Monster, by A. Lee Martinez, is a fantasy book that is rather Douglas Adams-esque. In fact, that’s how I found it. While at Powell’s in Portland, I was looking at Douglas Adams and picked up The Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul. There was a little post-it note that said “If you like Douglas Adams, check out A. Lee Martinez. So I did, and we bought Monster and The Automatic Detective. I haven’t been disappointed with them since.
Monster has all kinds of zany creatures, from a sasquatch to a fire-breathing cat that’s actually a lion. It also wraps up nicely, with an epic battle and a happy(ish) ending. It is another crazy book, as far as the characters and the monsters (er, “cryptobiologicals”). However, compared to the books I’ve been reading lately (Cat’s Cradle for one), the plot isn’t really all that crazy. It’s the typical “people who don’t really like each other meet and save the world, thus becoming (somewhat) friends” plot. But I don’t have a problem with that story; though not exactly being original, the book would likely be a jumbled mess without this tried and true plot.
Monster‘s characters are vivid and crazy, absolutely not realistic, but in a good way. They’re like what would happen if a six-year-old’s nightmares got written about by an adult writer. And they’re fantastic. Monster himself is a great character, though still not exactly original. He’s the typical reluctant hero, with powers. And his interactions with Judy are funny and occasionally touching and make you think “We’ve got a new classic duo here.” Judy herself is a nice character, very much like Arthur Dent, except with powers. And you know how much I love Arthur Dent.
Monster is a very, very good fantasy book, on the edge of a must-read. It’s as wonderfully eccentric as The Hitchiker’s Guide, and thus I think it’s great. If you love Douglas Adams, and are fine with a bit of magic, you certainly shouldn’t overlook this book.