Title: Monsterland | Author: James Crowley | Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers | Pub. Date: 2017-8-15 | Pages: 384 | ISBN13: 9780399175893 | Genre: Children’s Fantasy | Language: English | Triggers: Drowning death mentioned | Rating: 4.4 out of 5 | Source: Library
In a middle grade adventure full of humor, heart and cinematic storytelling, a boy takes off on a once-in-a-lifetime journey through a mysterious land, with the help of some monster friends
It’s Halloween, and everyone in Charlie’s small town is excited for this year’s festivities. Charlie’s grandfather, Old Joe, is famous for his holiday haunts, and his pumpkin patch is the center of the town’s zealous celebrations. But for Charlie, Halloween’s just one more reminder that his cousin Billy isn’t around anymore. Charlie plans to keep to himself this year, hanging out in the haunted barn with his trusty dog Ringo.
But when Charlie runs into some neighborhood bullies who are after his candy, he heads off into the woods to escape. He quickly gets lost, but spots a kid who he thinks is Billy. As Charlie chases after him deeper and deeper into the woods, he finds himself entering Monsterland—a mysterious place where werewolves live amongst trolls and goblins. Here he meets the Prime Minister, a vampire who tells Charlie he may be able to see his cousin again in this strange new land. Accompanied by a hulking monster chaperone, Charlie’s determined to find out just what happened to his cousin, and sets off to explore the secrets hiding in this uncharted territory.
This was a good book. Not one that you can rave about, because it doesn’t inspire that sort of passion, but a good, solid book. Monsterland is a curl up with a cup of cocoa and sink into the pages book. The fact that it’s meant for middle-graders doesn’t make a whit of difference. Crowley’s writing wrapped me up in the story, calmed me down, and enabled me to just focus on it. I read it over the course of a few days because I’ve been ill, and loved each dip into it.
I don’t think I can adequately review Monsterland. It’s a story about a child coming to terms with their grief over a lost loved one. It teaches kids that it’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to mourn. But that people that they love never really leave them. It’s gentle lessons and comfort couched in adventures. It’s not just about grief. It’s also about judging books by their covers, the value of friendship, learning that people really do care about you, and more. It’s the type of story that teaches you that you are not ever alone.
Monsterland is simply written, well-paced, and has enough action in it to keep a little thrill-seeker happy. There’s battles and some death, but not a lot of blood. It does have a very ‘film’ feel to it. I could easily see this book being made into an absolutely beautiful kids movie. I would happily pay to see it on screen. I would love to see Franklin’s fight scenes, the Prime Minister confronted the Mumiyans, and, well, the whole ending really. It would be gorgeous.
It also has a surprise in store for you at the end. It’s not something younger readers would pick up on, I think, but I definitely was expecting Monsterland to end a bit differently than it did. I would have been content with that ending, but I was happy with the one that Crowley gave us as well.
This is a wonderful book. It definitely wasn’t even close to the spooky read I was expecting, but it was a completely fulfilling read. Sometimes even adults need a beautiful story of hope, acceptance, and friendship.