A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Printz Honor winner (a prize for young adult literature) has violence that is horrific, gruesomely graphic, and adult. The spectrum for young adult literature is ages 12 or 14 to 21, and this book leans heavily toward the older age range. This horror story is set in 1888, and despite the fictional aspects of the story, it remains true to the sexism of the times, and borders on misogyny. Although the Anthropophagy race of monster will consume any human, here prostitutes are used as bait, and there are stories told of foreign lands where priests fed the monsters young, virginal girls. There are virtually no other female characters in the book.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
An old man reveals a childhood spent in the late 19th century as an apprentice to a monstrumologist -- a doctor who studied monsters. When a graverobber brings them the body of a young woman wrapped in the corpse of a headless monster, the doctor aborts the monster fetus from her and kills it. The race begins to find and kill any surviving members of the monsters called Anthropophagy. Will has grown up aiding with abominable experiments and dissections, but these creatures could not have been created by even the evilest minds. A hunt reveals that some evil man did import them to the U.S., and now more evil men appear to help hunt them -- some of them both evil and mad. At one point even Will becomes monster bait.
Is it any good?
This is shocking, graphically gory pus-and-guts splattered all over an action-packed story with some human moments. The gore and violence are so over the top that it's hard for anyone even the least bit squeamish to look past it. However Yancey is a popular young adult author and this book will have most mature horror fans riveted.
Female horror fans especially may be put off the book's very misogynistic nature. A story with this much imagination could certainly have avoided this -- the 1888 setting is no excuse.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why some readers like horror. What are the differences between Stephen King-like horror stories and this one? Does a gothic setting allow for themes or plots that would not be as acceptable set in modern times? Why or why not?
There are characters in this book who seem as evil as the monsters they hunt. Was Dr. Kearns evil? Was Dr. Warthrop evil?
Why was Will Henry loyal to the doctor? Was he right to be so loyal?
What was the reason the Anthropophayg wer brought to the United States?
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