Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Review: Modern Monsters by Kelley York

Modern Monsters by Kelley YorkModern Monsters by Kelley York - Vic Howard never wanted to go to the party. He’s the Invisible Guy at school, a special kind of hell for quiet, nice guys. But because his best friend is as popular as Vic is ignored, he went...

And wished he hadn’t.

Because something happened to a girl that night. Something terrible, unimaginable, and Callie Wheeler’s life will never be the same. Plus, now Callie has told the police that Vic is responsible. Suddenly, Invisible Vic is painfully visible, on trial both literally, with the police, and figuratively, with the angry kids at school. As the whispers and violence escalate, he becomes determined to clear his name, even if it means an uneasy alliance with Callie's best friend, the beautiful but aloof Autumn Dixon.

But as Autumn and Vic slowly peel back the layers of what happened at the party, they realize that while the truth can set Vic free, it can also shatter everything he thought he knew about his life...
From Goodreads.

I bought Modern Monsters by Kelley York a few months back, and actually forgot certain details mentioned in the description; I thought it was about a girl making a false rape claim, when it's not that book at all. Despite not being what I expected, I was still hoping Modern Monsters would be a great book. Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed.

Vic is the nice, quiet guy. The guy with a conscience. When, at a party he didn't want to go to, he sees a highly intoxicated Callie throwing up outside, barely able to hold herself up, he can't just leave her to it. He helps her inside, takes her up to an empty bedroom, helps her into bed and puts a bin by the bed in case she needs to be sick again. Then he leaves. A few days later, Vic is arrested for rape. Callie was attacked at the party after Vic left, but Vic is the last person she remembers seeing - in the bedroom. When news gets out that Vic is the prime suspect, suddenly everyone knows who he is, hurling abuse and threats of violence his way, in and out of school. Vic knows he didn't do it, someone else did, and Callie needs justice just as much as he needs his name cleared. A tentative alliance if formed between him and Callie's best friend Autumn, and together they're determined to find the truth - and for Autumn, that's even if it is Vic. But as clues come to light, the two find that the truth might be even harder to believe.

Most of the books I've read for Sex in Teen Lit Month II covering rape and rape culture have been about disbelieving the victim about her attack and glorifying the accused, so I thought it would be interesting to look at a book where the accused didn't actually rape anyone. What is it like to be accused of rape, but be completely innocent of the crime? Vic is such a great character, because he really is a great guy. He is astounded when he's arrested for Callie's rape, but he doesn't just worry about what this means for him, he worries about Callie; she's been through this terrible ordeal, which is bad enough, but he knows they're going after the wrong guy. It's not just the fact that he might go down for it that upsets him, it's that if he does, Callie could walk right past her actual rapist and not know it, and they get off scot-free. I'd say he's more concerned for Callie and what she's going through than he is for himself, and that really made me warm to him, as is shown here when he undergoes an examination before being questioned by the police:
'Is this where they brought Callie, then? Did they shove her into one of these uncomfortable gowns and subject her to being prodded at. My chest constricts at the thought. How does someone even begin to process being violated and then having to spread her legs to let a doctor poke around?' (p20)
What I found interesting about Modern Monsters, in comparison to the other books on rape I've read for the event, is that most people tend to believe her. There's some victim blaming, but they generally tend to believe that Vic did do it. I suppose the fact that he's quiet and unpopular makes it "easier" to believe he did it than it would for star football players, but other than his best friend Brett, Brett's parents, and his boss Amjad, no-one believes he's innocent. Even his mother thinks he's guilty. It's terrible to see the violence suffered and the worse violence that is threatened. It really gets kind of sinister in places, a group of guys waiting for him outside his workplace, it's quite scary. However, the focus of the story is less on what he suffers, but on finding out the truth with Autumn, and the relationship between them as the story progresses.

And that's where I had to suspend disbelief. I don't understand how a girl who believes a guy raped her best friend could then go and looking for the "truth" with that guy. So we as readers know Vic didn't do it, but at the beginning, Autumn believes he does. If you have that belief, why are you even allowing him to be anywhere near you?! There's a point when Callie starts getting some other memories, nothing clear, but something that makes her think perhaps Vic didn't rape her, but she's not positive of that, and Vic isn't officially cleared from the investigation until the end of the book, so I just don't understand how Autumn would put herself at such risk. Sure, she comes to believe he didn't do it, but that's only through spending time with him and looking for who might have. She still fully believed he did it when they first start looking into things. And I can't understand her thinking. I really can't. But putting that disbelief aside and just forgetting about it, I really enjoyed Autumn and Vic together. Autumn is strong and feisty, such a great friend, and so determined to find out the truth. She's so different from Vic, and her boldness with Vic's shyness was just really sweet. She's also pretty smart in some ways too, but at times I just wish they went to the police. I don't know if the outcome would have turned out the same if it did, but I feel they took some huge risks that were potentially dangerous.

I worked out who Callie's actual rapist was fairly early on - or at least suspected before being positive. And when we get the big reveal is where I have my main problem with this story. I can't talk about it without spoiling the story, so don't click below if you've yet to read this book and don't want it spoiled for you.



Despite my problems with the end of this book, overall, it's not a bad book. I would have liked to have seen more of how Vic suffered due to other people believing he did it, and maybe Autumn being a little smarter, but it was still mostly an enjoyable read. But the ending just ruined it for me, sadly.

Have you read Modern Monsters? What did you think of the book as a whole, and the ending?

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Published: 2nd June 2015
Publisher: Entangled Teen
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