Columns > Published on October 15th, 2015

Every Goosebumps Book Summarized In One Sentence

*Contains spoilers for the original Goosebumps series, The Stuff,  the Rocky saga, and The Sixth Sense.*

Inspired by "Every Stephen King Novel Summarized in 140 Characters or Less" by Max Booth III

"Welcome To The Dead House"

The classic struggle of inheriting real estate from a great uncle only to find out your new home is on Zombie Ave, USA.

"Stay Out Of The Basement"

Two bastard kids spend 160 pages doing the exact opposite of what the title advises.

"Monster Blood"

Kid is convinced to buy a "surprising miracle substance" that doesn't directly mention erections, but does cause a dog to double in size.

"Say Cheese And Die!"

We learn that it's never a good idea to steal a haunted camera, or really any object from a man who goes by "Spidey."

"The Curse Of The Mummy's Tomb"

The real title should be Curse Of The Mummy Hand A Kid Bought At A Garage Sale And Somehow No One Has A Problem With This Except Other Mummies.

"Let's Get Invisible!"

The moment R.L. Stine probably regretted wasting spooky attic, invisibility, and haunted mirror in the same book.

"Night Of The Living Dummy"

A hilarious dummy makes fun of old people and vomits green liquid all over an overweight principal, is unfairly railroaded for entertaining people exactly as he's supposed to, even though he may have tested sympathies when he strangled a dog.

"The Girl Who Cried Monster"

A lonely, homely librarian is shamed for eating live snails and turtles #CheckYourPrivilege.

"Welcome To Camp Nightmare"

Not even kidding, this BOOK FOR CHILDREN ends with a boy being handed a rifle and told by a camp counselor to hunt the other campers in the woods, at which point the boy turns the gun on the camp counselor and fires.

"The Ghost Next Door"

Holy shit, M. Night ripped off R.L. Stine, and I'm sorry to the thousands of you who read The Ghost Next Door and have now had The Sixth Sense spoiled, but how did nobody ever tell me this before!?

"The Haunted Mask"

...may have watched the movie and cheated on this one, may have watched not the exact right movie, and may have been reminded why we all loved Cameron Diaz.

"Be Careful What You Wish For..."

...because for some reason every genie is a huge jerk who definitely misinterprets wishes on purpose because they think it's HILARIOUS.

"Piano Lessons Can Be Murder"

A "robotician" hits a roadblock in making robot hands, decides the best option is to kill people, steal their hands, and then add robotic stuff onto them, sort of the way a bad middle school scientist glues an egg timer to a cooking spoon to cruise straight through to a C+ at the science fair.

"The Werewolf Of Fever Swamp"

The best part by far is what brings the family in this book to the Florida swamps: In a fit of good ol' fashioned science-ing, Grady's dad decides to test the scientific hypothesis "Deer Can Live In Florida" (already 100% true, btw) by bringing a bunch of deer to Florida and seeing what happens.

"You Can't Scare Me"

In which mud monsters are at fault for two boys having to write a 1,000-word essay entitled "It's wrong to steal living things and drop them on people's heads."

"One Day At Horrorland"

The existence of the greatest theme park ever, with rides like a Coffin Cruise and Deadly Doom Slide, is threatened by an ungrateful family of dweebs.

"Why I'm Afraid Of Bees"

Imagine The Fly except it's called The Bee and was made in 1994 and being good at skateboarding plays a pivotal role, and then you've pretty much got it.

"Monster Blood II"

I'd like to take this moment to recommend a film called The Stuff for its lazy title and great, evil yogurt premise that seems to parallel the Monster Blood books quite nicely, minus enormous hamster, plus this:

"Deep Trouble"

A man named Dr. Deep and his muscular graduate student are doing something on a boat that doesn't matter because the sexual overtones here are just too strong to allow thoughts of anything else.

"The Scarecrow Walks At Midnight"

Finally we get someone defeating a supernatural foe while saying the concise and always inaccurate "Never again."

"Go Eat Worms!"

A creepy worm collector kid is a Raiders fan, always wearing his Raiders cap, and I'm pretty sure I should feel something about that as a Colorado resident, but football is really confusing and there's the whole Bo Jackson factor, and frankly I just don't have the energy.

"Ghost Beach"

Okay, at this point, 22 books in, I have to say there is a shocking display of lazy, neglectful, borderline abusive parenting in these books, which usually involves leaving kids with weird aunts or uncles for months at a time, and I just wish these parents had done a little more family planning and thought about whether they really wanted children in the first place.

"Return Of The Mummy"

The same kid from the last mummy book manages to end up in Egypt, again, lost in a pyramid, again, and screws around with spooky artifacts, again, and it's still pretty hard to feel bad for a kid who carries around a mummy hand, which is a human hand, by the way, an actual hand that belonged to a person and was mummified for religious purposes beyond some jerkass kid carrying it around to show his buds and make a bong out of in college (somehow) (probably).

"Phantom Of The Auditorium"

Is the school auditorium haunted, or is there just a bum living in forgotten corridors under the school, and the real question, which is the worse indictment of the state of American education?

"Attack Of The Mutant"

A pudgy comic book nerd named Skipper has a pretty lousy time, as one might expect for a pudgy comic book nerd named Skipper, when he's sucked into a comic book world and doesn't have ass-kicking powers and a ponytail.

"My Hairiest Adventure"

Some kids use an untested tanning product and suffer the consequences, and also ANOTHER kid is known for wearing a Raiders hat, and this seems to be an on-going theme that I can't understand without really getting into a lot of NFL history, and screw that, I'll just wait for Goosebumps 385: The Hauntedest Raiders Hat to show up.

"A Night In Terror Tower"

Resisting time travel up to this point is really a badge of honor for the series, but let's face it, it was inevitable.

"The Cuckoo Clock Of Doom"

I spoke too soon about time travel as Stine double-dips and jumps right back into the soupy waters of time travel in the very next title, but the main character DOES use it to wipe his sister from existence, so kudos for taking it way further than necessary after a tamer first outing.

"Monster Blood III"

It's very strange to me that the most-recurring character in the Goosebumps universe, the Goose-iverse or Bump-iverse, if you will, is a tub of goo that just seems to make stuff big when you eat it, not to mention the recurring cast of Monster Blood characters who seem almost willfully unable to learn a lesson about why it's a bad idea to ingest concentrated, viscous evil.

"It Came From Beneath The Sink!"

A valuable lesson is learned here: you can't just throw away a monster that is ruining your life, a lesson parents can impart to children if they follow my advice and screen Basket Case for their kids at the appropriate age of 4.

"Night Of The Living Dummy II"

Why the kids who previously owned a living dummy didn't dispose of it is one question, but perhaps the more interesting question, why did they stuff an entire sandwich inside the dummy's head before they gave him away (really!)?

"The Barking Ghost"

There is a strange aspect of these books in that they all have weird, unnecessary details, such as the main character in this book collecting snow globes, which is the kind of character trait reminiscent of the way a Nicholas Cage character will eat yellow and red jellybeans from a martini glass for no reason.

"The Horror At Camp Jellyjam"

Each of these books has a tagline on the front, and with this one (" anyone?") I think we hit an all-new low by just naming things and ending with "Oh, and by the way, there's monsters, so hang in there."

"Revenge Of The Lawn Gnomes"

A gnomes-come-to-life story badly masks the true tale of domestic problems manifested by parents arguing over whether or not plastic flamingos and other kitsch items belong in a front yard, which, for the record, they absolutely do and you're wasting your yard with natural beauty.

"A Shocker On Shock Street"

Yeah, they should have just called those Freddy movies A Nightmare On Nightmare Street, because why use more words than you have to?

"The Haunted Mask II"

A bunch of kids are supposed to STAY OUT OF THE BASEMENT because that's where the Haunted Masks (II) are, and the kids definitely don't stay out of the basement because there's nothing kids in these books like more than not staying out of a basement they're supposed to stay out of.

"The Headless Ghost"

Are most ghost stories where the ghost wants something (a head returned, a video tape copied, whatever) and uses confusion, terror, and indirect communication to get it just metaphors for the way people communicate in romantic relationships, or am I just a sad, introspective sack who can't even enjoy a headless ghost without thinking of where my life has gone wrong?

"The Abominable Snowman Of Pasadena"

More like the ADORABLE Snowman Of Pasadena who saves a girl's life by hugging warmth into her, thereby getting us a happy ending and REALLY pissing off a 12 year-old Pete who read a Goosebumps book and didn't expect it to end with a restorative hug.

"How I Got My Shrunken Head"

Well, an old lady just kinda showed up and gave it to me, but it turns out we're buddies, and I'm re-titling this adventure Head N' Me: The Quicksand Escape.

