Scholastic, $3.99, ISBN 0-590-56645-8
Family vacations are always a bad idea in Goosebumps land, because they always come with shockingly negligent parents, very annoying siblings, and paranormal woes. So yes, you are in New York City for your vacation, forced to accompany your parents as they visit one boring museum after another. Things look up when you sneak into a secret laboratory in the Museum of Natural History (yes, it’s perfectly rational to conduct mad science experiments in a public place) and are mistaken for the volunteer that will test out Dr Peebles’s time travel device. Well, hold on – before you can do a Marty McFly, your very, very, very annoying little brother Denny runs in. He is lost in time before Dr Peebles can say, “Oops!” Now you have to go look for him. Do you want to search in the past or in the future?
Tick Tock, You’re Dead! has the obligatory knights and dinosaurs in the past, robots taking over the future, and you have to go back in time and save your family routes. Honestly, they are all not bad… at least on paper, and you may even have fun as the puns here are on fire. When you get fatally rammed by a truck, for example, RL Stine points out that, hey, you’re now a hit in Broadway. There’s nothing really scary here, but this one does one thing right: it makes you feel like a genuine time travel hero.
Unfortunately, there is no way you can kill off Denny, who is singularly the most obnoxious POS to ever grace a gamebook in the Give Yourself Goosebumps series. He will keep running away from you straight into one trouble after another like a brain-damaged moron, while insulting you and screaming like you are not the boss of him. This POS has no survival instinct, no common sense, no sense of gratitude after you have busted your rear end to rescue him, and more. Wait, maybe he is the true terror in this campaign, but if that is the case, then it’s a mystery why you can’t push him off a cliff. Sure, it’s bad to murder a sibling, but when the sibling is Denny, I think every deity in the multiverse will approve of the homicide. That wretch is horrible and makes playing this campaign a pure pain in the rear end.
Get rid of Denny and this one will be an easy three-oogie gamebook, as it’s fun enough to be a pleasant time waster. With Denny around, though, Tick Tock, You’re Dead! may have you wishing to get a bad ending ASAP so that you’ll be free of that monster.