Published by Zonderkids on August 7, 2013
Genres: Humor, Middle Grade, Science Fiction
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Howard Boward, a 13-year-old boy-genius with a chip on his shoulder is too smart for his own good. He has troubles making friends---possibly because he complains so much. Until one day a science experiment goes haywire, and Howard creates a best friend for himself---Franklin---who also happens to be a monster. Creating Franklin was an accident, not like Howard was playing God or anything---or so Howard tells himself. Franklin and Howard are having so much fun, Howard decides to create more 'friends, ' using DNA from kids at school. Only, these friends aren't quite as friendly. Soon there's a major mess and Howard has to sort it all out before the monsters destroy their human counterparts. But terminating the monsters proves harder than he imagined. They didn't choose to be monsters; they can't go against their innate nature. Howard finds himself facing consequences for playing God. Getting rid of the monsters means learning to tame his own inner beast, and Howard begins to understand the meaning of free will and true friendship.
How to Make Friends and Monsters is the story of Howard Boward who is a geek (not like this is a bad thing, mind you!) and a genius. The problem is that in junior high, being a geek and a genius won’t help you make friends, as Howard quickly learns. When his mom decides to step in and give him a book on how to make friends, well… Howard puts an interesting spin on the suggestions in the book, deciding that it means he needs to be a scientist, complete with experiences that don’t quite end well.
Instead, Howard accidentally creates a monster, Franklin, who quickly becomes his best friend and poses as an exchange student. Howard is suddenly popular, but that popularity goes to his head and he ends up in a bad situation and with all his new friends alienated, Howard is on his own.
For all that this was intended for the younger reader, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The pictures, though few, were cute and helped describe the characters. I would definitely say that this is recommended for grades 5 and up, though my 7 year old did try to read it for himself. I loved seeing a male protagonist, and a geek at that! (I say this as a self-proclaimed geek, so there is absolutely no offense meant!)
The book was fast paced and intriguing, and I caught myself reading it well into the night in order to reach the end. And that ending was very satisfying, leaving the ends tied up neatly, and a happy ending that may have brought a few tears to my eyes. Franklin was easily one of my favourite characters, and instead of being a scary monster, he was instead a caring monster who loved with all his big, blobby heart. Highly recommended!