Book Review: Ordinary Monsters by J.M. Miro

I have been putting off writing this review for a week now. Still, I can’t wrap around my head if I loved this book or if it was just entertaining and okay. It could be because while the book was so well written, the story intriguing, and the setting to my liking, the characters were cliche, one-dimensional, and weak compared to everything else. But I’m rushing with my review here. I have yet to tell you about the setting or the book’s structure.

The book follows several characters who are unique or connected to special children with extraordinary talents like healing after injury or using dust to shape the world around them. It follows characters like Alice and Coulton, who search for special children worldwide for an institution set up just for them. They bring the children there for a paycheck. They battle questions like whether the children are monsters or not and why the institution seeks them, and if they should aid it in obtaining them or not. But mostly, the book follows the tale of a young boy, Marlowe, and his tragic history and what his talent proposes for the world, the institution, and the man hunting him. The book is set in the Victorian era, traveling through America, London, and Edinburgh and giving us a glimpse of 19th-century Japan. The narrative jumps around the characters mid-chapter and mid-scene for the sake of the story. I don’t mind that. I myself loved writing that way until I was told such writing might be too hard to follow. It isn’t. Somehow, the style of writing felt fresh in the book. Maybe so, as it served the story, and it wasn’t a gimmick.

Yet, now we get to the part that disappointed me. The characters were not quite there. They were too much like cardboard cutouts of all the other characters in all the other stories that have existed before. It wasn’t because they were void of emotion. No. They had pains and fears. They had a history. But they didn’t live up to the story. They were a cliche. And I don’t know if that was a bad or good thing. Because sometimes, cliches in a setting like this bring that familiar element into the story, making it easier to read and love. But would the book have been more gripping if the characters had been tweaked a bit more? Would the characters make the story just more extraordinary and not just like any other origin story with a child that will be either the fall of everything or the savior of the universe? Who knows?

Despite my complaint, I enjoyed the book. I even loaned it to my friend, recommending she read it.

Thank you for reading, and have a beautifully, refreshingly ordinary day ❤

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