Sunday, January 7, 2018

Review: Monsterland by Michael Okon

Title: Monsterland
Author: Michael Okon
Format: Paperback, 232 pages
Pub. Date: December 19th 2017
Source: Author

Book Description:

Welcome to Monsterland—the scariest place on Earth. Wyatt Baldwin's senior year is not going well. His parents divorce, then his dad mysteriously dies. He’s not exactly comfortable with his new stepfather, Carter White, either. An ongoing debate with his best friends Melvin and Howard Drucker over which monster is superior has gotten stale. He’d much rather spend his days with beautiful and popular Jade. However, she’s dating the brash high-school quarterback Nolan, and Wyatt thinks he doesn’t stand a chance. But everything changes when Wyatt and his friends are invited to attend the grand opening of Monsterland, a groundbreaking theme park where guests can interact with vampires in Vampire Village, be chased by werewolves on the River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville. With real werewolves, vampires and zombies as the main attractions, what could possibly go wrong?



This is a great concept for a book. In this novel, humans are fully aware of the existence of monsters like vampires, werewolves, and zombies (also known as the vitally challenged). Not only that, they are the topic of politics, study, and either admiration or abomination. Enter Monsterland: a theme park where humans can step right up and see zombies, vampires, and werewolves in a safe environment, up close and personal. Some say it's genius, others say its cruel. As for me.... I fluctuated between the two.

I sincerely hope that Mr. Okon takes this as a compliment; Monsterland gives me major 1990's RL Stine nostalgia. He was my absolute favorite author as a kid, and this book took me back. But at the same time, this book is like Fear Street all grown up. There's more death, more philosophy, and honestly I was taken by surprise the issues and topics that made me think as a reader. What makes a human more human than a vampire? Are we worthy of more rights? Are they just animals? Is it humane to display other living things in glass cages, or take advantage of the ill?

My opinion switched over the course of the novel. At the beginning, I was like the main character. I was PUMPED for Monsterland. Seeing vampires up close? Sign me up! But then you learn more about how the park works and boy does it get sinister. Like the fake moon that rises every hour that forces the wolves to go through their painful transformations against their will. And then I felt bad. Because that's awful, and of course I wouldn't want anyone to do that.... The moral dilemmas are interesting and unexpected.

The world building is well done. You learn why the monsters are there, about the politics of a mixed species society, about the anticipation of the park. It's a solidly written book. The violence is descriptive and gory (bones breaking, blood oozing) without being gratuitous. There's quite a few characters to follow, but they're pretty distinct from one another so it's easy to follow. The speed of the book is well paced, albeit a little rushed at the end. I think it may be a set up for a second book though, so I get why it ended the way it did.

I liked the twists on classic monsters that Okon brought to the story, such as how vampires turn people and how zombies came to be. It was intriguing (and kind of made me want a more NSFW vampire book, to be completely honest with you).

I'm glad I read this, and I can already tell you this book is underhyped and underrated. This book can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of (relative) age or gender; there's romance, there's high school drama, there's murders, there's zombie decapitations, there's something for everyone.

If you're a fan of young adult horror and vampires that don't sparkle, or books that are set in amusement park/circus/carnival type settings, this book is worth getting. I would read another book in this series in a heartbeat.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


  1. I'm so excited for this book, and your review just makes me want to read it even more! This is fantastic, and I can't wait to start it.