Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin
Publish Date: June 9, 2015
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon
From the Morris-Award winning author of Charm & Strange, comes a twisted and haunting tale about three teens uncovering dark secrets and even darker truths about themselves.
When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.
Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.
Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.
But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs. (Goodreads)
The first thing I noticed about this book was the author has this writing style that I loved immediately. It’s unapologetic and maybe sarcastic a little but also brutally honest. Raw. Nothing fancy about what this gal is trying to say. It fit this book so well. So much love for this.
Then I noticed that the chapters are short, which I also liked, because it doesn’t really take long, drawn-out scenes and chapters to paint story pictures, ya know? Especially in the case of Delicate Monsters, it really does not require many words. Here we have three perspectives on this story and they are…just, wow, they are really something.
They’re all connected.
Sadie comes back to town, enrolls into Sonoma High as a senior after spending mandated time in a wilderness camp because she I-don’t-know-may-have-possibly almost successfully killed a classmate. Sadie gets bored sometimes, see, and when she does, bad things happen. Sadie recognizes Emerson Tate from years ago, when they were children, when his mother worked on her family’s vineyard estate. She knows that Emerson has a pretty big secret + she is once again bored, and this is pretty dangerous for Emerson.
Emerson Tate is doing just fine at Sonoma. An athlete, likes a pretty girl, has a few friends. Sure, things are weird at home because little brother Miles is constantly weird and super sick, but he gets by. Dad is long gone, Mom always working, and why is Miles always so sick? So exhausting, mundane. And then Sadie shows up and oh no oh no oh no. Because knowledge is power, and she knows far too much about Emerson.
Miles Tate is the sickly one, the little brothers, the one that gets picked on, the weakest of these. Constantly bullied, mostly invisible. Miles also has visions – he can see the future. When he sees things, they happen. He is tormented by what he knows. He is tormented by other people. What to do with this information when you’re invisible, what to do.
So here’s the thing about Delicate Monsters: I thought I knew but I had no idea. I thought I figured it out, but I was wrong.
Perfectly placed plot twists and incredibly written character studies, that is what made this book so intensely fun for me to read. There are some big themes in this story, namely character redemption, which I always love.
No one is who I thought they were and nothing is as it seems. None of my theories were safe to linger for very long because as soon as they were comfortable, they were snatched right out from under me and replaced with new theories. I love this, okay.
- I had picked out a character that I liked the most and by the end of the book I was like WHAT ON EARTH, OH MY GOODNESS, WOW.
- The character that I thought I liked the least: I could not believe that I found so much compassion for that person.
- The character that had me befuddled and confused: blew. me. away. and quite possibly made the entire story for me.
Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn shook me to my core in terms of YES! YES! YES! so now I have another author to add to my “acquire the backlist right now” group. It really gets me going when an author has an interesting writing style with very interesting characters, keeps me invested, and then introduces twists that do not ruin the story. The ending is a little bit open and abrupt, so be aware of that, but I think it worked with this story.
I recommend Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn for readers that enjoy young adult contemporary with a psychological component, character-driven stories/character studies, and books with twists.
Issues: No spoilers in this case
(but message me if you’re concerned!)
Yay — review twins. And we had largely the same take on the book 🙂
As for your comment on my review about which of her books to read next… I loved them both. Maybe start with Charm and Strange? I think Delicate Monsters is the darkest of the three, with Complicit right behind. I think Complicit is probably my absolute favorite, but I'm just generally in awe of her talent.
Jen @ YA Romantics
Ooh, this sounds fantastic! I haven't read anything by the author, but I have Charm & Strange on my shelf. Must get to it soon! The authors style and characters sounds so intriguing. Looking forward to checking this out. Lovely review 🙂
LOVE this review! I've heard nothing but the highest of praise for Stephanie's books and am super interested in checking them out. It's been a while since I've had a blew me away, stay up way too late kind of read!
I have never read a Stephanie Kuehn book. I don't think they're "my thing". Okay, let me rephrase – I'm in this ROMANCE ONLY stage where every book I read has to satisfy my romantic heart, and I don't think her books will… otherwise, I probably would really enjoy it. If it were a movie I'd definitely watch it. Maybe once I'm out of this phase (if ever) I'll go back and read some of these weird, creepy books. At any rate, I've heard good things about her other books, so I hope you enjoy those too. Great review, Ash!