Review: Monster by Soren Summers

Bloodied corridors. Mangled bodies. Deranged test subjects. Just another day at Vertex, a corporation devoted to perfecting humanity by any means necessary. It's up to Jarod Samuels to keep the hallways pristine and safe, but scrubbing bloodstains and bagging bodies is losing its luster.

Then someone new joins his department, this man with a huge ego and an even huger mouth. Gabriel Anderson is infuriating but intriguing, as brash as he is beautiful, and almost enough to keep Jarod preoccupied. Almost.

But between workplace hazards, psychic sociopaths, and a mysterious formula that alters the human body, Jarod's doubts are surging. Should he stay with the corporation, or run like hell? This is Vertex, after all, where the walls watch with glass eyes, the laboratories groan with secrets - and employee termination ends more than just careers.

This romantic horror story is approximately 88,000 words in length.

Dear Soren Summers, 

When I first came across your book Monster, I was intrigued. I love a good dark story and the blurb along with the cover checked off a few boxes for me. When I began reading, I took it nice and slow to blend in with this world Jarod Samuels was showing me as he went about this day. When Mr. Perfect shows up, I grinned. When he became snarky Gabriel I liked him but when he became the guy who loves stove top mac and cheese and drools while he sleeps, he became so adorable he needed to fit in my pocket. When Gabriel does the unthinkable, but the only thing he could have done for Jarod, I couldn’t turn the page fast enough and damn work or sleep, I needed to read. But all of this, was only at HALF of the wonderfully imaginable, creative, sexy and twisted story about two men finding love in a truly hopeless place. The rest, it sat me on my ass and blew my mind. So for that, I have to say thank you for this story, for Jarod and Gabriel’s story. Soren Summers, you now have a ginger reader who is now a big fan. 



This book. It’s way different than I expected and that is such a good thing. I don’t really know what I expected but I expected things to be dark for the entire book. They ARE dark, don’t misunderstand but there are these moments where I hugged my Nook, I laughed, grinned and simply swooned over it. AND there are the moments where I was glad I stopped reading while I ate my lunch so that it wouldn’t come back up.

Let’s see if I can tell you a few things.

Told from the third person present tense POV of one Jarod Samuels, we meet him as he is going about his day at work as a garbageman at Vertex, a research facility. You get the feeling that the world Jarod lives in is not like ours, it’s a sort of dystopian world where we are left to our imagination as to what happens outside the walls of Vertex and Jarod’s apartment. The early glimpses with the research that goes on inside Vertex is vague and the form of Jarod’s job as in waste management comes into play when a call goes out that there is a runner on level 12. A runner, yup a runner is a medical test subject at Vertex who has decided they are done but one cannot be done when they have signed on the dotted line to participate. Jarod, being the fastest runner in his department comes up short when the patient is taken down before he can get there and Jarod isn’t happy about being shown up. The new guy, whom Jarod dubs Mr. Perfect is one hell of a snarky but good looking young kid who immediately rubs Jarod the wrong way and possibly the right, but Jarod doesn’t have time for getting attached to anyone or anything.
...Jarod Samuels. A little bland, a little bleary, five years a garbageman. Maybe even for the rest of his life.
Jarod is a quiet man. He does his job well and keeps to himself. He’s learned the importance of when to listen, to speak and when to agree and states the company’s motto verbatim. The only real person he interacts with other than Esther the lunch lady or briefly with the other Ether, is Vanessa “Nessa” Wong who is Jarod’s best friend. Nessa is a lab technician, a researcher and currently in charge of her own project for a drug called Paragon. Paragon is a new formula create to make the body perfect, to heal all that ails or would kill you and it’s important to Vertex. In Nessa’s own words; “Paragon can heal the body and fix everything that’s wrong with it. It’ll take the disease away, but it won’t make you invincible.” Paragon itself has a paradox within in the story but I won’t spoil that for you. It’s far too interesting to let it get rancid.

When Jarod is called up on by his boss and given the privilege of showing Mr. Perfect aka the new guy aka Gabriel Anderson the ropes, the story begins to open up as well as the characters themselves.

When we first meet Gabriel, he’s cocky and snarky and you wonder how Jarod will ever be able to deal with him. But when Jarod begins giving him a tour of the facility, we get the opportunity to see a different side of the men. We learn that they have a common ground, a schooling at Bairston Public under the guidance and pseudo mothering of Coach Bennet the track coach. Both men are fast, Jarod held the school record for until Gabriel beat it. It’s a sore spot for Jarod but it leads to a sense of camaraderie with the men and provides for excellent banter. With that banter, we see that Gabriel’s cockiness does have a vulnerability and we see that as Jarod shows him into the “white room”. Man, Vertex is one crazy place and these two, they are going to need someone to vent with when the shit gets crazy because, you know it will.

None of Vertex’s training could have prepared any of them for this. Gray, white, orange, black, it doesn’t matter. Tonight, the colossus runs red.

As the story unfolds, we get character development and growth with Jarod and Gabriel. From secrets that lead to friendship, friendship that leads to saving and saving that leads to the care of another person, the man have obstacles yet the small things begin to bring them closer together. The secret Gabriel keeps drives Jarod crazy! He’s come to care for this drooling-in-his-sleep, spider monkey who loves stove top mac and cheese and takes exactly three minutes to dry off after a shower and all he wants to do is help. Jarod begins to recognize that the way Gabriel acts, his self-preservation is like looking in a mirror, but he needs to know why. When he follows Gabriel one night after work, he gets a visual for what keeps his new friend away from home for hours but still doesn’t know the truth and he needs it. That need? It’s translated from words to feelings to one hell of a first kiss to a whole lot of truth spilling and it had me engaged and swooning so much that I read that entire chapter over again.

But Jarod is paranoid and cautious with Gabriel after his confessions though he wants to have blind trust in him. His past mistake in high school gnaws at this conscious but he really needs to let that go. Sure, what Gabriel told him could lead to a world of trouble and maybe injury and possibly death considering how Vertex operates but what can Jarod do? What does Jarod do and what happens to those Jarod trusts and loves?


Yeah, this is a twisted and dark book but the romance elements sat me on my ass and did it with gusto. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of feelings I would get with Jarod and Gabriel. They really are an amazing couple but I also wasn’t prepared to become attached to other characters or even test subjects either.

“I don’t know how much you know about Vertex, but this isn’t your run-of-the-mill research outfit.”
“You don’t say.”
I know I have given details to the story, a lot of them actually and yet I am not even scratching the surface to what is in this. It’s one of those times when I want to sit down and tell you all about Monster, show you all my highlights but I also want to keep those hidden away as the things with suckers and tentacles on level 18. They aren’t ready to be shared so I’ll keep them under lock and key for now.

I will tell you to that this story doesn’t let up. It feels as if you’re given a break but the surprises come out of the dark shadows all the way until the end.

This story, it’s a stellar debut from the author and I cannot wait to get more from this universe. The world building was amazing and I slid into it like warm butter. There was no confusion, just this place that existed and the people with it. I have learned a few things from reading it though like never to deny an anomaly pudding, don’t get attached to the test subjects, the most important people who monitor Armory’s visitation or food are named Esther, and that risking everything for love, even among monsters is worth the risk.

***End Note: If you decide to pick this up, do not pass on the offer of the free companion book, Siren, to read once you are finished as it takes place in the same time line as Monster. I will tell you, it's quite possibly everything I wish I knew while reading Monster and it was a wonderful surprise.

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