Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Give Yourself Goosebumps

Go To
"Reader beware — you choose the scare..."

Give Yourself Goosebumps is the Gamebook spin-off of R. L. Stine's popular Goosebumps series.

For '90s kids, this series was the first (or, if one avoided the Animorphs Alternamorphs books, perhaps only) exposure they'd had to the Choose Your Own Adventure genre. Like other books in the genre, you, the reader, are required to make potentially dangerous choices to escape whatever dire circumstances you find yourself trapped in. Depending on the book, this may involve fleeing a haunted house, a deceptive genie or escaping a carnival of horrors (i.e., the book pictured to the right). And of course, the possibility of lots and lots of grisly deaths.

Most GYG books follow a format which splits the adventure into two separate paths. The primary one covers the book's advertised premise more closely. The secondary one usually centers on the aforementioned premise as well, but may focus on a different aspect of the quest. For example, the first book, Escape from the Carnival of Horrors, has you either going through the carnival games and earning enough points so you can leave safely, or going through the carnival rides and hoping one of the rides will lead you to the exit. Other books have two different storylines only tangibly connected to each other. Zapped in Space (#23), for example, has you choosing between the advertised virtual reality space adventure or another virtual reality game, which involves a trek through a snowy tundra to hunt down an Abominable Snow Woman. Few books, like Checkout Time at the Dead-End Hotel (#27), go so far as to focus the entire book on one central quest.

In terms of overall design, Give Yourself Goosebumps doesn't deviate much from its spiritual CYOA predecessors, other than including references to other Goosebumps books. Usually, this involves a quiz question of some sort, though Return to Terror Tower and Revenge of the Body Squeezers continue where the original books left off (i.e., A Night in Terror Tower and series 2000's Invasion of the Body Squeezers).

Because publishing company Scholastic forced R.L. Stine to write many volumes of Goosebumps in a short period of time — like the main series itself — it's likely that several ghost writers wrote some GYG installments. As a result, the novels really vary in quality. Demian's Gamebook Web Page, despite his obvious negative bias toward the series, does a decent job showcasing the erratic quality between each book. In contrast, a livejournal blog by MJN SEIFER gives more detail and compassion for the series. However, it's not quite complete yet (it's only on book #37), and has not been updated since October 31st, 2012. Nevertheless, most GYG books are worth reading at least once, though some books feel more tightly constructed and exhibit better gameplay than others.

Give Yourself Goosebumps lasted long enough to even have several Special Edition books. These eight CYOA novels emphasize inventory management and more complex gameplay gimmicks not present in the other books. Into the Jaws of Doom is the most notable example. With its split sections and chance encounters requiring dice rolls, it's the closest thing the series has to an actual gamebook. The other Special Edition books aren't as boldly ambitious, but they have other ways to surprise readers.

If you're interested in trying the series, many of the early books are now available on Amazon Kindle on the cheap.

The other wiki also listed the entire catalogue of Give Yourself Goosebumps novels.

The main series consists of:

  1. Escape from the Carnival of Horrors
  2. Tick Tock, You're Dead!
  3. Trapped in Bat Wing Hall
  4. The Deadly Experiments of Dr. Eeek
  5. Night in Werewolf Woods
  6. Beware of the Purple Peanut Butter
  7. Under the Magician's Spell
  8. The Curse of the Creeping Coffin
  9. The Knight in Screaming Armor
  10. Diary of a Mad Mummy
  11. Deep in the Jungle of Doom
  12. Welcome to the Wicked Wax Museum
  13. Scream of the Evil Genie
  14. The Creepy Creations of Professor Shock
  15. Please Don't Feed the Vampire!
  16. Secret Agent Grandma
  17. Little Comic Shop of Horrors
  18. Attack of the Beastly Babysitter
  19. Escape from Camp Run-For-Your-Life
  20. Toy Terror: Batteries Included
  21. The Twisted Tale of Tiki Island
  22. Return to the Carnival of Horrors
  23. Zapped in Space
  24. Lost in Stinkeye Swamp
  25. Shop Till You Drop... Dead!
  26. Alone in Snakebite Canyon
  27. Checkout Time at the Dead-End Hotel
  28. Night of a Thousand Cats
  29. Invaders from the Big Screen
  30. You're Plant Food!
  31. The Werewolf of Twisted Tree Lodge
  32. It's Only a Nightmare!
  33. It Came from the Internet
  34. Elevator to Nowhere
  35. Hocus-Pocus Horror
  36. Ship of Ghouls
  37. Escape From Horror House
  38. Into the Twister of Terror
  39. Scary Birthday to You
  40. Zombie School
  41. Danger Time
  42. All-Day Nightmare

