This novel tells the story of two young boys – the quiet, timid, and well behaved Alex, and the scallywag Jay, who’s always getting into trouble. They’re cousins and friends and their lives are turned upside down when, all of a sudden, Alex transforms into a dinosaur-like monster that has a mind and personality of its own. Unfortunately, what it seems to want to do most is eat people.
It’s a cute story. Both the boys are very endearing and I felt invested in their friendship. The tone of the whole piece is kind of like an animated TV show or movie from twenty to thirty years ago. It’s probably a bit darker than you’d see today, and takes itself seriously enough when necessary, but maintains and light and whimsical tone throughout. One that note, the main villain of the novel felt a little bit one dimensional. He’s just absolutely awful and, at first, it was to an extent that felt relatively believable, but by the end it was hard to imagine someone being as bad as that.
In some ways, it felt a bit like a super hero origin story, and the boys’ relationship with the monster (later named Be-Gone) was very interesting to me. I never would have expected the story to go in the direction that it did, but ultimately Be-Gone itself became a big part of the novel’s appeal, and I was as invested in that strange creature as I was with the rest of them. When it goes into the backstory of it, I was a bit disappointed, because there are some really awful things that are kind of written off as not being as bad as they are. It kind of cheapened the wholesome feeling that otherwise ran throughout.
Aside from that, the only thing that really bothered me about this book is that it really felt like it needed a more thorough edit. While the authors clearly have a talent for creating characters and telling stories, the whole novel was riddled with small mistakes and clunky sentences. One of the biggest offenders was a line where a sentence from the monster was followed by “said Be-Gone” even though, by that point in the story, they hadn’t yet named him. I’m not fussy, and it’s easy for me to overlook errors and mistakes, but I don’t think there was a single chapter without multiple instances, which damages the experience somewhat.
All things considered, I still think this book is a lot of fun and I recommend it to anyone who wants a bit of light-hearted fantasy entertainment. It’s not a hugely well known book, so it’s a nice opportunity to give a try to something that might otherwise be overlooked.