Earlier this week I saw on Twitter that Monster is only £1.99 on Kindle (A STEAL!) and so I started thinking about this book and, honestly, I realise that I’ve been thinking about it a lot since I first read it in 2014.
Before I properly start this review, I should probably admit that I pride myself on my ability to figure out whodunnit and where a novel is going, plot-wise… And then Monster came along and I had my first throw-it-against-the-wall moment. Seriously. I did not see that twist coming and I am both impressed and also slightly (I mean ‘really’) angry because of it – thanks for ruining my I-guessed-the-ending streak, C. J.
ANYWAY… All saltiness about broken streaks and The Devils Wears Prada gifs aside, it’s time to focus on Monster:
Sixteen-year-old Nash has a lot on her plate – the coveted position for head girl at the boarding school Bathory is just out of reach, her older brother has vanished whilst travelling the world, and there’s a beast skulking around the grounds. Tourists have gone missing. Sheep have been slaughtered. And there’s blood in the snow.
But sometimes beasts with teeth and claws aren’t the only monsters around. Sometimes monsters are a little closer to home. Sometimes humans are monsters too.
When her parents set off to find her brother, Nash must stay at Bathory over the Christmas holidays with Matron and the band of school misfits. But snow is falling and soon the worst weather in centuries cuts them off from the rest of the world. This group of girls are alone, isolated, and scared because red eyes are staring at them through the windows. In this snowy landscape, there’s no way out but there’s plenty of ways in.
As a book, Monster is full of gritty determination both to survive and to succeed. The group of girls are raw and real – you won’t find a Disney Princess here – but the novel is made all the better because of it. It’s filled equally with warm moments and catty comments, and the drama of boarding school life. SIDE NOTE: There’s been a lot of debate about the one inclusion of sex within the narrative between a sixteen-year-old girl and a twenty-two-year-old male (which happens off screen) but I honestly don’t have a problem with it. It works. It’s real. It’s believable. It’s definitely the type of thing [INSERT NAME] would do and I think you’d agree if you read Monster.
For me personally, I really enjoyed the setting and landscape of Monster. Not because it was pretty or spectacular (which it is), but because it was written so well that I knew the layout of Bathory School as if I was a student there myself. You cannot deny that C. J. Skuse knew her setting when writing Monster, and as an aspiring author myself, it’s really given me a kick up the bum to know mine better too.
I will always remember Monster as the first book that proved me wrong and managed to surprise me with a twist I just did not see coming. It’s a shock and it’s a surprise, but it’s not unbelievable. It’s not one of those wacky and messed-up It Was The Butler Purely Because He Hates Butter* moments. The twist really does work and if you’re anything like me, then you’ll kick yourself for not figuring it out sooner. It’s because of the twist that I’d even go as far as to say that Monster is in my Top 10 YA Book List.
Feel free to comment below or drop me an email via the contact page if you’ve read Monster and you’d like to talk about it. I would love to hear your thoughts!
As always, stay tuned for more writing and reviews and the little things in between.
Don’t Forget: Monster is only £1.99 on Kindle RIGHT NOW. You’d be a monster not to get it.