Official Review: The Ordinary Monster by Mario Kiefer

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joshfee77
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Official Review: The Ordinary Monster by Mario Kiefer

Post by joshfee77 » 30 Aug 2019, 07:15

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Ordinary Monster" by Mario Kiefer.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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The Ordinary Monster is a psychological thriller by Mario Kiefer. Hector Rivera, a Mexican man who works picking cotton, confirms his suspicions about his best friend, Jesús, whom he follows discreetly during a lunch break. Jesús enters Hector's home and stays awhile, kissing Hector's wife Mariana when he leaves. Later, possessed by fury (La Furia), Hector shoots his wife dead and storms over to Jesús's house, seeking vengeance. Alas, his rampage claims two innocent victims when he renders Jesús's daughter Luciana paralysed with his errant gunshots, while Hector's godson, Junior, loses three fingers after his hand becomes trapped in the lit stovetop. Later, leaving his cruel and selfish father behind, Junior finds a new home in El Paso with Eldon and Emma, a loving older couple who teach him to read and to repair cars, raising him with decent moral values. Now an adult, Junior seeks vengeance on his godfather for himself and his sister, blaming Hector for all the misfortune in his life. Hector, seeking to escape the monster he knows as La Furia, has established himself a new identity as Alejandro Melendez. Will Junior track down his godfather and exact his vengeance, or will the teachings of his loving foster parents override his blood lust?

The Ordinary Monster is the third book in a series, yet I picked up the story with no problems, suggesting a seamless recap of the previous two books. I really liked the cover, which featured a fractured collage of a man's face, like jagged pieces of mirror glass assembled into a surreal Picasso portrait. Kiefer's well-edited writing was neat and easy to read, which I enjoyed. The plot was also extremely engaging, a real page-turner which hooked me in early and kept me reading. I enjoyed the author's occasional similes such as the one describing Hector's suspicions about Jesús, which were “insisting upon his attention in much the same way that a germaphobe with obsessive-compulsive disorder might constantly wash his hands.”

During his confession to a priest, Hector's personification of his rage as the demon La Furia (“fury”) gave it a real character of its own, clearly showing the powerful hold it had over his life. Characters used Spanish phrases at times, but the switching from English to Spanish and back was neat, and the context always hinted at the meaning for the reader. The dialogue was generally excellent, very natural, with some great expressions peculiar to each character, such as: “Don't sass me, boy,” from Eldon, a native of the southern states of the US. Kiefer's character development was also top-notch for Hector and Junior and their families, the relationships fleshed out seamlessly throughout the story.

Overall, I found The Ordinary Monster a fascinating character study of two men linked by tragedy: Hector, a man forced to a wrathful act of vengeance that went awry, and Junior, a victim of that wrath, who now swore vengeance of his own. Each man had a pitched battle raging inside him between the better angels of his nature and the “demon” La Furia, his righteous anger over the perceived wrongs against him. Kiefer built tension nicely toward the end of the book as the confrontation between Junior and Hector loomed; I found myself eagerly anticipating the conflict. Without revealing specifics, I can say that the ending was chilling, with a definite moral lesson against carrying grudges and continuing to perpetuate a cycle of vengeance.

The only negative for me about this book was its minor errors, mainly with punctuation, such as missing or unnecessary commas. It also had occasional hyphenation where it wasn't needed; for example; “...customers that streamed-in on a daily basis.” If not for these minor errors, I would definitely rate The Ordinary Monster 4 stars. It was a compelling character-driven story of honour, vengeance, and the uncontrollable fury that can grip a man pushed by another to the brink of insanity. Currently, I can only rate it 3 out of 4 stars. It does contain profanity, but only in keeping with the frustrations of the characters. Those who enjoy a great character-driven psychological thriller will be gripped, held, and shaken...by La Furia.

******
The Ordinary Monster
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Post by Bhaskins » 31 Aug 2019, 12:37

This sounds so good.
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Post by reneelu1998 » 31 Aug 2019, 13:19

I find it interesting that you said the two men are linked by tragedy. I think that makes for a very thrilling book indeed. What's the content like? Is there a lot of graphic violence or other inappropriate aspects? Thanks for the review!

