Monster by Joely Skye
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is the first book in a series and while it can be read alone, it has a rather big hanging ending with little to no resolution on any front. As I haven’t read the subsequent books, I’ve no idea if any of the issues raised are resolved but the blurbs tease that perhaps there are more chapters to go before an eventual happy ending, if one exists. So keep this in mind if you’re the type that likes your stories wrapped up in the space of the book, otherwise know going in you’re tapping into (so far) a three part series. Now that being said, as a first installment this wasn’t bad and certainly set up enough themes to be explored in future sequels.
The plot revolves around the commonly used theme of paranormal abilities and the undercover, evil agency that wants to use, abuse, and capture these people. In this case the ingénue is Kiran, a Minder with the ability to manipulate others’ minds, actions, and emotions. He is innocent and shy, jumpy after years of abuse at the hands of the evil agency and unwilling to use his powers unless he absolutely has to. More willing to submit to poor treatment thrust upon than fight back, Kir is tired of being a pawn and simply wants to hide. He ventures out for anonymous sex with strangers as the only way to quiet the never-ending thinking of his mind and he quickly attaches himself to Josh as the first person who’s ever shown him care, kindness, and concern.
Josh is the alpha male and a former marine that has an attack of conscience when he witnesses the torture Kir is to suffer after his capture. Josh struggles with his feelings and what is reality versus what is thrust upon him by Kir’s coercion. His overwhelming urge to protect and comfort Kir confuses him and forces him to question the source of his emotions. Just as Josh questions the majority of his thoughts and actions, uncertain what level of force and control he’s been subjected to and falling back on the information of others that sounds more believable. Josh is a strong character yet allows himself to be manipulated repeatedly by almost every person in the book.
Both characters were well established yet not entirely fully three-dimensional. Repeated visions of Kir shaking, scared, fearful and uncertain are at odds with the resourceful personality needed to evade capture for so long. Just as Josh’s competent actions and strong feelings of right and wrong conflict repeatedly with his easy gullibility. There seemed to be a lack of emotional attachment between Josh and Kir even though there clearly was a connection. Additionally the entire action subplot felt too cliché with the utterly evil agency and equally evil Minders. This might have worked in a longer novel with more attention to detail and fleshing out of both the plot and character profiles but the short nature of the story (under 70 pages) caused definite drawbacks to be evident.
Unfortunately the hanging ending had me slightly annoyed, but that is certainly a personal bias. I enjoy a series, but I prefer a story arc to begin and end within one book rather than dragging out the resolution to multiple books. However, for those that don’t mind the prolonged story arc over numerous books won’t see this as a detriment. While the characters weren’t entirely successful, the writing was easy enough that it’s a rather fast read with some intriguing men and a basic plot with a slight twist. As an introductory book, it hit all the necessary points while creating enough interest to keep readers going to the second book. I’m not sure if I’ll move on in the series, but I am certainly considering it. I’d love to see Kir’s progression.