We Call It Monster by Lachlan Walter Review

A mysterious attack leads to a world changing event in author Lachlan Walter’s We Call It Monster.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A mysterious attack leads to a world changing event in author Lachlan Walter’s We Call It Monster. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

One ordinary day, an enormous creature dragged itself out of the ocean and laid waste to a city. In the months and years that followed, more and more creatures appeared, until not a single country remained untouched. At first, people tried to fight them. In the end, all they could do was try and stay alive. 

We Call It Monster is a story of forces beyond our control, of immense and impossible creatures that make plain how small we really are. It is the story of our fight for survival and our discovery of that which truly matters: community and compassion, love and family, hope and faith. 

The Review

This is by far one of the most original and “human” stories set in a world filled with larger than life monsters. Bringing the large scale destruction of any Godzilla or King Kong style film and blending it in with the character development and connectivity of a film like Crash, the novel explores a sudden war with mysterious monsters that threatens to end the world as we know it. The author changed the formula up however by focusing not on the monster’s origins or larger than life battles, but instead the relationships and struggles of those affected by these events.

Each section of the novel focuses on specific years in this “war”, from the creatures emergence across the world to the economic struggles and loss of life felt by the people around the world. Each chapter focuses on a character introduced in the previous chapter, allowing readers to see how connected we all are to one another, and allowing us to see how the monster’s arrival affects everyone differently. The emotional impact of these creature’s destruction and the slow decline the planet faces brings a new focus on the monster genre, and creates a truly impactful story like no other.

The Verdict

A true must read novel of 2019, author Lachlan Walter has exceeded the expectations of the genre and created a narrative that is truly original. Exploring the affects the monsters have on our society, on the planet and the people left behind in their wake, the heart of this novel rests in it’s fantastic character development, and will leave readers on the edge of their seat as they witness the slow ride into the end of the world as we know it. If you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up your copy of We Call It Monster today! 

Rating: 10/10

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lachlan Walter is a writer, science-fiction critic and nursery-hand (the garden kind, not the baby kind), and is the author of two books: the deeply Australian post-apocalyptic tale The Rain Never Came, and the giant-monster story-cycle We Call It Monster. He also writes science fiction criticism for Aurealis magazine and reviews for the independent ‘weird music’ website Cyclic Defrost, his short fiction can be found floating around online, and he has completed a PhD that critically and creatively explored the relationship between Australian post-apocalyptic fiction and Australian notions of national identity.

He loves all things music-related, the Australian environment, overlooked genres and playing in the garden. He hopes that you’re having a nice day.

AN EXTRACT

The old man shuffled out to the balcony, dusted off an outdoor chair and

then made himself comfortable. The sky was a shade of blue that painters

only dream about; it was a beautiful sight. The old man drank it in,

leaning back in his chair. He sipped at his coffee and smoked a cigarette.

He was happy to wait as long as was necessary – he had all the time in

the world and he wasn’t going anywhere.

The monster finally appeared, a blurry smudge in the distance.

Slowly, but not as slowly as he would have thought, it grew both

closer and more distinct. The old man laughed out loud; it looked like

nothing more than a child’s drawing of something that might have been a

lobster or might have been a spider or might have been both, propped up

on flagpole-like legs that supported a wetly-shining carapace, a beaked

head, and a tail as long as a bus.

It was enormous and ridiculous in equal measure. The old man was

surprised to find that it failed to frighten him.

It drew closer to the city. It stopped suddenly and bit a great chunk

out of a stately old tree lining a boulevard. Chewing slowly and

methodically, it worked its way through the mass of wood and foliage

before throwing its head back and opening its mouth wide. Despite his

deafness, the old man felt the monster’s keening in his bones and in the

pit of his stomach.

He pulled his hearing aid from his pocket, turned it on then slipped it

in place.

The beast’s cry was low and mournful, more a melancholy bellow

than a ferocious roar. Thankfully, the klaxon-blare of the evacuation

alarms had stopped. The monster cried out again and it shook the old

man, both literally and metaphorically. The beast shifted its legs,

presumably adjusting its weight, and destroyed an office building in the

process.

Almost comically, it looked down at the destruction it had wrought

and seemed to shake its head.

It looked back up and cried out a third time, and then started walking

again. It seemed to meet the old man’s eye. Without breaking its gaze, the

old man took another sip of coffee before lighting another cigarette.

Slowly-slowly-slowly, the monster drew closer. You could almost see

a smile on the old man’s face.

A Q&A WITH THE AUTHOR

What is it about giant monsters that appeals to you?

Initially, it was a childish fascination with things being smashed. Let’s face it: Every little kid has thrown a tantrum for reasons they can’t explain, broken something and then experienced relief at the wordless release this brings. A giant monster barging through a city for no fathomable reason can reflect our own difficulties in articulating and making sense of our emotions at that age.

This fascination soon turned to awe and wonder at their scale and mystery, a reflection of the feelings inspired in me by my discovery of dinosaurs and cryptozoology (the study of creatures such as the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, Yetis and the like). My love of dinosaurs is easy to explain – show me a kid who hasn’t at some point gone through a ‘dinosaur’ phase’ and I’ll eat my hat – while my love of cryptozoology was inspired by a book entitled Creatures From Elsewhere, which my parents gave me and which is actually still sitting on my bookshelf.

