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Blog Tour Review - Service Model by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Blog Tour Review - Service Model by Adrian Tchaikovsky To fix the world they first must break it further. Humanity is a dying breed, utterly reliant on artificial labor and service. When a domesticated robot gets a nasty little idea downloaded into their core programming, they murder their owner. The robot then discovers they can also do something else they never did before: run away. After fleeing the household, they enter a wider world they never knew existed, where the age-old hierarchy of humans at the top is disintegrating, and a robot ecosystem devoted to human wellbeing is finding a new purpose. There is so much to love in Service Model, but one of the things I most love about it is the peculiar blend of charming innocence and insightful cynicism. Uncharles the domestic robot is such a simple soul (though he would state that he has no soul and this is an inaccurate description). He approaches the end of the world with optimism and hope, or whatever equivalent to these emotions h

Review - The Boy Who Made Monsters by Jenny Pearson

 Review - The Boy Who made monsters by Jenny Pearson

Benji McLaughlin is a visionary. He believes in things other people think are impossible, like that he and his brother Stanley will be happy living with their uncle, and that the Loch Lochy monster is real, and that his parents will come home safely one day.

So when he finds out that Uncle Hamish's holiday business is struggling, Benji's not worried. He has a visionary plan. Together with his new friends, Murdy and Mr Dog, he sets off to prove that the Loch Lochy monster exists, and bring tourists flooding in.

But Benji might have to confront different monsters to the one he expects.

The Boy Who Made Monsters is an absolutely stuning new novel by Jenny Pearson. 

I've loved Jenny's stories before, both her solo novels and her recent collaboration with Sam Copeland. She has that talent I admire so much in a handful of middle grade authors of blending silly humour with powerful emotion. Jenny does it so well, Sam does it too, which is why their collaboration is so brilliant. Jennifer Killick and Rachel Delahaye do it too. It's an incredibly effective way of telling a powerful, moving story without it being too heavy, or of telling rude jokes without it just being puerile. 

Now that being said, there's something a little different about this book. The jokes and humour are still there, and there are certainly plenty of amusing moments, but this time they're a little more subdued. The emotional content steps up and takes centre stage in The Boy Who Made Monsters, and it is gorgeous and powerful and heart breaking and inspiring. 

The Boy Who Made Monsters is a story about grief and hope. Benji and Stanley have lost their parents at sea. Stanley was there when they went overboard, Benji wasn't. While most people have accepted they are dead, months after going missing, Benji hasn't. He still feels they are out there and will come home soon, and anything that happens in the meantime is just an interim measure. Like moving to Scotland to live with his Uncle Hamish. 

It's a story about how we cope with loss and grief, through withdrawal into isolation and anger, or through denial. Through therapy, and family, and with visions of hope and with deep pain. It's about guilt, whether because we were there and didn't stop it or because we weren't there at all. It's about mourning the people we lose, and it's about not being ready to let go of them and mourn them as we should. 

It's also about monsters, both literal and figurative, and the analogy of the monster is stunningly weaved through the story in subtle and beautiful ways. The best plan (and I use that term quite loosely) to save Uncle Hamish's land and business is to prove the existence of the loch monster, or, failing that, to fake evidence of its existence. This is the source of a lot of the humour in the story, as various plans and constructions fail in different ways, with often catastrophic results. It's fun and it is light hearted and humorous, and it does help to lighten the tone of the story. 

There's a great supporting cast too. I love Murdy McGurdy, and how much it feels like she's got her own story going on that's somehow gotten wrapped up with Benji's. Her attitude and fierceness is superb. Mr Dog is a wonderful sidekick, and Uncle Hamish is a really interesting character. I'd have liked to have seen more things from his perspective, but he's the very model of the man trying to put on a brave front despite all setbacks and it's very interesting seeing how that changes through the story. 

Honestly, if you want to know how beautifully moving this story is, I'm in tears just writing the review. One of the best books I've read dealing with loss, grief and hope. I can't recommend it highly enough.


The Boy Who Made Monsters by Jenny Pearson is published in July 2023 by Usborne.

I was given a copy via Netgalley in return for an honest, and rather teary, review.


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