Title: Destroy All Monsters by Sam J. Miller
Two-sentence summary: This genre-bending queer YA begins with two friends: Solomon and Ash. As Solomon slips into a nightmare realm called the Darkside, he and Ash have to finally confront a traumatic childhood event that changed their lives forever.
Portrayal of LGBTQ issues: Destroy All Monsters features a cisgender, gay protagonist. It also features themes of sexual assault, which is one of the major sources of trauma for Solomon and Ash. As the author (Sam J. Miller) is gay himself, this is also an #OwnVoices YA.
What I liked: Do you know what this reminded me of (in the best way possible)? Patrick Ness. It’s got the same darkly whimsical feel to it while using monsters to represent deep emotional turmoil. When I read “The Art of Starving” almost two years ago, I was struck by the author’s unconventional choice to discuss eating disorders through science fiction. Destroy All Monsters pushes the way we traditionally discuss serious issues like child abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder in what makes for a thought-provoking read.
At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the dual perspectives in this book. In my opinion, they have to be done carefully or else it’s hard to immerse the reader in either one. But in this case, both Solomon and Ash were able to establish distinct voices that added important things to the plot. I also felt like Solomon and Ash had an authentic connection as friends, which added even more emphasis to both the traumatic and healing parts of the book.
Recommended: I’d recommend this book for magical realism fans as well as anyone who’s interested in a fascinating psychological fantasy. But I would recommend looking into some of the heavier themes in the book if you think that any of them might trigger you.
Note: I was given an ARC in exchange for a fair review.