The Special Edition series consists of:

  1. Into the Jaws of Doom
  2. Return to Terror Tower
  3. Trapped in the Circus of Fear
  4. One Night in Payne House
  5. The Curse of the Cave Creatures
  6. Revenge of the Body Squeezers
  7. Trick or... Trapped!
  8. Weekend at Poison Lake

Give Yourself Goosebumps provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Aborted Arc: According to illustrator Craig White, a forty-third book (which, based on the cover, would have had an arctic theme) was in production for the main Give Yourself Goosebumps series, but never actually released.
  • Adults Are Useless: The few times grownups are present, they don't do much besides punish you for acting panicked, lying about your unbelievable adventure, or sneaking off.
  • Affably Evil: Many of the antagonists from the series are this.
  • All Just a Dream: Several of the books have this for an ending, however, it varies on whether this is a good or a bad ending, as the former simply says you're safe, and the latter reveals you're going to have to go through the adventure again, for real this time. Some of the endings even go down the route of Or Was It a Dream?, which can also lead to a bad ending.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Most books have at least one ending describing you getting permanently frozen into an immobilized state or morphing into an inanimate object. This includes (but not limited to): being turned into a statue, being turned into an art museum painting, being turned into a computer chip for a virtual reality game, etc. For obvious reasons, these tend to be the creepiest endings for each book.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: In many of the bad endings, you end up transforming into a monster yourself.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Many of the books give you one of these. Denny in Tick Tock, You're Dead!, Joanie in Under the Magician's Spell, Jen in Escape From Horror House and "Stinko" in Attack of the Beastly Babysitter are just a few examples.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Fairly common in the books. Examples include the book sending someone or something to help you (for instance, if you get trapped on an island in Scream of the Evil Genie, a parrot arrives to help you find your way back), sending you back to choose again if you make an obviously wrong/foolish choice, or giving you useful information in certain bad endings so that you'll know what to do next time.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Not all of the non-good endings turn out to be awful. Some have the player transformed, but in a better situation than before.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Invoked pretty often in the series, though usually when readers choose obviously foolish decisions (e.g., like eating blue eggs in Escape From Camp Run-For-Your-Life). See also You Bastard!.
  • But Thou Must!: Done a few times as the first choice of the book. The formula is one choice is to go adventuring and the other is to safely leave. The author tells you off for choosing the latter telling you you're reading the wrong book and turn back to the page to think again.
  • Captain Ersatz: Several of these. Illinois Smith (Indiana Jones), Nasty Kathy (Talky Tina from The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "Living Doll"), and many more.
  • Cave Mouth: Used in a few bad endings, which of course lead to the reader's character being eaten.
  • Covers Always Lie: A fair assessment for around 60% of these books.
  • Crapsack World: Oh, you'll be exploring plenty of these throughout the course of this series...
  • Crapsaccharine World: ... and these as well.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Nearly every bad ending that involves the reader dying in the entire series is this.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Several examples. Escape from Twisted Tree Lodge (now you know that monsters are terrified of dust, you can't ever clean your home again, so you won't have to do any more chores). Revenge of the Body Squeezers (you get sent to the 1960s and have no way of returning to your own time; but you know you'll be able to use your knowledge of the future to your advantage) and Weekend at Poison Lake (forced to eat chocolate cake every day to keep a terrible smell from coming back) are just a few.
  • Darker and Edgier: A few of these. Into the Jaws of Doom and One Night in Payne House have only one good ending, and are very difficult to complete without running into most of the bad ones. Escape From Horror House took a more downbeat tone with less comedy and more graphic description of your many demises; while Zombie School is noted by fans for having gorier bad endings than most of the other books, such as you being torn limb from limb by zombies.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Some of the bad endings (understandably) invoke this trope.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Some of the bad endings involve your friends or sibling/s turning on you after you have treated them poorly in some way. You may also get to bite them back in the good endings.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: There are at least two or three of these present in every book. Only Into the Jaws of Doom and One Night in Payne House (special edition books #1 and 4) explicitly states that there's only one good ending.
