All 16-year-old Connor is trying to do is avoid his ex-best friend when he stumbles upon a trapdoor to a secret chamber under his school. But when Sally Rodgers breaks into the same secret chamber looking for an ancient being, things take an unexpected turn . . . and Connor’s life will never be the same again.
Along with the mysterious Sally and, later on, his new friend Locky, Connor discovers the Monuments – gods who have been buried for generations – who created the world and hid themselves away from humanity to keep everyone safe. But now they’re exposed and vulnerable, and Connor isn’t sure who, himself included, can be trusted with the knowledge and the power these gods have.
I picked up Will Kostakis’ Monuments on kind of a whim – the weather was rainy and perfect for some cosy reading, and I wanted something fun I could read over just a few days. This on is a #LoveOzYA urban fantasy, the first in a duology, and looked like a good fit, and in the end I was surprised by just how much I loved it!
The story felt fresh and unique, the pacing was great and I thought the plot was really cleverly woven together. The world building in terms of the mythology behind the Monuments felt well imagined and I thought it worked perfectly as an urban fantasy – I loved the Sydney setting and the great balance of adventure and fun with heavier issues around family and friendship that a 16 year old in our world is likely to come up against. I also loved the way that Kostakis handles relationships – there is something really tender about the writing. I really enjoyed meeting Connor, Sally, and Locky, and seeing them get to know each other. There is some great banter, and the dynamic between them really worked for me.
One of my favourite parts of the book was the relationship that develops between Connor and Locky – they were sweet and funny, and a bit awkward sometimes – so much heart! I really think readers who have loved Magnus/Alec in the Mortal Instruments and Simon/Baz in Carry On should check this one out! On a related note, I loved that this was about gay teens without being an ‘issues’ book about coming out or fitting in. Obviously issues books are super important too, but it is just cool to see gay protagonists in books where the plot isn’t centred around them being gay, if that makes sense? I love that kids can read books and see themselves in the protagonist, having adventures and falling in love, and I really hope we see more of this across publishing (in adults books too please!).
As well as the ‘read-alike’ mentions above, I think this would be great for fans of books like the Percy Jackson series. I’m looking forward to diving into the sequel Rebel Gods soon (it’s out already!) to find out how Kostakis wraps the story up, and I really hope we’ll be seeing more urban fantasy from him again soon!
Rebel Gods by Will Kostakis
Out now from Lothian Children’s Books (Hachette)
Category: Australian urban fantasy, YA (12+)