Scholastic, $3.99, ISBN 0-590-67318-1
Holy Beelzebub, The Deadly Experiments of Dr. Eeek can get gory really quickly! As the fourth gamebook in this line, of course it makes sense to cover the mad scientist trope, and by the powers of mutagens in glowing test tubes, RL Stine really doesn’t hesitate to put you into all kinds of deliciously ghoulish situations.
You and friend Sam arrive at Eeek Laboratories to meet your mother – she works there and she has offered to take you two to lunch. You are asked by the receptionist to wait, and it’s not long before you are accosted by weird people as to whether you’d like to take part in some experiments. Come on, it will be fun! You may even get paid! Staying put is not an answer, mind you, because you will get an ending in which you will be scolded for having no sense of adventure. You sign up for this campaign, and you will get your money’s worth.
How many ways can you die? Well, you and Sam can get mauled to death by German Shepherds. Sam may become a dog and maul you to death. You become food for a giant rat. You suffocate to death because you ate strawberries, which you are allergic to, and you can’t get help because Dr Eeek didn’t pay the bills, the power gets cut off, and you are trapped. Then there is everyone’s favorite: being forced to clean a giant bathroom.
There are some happy endings, don’t worry, although some of them see you becoming a dog for the rest of your life which… isn’t so bad, perhaps, unless you are a cat person.
On the whole though, The Deadly Experiments of Dr. Eeek may not have much surprise, as it’s practically a laundry of mad scientist clichés thrown together in a LOL random manner. It may also irk you that some happy endings can only be had if you were left-handed – but come on, cheating in this kind of gamebook won’t harm anyone. Despite its less than glowing premise and set-ups, though, this one is one big ball of fun to play. The narrative has a sly sense of humor laced with self-awareness that works, and the endings can be hilarious and zany.
Hence, this one is pretty nice while it lasts, but don’t expect to come back to it again once you’ve discovered all the endings.