  • Elevator Failure: A stock bad ending. Into the Jaws of Doom, Checkout Time at the Dead-End Hotel, Night of a Thousand Claws, and many others have them.
  • Enemy Mine: Sometimes an option, as seen in Escape from Camp Run-for-Your-Life and Escape From Horror House.
  • Exact Words: Used in some bad endings; say, you're promised you won't be killed by a blue tornado if you lose. They never said anything about a purple tornado. Or that you won't be turned into a frog, because you'll be turned into a snake.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Make too many unwise choices, and you might run into a pair of choices that ends badly, no matter which one you choose. For readers who didn't acquire certain items earlier in the adventure, when it comes time to use something to save yourself, you won't be able to do so. Sometimes, the books conceal the page number to make sure you actually ran into the item or piece of essential info instead of cheating and/or punish you for trying to cheat. Some books use this trope by the fact that none of the endings, good or bad, allow you to reach the goal you set out to achieve.
  • Gold Fever: Treasure hunting is a common sideplot for several books, though Alone in Snakebite Canyon and Lost in Stinkeye Swamp each have it for a main storyline.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: Several of the books feature guest appearances from creatures from the main Goosebumps series: Slappy and Mr Wood, Monster Blood, the Grool, and more.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: For the books that use inventory, not having enough items, grabbing too many items, or using/acquiring the wrong items can lead to bad things.
  • Karmic Jackpot: Although the books are rife with No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, this can also happen.
  • Kill It with Fire: Happens in a few books, usually if you encounter a dragon.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: Sometimes subverted by combining it with But Thou Must!. When the reader makes a wrong choice, they are told it is the wrong choice and are told to go back and make the other choice. Often used as the first choice — to have an adventure, or not.
    • When not used as the first choice, it is often done as "You can choose again ONLY if this is your first Give Yourself Goosebumps book". Other times, it is used not on the next page, but a few pages later on. The book will tell you "Now go back to Page (X), and make the other choice this time!"
  • Lemony Narrator: The narration is not above Breaking the Fourth Wall and mocking you, particularly if you make stupid or cautious choices.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Some books don't follow any real internal logic, which makes winning the book more trial-and-error than good planning/decision making. Most of the books also have at least one choice determined by something random the book asks you such as what day of the week it is, what month you were born, whether you have fair or dark hair, or are right or left-handed, etc.
  • Karmic Twist Ending: Abandoning your friend to flee to safety will almost always lead to you dying instead. In Escape From Horror House a poltergeist gets you grounded by playing pranks and having your mom blame you. In one ending A seance will summon the poltergeist's mother who will ground him for his misbehavior
  • Mad Scientist: Several books in the series have mad scientists, just like the original Goosebumps books. If there's a scientist in the book; chances are he or she is a mad one. In one of the books revolving around a cruise ship, you get tipped off to the plot by encountering a rather eccentric scientist with crazy hair and an even crazier expression announce his intent to "BLOW UP THIS SHIP!!" when you and your friend investigate what he's doing. Strangely enough, he's the good guy. The real bad guy is Affably Evil.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Every novel contains 20+ endings, so it's no surprise that several of them won't go so well.
  • Monster Clown: Done with Scary Birthday to You! and Trapped in the Circus of Fear.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: Done frequently in the series.
  • Morton's Fork: Not a common occurrence, but some books force you into a pair of unpleasant choices that both end in a similar disaster for you, the reader.
  • Muggle in Mage Custody: In many of the books' bad endings, you end up as a slave to some supernatural being.
  • Music Soothes the Savage Beast: Often employed, but things don't always go according to plan for the reader.
