ATTACK OF THE JACK-O’-LANTERNS by R.L. Stine — 🎃

Twelve-year-old Drew Brockman loves Hallowe’en. Too bad it keeps getting ruined by local bullies, Tabby and Lee, whose idea of a perfect All Hallows’ Eve consists of playing mean-spirited pranks on Drew and her friends. Drew vows that this Hallowe’en will be different, though, having spent the better part of the year coming up with the perfect trick to play on the tween tormentors — one that involves her friends, twins Shane and Shana, dressing up as particularly ghastly pumpkin-headed figures. The siblings seem to get too into their spooky roles, however, and the joke quickly gets out of hand, threatening to ruin yet another Hallowe’en. Only this time Drew fears that it may be for good….

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It’s not a proper spooky season in this house until I pick up a Goosebumps book or two. It’s one of the traditions I look forward to the most. I never read the books as a kid, but I did watch some of the show, and so I consider these precious, goofy books time capsules, allowing me a brief glimpse back to a time for which I am exceedingly, embarrassingly nostalgic. I am a ‘90s kid, what can I tell you?

I’m still working my way through the series (should read more than a couple a year, maybe), so I’ve only read a handful of the books. Attack of the Jack-O’-Lanterns did not turn out to be a favorite, but it is a very solid entry. The characters are annoying as anything, sure, but in that charming ha-ha-all-kids-are-maniacs kind of way that Stine is so good at portraying. It’s set on Hallowe’en. It features pumpkin-headed monsters. I don’t need much to enjoy some Goosebumps

One of the episodes of the TV show I remember the most was called “Awesome Ants” (curiously not adapted from any book of the original series, but from a later short story instead). It featured a memorable and preposterous ending that had — uhh spoilers I guess — an entire suburban neighborhood enclosed in glass, with gigantic ants towering over the new human vivarium. It stuck with me because it played into some of my more particular anxieties: of being perpetually stuck in a singular space; of being intensely creeped out by North American suburbs consisting of countless identically bland houses. The climax of Jack-O’-Lanterns involves a similar setting and situation, and I appreciated the skeeved-out feeling it gave me. 

I watched the television adaptation of this for the first time last year and it was perfectly terrible.

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