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Monuments by Will Kostakis

Monuments: 2 teenage boys and a girl above the title; below the title are ruins with statuesA review by Nalini Haynes

Connor Giannopolos is a 16 year old private school student in Sydney when he wags class (skips class). While skyving off a the top of a bell tower he finds a trapdoor. And so he falls into Wonderland, figuratively speaking. He discovers that five gods, called Monuments, created the world. Sally, a girl investigating the Monuments because they’re in danger, drags Connor into an adventure.

You’d think this would be the romantic duo but no, Connor is a gay Greek Australian just like Will Kostakis, the author. Connor meets the Most Gorgeous Guy and immediately falls in love. But it’s not easy finding time for love with Hounds, evil god-killing humans, on their trail.

Monuments starts out with adventure and lots of humour, just like the best superhero stories. In the last third (a play on the title of another Kostakis novel), humour falls by the wayside as a complicated plot twists through time and space. Ironically, part-way through the climax I ranted about plot holes, only to discover that the plot was twistier than I anticipated. Well done, Kostakis. I didn’t see that coming!

I love how Kostakis incorporated real-life issues in even this, his first Fantasy novel. Connor talks about Greek Mothers (complicated and compelling characters), YiaYias, and his Pappou who is nearing death in a nursing home. While the plot moves too quickly for dwelling on issues, Monuments will inspire readers in their formative years to ask themselves who they want to be as adults, what risks they are prepared to take and, most importantly of all, will they sacrifice relationships with familial elders to hide away from sickness and old age?

Kostakis always writes minority characters with love and compassion, composing stories with wit and verve. In Monuments he has added staple fantasy tropes and a fast-paced plot. I highly recommend Monuments to young adult readers and high school English classes.

I interviewed Will Kostakis in 2016; that interview is available in its entirety here. It’s also available in an abridged version focusing on equity in representation in text-only format here.

Book details

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
ISBN: paperback 9780734419224; ebook 9780734419255
Publisher: Lothian, Hachette
Publishing date: 27 August 2019
Format: paperback, pp280
Category: YA, fantasy, with a little romance

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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