The Monster on the Road is Me
Author: J.P. Romney
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Expected Release Date: 8/30/16
Genre: YA Fantasy
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High school student Koda Okita suffers from a sleeping disorder known as narcolepsy. Required to constantly wear an over-sized bike helmet to prevent injuries due to the risk of sudden falls, he is not exactly favored among his peers. In fact, most view him as weak. His only true friend is Haru, a drop out who works at a local convenient store.
But Koda’s life is altered when he discovers that during his sleeping episodes he can actually steal the memories of others. When a perplexing string of suicides occur within his own school, Koda realizes his small hometown Kusaka is in danger. A supernatural being know as a tengu threatens all that he knows. Can Koda save his hometown with the help of the mysterious and cute classmate Moya?
*I received an advanced copy of this title as part of a giveaway from Fierce Reads on Goodreads.com. This review is my own and completely unbiased.
I actually want to say quite a bit about The Monster on the Road is Me. The fact that this is J.P. Romney’s debut novel is extraordinary. It certainly reads as it was written by an author that would be frequently spotted on the bestseller list. There is no lack of talent, and I felt that this title shined from beginning to end. So I am just going to address the fact right now that you will find no negative feedback in this review. My only complaint would be that it has ended. Yes it is one of those rare reads where you literally cannot put it down. It is over before you even realize it. Shame on you J.P. Romney for leaving me in this state!
I should probably actually blog a bit about the book here instead of just telling you how amazing it is huh? But seriously, I loved it! Ok, ok. The characters in this story are limited. I enjoyed having a nice read without 20 different people to follow. It centers around young Koda and the peculiar Moya. I will not elaborate on Moya too much, as I feel that a good portion of the storyline is discovering more about her as the plot progresses. Koda on the other hand is fabulous! Ostracized and forced to deal with his narcolepsy, he has developed this eccentric sense of humor and spends a lot of time talking to himself to cope with his own insecurities.
“I am not a good smiler. Picture a bullfrog getting choked, and that is pretty much what my smile looks like.”
– Koda in The Monster on the Road is Me by J.P. Romney
There is no shortage of Japanese culture. The main setting is a small town in Japan, and Japanese language is inserted throughout the novel. This is done with just a word or two here and there. I do not speak Japanese. I have picked up on very few words thanks to my enjoyment of anime, and I can confidently say that the author did an excellent job of assuring this was not overcomplicated.
Following traditional Japanese folklore, our main antagonist is a tengu. The tengu is a mythological creature that presents itself as having characteristics of a human and a bird and is known as a mountain demon. As if a mountain demon were not enough for your reading pleasure, we are also introduced to another mythical Japanese creature known as a kappa. Picture a scaly child-sized creature that lives in rivers and other areas of water. Mischievous little pranksters. Sounds cute, maybe like this?
Wrong!!! Picture something more along the lines of this little feller.. still sound cute? Oh and they drown you. Yeah not winning any popularity contests.
“Don’t go near the river side
That is where the kappa hide
Snap your bones and suck you dry
-J.P. Romeny, The Monster on the Road is Me
We won’t even discuss how they “suck you dry”. Okay, I lied. We will. Koda and the children grew up being told the kappa would suck their souls out through their anuses. Ah the joy of bedtime stories.. seriously, if I want to keep my children in line, I ground them. But hey man, whatever works. Who am I to judge? Maybe I have been doing it wrong.
The Monster on the Road is Me is definitely an odd tale loaded with dark comedy. I laughed aloud many times. I knew I had a winner when I was giggling within the first chapter. Koda is amazeballs! I am pretty sure I might be too old to use that term, but it seems appropriate so I am sneaking it in. He is truly unique and heroic. I adore him!
This might sound like a grim story with you know, mountain demons, anus sucking kappas, suicides and what-not, but it uncannily reads with a real touch of light-heartedness. The humor alone is enough to almost make you forget that bad things are happening. Kappas and tengu and I was still like..
Looking for a good time? 😉 Well you’ve found one. I am recommending this to all fans of fantasy. Pre-order! Do it!
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