‘Mr Monster’ by Dan Wells

At the World Horror Convention in Brighton, somebody recommended a book to me. Mr Monster, by Dan Wells. They said ‘It’s Y.A, really, but it is very dark,’ or something along those lines. They also said something along the lines of ‘It’s very, very good.’

Whether they said exactly that or not – it is very, very good. It is Dan Wells’ second novel, and the second to feature (and be narrated by, in fact) the protagonist John Wayne Cleaver. (The first novel is I Am Not A Serial Killer, which I haven’t read, but which is now on my ‘to read’ list). John Cleaver is a teenage sociopath struggling to repress his dark side (the side he refers to as ‘Mr Monster’) and is not only a thoroughly convincing character, but – impressively – a highly likeable one. I won’t go into too much detail about the story (the synopsis can be found on Amazon, here) but Mr Monster is a very compelling read told in a tight, sharp, concise manner, as befitting the unemotional, clinical nature of the narrator. (John Cleaver is not only a sociopath but a mortuary assistant).

I have to confess – I didn’t know what the term ‘Y.A’ meant until I was at the Horror Convention. I hadn’t really heard the expression much at all. For those of you who don’t know, it means ‘Young Adult’. I’m very curious, though, as to what ‘Young Adult’ means, especially now that I’ve read Mr Monster. Because this is a very violent book; there’s graphic violence, graphic scenes featuring dead bodies and decomposition, startlingly cold and dark domestic tension/violence, implied sexual violence, torture, violence with screwdrivers, violence towards animals, fantasies of extreme violence from the sympathetic narrator, bad language, lots of blood and bodily fluids etc, violence, blood, serial killers, violence, etc. All delivered in a very pithy, intelligent way.

I don’t really know what a ‘Young Adult’ is, I suppose. A review of this book on Amazon suggests that it’s suitable for readers aged fifteen and up. Maybe that answers the question? The one thing I noticed that differentiated this book from an ‘Old Adult’ book, I’d say, is that it uses the word ‘effing’ instead of the word ‘fucking’. (In my head I read it as ‘fucking’ though). Really, apart from that, this is a book – like any book – that is suitable for anybody who wants to read it. It is a very good book, full stop.

I’ve just looked at my copy of Mr Monster and it doesn’t say ‘Y.A.’ or ‘Young Adult’ anywhere on it, so maybe I shouldn’t have even brought it up in this blog post. It’s something that interests me though.

In my opinion, one of the most exciting and powerful things about reading – especially when you’re a child or, indeed, what might be described as a ‘young adult’ – is that there is nothing stopping you from reading a book that might be entirely ‘unsuitable’ for you. Let’s just hope that if fiction does go down the route of books being marked as ‘suitable for ages x-y’ then there are plenty of books like Mr Monster around to subvert that categorisation.

To summarise; I strongly recommend this book, however old you are. On Amazon it’s tagged as ‘Young Adult’, and in bookshops it might even be shelved in ‘Teenage Fiction’, but don’t let that put you off, if that would have put you off. Just buy it, read it, enjoy it, and take vicarious pleasure in imagining what Richard Littlejohn etc would make of it.

It’s published by Headline, and it’s available now.

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One Response to “‘Mr Monster’ by Dan Wells”

  1. It is a very very good book. I loved them both and am a bit gutted it’s slated for a trilogy not a series.

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