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It’s Pronounced ‘Fronkensteen’

It's hard for a young man to find his way in the world. Especially when he's made of corpse pieces and he's dating two sisters who share the same body. Hey, It's a Broken, Wondrous World. By Jon Scovron

It’s Pronounced ‘Fronkensteen’

BOOK REPORT for This Broken Wondrous World by Jon Skovron

Cover Story: There Was Just One Catch...
Drinking Buddy: Not to suck up drink; that is the Law. Are we not men?
Testosterone/Estrogen Level: Girl Power!
Talky Talk: Broken? Check. Wondrous? Check.
Bonus Factors: Diversity/LGBTQ, The Mütter Museum
Bromance Status: The High School Nut Job Who Now Works in Marketing

Cover Story: There Was Just One Catch...

Now this is an awesome cover, what with the piecemeal monster and the different model airplane parts which reference the story. This must have been an expensive cover to produce, and it's well worth the effort. I wonder why no one has done it before...

The Deal:

So Boy has had a hard time fitting in, living in New York with his parents' theater troupe. Mom and Dad have sent him off to Switzerland to stay with some old family friends and go to school. It's especially hard since he's the 'son' of Frankenstein's Monster and his Bride, and the family friends are...the Frankensteins (cue sitcom music).

In the first book, Boy was hiding with the other monsters in a Times Square theater, safe from the outside world. But unlike a dragon or a centaur, Boy can pass as a human being (who's been in a terrible accident). His parents ship him off to live with Victor's great-grandson and his family. Boy becomes friends with his 'cousin', young playboy Henri Frankenstein, who wouldn't mind meeting some of the nymphs and dryads Boy knows. But Boy has romantic problems of his own. His girlfriends, sisters Sophie Jekyll and Claire Hyde, are having trouble with the long distance thing (and sharing the same body). And then there's Vi 2.0, the virtual woman Boy created who lives in his laptop. The last Vi went insane and killed dozens of people and monsters, but Boy is pretty sure he's worked all those bugs out. Meanwhile, Henri has taken a shine to Vi. Does he like the idea of creating his own personal anime dream girl, or does he like her on a deeper level? And how would a relationship like that work?

But that's all subplot. Dr. Moreau, a scientist who creates human/animal monstrosities, has been trapped on his island for a century, operating on himself and slowly going mad. He's planning on invading South America to start a worldwide monster revolution, backed by the twins' brothers, Robert and Stephen (who also share a body). Only Boy and his friends can save both worlds.

Ah, those awkward, teenage years.

Drinking Buddy: Not to suck up drink; that is the Law. Are we not men?

I was rather envious of Henri, who has lived the life of a rich, directionless European, until he meets Boy and gets invited to New York for the holidays. Suddenly he's in the middle of a world of fairies, goblins, vampires, and sirens. While not all the monsters like humans, some of them tolerate him enough to let him join in the wild rumpus. Boy and Henri get to go to some of the most amazing after-show parties in the world, and we're invited.

Testosterone/Estrogen Level: Girl Power!

While Boy is our first person narrator, there are a lot of serious ass kicking women. The twins alternate between diplomatic Sophie and wipe-the-floor-with-you Claire. There's Liel, Boy's troll of an ex girlfriend (no, she really is a troll), who is not someone you want to cross. Then there's the human women: La Perricholi, descendant of the original Peruvian freedom fighter. Agent Holmes, great-granddaughter of the famous detective. And don't forget Boy's mother (don't let that immobile face fool you). Hell, even the cute little mermaid by the Frankenstein's lake house nearly eats Boy alive (literally).

Teamed up against psycho Moreau, brutal Stephan, and drunkard Robert, I'd bet my money on the females in this war.

Talky Talk: Broken? Check. Wondrous? Check.

So the history of human/monster relationships is pretty much one long, unbroken story of torches, wooden stakes, and silver bullets. When Dr. Moreau announces that he's going to annex Peru and Ecuador to start his own monster nation and keep seizing territory until the UN grants all monsters 'person' status, not every monster objects to this plan. Maybe it's time that monsterkind stopped lurking in the shadows. And if a few thousand humans should die in the fighting, well, payback's a bitch, isn't it?

Suddenly, all the monsters are taking sides. Boy's father is kidnapped by the government. The vampire in charge of the theater loses his nerve. Everyone looks to Boy for an answer.

Boy, who has no real love for humankind, is torn. Does he let Moreau and the Jekyll and Hyde boys start a world war? Or does he fight on the side of the humans, meaning he'll be fighting his former friends (and girlfriend)? Just what is the greater good here?

There are a lot of tough choices, and I didn't always like Boy's 'it's for the greater good' attitude. I found the way he shrugged off the death of fellow monsters almost...inhuman.

Still, there's a good heart beating in that barrel chest of his, and with Sophie, Claire and Henri by his side, he'll do the right thing. Plus there are helicopter chases.

Bonus Factor: Diversity/LGBTQ

Like humans, monsters come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and number of limbs. And not all of them get along. Many monsters consider Boy and his family a bit too 'scientific' to truly be monsters. Dr. Moreau was once human, before he started experimenting on himself. La Perricholi is 100% human but is allied with the monsters. Many monsters can pass as human, living among 'normal' people, terrified they'll be exposed (remind you of anything?). And then of course the humanoid monsters have their own races, from an African-American zombie to Mexican La Llorona. The monster population is a diverse group, and when Boy finds himself the unofficial leader, he cannot just club everyone into compliance.

Also, monsters are sexual beings, and they're not all straight. When Boy has a tense reunion with his ex-girlfriend, he's surprised to see she's now dating another woman. He's happy for her, though is also a little hurt that her attraction to him hadn't been real, and maybe just a little turned on.

Scovron does a good job of creating an intricate world of creatures from mythology, literature, and the movies. It works.

Bonus Factor: The Mütter Museum

In one scene, Boy and the gang meet up as a museum of medicinal oddities in Philly. I assumed (and the author confirms this) that it was a reference to The Mütter Museum, a place I visited in 2007 with my very understanding wife. Photography is not allowed, but if you ever want to see a plaster cast of the original Siamese Twins, President Cleveland's cancerous tumor, some disturbing 19th century medical equipment, and more skulls than you can shake a femur at, stop on by!

Bromance Status: The High School Nut Job Who Now Works in Marketing

Things were crazy in the first book, and didn't let up in the sequel. But I think there's nowhere else to go but normal. See you at the PTA meeting.

Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Penguin, They refused my demands for a payoff, so no money exchanged hands. This book comes out in August.

Brian Katcher's photo About the Author: Brian Katcher wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.