Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Zachariah Johnson Gonzales is a seventeen year old, adolescent male who has a therapist named Adam. He’d much rather have a dog, but we never get what we truly want in life, now do we? At least, that was what the emotionally distant teenager thought, for you see… things are not the best for Zach. Due to amnesia related to trauma, he refuses to face the monsters of his past and represses them with the use of alcohol and drugs. One day, however, he is sent to a rehabilitation facility by the will of his aunt, where he must face the ultimate monster in his life: that day when it all started to spiral out of control….
Inspiration and Hidden Message:
Last Night I Sang to the Monsters has a dense psychological profile, which is highlighted throughout the novel through various characters, with Zach being the main focus. The story, though fiction, takes inspiration from many real life situations and current struggles of humanity, like gang violence and the stigma around mental health. Overall, the most prevalent theme within the novel is healing, both mentally and physically, as well as finding the strength to move on from the past, though it may haunt you.
Last Night I Sang to the Monsters is told in a first person point of view through Zachariah’s eyes. Because of this, many things are left in the dark until Zach himself figures it out, let it be misheard conversations, opinions on those around him, et cetera. The diction within the novel also reflects the thought processes of the seventeen year old: short and easy to understand sentences paragraphs. However, that does not mean that the story as a whole is easy to understand.
Saenz, the author, laces dark and whimsical imagery during much of the novel, usually to reference the fact that Zach is in his head, a dream, or a flash back. He also divides the chapters into chapters relating to reality and those related to Zach’s inner psyche.
As a whole, the clash between writing styles is used so artfully and so meaningfully that it is safe to assume that this was indeed intentional. I absolutely love this choice because it really drives home the idea that Zachariah is so torn between the now and then as well as reality and fiction that it drives him to do such irrational things.
Last Night I Sang to the Monsters is generally marketed to young adults due to the suggestive themes as well as a relatable character. However, I would like to argue that general audience fits more along the lines of those who enjoy looking into the human psyche and relations. Also, due to the heavy themes, symbolisms, as well as overall aesthetic, this book would also be appreciated by a more mature audience.
How many times can I say that I LOVE this novel! Not only does it have a gripping, emotional roller-coaster of a ride plot and story line, but it is also SO much fun to dissect the psychological aspects of it! I find that it was, also, a quick and enjoyable read due to the descriptive simplicity of Saenz’s choice in words. I HIGHLY recommend it to those who enjoy this kind of novel!