Allow me to bid fair morning to you, be you fleshling, stone-ish or monstrosity uncategorised. Today the Maniacal Book Club is proud to present and discuss the soon-to-be-released middle grade novel The Frankenstein Journals by Scott Sonneborn, dealing, as it does, with the growing pains of a monster on a quest. We were delighted to receive a digital copy of this illustrated lovely from the publisher via Netgalley – our sincerest thanks!
The Frankenstein Journals follows fourteen-year-old J.D. (John Doe) from the moment he learns that the only home he has ever known – Mr Shelley’s Orphanage for Lost and Neglected Children – is about to become his ex-abode, as Mr Shelley is no longer financially able to keep it open. Before leaving, J. D. discovers his father’s old journal and is astounded to discover that he is the son of Frankenstein’s monster, and made up of a collection of …shall we say…recycled body parts. Rather than being daunted by this new information, J.D. sees it as the perfect opportunity to obtain what he’s always wanted – a proper family – and resolves to seek out the descendents of those who once belonged to his parts and inform them of their tenuous biological link. Before setting off on his quest, J.D. meets one Fran Kenstein, the daughter of the famous scientist and finds out that she too would like to meet J.D.’s family…but for reasons that are distinctly more sinister. Now it’s a race against time, and J.D. is determined to find his long-lost cousins before Fran gets there first and sets whatever dastardly plan she has concocted into devillishly devious motion.
Now pop in your most high-functioning spare eyeballs for the thoughts of the Maniacal Book Club!
This was a fun book to read even though there were no dragons. There were some monsters though, so that was almost as good. In one part there’s a sports mascot convention and there’s an enormous building filled with a huge crowd of people dressed as all kinds of animals and monsters. And then a wolf-man turns up and started slashing things. That was my favourite bit. I really liked J.D. He sounds like a fun and adventurous kind of guy. Shame there were no dragons though. Maybe there’ll be some in the next book.
Being from the patchwork-monster genus myself, I found much to empathise with as I read J.D’s adventures. And what a loveable young rogue he is, as pure of heart as any monster could feasibly be. As usual, I have created a poem to express my enjoyment of this book. I thought I’d branch out this time to limerickery. Enjoy.
A lad formed from patchwork quite frightful
Met a lass with a plan truly spiteful.
He hoped for the best
and set out on a quest,
Sure his family would find him delightful!
Brothers and sisters, I hope with every stony fibre of my being that you grasp the message of hope that the son of Frankenstein’s monster presents to you in this book – the message that no matter how different one may be from others, by trusting in the goodness of one’s fellow wayfarers on life’s journey, a place of belonging can be found for all of us.
Heed also, my friends, the bad example of Fran Kenstein – that evil can dwell even in the hearts of the cutest teenage scientist.
Now I’ve been reading a lot of middle grade fiction of this genre lately, and while this doesn’t quite match up to the slick, funny and original Origami Yoda series, for instance, The Frankenstein Journals has a charm all its own. In this offering we are treated to the first two legs of J.D.’s body-part hunt (see what I did there?!), as he searches for the relations of his feet and one of his eyeballs (the green one, incidentally). In the middle of the book there’s a sort of short recap of the first half of the story, so I’m not sure whether the publishers originally intended on even shorter episodes, or whether they are catering to readers with short attention spans. Either way, the plot is simple and flows from scene to scene with very little to slow the action. J.D., the main character, is so perfectly friendly and positive that you can’t help but hope for the best for his quest across continents to seek out his long lost family members.
While the book would easily suit the interests of both genders, this will be a particular hit with boys. In fact, I would suggest that while this is a middle grade novel, its appeal would lean toward the lower end of that age bracket, and I can certainly see confident readers around the eight to nine year old mark being thoroughly sucked in to J.D.’s silly and humorous adventures.
What really added to the overall appeal of the book for me was the eye-poppingly colourful illustrations that appear throughout the story. They absolutely bring J.D.’s story to life and will no doubt be very much appreciated by younger readers. I have to say, the illustration of the “crowd scene” during the mascot convention that Toothless has already alluded to has got to be my favourite – like a Where’s Wally? of the animal kingdom, but without the distinctive bobble hat.
Our final deliberations have led us to the conclusion that this will be a hit with the monster-loving tween set, and for that reason it receives 8 thumbs up from the Maniacal Book Club.
The Frankenstein Journals is due to be released on August the 1st.
Until next time,
Bruce (and the gang!)