The Last Monster
By Ginger Garrett
Published April 12, 2016 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Reviewed from e-ARC
Sofia has never been good at fitting in, even before she lost her leg to cancer. Now, just when she's trying to figure out what her new normal life will look like, a mysterious book with ties to Aristotle shows up in her life. Soon, she finds herself seeing monsters everyone - and she means that literally.
Well, I must confess: I was drawn to this book mostly because of the adorable monster on its cover. I was intrigued by a young protagonist with cancer as well, readjusting to life in middle school (which, if I recall correctly, is hard enough without being sick).
This book was not at all what I expected. I guess I should have paid more attention to the giant wolf on the cover than the adorable white monster - the wolf much more clearly suggests the tone of this book. It is not a sweet tale filled with misunderstood monsters for which Sofia now finds herself responsible. In most instances, the monsters would just as soon devour her as ask for her help. Of course, a young character dealing with the lingering effects of cancer and its treatment is going to be dealing with some heavy stuff - Sofia certainly is. But, in addition to dealing with how cancer has marked her as different, Sofia is navigating relationships that have been permanently altered by her illness, first and foremost among them her relationship with her mother. Most of this is handled quite well, but Sofia's relationships with her peers felt off to me. On the one hand, I could understand Sofia's point of view, but on the other, I wanted to shake her for being so presumptuous and stubborn. Perhaps readers will learn the importance of talking about your feelings and your perceptions of other's feelings instead of just assuming to know them.
A few other things I didn't really enjoy: the monsters actually felt mostly superfluous; they only existed as a catalyst for Sofia to work through her emotions and redefine her relationships. I honestly can't even remember what happened with the monsters in the end and I just finished the book last week. The monsters were not the point of the story. Additionally, I did not love the boy that Sofia develops a friendship with. In my opinion, he didn't treat her very well and actually seemed mostly to be using her for his own needs. I particularly did not enjoy the times he felt obliged to speak on her behalf.
Overall, a let-down for me. Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.