by Jon Skovron
Published by: Penguin
Love can be a real monster. Sixteen-year-old Boy’s never left home. When you’re the son of Frankenstein’s monster and the Bride, it’s tough to go out in public, unless you want to draw the attention of a torch-wielding mob. And since Boy and his family live in a secret enclave of monsters hidden under Times Square, it’s important they maintain a low profile.
Boy’s only interactions with the world are through the Internet, where he’s a hacker extraordinaire who can hide his hulking body and stitched-together face behind a layer of code. When conflict erupts at home, Boy runs away and embarks on a cross-country road trip with the granddaughters of Jekyll and Hyde, who introduce him to malls and diners, love and heartbreak. But no matter how far Boy runs, he can’t escape his demons—both literal and figurative—until he faces his family once more. This hilarious, romantic, and wildly imaginative tale redefines what it means to be a monster—and a man.
Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron is a retelling of the classic Frankenstein featuring Frankenstein and the Bride’s son Frank. Skovron introduces a mix of genres in this paranormal romance, from cyberpunk to fantasy. At its heart, it is a coming of age story, with life lessons and first experiences. Mini word review: quirky, intriguing and for the young at heart.
The tale begins beneath the streets of New York City, where we meet Boy, his mother Bride and his father Frankenstein. They live with an extraordinary group of supernatural creatures who run the theater directly above them. There are trolls, werewolves, brownies, ogres and even Medusa herself. They even have a siren that sings nightly. Boy is a computer hacker, who longs to explore the world beyond and after a confrontation with his father he runs away. The tale that unfolds has several interesting threads, a road trip and a lot of firsts for Boy.
Boy is an interesting character, and while I didn’t really connect with him, I was able to appreciate what he was feeling and experiencing. He is quite smart, and his hacking ability is extraordinary. I loved Skovron’s imagination regarding Boy and his computer. We witness him experience love a few times, and all were young adolescent romances. Claire and Sophie were interesting characters, but a lot of the secondary characters tended to be mean. I think Skovron captured the age and mannerisms of the characters well, even if at times they were a little cliché. We have some evil villains, and I wanted more depth from them and a little more angst.
Man Made Boy had moments of greatness and really delivered a solid message to its intended target, but I struggled with all of the threads. Essentially Boy is a runaway, and we travel on his adventure. His desire to be human and accepted often made him a pushover. He had his moments but at times I wanted to shake him. There is insta-love, but not the typical kind instead Boy falls hard for all of the girls he meets. Basically, he is in love with “love” and here the author really captured a realistic portrayal of young love. You remember high school where on Monday, “he was the one” and on Friday, he wasn’t but by Monday another guy was “the one”. Some threads that could have been intense like the program Boy created and the evil characters were for me all resolved too quickly. Despite these issues, this isn’t a bad book, in fact, moments were delightful and exciting. The pacing is fast, and the world building is minimal. If it weren’t for the foul language and some other situations, I would recommend this to boys 9 to 13. I would suggest parents preview it first, but I do think it would engage the reluctant male reader. Shovron has a wonderful imagination, but for me I needed more depth and greater focus on one or two threads.
With its array of supernatural creatures, myths and genres Man Made Boy offered up a unique coming of age story. I personally think it will be a hit with some readers.
Two and half cups of coffee
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