Book Review: Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn

23014725When 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.

Rating: 6/10

Overall Impression: I would say this book is one of those that is a fun, quick, fast-paced read that you will enjoy during your time reading it.

Recommended for: Those who like realistic young adult fiction.

I didn’t dislike reading this book, but I wasn’t jumping out my seat about it either. It was basically just all right. However, I don’t necessarily consider this a bad thing. I was entertained while I was reading it, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a book in the realistic YA genre. Mainly, my lower score comes from the fact that I’m not super in to this particular genre of YA (I focus more on fantasy and sci-fi). In fact I normally wouldn’t have read this book, but the description led me to believe that it had some interesting supernatural elements to it. However, these elements are not major points in the book, so I was a little disappointed. Yet despite this, I still enjoyed the book as a whole.

One of the appealing aspects of this book is that you’re never really sure how you feel about these characters, and how by the end of the book, you find that you feel very differently about these characters than when you first started out. (This mainly applies to the characters of Sadie and Emerson.) This makes for a rather dynamic group of characters that keep you interested in the story if only to see where they end up.

Sadie is more of an anti-hero. A girl who finds it difficult to relate to others and gets a strange and sometimes disturbing enjoyment from seeing the pain of others. However, as the story continues, we find that she is capable of feeling compassion for other people. A fact that surprises not just the reader, but Sadie as well.

Emerson starts off as a rather likable character, and we start off by sympathizing with him. His life is pretty difficult, and he ends up having to shoulder a lot for a someone so young. Yet as the book goes on, we soon learn that Emerson has some dark secrets. Secrets that he is eventually forced to face when Sadie come back to town.

My main complainant was the handling of Miles’ power to see the future. It reads more like an extraneous detail rather than something that acts as a plot driver or character development tool. This aspect of the book is never really examined and at times feels more like Miles is imagining these things rather than actually seeing the future. I also don’t think it really added to his character in anyway to the point that if the this detail were to be eliminated from the book, there wouldn’t be much a difference. It seemed more like an attempt at trying to put a few fantasy/supernatural aspects in the story, but it just gets lost. I sometimes forgot that this was even a thing at times until is came up again.

I will say that the ending was quite good. It was unexpected, which actually says quite a bit about Stephanie Kuehn’s storytelling skills since there are so many YA books that are extremely predictable. This one, not so much. And this was very refreshing.

Overall, Delicate Monsters is an enjoyable book. It’s a great book for a quick read since the chapters are short and are skillfully timed so they always end on a cliffhanger that keeps you reading. It’s actually pretty difficult to put down once you get started.



  1. I am also primarily a consumer of SFF, but contemporary titles that either have magical realism or speculative elements are always interesting to me. Thanks for introducing this book and writing such a thoughtful review of it, I have heard great things about Stephanie Kuehn’s writing so this book intrigues me.

    Another book that seems YA and has scifi element is I’ll Never Meet You which has been getting very good reviews lately, if you haven’t read it!

    • Yeah, it was a bit of a plot point, but if it had been taken out it wouldn’t have made a major difference to the story. It acts more as a way of adding a little bit of mystery to the whole thing, but it’s totally necessary.

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