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The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean by David Almond – Review by Saul, Teen Blogger

http://discover.halifaxpubliclibraries.ca/?q=The+True+Tale+of+the+Monster+Billy+Dean&searchOption=http%3A%2F%2Fdiscover.halifaxpubliclibraries.ca&FreeFormFields=Title%2CCreator%2CISBN&advSearch=onewordThere are some books that after finishing the last page can only be described as odd. This book is one of those. This is not to say that it is bad, in fact I quite enjoyed it, but only that it is not like anything I have read before. David Almond has created a truly unique perspective on the world, seen through the eyes of a boy as he falls from innocence. Everything from the diction of writing to the topics explored within the story; it is all unusual and meaningful.

The first thing one would notice after beginning to read is the strange writing style. A first person perspective in which almost every complex word is misspelled and all but the most basic of grammar is missing. This makes sense in the context of the story, and we see how the boy’s writing actually changes and gets better as he grows up. While it can be a little frustrating at times, I would say this adds to the overall theme of the novel.

Although the plotline of the book is confusing at first, it soon becomes clear what is happening. There was some sort of disaster, and the main character (Billy Dean) has been hidden away in his house all his life. We get a picture of his mother and father, the only two people he has ever known, through the hazy memories of Billy’s childhood. This is until the main meat of the story begins, as he emerges out of his house for the first time. The plot is very well executed and the characters are all deep and complex.

Perhaps my main criticism of the book is its pacing. This is very small in the course of the whole story but it stood out to me as a problem. Often times certain chapters felt rushed, which did not help with the somewhat confusing plot. A lot happened at once followed by chapters of not much at all. This is a minor issue, but an issue nonetheless.

My favourite thing about the entire story was its obscurity on particular events. It is even stated towards the end that a lot of events have been mixed up in Billy’s mind, and so there are some inaccuracies. The descriptions leave out details and are often more metaphorical than real. It reads like one enormous poem, which I thought was very neat.

I would recommend this book to someone only if they could get passed the writing style. A lot of people will be off put by this, and not unjustifiably. However, if you can read it without it bothering you then I think this is a great book with a number of important messages. I would highly recommend it.


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