Jan 062022

Booklist: Shortly after moving from Seattle to his father’s hometown of Merritt, Florida, Virgil Knox, 15, is attacked by a monster. Barely clinging to his sanity and bleeding copiously from his injuries, he makes his way to a parking lot and collapses. In spite of his wounds, however, people either don’t believe him, laugh at him, or say he asked for it by walking alone in a deserted area at night, and when he starts school, the pranks and teasing are nonstop. Virgil relives the attack at the slightest trigger, but all anyone tells him is to get over it. Virgil has more to worry about, however; he wonders whether he will become a monster as well. Hutchinson is known for offbeat, edgy books, and this is no exception. Convincing, well-rounded characters come to life in Hutchinson’s lyrical, punchy writing, and his skills for maintaining suspense and intrigue mean the story never drags. There are echoes of a werewolf story here, but Virgil’s experiences after the monster attack mirror the treatment of victims of sexual assault, which adds a dynamic level to the story. As Virgil starts to make connections in his new home, from irrepressible classmate Tripp to his seemingly dour grandmother, he realizes that he has more choices than he thought. Hutchinson never misses a beat in this gripping, dynamic novel.