The Monstrumologist

The Monstrumologist by Rick YanceyThe Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
The Monstrumologist # 1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Number of pages: 454
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed. But he is dead now and has been for nearly ninety years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets. The one who saved me . . . and the one who cursed me.

So starts the diary of Will Henry, orphan and assistant to a doctor with a most unusual specialty: monster hunting. In the short time he has lived with the doctor, Will has grown accustomed to his late night callers and dangerous business. But when one visitor comes with the body of a young girl and the monster that was eating her, Will’s world is about to change forever. The doctor has discovered a baby Anthropophagus—a headless monster that feeds through a mouth in its chest—and it signals a growing number of Anthropophagi. Now, Will and the doctor must face the horror threatening to overtake and consume our world before it is too late.

* * *

The main reason I bought The Monstrumologist last year was because of the cover. I thought it had a very good and creepy design, and the title’s font made it seem like someone was whispering it to you — “The Monstrumologist“. I didn’t really know what it was about, but I relied on the Printz medallion on the cover and believed it was good. Every time I see this on my shelf I felt like someone was whispering to me, but I never got around to reading it for so many reasons. When Aaron read it and said it was “…the type of book that should come with a warning: Caution: Not for the faint heart or weak stomach – that sort of thing”, I put it down further my TBR, thinking I’ll read it when I’m ready because I am so not the one who goes for gore. But alas, I’m pretty easy to bully when it comes to reading, so when my October Required Reading came around, I had no choice but to put this on my reading list.

You’d think The Monstrumologist is a pretty easy-peasy not-so-scary YA novel about monsters. You’d think. Twelve-year-old Will Henry is left orphaned after his parents died in a fire, and he was taken in by his dad’s employer, Dr. Pellinore Warthrop. Warthrop is not an ordinary doctor —  he is a monstrumologist. Warthrop is self-absorbed, often buried in his work and has young Will Henry at his beck and call. One night, a grave digger arrives at their doorstep bringing the most curious package: the cold remains of a young girl that is being devoured by a very terrifying and a very dead monster. It was an Anthropophagus: a monster shaped like a human but with no head, mouth on its stomach and black eyes on its shoulders. Anthropophagi feed on human flesh, but that is not the most curious thing that got the doctor wondering. Anthropophagi are native in Africa, so finding one in New Jerusalem was the singular curiosity — never mind that finding scary man-eating monsters was already the strangest thing for young Will Henry. Now it is up to the doctor and Will Henry (and some “friends” — and I use the term loosely) to figure out how these man-eating monsters got there, and to stop them before they go on an eating spree.

Aaron‘s review got me preparing for the worst for this book. Seeing that I’m such a big chicken, I was all set to read this in broad daylight. As luck would had it, I ended up reading this while I was on the Alabat Island trip with my Goodreads friends. Not that it’s bad, but because the part of Quezon province we visited wasn’t exactly an urban area. While it wasn’t completely rural (we did sleep on foam mattresses after all), it was still a quiet place with lots of trees, especially when we were on our way to and back from the beach. And it was dark, very dark at night. Somewhere during those trips there, I realize that it may be a bit of a bad decision to read this book while I was there. The Monstrumologist isn’t scary in the way ghost books are scary. It doesn’t really give that spine tingling feeling, or the type that makes me want to sleep with the lights on. Instead, The Monstrumologist gave me that creepy look-over-your-shoulder feeling after. While it did not make my spine tingle like how Paranormal Activity 3 did after I watched it, it did make me look over my shoulder a few times. I knew in my heart that this is all fiction, but a little voice at the back of my head was asking, “What if it is real?”

