Tuesday 21 April 2015

BOOK REVIEW - Monster Squad: The Iron Golem by Christian Page

Monster Squad: The Iron Golem
Author: Christian Page
Publisher: New Generation Publishing 
Genre: YA Fantasy
Format: Kindle/Paperback

Book Description: 
Monsters. Mad Scientists. Danger. 

Dark forces are converging on the sleepy town of Autumn’s Hallow. Monsters in the woods, mad scientists on the loose and sinister minions lurk. Four young friends must band together to uncover a secret plot that threatens them, the town they live in and the people they love. It’s up to Blaine Davis, Daschle Gaunt, Shelley Merry and Drake Harker, heirs to fantastic powers to stop an evil that threatens to consume the world. Can the Monster Squad thwart the evil Victor von Frankenstein in time? Find out in Book 1 of an exciting new series!

New Generation Publishing’s 2014 Children’s Book of the Year Award Winner.

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I love a good fantasy book so when I first read the blurb for Monster Squad, I was eager to delve into the story. Once I started reading, I quickly realised this was going to be one of those books that would leave me with conflicting emotions. And I wasn't wrong. It took me some time to attain a semblance of enjoyment from this story, but when I did, boy did I have a blast of a time. The story started off with great vitality but didn't retain it when we got to the present day setting when we're introduced to the heroes of the story. My attention kept waning, quite akin to the way the story kept shifting between POVs. For me, the emotional depth of the characters suffered because of this constant switch and also because there was a lot of content piled up in the opening chapters.

This book came with a lot of ingredients: aliens, vampires, welvolves, monster robots ... The list goes on. I did find the content in the first half of the book a little overwhelming to absorb as there was a lot of jumping back and forth between the 1930s where the first set of characters (Mina and her clan) first encounter an unsual spacecraft to the present day where the descendents of Mina's clan are dealing with the aftermath of the encounter that took place decades ago. I didn't get much time to connect with the characters at this stage. As one person's story started to become interesting, it would switch POV and we follow another character for a certain period of time. I felt slightly disconnected from the characters and detached from their stories.

I was not a fan of the story's structure for the first half of the book. Overall, I think there were about seven POVs and while we got to know Blaine a little more than we did the other characters, she never quite held the position of main protagonist so I was never quite sure whose story I was reading. It was clear that some characters were less significant than others, notably Kevin and Vickie, but the key figures in the story (Blaine, Dash, Drake and Shelley) all seemed to hold equal dominant roles. The transition between characters and the setting (time frame) was a little disorienting. In all honesty, I was ready to give up on the story until I got to Chapter 15. Suddenly, the story took on a different vibe and really started to come together. It felt less disjointed from this point onwards. For the first time, all characters seemed as if they were existing in the same world - the same book. Albeit I still didn't know much about these characters backgrounds, their personalities started to take prominence alongside the plot.

I did like that these kids behaved the way I imagine 12 year olds to behave when thrust into a world of danger and deceit. The authorial voice didn't intrude in their portrayal. Readers will like the references to well-known characters, notably from the Victorian era, but don't let the names confuse you. These characters are not like the characters you know. They hold their own in this story. Sit back and enjoy the ride as Doctor Victer von Frankenstein attempts to create his idea of perfect beings with the human testing program Project Werewolf, "the super-soldier iniative to create supermen".

With the focus on action and adventure, I would recommend this book primarily for middle-grade readers but it's one the whole family can enjoy.



Award: Silver
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Source: Review copy via author

About the Author 
Christian Page loves stories that combine fun, action and adventure. A father of two, he lives in the Pacific Northwest of the United States with his wife, son, daughter, overly plump cat and under-behaved dog.
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