At the Spring Frenzy Presents event that I attended, I received a copy of Destroy All Monsters by Sam J. Miller. I was curious to read the story told in two points of view. In addition, mental health in teens is an issue that should no longer be taboo and I was pleased to see that a teen novel was exploring the subject.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
A crucial, genre-bending tale, equal parts Ned Vizzini and Patrick Ness, about the life-saving power of friendship.
Solomon and Ash both experienced a traumatic event when they were twelve.
Ash lost all memory of that event when she fell from Solomon’s treehouse. Since then, Solomon has retreated further and further into a world he seems to have created in his own mind. One that insulates him from reality, but crawls with foes and monsters . . . in both animal and human form.
As Solomon slips further into the place he calls Darkside, Ash realizes her only chance to free her best friend from his pain is to recall exactly what happened that day in his backyard and face the truth—together.
I liked the concept behind the story: that a childhood trauma affects a child’s perception on life. Solomon experiences such trauma and loses himself in a fantasy world of his own making. There were moments, however, when I read of his experience in this fantasy world that I was a bit lost in the story. Miller attempts to create a fantasy world but for me, as an avid fantasy reader, it fell a little flat. In addition, at times the link between Solomon’s fantasy world and the reality was too tenuous. Having said that, midway through the story, the connections between the two seemed more believable.
Ash’s storyline was more interesting to me as she strove to help her friend, and to remember the night that she had blanked out in her mind. Like her friend Solomon, she had found a way to erase the event out of her mind – but in different manner. While searching to help her friend Solomon, she finds a way to help her own mind heal.
What kept me reading the story was my curiosity of the trauma – which is indeed something that would cause a mental breakdown in a child. The suggestion of the trauma is revealed in increments until finally Solomon is able to reveal what happened the night Ash lost her memory. Miller resolves the story with finesse and realism – an ending that I certainly appreciate.
Destroy All Monsters is a much needed story about mental health issues. It is a story about friendship – a friendship that survives even a childhood trauma. Miller tells the story through two points of view – both Solomon and Ash – and at times I was unable to make the connection between Solomon’s created world and the reality that Ash described.
Even though I expected much when I began this story, Miller’s novel did fall a little flat for me as he tried too hard to create a fantasy world. What kept me reading was Ash’s story and my desire to know more about the trauma that they had experienced.
I give this novel ⭐️⭐️ 2 stars
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019
(This novel was the 77th in my book pledge for 2019)