x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Literary trip down memory lane with childhood books

Today, it seems as though if a teen cannot turn into a werewolf or a wizard cannot create masterful illusions, a book is not quite good enough.

The other day, I came across what could be crowned as the mother of all blasts from the past: the classic Point Horror book series, which began in the late 1980s and apparently stopped around 2005. The twisted tales of terror and mystery kept me and thousands of others in their rooms for hours on end, with what I thought was, at the time, genius plots and clever ways that kept us readers guessing until the end.

Nothing could tear me away from the words of popular authors such as RL Stein and Richie Tankersley Cusick. The book covers and slogans were works of art in themselves. Today, it seems as though if a teen cannot turn into a werewolf, a wizard cannot create masterful illusions and a dragon isn't thrown somewhere into the equation or the world is not about to face an astronomical crash, it is not quite good enough.

That probably explains why one of the most popular teen horror book series decided to call it quits. Following the massive success of movies such as Twilight, you couldn't look anywhere without seeing a vampire on the TV, on huge movie posters outside the cinema, on lunch boxes or on bookshelves at the mall. I'm not saying one is better than the other, only that it is a shame there is not more room for both.

The best part about reading is the sheer diversity of topics and characters that are available and waiting to be explored, whether to learn or simply for the entertainment. What it shouldn't be is a competition over who can create the most fantastically bizarre storyline and character.

My collection could not be more assorted, yet I still wouldn't mind revisiting Point Horror classics such as Trick or Treat by Cusik, where "Martha knew there was something evil about the house she was moving into ..." and "Martha was sure someone was following her ... watching her every move". See, I told you - absolute genius.

I even searched to see if they were sold in Dubai, complete with all their predictability and simple storytelling, but only came across the Goosebumps series by RL Stein, which is similar.

Anyway, I am pretty sure I still have a few copies in boxes back home. Perhaps I also still have The Beach House, again by Stein, where he warns us "Don't go near the water" or The Lifeguard, by Cusik, who writes "Poor Kelsey. Someone forgot to tell her that lifeguards don't always like to save lives", following a series of suspicious drownings during the summer holidays.

I guess what I remember liking most about these books was that the character who ends up being the evil one at the end was always real, someone who could just be your average kind of guy or girl, and the situations believable.

But wait, check back with me again after I've read them as a grown adult.

melshoush@thenational.ae