Sunday, October 27, 2013

Thoughts on Thursdays: The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

Title: The Monstrumologist

Author: Rick Yancey

Book #: 1st of Series

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 

Publish Date: July 20th 2010

Pages: 434

Format: Paperback

Date ReadOctober 18th 2013

½  / out of 5

So often the monsters that crowd our minds are nothing more than the strange and thoroughly alien progeny of our own fearful fantasies.


So starts the diary of Will Henry, orphaned assistant to Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, a man with a most unusual specialty: monstrumology, the study of monsters. In his time with the doctor, Will has met many a mysterious late-night visitor, and seen things he never imagined were real. But when a grave robber comes calling in the middle of the night with a gruesome find, he brings with him their most deadly case yet.
(Synopsis taken from Goodreads)


While this was definitely a book with a slow-to-warm-up start, mostly due to the intricate language used, about 100 pages in I was hooked.


This story is so unique, or at least I haven't read anything like it yet. Yancey creates a world that is so obviously fictional,yet uses scientific terms and backs it up with so much information that you find yourself wondering if, in fact, he was in on this secret society. 

There haven't been too many books I have read from a male's point of view that I enjoyed, but this is indeed one. Despite his young age and tragic past, I found Will (Will Henry, as the doctor calls him) to be very relate-able. He is struggling with his existence and purpose, and yet shares a very unique bond with the doctor that I found to be touching (though, at times, it was quite troublesome).

The Doctor I found to be very unique himself. He reminds me a lot Mr. Tully from The Dark Unwinding. Both are strongly passionate about their... hobbies. However, Dr. Warthrop, in this case, has a more bizarre one. 

The stars were fading from the sky; the night's stubborn grip began to slip at last; and still the monstrumologist labored over his maps and books and newspapers, taking measurements, scribbling in his little notebook, at times whirling from the worktable in intense agitation, wringing his hands and stroking his brow, muttering under his breath and pacing back and forth. He was buoyed by the peculiar pursuit of his passion and the cups of black tea he copiously consumed, his libation of choice during this manic episodes of intense mental exertion.

There are many scenes like this one, in which the doctor finds himself in long periods of research and thinking. However, I loved the scenes in which he was so entranced in his work that he forgot about the world around him, when he would stare off into the distance with a far away look in his eyes. It is how I imagine I am, sometimes, when in the middle of reading a great book.

He does have a very seemingly narcissistic side, and it is obviously apparent that most of his actions are because of this. 

The monstrumologist's ego, as I have noted, seems to know no boundaries.

However, as we read on to the end of this book, we, as well as Will Henry himself, begin to learn that there is more to this mad, ambitious doctor than originally there is thought to be. 

"Though Varner himself might argue about his life," he mused, "it cannot be said about his death, Will Henry. His death shall not be in vain. There will be justice for Hezekiah Varner and all those who suffer inside those accursed walls. I will so to that. By God, I will see to that!"

He begins to show us a different side, one that, especially in a particular scene at the end, allows us to understand a little bit more about how he does indeed still contain some humanity. I do not deny, though, my first charge against him.

Overall, the story, like I said, was very interesting. I cannot wait to see where it goes throughout the rest of the series. 


These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed.

Monstrosities, who, with a smile and a comforting pat on the head, are willing to sacrifice a child upon the altar of their own overweening ambition and pride.

There are times when fear is not our enemy. There are times when fear is our truest, sometimes only, friend.

Is it not the ultimate arrogance to believe we are more than is contained in our biology?

There is no loneliness more profound, in my experience, than being ignored by one's sole companion in life.

"At once, Will Henry. Snap to, snap to!" The first "snap" owed to habit; the second was snapped, if you'll forgive me, with barely contained fury, for I did not snap immediately.

How marvelously strange, how terribly tragic, the ironic twists and turns of fate!

Though by outward sign Warthrop appeared completely calm and collected, within him a fire burned, as hot as the sun.

"I have no regrets. No lungs, either, but I'd rather die honorably than dishonorably live."

What meaning has an hour when that hour is indistinguishable from any other?

"I cannot do it, Will Henry"
He laughed humorlessly and added. "I cannot decide which it is, a triumph of will or its failure. Perhaps it is both. You see why I prefer science to morals, Will Henry. What is is. What might be only might be."

With bowed back he bore the burden his father had bequeathed to him. He did not rest; he kept the vigil. Though his body was still, his mind furiously worked on.

The point of freedom, after all, is freedom itself.

Thus he stood, a living temple among ruins crushed in the literal sense of the word, and whatever he was thinking remained hidden within the hallowed halls of his conscious.

"You invited me here to slay dragons, did you not? Well, that's what I'm trying to do."

"But why do you believe that? Why do we believe such things? Because we want to?"
"I don't know
," I answered honestly. "I believe because I must."

"The past doesn't promise anything, Will."

"Dr. Warthrop has engaged the services of this... person who purports to have experience..."
"Extensive experience," Kearns corrected him.
"- at killing these things. I would tell you his name, but at this point I'm not sure he even know what it is, if he has one at all."

I started, for suddenly Kearn's voice rang out. He was shouting at the top of his lungs, "Hullo, hullo, my pretties! Olly Olly oxen free! The party's over here!"

I escaped; I am bound.
I ran; I remain.

"Pellinore, Malachi, I shall see you in hell- I mean, at the bottom."

Perhaps that is our doom, our human curse, to never really know one another.

"And so all's well that ends well!" he said heartily. "Or should I say all ends well very early near the end. Perhaps 'so far so good; would be better..."

His father had named him Pellinore in honor of the mythical king who quested after a beast that could not be caught.

Discussion Questions:

1. Did you find some of the scenes to be too graphic and/or gory for your liking?

2. Did you find yourself agreeing with the Doctor, that the action of a bullet to the brain should be seen as merciful, or Will when he states that he believes "the idea that all life defending and that nothing justified surrender to the forces of destruction" (Hardcover, 74).

On My Goodreads:

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