Crow Monsterjunkie is a quiet, Goth teen whose looks keep people at bay and make him a target at school. His older sister has found other ways to fit in. His only real friends are the lovable, enchanting creatures on his parents' ancestral estate and his plastic Aurora monster models.
And he has secrets—too many, in fact, to hold.
Local suspicions about Crow's European family legacy put his parents' work at risk in the field of cryptozoology while a greed-driven plot ensues to expose and rid the macabre Monsterjunkies from their mysterious, secluded sanctuary at 1313 Road to Nowhere, Foggy Point, Maine.
As the threats to his world increase, Crow must decide whether to rise above the tormenters or to descend into self-righteous retaliation. And, he can no longer contain the anger he feels towards his well-meaning, extroverted but absent father.
In order to get support, he must relinquish his self-imposed exile and dismantle the emotional fortress he's created to cope with too much pressure, too much trauma, and not enough trust in the good.
With elements of magical realism, light-hearted humor, an ensemble cast, and contemporary teen issues.
If you're looking for a new series of books to take the place of Twilight and The Vampire Diaries, with vampires and werewolves - although this recent addition is perfect for the age group who enjoys such book, middle grade the biggest difference is that the monsters are cent percent real and they can be found in your own neighborhood. The Monsterjunkies: An American Family Odyssey, by Erik Daniel Shein is an impressive release.
The first book in the series is titled Being a Normal Family is a State of Mind. This first book tells the story of a family and its daily struggles as its members fight against serious issues like bullying, abuse, and unjust labeling, as well as against everyday difficult problems and events - stress, a parent’s absence, parents/children conflicts, and so on.
From Shein (Gods and Angels, 2013) and Gates comes the YA tale of a family for whom cryptozoology is a way of life.
Ninth-grader Cromwell “Crow” Monsterjunkie lives with his family near Foggy Point, Maine. His parents, Talon and Pandora, use their mansion as a sanctuary for rare and endangered creatures, including Beau the sasquatch, Chico the chupacabra and Periwinkle the pterodactyl. Quiet Crow doesn’t make friends easily—unlike his older sister, Indigo—partly because of the burden of secrecy that comes with being a Monsterjunkie; if the public knew about their rare creatures, chaos might descend on the family. And yet, since adolescence comes with enough inner turmoil, Talon and Pandora allow their children to begin inviting small groups of trusted friends to tour their elaborate property, which has a laboratory, Varmint Hollow and the Weird Willow tree. Life grows tense, however, when a group of bullying classmates, led by the viciously entitled Ruth Grimes, start targeting Crow, Indigo and their new friends. Worse, in an attempt to make the town safer for real Americans, Ruth’s wealthy father decides to stir up trouble for the animal-loving Monsterjunkies. In dealing with the bullies, Crow must choose to either sink to their level or rise above it, his family’s secrets at stake. Herpetologist Shein and co-author Gates wrap a classic tale of conformity in some gorgeously gothic paper. Sprinkled throughout are great tidbits of cryptozoology: “The gorilla and the giant squid were both thought to be myths, yet in fact, are quite real.” Lighthearted humor is the primary tone elsewhere; Beau the eloquent sasquatch, for example, says he was “frankly, well, a little embarrassed” to be naked while scaring some trespassers. Later, the authors hope to rally the parents of actual bullied children—whether it involves common nastiness or homophobia—with the advice that “all it takes is a heroic kid to step in...to disrupt the situation.” Facebook bullying, unfortunately, proves tougher to handle. Though the ending feels abrupt, a second book awaits fans craving another fix of Crow and company.
Warm, smart and educational.
Pub Date: March 14th, 2014
Page count: 188pp
Publisher: Ark Watch Holdings LLC
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online: Nov. 2nd, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2014