My Rating: 5 stars
My Favorite Thing is Monsters is framed as the diary of 10-year-old Karen, an artist and horror fan living in Chicago in the 1960s. When her upstairs neighbor Anka dies under suspicious circumstances, Karen doesn’t buy the explanation of suicide and decides to investigate for herself. The first thing we have to talk about in any graphic novel is, of course, the art. It’s absolutely stunning! Ferris’s style is heavily inspired by old horror movies and comics. It’s creepy and fun and just fits the story. She’s incredibly talented.
We have two interwoven stories in this graphic novel: Karen’s and Anka’s. While Karen is investigating Anka’s death, she is also dealing with the realization that she is queer, her mother’s illness, and growing up in general. I wanted to give poor Karen a hug, and I found her a relatable main character. She’s an imaginative and lonely girl who has been abandoned by her best friend and is now facing life changing events. Throughout the book, Karen is portrayed as a little wolf girl with the implication that she feels different and ‘monstrous’ due to being queer. I loved this artistic choice and felt it really captured how it feels to realize you’re queer in a society that isn’t accepting.
Anka’s story is fairly disturbing, so I do want to put some trigger warnings for that. It involves multiple instances of sexual assault and abuse, so please be aware of that when picking the book up. This section is more serious and far less fun than Karen’s sections. We get her story from cassette tapes of an interview Anka did. We begin with her childhood in post-WWI Germany and go up to her adulthood where she, as a Jewish woman, is sent to a concentration camp. While upsetting, Anka’s story is fascinating and continues to build up the mystery of her death. It also contains some of Ferris’s most gorgeous art in the whole book.
My only problem is that it leaves off on a giant cliffhanger and the next volume isn’t coming out until 2021. Seriously, that’s my only complaint for the whole book. I want more and I’m grumpy about having to wait.
Overall, this is an amazing debut graphic novel with stunning art and a fascinating plot. I definitely recommend it, but if you’re someone who will go crazy about a cliffhanger ending, you may want to wait until the second volume is out to pick this up.