Monday, June 17, 2013

Book Review: The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

(The Monstrumologist #1)

Young Adult

September 22nd 2009 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Literary Awards:
Printz Honor (2010)
Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Nominee (2010)
Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award (ALAN/NCTE) Nominee (2010)
Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2013)

borrowed from library


My Rating:

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?

 Will Henry is an orphan that has been taken on as an assistant-apprentice to the monstrumologist, Dr. Warthrop. He is thrust among a life of oddities and the doctor's ill moods but takes them in stride. When a grave-robber brings the doctor a gruesome discovery, horrendous events are set in motion and Will Henry is witness to them all.

I'll admit that the prologue had me a little confused. I got the impression that Rick Yancey was just the editor of someone else's work but had taken the credit. Then I realized that (duh) it was a work of fiction and it was only meant to look like a real account of events transcribed by someone else. I found that to be quite refreshing actually. It brought a bit of mystery and wonder to the story.

This story was pretty amazing. Horrific, but amazing. The thought and scientific process put into creating a species of monster was well worth the read. As I described the characteristics of the Anthropophagi to my fiancé, I wondered if I would have thought they were real if I hadn't known it was a work of fiction. Who knows. If there really are mentions of these creatures in old texts perhaps there once was a creature similar to the ones described in this book. We certainly have enough oddities in this world in this day and age that I can't close my mind to 'monsters' existing in the past. I like to keep an open mind and an even wider imagination.

I really loved how it was written. I've read a couple of Rick Yancey's other novels and they are extremely fast paced and witty with a lot of dialogue. Perhaps it is because this story is set in a past era, but I really enjoyed the old fashioned 'classic' literature feel that this book gave me. It very much differed from 'The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp' or 'The 5th Wave'.

The characters were very likable, as well. Perhaps 'likable' isn't the right word, though. I couldn't help but feel sympathy towards Will Henry and even a little towards Dr. Warthrop. Knowing Will Henry is an orphan is enough but being the assistant to a monstrumologist that demands every moment of his time without returning the favor even in the least made me really feel for him. At the young age of 11, a boy needs a father figure and Dr. Warthrop did a poor job as a stand in.

Overall, I found it to be quite interesting but also slightly terrifying. The Anthropophagi are definitely creep-tastic. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys horror and would specifically recommend reading it around Halloween.

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