Blurb: Some people are born with a monster inside of them.
Nobody knows this better than Caine McKay, a high school student harboring a dark secret. Those anger issues of his, they’re not only scary—they’re lethal. If Caine loses his temper, he loses the human part of himself and bulks out Mr. Hyde style.
When his father is sent to jail, Caine moves from Chicago to a small town to live with his kindhearted grandmother. Struggling to control his violent alter-ego, he tries to start a new life and forget the tragic circumstances that brought him to Tree Hollow. When he meets Hannah, the local preacher’s daughter, he finds an unexpected ally. Her belief in hope and second chances give him the anchor he needs to keep his anger rooted, and before long, Caine is completely attracted to her.
Then he wakes up one morning covered in blood, with no memory of what happened. He seeks Hannah’s comfort, only to find that she hates him. As Caine scrambles to uncover the repressed memory and piece together the night he can’t remember, other buried memories surface—including one that could be the key to everything that’s happening to him.
Content Warning: violence
Review: Yes, I am a fan of the Hulk – the big green one. Look at the cover for this book! When I was first asked to review this book, I was excited. Would this be a telling of when the Hulk was a teenager? What I discovered was the story of Caine, heartbreaking and yet redeeming.
Caine reveres his father. He adores his father. His father is everything to him and as you read his story and experience his flashbacks, you understand why. It’s no wonder that he and his dad move from town to town and state to state to keep people from knowing the truth about Caine. A monster lives inside of him – a genetic one. Then, one night and one wrong word and Caine’s father is in jail and Caine is moving – alone. The town is small, very small, and Caine knows that someone will remember why he and his dad left years ago. But as time passes, Caine lets his guard down and befriends Hannah – kind, beautiful, generous, and already taken.
As I read about these two befriending each other, Caine getting homework help and Hannah exploring the world away from her preacher father’s eyes, I got a sense of foreboding that things were not going to go well – for Caine. I was right. He’s the bad boy, the one she’s supposed to stay away from and while I really wanted to like her, I couldn’t believe she had a boyfriend she wouldn’t dump for him. Really, I was mad at her for that. When Hannah finally came to her senses, circumstances got in the way pulling them apart. Caine woke up covered in blood with no memory of why.
While we only get glimpses of the monster inside Caine, I was rooting for him all the way, especially when suspicious circumstances point to another monster being in the vicinity and possibly causing the havoc that has come upon the town. My favorite part of this book wasn’t about Hannah and Caine. My favorite part of this book was Caine himself. I felt his pain, his joy, his confusion, and his relief when he finally visits his mom and comes to term with what he is and what he’s done and reconciles with his dad. I felt like he had grown up and I had been on the journey with him.
Overall, a good read but wished it was longer. I wanted to spend more time with the characters.
Quote: Michael laughed again, then blinked back tears. “I’m proud of you, son.” He rubbed the tears away with a thumb. “Mad as hell, but proud too.” Page 156