Beginning in my teenage years and continuing on into the present day, I’ve loved the metaphorical and symbolic potential that giant monsters possess, and the ways in which they can ‘stand in’ for so many different problems that seem beyond our control and almost impossible to deal with. Nuclear war, our negative impact on the environment, international terrorism, industrial pollution, climate change, the staggering number of displaced people around the world – giant monsters have represented them all.

Why did you decide to write about giant monsters?

As mentioned, I’ve always been fascinated by them. But I’ve also always been a voracious reader, and sometimes an obsessive one. I’ve been known to occasionally get my nerd on for a particular sub or micro-genre, looking up ‘similar title’ and ‘you might also like’ lists online when I should be doing better things with my time. But I still keep searching, because there can’t just be one example of Mystery Sub/Micro-genre X out there.

Giant monster fiction was one such obsession that carried me away, the timing of which coincided with the completion of my first book. I binged on literally anything I could find, looking for something that took giant monsters as seriously as some of the movies do, something that was more than just capital-A action. I found lots of fun, post-modern stuff out there – some of which could even be described as zany – but not much that approached giant monsters with a serious eye.

Looking for a new book to throw myself into writing – a book that I wanted to be distinctly different from my first book – I decided upon a piece of serious giant monster fiction. In other words, I decided to write the book that I wanted to read. Isn’t that what an author does?

Do you need to be a fan of giant monsters to appreciate We Call It Monster?

Nope, but it probably helps… In all seriousness, though – no, you don’t need to be a fan. My aim with We Call It Monster wasn’t only to write a serious piece of giant monster fiction because giant monsters have, historically, rarely been written about in such a way. Instead, I also wanted to write a piece of speculative fiction that does what all good speculative fiction should: Use the speculative element within to make us look at ourselves and our place in the world with fresh eyes.

Despite its title, We Call It Monster is more concerned with people than monsters. It isn’t a ‘wham-bam, shoot-em-up’ but instead a serious look at how we might react to forces beyond our control, and to forces that illuminate the precariousness of our position as world-conquerors sitting atop the food chain. And ultimately, it’s the story of what really matters: community and compassion, love and family and friendship, hope and faith. Anyone that appreciates such people-centric stories should find something within We Call It Monster that they can enjoy.

Why did you decide to write We Call It Monster as a story-cycle/novel-in-stories?

To me, one of reading’s biggest attractions has always been in my sense of engagement with the world being built on the page (a process even more absorbing when reading science fiction and speculative fiction). I think this enjoyment of engagement applies to most people. We all ‘see’ things in written worlds that the author didn’t actually write, even at the most mundane level: we populate a footpath with pedestrians, a street with cars.

A story-cycle/novel-in-stories can increase this sense of engagement to an incredibly strong degree, and their traditional structures allow writers to work magic. They can give us different perspectives on the same events, blocks of ‘missing time’ that exist between stories/chapters, events that are only alluded to rather than seen first-hand, a multiplicity of narrative “voices”, and so much more. But ‘missing time’ begs to be filled; events only alluded to tantalise us; we can’t know the truth when presented with different perspectives, or even if the truth exists. And so our minds do this work for us, conjuring up and giving life to parts of the story the writer has withheld.

The way story-cycles/novels-in-stories allow us to create the world right alongside the writer is a beautiful thing. However, the structures behind them aren’t just beautiful, but also incredibly practical. They can allow a story to cover a span of time longer than a regular person’s life; and help do away with the inevitable and repetitive ‘amazing coincidences’ that prop-up stories where one single character guides us through an incredible sequence of events covering an incredible amount of time; and enable a wider representation of voices from a wider variety of countries and cultures, without also falling back on the aforementioned trope of inevitable and repetitive ‘amazing coincidences’.

IMPORTANT LINKS, SOCIAL MEDIA & CONTACTS LINKS

Official Website

Severed Press

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Surviving Horse Island (Kids vs. Nature, #3) by Karl Steam Review

A refreshing change in scenery promises a day of fun for four middle school kids, but the reality of survival hits home in unexpected ways in author Karl Steam’s novel Surviving Horse Island, the third book in the Kids vs Nature series. Here’s the synopsis:

Josh and three of his classmates have proven they can survive a forest and a desert, but what about an island? Can they finish a third mission and make it home alive?

This third book takes an interesting turn, as for the first time the protagonist and the other kids caught in this endless web of survival missions the app brings them on find an environment that promises fun and adventure. The author does a great job of highlighting the beauty of the world, and also showing that beauty has to be respected and cared for, as untold dangers and survival skills are needed in the most beautiful of locations.

The growing character growth and blooming relationships between characters in the book promise a deeper and engaging story than ever before. The visuals do a great job once again of creating an even and free flowing story that both educates the reader and hooks them with relatable characters.

Overall this was a wonderful read that only makes readers crave more and more of the story. With the power of the app growing and the mystery of it’s development only becoming more shadowed, the third book in this series does a wonderful job of educating readers on survival on an island and how to fend for yourself in the wild, all while drawing the reader into a fast paced read that you won’t be able to put down. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Surviving Horse Island by Karl Steam today!

Check out my review of book one here and book two here.

Rating: 10/10

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