Man made boy by Jon Skovron
Allen and Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781743315132.
(age: 12+) Recommended. Frankenstein's monster. Love. Mythology. Humour. Boy, the son of Frankenstein's monster and the Bride, lives with his parents in an underground series of rooms and caves beneath Time Square. Known as The Show, the Trowe dug levels of living space for the creatures shunned by the human race, Medusa, Sirens, Charon, and Trolls, amongst others. Boy is a clever and intuitive computer hacker and it is his skills that are nightly required to keep the networks in the theatre going, attracting the audiences which comes to be scared by the monsters.
But Boy is restless. He feels undervalued. He is bullied, and his parents want to send him to Switzerland to stay with the Frankenstein family. More importantly he loves Liel, a Troll. Having developed a computer program that he thinks will change the world, he rallies support from his online friends, packs his bag and leaves.
Going into the human world is something many of the monsters dream of doing, and it is an unknown world that Boy steps into. He moves in with a hacker he knows from the internet but must find work to live.
But one night he sees Liel, and she reveals she is there because of an email he sent her. He is thrilled, but the question remains, just who is hacking his system and sending information to people purportedly from him.
Liel becomes housebound, her green skin not conducive to going outside, and so Boy is forced to seek help from Luellen from The Show who uses glamour to change his form and allow him to mix freely with humans. As Liel becomes more hooked on using this drug, Boy finds her shunning his company for her new human friends. On top of all this, someone is stalking him. His program has developed a mind of its own. The created has become a creator.
This is a great read, funny, warm and often moving. We follow Boy's dreams of living in the human world with empathy, see him stride through the streets avoiding questions and giving out the story that his stitches are the result of a bad accident. When Liel appears, his life is complete, but problems mount as someone is hacking his computer, stalking them, and the problem of Liel's use of the drug glamour becomes overwhelming. Leaving New York, Boy meets up with the granddaughters of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and together they make a road trip to New Mexico where another complex like The Show exists, to seek answers from The Sphinx.
This book is a glowing mixture of many genres, adventure, crime, romance, alienation, retelling of myths and will appeal to a wide audience, particularly those who crave a long read in which the main characters are so well drawn that the reader cares about their fates. The one liners poke fun at the mythology surrounding Frankenstein and many of the monsters involved, making this a laugh out loud read, and in the end a story about what makes us human.