I received this book for free from HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Destroy All Monsters by Sam J. Miller
Published by HarperTeen on July 2nd 2019
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Buy on Amazon
A crucial, genre-bending tale, equal parts Ned Vizzini and Patrick Ness, about the life-saving power of friendship.
Solomon and Ash both experienced a traumatic event when they were twelve.
Ash lost all memory of that event when she fell from Solomon’s treehouse. Since then, Solomon has retreated further and further into a world he seems to have created in his own mind. One that insulates him from reality, but crawls with foes and monsters . . . in both animal and human form.
As Solomon slips further into the place he calls Darkside, Ash realizes her only chance to free her best friend from his pain is to recall exactly what happened that day in his backyard and face the truth—together.
Fearless and profound, Sam J. Miller’s follow up to his award-winning debut novel, The Art of Starving, spins an intimate and impactful tale that will linger with readers.
I chose to read this book because of the mention of a Patrick Ness-like style, and this is definitely true. It starts out confusing as heck, but in a good way. The kind of confusing that captivates you, and pulls you in fully with the promise of a very odd, gritty, mysterious book.
Told in dual POV, we go through this story with two very different angles. One is Ash who is your typical teenage girl who doesn’t completely fit in, but who’s also not a complete loner. Then there’s Solomon who takes us on a wild ride filled with dinosaurs, monsters, and magic. Which is real, though? Is Solomon just making this all up, or is it Ash who is unable to see the monsters? I found this aspect really enjoyable and fun to try and figure out. I did find that my interest in the bizarre world fizzled out after a while, though. As the story advances and the the mystery unravels, I found myself wanting to skip over Solomon’s POV to get to the big reveal.
It didn’t help that the POV switched so often that it was hard to keep track of the going ons of the Darkside and its characters. I felt like I never had time to really immerse myself into that fantasy land before we were snatched away into the real-world of Ash’s POV again. This made the story feel very jittery, and I found myself mostly paying attention to Ash’s storyline, and getting bored when we were thrown into what had started as an intriguing, dark otherworld.
There were also parts of the story that made me uncomfortable. Ash has a “friend with benefits” that, while I know does happen at 16, felt out of place for me. No parent batted an eye at a 16yo spending so much time alone in a boy’s room for most of the night/evening. I’m not a prude, but it just felt really awkward and unnecessary for the story.
With all that said, the overall message in this novel is an important one. I appreciated that it had real substance, while keeping its air of mystery and magic throughout. It’s an overall dark, gritty story that can never be told enough.
3.5 Hot Espressos