Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Monstrumologist so good you might throw up in your mouth.

Body chomping, wide eyed, cadaver shrapnel and much more in this story that’s less about monsters and more about people. The Monstumologist is told through writings left by an elderly man named Will Henry when he died. Will Henry is left orphan when his parents die and is taken into the care of Dr. Warthrop. Dr. Warthrop has quite an unusual profession even for Victorian times, he is a monstrumologist (a scientist who studies monsters, at least in this book). Now, before you get all mushy about how sentimental this guy must be to take in a little orphan boy and raise him all by himself, let me just let you know that neither him nor Will Henry see it this way. Will Henry is at the beck and call of this insecure, needy, and demanding individual. This man is devoted to his work to the point of obsession and little else matters when he is in the thick of it, or so it seems. A late night knock on their door throws us full on into the hunt and introduces us to the life of the little orphan monstrumologist apprentice. Things are deeper than they appear and through the ups and downs and disgusting turns you find that not everything is what is seems.

Books don’t receive a Printz Medal Honor without having depth. There are times when your stomach will turn at the scenes that emerge from your imagination as you read this story, but behind all the action and gore is a story about people and the complicated relationships that we have. Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop have a relationship built out of necessity and yet in the midst of it is this realistically complicated mutual parent-child relationship. There’s something about orphans that can make you want to root for them and defend them and Will Henry is no exception. When you add an ensemble of supporting cast which are all equally intriguing to these two already incredible characters, you have a story worth reading more than once. It’s one of those stories that has gotten better after it has settled for a while. This is a book for those who love great stories that can give you that taste of horror without all the pointless slashing, screaming, and tripping on roots in the middle of the woods while running from the terrible ugly monster thing trying to cut you up to use in its sushi rolls. Be sure to dig into this one when you get a chance, but make sure you don’t overindulge yourself before you pick it up just in case you get one of the particularly “touching” scenes. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Red Moon Rising(Advance Reading Copy) now not rising until Feb. 2011

Attending school at Carpathia Night means that if you are not Vamp then you are less than nothing. Being a wulf (yep, that’s how it’s spelled in this book) makes you the social outcasts. Danny Gray’s little problem is that he’s half wulf and half vamp and up until now the incomplete genetic treatments he received has gotten him by leaving people to believe that his other half is human. The vamps are now socially acceptable upper crust, since they don’t have to munch on humans anymore because SynHeme (synthetic blood) was developed. The wulves, on the other hand, can’t control their changing with the moon and are seen as ugly and the lowest level of social standing. Every month they are locked up for their change in government compounds. So, if you can avoid being a wulf, then you do. Danny’s treatments were never finished and his body may not be able to hold off the change the rest of his life, but will it hold off long enough to get out of high school or will it begin and change his life forever?

I wasn’t expecting this book to roll out the way it did. I guess I was expecting it to take itself as serious as the other vampire type books out there, so, when it went more the direction of Fat Vampire (that would be tongue in cheek, for those who have not read it) it took me a while to stagger back up to an upright position and settle in. A few little things bugged me off and on, like using made up names for products and celebrities that closely parallel real life names but are twice as corny (you’ll know them when you see them, I would hate to ruin the fun for you). The book was entertaining. It deals a lot with racism, and social class struggles and those always make me think about all that we still face in our “modern” society. I came to appreciate the humor that was in the book and the right level of intensity throughout to keep you going. There are lots of good relationships in story for both genders to get their minds around, and both will have fun reading this book. It’s not going to make you howl with laughter but it will feed your thirst for good reading throughout (little taste of the corny to get you started). Lock yourself up and give yourself a moonlit night of reading. Pre-Order it now so you won't forget to read it in February. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening (UUUUUGGHHH!)

Elena, “Oh I’m so cool and popular why doesn’t this new guy see it. I mean he’s not that hot and all, I just want him to think I am as awesome as I think I am. Did I mention that I get what I want whenever I want it?” blah blah blah High school girl romance reads like middle school girl letters blah blah blah. Stefan has some blood issues (like he’s afraid he wants to drink Elena’s) Elena has control issues, drama, drama. Did I mention that vampire stuff happens.

So, in the end the book wasn’t terrible but it was hardly memorable. I am a closet Vampire Diaries TV show watching freak (I guess it’s out now) and my wife and I have watched the whole series from day one so it took me forever to think of these characters any different than the TV show. So, when they didn’t match up to the characters that I have come to know, it through me off. I happen to like the TV characters better than the book. The romance stuff in the book was so corny that I almost stopped a number of times but out of respect for authors and the hard work they put into their books I felt the necessity to push it to the end. I was definitely not inspired to dig into any more of the books but that’s just me. If you like reading old middle school romance notes and you find that stuff interesting then dig in. If you are a middle school teacher (me for example) you probably get enough of this kind of drama in one hour of teaching. Sorry L.J. Smith but I don’t see many guys digging in and loving it, but like I tell my students, don’t just take my word for it (unless I tell you that you will probably die doing it, speaking of, there is a few people that do this in the book. Maybe that makes it interesting to some people.) I think I am going to stick to the show.