Monster Whisperer by JB Trepganier Spoiler-Free Review:
This review is part of a five-book book review project I have for my 2020 NaNoWriMo project. Check out the novel writing playlist for more information.
Monster Whisperer by JB Trepagnier is a fun, lighthearted book that, while readable, would have been much better if it had seen some more development. I can understand that the author publishes books quickly, which does actually add to the appeal. It’s still a well-thought-out story, considering the amount of series and other books the author publishes.
The main character, River, can talk to monsters, as is evident by the title. She’s basically brought to Hell to talk to these monsters — a kraken, a minotaur, a spider, and phoenix — because they’re trapped in their monster form and pitted against each other in this Gladiator-type ring orchestrated by Greek gods and goddesses.
On that note, there’s actually a grammar tip that I want to discuss. It’s something that ultimately led to me taking a full star off my final rating, and —
That is the capitalization of “God” as opposed to “gods and goddesses.”
This is a grammar vent, sorry, but I feel like self-published authors need to educate themselves just as much as a traditionally published author would. I think self-publishing has a bad rep for a reason sometimes.
So, with “God.” “God” is a name, and obviously most often referred to as, you know, “God.”
It is only ever capitalized when it is being used as an actual name.
Like Thor: God of Thunder, the God would be capitalized there.
But if you’re just saying “I’m a god,” or “I’m a goddess,” neither of those are capitalized.
She reversed it in here, and it just bugs me.
It’s not a religious thing, it’s a grammatical thing. It’s the same as how I pointed out the British verses American spellings in The Queen’s Executioner review.
As I said, it bothered me so much by the end that I actually knocked off an entire star rating because of it.
On to some good stuff!
The establishment of the different characters and their roles based on actual mythology is my favorite thing about this book. It’s something that’s led me to find out a lot more about the book I’m writing for this channel.
You can see more about this book in the plot development post, but needless to say, the mythology in this book really inspired me.
I also really liked the characters themselves. Whenever the point of view changed to somebody else, I could clearly define and understand the character taking over. Everyone who took hold of the story in some way had a distinct voice that differentiated them from everybody else.
The plot itself also came across as really well-thought-out.
I also loved the snark and quirkiness behind our main character, River.
I know I just said it, but I really think that this book suffers from some underdevelopment.
It’s difficult because, like I said, everything is really well-thought-out. The problem is — this book is probably about 80% dialogue.
It reads very much like, “Let’s do this.”
And then, “Let’s go do this.”
And then, “Hey, can you tell me everything about this?”
Followed by three pages of a character simply telling the story of whatever answer to the question asked.
There’s also a huge lack of title tags used with the dialogue.
The italicization of all the monster speech also made it harder to differentiate characters.
I also wrote in my notes that I had a personal challenge to myself to write a book that was only dialogue. Dialogue is actually my favorite part of writing. That being said, there’s so much you can “show” through your dialogue. I think dialogue is something that runs just as much of a risk as “telling” the story, obviously. I think some of the prose in here could have just been, I guess, a little more developed or poetic.
Even though it moved quickly and I liked that, I do wish it had slowed down a little bit. It’s hard to say that, though, because I also bought it due to its short length. If it had received the development I think this story deserves, then I may not have picked it up.
That being said, I didn’t realize the shortness of Piranesi until I had bought it. That was a short book that really packed a punch and certainly saw a lot more development put into it.
Again, this brings me back to kind of a pro and a con with the argument of self-publishing.
If self-published authors want to make money and a career — enough of each to actually survive and be able to write for a living — then statistically, they have to pump out books quick. Each book release is basically just a bonus check.
Sales tend to decrease after the book is released. Then it just gets lost in the sea of the other billions of books out there.
The flip side, though, is that, if more time and effort is put into the actual text, it’s more likely that it will sell long past release date.
But the issue always comes down to — where’s the money going to come from in the meantime?
We’re not going to get too into that side tangent today. I’ve already said too much about it here, but I just think it pertains to this book because I feel for the author.
I’ve said it in the reading vlog about this book and it’s a reason that I’ve kind of steered clear and been unable to make a living out of my books, myself.
I spend way too much time perfecting my text and producing something like Piranesi.
And that author’s basically gone fifteen years between publications, so do the math.
I don’t know if I’ll carry on with this series or read any other books by this author. I’m conflicted.
I did like this book. With wanting it to be fast and succinct, I can’t be mad that it delivered that.
It gave me basically exactly what I expected. I just wish there was either less dialogue, or that the dialogue was a little more rich and less info-dumpy.
If I do carry on with any of her books, whether in this series or otherwise, I doubt I’ll just take any time to write out a chapter-by-chapter reaction or a review.
It takes a lot of extra time reading books and doing stuff like that. All that extra detail was definitely only worth it for the once.
So be sure to check out the reading vlogs — although I’m still unsure which YouTube channel I ultimately want to continue those. This one, in particular, is over on my personal channel.
I’m about to move into some spoilers. Come back after you’ve read this book to see the discussion.
Either way, be sure to leave a comment as to whether you’ve read this, intend to read it, or any other thoughts you have.