- You Can't Scare Me!
infobox Book | | name = You Can't Scare Me!
orig title =
R. L. Stine
language = English
Horror fiction, Children's literature
publisher = Scholastic
release_date = January 1994
media_type = Print (
pages = 120 p.
isbn = ISBN 0-590-49450-3
The Werewolf of Fever Swamp
One Day At Horrorland
"You Can't Scare Me!" is the 15th book in
R.L. Stine's Goosebumpsseries.
The book revolves around four sixth-grade kids who are attempting to frighten, or otherwise embarrass, a popular girl by the name of Courtney. These four kids include: Hat, a slightly immature boy who always wears a cap and never takes off his socks; Charlene, who owns a lovable dog called Buttercup; Molly, who looks and acts much like Charlene, except for her glasses and braces; and finally Eddie -- who, despite the fact that he scares easily himself, becomes the leader of their rather short-sighted efforts to scare Courtney.Eddie is on a class field trip out in the woods with many of his classmates. On the field trip, which consists of two teachers leading 40 kids into the woods to identify plants and animals, Eddie is embarrassed by Courtney several times. Then, the class crowds around Courtney as she lets two bumblebees walk across her palm. She then takes the bees and throws them at Eddie. On the bus ride back, the quartet of friends discuss how Courtney and her best friend Denise never seem to be afraid of anything. As the bus drives past the muddy woods, Eddie wonders if she'd be scared of the fabled Mud Monsters that supposedly live in the woods. As the story goes on, they keep making plans to scare Courtney using a rubber snake, a tarantula, and an angry dog, but nothing works- Courtney isn't scared of anything. Then, after learning that Courtney believes in the mud monsters, secures his brother's help in an attempt to scare her with the legend. But then something goes wrong.
Courtney is a total show-off. She thinks she's so brave and she's always making Eddie and his friends look like wimps. But now Eddie's decided he's had enough. He's going to scare Courtney once and for all. And he's just come up with the perfect plan. He's going to lure Courtney down to Muddy Creek. Because Eddie knows Courtney believes in that silly rumor about the monsters. Mud Monsters that live in the creek. Too bad Eddie doesn't believe the rumor. Because it just might be true, and it is!
In general, the plot is slightly more detailed and realistic than that of most "Goosebumps" books. Aside from Stine's usual "shock" endings to most of the chapters, the dialog is fairly plausible, but the same can't be said for the repeated failures of Eddie and his friends. All of their attempts to show up Courtney somehow lead to her embarrassing them instead. Molly sneaks an extremely realistic rubber snake into Courtney's lunch bag, but she ends up heroically stomping it in half, due to a teacher finding it first (and thus succumbing to the initial shock of it instead), as all the other kids cheer her on. Eddie and Hat steal a tarantula from the school science lab to drop on Courtney's head from the balcony of the gym, but, for whatever reason, it lands in Molly's hair instead. They all take Charlene's dog, who growls ferociously when she whistles a certain way, into the woods to frighten Courtney (and Denise) at a tree house; the dog takes off after a squirrel and everyone gets lost trying to find him. Eddie is nearly attacked by another dog, but Hat finds him in time to scare it away. They finally leave the forest only to find Courtney waiting for them with Buttercup, and the strange dog, sitting peacefully at her side.
Just when Eddie and his friends are about to give up, Eddie believes he has a foolproof plan to scare Courtney: the Mud Monsters. According to the town legend from over a hundred years ago, the first settlers in the area lived in a swamp along Muddy Creek. The townspeople refused to help them when a rainstorm and a giant mudslide buried and drowned them; therefore, once a year when the moon is full, they rise up from the mud as zombies to seek revenge on the townspeople. Although nobody in town seriously believes the legend, Courtney is a firm believer. Eddie convinces his older brother Kevin, who has just filmed an amateur horror movie about the monsters, to show up at the swamp one night in costume with two of his friends and scare the daylights out of Courtney and Denise. However, even this plan fails when the real Mud Monsters rise out of the creek and come after them. All of the kids run and manage to escape, including Courtney and Denise thanks to a warning shout from Eddie. Afterwards, Courtney constantly brags about having seen real live monsters. Eddie, Hat, Molly, and Charlene want to embarrass her more than ever, but ironically, their experiences have left them too scared to try anything else.
In the television version, a lot of scenes were cut and Molly, Charlene and Denise were completely written out of the story. The ending was also different, as there was only one mud monster and Courtney faced the mud monster and stalled him until he dried up. In the end, Eddie and Hat decided that nothing can scare her just as it starts to rain and cause the mud monster to come back to life.
This "Goosebumps" story is unique in that it is written from someone like Eddie's point of view, in a situation where he and his friends could be interpreted as the antagonists. As a popular and egotistical girl, Courtney can be quite annoying and smug, but perhaps, depending on the reader, not so much that one will necessarily support Eddie and his friends. One might lose sympathy for them due to it being a four-against-one affair (although Courtney embarrasses them in front of a much larger group of people several times), and their multiple failures might make them look at least somewhat incompetent. On the other hand, Courtney is, for the most part, blissfully unaware of their plans and remains the annoying center of attention due to sheer luck. In truth, Courtney's rivals are not all that vindictive or careless (not nearly as much as she is conceited). They are simply unlucky children who (understandably) feel wronged. In that sense, "You Can't Scare Me!" may be viewed as a startlingly accurate portrayal of what many children in their age group are really like; the kids are noticeably detached from their parents (who are hardly mentioned in the story), their resentment of Courtney may be a feeling that the reader can relate to, and both the gang and Courtney rarely stop to think about the consequences of their actions. However, none of them wish permanent harm on Courtney, and Eddie saves her from the mud monsters by shouting a warning. (Meanwhile, all Courtney can think to do after this is brag about how she was right about the legend.)
*Many of R.L. Stine's "Goosebumps" books have featured aliens, monsters, ghosts, and other sinister characters or objects. This is one of the few entries in the series that is firmly rooted in the real world (until the ending), where the scariest things in the kids' lives are the other kids and their attitudes towards each other (not to mention unappealing animals and, of course, the mud monsters).
*Although the details of the story are rather vague, it is known that it takes place in southern California, probably in a rather small town near a wooded area. The events above happen in April or May.
*The TV episode is significantly different, notably the end. The mud monsters come out during the day and dry up, but a rainstorm revives them in time for the end of the story.
They're coming for you... Are you scared yet?
Stine, Robert Lawrence. "Goosebumps # 15: You Can't Scare Me!." 1994, Scholastic Inc.
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