Monster Academy: I Will Not Eat People (Book Review)

Matt Forbeck, one of my favourite SFF authors, has a new book releasing today. I Will Not Eat People is the first book in his Monster Academy trilogy of young adult novels which he has written as part of his 12-for-12 writing program. It was his writing challenge for 2012, where he did four kickstarters, one for each trilogy, and was to write a book for each month of the year. Due to delays, some outside his control, he wasn’t able to complete the challenge in the same year, but now the overall project is finally seeing its completion. Monster Academy is the fourth trilogy, and it is off to a great start.

I’ve enjoyed all of Matt’s work that I’ve read to date, some thirteen or so novels at the least, and with each book he has impressed me even more. I find the idea of Monster Academy really fun and seeing the execution of it last month was really fun. The humour is always front and center with this book, but that’s not all of course, and just as with the previous trilogies Dangerous Games and Shotguns & Sorcery there is a strong sense of a murder investigation here, which is thrilling.

Monster Academy 01 I Will Not Eat PeopleI Will Not Eat People is a novel that focuses on a young orphan boy named Ruddy who is apprehended by the King’s men and brought to the Royal Academy of Creature Habilitation. In the world that Matt has created, several years ago the King led a war on all the monsters, great and small, and wiped out the majority of them. Of the few that are left, unless they are killed, they are brought to the Royal Academy and are enrolled there as students. There is a very interesting reason for why the king gave up on killing monsters on sight, and that in turn informs a lot of the drama in the novel.

Ruddy, who is a dragon in his monster form, has a really rough time in his first few days at the Academy since he is the new boy. He is bullied by some of the older students and eventually he gets caught in a murder investigation, involving no less a personage than the brother of the kingdom’s high priest, a monster-hunter of great renown. I Will Not Eat People explores that murder investigation angle, and it also explores the concept of prejudice and bias, and how these can be taken to unwholesome extremes by fanatics who refuse to listen to any sort of reason.

Ruddy, and the supporting cast of characters are really fun all the way through. The master of the Royal Academy is one of the coolest of Matt’s characters that I’ve read to date, and someone I was really interested in seeing more of. Which, we will hopefully see in the next two novels. It would be a nice subplot to have I think.

One of the great things about Matt’s novels is the dialogue. His characters are often sharp, witty individuals, and that holds true here as well. Ruddy, the master of the Academy Mr. Mortis and a certain female character are all great characters that have the hallmarks of characters I really enjoy reading about, and that Matt is really good at writing.

This is a novel that works on almost every level for me.

If there is any criticism that I have for this novel, it is that the opening is a bit clunky. The writing grabbed me immediately but the first few pages are a bit of a chore to read. Nothing major, but does leave an impression. And the climax is quite fast-paced. I would have liked to spend some more time with teasing out the reveal of who the murderer is, and focus more on the investigation is. Being such a short novel, roughly 50,000 words, there isn’t a whole lot of room to go in depth here, and the way that the story is told, things flash by a little too fast.

That’s really it though. I think that with this novel Matt Forbeck has another win on his hand. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from it, exactly, but I can say that it was a hell of a lot of fun. This is a great young adult book, of the sort that I’d have loved to read as a kid. So that’s that.

I hope you get a chance to read this book and enjoy it as much as I have.

Rating: 9/10

Posted on February 4, 2014, in Book Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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