Once upon a time, there was a little boy who lost his parents in a fire. The boy had no one else in his life after this tragedy. Luckily (or unfortunately), the boy's dad was assistant to a great man called Pellinore Warthrop. This Warthrop—better known as “the doctor”, or “the monstrumologist”—decided that it was a good idea to take the orphan boy as his new assistant as a tribute to his former (and now dead) assistant, without knowing that the boy was doomed the moment Warthrop “adopted” him.
After many years of monster hunting (whether it be man-eating creatures, or wicked people), the boy was not anymore innocent. His soul had blackened, and the monsters he and the doctor hunted had gotten inside his skin and had turned to be part of him. Now, he's an old man whose dark past is such a great burden to him that he cannot resist it for any longer. Thus, he wrote some journals in which he explained his life from the moment he was cursed until the moment he became the man with the past too dark to bear.
Some people say this book was a disappointment, but I don't think so. They say it maybe because the end didn't please them, but for me, it was the best-fitting finale. What can you expect from a book about monsters "written" by a man that was exposed to them since his childhood? Would you really think he would be sane (or at least not perturbed)? Can you expect a happily ever after at the end? In my opinion, the ending is just as it should have been. It is certainly the most probable thing to happen if the things narrated had actually taken place at some time.
The writing is just as marvelous as in the previous books, if not better: It is dark, poetic, powerful and beautiful. I could almost say that the color black is not even dark enough to describe how somber the writing (and the book in general) is. Oh, and did I mention that it is also filled with a lot of philosophy? Well, if I hadn't, now I have.
There were many frightening scenes, although they are not like the ones in the previous books, that is, they're not necessarily gory. Don't expect this book to be like the preceding installments, because it is not. Rick Yancey said in the acknowledgements:
“The Monstrumologist was conceived as one thing and evolved into something quite different. (...) Man-eating monsters running amok is a simple enough concept, the impenetrable dark in us, not so much.”
And he's not fooling you. The Monstrumologist was originally about Will and Warthrop's adventures defeating monsters, nonetheless, with each book that passed, the way the series lead started to turn to another path, a darker one, that resembled more an exploration on humanity:
“It occurred to me, (...) that aberrance is a wholly human construct. There were no such things as monsters outside the human mind. We are vain and arrogant, evolution's highest achievement and most dismal failure, prisoners of our self-awareness and the illusion that we stand in the center, that there is us and then there is everything else but us. But we do not stand apart from or above or in the middle of anything. There is nothing apart, nothing above, and the middle is everywhere—and nowhere. We are no more beautiful and essential or magnificent than an earthworm. In fact (...) you could say the worm is more beautiful, because it is innocent and we are not. (...), and so who are the monsters and which species shall we call aberrant?”
In this final installment, we get to see more development in the character of Will Henry. There are two of them. One, a sixteen-year-old teenager who's trying to fight the demons inside him and is still under the monstrumologist's service; and a mature Will Henry that has just come back to Warthrop after a long period of being away from him. Each one is different: The first one is troubled and resembles Jack Kearns a lot, and the last one has already his eyes completely open to the cruel reality of the world.
This book broke me. It's not a book that manipulates your feelings—don't get me wrong. It's just that you come to love everything about this series so much, you love the characters as if they were part of yourself and you think there's still hope for everyone that when everything ends, it does it in a way that makes you feel as if you've been... betrayed, and after everything, you feel dead inside. But that's good, because I think that was Mr. Yancey's intention: That you never forget about the series and that you let it live inside you.
You're going to feel angry (specially at Will Henry), sad, betrayed and empty—all at the same time. You're going to be left with more questions than answers, but again, that was fine for me. Now the ghost of this series is living inside me, haunting me, pursuing me, without letting me alone—not even for a day.
And finally, I really hope this series wins popularity one day, because I feel I'm the only person on Earth that has read it. As I said on a previous review, people don't know what they are missing with not reading this series. To tell you something else, this series is part of the slim list of books that changed my way of seeing things in life, and I'm not joking about this. It's like these books are my new glasses without which I only see blurred shadows and lights.
Snap to, readers! Give a chance to this series, let the shadow live within you too. You will not regret reading it.
“Yes, my dear child, monsters are real.”
P.S.: If the series itself didn't broke my heart, then this broke it. I knew about this conflict (and thinking about it depresses me), but I read this post until now. It makes me feel so sad to see that this masterpiece had its life threatened. It's a good thing, though, that even when this series is only appreciated by a very small group of people, we fierce in our love for it.