2024 Tournament of Books: Monstrilio vs American Mermaid

The premise of American Mermaid as laid out on the back cover sounds promising. The author of a popular young adult novel goes to Hollywood to work on the adaptation of the novel to a movie, but as Hollywood does what it does to novels it adapts, some mysterious force starts fighting back. This sounded like fun, but the execution, it felt, wasn’t quite there. What’s more, the segments from the novel within the novel in many cases felt stronger than the novel itself and I think I would have rather read that book.

Monstrliio starts as a tragedy with a mother mourning her son’s premature death and cutting open his body to retrieve a piece of his lung as a grim keepsake. She later feeds the lung which turns into the titular Monstrilio. The whole thing is delightfully bizarre, at turns grim and hilarious. I would add that my daughter (who’s currently in fourth grade) picked up the book and got hooked on it, despite it being, by no means, a book aimed at children (I did repeatedly ask her if some of the gruesome aspects of the story bothered her).

So, my pick to advance is Monstrilio. It’s not just because I thought it was a better book, but also because it’s sucked my daughter into reading a 300 page book without pictures.

My judgment on the judgment

I love it when a judge’s statement matches my views perfectly, and Tajja Isen’s judgment matches my view perfectly. Obviously, she is a woman of great taste and intelligence.






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