September 11, 2015

e-ARC Review of This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

Release Date: September 22, 2o15
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Page Count: 384
Format: e-ARC
Genre: YA
In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.
His brother, Oliver—dead.
His sweetheart, Mary—gone.
His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.
Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.
But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.
Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…
*an e-ARC of this book was given to me by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review*

Out of the many "classic" books I've read (yay SATs ) Frankenstein has always managed to stay on as my favorite out of all them, translating in a instant like for This Monstrous Thing before even starting it. From the moment I saw it on Edelweiss and found out it was based on Frankenstein I just knew I had to read it. BEA 2015 was when I first started reading it but I was only able to come back to it and finish it early September. This Monstrous Thing solidly met my expectations and while it didn't earn a spot in my top 2015 reads, it still stuck out as a very good read.

If you had to describe This Monstrous Thing in two words it would be steampunk Frankenstein and the settings clearly match that. The book is set in Geneva in the early 1800's in a world that is based upon machinery, although people who have used it to replace lost body parts are hated and looked down upon. Every moment that I was reading This Monstrous Thing I was kept rapt with interest, I was in this alternate world of Frankenstein and just couldn't stop reading. From the hidden workshops for working on illegal clockwork to the massive clock tower in the heart of the city, Geneva was infused with steampunk all the way. Despite this being her first novel, Mackenzi Lee has already grasped how to write compelling and high quality settings in a book.

 The characters were both new and related to the original Frankenstein as contradictory as that sounds, while the main characters were new they all had connections to Frankenstein and its author, Mary Shelley is even in the book herself. Alasdair and Oliver Finch are two brothers who are Shadow Boys, people who work on men built with illegal clockwork parts. Mary is a girl they meet and have adventures with, that is until Oliver falls off the clock tower and dies. Just as Dr. Frankenstein did in the classic, Alasdair manages to resurrect his brother through a mix of clockwork and science. While I had my suspicions that Mary was in fact Mary Shelley it was still a delight when This Monstrous Thing confirmed it in the form of the book Frankenstein in This Monstrous Thing. All three characters were well written and believable, from Alasdairs dark secret to Olivers new personality and Mary's hidden past. Even the main "bad guys" Dr. Geisler and the detective were of realistic belief although I intensely disliked Dr. Geisler (I may or may not have been glad when he died). The detective on the other hand was only doing his job and trying to protect his city which I can respect even if the laws were absurd and unnecessary. Throughout all of these characters and their lives, one thing stayed constant: top quality in their writing.

Even if you never liked the original Frankenstein I would still recommend This Monstrous Thing, it was both far enough and close enough to the classic that it ended up being a very good book. While I have no idea if Mackenzi will continue the stories of these characters with a sequel, I do know that I will most certainly pick it up and start reading. This Monstrous Thing would be a good read for people who enjoy Frankenstein, steampunk YA, and alternate takes on classic books.

4.5/5 - Very good book

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