Monster Club

HarperCollins. Sept. 2022. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063136632.
Gr 3-6–Eric has spent hours perfecting drawings of Brickman, a very special monster who can shoot cement out of one arm and swing a wrecking ball with the other. Using various board game strategies, Eric and his friends in Monster Club battle their monster drawings against each other, vying for dominance and bragging rights. This takes place on paper until Eric comes across some very special (and very smelly) ink passed down from his great-great-grandfather, which causes the monsters to pop off the page as real, three-dimensional, ready-to-rumble beasties. Eric is thrilled—until his nemesis at school draws some out-of-control monsters of his own, leading to a wild battle and chase culminating in a showdown at Coney Island. The biggest challenge of this novel is simply how many different plot points are included: flashbacks to a great-great-grandfather’s experiences in the early 20th century, mythical creatures, modern monsters, both obvious and secret villains, friendships, falling outs, the difficulties of outgrowing childhood pleasures, burgeoning romance, parents who may be divorcing, parents who may be losing their business, bullying at school, and the iconic elements of Coney Island. All these combine to create a fast-paced and exciting yet cluttered, thrill ride. While this first entry may have been more successful having eliminated some of those elements, all of these pieces do provide numerous potential plot lines for future entries in the series. Engaging illustrations provide additional interest; characters are depicted with a range of skin tones.
VERDICT Electrifying adventures and a clever twist will leave readers anticipating the next volume in this new, jam-packed adventure series.

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