Review by Patrick R McDonough
Malignant Summer is the perfect story to read this summer! Why is that? If you were like me, it was the stretch of time away from school where I didn’t need to worry about tests, waking up at 7am five days a week, and could sit in and watch morning cartoons and play video games. Like the protagonists, I grew up in the 90s with an ardent love for N64 games, running around with my friends, and talking more video games. It’s a reminder of how precious that time is, but for more reasons than it being a fun summer with friends doing silly kid things. We can’t forget that this is a horror, and every great coming-of-age story has some kind of weird, creepy, crawly, monster or creature that changes a kid’s life forever. That’s the point of a coming-of-age story. To talk about the moment leading up all the way up to, that moment where a series of events or one traumatic event changed the way you once viewed the world with an innocent lenses to a cautioned one.
Malignant does something wonderful. It keep the scares and creep factor rolling after our boogeyman is revealed. The monster is almost always scarier when we don’t see them. Yet, Mother is continuously bone-chilling. Her origin story is full of horror, dread, and anchored in our own history. We not only get to know the backstory of our protagonist, Doug, but his friends, the older high school kids, as well as Doug’s main bully, Jewel. The story covers a vast cast of characters while keeping a laser focus on the main issue at hand, and Meyer builds the layers of suspense like a seasoned pro. Malignant spotlights how there is so much more to people than what they show you. There’s a lot of sadness behind some of these kids, and it breaks my heart that it’s a real-world problem. The underlying theme I took away from this story was we are in fact the monsters that create other monsters. We are the plague that destroys what we are given – life, this world to co-exist with other creatures and nature.
Doesn’t go without saying that, once you see the cover, you kind of know that it deals with–man vs. nature. That has become one of my favorite things to read – body horror and when nature knocks our species on our ass and mutilates us into its own image. The thing that plagues this town is an unstoppable force – centuries, perhaps longer, of history that’s been ruminating in the lands, sort of like a Derry and Pennywise situation. But even after we know what we’re dealing with, we don’t really. Meyer only shares so much and for that, I thank him.
This story is bound to have big fanfare this summer as well as for a long time afterward.