Goosebumps: The Horror At Camp Jellyjam
Can you guys tell I’m on Winter Break? Haha. I had conflicted feelings about updating so much, but pushed them aside because I’m on break. When school starts back Monday, I’ll be blogging (at least slightly) less. I’m having fun with these. Might as well enjoy it while I can. I promise to blog about something personal or exciting soon. (Hopefully both?)
With money I got from Christmas (plus a little from my savings), I bought a recliner for my office. Josh watches TV in the living room a lot when I want to read, and I’ve been reading in bed, which quickly becomes sleeping in bed. I don’t always feel like laying in bed, and so I found myself reading less. A recliner to read in has been on my wishlist for a while, and I decided to just go ahead and splurge.
This is how I’ve been spending my break when I haven’t been working. I love this thing. I started The Horror At Camp Jellyjam immediately after finishing The Cuckoo Clock of Doom, read for about 45 minutes or so, and finished in a little less than that time last night. I don’t think it was as good as The Cuckoo Clock of Doom, but it wasn’t bad!
And off we go. Remember to skip this entry if you have not yet read this book and don’t want to be spoiled.
This book was brought back for the Classic Goosebumps series, so there is a second cover. I know in general I prefer the original covers, but I actually like the newer cover for this book! Let’s look at the original first.
Although the counselor is not blonde, I would say the counselor on the cover is Buddy from the book. All of the camp counselors have a creepy, unnatural smile and are strangely happy all the time. What kind of life is that? 😉 Anyway, Tim Jacobus captured the strange, forced happiness of the counselor, which makes the counselor creepy.
I like how it’s early morning or late evening in the background; the sun is either setting or rising. The grass surrounding Buddy is bright and vibrant green, however, which encases yet another evil entity in green. Like I said in my last entry, when it comes to Goosebumps, green is evil, folks.
Tagline: Tennis… Ping-Pong… Monsters, anyone?
This is the worst tagline I’ve examined as of yet. This book has every sport a kid could think of in it, but the tagline touched on tennis and table tennis. At least add more variety. Try these on for size:
- Tennis… Swimming… Monsters, anyone?
- Tennis… Volleyball… Monsters, anyone?
- Tennis… Basketball… Monsters, anyone?
I could keep going. Despite this, the tagline is weak. There’s exactly one monster in the book, and by mentioning it (even as a them) in the tagline, it ruins the suspense and fun of the book.
The new cover features King Jellyjam himself. I like this cover better aesthetically, but if there could only be one cover, I’d go with the original because the latter cover gives the climax away. The book is a lot creepier when you don’t know why kids are disappearing, why the earthquakes are happening, or why the counselors are happy on the outside, but empty inside. Although it’s never explicitly said, it’s obvious King Jellyjam is the reason for all of this given this cover and/or the tagline above. Maybe Tim Jacobus thought of this when he decided to feature a counselor rather than King JellyJam. Maybe Scholastic or the new cover artist figured this book has been out for so long that spoiling the climax wasn’t a concern.
King Jellyjam isn’t creepy, but disgusting, and this cover captures that well. Also, look, he’s encased in green.
The crown is a little bit obnoxious, but that is R. L. Stine’s doing, not the illustrator’s.
Wendy and her brother Elliot are on a road trip with their parents. Bored of the Wyoming countryside, and after a game of Geography that bores not just the kids, but the reader, Elliot asks if the two kids could ride in the trailer the family is pulling behind their car. Thank God for Elliot adding some excitement to this book. Wendy’s mother is pretty sure that would be illegal (You think?), but after their father supports the idea, she complies with her kids’ wishes. Yay!
The kids have fun with their newfound freedom in the trailer and arm wrestle. Wendy lets Elliot win because it means more to him. This is a common theme with Wendy.
The trailer becomes detached from the car (of course it does), sending the trailer with the kids off the road and into a tree. Luckily, both kids are fine.
Shortly after crashing, they hear a knock at the door. They assume it’s their parents, but you know what happens when you assume (You make an arse out of U and ME! — Hey, I’m keeping my New Year’s resolution to not cuss). It’s not their parents, but a too-happy guy named Buddy who says he’s a counselor at the nearby Camp Jellyjam. He invites the kids to camp. Wendy thinks they should wait on their parents to find them, but Buddy insists, saying he’ll contact authorities and the kids will be safe with him at camp while they wait.