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Post by kandscreeley » 31 Aug 2019, 18:22

This one definitely sounds psychological. It's a story of revenge. I'm glad that you could read it without having read the others. I don't think it's for me, but thanks.
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Post by Meg98 » 31 Aug 2019, 20:40

This sounds like a very promising book that perhaps only missed the mark on editing. It is a shame! Thank you for your helpful and excellent review.
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Post by Helene_2008 » 02 Sep 2019, 09:41

I like that there is a battle of good and evil for Junior's character. I'd be interested to see if he seeks revenge or is able to somehow forgive his godfather. Thanks for the review!

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Post by esp1975 » 02 Sep 2019, 16:48

Okay, it made so much more sense when you mentioned this was the third book in the series. Reading the synopsis, I was thinking, wait a minute, this sounds almost exactly like The Ordinary Doll. Once I realized that they were books in the same series, focusing on different aspects of the same consequence, it all made a lot more sense.
Not certain if I have the emotional energy to handle this series of books, but they definitely sound interesting and well done.

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Post by Laila_Hashem » 03 Sep 2019, 15:48

The book has a very unique and interesting plotline. Unfortunately, spelling errors are something I could never tolerate when reading a novel so I probably won't add it to my reading list. Thanks for the great review!

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Post by RaeReadsandReviews » 03 Sep 2019, 20:01

Awesome! I really favor stories that go into the character development. Was this suspenseful to read?

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Post by joshfee77 » 04 Sep 2019, 17:16

Bhaskins wrote:
31 Aug 2019, 12:37
This sounds so good.
Yeah, I honestly wasn't sure what to expect but once I started reading, I was hooked. Thanks!

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Post by joshfee77 » 04 Sep 2019, 17:18

reneelu1998 wrote:
31 Aug 2019, 13:19
I find it interesting that you said the two men are linked by tragedy. I think that makes for a very thrilling book indeed. What's the content like? Is there a lot of graphic violence or other inappropriate aspects? Thanks for the review!
The violence, while shocking, wasn't described in a graphic way, so it shouldn't be off-putting to the average reader. There was no explicit sex either. Thanks for commenting!

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Post by joshfee77 » 04 Sep 2019, 17:21

kandscreeley wrote:
31 Aug 2019, 18:22
This one definitely sounds psychological. It's a story of revenge. I'm glad that you could read it without having read the others. I don't think it's for me, but thanks.
Thanks! Revenge is a powerful motive which can drive people to do crazy things. Losing all control of their emotions may lead to tragic outcomes like those in this book.

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Post by joshfee77 » 04 Sep 2019, 17:23

Meg98 wrote:
31 Aug 2019, 20:40
This sounds like a very promising book that perhaps only missed the mark on editing. It is a shame! Thank you for your helpful and excellent review.
Let me just reiterate that the editing errors were extremely minor, generally occasional punctuation only. They didn't bother me much at all. Still a very readable story. Thanks!

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Post by joshfee77 » 04 Sep 2019, 17:26

Helene_2008 wrote:
02 Sep 2019, 09:41
I like that there is a battle of good and evil for Junior's character. I'd be interested to see if he seeks revenge or is able to somehow forgive his godfather. Thanks for the review!
Great comment, thanks! I, too, find the internal struggles of a character compelling in psychological thrillers. Always makes for an intriguing plot.

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Post by joshfee77 » 04 Sep 2019, 17:28

esp1975 wrote:
02 Sep 2019, 16:48
Okay, it made so much more sense when you mentioned this was the third book in the series. Reading the synopsis, I was thinking, wait a minute, this sounds almost exactly like The Ordinary Doll. Once I realized that they were books in the same series, focusing on different aspects of the same consequence, it all made a lot more sense.
Not certain if I have the emotional energy to handle this series of books, but they definitely sound interesting and well done.
I know what you mean about emotional energy. There were parts of this book that seemed quite draining, which is surely the mark of a very good author. Thanks!

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