By Beth Casteel
Welcome to Monsterland, the scariest place on Earth! With real vampires, zombies and werewolves, there’s no chance of something going wrong, right?
Originally self-published in 2015 by Michael Okon, the book was picked up to be re-released later in 2017. Okon, formerly writing under the name Michael Phillip Cash, has quite the resume with his prior releases. An award winning best selling author and screenwriter, his specialties lie within the paranormal and thriller genres, something he does quite well and it shows with the latest re-release of “Monsterland.”
Set in a world where monsters are real and the world market is destroyed by a plague, Dr. Vincent Konrad decides to solve the problem by creating a theme park where monsters are at the front and center. With the grand opening looming in Copper Valley, the primary location of the park in the United States, Wyatt Baldwin receives free passes to the event after treating Dr. Konrad to lunch. Wyatt, who isn’t having the best senior year, is expecting the experience of a lifetime but that might not necessarily be a good thing when the grand opening is all said and done.
At first glance, the plot of this book sounds like a combination of R.L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” meets Michael Crichton’s “Jurassic Park.” While there aren’t any dinosaurs, there are some interesting monsters and characters that Okon beautifully describes, making this story something that will leave you interested for all 215 pages.
To help the readers gain a better insight to those key pieces of information, Okon switches the perspectives. Not only does the reader get a glimpse of what’s going on with Wyatt, they also see the point of view from the monsters and some of the minor characters like Wyatt’s step-dad Carter.
The rich descriptions, and insight of all characters creates a deeper connection when reading the novel. Okon describes the world and situations in detail, making that attachment to the characters seem much more real and those newfound situations are viewed as more heart pounding and way scarier than some young-adult horror books.
The style of Okon’s writing relies heavily on the imagination and the feelings you get while reading a book, something that is sometimes lost in books that are similar. There’s a chill that goes up your spine while reading it and that can be attributed to the fact that this genre is something Okon genuinely excels in.
The book itself is short and can be easily read in one sitting. With the amount of characters and situations that happen throughout the tale, losing yourself in the suspense of it all is inevitable. It’s almost as if you’re watching a classic horror movie, with the book being so descriptive it helps create a steady pace that will leave you not wanting to put the book down until the very end.
While the book isn’t your typical young-adult tale, it can be viewed as one. It’s frightening, but not enough to be considered as terrifying as a Stephen King novel. It does rely heavily on the imagination, and while it does so perfectly, the relationships between the characters are glaringly out of place.
Certain relationships in the story are realistic, especially when it comes to the dynamic of Carter integrating into Wyatt’s family. Where it falls short is the typical romance between Wyatt and his crush on the “it” girl of the school Jade. The storyline between the main character and his love interest is predictable and it lessens the overall attraction to the book.
The slight negative of the book doesn’t impact it too much to where it wouldn’t be considered a good read. The book as a whole is gripping, emotional and scary. The descriptions are rich, and the story will leave you wanting more until the very end.