I recently stumbled across Monkeyboy by S. Shane Thomas on NetGalley and was instantly intrigued. I was preparing to start my yoga teacher training, and seeing the name Hanuman (a Hindi monkey god) caused me to pause. A Sci-fi/Fantasy book targeted toward Middle Grade readers, it is a part of the Anki Legacies world, though can easily be read as a standalone.
Hanuman is one of a kind. A monkey turned person thanks to the same magic gemstones that created the powerful Anki race. His friends are not the typical human colonists either. Follow Han on a space fantasy adventure as he battles the dangerous Rakshasa who have been working in secret to overthrow the various independent communities of people on his home planet, Nibiru. One little green Monkeyboy struggles to belong among various species of people while fighting beings with powers that stretch the imagination.
Will Hanuman find his place in the universe?
Can he stop the rekindling Anki Empire?
Why do girls try to kiss him?
The book was a light read, and was packed full of juvenile humor, high adventure and martial arts. I love that the book introduces MG readers to the concept of meditation, and tuning in with the Self. This time in a child’s life can be very stressful and confusing, so I was glad to see the book popularize a very poignant and beneficial practice.
The fact that the adults in the book allow the children to help out and tag along (and were generously forgiving when the children did something wrong) would appeal to younger readers, even though the mother in me was cringing and found it unrealistic and irresponsible. While the adults did not play a central role allowing the young characters to really shine through, they were still present and their love for their children was patently clear.
While I would not recommend the book to a mature audience (the transitions are jumpy… great for shorter attention spans but really confusing for older readers), this book is perfect for a child making that transition into YA. This book would be a good opportunity for discussing the themes of adoption (Hanuman and Wisp are adopted by a loving family) and cultural acceptance. There are several races in the book, and the majority of the conflict arises from some groups desiring domination over others.
*Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and author for providing me with a free copy in exchange for a honest review. All opinions stated here are my own.