Ah, The Monstrumologist, first of four books in Rick Yancey’s, author of recently made a major motion picture series, The 5th Wave, less popular yet, dare I say, more brilliant The Monstrumologist series.
Monsters ARE real.
Will Henry is the orphan apprentice of a doctor with an unusual specialty: monstrumology, the study of monsters. When a midnight visitor brings them the body of a young girl entwined with the corpse of an Anthropophagus, it is the start of the most mysterious case of Will Henry’s life. Anthropaphagi are headless monsters whose razor sharp teeth are in their stomachs–and they are supposed to be extinct in this part of the world. Now Will and the monstrumologist are in the race against time to put a stop to the plague of monsters before they kill again.
Alright, so a book about monsters. What’s so special about that? Even the characters seem stereotypical, with your young orphan and “mad scientist”. However, several things make this book stand out from any other YA fiction.
First, and most obviously, there’s no romance! Or any (living) female characters, for that matter. Whether you find this a good thing or not, is up to you, but it certainly makes the book unique.
Next, character relationships. Despite the lack of romance, there is a constant “tug-of-war” in Will Henry’s relationship with the monstrumologist, making the book much more interesting and complex. This is one of several things that continues to be explored throughout the series.
The premise. Rather than it being simply a book of fiction, Yancey incorporates a prologue and epilogue, explaining how the story within is actually being told from Will Henry’s diaries, written as a grown man, and left behind after his death at a retirement home. The man who was William James Henry is shrouded in mystery, as he disclosed nothing but his name and the year in which he was born, which by his claims, would have made him 131 years old. The question, “Who was Will Henry?” persists throughout the series.
The writing. The writing is incredibly poetic and evokes a clear image in the reader’s mind. Everything from the gore to characters’ features and actions is written wonderfully detailed, fulfilling purposes from giving readers a good scare to character development.
Yancey’s hidden theme. Though there are tangible monsters, capable of stripping away human flesh like ripping wings off a fly, the book implies that these are perhaps not the real monsters, shown through the characters’ contrasting beliefs and the demons that govern them. The idea of “When does man become what he hunts?” is started here and continued throughout the series.
I can’t write everything that makes this book great, but I can tell you this. If after reading, you persist in thinking that its just an unoriginal monster hunting book, then you were not paying attention. This book is definitely worth reading and even rereading, to fully understand the message Yancey tries to convey.
Note: This book is officially marketed to those who are age 14 and up.
Yee-Lynn, 9th grade