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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Review: Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron

Publisher: Viking Penguin
Published: October 3, 2013
Pages: 368
Source: For Review from Penguin Canada
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Love can be a real monster.
Sixteen-year-old Boy’s never left home. When you’re the son of Frankenstein’s monster and the Bride, it’s tough to go out in public, unless you want to draw the attention of a torch-wielding mob. And since Boy and his family live in a secret enclave of monsters hidden under Times Square, it’s important they maintain a low profile.
Boy’s only interactions with the world are through the Internet, where he’s a hacker extraordinaire who can hide his hulking body and stitched-together face behind a layer of code. When conflict erupts at home, Boy runs away and embarks on a cross-country road trip with the granddaughters of Jekyll and Hyde, who introduce him to malls and diners, love and heartbreak. But no matter how far Boy runs, he can’t escape his demons—both literal and figurative—until he faces his family once more.

In short: Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron is an original and endearingly humorous story.
It is so rare these days that I get to read a book that has a completely original plot. Read enough dystopians and they all seem to blend together; ditto with fantasies and paranormal. Now how about a story of the teenage son of Frankenstein's monster who sets out on a road trip with the granddaughters of Jekyll and Hyde? Nope, definitely haven't heard that one before. So Man Made Boy deserves major props for having a unique idea in fiction.

Man Made Boy is not a book that is meant to be examined too critically because there is a lot about the world Jon Skovron has created that makes very little sense. Instead, it is a book that is meant to amuse and that it did. The idea that there might be an underground community of monsters that makes their living putting on the most popular show on Broadway is an amusingly refreshing one. And amongst the unreality of all these monsters and ghouls lied a very technological plot that grounded the unreal-ness nicely.

I think my main issue with Man Made Boy was that the plot was a bit unfocused. There were long stretches of plot in which nothing much happens, punctuated by quick, easily solved instances of conflict now and then. It felt like the story was written on the spot, without an initial plan in place, and I personally prefer plots that have more direction. The writing wasn't my favourite either: it was very dialogue-heavy with just bare bones descriptions.

I can't say Man Made Boy was laugh-out-loud funny like I was expecting. But I was plenty amused while reading it as the story was very endearing at times, and that counts for something. I also adored Man Made Boy's very sweet and charming underlying message as it related to its very sweet and charming protagonist, Boy. Even though I had some issues with the execution of the plot, I enjoyed Man Made Boy overall and would recommend it to anyone looking for a humorous and easy read that doesn't take itself too seriously.

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  1. I'm so glad you liked this one. It showed up at my door the other day and I was a little skeptical. Now I'm excited to read it.

  2. Son of Frankenstein and granddaughters of Jekyll and Hyde? Oh lords, I need to read this one! Now I know I should've given this a second glance. :/

  3. I want to read this book so badly and the Chapters I went to didn't have it ugh, my heart literally broke (but then fixed again because House of Hades!!). I'm sad to see that the plot was disappointing because I love plot-driven books. The story still sounds good and 3.5 stars isn't too bad! Great review! :)

  4. Original is a big plus, but the unfocused makes me hesitate

  5. I agree that it's exciting to see something so original! I'll occasionally go through a phase where I read a lot of a genre (dystopians are a great example) and they almost inevitably start to all seem the same.

  6. An unfocused plot makes me kind of nervous. Which is a shame because I was really looking forward to this book!

  7. Oh this one sounds like such a light, fun read! The plot seriously doesn't sound like anything I've ever read about before, and I would do a major applause to Skovron for that! Even though this story is to be taken lightly, it's a bit unfortunate that this plot is directionless. I'm quite curious about it though, so I may still check it out. Thanks for your well-written review, Aylee!

  8. Hmm, I've been seeing quite a few mixed reviews for this one lately, which kind of convinces me that it's not my cup of tea anymore! It's great that it's original and oftentimes funny, but the slow-moving plot (it sounds like that, anyway) will more than likely grate on my nerves a little. I am a pretty impatient reader, after all!

    Hmm, so judging on your second paragraph, I'm guessing that MAN MADE BOY is more of a light read, yes? I'm not sure how well an illogical world would sit with me, though, because I'm more of the kind of person who'd prefer things to make sense and to be explained. But if that's not the true focus of the book, then maybe it's still acceptable... bah! I don't know.

    The main problem I'd have, though, is probably with the plot. Long stretches of nothing? And then sudden bursts of action? Okaaaayy. I like unexpected reads, but this. This sounds messy. But Boy does sound pretty sweet, and I like that the book has some underlying messages, despite the light feel. Even so, I doubt I'll be reading this, no matter how intriguing the story sounds. All the same, fabulous review as always, Aylee!

  9. I definitely like the premise. It has the unique factor going for it, like you said. I'm sorry it seemed a bit pointless sometimes though. That's never fun! I do like some fun humor though, so sounds like a cute read.

  10. This definitely sounds like an original story! It's a shame it wasn't laugh out loud funny and that the plot didn't have direction, but I'm glad you found it an enjoyable read overall. I'm definitely going to be reading this one soon, so hopefully I'll feel the same way! Lovely review :-)

  11. You are right. Even I am finding many books (no matter what genre) very similar and it's good that Man Made Boy was something different and amusing. Once in a while it's good to get to a book that doesn't need you to think and just amuses you. In spite of the issues you had with certain aspects of the book, I am glad you enjoyed it overall. Awesome review, Aylee!

    Sarika @ The Readdicts

  12. Hmm, this does sound very original but I'm not liking the sound of that unfocused plot. I'll probably pass on it since although it's amusing, it's not laugh out loud funny.

  13. Lovely review Aylee! I admit that the originality of the plot for this one is one of the main reasons I was intrigued by it! I was hoping that it would have been more satisfying plot-wise though. The way you described the writing is also a bit troubling to me, I might have to hold off on this one for now, I was really eager to read your thoughts on this one though since you're the one that brought this one to my attention. I'm happy you enjoyed it overall though I wish it would have been even better :)

  14. I don't think I'll be a fan of this, because of the unfocused plot. The idea that monsters are in the popular shows is funny though :)

  15. Wow, that does sound super original. Sounds like a rainy day kinda fun read. Will have to check this one out, great review!
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words

  16. Yours is the first review that I've read for this book and it has me quite curious about this now. I know what you mean about certain books blending together once you've read enough of them, so the unique concept here really has my attention! It's a shame that the plot was lacking definite structure and direction though, but I'm glad that you thought this was an amusing read overall. Great review as always, Aylee!

  17. I was really looking forward to this book. I also wanted to read your review to see if you enjoyed it as much as I expected too. However, I'm left a little let down. I don't really enjoy books which have more lateral movement than forward progress. I also find book with an excess of dialogue and not much detailed description to be not something entirely enjoyable to me. However, humorous easy reads are always something I search for during certain times. So, overall, I think this is something I keep on my TBR to read when I get a chance and have the extra time. Its not one I'm going to try and squeeze in. Great review Aylee, I learned a lot.