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Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Monstrumologist (The Monstrumologist #1) by Rick Yancey

These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed. But he is dead now and has been for more than forty years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets. The one who saved me . . . and the one who cursed me.

So starts the diary of Will Henry, orphaned assistant to Dr. Pellinore Warthorpe, a man with a most unusual specialty: monstrumology, the study of monsters. In his time with the doctor, Will has met many a mysterious late-night visitor, and seen things he never imagined were real. But when a grave robber comes calling in the middle of the night with a gruesome find, he brings with him their most deadly case yet.

A gothic tour de force that explores the darkest heart of man and monster and asks the question: When does man become the very thing he hunts?

Released: September 22nd 2009         Pages: 447
Publisher: Simon & Schuster             Source: Library
First Look: ****This interested me because the premise reminded me of Frankenstein.  Since I quite enjoyed Frankenstein, I decided to give this a go.  Besides, I'd heard good things about it.

Setting: ***** 
Let's hear it for Victorian novels set in America!  Yay!  It's something you don't see as much of.  Most YA Victorian novels seem to be set in England, specifically London.  Teenagers right now seem to have something of a fascination with London.  Or maybe I'm getting this impression because many of both my real life and Goodreads friends are Whovians...and Sherlockians...and Harry Potter Fans...and Directioners (I squirm just typing that word...bleh).  All of which revolve around London.

Anyway, I liked the feel of the setting, especially with the time period.

 Characters: ***** I applaud Rick Yancey for writing about a main character who isn't a teenager (he's twelve).  Most YA authors tend to shy away from that, but not in this book.  I wouldn't give this book to a twelve-year-old, anyway.  Nope.  Will Henry was still likable, though, and I loved the fact that he was younger.

His relationship dynamic with the monstrumologist had complexity to it, and it looks like there's even some backstory we don't know about yet.  Will seems to respect the monstrumologist, obeys him diligently, and strives to please him.  And yet he says that he never loved the monstrumologist.  There's more here than meets the eye, and I'm curious to see how this develops in the next book.

Plot: ***** Though perhaps a little slow at the start, this version of the man vs. monster storyline has its share of twists.  You think there's nothing else around the corner, but...there's something hiding there.  You think this certain character is a creeper, but harmless, and then you're proved wrong.

There was a decent level of emotion behind it, too.  All throughout, Will Henry had to reconcile his present experiences with his past, and try to deal with his backstory.  (He's a tough little twelve-year-old.) 

Uniqueness: ****
It was a unique mix of history, paranormal, and horror.

Writing: ****
The writing stayed true to the time period (I adore the type of old-fashioned language used) and in some places was quite lovely.  It provided adequate detail to provide me with a clear picture over the story. 

And, okay, sometimes maybe the detail was too much.  Here is a fact about this book: it is creepy and disgusting.  There are many squirm-worthy moments (and I'm not the type of person who feels faint at the sight of blood, either).  Something nasty would happen and it would be described in all its gruesome detail and I'd be sitting here making this face:
Kind of like that.  (But honestly, sometimes it was more like the face Pepper Potts makes when pulling on the wires inside the cavity where Tony Stark's arc reactor goes in Iron Man.  Imagine that face, but it was being recreated in an exaggerated way by Jennifer Lawrence.  That's probably the face I made more often.)
So, then, this book isn't for people who can't stand that kind of thing.  (The gruesome details, not my awkward faces.)

 Likes: Nothing not already mentioned above.

Not-so-great: Nothing not already mentioned above.

Overall: If you can take a hefty dose of creepy, nasty, and just plain ew, and you enjoyed Frankenstein, then I'd recommend this.  It had strong, complex characters.  The writing was time-period authentic, and quite lovely.  It's got its fair share of action and plot twists of all types.  I enjoyed it, and I'll be reading the sequel!
Similar Books: It has a huge amount in common with Frankenstein--similar characters, setting, ideas, and writing style.  It's also reminiscent of This Dark Endeavor and has supernatural creatures in an old-fashioned setting like the Matt Cruse books.  For some reason, it reminded me of The Drowned Cities, though I'm not sure why.

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