The Monstrumologist - Rick Yancey This book was quite the pleasant surprise.I didn't really know what to expect when I first picked it up. I had heard of it a couple of times before––and maybe I'd seen it at the library and previously thought about reading it. I just recalled being told that this book was really graphic and frightening. So I was just like, "Well, here goes nothing!"Within about twenty or thirty pages, I was already feeling a bit sick to my stomach. Let's just say, this book just got right into the gory stuff. And since I'm kind of a squeamish person, at first I really didn't think I was going to enjoy this. But as I got further into the story, I found myself more and more wrapped up in it. And ultimately, I actually loved it. (Hence, the five stars.) But let's go a little more into detail ...The setting of the story is a bit ambiguous––but we know it takes place in the late 1800's in New England (possibly in or somewhere around Massachusetts–-my home state, woohoo!). Our protagonist is 12-year-old Will Henry, who is an assistant/apprentice to Pellinore Warthrop––aka the doctor, or the monstrumologist. Will is an orphan, taken in by the doctor after the gruesome death of Will's parents. (Will's father also worked for the doctor.)Monstrumology is the scientific study and the hunting of monsters. In this particular case, Will and Dr. Warthrop are studying the sudden outbreak of a monster called the Anthropophagi––which is a somewhat humanlike creature, except it has no head, and it has eyes in its shoulders and a mouth for a stomach. Oh, and it eats people of course.Bahaha, okay. No more "Troll 2" jokes, I promise.Anyway, I was kind of surprised to see that this book has kind of a low rating on Goodreads (I mean, considering a lot of really awful books have averages of like 4.5 and this book has a 3.9). But, I also realize that this book might not appeal to the majority of the YA audience, for several reasons:1. There is no romance.2. In fact, there are no major female characters in this book at all. Probably only three or four women show up in the entire story, and they're very, very minor characters. 3. There's a lot of extreme and graphic violence. (I mean, if you think The Hunger Games is violent for a YA book, just ... HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. You have no idea.)4. The main character is quite young. He's not even a teenager himself. If it weren't for all the gore and whatnot, the book would probably be middle grade solely based on the protagonist's age. 5. The writing is kind of in a Gothic/Romantic style––think along the lines of Mary Shelley or Edgar Allan Poe. So, probably not something that a lot of younger readers are used to, or can easily understand. I see a lot of negative reviews complaining that the writing is too old-fashioned and whatnot. Although, since it's set more than a hundred years ago, I think the style makes sense ... but everyone's entitled to their opinion and all. And if you don't like that type of classic style, this book is probably not going to be your thing.So anyway, I see how this book is difficult to put into a genre. I guess it's the type of book that's just categorized as YA because it's too mature to be for children, but the protagonist is also very young so you can't really aim it at adults. But, I think there are a lot of things about this book that a lot of younger teenage readers might not enjoy. I mean, if I read this book when I was 13 or so, I probably would have hated it. If I had read it back then, I don't think I would have understood the influences behind it and it just wouldn't have been as interesting to me. Now, being almost an adult, I can see what might have inspired Rick Yancey.As I've already mentioned, the style seemed to have a lot of Gothic and Romantic influence. The story is full of gloom and horror and mystery, and of course is full of supernatural elements. Yancey also writes in great detail, creating a lot of horrific and unforgettable images.And that brings me to the writing. Oh, how I love the writing in this book. I mean ... WOW. Mr. Yancey is just terrific at detailed imagery. I could see everything so clearly. And yes, most of it was really frightening and disgusting, and caused me to make faces like this:But it takes a lot of skill to create such memorable images!The whole thing sort of reminded me of reading something Shelley/Poe-esque, crossed with Sherlock Holmes or something. Although, I think that might just be because Dr. Warthrop reminded me a lot of Sherlock––in love with his work but usually unfeeling towards other people, brilliant but also kind of insane, etc. Ahhh. I was kind of in love with him. But maybe that's just because I kept picturing him looking like Benedict Cumberbatch ...MMMM.Uh, where was I? Oh yeah.So, I guess that brings me to the characterization. If you haven't gathered it already, Warthrop was my favorite character. I liked his Sherlock vibe. He could be intense, yet he could also be hilarious. He could act completely unfeeling, yet there were a lot of subtle moments when the reader could glimpse how much he cared about Will.As for Will, I wouldn't say he was the best protagonist in the world, although he was likable enough. I think what I especially appreciated about him was that he acted his age––that despite all the horrible things he had gone though, he would still feel horrified or sickened at the appropriate moments. He still cried or threw up or something, if things got really bad ... which I thought was realistic. And his attitude toward the doctor is quite interesting. Obviously, he has mixed feelings. Warthrop is kind of insane and can be very insensitive––not to mention, he might have caused the death of Will's parents––yet he is the only thing Will has left. So, the whole relationship is very complex and intriguing.Kearns was also a fascinating character. Almost kind of a Moriarty in this situation––just as brilliant as Warthrop, but more ... evil. He was an interesting comparison to Warthrop, and provided the reader with a lot of questions. Such as ... if you spend so much time studying such horrible creatures, how long will it take before you start to think like the monster you're hunting? Hmmm.The plot itself was very exciting, and often I would find the book hard to put down.I would be reading like:And then things would be getting creepy and I'd be like:And I would just know something horrible was going to happen and I'd be like:And then MONSTERS WOULD COME OUT AND RIP PEOPLE TO SHREDS AND STUFF, AND I'D BE LIKE:... And then it would be over and I'd just be left sitting there like:So yeah, I think that about sums it up. It was quite the emotional roller coaster. But altogether, it was just awesome.And now I'm reading the sequel with very high expectations. Woohoo!