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Literature / Monster

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Monster Dionysus's life sucks. He's got a dead-end job which he absolutely hates, a nagging Tsundere girlfriend from hell, can barely afford the roof over his head, and worse yet he has to face the inevitable prospect that one day he'll be completely out of a job.

Wait, did we mention that his job was capturing and retrieving cryptozoological creatures? Because if not, it's really important that we do...

Things get worse for Monster when he meets Judy on the job when the convenience store she works at is attacked by yetis. Though she's a light cog and therefore physically incapable of understanding The Masquerade, she still makes a point of intruding on Monster's life. And let's face it, after her workplace is wrecked by yetis, and her home is destroyed by a bunch of trolls and a kojin, there's really nothing else you can do.


However, whenever Monster and Judy meet, cryptozoological creatures seem to follow to the point where it's impossible to not notice. Before long it is revealed that Judy isn't quite what she appears to be, and it's up to her, Monster, and Monster's paper gnome Chester to stop an evil that has existed since the beginning of the universe. In fact it's the reason the universe even exists.

Oh, and his girlfriend from hell? Yeah, she really is from hell.

This covers the book written by A. Lee Martinez. Not to be confused with the manga or the film by the same title. Or the 1999 young adult novel Monster. Or the similarly titled short story by A. E. van Vogt.


