The Monster Book Review
Written By: C. J. Skuse
Year Published: 2015
Genre: Young-Adult Horror Fiction
Publisher: MIRA Ink, Harlequin
I received a copy of Monster through a Twitter giveaway (Maximum Pop!) in exchange for an honest review.
3 / 5
Breakfast Club/Hound of the Baskervilles-inspired horror set in an all-girls school.
A young-adult-horror-thriller about a mismatched group of boarding school girls that are stranded at school over the Christmas period due to a snowstorm, with the legendary Beast of Bathory loose and causing havoc among the villagers, tourists, animals and schoolgirls. Nash, a 16 year old girl who begins the novel aspiring to be Head Girl, is in for a traumatic Christmas with her brother’s disappearance while travelling, and trying to remain level-headed in this terrifying situation.
Monster is a blend of The Breakfast Club, Hound of the Baskervilles and contemporary Young Adult fiction, with plenty of humour styled for the modern audience with copious references to social media, film and bitchiness. Parts of the humour worked well, but I felt that it was used too much in an attempt to overemphasise the personality of that particular character, chiefly Maggie, the outspoken don’t-give-a-damn outsider of the group. Maggie’s dialogue came across as unrealistic, as everything she said was as if to reaffirm her outsider personality and as chief comedian. Her satirical comebacks were in almost every bit of dialogue she has and it became a bit repetitive and frankly annoying.
The central aspects of a horror were in place; complete loss of communication, the school’s location was in the middle of nowhere (the moors of Cornwall) and there was a mythical beast on the loose. The combination of them all created an atmosphere of suspense, as all the characters were afraid of the threat from the outside, which did transmit to the reader. All of the characters were well developed with visible effort played to each one of the girls. Every single girl was unique in their own way which did help certain aspects of the storyline. However, I was annoyed by all of them at some point in the book, most of all, the main characters Nash and Maggie! Nash’s priorities were all over the place which is a bad trait for a Head Girl frontrunner, she is very bitchy to the other girls (unfortunately, the bitchiness and slut-shaming was common between her, Maggie, Dianna and Clarice) and her ‘romantic’ feelings towards the male characters in Monster were cringeworthy and incredibly poor. One of them was just unfathomable considering the background of that particular character!
The beginning is sluggish and takes a while to get to any meaningful developments in terms of storyline, but once the action sets in, it is quite readable and the chapters do fly by as I was intrigued to see what the ending had in store for the girls. But despite this, I felt that it had no WOW factor that would keep me gripped to every word, perhaps if some of the slow start that established the situation was shortened and more shocking events were included, then it would ultimately become a better Young-Adult horror book, rather than a middle-grade horror which it came across as.
This book will suit many teenage girls as they might be able to associate themselves with one of the characters, the challenges of spending time without the luxury of internet, social media and texting, and the differing relationships between girls of differing personalities.