Monster is as monster does, but Frankenstein Frightface Gordon is totally the wrong shade of ghastly green—pale, baby blue, in fact—and he’s more concerned with keeping his pants neat and tidy than scaring the pants off his victims. But when a new law is passed to rid Uggarland of misfits such as Frank, he must decide if he will become the monster his parents can be proud of or be the monster he can be proud of. Trusting the monsterliest monster he knows, Frank looks to the grave and his dead grandmother to make his choice, entering into an adventure that will either seal his doom or prove he is truly monster enough.
I have decidedly mixed emotions about this book.
For the positives, the dialogue is realistic and refreshing which is saying something since it’s all about monsters. The scenes are descriptively detailed in this unique world as Reeg did a wonderful job creating a world which although very different from our own we can still feel like we are walking around in it. The plot line is well thought and easy to follow. I also thought it was interesting that two separate endings were included; one if this is a standalone and the second if she’s able to turn it into a series.
Using monsters we are all familiar with such as Frankenstein, Dragons, Trolls, Witches, etc was a cute idea particularly since this is a kid’s book and would be perfect for Halloween. It was also a unique idea as I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever read a take like this before when it comes to the monster genre although the closest would probably be Disney’s Halloweentown Movie Series.
I wanted to truly love this book for all those reasons but what made it hard for me is the story. It starts off with talking about how monsters who are different and don’t act ‘normal’ have to ride a different bus than the other students, they are treated like outcasts, punished for not being normal and essentially threatened with being kicked out of their society if they don’t learn to comply. The president of the monster world has even created all these laws claiming that misfits are dangerous and dragging on their society so they must not be allowed to be a part of their society.
I have 2 daughters with Autism so I’m already very familiar with how society treats those it does not consider ‘normal’ and long grew up with knowing how a ‘special’ bus was used for those who are not ‘normal’ and the jokes that went along with it. Right away I started having reservations about whether or not this is a book I want to read to my kids once I’m done or even recommend to fellow parents particularly those with special needs kids.
I kept going because I was hoping there would be some saving grace at the end where their monster society would have a change of heart and realize that misfit monsters are still monsters. They should be accepted regardless of their differences not to mention allowed to contribute to their society however their abilities can be adapted. There was also a TON of bullying going on between students and by adults against other adults and children.
But the book ended, under both versions, without that happening. Maybe if the author continues this into a series then the other books will contain these lessons about how to not treat others like crap just because they’re different and bullying shouldn’t be allowed.
On the one hand I’m very well aware this is a fictions book about monsters and not people but on the other hand I’m trying to teach my daughters that they, and everyone else who society would label as a misfit, are just as good and deserve to be treated as such. Maybe I’ve had to watch my daughters get bullied and be treated badly by both kids and adults way too many times so I can’t see the ‘fun’ in books with these kinds of storylines because I’ve read all the other glowing, positive reviews and no one else seems to have a problem with that part of the story.
Thank you to Netgalley and Jolly Fish Press for allowing me to review this book.
*synopsis and pic from amazon.com