Monster High (Monster High #1), by Lisi Harrison
Early in the autumn, two girls arrive in Salem, Oregon.
One, Frankie Stein, has just been born. I guess, however, that it is more accurate to say that she has been assembled. Her parents, Viktor and Viveka Stein, have built her from parts that they created in a laboratory. They spend the final two weeks of her creation implanting fifteen years of knowledge into Frankie's head.
The other, Melody Carver, is moving with her parents, Beau and Glory, and her sister, Candace, from Beverly Hills. Melody had a beautiful singing voice when she was a child, but her voice was stolen from her by asthma. Beau and Glory believe that the move to Salem will lead to an improvement in Melody's asthma. While the move may have the desired effect on her asthma, their move to Salem is definitely going to turn Melody's life upside-down.
You see, Salem is not just the state capitol. It is also home to a community that refer to themselves as Regular Attribute Dodgers. The more common name for them, however, is monsters. And not only have the Carvers moved to Salem, they have rented a house on Radcliffe Way, which is the home of the RAD families themselves.
At one time, the RADs lived among the "normies" peacefully. Then the era of the monster movie dawned and the normies who had previously been their friends turned on them. It started as simply giving the RADs the cold shoulder but gradually changed into more overt forms of violence. When the RADs campaigned for equality, all of the support that they garnered was from monster movie fans.
In the end, they felt the need to flee. They originally intended to head for Salem, Massachusetts, in hopes that the witches would shelter them, but due to a communication error they ended up in Salem, Oregon, instead. When they discovered the error, it was too late for them to move again, so they set up a community in Oregon.
We follow Frankie and Melody during their first weeks of tenth grade at Merston High. Melody begins what she hopes will be a romantic relationship with a young man named Jackson, only to watch it all fall apart when he dumps her for Cleo. Later, she has to watch Jackson flirt with Frankie.
Frankie and Melody also make their very first friends in this week. Unfortunately, they miss becoming friends with one another. On the other hand, by not becoming friends with one another, we get to see more of the tenth grade of Merston High than we might otherwise see.
It doesn't take the reader long to figure out who the RADs are. Figuring out who the monsters are may take a little bit longer.
The one real problem I have with this book is that it will become dated very quickly. There are lots of references to fashion and music that likely will not age as well as Harrison might have hoped.
One of the strengths of this book is the quirky turns of phrase that Harrison employs throughout the book. For one early example, she describes the fact that Melody's parents' bedroom is already set up by saying "Beau and Glory's California king was already inside holding court."
I have to warn you that this is in no way the same reality as the Monster High animated series or the doll series. This is actually kind of a disappointment because I would love to be able to buy Melody and Candace Carver dolls. Apparently, by the way, they changed the name of the Hyde character from D.J. to Holt sometime between when they contracted with Harrison for the books. This may be because of the wrestler who goes by the name "D.J. Hyde." Mattel might have had problems registering the trademark for "D.J. Hyde."
Through the now-four times I have read this book, I have found it to be endearing and delightful and I just love what Harrison has done with the premise behind the Monster High franchise.