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These books are a production. They are similar to classic radio story hours with sound effects, music, and dramatic, over-the-top voices. This is a series of updated and re-vamped R. L. Stine books. The formula is simple: kids experience mysterious supernatural events and (after overcoming the horrors) get invited to an amusement park called Horrorland. The final half hour of each book builds on an over-arching plot in Horrorland that encompasses all of the new characters and villains.
(About This Story)
Matt is a popular kid on the swim team at school with a neighbor, Bradley, that he dislikes immensely. Bradley gets carte blanche at his house because Matt's mother feels sorry for him, and Bradley takes advantage of this by eating all the food, wearing Matt's favorite clothes, and using Matt's computer without asking. Matt does not take any of this well. Bradley and he fight a few times at school, and ultimately Matt is tricked into eating some Monster Blood, which makes him grow when he touches water. At first, he thinks it's cool--he can swim faster and is super strong. But soon, he realizes that he can't stop the effects and is growing out of control.
Monster Blood was a feature in the old Goosebumps series, spawning four other books about a completely different character. I remember reading Monster Blood and Monster Blood II, and in both stories the monster blood affected animals (a small dog and a hamster). I think this story would have been more successful if it had returned to that theme rather than showcasing a kid that grows into a Hulk-like creature.
Unfortunately, this book is the beginning of a brief downward spiral in the Horrorland series. It was a weird story, but in no way scary or exciting. I believe my kid didn't like it as much because the focus was always on how annoying Bradley was or how much the adults were oblivious to what was going on--which is fine when it comes to supernatural events but very frustrating when it comes to normal, everyday interactions amongst kids. My stepdaughter commented several times, "Why won't the adults believe him?" and got annoyed. Also, there are some logic inconsistencies. For example, why doesn't Matt's plants return to normal? Even my 11-year-old wondered about that one. She gives this book 3.5/5 stars--worth listening to once (and only once).