  • No Ending: Sometimes, your adventure won't end with a "The End" message. Sometimes, you'll just get thrown into an infinite loop that sends you flipping through the same couple of pages forever.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: While mainstream media often tell you that you must treat others the way you want to be treated, Give Yourself Goosebumps series will teach you that there are vile beings that not even kindness would reach. If you do not thread carefully, prepare for some Bad Endings.
    • While ignoring your friend's advice may seems like a bad idea, sometimes trusting your friend's words without skeptic thought leads you to Bad End, either because they don't know any better or they are trying to backstab you. In Give Yourself Goosebumps series, you must make your own judgement since you are the main character and the plot revolves around your decisions.
  • Not My Driver: Welcome to the Wicked Wax Museum, Night of a Thousand Claws, and a few others have bad endings where you get into a car that the villain is driving.
  • Paranormal Mundane Item: There are lots of such items, just like in original Goosebumps, such as the titular purple peanut butter in Beware of the Purple Peanut Butter.
  • Parental Neglect: Many examples of parents leaving you alone and/or with people they shouldn't trust to look after you (see Adults Are Useless).
  • Pop Quiz: Some decisions will rely on a you answering a question about a Goosebumps book. Get it right, and your quest continues. Get it wrong, and a bad ending happens within two or three pages.
  • Puzzle Game: You'll see plenty of them within the series. Some puzzles even go so far as to uncover what page you need to go to next (and if you can't figure it out, you'll be directed to a Failure Is the Only Option page as a failure to figure this out).
  • Random Events Plot: A frequent criticism of the series. Most of the events don't exactly make sense or converge with any kind of internal consistency, which makes many of these books feel quite arbitrary with any quest. There are exceptions, but the bulk of the novels tend to go this route.
  • Rule of Three: Many of the books have two main storylines of roughly equal length and importance (though one is sometimes slightly more relevant than the other), and one third storyline which is normally shorter.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: Many of the books have a few choices where the two pages lead to completely incompatible scenarios — such as two different endings in which a person turns into two different kinds of monster. The branching points which decide between the two plots could in some cases be considered this too.
  • Shout-Out: Readers familiar with the original Goosebumps series (i.e., 95% of them) will see plenty of references to them sprinkled throughout this series, mostly in the form of quiz questions.
  • This Loser Is You: Several books will allow you to make a "safe" choice, but the book will mock you for being too chicken to take any risks, and usually punish you in-story. You may also be scolded by the book if you don't complete a puzzle successfully or if you deliberately cheat in a scavenger hunt/inventory.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Pretty much all of the books have at least one ending like this.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: An equivalent. Sometimes the book will let you do something immoral, but you are almost always punished with a bad ending. These range from humiliating or self-defeating to fatal.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Often, the risky options (such as fighting the monster, where you suddenly gain incredible athletic abilities beyond that of a normal kid) are the correct ones, while the safe options lead to a Diabolus ex Machina (e.g. walking directly through a puddle leads you to the other side, while walking around it inexplicably leads to the puddle being much deeper and containing a bog monster that pulls you in by the tongue). There are even times where the immoral option (such as lying, being greedy, or abandoning your partner) gets you the good ending.
  • With Friends Like These...: Sometimes, your friends don't make you feel appreciated in a bad situation.
    • The majority of books have at least one bad ending which is caused by your "friend" even if it means ignoring continuity for it to work.
    • Sometimes, you are the dreadful friend, which may lead to a bad ending if other characters get sick of you.
  • You Bastard!: The author does a good job making you feel moronic for making some questionable choices. Sometimes, the book will give you another chance for making a sloppy decision, but others will automatically end the book there. Also done for readers who blatantly cheat, like bring more items than they should have (One Night in Payne House and Zapped in Space) or don't attempt to solve the otherwise simple mazes the way they were meant to, and instead only pick and choose the possible page number. Get it wrong, and something bad happens.

Your life has been forever ruined by TV Tropes. Looks like this is