4 out of 4 stars
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Making Monsters: Dark Origins has, at its center, the life of a young boy, Vander Masozi, who finds himself in the middle of a series of events that his young mind struggles to make sense of because of his abilities and lot in life.
Vander lives with his lazy, abusive, alcoholic father and a mentally defeated mother in a crumbling shanty in the slums of Cape Town. He struggles to provide food and sustenance for his family to prevent his father from abusing him and his mother. All this while, he struggles with a scary supernatural gift that gives him access to a terrifying world where he strangely finds reprieve.
The authors, AJ Parnell and Chuck Duncan, assign each chapter of the book with titles that provide scintillating insights into what the reader should expect. The chapters are concise, making the book relatively easy to read. The book contains graphic imagery of death, violence, and abuse that some readers may find unsettling.
The authors give us, piece by piece, stories of characters as they slowly introduce them. Through this process, readers take part in the journey, trying to piece the stories together and find the connection between these characters. Readers, of course, will find this very exciting. The book makes for a fascinating read, and readers may not be able to put it down till the very end.
I must say that this book is quite tragic and deals with a lot of grave themes. The authors take readers through many discomforting graphic details of death and abuse as seen through the life of a nine-year-old boy. Whether this is to create a sharp contrast with the truth of Vander’s life and the innocence that should have been the reality of such a young child is uncertain. Yet, they create the dreamy fantasies of children in Vander’s belief that he will one day escape his life.
In addressing domestic violence and abuse, the authors present Vander’s mum, Amahle. Readers may find themselves asking the same frustrating questions that we constantly ask about women in abusive marriages: why stay? The disappointing answer to this question will probably indicate the inefficiency with which national governments and international human rights agencies have treated the structures for handling such matters.
The authors subtly touch on the age-long gender bias. This is evident in how Kgotso, a local lieutenant, disregards detective Erin Reese and is offended that a woman will even have the guts to work as a law enforcement agent. As weird as this sounds in the 21st century, these scenarios still play out repeatedly.
The authors even bring in racism with the comments on how white authorities might not have bothered to send investigators had the victims of the murders been only blacks. They also hint at the corruption and degradation of professionalism and justice in the law enforcement agencies in South Africa. On the flip side, African readers may find themselves on the defensive while reading Making Monsters: Dark Origins. This will probably be in reaction to Africa being painted in a bad light.
This book presents many disturbing messages that not all classes of readers may be able to handle. From death, murders, abuse, racism, gender discrimination, sexual perversion, and poverty to mental ailment and religious compromises; Making Monsters: Dark Origins will task readers to question their trust in humanity and in the systems that exist.
By the end of the book, readers will be faced with an even more disturbing introspection — rationalizing evil in a person with the good that can be found in them. In this book that uses a different class of ‘monster’ to chase another, readers may feel guilty catching themselves admiring the twisted work of ‘the sculptor,’ a violent killer.
For delivering intrigue, suspense, mystery, emotions, and thrill, readers of mystery will find the intricacies of the book’s plot satisfying. I recommend this book to rational minds, not only for the thrill it provides but also for the many disturbing truths about our reality that it brings to the fore. I rate this book four out of four stars. While I didn’t have any issues with the book, its content may be unsettling for some readers.
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