The Monstrumologist is a very vivid and well-written gothic horror novel and I have never been more captivated by a book like this. It was creepy scary all right, but it was so good that I could not stop reading it even if it was in a dark and moving jeep (while everyone was telling scary stories). Despite my misgivings and initial hesitation, I actually ended up loving this book. To say it was well-written is an understatement. It was extremely well written. The story was basically being told in from the point of view of the older Will Henry recalling memories of those scary nights, there was excellent foreshadowing and it made me fear for what could happen to the story. I remember having to stop a couple of times to take a breather or to shudder and squirm at how gory some parts were. But it wasn’t just pointless gore — the story was quite engaging as well.  The characters were very fleshed out, and I especially loved the relationship between Will Henry and the doctor. It was strained, but also I think they were just having a hard time showing how important they were to one another. I especially liked the last scene in the book, and if you’ve read it, I think you will also find it a bit heartwarming.

I think The Monstrumologist would fare very well not just a book but also as a movie. I could clearly imagine the final chase scenes of the book as a motion picture. Like I said, I’m not a fan of anything horror, but The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey may just have made my best of 2011 list. :) And it’s so good that I am actually reading the next book in the series (but this is because I got semi-bullied into reading it :P).

One final anecdote: soon after I finished reading this book, the electricity at home went out. I found myself straining to hear the hiss of the Anthropophagus in the silence and total darkness of the night. If that is not an effect of a great novel, than I do not know what is. If you haven’t read The Monstrumologist, well, snap to!


2011 Challenge Status:
Required Reading – October

Other reviews:
Guy Gone Geek
The Book Smugglers
Good Books and Good Wine
Forever Young Adult

In My Mailbox (20): Where did all these books come from?

This is me catching up on a couple of weeks of In My Mailbox posts again. It’s always more fun to post when you have more books to post about, right? :) Plus, I was out of town last weekend and I was just too exhausted to take photos and come up with an IMM post. Anyway, so many books in the past weeks — even I am surprised at my stash. Look:


So, what did we get in the past few weeks?

I attended the launch of the fourth (and much-awaited!) Trese graphic novel at Robinsons Bestsellers two weeks ago. I’m not really a graphic novel person, but I loved Trese and I’ve been waiting for the fourth book ever since I finished all three a few months ago. :) The event was a success if you were to judge only with the number of people who attended (dress code was black, apparently :P). I do think it was an overall success because not only was it a full-house event, but also we got our books signed. :)

Continue Reading →

Required Reading: October

So another month passes us by. I think I had a grand time reading my Required Reading books for September, because they were all so good. Don’t you like it when you have a good reading month? Here’s a recap:

  • The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians # 2) by Rick Riordan – One word: Tyson! :) I loved his character, and this book reminded me of how fun the first book was.
  • The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking # 2) by Patrick Ness – Ah, this book. I thought The Knife of Never Letting Go was more emotional, but this one was just as good. And intense! And dark! It has that Mockingjay vibe and it makes me wonder: if the second book was already intense, what more for the third?
  • The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta – I wanted to give Tom Mackee a big hug, just like everyone else who’s read this wants to. It’s so nice to get back to reading these characters I loved in Saving Francesca.

Required Reading: OctoberSo October. This means one thing: Halloween. And because of that, this means there is only one theme I can choose for this month: horror.

I’m not a fan of horror, and my friends can attest to that. I’m a big scaredy-cat. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from telling ghost stories sometimes…but anyway. There was this time when I used to watch some local news program’s Halloween special, and I always get terribly scared after that. :-s As in can’t sleep with the lights off scared. And running back to bed from the bathroom when I need to pee in the middle of the night scared.

But sometimes it’s fun to be deliciously scared… so I will dare to read horror stuff this month. Not as hardcore as my other friends, of course. :D

I have a feeling I’m going to regret this at some point during this month, though.

But on to the list!

  • The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
  • Breathe by Cliff McNish (yay for asthmatic characters!)
  • The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell (optional)

I know the word “optional” defies the “required” aspect of this challenge, but I am putting that there because I will also attempt to read the A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin this month, and have you seen how thick that book is? So I’ll see if I can still squeeze in Alden Bell’s book in my readings this month. :)

In My Mailbox (3)

And…it’s another week is with good stash! Strangely enough, my wallet isn’t screaming bloody murder at me for buying so many books this week — maybe it’s because I got some extra funds from my freelance work. It’s not enough to get myself custom laptops, but it’s enough to get new books! :) That, and I got myself a Fully Booked discount card, so yay!