"Night Of The Living Dummy III"

There's something about dummies where it's okay to have them get really violent in these books, punching a child in the face and watching a group of living dummies pounce on another dummy and beat the bejeezus out of him.

"Bad Hare Day"

Magician turns out to be evil asshole rabbit, a minor twist on the evil asshole human magicians we are accustomed to, a plot that seems blown by the cover, no?

"Egg Monsters From Mars"

At one point, the egg monsters form a living, sentient blanket of scrambled eggs to save a boy's life, but I kinda feel like being covered by a sheet of scrambled eggs, while preserving your biological function, may not really "save" your life.

"The Beast From The East"

If you've ever played a game of tag with that jerk neighbor kid who keeps making up rules like "Penalty Rocks" and "Made In The Shade" and "Level 3 Classic Clone" (actual rules from this book), then you've got a pretty good idea how this one goes.

"Say Cheese And Die - AGAIN!"

This book starts with the main character narrating the plot of this book's prequel to his English class, a report for which he receives an "F", which is kind of great as the reality is that this is R.L. Stine giving himself an "F" for his own book.

"Ghost Camp"

And now we're just putting spooky nouns in a bag, picking them out, and slapping the word "Camp" on the end. 

"How To Kill A Monster"

Once again, there is ONE place in a CASTLE that children are told not to go, and they go there almost immediately, interrupting a monster...who takes a break from eating pancakes to chase them around for a while.

"Legend Of The Lost Legend"

Culled from the original title, The Legendary Legend Of The Legend Of The Lost Legend Of Legend Legend.

"Attack Of The Jack O'Lanterns"

If you're turned off by flashbacks and "it was only a dream", I would suggest skipping the first 2/3 of this one, and then also the last 1/3 as the ending seems almost designed to make humans unhappy.

"Vampire Breath"

Look, when it comes to vampire stories, let's just assume everyone's a vampire and not worry about it, and instead let's focus on the ending, which mirrors my own life in that the sighting of an air hockey table in any situation is an incredible relief.

"Calling All Creeps!"

I wonder how much time is spent deciding which titles warrant an exclamation point.

"Beware, The Snowman"

A family decides that the winters in Chicago suck too hard, and they move to the Arctic Circle, R.L.'s ultimate "Fuck You" to Chicago's climate and her people.

"How I Learned To Fly"

Stars a boy named Jack Johnson, who falls through a beach house floor, finds a book called "Flying Lessons", and uses the philosophy inside to get girls, and I will pose the theory that, other than the actual flying, this is the secret origin of singer/songwriter Jack Johnson.

"Chicken Chicken"


"Don't Go To Sleep"

A young boy wakes up in a 16 year-old body, and you can just feel the onanism happening so fast and furious between every chapter break.

"The Blob That Ate Everyone"

In the end, the tale is actually being read aloud by the blob monster in a workshop-ish situation, and the true monster is the person who suggests a completely different ending that misses the entire point of the blob monster's work.

"The Curse Of Camp Cold Lake"

I'd be remiss if I didn't use/waste this one to just mention how, even this late in the series, the cover game is pretty strong.

"My Best Friend Is Invisible"

*sigh* How is it that as soon as I compliment something about this series, it comes back to bite me in the ass?

"Deep Trouble II"

The connection is pretty loose to the original, but it DOES involve the sea, so whatever, and it DOES carry on the rich tradition of a child who seeks revenge on another child after being the victim of a prank, and doing so by initiating a prank that would almost certainly kill the original prankster.

"The Haunted School"

I feel like the Goosebumps wiki says it best: 

Despite the title, there are no ghosts in this book.

"Werewolf Skin"

An alternative to the werewolf lore where werewolves hide their skins and put them on for the full moon, and a delight to furries everywhere.

"I Live In Your Basement!"

The ultimate use of "It was all a dream", including a chapter that ends with the cliffhanger "It wasn't a dream" and then the revelation of, "Wait, yep, totally a dream."

"Monster Blood IV"

Monster Blood is clearly the Rocky of the Bumpiverse: IV is a case of going totally off the rails, V will probably be an unmitigated disaster, and Monster Blood Balboa will undoubtedly catch me unaware and leave me a complete mess of tears and joy.

About the author

Peter Derk lives, writes, and works in Colorado. Buy him a drink and he'll talk books all day.  Buy him two and he'll be happy to tell you about the horrors of being responsible for a public restroom.

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