Anarda has been telling me, ever since it came out and she read it, that I should read The Monstrumologist, by Rick Yancey. Since I am not a horror fan, however, I have resisted. Then Yancey came out with The 5th Wave, and since I AM a big sci fi fan and love stories about "the alien encounter," I read that one. And it was really, really good! In fact, The 5th Wave is what The Host wishes it were. No disrespect to The Host, I did enjoy it when I read it, but...sorry, this is way better. The voices are fresh and interesting, the action is exciting, and I loved the overall premise. Why are we so fascinated with aliens-take-over-the-world scenarios? I don't know, but this is one of the best I've read in a long time! I particularly liked how Cassie, the smart-mouthed girl protagonist, mocks your typical American movie scenario (think Independence Day) in which a ragtag little band of humans gets out the nukes and the missiles and the jet fighters and somehow triumphs over the evil/stupid invaders. Not this time! Excellent story line, interesting, individually drawn characters, good progression between narrators, tension maintained throughout--this was a book with good writing AND good editing! Five stars from me! Can't wait for the sequel.
So, coming off the high of that book, and now eagerly desirous of reading something else by Yancey, I sat down with The Monstrumologist on Sunday night. Anarda had told me, "It's really scary," but she neglected to mention the sheer gross-out graphic appalling disgusting visceral imagery. I read the first 22 pages, closed the book, and emailed Anarda:
"Okay, I do not know how you read this book! After liking The 5th Wave so much, I decided to give it a try. When I got to the part about him pulling the baby monster out of the dead girl's corpse (on page 22!), I said 'Life is too short' and closed the book. Yech. No."
But of course, curiosity got the better of me, and I picked it back up again. And here's what I have to say...
This is a TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE book. No, not in the sense of the writing--the writing is fantastic! Nor the storytelling--equally masterful. No, it's a terrible book because terrible things happen in it. Orphans, grave robbers, mad scientists, insane asylums, monster hunters, and the most horrifying species ever created populate this book. And now that I have read the entire thing, marveling at the lyrical language, the poetic Victorian style, and the compelling and sympathetic characterizations while cringing at the unmitigated gore that inundates both the characters and the reader, I see that there are THREE SEQUELS. That's really terrible. Am I going to have to read them? I may, just because this guy is a WRITER. The Monstrumologist reads like it was written by a (possibly smarter) contemporary of Arthur Conan Doyle. The premise, the language, the structure, all in support of the IMAGES oh the images are TERRIBLE. I don't know whether to say Read it! or Run screaming!
I gave this book five stars, but despite the fact that the protagonist, Will Henry, is an orphan boy of 12, I would not recommend this for younger teens, and would caution that anyone who reads this--teen, adult, or octogenarian--had better have a strong stomach. (I still can't believe Anarda read it!) Beware, all who assay Yancey! (And he looks like such a nice, mellow guy in his beige Polo sweater...)