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Book Cover Image: Monster High by Lisi HarrisonTitle: Monster High

Author: Lisi Harrison

Narrator: Rebecca Soler

Audio Length: 6 hours, 8 minutes

Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books): “The monster community has kept a low profile at the local high school, but when two new girls enroll, the town will never be the same. Created just fifteen days ago, Frankie Stein is psyched to trade her father’s formaldehyde-smelling basement lab for parties and prom.

But with a student body totally freaked out by rumors of monsters stalking the halls, Frankie learns that high school can be rough for a chic freak like her. She thinks she finds a friend in fellow new student Melody Carver-but can a “normie” be trusted with her big secret?”

Thoughts: A random win on Twitter, I was completely unprepared for Lisi Harrison’s entrance into the world of the supernatural. Yet, Monster High is a welcome addition. The tongue-in-cheek nod to monsters from the Hollywood past enhances the reader’s interaction with the story, trying to discern normies from RADs and then enjoying how the RADs have adapted their lives to fit into modern society. Frankie is a refreshing blend of innocence and twenty-first century activism. Melody drives home the message that beauty is more than skin-deep. The result is a cute and thoroughly enjoyable novel about the importance of tolerance.

There is an interesting recurring theme in YA novels regarding communication. As teens, most protagonists do not want to adopt a habit of full disclosure to their parents, which is completely understandable. Monster High is no different in this regard; yet, as a reader, it becomes quite frustrating to know that telling the whole truth the first chance possible would go a long way towards avoiding misunderstandings and damage to relationships. Would this idea of teenage sullenness and inability to talk with parents desist a bit if YA authors adopted more open relationships and frank discussions between their teen protagonists and their parents? It is an interesting idea.

Another issue to note is the breaking of another YA tradition: the absent parents. In Monster High, parents are definitely in the picture. In fact, all of the kids come from two-parent homes, or if there is only one parent, it is not because of divorce. It is a surprising, yet refreshing twist to YA and does set an entirely different, but very welcome, tone for the story itself.

The largest issue of note for Monster High is the focus on labels and material goods. Frankie decks out her “fab” in top-of-the-line home decor, while Candace prances around in designer clothes. The brand of clothing each girl wears is constantly mentioned, as well as the name brand of each purse or shoe. In addition, one entire scene takes place in a posh spa. For a novel about tolerance and the idea of internal beauty, the focus on material goods seems a bit contradictory and proved to be one of the few negatives of the book.

The narrator, Rebecca Soler, did a fantastic job capturing Frankie’s mirth and gaiety as well as Melody’s cautiousness. The listener can easily distinguish between DJ and Jackson, Frankie, Candace and Melody and the entire cast. There are sound effects which, at times, definitely add to the narration while at other times seem forced and are just a distraction. There is a strong visual imagery in the language itself, which lends very well to the audio format. At six hours and eight minutes, the audio is quick and engaging.

Not knowing what to expect, I found I enjoyed my time in Salem, Oregon. Monster High is definitely lighter fare, heavily skewed towards the teen crowd, but there is plenty for adults to enjoy as well. What may be construed as a fluffy read in reality is a novel that packs a fairly powerful message, one that appeals to all ages. Monster High is definitely “Voltage!”

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