Ordinary Monsters – Ordinary Indeed

Ordinary Monsters CoverIs Ordinary Monsters too long? Possibly. But while I was not dissuaded by the page count, I was exasperated by the end of the book. The book’s strong, descriptive start quickly turns into a chaotic story that hopped, skipped, and jumped to its ending. 

There are extraordinary children in the world, children with unnatural Talents. Sixteen-year-old Charlie is able to heal from any wound, no matter how vicious. Young Marlowe glows with a strange blue light that seems to burn others. Both are wary of their abilities and have faced tremendous adversity in their short lives. These gifted individuals learn quickly that to stay safe, they must hide their abilities. Yet no one can stay hidden for long. Alice has reluctantly joined her new partner, Frank, to locate Talents for a mysterious employer. Armed with little to no information and operating in blissful ignorance, Alice is unsure of what happens once Talents are found, but she will soon find out the truth once a dangerous person from Frank’s past joins the hunt. 

Ordinary Monsters started off strong. The introduction to Marlowe and Charlie is captivating and intense. Marlowe was stolen away as a baby and raised by a fearful woman on the run and a circus performer. It’s hard enough having a white father and a black mother in 1882, but Charlie loses them both before he is a teen and is left to suffer at the hands of cruel white men in Mississippi. Charlie’s situation is especially horrific, and it haunted me for several days. The beginnings of their individual stories are full of emotion, and Miro does a great job of rooting the reader in the moment. The boy’s past and the new journey they both take had me locked in, but there is a clear moment where the story started to lose me. 

Once the cast moved to the Cairndale Institute, my enthusiasm began to fade. Our strong foundational cast disperses and we’re dropped in a new setting with more characters. Here is where we get deeper into the mystery, but the story gets fuzzy. There is so much the reader does not understand about the world and instead of a leisurely exploration, I was treated to info dumps. The story’s flow also gets strange, and instead of the long descriptive chapters from Charlie or Alice’s POV, we start to jump around a lot and the length varies. If the beginning of this story was a mournful and at times frightening melody, the middle and end was a compilation of dissonant sounds that never quite harmonized.

The book confronts the reader with varying types of monsters. Almost every character has done something monstrous, whether it was unintentional, the result of desperation, or a good intention twisted horribly wrong. Miro also presents us with literal monsters. There is a terrifying creature called a litch that crawls on all four, scales walls like a spider, and has clawed hands that rip people to shreds. There is also an unassuming flesh giant that seems innocuous but is the result of bodily remains piled together. Miro plays around with the concept of monstrosity, and while I appreciate what was done, the execution was lacking especially when it involved the two potential villains. I wanted more info about one of the character’s past, and I craved more exploration into the other’s present to grasp the complexities of their opposing perspectives. 

Ordinary Monsters reads like two completely different books. The tone and storytelling dramatically shift, and it lost me along the way. I am incredibly fond of the book’s beginning but was ultimately left unsatisfied with where Charlie and Marlowe’s adventure ended up, so I question whether I will continue with the series.

Rating: Ordinary Monsters – 6.0/10




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