Release date: September 22, 2015
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Publisher provided for review through Edelweiss
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…
I admit, despite being relatively well read in classics, I haven't read Frankenstein. And most of what I know of the story is from pop culture references, not any true knowledge, so I can't speak to how truthful This Monstrous Thing is in that sense. But, to my mind, Mackenzi Lee shines in reworking a story we're all relatively familiar with and breathing new life and sympathy into its characters--while also inspiring readers to seek out the original for themselves. I know I was left satisfied by the story, but desperate to experience Frankenstein for myself.
This Monstrous Thing spends a lot of time mulling over the definition of monster, and rightly so. Alasdair considers what he's done to Oliver to be monstrous--and hates to admit it, but considers Oliver himself monstrous at times. Society believes those with clockwork parts to be monsters. The clockwork people in turn think society is monstrous for its close-mindedness. Oliver thinks himself a monster. And who is to define that? Those who seem to be good are shown to be cowardly, and those who seem monstrous are the most gentle. Never is the world black and white, and to believe something so simple as a piece of a machine changes a person's very nature is preposterous.
While Mary Shelley, Frankenstein's author, plays a large part in This Monstrous Thing, it's really Alasdair and Oliver's story. It's Alasdair's love for Oliver that leads to his decision, not a desire to prove anything or change the world--just his fear at losing the person he loves most in the world. And that mix of love and desperation fill the story. He made a decision he has to live with, but he deals with the consequences every day. It's guilt, certainly, but who could blame him? If you lost someone you loved and had the ability to bring them back, wouldn't you?
This Monstrous Thing is at once a thrilling read and a strong rumination. It never slackens in pace or stops you thinking. And it left me wholly satisfied, but dying to read its inspiration.
Anyone who has seen my playlists before knows they tend toward music that fits the mood of a book, more than anything else. I listen to music while I read most of the time and it's always themed to the book itself. So this is a reading playlist, list while you read This Monstrous Thing and you won't be disappointed! :D
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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.
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