The Monster Billy Dean by David Almond
The Monster Billy Dean by David Almond. Pub. Penguin Group, Puffin Books, 2011.
This is undoubtedly the most original book of the year but for many it will be beyond their interests and too difficult to get into. Not for me though I have enjoyed every one of David Almond’s books no matter how dark and sinister they appear to be.
Billy Dean was born the day terrorists with car bombs and suicide bombers blew the guts out of the town of Blinkbonny. Thirteen years later the town is still in ruins and into this world comes Billy Dean after being locked away from everybody for the whole of his life.
Billy Dean is the product of a great crime. His young mother was seduced by a priest and is brought up by his mother secluded from the world. His father Wilfred is an out and out religious lunatic and his influence on Billy when he visits is deeply disturbing. The absent father is a frequent theme in David Almond’s novels.
When the father leaves for ever, Billy is released into a world that views him as an angel, as a mystic, as a faith healer as a messiah. Billy doesn’t know any better and understands nothing of what is going on. I will leave it to you to decipher the ending and the role that Billy assumes. It is a mystery and in parts disturbing.
To add to the mystery the novel is written in a geordie accent in words that are written as they sound, phonics, I think it is called. Perhaps it is the way language is going, I like it better than text language. It takes a bit of getting used to but you do. You couldn’t get the Geordie accent across any other way.
Definitely senior secondary. For me it was compelling reading.