Book Review – Chasing American Monsters by Jason Offutt.

3 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. for providing me with a free – temporary – electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley. Although I required their approval, the decision to read this book is my choice and any reviews given are obligation free.

Okay, so I had a bit of a love hate journey with this book. As a child and teen I absolutely ADORED books on the unknown, monsters, mysteries and the like. I feel, from the introduction from the author, we share a similar passion. And so that is why I asked to read it. I then lost my copy, found my copy, had to read it quickly before my temporary access died… So there was a lot of anticipation for me in the lead up to reading ‘Chasing American Monsters’.

And, in a lot of ways, I really wasn’t disappointed. Yes it included some of the old stories from other books that I remember from my childhood, but there were also new (to me) tales of monster sightings, as well as updates to some I had read growing up.

I also loved the narrative of Mr Offutt, his humour and passion for this subject shines through and helped make the book enjoyable. I was even going to give the book a 4 out of 5 star rating… when I started reading it. But as the book unfolded and stories blurred together and were repeated in some ways… I started to get bored.

‘Chasing American Monsters’ was set out state by state alphabetically… and in doing so the reader got stuck with multiple explanations and tales of the same monsters… Like Bigfoot. I honestly feel this book would have worked better if the chapters were either broken down into regions of America (mid-west, east coast, etc.) or broken down into different categories of cryptids (aquatic, flying creatures, Bigfoot, etc.) In fact my inner copyeditor was, by the end, screaming to be given a raw copy to re-edit into what I saw would be a better lay-out of the data. To me, this shows I really liked the book, as I don’t tend to want to fiddle with ones I don’t like. 😉

So, yes, it was an enjoyable read, very refreshing to see that such books are still being made in this era of the internet swamping us with so much cryptid information. It reminded me of my youth, my love for the unknown and “real” monster tales. Though, I will admit now that I loved having google to go to when reading ‘Chasing American Monsters’. This is the first book in this genre I’ve read electronically, and therefore had google easily accessible. And google I did, looking up certain monsters, people, places, etc. I feel it helped add to the excitement of reading a book of monsters. It brought out my inner child book nerd. 😀

I also would have liked a reference list in the back of the book that listed all the other books mentioned within ‘Chasing American Monsters’, just so I had a list I could chase up for further reading. It’s not a biggie that there isn’t a list, but nerd girl me would have loved one.

And, speaking of nerd girl me, the formatting of ‘Chasing American Monsters’ was okay… but not great. There are typos and a few clangers that gave the book a bit of an unprofessional look and not at the level I have come to expect from this publisher. Plus the chapters being for each state, rather than the monsters grouped in a way, did end up making it sound like a broken record. Especially every time something like Bigfoot was mentioned. Also, it would have been nice to either see a few more monster pictures, or at least have the ones shown appear in the book next to the actual page that describes said monster.

Would I recommend this book to other?

I would, but I would mention the reasons my rating of this book dropped as I read it. But I would also explain my love of books on this subject and say how happy I was to see such books were still being made for we die hard “real life” monster encounters.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Maybe, but not in its current layout. As much as I enjoyed reading it, ‘Chasing American Monsters’ could really use an overhaul as to how it is set out. For now it comes across more as a series of blog posts stapled into a book… It needs to flow better, not repeat itself so much, and at the same time not lose any of the lyrical narrative that makes it so entertaining.

In summary: An interesting modern look at “real life” monster encounters throughout the USA.

Until next time,
Janis.

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