Pros: Fascinating concept
Cons: Some definite plot holes
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
In Michael Phillip Cash’s Monsterland the tone of the tale starts out… overwrought. Purple. Melodramatic. Thankfully this improved over the course of the story. The melodrama is appropriate in some places, given that this is a somewhat campy tale, but it went overboard early on.
In this world a pandemic created zombie-like people. Folks subsequently discovered that werewolves and vampires already existed, but in small numbers (in particular the vamps seem headed for extinction). Dr. Vincent Conrad discovered a great way to take advantage: he has created seven “Monsterland” theme parks on six different continents. He’s made the opening night such a big deal that he has high-profile political figures present, such as the U.S. president. He’s also promised the vampires that he’ll help them overcome their downward spiral and try to find a cure for them, but they’re starting to have their doubts regarding his promises.
The theme parks offer many jobs during a severe economic downturn–another reason Dr. Conrad can get pretty much anything he wants right now.
The characters in this book were okay, but not great. The first time we see Dr. Conrad it’s on a television program, and he came across as creepy. When he’s at the theme park, he suddenly becomes this incredibly charismatic guy who can woo even the US president to come see his park on opening night. I can’t make the two images work together. There’s also the cliche of the bullying jock dating the stunning girl with a heart of gold who would rather be with the main character (she comes across as a bit of a rag doll with little agency of her own; she seems to be defined solely by her romantic relationships). I wish the author hadn’t fallen down on the job here.
There are some obvious similarities between Monsterland and Jurassic Park, so you can imagine the sorts of things that might happen. Toward the end of the tale things go crazy; the pace and danger pick up beautifully. On the whole the book is campy.
I had trouble understanding why the vampires were in such dire straights risking extinction. Given that they can turn people around them into ‘drones’ who’ll pretty much do whatever the vamps want them to do, there’s just no reason for vamps to be on the bottom of the heap.
Book provided free by publisher for review
Expected publication date: October 3, 2016