Title: Monster Genre: Fantasy
Author: A. Lee Martinez Publisher: Orbit Books
Pub. Date: May 11, 2009
Goodreads Synopsis / Back Cover Blurb:
Meet Monster. Meet Judy. Two humans who don’t like each other much, but together must fight dragons, fire-breathing felines, trolls, Inuit walrus dogs, and a crazy cat lady – for the future of the universe.
Monster runs a pest control agency. He’s overworked and has domestic troubles – like having the girlfriend from hell.
Judy works the night shift at the local Food Plus Mart. Not the most glamorous life, but Judy is happy. No one bothers her, and if she has to spell things out for the night manager every now and again, so be it.
But when Judy finds a yeti in the freezer aisle eating all the Rocky Road, her life collides with Monster’s in a rather alarming fashion. Because Monster doesn’t catch raccoons: he catches the things that go bump in the night. Things like ogres, trolls, and dragons.
Oh, and his girlfriend from hell? She actually is from Hell.
My Rating: 3.5/5
Monster by A. Lee Martinez is a fun and entertaining read. I picked up a copy of the book at a used bookstore in Florida and read most of it during the flight home. All in all it was a worthwhile read, and I would happily try a book by A. Lee Martinez again.
Although I don’t generally read a lot of fantasy, I practically grew up on the stuff and have found myself falling back into the comfortable genre again lately. Monster is a fantasy novel featuring plenty of magic, odd “cryptobiological” creatures, and a cosmic struggle. Monster, the titular character, works for a division of Animal Control called Cryptobiological Containment and Rescue Services. The creatures he handles are far more interesting than the run-of-the-mill dogs, squirrels and raccoons dealt with by the regular animal control officers.
The novel begins when Judy, a night-shift staff at the local Food Plus Mart, finds a Yeti in the store freezer eating the ice cream. Monster is called in to contain the situation, and the two find themselves repeatedly thrown together despite their mutual animosity. The situation is complicated by the fact that Judy is a light cognizant or “light cog.” She can only sort of recognize magic, but she forgets it after she’s gone.
In Monster, humans can either not recognize magic at all (incognizants), are fully aware of and can use magic (cognizants), or fall somewhere in-between like Judy, and “can recognize magic when they see it but can’t really remember it very well once it’s gone” (Chapter 5).
The characters in Monster were unique and varied. They included a grocery store employee, a color-changing cryptobiological creature catcher, an angel, a paper man, an old woman and a ton of cats (one of which breathes fire). That’s not even to mention the host of cryptobiological creatures that show up throughout the novel, from yeti to a hydra to an az-i-wu-gum-ki-mukh-ti.
There are many interesting magical aspects of the world created in Monster that help to keep the reader engaged. The various creatures are just some of them. I particularly enjoyed the link that the author created between being a light cog and developing mental health problems. Basically being a light cog and constantly seeing and forgetting (or partially forgetting) magic could lead the person to develop mental health issues. There is also a great section where one of the characters comes to know everything. Knowledge seeps into him through the rain drops of an impending storm and he risks losing his mind unless he finds cover. The various fantasy elements of the novel were engaging and well-written.
Perhaps what I like most about Monster is its humorous tone and dark edge. The novel isn’t pretentious or overly serious, although it is smart. That being said, reading Monster wasn’t life-altering and it won’t end up on my shelf of favorites. But it was good, and certainly worth the read. I would recommend reading Monster by A. Lee Martinez if you like fantasy novels with numerous creatures, or if you enjoy slightly irreverent dark humor.
I’d say more about Monster but I find that the longer it’s been since I finished the book, the more the details have slipped my mind like a light cog forgetting a magical encounter.
Have you read Monster? Or any other books by A. Lee Martinez? I’d love to know what you think! Do you plan on reading it now?
Check back later this week for more bookish content to finish up the month – book tags, the March Reading Wrap Up and a NetGalley review. Thanks for reading my review of the fantasy novel Monster by A. Lee Martinez.