Plot: The flow of this novel is flawlessly plotted and will easily engage young readers from the opening page. The author strikes a fine balance between the fun, fantastical circumstances and the exploration of "every kid" issues facing the protagonist.
Prose/Style: Natural dialogue and interaction among the characters is consistent throughout the novel. The author clearly understands the mind of a middle school tween; Monty's voice shows authentic emotion, as he experiences moments of vulnerability and bravery, self-deprecation, and self-assuredness.
Originality: The story of a lonely kid finding an unusual new friend is hardly unique. Yet Smiley's blend of humor and sensitivity, along with a memorable monster character, allow the work to stand out.
Character Development: Each character is relatable and carefully developed, which makes the story (even its implausible elements) come across as believable. The dialogue between the characters is often funny, even as the story addresses serious issues. Readers will come to care about these individuals, whose inner turmoil often develops from circumstances that are beyond their control.
Date Submitted: July 30, 2019