Audiobook Review: Monster by A. Lee Martinez

12 12 2011

Monster by A. Lee Martinez

Read by Eric Michael Summerer

Audible Frontiers

Length: 8 HRs 42 Min

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Quick Thoughts: Monster is a novel that is so full of fun adventure and wonderful unique characters and creatures, that it’s easy to over look how well plotted the overall story is, and how accessible he makes his conceptual mythology. Urban Fantasy fans, looking for a break from zombies, fairies and vampires, should definitely give Monster a try.

Grade: B+

It’s been about six years since my reading habits transitioned from solely print, to almost entirely audio. Changing from print to audio was not done because I fell in love with audiobooks, it was done because my reading time was significantly altered by a change in work position, and in order for me to maintain the pace of reading I had become accustomed to it would have to be in audio. This change was not supposed to affect other reading habits, like what types of books I read, but it did. Before audiobooks, I listened to a lot of thriller/mysteries, plenty of science fiction with only a dash of fantasy. Most of my fantasy readings were truly Dark Fantasy or horror novels. As far as more epic fantasy, I took on King’s Dark Tower series, along with Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, and Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, and that’s about it. Yet, I never did urban fantasy. It wasn’t until 2010, when I listened to James Marsters read my first Harry Dresden novel did I enter the world of urban fantasy. I discovered along the way that audiobooks are the perfect format for urban fantasy. Give a talented narrator a novel full of weird creatures, and listen to the magic happened. This year, I have heard the voice of a Shoggoth, became enthralled with a monosyllabic Minotaur, met all sorts of demons and fallen angels, and discovered that zombies can fall in love. I have met monsters, and well, I sort of like them. Then came A. Lee Martinez and his fantasy novel Monsters a virtual smorgasbord of paranormal creature. How could I even consider turning that one down?

A. Lee Martinez introduces us to a character named Monster, a man who wakes up everyday a different color, with a different power. Monster uses the training he undertook at a magical community college to work as a cryptobiological containment agent, basically a dogcatcher for paranormal creatures. While on a call he meets Judy, a young women who seems to be plagued with all sorts of mythological infestations. Monster is a bit of a dickhead. He really isn’t the most likable of protagonists, but Martinez makes up for his hero’s faults by surrounding him with a cast of wonderful and fascinating characters. There is Chester, a paper gnome from another dimension who works as Monster’s assistant, and Ed and Ferdinand, henchmen of an evil cat lady and simply hilarious characters. With each page, you meet new characters or creatures from giant purple worms to insistent unicorns. Every character, no matter how big or small their role adds something special to the overall tale. Yet, this novel doesn’t rely solely on its quirky inhabitants, but is full of interesting concepts ranging from magical awareness to the origins of the universe. In many ways, Martinez sucks you in with his lighthearted style, and witty phrasings, so when it time to delve into his high concepts, you are already enraptured with his world. Monster is a novel that is so full of fun adventure and wonderful unique characters and creatures, that it’s easy to over look how well plotted the overall story is, and how accessible he makes his conceptual mythology. Urban Fantasy fans, looking for a break from zombies, fairies and vampires, should definitely give Monster a try.

I liked the work that Eric Michael Summerer did with the reading of Monster. I was happy that he used his deep narrative voice to present the prose, but also developed the character voices well. He read Monster with a nice, crisp tone, a bit higher than his narrative voice, allowing us to easily differentiate between Monster’s internal thoughts and external words. I did find his reading of the final confrontation between hero and villain a little odd. Most narrators speed up their reading to increase tension during these types of scenes, but Summerer actually slowed down, and utilized these long pauses between sentences. While this allowed the listener to easily follow the action, I personally found the pauses to be a bit distracting. Yet, overall, I think Summerer did a good job with his reading. This was my first time listening to an A. Lee Martinez novel, and I definitely will be checking out more of his work.

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One response

12 12 2011
Samuel Montgomery-Blinn

Ooh… I see your “currently listening” selection is The First Days and eagerly look forward to your verdict.

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