I really enjoyed the first book by Dan Wells and had high hopes for the second which were fully realised. Mr Monster represents a rare breed: unplanned second novels which feel like they were always meant to be rather than a cash-in. It’s really impressive how elements of the first novel which were unresolved, although they never felt it at the time, have been taken in this book and fleshed out into character and story arcs.
The book continues the story of John Cleaver, now almost 16 and with social conduct disorder. Essentially a sociopath John struggles to deal with the increasing rage that builds up in him particularly since the events of the last novel, his dark personality which he refers to as Mr Monster. The book is told completely in first person, from John’s point of view which is utterly engrossing. It’s very difficult to do this sort of story well. We need to sympathise with John but also find him slightly scary and Dan Wells does this with ease.
I am not a serial killer read like a mystery novel which revealed too prematurely the identity of the murderer. Mr Monster strikes the perfect balance with the reader guessing just before John did what was occurring and with the identity revealed at the perfect moment for the finale of the novel.
Speaking of finales it’s safe to say that the horror aspect of the novel has been ramped up significantly. The first novel contained some gruesome scenes and realistic descriptions of the mortuary trade. If parts of this novel don’t make you wince or take a bit of a break then I suggest you might like to also visit a therapist!
Dan’s prose continues to be utterly readable. Since getting the novel on Christmas Day I’ve struggled to put the novel down despite being surrounded by family (Ok.. we’re not that close, but still!). I find the right length for a novel difficult to judge since mainly I tend to read epic fantasy or space opera. So a short several hundred page book feels positively slim! It’s engrossing throughout though and that’s all that matters. From reading Dan’s blog and the end of the novel it’s safe to say that there is one more book featuring John on the way shortly. I’ll be buying it as soon as it comes out in the UK.