Author: Keith Ferrario
Pilot Adam Hayes, takes a small research team to a remote Antarctic research station to investigate the loss of communication from the previous team. Upon arrival, Adam and the team quickly learn that this is not a simple loss of communication due to the weather. They discover that someone or something has killed the original research team. This simple investigation quickly turns into a fight for survival against something hiding in the shadows of this research base.
With a plot summary like that, you would assume that Keith Ferrario’s Monster is just another rip-off of John Carpenter’s The Thing. Luckily, it is not. If anything, this film has more in common with the X-Files episode “Ice” than Carpenter’s highly regarded remake. Instead of being an all-out monster story, despite the title, this is more of a horror medical thriller a la Robin Cook meets Stephen King.
Also, of large note regarding the plot, this is only half of the story that is broken into two parts. The second portion of this novel jumps forward to 2003, the first portion took place in 1991, where we meet Brandon Dahl, a young child dying of cancer. Dr. Hamline, a doctor and cancer researcher, invites Brandon to stay at his research facility where he experiments on children in order to develop a cure for cancer and other diseases that ail these young children.
The second half of Monster holds the medical thriller/mystery of the first half while adding a bit of ghost story in the mix. The result is fascinating. I loved the monster horror elements of the first half but I felt that the second half was a more developed story with stronger characters.
Ferrario takes a huge risk by pulling the reader out of the story and placing them in a completely different one in the middle of the book. For me, this worked. It worked well. I can see why others would take issue with it, but to me, it was fitting and well timed as it kept the story from becoming boring and potentially repetitive.
So everyone is aware, yes, the second part of Monster connects to the first. Hang in there. Give the story a chance to develop. If you are willing to do that, you will be rewarded with a rich story that enhances the first part of the book.
In the end, Ferrario has delivered a well-researched dive into medical horror. There is tension and horror with every turn of the page. With the multiple story structure, the plot threads wrap up and start anew before becoming stale. This is a fresh take on the “research base in the Antarctic” that holds its own among the competition.