired and want to go home, which is when shizz finally starts to happen.
First, they force the kids to gobble down some candy so their over-full bags will have room for more goodies (doesn’t sound so bad, by the way, but whatevs). Tabby rips away one of the pumpkin head “masks” and we see that these guys don’t have any heads under there, which means… um… where the hell are Shane and Shana?
Then when the kids insist on going home, the pumpkin heads force them to go on trick-or-treating. They do this weird twirling maneuver–like, they move so fast around the kids that all they can see are the flames from the jack-o’-lanterns as their hissing voices tell the kids to keep going.
Kind of scary, right? The kids figure they should just go along with it, so they do. The pumpkin heads lead them to a neighborhood they’ve never seen before, one filled with…
…wait for it…
other pumpkin heads!
But at least they give out good candy.
At the end of the night, the pumpkin heads present Drew, Walker, Tabby, and Lee with some final treats: a pumpkin head for each of them. Mwahahaha!
Naturally, Tabby and Lee head for the damn hills. They run off down the street, leaving Drew and Walker back with the pumpkins.
At which point Drew and Walker and the pumpkin heads start laughing their asses off.
Yes, folks, it was all a trick and we were all fooled. It’s a might feat to accomplish when the POV character is in on the scheme, but somehow Stine has managed it without making the reader feel cheated.
Yeah, well, never mind that. The point is that Drew has finally pulled off her big Halloween prank. But wait, there’s more! Turns out that Shane and Shana aren’t in costume. They’re like, these shape-shifting aliens who only appear human to blend in on Earth. I guess the pumpkins are their real heads or something, which makes very little sense from an evolutionary perspective, but whatever. I guess there’s something to be said for never needing a flashlight.
As the book finishes, Shane and Shana give Walker and Drew all of their Halloween loot, since aliens don’t eat candy. The awesomeness of the moment is spoiled when Drew wonders aloud what aliens DO eat and Shane and Shana reply that they only like to eat really plump adults.
Thus the emphasis on children trick-or-treating ‘til they barf!
<cue evil laughter>
Lee is tall and good-looking, with dark brown eyes and a great, warm smile. Lee is African-American, and he sort of struts when he walks and acts real cool, like the rappers on MTV videos.
It’s always weird when Stine tries to make his books multi-cultural. It’s not that he comes off as totally racist, but it’s like he’s trying way too hard to emphasize his characters’ ethnicities. Like with the rap stuff–huh? Like the kid only struts around because of his skin-color? Not sure what Stine would make of Eminem.
If Stine ever had an Asian character on there, he’d probably say something like:
R.G. Quimby is really pretty, with chocolate brown eyes and a great smile. She is Asian, and she sort of struts when he walks and acts real cool, like that one chick from Charlie’s Angels. You know, the new movies with the integrated cast. Not Cameron Diaz or Drew Barrymore; the Asian angel named Lucy Liu. That one.
The Moral of the Story:
Ummm… something about the perils of childhood obesity?
You heard it here first, kids. If you get fat as a kid, you’ll stay fat as an adult, which means the aliens will want to scoop up your tasty ass and eat you for dinner!