Skin Deep/Ordinary Monsters review by: Mandy Tyra

 

GREAT new author I’ve come across, New Yorker ~ Frank Martin; up and coming writer, riding that cusp!! I love stumbling upon talented new ~ under the radar ~ authors, it’s a real treat and yes sometimes I suffer through the dullish dud, in which case…well, I don’t dooo those kinds of reviews, I take joy in finding the hidden gems and trying to bring more attention to them and I found one right here that’s deserving of some praise and a bit of spotlight.
Because these two teen tales were totally terrorific!!
That campy pulp style cover art really draws you in too. PLUS some awesomely illustrated, very clever and creepy, graphic comics after each story. So much detail, they were magnetic!
And at roughly 80 pages each, they really are quite lengthy, tasty little novellas. Thick cut slices in the ~ very unordinary ~ lives of a couple of blindsided and barreled over teenagers.
I really liked Frank’s imaginative and descriptive take on these two old school (age-old) heavyweight monsters.The first story is called Skin Deep, about a sophomore named Laura who’s a track star. Her parents equally encourage and push her, probably because they feel that they have failed with their first-born Jessica, 23-year-old college student who’s had a few issues and dreams of being an artist. The sisters have never been close, never really bonded like sisters should, which is unfortunate.
It seems like when one tries, the other has better things to get to..
After a family argument one evening, Jessica gets mad and heads off to meet her wild and crazy friend at a real dive of a bar. Unbeknownst to her, Laura follows with fake ID in tow, looking to bond….but Jessica has better things to get to at the moment.
Mad at her bossy sister, Laura decides to hang out and underage drink it up in another area of the bar where she is then drawn to a good-looking older man. He’s Cuban, all mysterious; parts charming, brooding, and boorish, so…of course, she’s smitten. Laura craves a little excitement, a bit of teenage rebellion. Now it’s Jessica’s turn to reach out but Laura may be just beyond reach now.

The second story is called Ordinary Monsters and is told in first person style. Liam and Eric have been best friends for many years, they go to highschool together and deal with the many cliques….neo-Nazi’s, goths, jocks…etc. They don’t consider themselves branded though, just like to hang out with all (well, except the neo-Nazi’s, they are jerks) and party every weekend. If Liam was the jealous sort, he would be of Eric, cause Eric just excels at damn near everything, especially sports. Some strange things starts coming to light regarding Eric and his home life….those odd family nights. Liam’s curiosity gets the best of him and he sniffs around a little bit ~ sniffs himself right into a lurking, unyielding stench.
Layered throughout this tale is a very heart wrenching Nazi back story and although the boys are learning about the Nazi’s in history class, you still wonder what one has to do with the other….then it all comes together beautifully…harrowingly
Quite brilliant, adding this highly emotional and historical element to the story, it made it all impact, deeply. Oh, it forebodes.

BOTH of these stories are about going through changes, not the typical teenage changes though, unfortunately. These are a bit more temperamental…and feral.
And yes, both our teenage leads are kind of selfish, never really happy or even content in their ~ pre transformative/formative years ~ home lives. Always battling and bickering with not so adversarial parents and basically…not really all that loveable or even likeable at times.
Well, that’s pretty much most teenagers; selfish, greedy, self-centered, and a bit self-righteous. Total little narcissists and thankfully, they grow out of it….ideally.
My ex didn’t, but that’s an entirely different rant….

MAN, this guy can write, superb style, very polished and sharp. The stories flowed perfectly with genius build up, followed by kinetic fiery knock down.
And these must be young adult, I can’t find anywhere where it states that but I just got a strong Chris Pike vibe while reading them. I LOVED Pike back in the 90’s, he wrote the best teen scary thrillers. I felt the same 3 dimensional ease of story and full-bodied characters while reading these two tales, although these were quite a bit edgier than the YA I remember. ๐Ÿ˜€
Aaand maybe they aren’t, it really doesn’t matter what genre they are (or aren’t) labeled in, because what they are, are riveting little character driven page turners.
However, no obscene or explicit content, so that’s why I assumed young adult. Yea, hahaha…I probably loiter in the extreme horror blackened back alley too much….
It’s made me nostalgic for dusting off some of my old Pike’s (aaand Stine’s, yes, I was well versed in him too…don’t judge. Lol) for a little reminiscing comfort reading, that’s for sure.

Anxious to check out more from this sharp and savvy new writer on the block.
So…I request another teen scream double billed book please, Mr. Martin.
Chop, Chop!! ๐Ÿ˜€

 

You can buy the book here:

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