Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Strange Murder: The Monster Variations Review

This post is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! Don't forget I've got a ton of giveaways going on!

The Monster Variations by Daniel Kraus
Release Date: August 11, 2009
Publisher: Delacorte
Pages: 256
Keywords: murder, childhood, growing up
Format Read: Hardcover via publisher (thank you!)
Someone is killing boys in a small town. The murder weapon is a truck, and the only protection is a curfew enacted to keep kids off the streets. But it’s summer—and that alone is worth the risk of staying out late for James, Willie, and Reggie. 
Willie, who lost his arm in the first hit-and-run attack, finds it hard to keep up with his two best friends as they leave childhood behind. All of them are changing, hounded by their parents, hunted by the killer, and haunted by the “monster,” a dead thing that guards the dangerous gateway between youth and manhood. But that’s not all: shadowing the boys everywhere is Mel Herman, the mysterious and brilliant bully whose dark secrets may hold the key to their survival. As the summer burns away, these forces collide, and it will take compassion, brains, and guts for the boys to overcome their demons—and not become monsters themselves.
Going into this book, I was pretty excited because it sounded like a fast-paced murder mystery. Someone is running down boys in town in a truck. Willie, one of our main characters, ends up with only one arm, and another boy ends up dead. However, I was expecting there to be more that happened in the beginning. The description says that someone is killing boys, but for the first 2/3 of the book, it's just one that's died and poor Willie, struggling to carry home groceries without his left arm.

I realized early on this book was more about memories and learning about the past than it was about actions. It was reminiscent and pondered a lot of questions after they had happened, helping the reader see the boys grow as they made decisions in their childhood days.

The characters are complex and compelling, but because the story is told in such a distant way, I felt a lack of connection, and I felt like there was constantly a glass wall between me and the characters. I could see what was happening to them, but it was separate from me, and I couldn't quite get to where I wanted to be.

I think that knowing this story is about stories and revisiting the past would help the reader enjoy it more. Since I was expecting a Criminal Minds sort of story, I felt a bit disoriented as the book progressed, but I did like the characters. I just wanted more happening and more information on everything.

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