Reading, Reviews

Review: “Monster”

Cover retrieved from Goodreads

Rating: 3/5

It has a high-risk climax with a satisfying twist for all my biology- and evolution-lovers.

Looking for a detailed world, intense battle for survival, and slow-paced mystery? Then this is for you.

The Gist

Reed and Beck Shelton, a happily married couple, embark on their first wilderness survival trip. Their first night there, under the blanket of darkness and creepy banshee cries, Beck is abducted by an unknown creature.

Devastated, terrified, and desperate, Reed and the local rescue teams begin a frantic investigation to save Beck. He grapples with his sanity, as what he saw the night of her kidnapping seems impossible, while she faces her own fight for survival.

What appears to be a typical bear attack turns out to be something far worse–and far more chilling.

Quality of Story: 3/5

I don’t mind slow-paced stories, but I do require a degree of action. I need a hook, something to keep me reading because I want to see what happens in those last 100 pages or so.

Monster didn’t deliver.

I loved the premise, the concept, Beck’s character arc, and the final mystery’s reveal. I didn’t even mind the method by which Peretti sprinkled in Christian theology and creationism regarding debates around evolutionary science. But the story dragged, trudging through world-building before kick-starting the novel’s major conspiracy about halfway through.

I won’t lie; the ending was satisfying. Yet I wonder if a bulk of the book’s content was properly dedicated to building up to that climax.

Quality of Characters: 3.75/5

This criteria almost received a 4/5. The main characters–Reed, Beck, Cap, and Sing–held my interest and my respect. I experienced Reed’s urgency and grief over his wife, and I empathized with Beck’s constant state of fear. Cap, Reed’s friend and a biology professor who contributes to the investigation, grasped my attention with his intellectual insight. Additionally, I appreciated the diversity Cap’s wife, Sing, contributed to the novel in being a Native American woman.

Unfortunately, there are numerous–and I mean numerous–side characters that act as members of the search and rescue team. I might have been able to remember who was who if Peretti had given them striking, defining characters. But in my mind, they all looked and spoke the same, and every once in a while, I thought maybe(?) I knew which police officer or hunter said what.

Quality of World: 4.75/5

I may have struggled to visualize his minor characters, but Peretti spared no imagery upon describing the world Monster roams in. I tasted the tartness of berries, petted coarse furs, and brushed the leaves of prickly bushes. I even cringed at the slobber that slathers one unfortunate character’s face.

Beck and the Monster by Emma Brenner, watercolor & ink

My only criticism? These descriptions were often delivered via info dumps. Dumps aren’t the end of the world, but they’re not preferable either.

For Those into Technicalities: Writing Style? Not for me.

Peretti chose to narrate from a third-person omniscient perspective. It’s one of my favorite POVs to write in. However, I itch and fidget any time I witness head-hopping.

head hopping [hed-ˈhäpiNG]: switching between character point-of-views without scene break or transition

As stated by author and blogger K. M. Weiland, head-hopping makes writing “cluttered” and “confusing.” Nonetheless, it’s a common tactic in literature, and readers may enjoy jumping from one perspective to the next. Heck, my favorite fantasy series as a preteen head-hopped like crazy, and I loved it!

So, perhaps it’s a matter of taste.

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