Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Review: "Matt Archer: Monster Hunter" by Kendra Highley

I'd like to start by sharing the paragraph that convinced me to buy the book:
Before I had a chance to dig out some marshmallows for s'mores, the air turned sharp and the wind gusted cold into the campfire, sending up sparks. Uncle Mike rose to his feet, with an intense, alert expression I'd never seen before--like he could eat a brick and enjoy the crunch.
I laughed out loud when I read that. Original, well-used metaphors aren't that common, and a funny one to boot? Excellent. The rest of the book carries on in that vein, happily.

On to the plot. Matt Archer is your average ninth-grader whose biggest problems are a crush on a beautiful classmate, Ella, and a long-absent father figure when his world is rocked by the discovery that yeah, monsters are real. After his Green Beret uncle's mysteriously powerful knife picks Matt to wield it, he's got no choice but get out there and start slaying some monsters ... while staying out of trouble in school.

Highley keeps a nice balance between the parts of Matt's life that are about chasing and killing the monsters invading his part of the world and the parts of his life that are about being a teenage boy. He goes to classes, he argues with his siblings, and he struggles to work up the nerve to ask out Ella. My own teen years are a decade or so behind me, but I think younger readers will be pleased by the way Matt's life is depicted. As an older reader, I was happy to find that Matt's teen problems didn't make it hard for me to buy him as a soldier capable of slaying monsters.

The only real question I had about the story was how easily the adults accepted the idea of sending a 15-year-old and his best-friend sidekick off to fight creatures that units of Green Berets had trouble handling. It didn't bother me that much, however, and it's not something that's likely to matter much in subsequent books.

And, yes, Highley is writing a sequel to "Matt Archer: Monster Hunter." I look forward to reading it.

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