The Monster Variations
Someone is killing boys in a small town. The murder weapon is a truck, and the only protection is a curfew enacted to keep kids off the streets. But it's summer—and that alone is worth the risk of staying out late for James, Willie, and Reggie.
Willie, who lost his arm in the first hit-and-run attack, finds it hard to keep up with his two best friends as they leave childhood behind. All of them are changing, hounded by their parents, hunted by the killer, and haunted by the "monster," a dead thing that guards the dangerous gateway between youth and manhood. But that's not all: shadowing the boys everywhere is Mel Herman, the mysterious and brilliant bully whose dark secrets may hold the key to their survival. As the summer burns away, these forces collide, and it will take compassion, brains, and guts for the boys to overcome their demons—and not become monsters themselves.
In this chilling and poignant debut novel, Daniel Kraus deftly explores the choices boys grapple with and the revelations that occur as they become men.
"Utterly unique from the very first line."
JOSHUA FERRIS, Then We Came to the End
"Beneath the terror and the thrills, there is truth in this haunting tale. It pierced my heart straight through."
LAUREN MYRACLE, ttyl and Bliss.
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from Random House. Read an excerpt.
Selected to New York Public Library's 100 Best Stuff for Teens.
The Onion AV Club: "Kraus shows a rare skill at making that prospect of maturation terrifying."
Publisher's Weekly: "Delivers a moving story and points to a huge amount of potential for the author."
BookPage: "A chilling debut novel."
Horn Book "The story provides a dark, brutal look at how monsters around us can arouse monsters within."
Time Out Chicago: "There are much bigger, richer things going on here than a menacing plot."
Booklist: "Kraus’ novel defies easy categorization as it explores deeper, archetypal themes of male friendship, independence, and versions of the truth."
School Library Journal: "In a clear, but expressive style, Kraus offers readers brutality, death, anger, lies, and a monster in a box."
Book Fetish: "This is one of those stories that sneaks up on you and catches you unawares."
Gapers Block: "In a wonderfully told adventure tale, murder mystery and coming of age story, Kraus deftly bridges that dark chasm between childhood and adulthood."
San Francisco Book Review: "Like Stephen King’s The Body or Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides, Kraus has crafted a chilling, enthralling and poignant look at the bridge to adulthood that should not be missed."
Team Hellions: "A novel that transcends its genre. It’s so rare to find the beauty in such things. This is a must read."
Opinionated? Me?: "A heartwrentching, often frightening, coming-of-age tale."
Teens Read Too: "5 stars... Riveting."
Ramblings of an Idogrocker: "Poignant, nail-biting, even tear-jerking. A MUST."
Go Fasano Go Fasano review (Italian edition).
Authors Unleashed interview.
American Libraries interview.AuthorsNow interview.
Books Obsession interview.