Carmen Grey always knew she was different. None of the other children seemed able to read minds. None of the other children were able to manipulate their toys without touching them. On the morning of her sixth birthday, three men dressed in black arrive to remove her from the loving care of her parents. She is taken to an underground facility meant for others like her, for Clairvoyants. Stripped of her name and identity, over the years she is fashioned into something scary—something lethal. Each day is an endless struggle and every night is plagued by nightmares. Yet Carmen’s ultimate battle won’t be to save her life but to keep her soul.
Monster of the Dark is one of the 2021-22 SPSFC Finalists! I read it as part of the judging process.
Before I read this I’d heard a lot of chatter about how dark this book is, and while it’s not all sunshine and rainbows I definitely don’t think it’s a particularly dark story unless you really sit and think about it outside of just reading it.
Taken from her family at a young age our main character Carmen is stripped of her name and thus begins her training. She’s a super strong Clairvoyant who requires training to be able to go out into the world. The story from here is a little disjointed. She’s taken away to be trained in quite a brutal fashion before being taught how to integrate into a society she’s never experienced. She’s not provided with a job or purpose, instead she can be recruited or just wander off into the world.
This is definitely a prequel to the rest of the series. This is much more focussed on Carmen growing up, learning her powers and setting up a rivalry that I expect will be the focus for much of the rest of the series. Because of this I think it does lack a bit of tension and urgency, there isn’t an plan to be thwarted or a bit plot point, instead this is about building the characters.
Carmen makes for a great character, despite her growing up in the training facility she doesn’t end up indoctrinated into their way of thinking. She instead harbours thoughts and fears that make her act in unexpected ways.
If you’re looking for a good YA series, I think this is a good place to start!