Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monster, by A. Lee Martinez ($7.99)

This was a cryptobiological fun ride!

Monster Dionysus is a human, albeit a strangely hued one. (He wakes up with a new body color, signifying a different attribute – abnormal strength, invisibility, and the like.) He does freelance work for Animal Control, the organization that usually catches wayward dogs, cats and an occasional alligator or two. Monster, however, captures cryptobiological units running amok. Say what?

Magic exists at a subliminal level for most of us in author A. Lee Martinez's world. When a cryptobiological unit – a creature like your run-of-the-mill yeti or phoenix or manticore – escapes into the "normal" world, someone has to contain it before it ruins the day for us "incogs," that is, people who are genetically predisposed to ignore magic. That's what Monster does. He writes a rune or two and transmogrifies the critter into a rock. (It's easier to transport that way.)

The number of unwanted critters has suddenly increased and seems to be centered on an unusually unlucky young woman, Judy Hines. She stocks shelves at a supermarket on the nightshift. She wasn't expecting the ice cream-eating yeti in her store's freezer, nor the other yetis who began tearing apart the rest of the store. After smoking a cigarette or two and thinking things over, she called Animal Control, and they sent over Monster. And so begins the involuntary collusion of Judy and Monster to find out why the world is suddenly off-kilter. Unfortunately, Judy has to be constantly reminded about what happened, because "light cognizants" like Judy almost immediately forget their magical experiences.

I would have been satisfied with just this premise, but at the end Martinez actually elevates the story to a more interesting philosophical level, but not enough to interfere with the light, amusing tone. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment