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A monstrously disappointing ending...can't say I loved it on the whole...
Monster Love - Carol Topolski
Member Name: bamamo
Monster Love - Carol Topolski
Date: 03/04/09, updated on 03/04/09 (118 review reads)
Advantages: Gripping due to writing style and different perspectives covered
Disadvantages: The ending for me was a huge disappointment, characters not very well developed or convincing
Because of taking part in the A-Z Author Challenge (as I wrote about in my last book review) my last Amazon shopping spree involved only books from letters of the alphabet previously uncovered, and only one of each. Which along with an offer on Amazon in conjunction with the Metro, landed Monster Love in my basket for something like £1.99.
When it arrived and I saw the full synopsis, I have to say I wasn't overly excited, but I brought it with me on my trip to Canada so I would have to read it. And to begin with, to my surprise, I was hooked.
Monster Love centres around Brendan and Sherilyn, a couple so in love that nobody else in the world matters. While they keep up appearances by having cocktail parties for their colleagues, it is merely to advance up the career ladder. They hold no interest in their well-meaning neighbours or families, and spend their days striving for Stepford Wives-esque perfection (on the outside) while being thoroughly wrapped up in each other.
So everyone was a little surprised when they saw Sherilyn was pregnant. Surely a baby would be inconvenient for such a high-flying couple? Her odd attitude towards the infant didn't go unnoticed in the neighbourhood, but it was a couple of years before they realised that none of them had actually seen little Samantha for quite some time...and throughout the book we find out precisely why.
This is one of those books which is told from several viewpoints, with a new chapter for each narrator. It's safe to say that, at times, these can get a bit confusing but this is not the case here. Each chapter is named after whoever is taking over the story (with Brendan and Sherilyn sharing theirs and cropping up more frequently) and even though sometimes we may not already be familiar with who someone is, it's easy to twig after half a page or so.
I find this to be an interesting way to hear a story, especially one where such strong contrasting opinions and views are aired, but for me just having someone's name at the top of the page does not mean I am reading their words. I need a little convincing. Just look around Dooyoo and you will realise that two people talking about the same thing will use vastly different vocabulary and phrases.
I understand that the author is trying to show that Brendan and Sherilyn are made for each other, soulmates, one and the same etc etc, and so while it's a little creepy, their passages which mirror each other and often use exactly the same phrases, work. However, despite obvious attempts to differentiate other characters by having one swear, etc, there are a lot of characters in this book and Topolski does not make them feel sufficiently different. I think to be reading people's opinions and uncovering the mystery piece by piece, you need to believe what's being said somewhat, and I'm afraid I didn't.
That said, it was still a compulsive read, as chapters were fairly short and the story was constantly changing as new people were being brought into the mix. I was looking forward to the huge twist the synopsis promised. But by the end of the book I still hadn't seen it.
Sure, at the beginning of the book I wouldn't have called what happened in those final chapters. But that's only because I found it a weak, easy-way-out ending. It was one of those times I enjoyed a book immensely throughout, only to feel let down to the point of anger at the end. I would say a twist is something that completely flips how you look at the entire story. That you can review the piece as a whole and think "oh yeah, there was a clue". Something that is cleverly woven in. Not an ending that just doesn't sit right.
I was interested to see what others thought of this, and checked out reviews on Amazon. The consensus is that it is dark and disturbing. Yes, it centres around a pretty bleak crime which, from time to time does happen. And yes, that's a horrible, horrible thing. But really it is barely described, with the bulk of the book being other people reminding us how awful it is. Maybe it's because I work in the media and have become officially desensitised to bad news, but I didn't think it was quite as "harrowing" as some would say. There are so many books which describe murders and gore in extreme detail, only the characters' attitudes to the happenings is shocking here.
I did enjoy the majority this book, but I wasn't prepared for the disappointment that was the ending. With so many characters thrown in (all of whom were pretty much unrelated to the plot), there was so much scope for what could have happened, for a real twist.
Monster Love is currently on sale at Amazon.co.uk for £5.49. I'm glad I got mine on a (now expired) offer, as it has no re-read value and was pretty disappointing for me.
Summary: A nice idea but got a little strange towards the ending and I was left wishing I hadn't bothered.