Review: Don't Want to Be Your Monster

Don't Want to Be Your Monster

by Deke Moulton

Tundra Books, 2023

Category: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Merle Eisman Carrus

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When someone mentions vampires, the first thing that comes to mind is a scary vision of the undead drinking a person’s blood by sinking their fangs into the neck. We have learned that from watching movies. Don’t Want to Be Your Monster brings the reader a very different version of vampires.
Victor and Adam are brothers but not because they were born to the same parents. They are brothers who are vampires living with their vampire mothers, and another vampire sibling, Sung. Mom is a nurse, working the night shift, in a hospital which gives her access to blood to bring home to share with her family. Mama is an astronomer at the local university.

When a rash of murders start to happen in the small town where the Rossi vampire family lives, Adam and Victor both become involved in finding the serial killer. Victor seems to be interested in young murder victims because their blood tastes so much better than the older blood their Mom brings home from the hospital. Adam gets involved because he wants to catch the killer and stop the murders. Adam meets two mortal kids , Luis and Shoshana, who are also trying to stop the murderer, and he joins forces with them to uncover the killer. He meets them after dark and keeps his identity a secret. The kids find out there is a vampire hunter out there killing children as bait to draw out vampires. Shoshana is Jewish and throughout the story she connects the hunting and extinction of vampires to the historic antisemitic views toward the Jewish people. 

This is an entertaining novel with a fast moving plot, that builds suspense as the children move through the nights trying to chase down the murderer before he kills another young person in town. This book looks at the myths about vampires, using vampires to examine prejudice toward anyone who is different and whose beliefs are misunderstood.

The plot also builds the relationship between the brothers and the different views Adam and Victor have about helping others or wanting to take care of themselves first. The strength to be who you are, comfortable in your own skin, not worrying about what others think, is also a topic raised in this novel.

This book has a very interesting Jewish connection, although it's not a story about being Jewish or about a Jewish topic. Shoshana is Jewish and Adam was Jewish before being turned into a vampire. Jewish references are made throughout the book. There are remarks about Jewish law and kashrut, Hebrew school and Pesach. But the most interesting connection to Judaism is actually in the author’s note at the end of the book. Moulton talks about reading the book Dracula and realizing that the defining characteristics of the monster matched the stereotype of someone of Jewish descent, and this inspired them to write Don't Want to Be Your Monster.

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Reviewer Merle Eisman Carrus resides in New Hampshire and writes book reviews for the NH Jewish Reporter newspaper, Jewish Book Council and other publications. She is a graduate of Emerson College and received her Masters of Jewish Studies from Hebrew College. Merle is the National President of the Brandeis National Committee. She leads books discussion groups and author interviews. She blogs her book reviews at