Review Blog

Feb 16 2010

Monster Republic by Ben Horton

cover image

Corgi Books, 2010.
(Ages 10 +) Cameron Reilly is on a school trip to a nuclear power plant when he is caught up in a devastating explosion that leaves his family believing he is dead. However, Cameron is very much alive and has been patched up and experimented on by the evil Dr Lazarus Fry, who is trying to develop his own half human, half robot super powered beings.
The problem is that Dr Fry has been experimenting for quite a while, and some of his earlier 'rejects' have banded together to form Monster Republic, a group of half human misfits who are determined to stop Fry's evil plans once and for all. Cameron escapes Fry's clutches and is protected by the Monster Republic, even though they fear he is still under Fry's influence. When Cameron discovers that Lazarus Fry is planning to kill the prime minister and destroy the Monster Republic he decides to use his robotic super powers in an attempt to defeat him.  
This book is ideal for readers looking for fast action, fisticuffs, a dollop of gore, super powers and technical information. The superb front cover was a hit with Year 6 boys in my school who were queuing up to borrow it.
I did find the blurb's claim of 'graphic novel scenes' mystifying as these consist of five illustrations placed as an apparent afterthought at the end of the novel. The illustrations themselves are superb (Christian Scheurer is a prestigious talent) but would have had far more impact placed within the story. Maybe there are plans to produce a graphic version as in the Alex Rider books?
The cover recommends Monster Republic for readers of 11+. There is one reference to a 'fit' girlfriend, and our hero is aged about 13, but there is nothing inappropriate for top juniors. The story line is nowhere near as terrifying as De Quidt's chilling The Toymaker for example. As a series this will be welcomed by readers who enjoy Robert Muchamore, Derek Landy and Darren Shan and who want action and excitement without having to work too hard.
Claire Larson

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