In My Mailbox is a weekly book meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren, where bloggers post about what books received that week, be it via  mailbox, library or store. Here’s what I got this week:

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

Fleeing before a relentless army, Todd has carried a desperately wounded Viola right into the hands of their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss. Immediately separated from Viola and imprisoned, Todd is forced to learn the ways of the Mayor’s new order. But what secrets are hiding just outside of town? And where is Viola? Is she even still alive? And who are the mysterious Answer? And then, one day, the bombs begin to explode…”The Ask and the Answer” is a tense, shocking and deeply moving novel of resistance under the most extreme pressure.

I wasn’t planning to buy any book this week, but Fully Booked sent me a message and told me my book is there…so I couldn’t just not get it. I also got my discount card that day, so I got another 5% off from the book. Awesomeness.

Audrey, Wait! by Robin BenwayAudrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

California high school student Audrey Cuttler dumps self-involved Evan, the lead singer of a little band called The Do-Gooders. Evan writes, “Audrey, Wait!,” a break-up song that’s so good it rockets up the billboard charts. And Audrey is suddenly famous!

Now rabid fans are invading her school. People is running articles about her arm-warmers. The lead singer of the Lolitas wants her as his muse. (And the Internet is documenting her every move!) Audrey can’t hang out with her best friend or get with her new crush without being mobbed by fans and paparazzi.

Take a wild ride with Audrey as she makes headlines, has outrageous amounts of fun, confronts her ex on MTV, and gets the chance to show the world who she really is.

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed.But he is dead now and has been for more than forty years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets.

The one who saved me…and the one who cursed me.

So begins the journal of Will Henry, orphaned assistant to Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, a man with a most unusual specialty: monstrumology, the study of monsters. In his time with the doctor, Will has met many a mysterious late-night visitor, and seen things he never imagined were real. But when a grave robber comes calling in the middle of the night with a gruesome find, he brings with him their most deadly case yet.

Critically acclaimed author Rick Yancey has written a gothic tour de force that explores the darkest heart of man and monster and asks the question: When does a man become the very thing he hunts?

The day after I got my freelance pay, I had this weird urge to go to the bookstore. Okay, it’s not weird, but there’s the urge. I really just intended to browse, but then I saw Audrey, Wait! and I know there were good reviews for that, then I saw The Monstrumologist and remembered it was posted on the Fully Booked newsletter. Looked promising. I had to debate between that and The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, but the cheaper book won.

Tall Story by Candy Gourlay

Andi is short. And she has lots of wishes. She wishes she could play on the school basketball team, she wishes for her own bedroom, but most of all she wishes that her long lost half brother, Bernardo, could come and live in London, where he belongs. Then Andi’s biggest wish comes true and she’s minutes away from becoming someone’s little sister. As she waits anxiously for Bernardo to arrive from the Philippines, she hopes he’ll turn out to be tall and just as mad as she is about basketball. When he finally arrives, he’s tall all right. But he’s not just tall …he’s a GIANT. In a novel packed with humour and quirkiness, Gourlay explores a touching sibling relationship and the clash of two very different cultures.

I found out about this one from Chachic and Tarie, and I was interested but I planned on waiting for it, but my editor asked me to review it. I got a copy of the book in Powerbooks Trinoma, after the Goodreads Filipino group meetup (will post about that later! :) ). I finished this one today and…well, expect a review, soon. :D

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

And my last purchase for the week. Highly recommended by…well, everyone, actually, so I thought it’s about time I got myself a copy. Plus I liked the sample, and the idea that the book is narrated by Death. I also have a feeling I’m going to cry in this novel — maybe it’s because of the WWII references? This is my second WWII novel (first one being The Last Time I Saw Mother by Arlene Chai, but I’m not sure if that counts).

And that’s it for this week. I think I’m going to curb my book buying after this…okay, maybe after I finally get that copy of  The Demon’s Lexicon in Fully Booked Eastwood. After that, I promise to stop! :)