This Week's Read: Monster

Naoki Urasawa is one of Japan's masters of suspense. His manga series, Monster, is one of my favorite stories, and my favorite among his works. Guillermo del Toro was planning an HBO miniseries based on the story, but that sadly seems to have fallen through.

Monster details the story of Kenzo Tenma, a Japanese surgeon living and working in Dusseldorf before the fall of the Berlin Wall. He is the top surgeon in his hospital, and the beau of the hospital director's daughter. When he fails to treat a government official in favor of saving a young boy's life, he is fired. He feels good about his decision among the backlash from his so-called friends and his fiancée -- until 10 years later, when Johan, the boy whose life he saved, grows up to be a serial killer. Dr. Tenma feels it is his duty to track down and stop the murderer Johan before anyone else dies. What follows is a thrilling chase full of intense twists and turns.

Monster isn't a gore-fest. It's a classic psychological thriller that asks the reader to think about who the real villain is. While Tenma shoulders much of the blame for saving a would-be murderer, there are plenty of other characters to question. Monster keeps the interest going throughout the 18 volume series.

The books have recently been re-released in volume collections with fancy new covers, and if you're interested, an anime series of the same name exists. The anime pretty much follows the manga shot for shot. Peraonally, I think the story works better in book form, but I'm sure if del Toro got his hands on it for real, the end result would be incredible.

Go read.