The cover artwork shows a zombified student in a school cafeteria. He has pale, corpse-blue skin, and is drooling. The tray he is carrying has macaroni, green beans, a cornbread muffin, and a milk carton.
Great news! You just got into the best boarding school in the country! But on your very first day you start to get totally creeped out.
The students walk around chanting things like "Work. Don’t play!" And they all have strange glassy-eyed stares. Better choose your schedule wisely. If you take Gym, one slipup on the rope-climbing test and you’ll be washing dishes for the rest of eternity. If you take Science, you might end up with a transmitter implanted in your arm that has you acting like a real zombie!
The choice is yours in this scary GOOSEBUMPS adventure that's packed with over 20 super-spooky endings!
You are transferred to an exclusive boarding school in Nevada, where all of the children are very quiet. During homeroom, your teacher, Miss Simms warns that any student breaking the rules will be given demerits and sent to the Detention Wing, where the school makes an example of "bad" students. One such student enters the room and you are shocked to see that he looks like a zombie. While Miss Simms is out of the room, you steal the monocle she wears, but discover that when you look through it there are hidden brainwashing messages all over the walls and many more of the students look like zombies. The reader must then decide whether or not to put back the monocle before the teacher notices it's missing.
You put the monocle back, but what you've seen is enough to convince you that something is seriously wrong at the school. The story focuses on your efforts to escape from the school and/or alert the authorities, as the zombies start to close in on you.
You keep the monocle. Before Miss Simms can find out who took it, the bell rings and it's time for class. You pick from a list of classes and have to survive them. This storyline is similar to the setup found in Shop Till You Drop...Dead! and You're Plant Food!.
Side story C
You end up in the forest with the "Runaways", a group of other kids who have escaped from Ranewash School. You must then help them decide what to do in order to destroy the school. This storyline can be reached through either Story A or Story B.
List of endings
There are twenty bad endings, one ambiguous ending, and four good endings.
- You call the police to help you. An officer comes to collect you, and you notice his class ring from Ranewash, meaning he is a zombie too. He takes you to jail so you can't tell anyone the truth.
- You escape town on a bus, but the movie played on the bus brainwashes you. You will go on to turn your family and everyone else you know into zombies.
- You're in a forest, being chased by an enormous guard dog. You decide to climb a tree to escape the dog, but then a panther comes through the treetops and eats you.
- The Runaways give you a flare and challenge you to scare away the dog. The flare fails to ignite, so the dog gets you.
- While on a class trip, you're taken aside and led into a room, where you are sedated and all your organs are removed.
- You smash a transmitter that's going to be implanted into your skin, but tentacles sprout from the transmitter and strangle you. This is a built-in mechanism so the transmitter's host can't escape.
- While searching outside for your missing hall pass, you are ambushed by a guard dog.
- A teacher writes an instruction on your forehead for the other students to attack you. You try to wash it off in the bathroom, but they catch you and beat you to death.
- You try to run past guard dogs and escape through the emergency exit, but you're not fast enough, and they catch you.
- One of the other Runaways turns out to be a spy and lures you all back into the school, where you are chained up in the Detention Wing.
- Miss Pierce mind-controls you into spying on your fellow students.
- Alternatively, you disobey her order, but you suffer a blinding headache and feel pressure building inside your skull. It's implied that your head explodes.
- You test out the scents that control the dogs, but you make the wrong combination of scent, causing the dogs to attack you.
- Your friend Kate's braces interfere with the brainwashing machine, so everyone comes under her control. She forces you to make her ice cream from scratch, starting with milking the cow.
- You're brainwashed and forced to write a letter to your parents, saying that you want to stay at the school and never come home. Then you stay at Ranewash and work forever, even during vacation.
- Forced into being a kitchen assistant for the next four years until graduation.
- You go to the soccer field when you shouldn't be there, and are shredded up by giant lawnmowers.
- Because you tried to pull the brain-sucking octopus' tentacle free from your head, your brains leak out. This leaves you literally mindless, and you go back to class to obey with the other zombies.
- You try to escape the school by climbing over the fence. Some teachers catch you, and you find out the fence is electrified. Despite you pleading that you're sorry and don't want to die, they joyfully electrocute you.
- You tried (and failed) to escape and missed your chance to take the test in detention, so you are stuck in the Detention Wing forever. This is stated to be the worst ending in the book.
- You and Kate are caught and brainwashed, but you are so delighted to obey Ranewash that it is presented as "The Happiest End of All."
- You find the right scent to control the dogs, and use them to chase away the teachers. You are now trying to find a way to return the other students to normal.
- You're wearing metal when you enter the brainwashing machine, which somehow reverses its effect so that the teachers obey you. You take charge of the school and put an end to all homework.
- You overwhelm the brain-sucking octopus so much that it shrinks away into nothingness.
- You become the youngest news anchor in the country, and your report gets Ranewash School closed down. You broadcast subliminal messaging that deprograms all the zombies.
- The plot element in which invisible messages are used for subconscious manipulation is likely an allusion to John Carpenter's 1988 film, They Live.
- Why I Quit Zombie School has a similar title to this book. However, the books are in no way connected; both stories are set in different schools (Ranewash School vs Romero Academy). Furthermore, the zombies in this book are living children who have been brainwashed, whereas in Why I Quit Zombie School they are actual undead zombies.
- Some of the plot elements in this story — namely the strict boarding school with unusual methods for reforming students — are reminiscent of The Perfect School from Even More Tales to Give You Goosebumps.
- Despite the cover art, the reader never goes to a cafeteria.
- This book is different than most other books in the series in several ways:
- This book has notably gorier endings than other books in the series. These include being beaten to death by your classmates, strangled by tentacles, harvested for organs, savaged by a guard dog (or a random panther that caught you while you were trying to escape from the dogs), or sadistically electrocuted by a teacher.
- Some of the poor choices will not immediately lead to a bad ending, but rather issue the reader with a varied number of "demerits". If you have too many by the time you reach a certain point in the book, it could lead to a bad ending. Storyline B always takes you to detention, since with some of the classes you get demerits if you survive them.
- Although the series is usually gender-neutral to accommodate the reader, this book mentions in some places that "you" are male.
- Several choices in this book depend on factors beyond the reader's control such as the day of the week, what the reader is wearing, and, in one instance, whether the reader can remember when they were last injured in a gym class at school. Therefore, if the circumstances are "wrong", the reader must cheat in order to complete the book successfully.
- In story B, the reader doesn't have to complete the tasks in any particular order.
- Some points in this book (such as the Detention wing and Side story C) can be reached no matter what your main story choice was. It is also possible to reach all the good endings in this book just from Story B.