Review: My Name is Monster by Katie Hale

my name is monster katie hale

Rating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Literary Fiction, Dystopia, Retelling

Goodreads

In My Name is Monster, the world as we know it is over: War and Sickness took over the countries and killed almost all humans – almost. Monster is still alive, and she emerges from the Seed Vault in the Arctic to find food and shelter, surviving.

This beautiful novel is incredibly bold and nuanced – it’s a post-apocalyptic story about society, motherhood, survival, civilization. Its loose inspiration in Frankenstein makes it all the more interesting, too. It took me a few pages to start really getting into the story, but after that it sucked me in. Monster is such an interesting character, so intelligent and cold, sometimes cruel, I could not get enough of her.

The novel is divided in two parts, in which the first one is about survival and the latter about motherhood and society, where a second character is introduced. This second main character represents a different kind of survival, one that goes beyond the basic needs for food and shelter, one that needs beauty and softness and company.

It was very interesting to see these two characters struggling to understand each other sometimes and the subtle rebellion for power. There was something almost (but not quite) fairy-tale-like to it, a journey of the psyche trying to survive, providing and nurturing and creating, learning to heal and grow in a land that one thought barren. Like healing after a trauma (in this case, the apocalypse brought by War and Sickness). It was incredibly interesting, how healing can cause the cold, harsh instinct to survive to slowly give way to our need for beauty and life. I’m probably over-interpreting, but to me, it was a wonderful story about the subconscious and healing from trauma.

If you don’t see it that way, then it’s a story about living in society, how rules may or not be sensible, how language can be difficult and so unique from person-to-person, about keeping secrets and how we don’t understand one another completely. It’s beautifully written, full of things left unsaid that speak so loud. It left a very strong impression on me and I thoroughly enjoyed it! In an ocean of books set in post-apocalyptic worlds, My Name is Monster is such a unique finding.

12 thoughts on “Review: My Name is Monster by Katie Hale

  1. i definitely thought it was quite interesting how Mother-Monster had such a holdover of society’s rules. it was intriguing what she decided to keep and what she didn’t.

    [possibly spoilers!!]

    i think i almost wish the queerness had been explored a bit more; i couldn’t tell if Mother-Monster was homophobic, repulsed by Old Society’s beauty standards, or just repulsed by sexuality in general.

    Liked by 1 person

    • [Spoilers]

      I totally agree. I kept trying to read between the lines of what Mother-Monster said to see if she was queer and angry at it or what, but I could not get a clear opinion on that! I think there’s definitely a Sapphic undertone to this novel, but Mother-Monster herself seems to me more generally disinterested in people/affection/sex. It would have been nice to get more exploration on that!

      Liked by 1 person

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