What do you get when your cross the concept of Jurassic Park with a B horror movie? You get the fast-paced “Monsterland”, that’s what. “Monsterland” is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a theme park full of real-life monsters, namely zombies, vampires, and werewolves. The premise being that vampires and werewolves have always lived amongst us, just hidden, until a plague that created zombies sweeps the planet and now a billionaire mogul, Vincent Konrad, decides to make a theme park housing all these monsters for “study”, and profit obviously because why make a theme park out of it if you didn’t want to make cash? Wyatt, one of our many MC’s (but the main, main one) idolizes Vincent and wants nothing more than to go to the park opening night. He gets his wish, but of course everything changes and this supposedly “safe” park is anything but. Things escalate FAST once Wyatt and his friends are in the park, perhaps too fast to really get a feel for, well, anything. Hence the B movie vibe…
I had a hard time liking any of the main characters. They were all fairly shallow and the start of the book, full with a kind of info-dump about Wyatt’s family, didn’t really ingratiate me to any of them and just made for a rather slow start to a book that ended up going from 0 to crashing head first into disaster in less than 30 seconds. The kids are all stereotypes of one kind or another, further setting up that teen horror movie feel: the hot nerd boy, the meat head annoying jock bro, the shy nerd boy, the aggressive smart hot girl, the weird outcast boy, and the damsel in distress, that was pretty much the extent of their personalities, too. So if you want character arcs or what not, keep moving, this story is mainly about escaping the theme park when it all goes wrong and not much else. Which is ok, you see how these “monsters” aren’t necessarily the evilest thing in the park and you get the sense that they are victims too. I mean, they still kill people but that’s just their nature... But the foreshadowing for who the big bad is, isn’t really foreshadowing? The reader gets pummeled with it from pretty much the get go. Come the end when the diabolical plan is revealed as to how and why all the Monsterland’s across the globe all have issues at the same time, it wasn’t the “gasp!’ that you want from a horror-thriller story.
The book honestly wasn’t terrible, just like any B-movie isn’t terrible, it’s fast and probably an easy way to ease into other horror or monster reads during the Spooky Season. It’s just one of those books that doesn’t really evoke much in me one way or another. I started October with this book specifically because I wanted some classic monsters in a scenario where our heroes are running for their lives. Did I get that? On paper, yes. But the monsters weren’t that great outside of the werewolves. So if you adore vampires, you aren’t going to love their portrayal in this book, methinks. Personally, I didn’t find the monsters all that scary outside of one instance in the park before everything goes wrong that was pretty creepy. Mostly these monsters are just violent, and the gore is liberal in the story. Which can be upsetting, but only if you are attached to the characters, which I, personally, was not.
I seem to be in the minority with my feelings of “meh” about this book, so take that for what you will, but overall, everything just felt mediocre. I don’t think this book is trying to be like Jurassic Park, but that story still gives a far better portrayal of a theme park with escaped “monsters” that the park attendees have to flee from much, much better. I mean, at one point, the villain in “Monsterland” literally throws their head back and laughs while revealing their ultimate diabolical plan. I feel like, if the story had leaned more into the satire or the over-the-topness of the scenario, it’d have at least been funny and I’d have enjoyed it more. As it is, I’m giving it 2.5 stars because while I don’t feel much about this book one way or another, when I do start thinking too much about the characters, I tend to get annoyed. It is fast though, and if you aren’t sure how you’ll feel about spooky thrillers, you can give this a try, like dipping your toe in the water to see how you like it, and hopefully you’ll enjoy it more than me. And thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for an honest review!
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