Book Review: Delicate Monsters
By: Stephanie Kuehn
Published By: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: June 9, 2015
Page Count: 240
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Thriller
Delicate Monsters focuses on three damaged souls. Sadie Su is a wealthy girl who can't seem to find happiness or empathy. She never truly connects with others and uses border line sadistic methods for pushing people away. After she almost kills a classmate at a boarding school, Sadie lands back home in Sonoma, California for her Senior Year.
Sadie's path crosses with two boys from her childhood - Emerson and Miles Tate. The brothers have never had it easy - their father committed suicide when they were kids and their mother is constantly working, but never quite manages to get the family above the poverty line. Emerson has the potential to be a golden boy; he is tall, handsome, and athletic, but the golden exterior hides a darkness that nothing can eradicate. Emerson's first encounter with Sadie when he was younger was when she caught him pulling the legs off a frog to watch it die a slow and painful death. Needless to say, Emerson has some major issues. He doesn't feel like he can move past his mistakes and find redemption.
Miles is Emerson's opposite in almost every way. He is small, timid, and the opposite of athletic. In fact, Miles spends almost as much time in the hospital as he does at home. He is constantly ill and the doctors can't find the root of the issue. The problem becomes so bad that Mrs. Tate has been accused of neglect and abuse on multiple occasions. Everyone assumes that she is giving all of her love, attention, and resources to Emerson at the sake of Miles' health. The Tate household was depressing and made me feel as if all the air was being forced from my lungs. The lives of both boys felt ridiculously dire and oppressive.
One thing that was very clear was that socioeconomic status does not preclude people from mental anguish. I found that I disliked all three of the main characters. I tried to feel sorry for them, but they were just horrible people who never earned my sympathy. Miles was the closest to likable, but by the end I found him just as distasteful as Emerson and Sadie.
I was expecting this one to be dark, but it was way too dark for my tastes. I know that there is an audience out there for this one, but sadly it wasn't me. The writing had some beautiful moments, but they were overshadowed by despicable characters, far too many crude moments, and uncomfortable situations. I have trouble with novels in which the characters are horrible people that I can't like. I fully admit that the characters being horrible is part of the point of this novel. For the plot to work, the characters had to be damaged and unlikable, but it made me want to read as quickly as possible and then bleach my brain.
If you can handle the characters and the darkness, this is a read you'll enjoy. It was just too much for me. This was certainly a unique read that made me consider the various forms of mental illness and emotional turmoil. Ultimately, my rating is a combination of my feelings about the novel and the quality of the novel. It seemed unfair to give the novel a lower rating when I could see that it had merits for others.
One Last Gripe: There were some disgusting moments that turned my stomach.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: Miles' ability added a magical realism element and was darkly intriguing.
First Sentence: A ropes course was a shitty place for self-discovery.
Favorite Character: I didn't have one.
Least Favorite Character: Emerson
From the Morris-Award winning author of Charm & Strange, comes a twisted and haunting tale about three teens uncovering dark secrets and even darker truths about themselves.
When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.
Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.
Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.
But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs.