Erin Fitzpatrick Bjorn
, July 10, 2012
(view all comments by Erin Fitzpatrick Bjorn)
Monster Talk by Michael Jarmer is a treat to read. Young Victor, the story's main character, is a direct descendant of Frankenstein, and is eager to share this fact with the world. Most of the world, however, is unwilling to believe.
Those who are familiar with Shelley's Frankenstein will be delighted with the references to the text, but those not previously familiar with the original story will not feel lost even for a moment. Those readers will discover the story with Victor and his young friend Michelle, who with the help of Victor's grandmother, Elizabeth, undertake the reading of the original novel.
The story is about more than just reading Frankenstein, though. At its heart, Monster Talk is about relationships. Relationships between friends, between boys and girls, between teachers and students, between parents and children, and, of course, relationships between monsters. It's about growing up and discovering how relationships work, and how they don't. It's about figuring out which relationships you can live with, and which ones you can't live without.
This is a particularly strong debut novel. The character development in this novel is extremely powerful. I became quite attached to Victor, to the point of audible intakes of breath and laughing out loud, but I also found myself strongly attached to several other characters. Descriptions are detailed and clear but not overdone, giving the reader enough information to form his or her own vision of the characters and places. While it is closely tied to Shelley's novel, the plot of this story stands firmly on its own. The author weaves the story of Frankenstein into a contemporary setting seamlessly and skillfully, inviting the readers to believe.
I highly recommend Monster Talk by Michael Jarmer for high school readers and up. If you love a good story, strong writing, and excellent characters, you won't be disappointed.