This action-packed debut children’s book is definitely not just for kids. It’s a little old for my little one, but it left me on the edge of my seat and wanting more!

About the Book

When Darren Devlin is arrested for destroying his school with his bare hands, it’s not just the police who are after him. Enter Marek Masters, 14 years old, 19% alien, and the most intelligent, most wanted “almost human” alive. Marek is here to tell Darren the truth – he is 21% monster, and together they must take down the secret organisation that created them.

My Thoughts

When I hit the end of this book, I turned the page and was like – NO! I’m so glad to know there are additional books because I need to know what happens next. The main character Darren is incredibly loveable and has the perfect down-to-earth, hero energy you expect out of a kid’s hero. He has to make sacrifices to keep the ones he loves safe, he has to make big choices at a young age, and he faces near insurmountable odds. A recipe for an epic sci-fi/fantasy kid’s book.

I’ll assume that like myself, the author cut his teeth on similar books growing up, and he is likely to earn his place right alongside the greats we grew up reading. I am so impressed by this debut novel, and can only imagine the others will just show improved writing and storytelling. The contrast of the two main characters Darren and Marek is well done, showing two sides of the same coin – honing in on the nurture versus nature narrative. The foreshadowing and twists, the social commentary on genetic engineering, people experiencing homelessness, government corruption, and so many other topics – which parents can pick up on but children will probably overlook, make the book a rich tapestry of possibilities for all ages.

I really appreciate the author and Love Books Tours for including me in this month-long read-along. This always lends an opportunity for me to dive deep into a book and pull out more than when I read it quickly. I look forward to catching up with Darren and Marek and finding out what happens next. If you’d like to see the questions from the month, you can check out the answers on my Instagram page linked below.

Who’s It For?

The book is marketed for middle-grade students, who are nine to twelve-year-olds. This seems about right, but I also really enjoyed it. Like a lot of kids’ movies, it has a lot of rich subtext that the kids won’t necessarily get but will entertain the parents. But the language and subject matter seems appropriate.

Content Warnings: Violence, Homelessness, Fighting, Child Abuse, Experimenting on Children, Bullying, and More. This is not meant to serve as a complete list of all subjects an individual may find offensive or triggering.

About the Author

P.J. Canning has a PhD in Chemistry and works in Cambridge. He is married with three children, all of whom are brutal critics of his work. P.J. heard someone say “write about what you know”, but he prefers to write about aliens and monsters instead. 21% Monster is his first novel.

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Publisher Website:

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