September 22, 2015

This Monstrous Thing Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for THIS MONSTROUS THING! Today I'll be sharing my review of the book with you - and don't forget to enter the awesome giveaway!

This Monstrous Thing
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Genre: YA Horror/Retelling/Paranormal

Rating: 4.5 Stars!


In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.

His brother, Oliver—dead.

His sweetheart, Mary—gone.

His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.

But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…
This Monstrous Thing is a riveting retelling of the story of Frankenstein and his creation that had me fully engaged before the prologue ended. Being an English major as both an undergrad and then graduate degree, I'm very familiar with the classic tale this book is centered around. When it comes to retellings, it's normally of the fairy tale or folklore variety - not of actual books - and I read them without much criticism about how well it followed the original story. With this book being focused on an actual classic, my inner English nerd was very nervous that the story would get completely butchered and ruined with this retelling. I have to admit that I had some high hopes for the book beforehand, along with my inner critic at the ready if/when the story started to mutate the classic. Luckily, I was very happily surprised after reading this novel - mostly because the author stayed true to the original classic and it's essence, while still giving it their own touches. I'm very impressed with the way the author wrote the book - I feel like they respected the original story and did everything they could to make sure their novel followed the same course. It may not matter to most readers, but to me - it make a big difference in a positive way.

I'm not really going to explain the plot of the book, mainly because the majority of people know at least the basics of the story of Frankenstein. The author made some changes that I thought were brilliant and fit in so incredibly well with the original story. The whole steampunk aspect of the book just felt right - like it was supposed to be included to begin with. The time period the story takes place in, along with the main concept - to create life (man) out of machinery and science - fit together perfectly. It was so easy to close my eyes and envision the world the author created - steampunk and all. At times it seemed like maybe the original should have had some of these steampunk ideas mixed in - it would have made for an even more fascinating and controversial novel. The point I'm trying to make is that the author's choice to include steampunk features and aspects to the novel was magnificent and definitely made a huge impact on the story overall.

The other part of the book that made a lasting impression on me was the author's choice to use first person point of view, with Alasdair as the narrator. By now, if you've read any of my other reviews, you know how much emphasis I put on point of view. I honestly believe that the first person POV is (usually) the best route to take, because of the intense personal connection that's created between the reader and the narrator. With first person style, the reader has access to so much more of the character than any other writing style. We get to see their innermost thoughts, fears, dreams, hopes, memories, etc. - all of which wouldn't be available through any other point of view writing. The reader gets to know the main character on a very personal level and is able to identify with them on a much deeper level. That kind of connection is vital for me as a reader; the more I can connect with the main character, the easier it is for me to lose myself in the story. The author did a tremendous job of utilizing the first person point of view and selecting Alasdair as the narrator was a smart choice that some might not have thought of. 

Overall, this was one of the best retellings I've read in a long time. As I mentioned earlier, most retellings are of fairy tales and folklore - which I also love - but there aren't very many that focus on reimagining a classic novel or story. This is actually the first book of that kind for me, and I absolutely loved it. The pace of the book is fast and only grows quicker the farther into the story you go. The author uses vivid imagery and detailed descriptions that allowed me to easily imagine myself in this alternative world alongside the characters. I loved how the book intertwines the classic novel with the author's unique twists - like the steampunk aspect and others. I very highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy retellings, as well as those who are fans of the classics, horror, paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, and young adult fiction. This book is definitely a breath of fresh air in the YA retelling trend that's been going on, as well as a riveting new take on a well known classic. 

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Mackenzi Lee holds a BA in history and an MFA from Simmons College in writing for children and young adults. She loves Diet Coke, sweater weather, and Star Wars. On a perfect day, she can be found enjoying all three. She currently lives in Boston, where she works as a bookseller and almost never reanimates corpses. Almost.

Blog Tour Prize Pack (US ONLY):

One winner will receive...

A hardcover copy of THIS MONSTROUS THING 
A pair of Frankenstein socks
A copy of the Color Your Own Graphic Novel Frankenstein
THIS MONSTROUS THING postcards, bookmarks, and buttons

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