Book Review: Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Sáenz

6413788Last Night I Sang To The Monster by Benjamin Sáenz

Published on: 1 September 2009
Published by: Cinco Puntos Press
ISBN: 1933693584
Pages: 239
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Add it on: Goodreads
Buy it on: Amazon | Book Depository
Favorite quote: “The heart could get really cold if all you’ve known is winter”

Zach is eighteen. He is bright and articulate. He’s also an alcoholic and in rehab instead of high school, but he doesn’t remember how he got there. He’s not sure he wants to remember. Something bad must have happened. Something really, really bad. Remembering sucks and being alive – well, what’s up with that?

This novel was definitely one of the longest reads that I had this year. Its first half was dragging. And if DNF was something I usually do, I would have stopped reading at the first few chapters.

I was starting to get annoyed with all the repetitive phrases. Those really wigged me out.

And I get that Zach is a person dealing with anxiety and he is an example of an unreliable narrator; his way of narrating demonstrates so. But knowing that didn’t stop me from getting torn up. At one point, I was mentally tallying how often the phrases were repeated throughout the novel.

But I did finish the book. And I’m glad I did.

Somewhere around the middle, when the phrases were used less often, you see the story progressing and the characters’ secrets are unfolding. I’m finally “feeling up” Zach’s world.

I love Rafael because he seems like the Dumbledore or the Gandalf of the alcoholics. And we see his vulnerability at one point and that part was really heart-wrenching.

I have this bittersweet feeling regarding how the author placed Sharky into Zach’s story—that he was important to Zach yet, when he left the facility, we don’t know what happened to him anymore. To me, this shows the unpredictability and uncertainty of life which makes for the sweet part.

But then I felt like the story fast-forwards the moment Rafael left the facility. The loose ends all tied together, some even too tied.

And I don’t like this feeling that people were there simply to be part of Zach’s life. Like they’re nothing but supporting characters to Zach’s story. It doesn’t feel real to me. What are they doing when they’re not interacting with Zach? But I guess that’s what the author was going for, since this was about Zach’s journey into rehab.

Still. By the end of the novel, I have no idea what to feel anymore. (Which may be a leeettle dramatic but the book’s drama is contagious)

To me, the true gem lies in the middle. There were scenes—many scenes—that were tear-jerkers and Zach being unstable proved effective in those parts.

However, the beginning was like this filler fog; I didn’t get my bearings in these first few parts and it feels irrelevant to the whole story. And the end was too neatly wrapped-up.

Last Night I Sang to the Monster may not have been the best book I’ve read but it was personally a great introduction to Benjamin Saenz’s writing. I will definitely read his other books. That’s my thinking.

2.5 stars


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