Published in 2018, Destroy All Monsters by Jeff Jackson is a strange tale of musicians being murdered onstage while in concert. It appears to be an epidemic of violence throughout the country. It’s unclear if these are random acts or part of an organized effort.
I had the opportunity to hear Jeff talk during a panel session at the annual James River Writers conference. It’s always great to listen to the background of how the author brings the story to life. In particular, what intrigued me was his approach to creating an A side and a B side to the story, just like a vinyl record. Okay, very cool concept. And yes, you have to flip the book over to read the B side.
The A side is the main story, and the B side is a shorter alternate history of the story that flips some of the characters into reversed roles. Most of the story is fast-paced and kept me engaged. It’s a dark tale filled with anxiety. There were only two or three spots that dragged a bit. The characters are fragile, and you feel that they’ll fall apart at any moment.
The writing style is herky-jerky and somewhat scattered, which is intentional. With so many breaks in the text, the story comes across as a series of short scenes stitched together. Oddly enough, it works. Jackson does a good job of putting the reader in the moment and place.
Though I would have better enjoyed a different A side ending, some readers will think it’s a perfect fit for the story. I also wonder if any of the killed characters should have lived. Maybe the fact that I’m asking myself questions makes it a good read. After all, shouldn’t a good story make us ask questions, make us think?
The bottom line is, if you’re looking for something different to read, this is it.