I was sent Monster by Michael E. Grant in exchange for my honest review by the Amazon Vine programme. It will be released on October 17th, and is available for pre order now.
I chose it largely due to my son exploding with excitement when he saw that it was being offered to me. He spent his whole summer holidays immersed in the Gone series, which precedes the action in this book, and was devastated when he finished the last book.
I haven’t read the Gone series, and although this follows on from it, I didn’t feel lost at all as I was reading. The initial chapters summarise neatly and effectively what happened in the previous series, and I liked the fact that the author had worked hard to make what was effectively a plot recap into a logical and necessary part of the new series. There are flashbacks through the book from characters who appeared in the first series that give you enough of their background to understand events without labouring what went before.
Shade Darby was a witness on the day a mysterious dome disappeared at Pedido Beach, releasing a bunch of teenage survivors back into the civilisation. It was the day her world changed forever and she is still living with the guilt and regret borne out of her actions on that day.
Her feelings have crystallised into an obsession with what happened in the dome and trying to ensure she is prepared for what she knows is coming next, as parts of the meteor that caused the dome to grow in the first place are due to fall to earth. She is determined that she will be armed and ready. What she doesn’t know is, so are other people.
This is a tense, dystopian fantasy which reminded me in parts of Charlie Higson’s Enemy series, largely in its unflinching and sometimes brutal style. This is a hard read in parts. Bad things happen, and they happen to good people and the reader has to cotton on fast as the narrative speeds you ever onwards. This is largely action driven and is written in a very filmic way, which makes it very easy to read. If that were all I would find the book too shallow to have held my attention all the way to the end, but it is redeemed by some really interesting plot lines and ideas that I hope will bloom in the next books in the series.
What I really liked here is that Grant makes the connection between mutations and those in regular life who are ignored or marginalised or already treated like they are mutants and cleverly weaves contemporary themes like the position of trans gender people in society for example, into the plot. His characters are the marginalised, the damaged, the dysfunctional. He looks at what happens to the people we ignore or demonise when they get power, and it’s fascinating.