3 out of 4 stars
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Seth Chambers’ The Different Kinds of Monsters starts with the birth of a baby allosaurus named First, and her experiences growing up in the late Jurassic period. Then it moves ahead to the year 2001 and introduces Dylan Armitage as a middle-aged man, going to visit his father in the hospital. It’s revealed that Dylan has an attachment to an allosaurus skeleton nicknamed “Emily.” The book follows Dylan and First, switching back and forth between their perspectives.
I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting from this book, but it delivered a lot more than I thought it would. At first there doesn’t seem to be much reason to draw parallels between a young allosaurus’ life and the main character Dylan’s life in the modern day. But soon the author starts jumping back to Dylan’s childhood, and time moves forward in all three narratives as the story slowly reveals itself.
We see the way Dylan’s parents treated him as a child, and how his behavior is shaped by his upbringing. His wife and daughter are mentioned briefly near the beginning, but are brought back into the picture by being introduced in the past. Other characters enter the picture, passing through Dylan’s life and occasionally impacting it in a huge way. Some of them return later, some are relegated to the past or present only.
It’s very well done, and Seth Chambers takes his time letting the reader figure out what is real and what is not, and what the different kinds of monsters are. There are a lot. Almost every single character in the book is a monster in some way, shape, or form. It’s unsettling, realistic, and a little depressing. However, the real genre-breaking comes in the last fourth of the book, where First’s story and Dylan’s story finally merge together.
I have to say as I was reading, I honestly had no idea where this book was headed, and that’s certainly not a bad thing. I enjoyed the storytelling, and I’m sure others will too, but this is a book I probably wouldn’t read again. The characters are the main reason. They’re selfish, cruel, and disturbed, and that’s the point—they’re monsters, even if some characters are vastly more redeemable than others. They’re written that way on purpose, and disturbingly well.
In conclusion, if you like frighteningly realistic monsters, or oddly surreal monsters, this book delivers both. It’s a good read, but don’t expect a happy ending. I give it 3 out of 4 stars.
The Different Kinds Of Monsters
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