Sunday, May 24, 2015

Review: Modern Monsters by Kelley York

Title: Modern Monsters
Author: Kelley York
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Published Date: 2 June 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository

I received this book through NetGalley from Entangled Teen for review.

Vic Howard never wanted to go to the party. He’s the Invisible Guy at school, a special kind of hell for quiet, nice guys. But because his best friend is as popular as Vic is ignored, he went…

And wished he hadn’t.

Because something happened to a girl that night. Something terrible, unimaginable, and Callie Wheeler’s life will never be the same. Plus, now Callie has told the police that Vic is responsible. Suddenly, Invisible Vic is painfully visible, on trial both literally, with the police, and figuratively, with the angry kids at school. As the whispers and violence escalate, he becomes determined to clear his name, even if it means an uneasy alliance with Callie's best friend, the beautiful but aloof Autumn Dixon.

But as Autumn and Vic slowly peel back the layers of what happened at the party, they realize that while the truth can set Vic free, it can also shatter everything he thought he knew about his life…
(summary from Goodreads)

Modern Monsters is one of those books you're not likely to forget anytime soon.

I'm not sure where to even begin with this review. Modern Monsters is the type of book that is fantastic, and I want to rave about it, emphasise that I quite loved it. But on the other hand, it's a book with such hard hitting and thought provoking topics, topics that will not be for everyone, even too much for some, that I feel the need to reign in my gushing to make that clear. I'm not even sure if that actually makes sense. So yes, having a hard time hitting a starting point here. The think to be said is that York writes these tough topics - rape, its aftermath, suicide - with such thoughtfulness. These aren't just elements of a story, but evoke awareness of a serious issue. For Modern Monsters, it's the act of wrongly accusing someone, of how that affects not just the person accused, but society as a whole. York aims to highlight how quick a community and the media are to ostacise without actual evidence, and she succeeds. You can't read this book without thinking when you've read something in the paper, or on the net, saw something on the news, or even heard about it through gossip and made a snap judgement. By the end of Modern Monsters, you'll be promising yourself you'll never do it again. Modern Monsters will likely come to mind at times like that though, as this is a story not easily brushed aside. It'll get under your skin.

I started Modern Monsters late at night, and got so hooked I just had to stay up until past 2am to finish it. I could not put it down. York certainly knows how to push my buttons and provoke all of my emotions. Often I was brought to tears, to anger, to disgust, and I was always, always worried about how Modern Monsters would end, terrified about what would happen to Vic. York's characters make this book, no doubt about it. I adored Vic and felt for him from beginning to end. I've never read a book like this, not from the point of view of the victim or someone close to them, but from the point of view of the person wrongly accused. It's unique. It's especially hard when that someone is Vic, so nice and truly good, but quiet and shy, a little unsociable, unable to stand up for himself. It's powerful. Added to Vic is Autumn, who is all sorts of awesome. As Callie, the rape victim's, best friend, she's ready and able to kick ass but is also willing to take a step back and see the truth. Modern Monsters is all the more heartfelt for its not just being a book about rape, but about people and their relationships in the worst of times. The friendship and romance that develops between Vic and Autumn is a bright spot. As is the tentative friendship he forms with Callie. Modern Monsters is not at all what I was expecting, and Callie, her strength and her goodness is a truly unexpected inspiration. There's so much more - Vic's relationships with his mother and his best friend, Brett; the truth that is inevitably revealed and how; the people willing to bury the secret; it's all emotional and so very well done. Your heart will race, ache, break, and be stitched back together.

I will say, my one gripe about Modern Monsters is the number of coincidences, especially concerning Vic, his mother, and the truth about his father. It certainly adds another layer to Modern Monsters, ensuring the story is that much more tragic and compelling, but I can't help but wonder at the chances. That's not to say it isn't as well done as the rest of the story, because it really is. But it has just enough unbelievability to it that it doesn't resonate with me as much.

York has crafted a story that is relevant, full of heart, and both truly haunting and beautiful. 



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