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The Monstrous Child by Francesca Simon
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The Monstrous Child

by Francesca Simon

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Enter the gates of Hel at your own risk. While I am a fan of myths and legends, I found myself disturbed by the book The Monstrous Child by Francesca Simon. Maybe it is the first person narrative, told from the perspective of the Norse Goddess Hel, neither hero nor villain of her own story but rather somewhere betwixt and between. Maybe it is this very betweenness that is unsettling. You don’t know if to feel sorry for Hel, to feel pity at her poor treatment and rotting life, to wish her a quick and merciful death, or to slap her for being so, so very mopey. And maybe it is the ending, the vague half breathed end of everything that brings more questions than answers and leaves poor Hel once again, finally and forever, alone. I admit the writing is at times witty, the idea for a first person narrative by young Hel is clever, and the whole story gives a new and interesting, if extra creepy, view of Norse mythology but reader beware this is a story that will leave you disturbed and ever so slightly queasy. ( )
  frogwindy | May 22, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I actually kind of liked this book. Well, most of the time. This was the kind of book that every twenty pages or so I changed my mind.

I agree with most of the issues people had with it, but somehow it still managed to be entertaining and original. Honestly, it was mostly because of my love of Norse mythology. If I wasn't familiar with it, I think I'd have been pretty lost.

The Monstrous Child is about Hel, the teenage daughter of Loki, sister to Fenrir and Jormungandr. Her family isn't exactly the tender loving type and that creates an angry, spiteful Hel. Odin banishes her to the underworld to rule there for all time. That's pretty much it. The rest is about Hel's time as queen of the underworld, her dreams of escape, and her obsession with Baldr. This isn't exactly a plot-driven book, but it was still quite entertaining.

It was easy to dislike Hel. She didn't have much going for her. She was whiny and incredibly adept at self-sabotage. Some part of her ached for kindness and affection yet she spent all of her time alienating everyone and enjoying it. This didn't really bother me, though. If you consider the results of Hel's upbringing in the same way you would if she were human, it would make sense that she turn out a bitter, angry, hateful, teenage girl bent on vengeance. So while it's easy to understand the reasons for her awfulness, she was still awful.

It was certainly a risk to make Hel's inner monologue so modern. It took me a long time to get used to it and even longer to move past how annoying it was. I suppose it was meant to make Hel easier for a younger audience to relate to, but instead, it came off as trying too hard. The only thing it was missing was “lol”. It just didn't work for me.

It was a fascinating and unique book, but overall, I don't think it was executed well enough to actually recommend.

*I received an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. ( )
  bgnbrooks | May 9, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I enjoyed this book. I don't read a lot of middle grade because sometimes books aimed at a young audience feels very juvenile, but this book felt like something anyone of any age could enjoy.

I really liked the narration. It was written in first person, but it was done really well in that it felt like the spunky young narroator was having a conversation with you. The use of mythology and descriptions of the setting were also very well done.

The only slightly negative thing I have to say about this book is that the plot wasn't very exciting. When you're dealing with gods and the underworld, you sort of expect big things to happen, but that wasn't the case here. I don't think this was too big of a problem because it was a fast read for me.

.... also after reading, I discovered this book is the third book in a series according to GoodReads.com. I didn't read the previous books, and didn't feel like I was missing out on anything. ( )
  upinthestacks | May 5, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was really excited when I received this beauty in the mailbox as a) it seemed like a really good read based on the blurb I had read online and b) I was immediately in love with the stunning cover art (I know, I know...always with the cover art right? I can't help it- I'm a sucker for a good cover!)

Hel is just your average 14 year old goddess, banished from her new place in Asgard in order to become the ruler of the underworld. Daughter of a god and a giantess with a wolf and a snake for brothers, Hel has not known much in the way of love and affection. Made more embittered and ravenous for revenge after her banishment, Hel bides her time in the underworld waiting for the end of times.

Told in the first person, this YA novel was a seriously fun read! Hel is witty and crass, sarcastic and cranky.... in other words, she's my kind of people. Her life as a goddess had many interesting parallels to real life as a teenager; parents who don't understand you, siblings who drive you nuts, peers who reject you, poor self esteem and self image, we've all been there right? The book follows Hel from her birth (like literally the moment she was born- she remembers it all) until, well, the end of times. I enjoyed all the myth and mythology that was central to the plot line and characters, and felt having the main character be an unlikely goddess, one perhaps not so revered and idolized in culture, was brilliant. Like I mentioned, this is a YA novel, but my 32 year old self found plenty of enjoyment in it so all you adults out there, don't write it off! ( )
  courtneygiraldo | Apr 24, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
First things first: I saw on Goodreads that this book was compared to Percy Jackson in its style and manner of storytelling. If by that, the person meant it has to do with mythology and is told from the perspective of a more youthful narrative, then sure. But otherwise? This book is very different.

The author brings Hel, the Norse goddess of the underworld, to life with vivid imagination. I don't see the comparison to Percy Jackson because this book is more adult and definitely darker in tone. I thoroughly enjoyed the world-building and I thought the storytelling was perfectly done because, even though Hel is a goddess, there is always this sort of innocence about her because there is so much she doesn't understand, and in turn, we are even more so in her shoes because we, like our narrator, aren't in the loop with the "big gods" crowd.

Side note: this cover art is amazing. I would definitely read another young adult book from this author! ( )
  hmcdonald | Apr 24, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0571330266, Hardcover)

A stunning, operatic and epic drama like no other. Meet Hel, an ordinary teenager - and goddess of the Underworld. Why is life so unfair? But Hel tries to make the best of it, creating gleaming halls in her dark kingdom and welcoming the dead who she is forced to host for eternity. Until eternity itself is threatened. Francesca Simon's wonderful first foray into teen fiction.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 07 Jul 2016 20:20:58 -0400)

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