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Weekend at Poison Lake

Series: Give Yourself Goosebumps Special Edition #8
Author: Stine, R. L.
Illustrator: White, Craig
Release Date: December, 1999
ISBN: 0590996525 / 9780590996525
Length:135 pages
Number of Endings:23
User Summary: In four mostly unrelated but somewhat parallel stories, your trip to Poison Lake turns out to be a decidedly horrific event.
Demian's Thoughts: As I understand it, the Goosebumps books were very nearly the doom of Scholastic; lots of money was invested into the series, but then it suddenly dropped in popularity, leaving contractual obligations to be fulfilled but little public interest in more books. If not for the timely appearance of Harry Potter, the publisher would probably be in considerably worse shape than it actually is at the time of this writing. In any case, I say all this to justify my theory that the use of the phrase "Last Chance" on the cover of this, the last book in the Special Edition series, is not a coincidence -- in fact, there was likely some temptation to put "Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish" somewhere on the book's exterior. Anyway, publishing industry disasters aside, this is a pretty pitiful ending to a series that started out by exceeding all expectations. The gimmick here is that you pick a lucky number at the start of the book, and this lucky number determines which of the four unrelated stories you end up participating in. At numerous times during each adventure, you have chances to use your lucky number to get out of bad situations. If this were something like the "Test Your Luck" situations in Fighting Fantasy, it might be interesting. Unfortunately, there's no pattern to the way your lucky number works, so it acts mainly as an excuse for the author to include random story branches without having to devise actual meaningful choices. It almost goes without saying that the writing isn't good enough to compensate for the frustratingly pointless game design. Although I was pretty displeased with this book, I could see its basic format working well in more capable hands -- it normally frustrates me when gamebook plot lines deviate as wildly as the plots do here, but the difference is that most gamebooks have one introductory passage from which all plots diverge. In this book, however, the first choice comes before any plot is introduced, and thus each storyline has its own distinct beginning. Imagine an interactive collection of short stories, running parallel with one another and sharing the same themes but being otherwise distinct (except, perhaps, for occasional opportunities for the reader to cross over from one into another). I think it could be fascinating if done correctly.

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Waluigi Freak 99's Thoughts: After reading the first book in this series, I was all too eager to bury my nose in the copy of this one that I found in the library. I was pretty disappointed with the huge differences between the two titles, but I was young enough back then to give it a feeling of not caring either way. Looking back on it, I think that the tone was far too light to draw any scary elements out of the asinine plots. Aliens kidnap you and force you to make them ice cream. Your parents, for some reason, set a guy up to pose as a lake monster that tries to drown your dog to frighten you. (And the line, "Oh, this was just like that Goosebumps book I like to read . . ." was obviously a thinly-veiled advertising attempt.) Even the premise is unrealistic - if you parents believed that the lake that their house (named Vampire Lodge) was situated near was poison, why the heck did they move there? A poor and random gimmick, a lack of consistency, a couple of bad frames, weak, idiotic characters, and bland writing are probably what accounted for my disinterest in the book.

More reviews by Waluigi Freak 99

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