My Name is Monster, is the story of a girl named ‘Monster’ by her father as a kind of affectionate joke. The name sticks and goes on to define the character she becomes.
After a mysterious illness has ravaged the world Monster is washed up on the shores of Scotland having survived a terrifying global illness which has destroyed almost everybody on earth while she was in the seed store of a science facility in the Arctic where she was working. Surviving on just what she can find she travels to find her Scottish home again but eventually settles on a remote farm a few miles from the nearest city. She believes herself to be alone until she unexpectedly finds another survivor. Much of the narrative then describes the pair’s daily survival techniques both on the farm and while foraging for supplies in the city.
The first half of the book is narrated by Monster herself while the second half is told from the other survivor’s point of view. Monster frequently harks back to the relationship she had with her mother which does much to explain the tension between the two women stuck in this place together. It explores the survivors’ darkest fears and their individual secret hopes for the future.
It is written almost entirely in narrative and it will come as no surprise that Katie Hale is first and foremost a poet as this, her debut novel, skilfully portrays her clever use of words. The plot however is a bit thin and leaves much unresolved but, even without a gripping storyline, it somehow manages to keep the reader hooked to the last page.
The dystopian genre is sadly currently flooded with poorly written books. Hale certainly does not fall into this category as her writing is superb but her narrative style would surely lend itself much better to a genre suited more to lyrical prose rather than yet another end-of-the-world survival story.