OK, it is official – I’m never reading another Jeff Strand book…EVER! EVER!
There are specific requirements for monster stories – they strike fear in your very soul; they make you afraid to walk outside alone at 3am; you find yourself looking over your shoulder expecting to see the monster pressed up against the picture window in your living room glaring at you menacingly; you know that when you least expect it, the monster will pounce.
Monster stories DO NOT make you cry. They don’t make you love the monster so that you cry like a baby when it dies. You aren’t supposed to side with the monster over the humans – it is an intense survival of the fittest and the humans always win. Hideous monsters aren’t tamed pets or best friends unless you are writing CHILDREN’S books or watching a movie like Monster’s Inc. ARGH!
Well, I’m too emotionally exhausted to rant anymore. If he makes the fire ants in Mandibles fun and loveable, I’m going to show up at his door with a hungry polar bear and then manically laugh as the bear explains that animals aren’t always cute and cuddly. Whew – glad I got that off my chest. Just kidding, Mr Strand…mostly… anyway I don’t have access to a polar bear… 🙂
Goodreads describes the book as:
Young Toby’s only friend is a humanoid creature who will do anything for him, including killing his enemies.
First off, I will say with that I didn’t like Toby – not from the get-go. As I said before, he was bullied and all that but something is wrong with a person who lets their rage take so control of them that they can murder. Such a person was never right in the head to begin with making it quite possible that the other children bullied him because they sensed the evil inside. Toby went into the relationship thinking only of himself and continued to do so many times throughout the book. You will not get me to feel sorry for this character.
Owen is another story. Owen is all alone in the world so he makes friends with the boy who offers him a chance to belong and be loved. Owen is like an abused dog you rescue from the shelter – it feels so alone, so miserable and so unsure of its new owner’s love. Will the person be nice or will they just add to the dogs misery? Toby added, in many ways, to Owen’s misery.
OK, I suppose not all of that is fair – Toby did love Owen but his was a destructive love that the monster probably would have been better never having. Oh quit your fuming…it is my opinion and I told you from the beginning that I sided with the monster. Not every relationship is good for a person even if it has a few good parts here and there.
The writing is well done, Owen is well thought out and easy to picture in your head as you read. Having such a strong, negative reaction to Toby also means the author presented the story with enough flair that the reader was free to make that choice. I’m sure there are thousands of readers who thought Toby was great.
Overall, the book was well worth the read though it does not top Wolf Hunt or Graverobbers Wanted. I give the book an A – but remember to grab a box of tissues when you get close to the end.