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The Monster Variations by Daniel Kraus

The Monster Variations

by Daniel Kraus

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“We all have monsters,” his father whispered. This book is about monsters we all face at some point in our lives: bullying, fear, violence, abandonment, and alcoholism. A killer is on the loose in a small town, running over young boys with a silver truck. Twelve-year-old James, his nerdy friend Willie, and crazy Reggie face a summer of monsters. What makes this story work is its believability, yet as I quickly turned the pages I found myself saying, “I don’t believe it.” For teens that like thrillers with twists and turns. ( )
  barbrahesson | Oct 26, 2013 |
The concept behind the story is better than the actual story. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
It was Tom Sawyer meets Stephen King. An adventure story told in a horror style, this novel traces the lives of three young boys one summer when a silver truck is targeting the town's youth. As they struggle to overcome their fears (of curfew, of summer's end, of parental expectations, of the town bully), they learn who they are and what it means to grow up. James, Willie, and Reggie all are memorable and distinct characters, their growth as individuals tearing them apart and back together.

Monster Variations could open doors for lots of discussion about male identity and coming of age, but the style struck me as one that teens or tweens themselves would find phony: an adult male reminiscing about childhood and labeling his actions with heady emotions that may not have been fully present at the time.

Overall, I respect this book, but I didn't like it. ( )
  readerspeak | Mar 10, 2010 |
Reviewed by Breia "The Brain" Brickey for TeensReadToo.com

The story begins in the present with James, who on his way out of town runs into Reggie. The story then switches to the year when they were twelve.

Most of what you read will be from this year, when one of their friends is hit by someone in a silver truck, causing him to lose his arm. About two months later, another boy is hit and killed by what everyone suspects is the same truck. This leads the parents and the town to enact a curfew.

Seen through the eyes of 12-year-old boys, this story was very riveting. I enjoyed watching the story unfold. The story is not a hard read but it may not be something you want younger kids to read. I would say that they should be 12 and up.

THE MONSTER VARIATIONS was a fast and enjoyable read that reminds me a little of the movie Stand By Me. ( )
  GeniusJen | Jan 1, 2010 |
Showing 4 of 4
The Monster Variations is largely devoid of real surprise. But it’s also predictable because so much about it rings true.
added by Shortride | editA. V. Club, Noel Murray (Aug 20, 2009)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385737335, Hardcover)

This fast-paced read will keep readers on the edge of their seats!

Someone is killing boys in a small town. The murder weapon is a truck, and the only protection is a curfew enacted to keep kids off the streets. But it’s summer—and that alone is worth the risk of staying out late for James, Willie, and Reggie.

Willie, who lost his arm in the first hit-and-run attack, finds it hard to keep up with his two best friends as they leave childhood behind. All of them are changing, hounded by their parents, hunted by the killer, and haunted by the “monster,” a dead thing that guards the dangerous gateway between youth and manhood. But that’s not all: shadowing the boys everywhere is Mel Herman, the mysterious and brilliant bully whose dark secrets may hold the key to their survival. As the summer burns away, these forces collide, and it will take compassion, brains, and guts for the boys to overcome their demons—and not become monsters themselves.

In this chilling and poignant debut novel, Daniel Kraus deftly explores the choices boys grapple with and the revelations that occur as they become men.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:50 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

On his way to State University, nineteen-year-old James runs into a former friend and is immersed in memories from the year they were twelve and learned that monsters exist in the world--and within themselves.

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