Book Thoughts: Goosebumps #1: Welcome to Dead House

Goosebumps was a series of classic horror books for kids written by R. L. Stine. They were extremely popular when I was growing up. Even these days, the volume sales of the series as a whole is second only to the more recent Harry Potter series. Before I gave these old books away, I decided to reread the books I had and write my thoughts on them. An interesting thing about Goosebumps was that both my sister and I liked it. My sister and I never got along, so it was rare sight for something to interest both of us. In fact, my sister originally got the first Goosebumps book. I only got into it after borrowing the books from her.

In Welcome to Dead House, a typical American family moved into a new house only to find it was haunted. It was a fairly traditional story, but I saw a lot of similarities between this family and our family. Here’s a list of similarities I caught:

  • The family had two parents and two kids.
  • The two kids were a brother and sister.
  • The sister was older than the brother.
  • The family had a small dog, which was a mutt.
  • The brother (that was me) tended to be stubborn, and since he was the baby of the family, usually got his way.
  • The sister complained about this but usually got ignored by the parents.

I wouldn’t be surprised if these similarities are what interested my sister in the story. I guess I didn’t know enough to see this back when I first read it, but for my sister, this family would have seemed exactly like ours. The read was very easy, it being a children’s book. I read the whole thing in one hour. It was 123 pages with 16 point font and wide margins.

I found it interesting that the author used a first-person perspective. I don’t remember reading a novel-style book before in first-person. I read that the author originally intended Goosebumps to be a book series for girls. Maybe that’s why this first book was from the perspective of the sister, but the books ended up so successful he abandoned this in later books.

The story wasn’t all that unique. It was about a family that moved into a new house that turned out to be haunted. I’ve read this story many times, but the author did a great job with the tension. He slowly built up the “monsters” until they were fully revealed. It had a good ending too with a nice twist to it. I thought the pacing was a little slow though. I had just gotten used to all the characters when the story was hitting its climax and ending. I guess kids couldn’t sit through a longer book though. This is why I prefer novels. There’s enough time for introductions but also enough time to really take advantage of the characters the author spent time developing.

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