This Monstrous Thing
by Mackenzie Lee
Expected Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Length: 384 pages
Obtained Via: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my final opinion of the work.
View at the Traffic light:
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 has one of the most intriguing beginnings to any book I’ve ever read. Once I read the first chapter, I DID NOT want to stop. . . until I hit 50%, and then my enthusiasm quickly vanished. This Monstrous Thing was a thrilling read, but in the end I was left feeling like there wasn’t enough. There wasn’t enough information to really get a grasp on any of the characters, especially Mary Shelley, who was by far the most interesting part. There wasn’t enough to realize make me think about the ethical ramifications of the work that Alasdair did, and there definitely wasn’t enough to make me care about any of the relationships, romantic or platonic.
The novel opens with Alasdair trying to revive his brother. A chapter later, there’s a time jump to two years later. Oliver is back. . . but nothing’s the same. Mary has gone(and is now married), Oliver is back but has to be kept hidden away and has undergone a massive personality shift, and Alasdair even has to flee Geneva at a time, where he gets caught up with Dr. Geisler, a man intent on bringing the dead back to life, and his assistant. And oh yeah, Frankenstein has been published and people are in an uproar thinking that it may be true.
This Monstrous Thing is a fast-paced, steampunk adventure. . . but it never became much more than that. By far the most interesting part of the book is Mary Shelley, who remains an influence on Alasdair’s life despite the fact he had not seen her for two years before the action of the book began. In many ways, Mary Shelley is an anti-manic pixie dream girl. She even tells Alasdair at one point that she had to pretend to be what he wanted(more or less) to escape the trouble in her own life, but that doesn’t mean it was real. SO much potential. . . but it’s all second hand. So much of her character is told through dialogue, and I felt I never really got to SEE the character on the page.
What I DID love in this book are the references and allusions to Frankenstein. Now, here’s where I turn in my English major card and admit that I’ve never actually read Frankenstein. . . but I know the basics. There’s a lot of discussion of the ethical issues in Frankenstein, though they’re not extracted as thoroughly to the events of This Monstrous Thing as much as I would like. The descriptions of the clockwork men were also really interesting, though par for the course with this kind of steampunk novel.
However, while there were parts I loved, in the end I thought This Monstrous Thing was entertaining, but not something I’d return to again. Really, it’s the essence of a 3 star read for me. It was enjoyable at the time, but suffered a bit at the end and I just couldn’t get a good grasp on any of the characters. The plot was a fun adventure, but when the characters aren’t there it’s just hard to care.
An interesting story that suffered at the hands of its lackluster characters. A fun read for October, but not something I’ll read again or think about much once I’m done writing this review. 3/5 cupcakes.