All These Monsters By Amy Tintera
All These Monsters is the first in Amy Tintera’s Monsters, duology. The conclusion, All These Warriors is due out next summer. All These Monsters is an enjoyable, albeit a bit predictable read if you go in knowing what to expect. It is definitely on the younger side of the young adult spectrum. However, Amy Tintera does a great job of introducing themes around family abuse and the lingering trauma it causes. Both mental and physical abuse is covered. The co-dependence and a gray area that can collide in attempted relationships provide additional realistic points of view for two of the main characters. There is LGBTQ representation, as well, although it is only touched upon and not explored in any meaningful way. It is the science-fiction part of All These Monsters that is more shallow and predictable part of the story.
Clara is living with a physically abusive father, nearly killing her at times. Her mother, both co-dependent and suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, continuously accepts him back after kicking him out. It is due or die if Clara doesn’t get out of the house, especially when her older brother decides it is time for him to move. When an opportunity comes to jump the pond and fight a growing “scrab” problem, in Europe, she sees it as a way to get out.
Thank you to HMH for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
While Clara can physically run from her abusive home situation, she isn’t able to shake it mentally. Tintera does a fantastic job with Clara’s storyline, in this regard. Her inability to trust her gut, share her story or trust plagues her individually, and while trying to establish relationships. Removing yourself from an abusive situation is just the beginning. The emotional ramifications don’t leave you without a lot of work and time.
Danger Will Rogers
However, Clara is pushed into a situation where she is forced to make friends and begin to trust. When her team leader, Julian takes a specific interest in her, showering her with a sense of protection and safety that Clara hasn’t experienced, it overshadows all the red flags that she begins to notice, as well as those pointed out to her.
Julian has some family issues of his own. Clara realizes that he clams up when questioned about his family. He is often pushed by his best friend to call them but tenses up whenever he has to communicate or come in contact with them. However, Clara keeps rationalizing everything that might rob her of the knight shining armor image she has built up around Julian.
This continued push-and-pull between Julian and Clara and the revelations that come because of it are the best part of All These Monsters. Tintera does an incredible job of realizing how Clara’s past can come back and haunt her present, in every facet of her life. I can’t say much about the rest of how it plays out from Julian’s side because of spoilers, but he has his own story to tell. That story provides another layer of complexity that is rich, with an important message.
So much politics this summer. It hasn’t been too preachy or anything, and I get why. I think the current climate of things, especially in the states, has everyone on edge. So, I can’t say I don’t get it. I’m just noticing more and more of a trend (Adult and Young Adult) with sci-fi/fantasy books. The world is dealing with an infestation of monsters burrowing themselves underground and exploding through the streets. Much of the east coast moved out to the Midwest and west coast of the states post-America dealing with them. After which, we shut our borders and refused to help anyone else (sound familiar?).
However, one group of defense developers are determined to go to Europe and do more. Recruiting a corp of people 16+, they train and pay for teams to go overseas and battle these huge scaley monsters. Some of them are even developing in their mental ability to match humans in battle. One of the advantages humans had was intellect, but if Scrabs evolve, that is a problem.
That does not bode well for anyone. In truth, some of the story reminded me of an on-earth version of Containment, by Caryn Lix. Maybe this is why it seemed a bit predictable to me. It was easy to see what was going to develop with the scrabs, the different organizations fighting against the scrabs, and each other, from the get-go.
Outside of Julian and Clara, most characters were plot devices that moved the story along at needed moments, not fully developed characters with stories of their own. They were all stereotypical and shallow. This was a shame, as some had real potential. There was LGBTQ representation, but it merely touched upon. Tintera never really explored or utilized that representation. I hope that changes in All These Warriors.
Eden is a good example. He seemed to be there as the obvious, “guy that is mistaken as more than a friend to Clara so that Julian gets pissed off.” Again, that is a shame because why can’t a girl have a friend? It would have been easy to find other ways to bring that storyline to fruition.
Wrapping it Up
All These Monsters by Amy Tintera, was very hit and miss. The themes she covered are essential and handled well. The storyline that drove the book was predictable. The characters outside of Clara and Julian were just not well written. That might change with All These Warriors. It would be great if it did as All These Monsters had many significant, developed points.