Book Thoughts: Goosebumps #40: Night of the Living Dummy III

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.

I never read Night of the Living Dummy I or II, so this was all new. Well, maybe I did read them once from the library, but I don’t have those earlier books. Anyways, the main character here was the evil dummy, Slappy. This was the first book where the antagonist was truly evil. Slappy wanted to cause as much suffering as he could, and then he no doubt planned to kill the family. Then he’d find another family and do it all over again.

The book was much scarier than most of the other books. In most of the stories the unknown was used to create scares. Sometimes there might be a monster that was trying to kill them, but the monster didn’t talk or he was only killing so his secret wouldn’t be found out. Slappy was much worse. The fears were worse too because Slappy wasn’t just going to kill them. He wanted to torture them. That was much scarier.

Since I’m older the feelings manifested as frustration instead of fear. The main characters, a brother and sister, kept getting blamed for everything. The dummy knew to become limp when anyone else was around. No one would believe them that the dummy was alive. Their dad kept getting angrier and angrier. I really sympathized with the kids. I couldn’t wait for them to find some way to deal with Slappy. I also didn’t like the kids’ cousin. He didn’t know the dummy was alive, but he took advantage of the situation every time the dummy messed with his things. It was satisfying when the kids found a good way to pay him back.

I really liked how the main characters here were good, responsible kids. In almost all of the books, the kids were selfish or impatient or just made bad decisions. That was not the case here. The kids genuinely tried to do the right thing and yet still took all the blame. That is partly why I became frustrated. Unlike most of the books where the kids partly deserved the consequences of bad decisions, these kids were doing nothing wrong. They didn’t deserve all the suffering they went through.

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