From the BLURB:
The monster community has kept a low profile at the local high school, but when two new girls enrol, the town will never be the same. Created just fifteen days ago, Frankie Stein is psyched to trade her father’s formaldehyde-smelling basement lab for parties and prom.But with a student body totally freaked out by rumors of monsters stalking the halls, Frankie learns that high school can be rough for a chic freak like her. She thinks she finds a friend in fellow new student Melody Carver-but can a ‘normie’ be trusted with her big secret?
Frankie Stein is not your average teenager. Aside from the fact that she’s only 15 days old (having been created in a Fab Lab by her parents) she has bolts in her neck and a green tinge to her skin. As if life isn’t already hard, right?
In an effort to fit into society, Frankie’s parents send her off to ‘normie’ school (for regular, normal teenagers) in an attempt to help her assimilate. But Salem, Oregon is a monster safe-haven, and Frankie soon finds fellow monster classmates, or RADs (Regular Attribute Disorder). There’s Lagoona Blue, Draculaura, Deuce Gorgon, D.J./Jackson Hyde, Cleo(patra) and Claudine (CLAWdeen, get it?).
Lisi Harrison’s novel is definitely aimed at the younger end of the teen market. ‘Monster High’ is a bit of unabashed pop-culture fun for tweens. And to be honest, Harrison has done a really good job of appealing to this teeny bopper market.
The monster kids rock out to Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas. They have freaky fabulous wardrobes and say things like ‘that’s VOLTAGE!’ But if you read beyond the glossy sheen and bubblegum flavouring, ‘Monster High’ actually has a lot to offer.
For one thing, Lisi Harrison has taken monster mythology and translated it to teen-speak while also writing subtext about fitting in. I know, that sounds like a lot of philosophizing about a book that has rhinestones on the cover, but give me a second...
I really liked the character of Frankie Stein. She looks different, she thinks differently to her peers and she desperately wants to fit in. But she never sacrifices who she is for how other’s will see her. It’s a hard lesson she has to learn, but Frankie has a great sense of self, bolts, green skin and all! I love the book’s tagline; ‘Fitting in is out’, it’s a nice message to send to younger readers, and all the better for being written with monster-mashing teenagers:
“I’m telling you to hide so you’ll be safe. But you can still feel proud of who you are,” he explained, like it was really that simple. “Pride has to come from within you and stay with you, no matter what people say.”I also liked the fact that throughout the book Lisi Harrison throws in a few curve-ball references, like the Six Million Dollar Man and Freddy Krueger. I’m sure these head-nods to the first manifestations of horror will be over a lot of tweens heads... but as an older reader I appreciated the ‘wink, wink’.
Frankie crossed her arms and looked away.
“I built your brain and body. Strength and confidence have to come from you,” Viktor explained, as if sensing her confusion.
“How do I get it?” Frankie asked.
“You had it the morning we took you to Mount Mood High,” he reminded her. “Before you let those cheerleaders take it away.”
“How do I get it back?” Frankie wondered aloud.
“It might take a while,” he said, his squinty eyes peering over her shoulder to check on his guests. “But when you find it, hold on to it with all your might. And don’t let anyone take it away, no matter how hard they try. Understand?”
I can see that ‘Monster High’ is the perfect middle-ground book for pre-teens who want to be a part of the ‘Twilight’ craze, but whose parents aren’t thrilled with the blood-sucking subtext. This is a nice gateway book, still with all the monster-antics promised in older YA fantasy (complete with teen crushes on cute boys) but without the eye-brow raising sexual euphemisms.
Yes, ‘Monster High’ is a bit of teeny bopper fun. It’s a light read, but don’t discount the book for its tween-appeal. Harrison is actually writing big concepts, with cool characters and a great message; ‘fitting in is out’, voltage!