Stine, R.L. The Haunter (Goosebumps Most Wanted Special Edition #4)
June 28th 2016 by Scholastic Paperbacks
Copy Provided by Young Adult Books Central
Sammy is a good kid who tries not to get into trouble, even when the nasty Rubin Rubino bullies him in sly ways. He's apprehensive when his group is assigned a research piece on haunted houses, especially when he finds out that a girl he likes is also in the group. Not wanting to look like a fraidy cat, Sammy goes to the house, but when he is there, weird things happen. After being super cold, he hears a voice inside his head, telling him to do crazy things like dancing on the desks, or more dangerously, on the roof of the school. Eventually, Sammy realizes that a boy who died in the house he visited, Benjamin Marple, is possessing him and wants him dead. Sammy thinks that he has gotten rid of the ghost... until Benjamin shows up in his class at school!
Stine really is the master of walking the line between scary and goofy. On the one hand, it's scary that Sammy has an imperative voice inside his head that he can't resist, telling him to do things. On the other, one of the first things it makes him perform is jumping jacks on his desk! The chapters are always ended on some sort of cliff hanger, and even if it is goofy, it entices readers to turn the page to find out what has gone on!
This book had a particularly good class setting. There were a variety of students, such as Shamequa whose father has an unusual amount of ghost hunting equipment at hand and who is simply described as having "brown skin and straight black hair". Buzzy is a supportive best friend, and Rubin is devious. No obvious moves like swirlies or pantsing for him-- he sneakily has Sammy sit in a chair on which his cat has peed. Much more realistic... and much more evil.
This is a special edition of the Goosebumps: Most Wanted series, and the best part of this series is that they don't have to be read in order. Some are reworkings of previous Goosebumps books, and there has been quite a resurgence of interest in Stine's work after the 2015 movie. You won't have to hand this to readers-- they will be haunting the shelves to find the newest fright!