Review: We Call It Monster by Lachlan Walter

FF’s Star Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

We Call It Monster is one of those books that gets you jittery with excitement from the start. Lachlan Walter starts his sci-fi horror novel off with a monstrous bang: “Everyone remembered where they were and what they were doing the first time they saw an enormous and ungodly thing crawl out of the sea and lay waste to a city.” A start like this is surely enough to entice all monster loving readers. This is a rarity for me because this is the first time I’m blessed with reading a novel about giant monsters capable of destroying cities.

On the day that the giant monster crawled out of the sea off the coast of Sydney, Sue Fleming was having a good time at a party. After the attack, the city became something akin to a warzone. Citizens now have to live in terror in fear of their lives. All roads leading away from the city have been left immediately unused. The military is called upon to do something about the problem. The city has been completely destroyed, and people have no choice but to persevere through the ever present danger of encountering one of the giant monstrosities.

The book is divided into different parts, told in the third person narrative and revolving around different characters with their own parts to play and unique storylines in this world of monsters. Readers are quickly introduced to Sue’s half-brother Jimmy and his new girlfriend Marley. Sue is portrayed as a young woman who isn’t fond of adhering to rules of tradition.

The party mood that the author starts readers off with is well illustrated. The mood set well. Loud music. Alcoholic beverages. An overall fun time. Readers are also taken through military and forest settings. I especially like the forest type setting at the end where characters named Lyndon, Dolores, and Jackson go about using a camera and making such amazing discoveries like prehistoric dragonflies that shouldn’t exist. The feel of the forest is realistic enough for readers to mentally walk alongside the characters.

The first true altered state of the city is shown when an old man turns on the television to watch the early-morning news. The stretches to New Zealand and more. Europe, Micronesia, Polynesia, etc. New Zealand, which has succumbed to forces far worse than nature, has vanished while Europe’s situation entails the sudden plummet of a handful of satellites over night.

Just to give readers a further glimpse of what awaits them while diving into this book, here is a particular scene involving a beast swimming under water that is focused upon. “…blurred clips of an enormous black shape swimming underwater, computer simulations of what the city might look like if the shape made landfall, shots of panicked people being ushered into underground bunkers…”.

The pace of the story is a bit slow, but at least the author makes use of a good selection of big words, offering readers a well polished read in the end. I was a bit confused in the beginning because I couldn’t clearly tell who the main characters were due to the fact that there were different protagonists in each part. The author seems to examine humanity’s will to survive in a city after a great catastrophe takes place. People are people. Walter has a funny but realistic way of showing it. That some people, whether there be monsters fighting in a city, will still make the effort to go and watch. There is still love and friendship and things about the world to enjoy even with everything that has changed.

“I mean, one of them was taller than every single building.” Walter’s descriptions of the monsters can be pretty basic at times, but the book has an almost cartoonist feel about it. Not overly serious, but there’s good action to keep readers horror-struck. And it’s not always about action and people running away screaming for their lives whenever monsters show up. Sometimes its about survival as in one case when a woman tends to a man’s wound and what she uses to do so. Something anyone can take to heart when someone is in need of medical help.

Walter takes an interesting turn as he moves forward in time with each part. He explores tribal life and culture in the part entitled A New World Arises: Years: Years 16 – 35. One passage offers a view of elders calling for a latest child-of-age while children go about collecting fruit. Many things that we take for granted today have become tenuous relics.

The author tries to intrigue readers with a particular line that I didn’t get and it confused me a bit because I couldn’t outright tell what the author was trying to convey. He writes that “if the satellites could have believed in a world beyond binary numbers and digital impulses, they would have thanked the creator of that world for the darkness that spared them the sight of whatever had extinguished one of mankind’s last lights.” It might be that the author was trying to point towards the possibility that technology might pose for the world if satellites, for instance, were to become sentient all of a sudden.

I really enjoyed the hectic parts and dangerous situations. Sort of gets one’s blood pumping with adrenaline, ready for a battle or mad enough to bar up one’s own windows. Just a light joke, but if big monsters are your thing and your not afraid of jumping at the sound of something extremely loud outside your house, don’t hesitate to get yourself a copy of Lachlan Walter’s scream maker. One of my favorite lines from this novel has to be: “Pigheadedness and vanity do strange things to people, and he was old enough to understand both.”

Kindle Edition:

Publisher: Severed Press
Date Published: February 10, 2019
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction
Pages: 251

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