Don’t Go To Sleep
Series number: 54
Number of pages: 118
Release date: April 1997
Tagline: Rise and shine. Forever.
Did I Read It as a Child?: No
The Story On the Back
Matt hates his tiny bedroom. It’s so small it’s practically a closet! Still, Matt’s mom refuses to let him sleep in the guest room. After all, they might have guests. Some day. Or year. Then Matt does it. Late one night. When everyone’s in bed. He sneaks into the guest room and falls asleep. Poor Matt. He should have listened to his mom. Because when Matt wakes up, his whole life has changed. For the worse. And every time he falls asleep, he wakes up in a new nightmare…
The Story On the Pages
Don’t Go To Sleep… Just… Oh… my… god…
Why, Stine, why? If you didn’t have enough ideas for sixty-two books, you should have written less than sixty-two books! Don’t Go To Sleep is such filler. There’s a somewhat promising idea underneath the narrative, but every last thing in the story is filler to get us to the next pointless part. And the ending? The climax of this story?
But we’ll get to that. Let me start you at the beginning.
Matt, our twelve year old POV, is the neglected youngest sibling in a family of four. There’s his widowed mother who has to work two jobs to keep her family afloat, his eldest sibling Greg, and the middle sibling Pam.
Greg is in grade eleven and Pam is in ten, so our POV was clearly an accident because no one chooses to have children that far apart from each other. Hence the neglect he bitches about. Things like how his room is too small, how Greg and Pam torment him as the babysitters, and how he’s just generally forced to do things he doesn’t want to do because he’s the youngest.
Okay, first off, fuck you! The youngest of the family always does whatever the fuck they want because they’re the baby. All the hard shit falls on the eldest because they’re often forced to babysit and mature on behalf of the other siblings. If anything, I feel for Greg having to be in charge of Matt, not Matt having to be looked after by Greg!
Anyways, Matt’s big drama is that he wants to move into the guest room because it’s bigger than his bedroom but his mom won’t let him because his grandparents sleep in that room once a year when they visit for Christmas. Jesus Christ this whole fucking family! That’s the most non-reason reason I’ve ever heard given for such an inconsequential desire!
But, as it turns out, it isn’t inconsequential at all. Matt decides that he’s sleeping in there despite what his mother says and, that night, goes to sleep in the forbidden fucking guest room. When he wakes up… *sigh* When he wakes… *pinches bridge of nose as I contemplate why I willingly decided to read this book* When he wakes up… he’s the eldest sibling because the guest room is some sort of dimension hopping guest room.
This whole story revolves around Matt going to sleep and waking up in a different life than his own. First he’s a teenager and he struggles through a day of highschool.
Then he’s an eight year old who winds up an only child with new parents. Then he’s the youngest sibling of a twelve sibling circus act and is nearly eaten by a lion. Then he’s an old man. Then he’s a monster that eats a car.
Did Stine write some of his books just to see if he could get away with it? Or to test if his editor was actually reading them? Because that’s what Don’t Go To Sleep feels like.
Apparently all this dimensional hopping nonsense is against the time/space continuum “rules” and Matt ends up arrested by… *sigh* the Reality Police. They’re going to “put him to sleep” for his crimes of breaking the reality rules. Doesn’t the kid even get a trial?! C’mon, he did it by accident! He didn’t know what he was doing beforehand or how to stop it once it started. If grown ass men in the real world get the old “boys will be boys” for raping women, I think a twelve year old that accidentally breaks the time/space continuum can be shown a little slack!
Matt ends up escaping the Reality jail by going to sleep again (even though they should probably fucking monitor that!) and becoming small enough to squeeze through the bars. He then becomes normal again and in the right dimension by… I honestly have no idea, my brain had fizzled out by this point in the narrative. I can tell you that the story ends with Matt’s mom surprising him with the fact that she decided to give him the guest room and Matt screaming his head off about the situation.
And then, thankfully, Don’t Go To Sleep ends.
Do I even need to say it?
Don’t read Don’t Go To Sleep. Holy crap what an immense waste of time! You’re better off laying down for a nap than taking an hour to read it. At the end of the nap, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of your day. At the end of Don’t Go To Sleep you’ll feel angry and bitter and the only thing you’ll want to do is burn something down.
Do you care about any of these characters? Because I sure don’t! The mom is a bitch for thinking a yearly visit by her parents means that her child has to live in a closet sized room, the older siblings are annoying in the usual older sibling way, while Matt is annoying in the youngest sibling way. And the Reality Police? Literally described as guys in black jeans and t-shirts.
If you don’t care about your subject matter Stine, don’t write about it!
Spooks and Scares
Are you scared of watching little boys go to sleep over and over again? No? Then you won’t be scared of Don’t Go To Sleep.
There’s literally nothing here to be scared of, and despite the cover trying to trick you into believing this is a monster under the bed story (which would have been awesome), this is a dimension hopping joke. Let’s all imagine a monster under the bed story for a moment, shall we? It’s fair to say that most kids go through a monster phase. Be it in the closet, the toilet, the shadows at the top of the stairs, or under the bed, kids are scared of monsters and where they might be lurking.
Stine could have given us a tale about something living under Matt’s bed and what it did to torment Matt. Better yet, have Matt somehow end up in the monster’s own dimension under the bed. That keeps in the dimensional hopping from the story he ended up writing and could have maybe been something interesting, like The Real Ghostbusters episode where the Ghostbusters travel into the Boogeyman’s dimension.
We also could have been given a story about nightmares and maybe had Matt’s nightmares begin to infiltrate his waking life for a trippy what’s real/what’s not horror story. Anyone remember the short-lived Disney show Nightmare Ned? It was based on a PC game of the same name. It was about a narcoleptic kid that was constantly slipping off into nightmares. Simple, clean, elegant. There’s not a fault I can find with that premise. Well, besides the fact that Ned’s parents should have consulted a doctor on their son’s narcolepsy.
Don’t Go To Sleep could have been Stine’s Nightmare Ned! But instead it’s just another best forgot entry in a series of books written for the 9-12 crowd. I’m going to say it one more time, just in case those at the back didn’t hear me: if you don’t care about your subject matter Stine, don’t write about it!