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The Monster Variations by [Kraus, Daniel]
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The Monster Variations Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Length: 258 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Age Level: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and up

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Editorial Reviews


"The Monster Variations has shades of A Separate Peace, Lord of the Flies, and To Kill a Mockingbird, but is utterly unique from the very first line."
--JOSHUA FERRIS, Then We Came to the End

"Beneath the terror and the thrills, there is truth in this haunting tale. It pierced my heart straight through."
--LAUREN MYRACLE, ttyl and Bliss

About the Author

DANIEL KRAUS is a writer, editor, and filmmaker. He lives with his wife in Chicago.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2678 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (July 28, 2009)
  • Publication Date: August 11, 2009
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002JCJ6TI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,535,222 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By V. Davis on August 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Daniel Kraus conveys this story mostly "seen through the eyes" of 12 year old boys. Delivered are; vigorous imaginations, mysteries, drama, adventure...blood, sweat & tears...guts & glory...guts & gory grit...ins & & downs...all laced with poetic imagery to "fan the fire"...and lets not forget how the various lives of the "adults" around them contributed to the whole saga.

The well written time line weaves a bit back and forth to include the ever widening circle of people and circumstances.

This tale starts in "the now" with a somewhat older James. In this time frame, James runs into Reggie, which begs the story to go back to their 12th year. The majority of the pages are dedicated to that fateful year. Then there is a building and winding back up to the present...and conclusion of the book.

I would love to go into the rich story line, but, really I don't want to diminish the readers' own enjoyment of discovery.
We, the readers, are voyeurs...we witness, we feel, we even squirm here and there...we certainly wonder what is going to happen or be revealed next.

It is a fine and dramatically entertaining study of the human psyche.

Honestly, I could not put the book down...until its very fine "ending".

PS. this book is certainly a great read for adults. And, I would especially give it to any adult who has "lost touch" with their youth.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Whoever wrote the synopsis that appears on the jacket flap of this book should be ashamed of him or herself. By making it appear as if The Monster Variations is a horror thriller, the unknown blurbster has done both the potential reader and the book's brilliant author, Daniel Kraus, a great disservice. The Monster Variations is a visceral tale of twelve-year-old boys on the cusp of manhood. The story is riveting, the imagery remarkable ("his heart scraped itself across the sharp blades of his ribs" ) and the prose luminous.

James Wahl is desperately eager to leave his hometown, his parents, and his childhood behind. Making his getaway to college, James stops at a hole-in-the-wall town for gas and comes face to face with the past he can't outrun. Reggie Fielder was once one of James' best friends and during their twelfth summer they shared adventures and horrors that profoundly changed the young men they would become.

One week into that long ago summer vacation a boy named Greg Johnson is killed in a hit and run. The grown-ups are in an uproar, convinced that a deliberate killer is targeting the town's boys and a curfew is soon declared. This is all particularly troubling for best friends James, Reggie and Willie. Clearly an 8 pm curfew will curtail their summer plans and it won't really protect them. They know this for a fact because Willie was the mad driver's first victim and the hit-and-run that cost him his left arm occurred much earlier in the evening than 8. The boys decide that no curfew is going to mess up their long, glorious summer and when the need arises they won't hesitate to ignore it.

As the weeks go by and the killer is not caught, the boys plan a series of meaningful outings that will test their courage and their friendship.
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Format: Hardcover
Ok, so first of all, this book sells itself the completely wrong way. I understand that there are some potentially interesting angles that can create buzz amongst readers if you take the `boys are mysteriously' dying pieces and blow them out of proportion. Given the back cover, I was truly expecting I Know What You Did Last Summer, or Scream, but what I got was more like Hearts In Atlantis, and even that movie was scarier than this book. For those of you looking for Goosebumps, this is not your book.

However, in my opinion, the text is much better. I wasn't looking forward to a YA book version of a bad horror flick, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that this novel isn't anything at all like that. It's a story about growing up, making mistakes, and working through difficult circumstances given the various pressures around you. Kraus's narrative voice is perfect for the three main characters. Each is unique and each has a different home life that causes tension and struggles that arise as a result.

Honestly, I love coming of age novels because they hearken to a simpler time in all of us when we're exploring everything life is beginning to offer as we awaken into our teenage selves--weird hormones, friendships forming and dissolving, and the realization that our parents are normal people with problems of their own. I don't think there are enough good books like this one, and I recommend this to boys, ages 10 - 13.

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Format: Hardcover
Excellent coming of age novel, that follows three 12-year-old boys, best friends, during one eventful summer. The three come from different backgrounds: James is an overachiever, with parents constantly pushing him to succeed, to keep his eye "on the donut, not the hole." Reggie is the largest and the least book-smart of the three, the son of a single mother who works as a waitress in a diner and doesn't give him much attention. And Willie, the smallest and clumsiest, has just lost his left arm in a hit and run accident, the first of two (another boy is killed) which mar the summer and lead to a curfew being enacted. As the three go about their summer activities and push their boundaries, things start to happen and they begin to grow apart, even as their awareness of the adult world begins to sharpen. Add in the peripherally-related story of the local bully, a boy who is artistically-gifted, yet misunderstood, and you've got all the makings of a truly incisive, memorable novel about the challenges and dangers involved in growing up. Highly recommended.
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