3 out of 4 stars
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Where do monsters live? In some dark, hidden places, unbeknownst to humankind? Do they look hideous and repulsive? Or do monsters live among us, even within us? And what if you cannot tell it as a monster by looking at it, since it looks just like you and me? These are some of the questions The Different Kinds Of Monsters by Seth Chambers raises to the readers.
In the book, three different storylines go on side by side, ultimately converging as a single one. The first narrative, depicting the life of an Allosaurus, a carnivorous dinosaur, takes place sometime in the late Jurassic period. Her glorious life with all her achievements, ambitions and wishes ceases to exist as she meets an unfortunate end. But is it truly the end for her? What happens after her fossil remains are excavated?
The other two narratives show the life of Dylan Armitage, a school teacher in Chicago. One deals with the present-day scenario, where his father claims to have been attacked by an Allosaur from the prehistoric era; while the other one is a throwback in time, narrating Dylan’s childhood, spent mainly on the road, as his family keeps moving from place to place for various reasons. No matter where they go, an articulated skeleton of Allosaurus fragilis named ‘Emily’ always shows up in one of the nearby museums. Is Emily the big and brave protector- as Dylan imagines her to be -to save him from all sorts of monsters he meets in his life? Or is she a monster herself, stalking the Armitage family through time and space? Or is Dylan himself a monster, hence pursued by the ‘big bad dinosaur’? These questions are answered as Dylan’s past finally meets up with his present.
The recurring theme in the book, as the name suggests, is different kinds of monstrosities observed among us. While the giant dinosaur skeleton is readily referred to as a ‘monster’ by more than one people in the story, not many of them recognize the true monsters living alongside them- be it an abusive father, a cold and distant son, a child-molester, or a teacher lusting after his young female students. Also, since the timeline for the story is September 2001, the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre creates a horrid backdrop to the other heinous occurrences in the story.
Throughout the book, characters are portrayed in a realistic way. The pervert teacher’s dialogues and actions made me shudder in disgust. While in case of some other apparently ‘evil’ characters, I could sympathize, and even felt a surge of pity for them. Another thing I like about the book is that the narrator’s character has not been shown as a flawless one at all. Many of the things he has done in his life feel wrong, yet his faults go on to prove that he is only a human.
The plot is absolutely engaging, and the hint of supernatural makes it all the more addictive. Once I started, I just felt compelled to keep reading.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I would have rated it a full four stars, had it not been for a number of typing errors. Also the last section of the book suddenly becomes a bit too action-packed and dramatic for my choice, though it might not be a problem with other readers.
Although marked as a Sci-Fi/ Fantasy book, the story is purely allegorical. On the surface, it deals with the life story of an individual with a twinge of supernatural; but as the book goes on, the darkness hidden inside some outwardly nice people is revealed. The book shows that nobody in this world is entirely white, or entirely black, they are rather grayish in nature. May be a monster lurks inside all of us, even if we are not ready to admit it. The ending of the book raises a very important question to the readers – one might go and destroy the outside evil forces, but how do we even recognize the monsters that are hidden within us? And even if we do recognize them, how do we destroy those inner monsters?
The Different Kinds Of Monsters
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