Monster High hits on horrors of high school

Monster High by Lisi Harrison; published by Poppy, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2010; 255 pages.

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC (advance reading copy) provided for free by the publisher.  The publication information is subject to change.  The book was released on September 1, 2010.

Two new girls start the school year at Merston High School (anagram for “monster,” get it?) in Salem, Oregon.  One’s a “normie,” or normal, student and the other is a monster.  Apparently, generations earlier, a group of monsters gathered in Salem, Oregon rather than Salem, Massachusetts, in order to live fairly normal lives without suffering anti-monster prejudices.  With rather elaborate disguises, monsters suffer the slings and arrows of high school amidst their normal peers.  But really, don’t all teenagers struggle with inner monsters like self-esteem?

I’m beginning to get a clear picture of the Poppy brand–fluffy little stories, mostly for girls, with upscale branding.  In the case of Monster High, Mattel is backing the project with major product placement (a line of dolls, iToys, etc.).  Given the line of Bratz-style dolls, I think the publisher is looking to promote this book to upper elementary aged girls.  However, I found the story more appropriate for middle schoolers and even early high school girls looking for a light read with romance, drama and lots of style references.  The marketing plan confuses me.

Now, back to the book.  It was a light read and fairly amusing.  The monster characters were far more interesting than the normies if only because I was trying to figure out their monster traits based on their names (which, by the way, are one of the better points of the book).  Harrison’s love triangle is an ingenious twist on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, also a highlight of the story telling.  I found myself floating along with the plot until I realized the book was done but the plot was far from resolved.  Obviously, this will be another series for Harrison (The Clique, Alphas).  Although this is far from literary genius, it is an entertaining read, with a superficial lesson about the monster in all of us, that will appeal to style-conscious middle school girls.

4P     3Q     Grade Level: 6-9

Cover Art: Cute black and pink monster-girl graphics will get the attention of the intended audience.

From Reading List: ARC (Advance Reading Copy)

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