Sunday, May 19, 2024

Monstrous by Jessica Lewis - OPTIONAL

by Jessica Lewis
, 432 pages. Delacorte Press (Random House), 2023. $12

Language: R (100+ swears, 36+ 'f'); Mature Content: PG (Teenage kiss) ; Violence: R (Graphic beatings, murders, and fights--both human and fantasy violence; kidnapping, discussion of domestic abuse)



18yo Latavia is staying with her aunt and her cousin Jade over the summer in Sanctum, AL until she goes to college in the fall on a track scholarship. She quickly realizes something weird is going on in Sanctum, but no one will answer her questions. Latavia doesn’t have to wait long for answers, though--soon after arriving in town she is kidnapped and sacrificed to a giant talking snake in the forbidden woods behind the town. The snake has a deal with the town where they send monthly sacrifices in exchange for their lives, but they have broken the rules with Latavia's sacrifice. Latavia survives by making a new deal with the snake: she will help him destroy the barriers keeping him out of town, and in turn she asks the snake to kill the six people who sacrificed her--including her aunt.

The writing was a good mix between descriptive, colloquial, and fast-paced, and I enjoyed getting to know Latavia, who is a strong character and a queer woman of color. The book addressed race and LGBTQIA+ issues without being preachy. On the other hand, the plot (though fascinating) was ridiculous, and some important things go unresolved, leaving an unclear message. Latavia and her family members are Black; her love interest Allison and most other characters are white.

Lindsay Blowers, ELA Teacher 

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