by A. Lee Martinez
Review by Ernest Lilley
Orbit Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780316041263
Date: 11 May 2009 List Price $19.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Monster would make a perfect Kevin Smith movie. Unless Sam Rami wanted to do it. Or maybe they could collaborate, though they might not get along. Much like the main characters in Monster. On the one hand, there's Judy, who works in the local quickie mart (actually a Food Plus Mart) which winds up being overrun by mythological creatures, and nasty ones at that. And on the other, it's got Monster, which is his name, not a description, though it's also his trade or would be if his last name was Catcher. Monster is a freelance animal control agent whose best friend is a paper doll (well, actually a paper man) and whose girlfriend is from Hell (yes, literally). And (I'm pretty sure about this) it takes place in Jersey.
Monster has a colorful cast, to say the least.
Judy meets Monster when she calls in the sudden presence of a Yeti in her store freezer and the city sends an agent to handle it. Judy doesn't really expect to be believed, nor does she expect the guy with messy hair and a baseball bat to be able to handle a full grown Yeti. What she doesn't know is that this sort of thing happens all the time, and Monster isn't some amateur with a baseball bat. No, he's a graduate (pretty sure) of the "Greater New Jersey Community Collegius Arcanus" and knows exactly what he's doing. Mostly.
You'd think supernatural creatures turning up in Food Marts would make an impression on people, but it turns out that only a very small part of the population can keep the notion that these sorts of things really exist in our universe in their overly civilized heads. It makes so little sense that you'll either convince yourself that you're not really seeing it...or forget completely about it in a few minutes.
Which works fine for Judy for a while, but becomes very inconvenient when it turns out that she's some sort of attractor for ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night. In fact it gets common enough that Monster lets himself get talked into taking her along monster hunting, though he can't figure out why. After all, she's "grouchy, bitchy and hard to get along with".
Still, it's fortunate for the universe that they've teamed up, because something really big is happening in New Jersey and it's going to take all the magic, cunning and dumb luck that Monster, Judy, and the paper man can conjure up.
Like everything else I've read by A. Lee Martinez, Monster is full of weirdness, and full of fun.