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Monster by A. Lee Martinez

Mon-STAHR. It’s french (not really)

So, here’s the deal:  Imma review a book for you all here really fast, so I can get on off to the Netflicks to watch a movie.  See, Elrood is on sabbatical in Connecticut, where he is quite obviously doing nothing more than sitting around drinking tea with a bunch of high rolling trust fund babies and talking about the good old days, when hiring poor people meant you could force them to work 15 hour shifts.  This also means it is DOUBLE TOPHAT POST WEEK.  Here, for reference, is where you can start visualizing the confetti rain.

Anyway, the book I’m reviewing today is Monster, by A. Lee Martinez.  Usually I have a fun and witty tale about how I have acquired my books, but not this time around!  I have no idea.  None.  It’s just here.  In my apartment.  With pages.

Monster’s story takes place in (presumably) our universe, and begins with an apathetic girl by the name of Judy.  It’s pretty hard to get excited about a job stocking shelves in a convenience store, which really helped Judy to keep a cool head one night when she discovered a yeti sitting in the frozen foods section, chowing down on ice cream.

Now, all things considered, Judy doesn’t care one way or another.  After all, it’s not like she has to pay for that ice cream, right?  It might have been nice if the damn thing had started eating the crap before she had spent two hours putting it there, but at least it’d give her something to do and keep that clock moving forward.  Except…  well, yeti aren’t real, right?  Should probably do something about that.

So Judy heads off and gives pest control a call.  The guy they send out to deal with it is Monster.

No, not a monster, with the fangs and the chasing and the eating of innocent virgins or whatever, but just a regular ol’ working class stiff who goes by the name of Monster.  He is also, at the start of the story, blue.

After Monster, Judy, and Monster’s assistant handle the yet threat, we start to learn a bit more about the characters.  Monster is a professional crypto handler.  His job is to trade them in for alchemy bits for cold hard dosh I mean cash.  I’ve…  really got to cut back on my liberal use of slang words for money.  Sorry.

His assistant, for posterity, is a paper gnome named Chester.  And as the days go by, Monster gets drawn back to Judy more and more.  No, not for the tired boy-meets-girl trope.  Monster has that bit covered.  He summoned a demon up from the pit in a mutually beneficial relationship that is always teetering near destruction and fireballs.  Also sex.

No, he keeps getting drawn to Judy because the damn girl can’t seem to take three steps without being swarmed in Cryptos.  Hyjinks thereby follow.

Enough plot here!  First, the positive.

I find myself able to relate to both Monster and Judy.  They are both, in many ways, just two people who head through life trying to do the best they can in with the minimal amount of effort.  I can get behind that philosophy.  Monster’s demon girlfriend, too, has an element of humanity in her, and her relationship with Monster is hilariously strained.

On the other side of the coin, I’m not entirely sold by the magical end of the book.  I can follow the plot just fine, and Monster’s job in rounding up magical creatures makes sense to me.  But, it’s the convenience of it all.  Monster changes colors every time he falls asleep.  Each color has a particular use.  That power is never not handy.  They have drawbacks, of course, but they are not entirely useless for Monster’s situation.

Also, the book itself seems pretty pared back in terms of descriptions.  That may not be such a problem, of course, as we’re supposed to supplement the details with our imaginations (oh man I just had a Muppet Babies flashback).

In all, Monster isn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it’s definitely a nice change of pace if you’re looking to try out a new author.  I’m not sure I’ll be motivated to check out the rest of his work, but you never know!  Someday, someday.

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