This book provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil:
    • Lotus maintains a polite, eerily-gentle demeanor in spite of her greed; even her end-goal for humanity is surprisingly gentle.
    • Ed, despite being The Brute to Lotus, is generally pretty sweet-natured and bubbly, particularly in contrast to Ferdinand's more stoic, surly attitude.
  • Almighty Idiot: The universe, in essence. Monster describes it as an idiot savant.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Lotus is responsible for the Dark Ages, the fall of several Chinese dynasties, and the invention of the cell phone and reality TV.
    • Hold on, is it the fall of dynasties or the dark ages that's meant to be jaywalking?
  • Baleful Polymorph: Used and inverted. Several of the cats in Lotus's house and, for a short while, Monster used to be human, but there are also quite a few of them that used to be other animals; one, in particular used to be a dragon. As it happens, this is actually Lotus's plan for the entire human race.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Monster believed that contracting a succubus girlfriend would be awesome, especially the part about getting to have sex with her every day. And it was...for a while. But now the bloom is well off the rose, they're both sick of each other, and they're long weary of having to have sex with someone they aren't in love with anymore. Every. Single. Day. Unfortunately the last time he tried to break things off, she nearly killed him.
  • Beyond the Impossible: When the fireproof succubus Liz tries to kill Monster and hits the Stone, it manages to send back a bolt of fire that incinerates her.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Subverted - only Monster thinks that it's a bittersweet ending. It's actually a straightforward happy ending. Basically, Lotus is dead, the Stone is free to restore the universe, Judy is no longer troubled by her connection to it, the magical ecology is enjoying a boom, and magic itself has become much more powerful without Lotus draining the energy from the universe. In fact, the haze which stopped Muggles from noticing or remembering the supernatural has ended, not only giving them a chance to witness and even learn magic, but also allowing magicians more control over their spells. The only reason Monster thinks otherwise is because while he's enjoyed the upsurge in magical creatures for him to capture and/or rescue, the fact that magic has become widespread again means that he's no longer indispensable, and he might be out of a job soon. Plus, he's been forced to kill his girlfriend. Then Gracie shows up, asking for a lift...
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • Being a light cog is no fun, as you have enough awareness to recognize the supernatural but not enough to remember it, meaning that you're stuck in a perpetual loop of noticing and forgetting. Some light cogs can use magic because of this, but rarely reliably or impressively. Plus, the lobe that allows them to perceive the supernatural will continue to atrophy throughout their lives until they revert to being ordinary incogs... but unlike most incogs, they also have a much higher likelihood of suffering from mental illness or crippling senility in their golden years.
    • Judy actually has it worse than most light cogs, as monsters are supernaturally drawn to her and directed by her emotions. Consequently, she's been saddled with a huge array of misadventures that she can't remember or explain, leaving her constantly in trouble with her parents, teachers, employers, landlords and the police for something she has no control over. By the start of the story, this power has effectively ruined her life - and this is before Lotus begins targeting her.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Played oh so literally.
  • Cosmic Keystone: The Stone Tablet, being the source of the universe and all its previous iterations.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Once Monster comes into mental contact with the universe, it gifts him with a large amount of magic which allows him to change colors (and therefore powers) at will as well as allowing him to reverse Lotus's magical transformations—this allows him to both neutralize Lotus's henchgirls and fight her to a standstill. Unfortunately the amount of magic is limited and eventually runs out, leaving him back at zero.
  • Evil Is Petty: Minor demons will irritate people into destroying the objects they're bound to, releasing and sending them back to Hell, but not before putting an annoying curse on the destroyer. It's mentioned that they're perfectly happy being stuck in an object for a thousand years just for the chance to give someone sonic flatulence for a day.
  • Extra-Strength Masquerade: Turned Up to Eleven. Muggles just plain refuse to believe magic exists, even if they want to. By the end of the story though the masquerade is just starting to break.
  • Friendship Denial: Every time Julie encounters monster, something gets destroyed. Every time Monster meets Julie, he nearly gets killed. They both stubborn, cynical people who don't like each other much at first, and Chester notes that people have trouble getting along with someone too like like them. Even in the end, Monster denies that they're friends, stating that Fire Forged Friendships sound like movie bullshit, though it's implied that this statement is something of a defense mechanism.
  • Glamour Failure: The cats around Lotus's house are actually transfigured humans and animals, and they can be recognised as such by their shadows.
  • Handshake of Doom: Judy's attempts to tag along with Monster go horribly wrong when she tries to capture a sea elf (a sentient parahuman and therefore not a pest). Chester is eventually able to talk the sea elf out of pressing charges, allowing a suitably-embarrassed Judy and her victim to resolve the situation with a friendly handshake... only for the vengeful sea elf to curse her the moment he makes skin contact: for the next few chapters, Judy has even worse luck than usual.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Monster doesn't think of himself as a hero, just a guy with a job. And since he's not a hero, he doesn't stick his neck out for other people and is generally a somewhat selfish person. But Chester sees potential in him, and he ultimately does the right thing when he could've just walked away.
  • Horned Humanoid: Hardy has ram's horns. He claims they're a legacy from a demonic ancestor, but Monster suspects the guy is just a half-satyr trying to sound like he's something cooler than that.
  • Horny Devils: Monster's girlfriend is a succubus, requires daily sex to keep her happy, and can give a man an erection by just waving a hand. It hasn't stopped their relationship from going sour, though.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Monster and Judy's view of the human race.
  • Humans Are Idiots: Chester's view of the human race; apart from the nicknames of "monkeys" and "protoplasm," he frequently doubts that human beings can even be classified as sentient.
  • Humans Are Special: Lotus's view of the human race; according to her, human beings are the only race in the cosmos that voluntarily make themselves miserable.
  • The Immune: As a side-effect of being bitten by a basilisk and undergoing two months of alchemical antivenom treatments necessary to save his life (without ending up being melted into a puddle by said treatments), Monster is completely immune to toxic substances, as well as having an unstable enchantment.
  • Jumped at the Call: Once Judy learns magic exists, she absolutely refuses to let herself forget, to the point of writing on her arm and getting a memory glyph cast upon herself.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Very minor demons can be summoned and bound into objects, usually dolls, and made to do a task. If the object is destroyed, the devil is sent back to the underworld, but has enough time to put a minor, inconvenient, and annoying curse on whoever's nearby (generally catching the destroyer). This gets weaponized a few times.
  • MacGuffin: The Stone Tablet which turns out to be the origin and sustaining force of the universe itself.
  • The Magic Goes Away: Magic and the rest of the supernatural are in serious decline as humans lose their ability to comprehend it and Lotus continues draining energy from the universe.
  • Muggles: At the beginning of the book, the human race can be classified as either Incogs, Light Cogs, or Cogs: Incogs are classic Muggles who can't interact with or even notice magic no matter how hard they try. Light Cogs can observe magic without the Weirdness Censor and even learn to cast the odd spell from time to time, but forget what they saw very quickly; plus, they're also prone to suffering from Alzheimer's disease later in life. Finally, Cogs are capable of seeing and remembering the supernatural, and can also perform magic following a certain degree of education; however, thanks to Lotus's influence, they have trouble remembering spells without easy references.
  • Never Mess with Granny: The Big Bad looks like a kindly old lady.
  • One-Word Title: Also a Protagonist Title, using the protagonist's first name.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Monster isn't his real first name, it's just what he's commonly called.
  • Our Cryptids Are More Mysterious: The yeti that eats all the ice cream in Judy's grocery store is just the start.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Not mentioned much in the story, but there is apparently a difference between a drake and a dragon.
  • Our Gnomes Are Weirder: Chester is a being from a higher plane of existence, who folds himself into a creature that looks rather like a very short, skinny human being but made out of paper. In addition, this condition is about as close as he ever gets to dreaming. And they call him a gnome.
    • There actually are garden gnomes present in the story, working for Lotus.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Gracie, who indicates she's allowed to have sex.
  • Our Demons Are Different: There are different denizens of Hell. Monster's girlfriend Liz is a succubus, and she makes a bunch of dolls in which are imprisoned minor demons- acting as mobile phones.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: No, not the character. But there are enough monsters in the story to shake a hat at, including some that are so old and weird that humanity has forgotten about them (well, more than they already have).
  • Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs
  • Protagonist Title: Also a One-Word Title, using the protagonist's first name.
  • Psychic Children: Every child starts out as a light cognizant, meaning they can learn of the existence of and perceive magic and magical; creatures. As they age, most kids lose their Merlin's lobe and so their memories of the magic things they see fade into fantasies and fairy tales. Some keep their lobes into adulthood, though even they will lose them eventually...and very likely end up with senility or mental illness.
  • The Stoner: Judy's neighbor Paulie spends most of his free time baked out of his ass; amusingly enough, Judy notes he's the one exception to the rule that most human beings are unhappy.
  • Time Abyss: Lotus, who has not only seen all of human history play out, but has lived through previous iterations of the universe. She's why there's even a universe to begin with.
  • The Transmogrifier: Lotus is capable of many powerful feats of magic thanks to her connection to the Stone. However, her favoured method involves transforming individuals into other species: her house is populated by numerous cats, all of them previously other life-forms, including nosy neighbours, elephants, and even a dragon - which can still breathe fire, incidentally; her two human minions, Ed and Ferdinand, used to be a horse and a cow; finally, her Evil Plan is to stop the Stone from correcting the balance, namely by transforming the entire human race into cats.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Judy's stoner full-cog neighbor Paulie doesn't own any shirts—but he's super-buff, so he can get away with it. He's also often without pants, too bad about his chicken legs.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Mostly averted, naturally, but there's one...odd example. Near the end, Ferdinand, who was a cow originally but was turned into a human for Lotus's purposes, is fighting with Chester. Monster takes advantage of her distraction to turn her back into a cow. While this was her natural form, she's clearly sapient now and horrified at turning back into a non-sapient animal. There's no mention of her turning back. Was this murder, then? (Or perhaps once Lotus was dead...)