Now, I went to camps when I was younger and they always required tons of paperwork. Permission slips, authorization forms, health and safety forms, legal forms that prevented my guardians from suing the camp if I got hurt, etc. What’s going on here?
Wendy and Elliot follow Buddy to Camp Jellyjam, a camp that turns out to be obsessed with sports. I know what you’re thinking — it’s probably a sports camp, Todd. Well, yes, but this one carries it a little far. The kids run around playing sports all day. All kinds of sports. Every sport. It’s like R. L. Stine was making up for the lack of sports in all of the other books by cramming a ton of sports into this one.
Before entering the camp, Wendy hears a younger girl telling her not to enter the camp and to run away. The kids enter the camp anyway. Wendy and Elliot settle into their dorms (separate dorms, as boys and girls are separated at this camp, naturally) and then begin some sports. Wendy befriends a girl named Deidre with sidekicks Jan and Ivy. Deidre lets Wendy borrow a swim suit and the group competes in a swim race. Wendy could easily win the thing, but falls back because she sees how much winning means to Deidre. Deidre wins the race and is awarded a King Coin.
King Coins are little gold coins that act as trophies. They have a blob figure wearing a crown on them. Wendy is told the blob is King Jellyjam, the camp’s mascot. Am I the only one who thinks it’s weird that a blob is the mascot of a sports camp? No? Oh well. If a kid wins six of these King Coins, he or she gets to participate in the Winners Walk at night! Why six? I don’t know.
Oh, I forgot to mention something. Camp Jellyjam’s slogan is “Only the best.” The kids and counselors say it repeatedly throughout the book. A female camp counselor tells Wendy there is a problem. Freaking out thinking something happened to her parents or her brother Elliot, Wendy is informed that what was wrong is that Wendy did not give her best in the swim race. The counselor tells Wendy that she needs to try her hardest. “Only the best.”
Somewhere around this time, the ground starts shaking. Wendy is scared at first, but is told that the earthquakes happen often and are nothing to worry about. Huh?
The Winners Walk happens that night (and every night after), and Wendy waves as her new friend Deidre participates. What basically happens is the line of winners walk in a single-file line between two torches. Sounds awesome. When it’s over, Wendy, Ivy, and Jan wait for Deidre, as Deidre has planned her own congratulatory party. Deidre never shows. How rude.
Wendy, Ivy, and Jan decide to sneak out of their dorm and look for Deidre. While sneaking around, the trio run into a girl named Alicia, who happens to be the same girl who warned Wendy and Elliot not to enter the camp. She says she followed the counselors and discovered something terrible. She doesn’t state what, however, which is weird. Alicia runs off and the trio return to their dorm to find that Deidre’s stuff is missing.
The next morning at breakfast, Wendy asks Buddy what happened to Deidre. He checks his clipboard and informs her that she has left camp. Wendy asks about Alicia as well and is given the same response.
Elliot runs around camp playing sports and winning King Coins. He wins five of them while Wendy runs around doing a lot of nothing and doesn’t win a single one. She discovers payphones and tries to call her parents, but is greeted with a prerecorded message on every single phone reminding kids to be and give “only the best.”
Buddy realizes that Wendy is not partaking in sports and deems that she is not a self-starter. He creates a schedule of sports for her to do. First, Wendy loses a tennis match against a girl named Rose who wins her sixth King Coin, and then she fails at softball with a group of kids. While practicing her swing, she accidentally slams her bat into Buddy’s chest. She swears her swing was hard enough to break his ribs, or at last make him sore, but Buddy doesn’t react. Weird.
After another Winners Walk after which more winners (including the girl who beat Wendy in tennis, Rose) disappears, Wendy finds Elliot and tells him they need to go. Elliot wants a sixth King Coin, however, and wants to stay until after a race the next morning. Wendy concedes. That night, Wendy follows the camp counselors into the woods to an igloo-shaped building. She enters, hides in what she thinks is a closet, and witnesses Buddy hypnotizing the other camp counselors. This explains why Buddy didn’t feel pain when Wendy hit him with her bat. He was hypnotized! Buddy chants something about serving “the Master.”
When Buddy quiets down, Wendy sneezes. Of course she does. The counselors begin looking for Wendy. Realizing she can’t leave the closet she backs up against the wall and discovers that the room she is in is not a closet at all. It has stairs leading down to a larger room, which she is forced to go down since the counselors are looking for her above.
Downstairs she is overcome with a horrible stench that makes her gag. She holds her nose and persists. She enters a large room where she finds the big blob depicted on the new cover of this book. Kids are moving around the blog with mops, sponges, and hoses, cleaning and wetting the creature. Upon seeing Deidre, Wendy discovers that the kids are the kids who had participated in Winners Walks. Deidre explains to Wendy that they are his slaves. King Jam wants “only the best” slaves. King Jellyjam has to stay wet, and he is so disgusted by his own odor that he requires the kids to continually wash him. Deidre says that if the kids stop washing him, he eats them. King Jellyjam had actually just eaten three kids that day.
King Jellyjam is truly disgusting. His belches cause the earthquakes Wendy experienced earlier in the book.
Wait a minute, this guy seems familiar. Wasn’t King Jellyjam in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
He wasn’t called King Jellyjam, of course. He was called Balthazar. He was a big blob thing that couldn’t move and had to stay wet. His minions hosed him down, much like these kids hose King Jellyjam down.
Also, why slaves again?
Alicia is among the kids washing King Jellyjam which is weird because she was following the camp counselors before she disappeared and didn’t participate in a Winners Walk. I thought King Jellyjam wanted “only the best?”
The whole system doesn’t make any sense to me, really. The Best are removed via the Winners Walk, which help the Second Best win King Coins since the toughest competitors are gone. They eventually win six and are removed, which helps the Third Best win King Coins, and so on. With this cycle, wouldn’t everyone win six King Coins and become a slave? Well, everyone but Wendy, who doesn’t win any King Coins for some reason. Why not just enslave all the kids at once and save time?
Wendy escapes and falls asleep in the woods. When she wakes up, Elliot’s track match is taking place. She literally tackles her brother to prevent him from winning his sixth King Coin. She forces Elliot to follow her into the woods and into the igloo building and down the stairs to King Jellyjam.
On a hunch, she yells for the kids to stop washing King Jelly Jam and fall flat to the floor. King Jellyjam tries to pick kids up with his fat fingers, but can’t when they’re flat on the ground. Wendy’s plan is working. What if it didn’t, though? What if Wendy was wrong and got kids eaten? Did she even care?
King Jellyjam grabs Wendy because she was the only one not on the ground, but before she can be eaten, King Jellyjam melts into a pile of goo (because he wasn’t being watered).
Wendy, Elliot, and the slave kids all run outside, but are stopped by a line of Camp Counselors who begin to descend upon them. Since we’re about 120 pages in and there’s not any time for the kids to get themselves out of this mess, the day is saved by good ol’ deus ex machina by way of cops who came to investigate the terrible smell that emitted when King Jellyjam died.
Wendy and Elliot are reunited with their parents who have been looking for the kids all along. Two weeks after the book’s events, Buddy visits Wendy and Elliot’s home to award Elliot with his sixth King Coin, since he would have won the race if Wendy hadn’t tackled him. After Buddy leaves, the kids smell a horrible stench — oh no! — but alas, their mom is just cooking brussel sprouts.
This wasn’t a bad entry in the series! It is well-written and fun, but immediately follows The Barking Ghost, which I felt is not well-written or fun, so it makes me question the existence of ghost writers. Stine says he wrote all of these himself, however. Maybe he was having an off week with The Barking Ghost.
I did not read this one as a kid, but I do remember the camp books being some of the best in the series, and this one did not disappoint.
I’m letting you guys choose the fifth book I cover, so vote if you haven’t voted yet! I’ll wait a day or two for votes to come in before I read the next one. The poll below is the same poll from my last entry, so if you can’t vote it’s probably because you already voted.
There’s currently a tie! Will we be battling an evil sponge, walking scarecrows, or something else? Reader beware, you choose the scare!
Sorry I had to be corny there.