Tuesday, October 23, 2012

'Red Rain' by R.L. Stine

Back in the days of my elementary school's mobile book fair, R.L. Stine was starting to make waves with his, at the time brand new, series Goosebumps. It was enjoyable to a point. It always embodied a fun, campy spookiness, and each installment was always liberally littered with entirely unbelievable premises. Yet, even though I enjoyed them I never considered myself a great fan. I would argue that it was because by that age I'd already read half of Stephen King's offerings, and those - especially his earlier works - are truly the stuff of nightmares, so I'd already been desensitized to the spook in Stine's work.

Fast forward a few decades and I found myself intrigued by Stine's latest effort, 'Red Rain' in, dare I say it, the adult horror genre. To tell the truth I can't say I walked into it with particularly high expectations... in fact, I'd remembered so little of his writing style from before that I approached this much like I would a newly minted author.

But then I remember something: The only reason I ever went out of my way to get my hands on anything from Goosebumps was because my mom would always give me ten bucks to spend at the book fair. I'm not sure if you remember your grade school book fairs but the ones I attended were explosions of Lissa Frank (not interested), some series about twins named Jessica and Samantha (Sweet Valley High I think?) and other assorted garbage like locker mirrors, calendars, posters of Saved by The Bell actors and - oh yeah, a handful of semi-interesting books.

Why am I telling you this?*

Well, it turns out that I didn't really like R.L. Stine much growing up either - but when I saw this new title come up a yearning of nostalgia came with it. Unfortunately, for this title, it fell flatter then his kids books ever did.

Was the logo the scariest part of that series?
The premise of adorable twins being swiftly adopted by travel writer Lea and transplanted from their island home to suburban family life is so mundane it hurts. The writing is blocky, pedantic, technical and entirely devoid of a sense of humor. The characters are flat and predictable. What's worse than any of that is that it failed to scare me even once. No sharp intake of breathe, no struggle with myself on whether it would be best to keep reading and find out what happens or put it down and get a glass of water. None of that.

Overall, this one was dead, dry and boring. A book that I would imagine being a tough sell to even the most die-hard now adult Goosebumps fan. My final advise? Steer clear.

*I can almost hear you screaming at me to get to the point already! But you need to allow me a little time - I mean, we are deconstructing part of my childhood here.

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