An absolutely brilliant page turner by Goldy Moldavsky!!! One of the fastest books I’ve read this year. This book falls under the horror genre in YA. Regular readers of this blog (and by that, I mean the four people who follow me on Twitter) will know that I am an ardent fan of YA. This book reinforces my commitment to the genre which is often dismissed on account of its target audience being “teenage girls”!!! (As if there is something wrong with Teenage Girls 😐 )
The premise of this book is simple. A group of horror film aficionados form a club called “The Mary Shelley Club” and watch horror movies and have fervent discussions about the cast, plot etc. They also have a Fear Test, where each member must choose a target and frighten the living daylights out of them. The one who performs the scariest task is the winner. Each member goes about choosing their victims and the scare tactics used by them draw from a variety of horror tropes. I myself, haven’t watched a lot of horror movies, but people who have watched a majority of them will appreciate the homage this book pays to such classics.
On the other hand, I have read “Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus” by Mary Shelley and it is one of my favorite classics. Pop culture has reinforced the idea that the abominable creation of Victor Frankenstein was the real monster, but the book shows how Victor Frankenstein played God and paid the price. Even this salient point, often overlooked by the horror fans, was mentioned in “The Mary Shelley Club”. It proves that the characters of the book actually understood the concept of Frankenstein.
In fact, the real reason I read “Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus” was because of the episode “The Haunting of Villa Diodati” in Doctor Who. I’ve thrashed the Timeless Child narrative of Doctor Who in previous posts but this episode was really one of the better moments of Season 12 (and there weren’t many to go around, so let’s cherish it). In a way, The Mary Shelley Club represents a collision of my fandoms.
The characters of this book are interesting, relatable and at times even funny. The narrator is a really interesting character and her social anxiety along with the trauma she experienced makes for a very intriguing read. Rachel Chavez is a really feisty heroine with a complex and realistic thought process. It was refreshing to read an accurate character.
Spoilers!!!!! Major Spoilers Ahead!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The smaller Fear Tests in-between were good. I though Felicity Chu’s Fear Test was too simple but it did freak out her target, so I suppose she was right in choosing that scenario. I didn’t like Felicity’s character much. But I guess that was the point of her character. To show someone weirdly obsessed with the club!!! Which as we find out later is nearly everyone in the club!!!
Thayer was a nice character. Moderately funny and sympathetic to Rachel. His fear Test idea was good though. I did enjoy reading that part. Especially since his target was a typical douchebag. He isn’t one of the main characters that influence the plot, not till the very end anyway, but he’s definitely a fun distraction.
Her friend Saundra’s death was the most unexpected death I have ever read. I was not expecting this to be an actual murder mystery. I did guess that Bram would choose Saundra as his target, since she was Rachel’s only friend, but I never thought this book would actually feature the death of one of it’s main characters.
The slight hint at a possible love-triangle between Freddie, Bram and Rachel was interesting. And halfway through the book we are left wondering about which of the two potential boyfriends is also the villain. It seems fairly obvious that it should be one of them, especially since both of them keep pointing their fingers at the other. But despite that, the plot twist in the end, still takes the reader by surprise.
AND SPEAKING OF THE PLOT TWIST!!!!! The entire book was a Fear Test designed for Rachel. From the beginning to the end. In the middle of the book, I worried a bit about how the main plot of the book hadn’t actually started. I thought Saundra’s death was going to be the start of the meaty part of the story, but the revelation at the end, was one of the best that I have ever read. I was not at all expecting that. I was expecting either Freddie or Bram were probably taking revenge for some weird reason. But I thought that her joining the club, had little to do with the actual Fear Test.
It was an Inception-level twist: the entire story is a Fear Test!!! One of the best books I’ve read this year. And honestly, I could not put it down, after Saundra died. I had to know who killed her. Cleverly written, with an amazing set of characters, this book is a must-read for every horror/thriller YA fan. I look forward to more works by this author and will start reading her previous works too.
Score: 8.5 / 10