The cover illustration depicts a spaceship heading to Earth, or at least a planet that looks like Earth.
Jacob Miller is a completely average child. As he goes to his new school to begin sixth grade, he finds some things to be different. He does not recognize any of his friends, but assumes that they are just in other classes. Jacob soon finds that the teacher refers to the grade he is in as the "trelth" grade, and Jacob is confused. The teacher begins writing a math problem in some kind of foreign language on the board, and Jacob cannot figure out what it means. Everyone else begins doing the math problem correctly, and Jacob bluffs his way through the class. Next period, computer class, Jacob finds that the foreign language is on the computer keyboards, and when Jacob sees a map of the world, he realizes that no countries are familiar to him. When he goes to lunch, he finds that the students eat with holes like mouths in their armpits, and the student body is shocked to see Jacob eat with his mouth. Jacob also sees that a girl is studying him from across the room. He flees the cafeteria, and runs into the forest behind the school.
He hears someone following him, and suddenly is swarmed by bugs that attach themselves to his skin. He runs, and finds his pursuer, the girl from the cafeteria who introduces herself as Arlene. She appears to be normal like him. The two discover that they remember nothing about their lives apart from their first names, and then are attacked again by the bugs. They are rescued by students who whistle at a high pitch that hurts the bugs, which the students call Splatters. The students say that entering the woods is an offense, and take Jacob and Arlene to the principal. Bluffing their way out of punishment, Jacob exits the school to free a stray Splatter, and sees a dirty looking man who beckons to him. He goes back inside and finishes the school day. Jacob and Arlene go to a library after school, in the hope of finding some information about this world. To their horror, the writing in the books is in the strange foreign language they saw before. They leave, and spot the man from before who seems to be following them. They hide from him in an empty house, which seems strangely familiar to them. In the hope of learning something, they switch on the television, where they flick through a number of strange shows until they stop on a news program.
The news anchor announcer that "Earth Geeks" have landed, and they will not survive for long if people are alert. Jacob and Arlene believe themselves to be the "Earth Geeks." They begin to search the house for clues, until the strange man enters the house and finds the two. He claims that Arlene and Jacob are brother and sister, and he is their father. He claims that he and they are in terrible danger, but must bluff their way through another day of school. Their bluff fails when they don't know how to play a simple game, revealing themselves to be the Earth Geeks to the student body. The two are sent once again to the principal, who tests them on general knowledge. Failing their tests, the principal makes a phone call to reveal their identities to the mayor-governor, but Jacob and Arlene escape the office. Soon reunited with their father, they try to drive away but the strange car they find proves impossible to drive, and they crash into a brick wall.
They awaken in a cage, and are dragged to the mayor-governor's office. There, they are hung over a cauldron of Splatters, and are told to reveal why they came to this world. As they cannot answer, they are lowered into the pot of Splatters, when suddenly the Splatters begin speaking to them telepathically. The Splatters promise not to hurt them, and then tilt the cauldron to cause a tsunami of Splatters that drives the mayor-governor and his guards out of the office. A Splatter named Grolff explains that the Splatters have been killed for amusement daily by these people, even when their intelligence is far surperior. They wish to seek revenge, and it is revealed that they were the ones who brought the humans from Earth, so they can hide a bomb on them where their enemies would never look. Grolff commands them to give him the bomb which has been planted in his father's wristwatch. His father hands it to Jacob, and Jacob smashes the watch on the wall, making it emit a high-pitched squeal, killing the Splatters.
Jacob claims that when Grolff communicated with him, he could suddenly hear Grolff's thoughts as well, revealing evil intentions to kill them as well. The mayor-governor returns and declares the family heroes, and hosts a celebration party that lasts for days. The people of this planet had actually suffered under the wrath of the Splatters for years, and now they are finally free. But when Jacob questions if he and his family can travel back to Earth, they find that their only option is a spaceship built by an eccentric inventor nicknamed "Crazy Old Phil." The rocket takes them to a planet that seems like Earth, but when they arrive, they witness two citizens removing their heads and purple lizard heads poke up from their necks. One asks if they’re from around there. It seems like they're not quite home yet.
- In France, this book is the 69th of the original series. The book was renamed "Kidnappés dans l'espace!", which translates to Kidnapped in Space!.
- While Scholastic has never officially explained or even confirmed it, the title of this book likely changed multiple times during production:
- Escape from the Armpit Planet was a title Stine teased in 1997 as a possible upcoming book.
- Space Geeks Must Die! is an obscure variant mentioned on at least one site.
- Earth Geeks Must Die! is likely the most well known alternate title, as an old image circulated online featuring this title on the cover.
- Outside of the Give Yourself Goosebumps series, this is the only Goosebumps book to be written in the present tense.
- Jacob and Arlene's father was mentioned by name in the book: Eric Miller.
- The 'fake Earth' with purple, lizard-like creatures is a possible reference to The Creeps.
- The Splatters are similar to the Space Hunter Nebula M Cockroach Aliens from the 1972 Toho film Godzilla Vs. Gigan, because they both disguise themselves as humans, and both of them are insect-like aliens from a planet similar to Earth.
- At the beginning of this book, Jacob is placed in the trelth grade. Similarly, there's a number called "trel" in the Beasts' language in The Beast from the East.
- At one point in this book, Jacob mentions seeing people drinking champagne at a party. This is one of the only times that an alcoholic drink is consumed in a Goosebumps book.
- The concept of aliens erasing the memories of humans would later be used in the Give Yourself Goosebumps book All-Day Nightmare, which was released just two months after this book.
- Jacob's father tells the kids that he doesn't know if they have a mother. Since one does not appear, it is implied they do not have one in the picture. However, at the beginning, Jacob mentions "mom and dad" in a way that implies he knows with certainty he has both.
References in other Goosebumps media
- Splatters were mentioned in an early draft of the film Goosebumps.
- One achievement in Goosebumps: The Game is called "Earth Geeks Must Go!" and can be earned by winning a perfect game of Skee-Ball.
|Goosebumps Series 2000 series|
|#01 Cry of the Cat||#10 Headless Halloween||#18 Horrors of the Black Ring|
|#02 Bride of the Living Dummy||#11 Attack of the Graveyard Ghouls||#19 Return to Ghost Camp|
|#03 Creature Teacher||#12 Brain Juice||#20 Be Afraid — Be Very Afraid!|
|#04 Invasion of the Body Squeezers: Part 1||#13 Return to HorrorLand||#21 The Haunted Car|
|#05 Invasion of the Body Squeezers: Part 2||#14 Jekyll and Heidi||#22 Full Moon Fever|
|#06 I Am Your Evil Twin||#15 Scream School||#23 Slappy's Nightmare|
|#07 Revenge R Us||#16 The Mummy Walks||#24 Earth Geeks Must Go!|
|#08 Fright Camp||#17 The Werewolf in the Living Room||#25 Ghost in the Mirror|
|#09 Are You Terrified Yet?|