Thursday, May 20, 2010

Review - Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey (4/5 stars)

I got this book on loan from a friend.  It sounds like a very intriguing read.  In most ways it is an exceptional book, but only for those with strong stomachs.  There is another Monstrumologist book coming out October 2010 called The Curse of the Wendigo.  This first book is a very complete book and story all by itself.

Will Henry is young boy who is an apprentice to a monstrumologist, Dr. Warthrop.  He is used to strange visitors in the middle of the night, but one late night a visitor brings the Dr. a monster unlike anything Will has ever seen.  The monster is an Anthropophagus and its natural prey is humankind.  Dr. Warthrop and Will Henry must solve the mystery behind the Anthropophagus's appearance before the monsters eviscerate and eat the whole village.

This book is set in the late 1880's and has a very dark, gothic tone to it.   There are scenes of intense action, but most of the book is reasoning and gory science.  The whole concept to this book is that someone found three folio's of stories; this book contains those three folios.  The original finders are trying to decide if the folios are fiction or fact.  You only hear from the modern day finders in the Prologue and the Epilogue; the rest of the book are the folios from Will's perspective.

This book is different from any book I have read.  It puts science behind monster hunting and prefers a philosophical approach to monster hunting rather than a guns blazing approach.  The writing is done in the style of the era it represents; a bit over-descriptive and flowery at time.  Dr. Warthrop is at both times brilliant and harsh, but when he contacts fellow monster-hunter Jack Keane then we find out what true harshness is.  Jack Keane is an interesting character; he is an overly jaunty Englishman that is almost more of a monster than the monsters he hunts.

Some of the book is spent on talking about the loneliness of Dr. Warthrop's profession and how this affects Will Henry.  Much thought goes into the meaning of death, the fragility of humanity, and the way humanity acts as a whole.   Dr. Warthrop often digresses into deep philosophical conversations when Will Henry asks him the simplest of questions: such as "Where is my hat?" leads to a two page rant on the evils of being attached to material objects.

What will strike most people about this book though is the gore.  Nothing nasty, grisly, or gory is left untouched, in fact it is delved into in great detail.  I didn't find the book itself to be particularly scary (and I am a wuss about scary books) but the gory detail in which things were described made me physically nauseous a number of times.  So readers with a weak stomach should beware.

The only complaint I have about this book is that it gets a bit wordy at points.  I think some of the wordiness could have been cut out and it would have been a better book.  That and the extreme goriness bothered me at times.  Other than that this is a very creative, spooky, and interesting read.  It is a book that manages to give an interesting historical representation of the era, one that touches on deeper aspects of the fragility of humanity and on what it means to be a monster, and it manages to be about plain good ole monster hunting to boot.

Overall I really enjoyed it.  It is very well-written, very creative, and extremely interesting.  I personally couldn't read it while eating lunch because of the extreme goriness.  As far as it being a young adult book I would recommend it for older young adults.  There is a lot of violence, people being torn to shreds, gore and evilness in this book.  As an adult it was a bit much for me and this is definitely not a book for younger kids.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
- Thiller and Suspense Challenge
The Monstrumologist 

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