The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena
Series number: 38
Number of pages: 127
Release date: December 1995
Tagline: He’s no fun in the sun!
Did I Read It as a Child?: No
The Story On the Back
Jordan Blake and his sister, Nicole, are sick of the hot weather in Pasadena. Just once they’d like to have a real winter. A real winter with real snow. And then it happens. The Blakes are off to Alaska! Seems that Mr. Blake has been asked to photograph a mysterious snow creature there. Poor Jordan and Nicole. They just wanted to see snow. But now they’re being chased by a monstrous creature. A big furry-faced creature…known as the Abominable Snowman.
The Story On the Pages
This is one of the weirder, mish-mashed stories that R.L. Stine concocted. More adventure than it is horror. And a boring adventure at that. Our your expectations sufficiently lowered? Good, let’s just jump right on in then!
The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena starts in Pasadena. Jordan and his sister Nicole are complaining about the heat. Then Jordan plays a practical joke on his dad. Then they go to their friend/neighbour Lauren’s house and complain about the heat there. Then some bullies come. Then their dad takes them to Alaska because he’s a nature photographer and he’s on the trail of the abominable snowman.
That was about 25% of the story summed up in one paragraph, if you were curious.
While in Alaska, Jordan and Nicole whine so much and play so many practical jokes that their guide, who is the only one among them that knows how to survive in the Alaskan wilderness abandons them out in said wilderness. But somehow these pack of idiots survives. And not ony do they survive, they find the abominable snowman and take it back to Pasadena.
The abominable snowman freezes itself in a block of magic ice to, what I assume, is hibernate, so they just chip out the ice, put him in a big freezer and take him home. No pictures of the best seem to develop because of some kind of, what I have to assume again is magic, but they have the beast itself so they’re still going to be famous.
Except not because it escapes while in Pasadena and… lives there now? He either lives in a climate he wasn’t built for or he dies. Either way, he’s uncomfortable.
Oh, and him escaping is the end. He runs off into the heat and that’s that. The end of The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena.
This one is a mess. Just a terrible mess. The story doesn’t flow in any natural way. Why do Jordan and Nicole have to find the Snowman? The only connection these kids have to it is that their dad is a nature photographer and has been hired to snap pictures of the beast. Why open the story on long, boring scenes of Jordan and Co. complaining about the heat and wanting to see snow when it could have started up with their dad getting back from Alaska with the monster already in tow?
Considering that the monster is magic and has the ability to grow snow and ice, why go all the way to Alaska for the snow and ice? The title of the book implies there’s going to be more than just the first and last few chapters in Pasadena. The time spent in Alaska is padding and that’s really saying something because 70% of the story takes place there!
The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena is a book made up of weak links, but the weakest link is absolutely the characters. You won’t care about a single one of them because they’re all annoying, horrible, and utterly predictable. You know what? I’m going to go beyond saying you won’t care about them, because you will. You’ll get so angry at this cast of characters that you will actively wish for each other their demises! And painful, slow demises at that!
Nicole is the least offensive. Described as a know-it-all little sister, Jordan especially hates her because she was moved ahead a grade in school and is in his class. Lauren is the next least offensive. She’s the next door neighbour you see in the first and last couple chapters. Her voice is described as nasal and “good for complaining”. There’s less of her than there is mention of practical jokes though, so she’s forgiven.
Next are two other neighbour kids, Kyle and Kara, the thirteen year old bullies from down the street. The twins have red hair and are your typical bullies: no boundaries, physical harm, name calling, but total cowards when adults are around. These two characters, that are meant to be hated by the reader, are still more tolerable than Jordan, the POV character of the piece!
Jordan is a practical joker. Oh joy. My favourite type of person. I don’t know what scarred me so bad to practical jokers as a child, but oh my god I hate them so much! Jordan spends a huge amount of this story faking out the reader with his jokes, which not only makes him a little shit, but also breaks the tension and atmosphere.
At one point, Jordan falls down an ice fissure in the Alaskan tundra and I whooped with joy! When he’s immediately found and rescued without even a scratch, I muttered angrily about not even being allowed to have this one thing! Just one character death Stine, you could have gotten away with it once!
And the father? Well, guess where his kids learn all their dickish behavior from! He never pays attention to what they have to say because he cares more about his photography career. When he does pay attention to them, he’s encouraging Jordan and his practical jokes. Then when they find the Snowman all frozen up in ice he says that they’re taking it back with them because “it’s worth the risk”. The risk literally being his children’s lives!
Let me spitball some dialogue for how the kid’s should have reacted to this:
“It’s worth the risk.”
“The risk is our lives, Dad!”
“It’s worth the risk.”
“We were just attacked by this monster and could have died!”
“It’s worth the risk.”
“Gee, I think we should have gone to live with mom after the divorce.”
Spooks and Scares
There’s not anything here that’s scary and The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena fails in what is its most important goal as a Goosebumps book because of that!
The suspense from chapter to chapter is non-existent as each new “scare” that happens is just Jordan being a little shit. That whole “boy you cried wolf” thing is a real phenomena. If Jordan keeps breaking the tension to tease and joke, what’s there to be scared of? You aren’t setting us up for a twist or a major shock.
For twists to work well, you have to build tension slowly and consistently throughout. Jordan’s character swings through any atmosphere that might be built up from setting and interesting supporting characters like he’s Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball. Honestly, the main villain might as well have been Jordan since he ruins things at a more startling pace than the Snowman does.
The design of these characters also doesn’t lend itself to horror when they’re in a group. The first thing that should have happened as they headed to the abandoned tundra cabin they were staying at? Separation. A sudden snowstorm could have split them all up and, even if the guide, Nicole, and the father found each other, Jordan (as the main character) could have been left on his own. That part where he falls down a crevasse in the ice? Perfect. Leave him there to stew on his own. He can’t pull pranks on his own and that fixes his character, and in turn, the whole atmosphere of the piece right up.
As it stands now, the only thing that’s truly frightening about The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena is when their tundra guide abandons them to die in the wilderness, because who doesn’t have abandonment issues?
But that wasn’t really the point, was it? The point was an abominable snowman and you’ll be as scared of this one as much as you are of the one in Looney Toons that mistakes Daffy Duck for a bunny, names him George, and promises hugs and love.