I know some of you are patiently waiting for the conclusion of my Firefly post in September. Unfortunately you will have to wait a little bit more as I am interrupting my own series of posts to bring you this Halloween Monster Edition of “What Would They Read.” I promise I will finish Firefly next month. As I see it, we Firefly fans are used to things we love and look forward to being abruptly ended. It’s sad, but true.
OK, back to monsters…
There were two ways I considered approaching this blog post. I could go the easy way and match various monsters with books that include characters from the same species. For example, Dracula would just love to read The Twilight Saga because of all the vampires. Sure, I’ll throw in a few of those. The real challenge lies in finding books for these monster archetypes that more reflect their personality types. It’s a bit more difficult, but I’m up for the challenge. Go big or go home, right?
Dracula – Before vampires became a standard villainous character is several movies, shows, and books, Bram Stoker brought us the original vampire story. Some may say that there’s a historical connection to the evil ruler, Vlad the Impaler. I’m not going to debate for or against that idea, but I will say that guy was fairly creepy.
Those who have read the original novel, Dracula, know that while the vampire was super spooky, he was also very lonely. He used his vampire ways to try to get friends and girlfriend. True, he didn’t go about this search in the conventional way by simply introducing himself to new people. Instead, he charmed the mentally unstable Renfield and made him his somewhat friend, although I think the term is closer to minion than friend. Once he decided he wanted a woman in his life, he did not go about courting her in a traditional manner. After a few midnight visits full of blood drinking, Dracula had Lucy right where he wanted her; in a coffin.
So what books would I give to Dracula? For a direct connection between Dracula and other vampire stories, I would love to give Dracula Fat Vampire by Adam Rex. Rex tells the story of a boy who is turned into a vampire and must live out his afterlife as an overweight, unpopular teen. While he was a vicious killer, I would like to think he has a bit of a sense of humor. Now for the more difficult aspect of the recommendation. Dracula may be a vicious murder, but he has a sense of class. He’s not going to leave a large mess behind or draw attention to himself. He’s refined and charismatic. The first book that came to mind is We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. The books is full of people who might not be the most compassionate people, but they are emotional. They also have a lot of secrets. The second title that I thought of is more about style than content. Stoker’s novel was written in letters as that was the mode of communication during that time period. I thought about choosing a book that took place during the late 1800s, but I decided that an epistolary novel would be better. I am still torn between two novels to recommend so I’ll just mention both. The first, Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher, is a story about a girl who is trying to deal with personal relationship issues by writing letters to a man on death row. The second book is Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira. In this book, the main character uses a school assignment asking her to write letters to a dead person to deal with her sister’s death. The last two choices may seem odd, but I’m going with my book recommendation instincts.
Frankenstein’s Monster – I want to be clear here, for those of you who also hate the confusion between Dr. Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s monster. I am searching for books for the monster, not the doctor. It is so easy to align the creature’s issues with problems people face today. All the creature wanted was to be accepted into society and be a part of something. Unfortunately his appearance stopped his from getting close to anyone, even the doctor.
The most obvious choice for Frankenstein’s monster is the book Mister Creecher by Chris Priestly. In this book, a young boy teams up with a giant man he calls Mister Creecher in a journey to catch up with a scientist who promised Mister Creecher a wife. Mister Creecher is close to a retelling of the creature’s story. I’m sure that the creature would enjoy reading a story in which he is not portrayed solely as an irrational monster, but as someone who is trying to be accepted. There are also the books by Kenneth Oppel, This Dark Endeavor and Such Wicked Intent, that tell the story of a young Victor Frankenstein. The creatures might enjoy reading about his creator’s childhood.
When I first decided to do a blog entry on monsters, it was Frankenstein’s monster that guided that idea. All the creature wants is to be accepted by others and end his loneliness. That alone is the basis for several teen novels. That was the angle I used to determine what books I would give the creature. Bruiser by Neal Shusterman (2012 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults) is a fantastic choice. Bruiser is a misunderstood boy who is constantly judged by his appearance. Eventually siblings Tennyson and Bronte realize that Bruiser has the amazing ability to take on the pain from other people. The original creature in Mary Shelley’s story was not the grunting, mindless green man found in pop culture. The original monster learned and was intelligent and articulate. I know that Bruiser would make an impression on him.
Do you think you are up to the challenge? What books would you suggest to the Wolfman? How about a zombie from Dawn of the Dead? Please leave your comments below.
-Brandi Smits, currently reading She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick