Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron
Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Viking Penguin onOctober 3rd, 2013
Love can be a real monster.
Sixteen-year-old Boy’s never left home. View Spoiler »When you’re the son of Frankenstein’s monster and the Bride, it’s tough to go out in public, unless you want to draw the attention of a torch-wielding mob. And since Boy and his family live in a secret enclave of monsters hidden under Times Square, it’s important they maintain a low profile.
Boy’s only interactions with the world are through the Internet, where he’s a hacker extraordinaire who can hide his hulking body and stitched-together face behind a layer of code. When conflict erupts at home, Boy runs away and embarks on a cross-country road trip with the granddaughters of Jekyll and Hyde, who introduce him to malls and diners, love and heartbreak. But no matter how far Boy runs, he can’t escape his demons—both literal and figurative—until he faces his family once more.
This hilarious, romantic, and wildly imaginative tale redefines what it means to be a monster—and a man. « Hide Spoiler
I have always had kind of a complex relationship with Jon Skovron’s books, and although Man Made Boy is by far my favourite, it’s definitely no exception. Skovron writes really weird, really interesting novels; a bold move that doesn’t always work as well as one might hope.
Man Made Boy is narrated by the eponymous Boy (yes, that’s really his name; and yes, people comment on it relentlessly throughout the novel), the son of Frankenstein’s Monster and the Bride. Just like his parents, Boy was made using the, err, parts of recently dead human beings; however, because of his much more recent “birth,” Boy is outfitted with many technological improvements that allow him to navigate cyberspace simply by plugging into the jack at the base of his skull. Pretty cool, right?
Well apparently his peers don’t think so – and subsequently neither does he. Boy lives among other magical creatures inside a NYC theatre, where they use their supernatural abilities to amaze their audience. But the atmosphere is stifling for Boy, who would rather interact with his online community of talented computer hackers; people who like and respect him for his talents rather than despising him for his creation.
This first half of the novel was really difficult for me to read for a few main reasons:
- Boy’s persistent self-esteem issues grated on me
- There were quite a few pity parties thrown
- The abusive relationship between Boy and a certain lady friend
As soon as Boy resolved that third issue and struck out on his own, Man Made Boy improved drastically. I felt like I was reading an entirely different book, one that I actually enjoyed. While he’s travelling across the U.S. with a grizzled werewolf chaperone, Boy meets Claire/Sophie, the granddaughters of Jekyl and Hyde. The two girls’ consciousnesses occupy one body at the same time; that body changes depending on which personality is dominant in the moment. These two were a great fit for Boy, since he also struggles with two facets of his personality: the desire to create something powerful and revolutionary versus his enduring compassion and gentleness.
Road trips, banter, love interests that are actually viable, character growth – I loved all of these components. Sadly for Man Made Boy, they were overshadowed by the pitying and pathetic tone and the awkward pacing of the first half. Maybe if Skovron had spent less time developing that side of Boy’s character, then I would have liked him more. As it stands though, Boy and his world were excellent ideas that just weren’t executed all that well.