Book Review: A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness)
Publisher: Walker Books
Release Date: 1st January 2011
Summary (From Goodreads):
The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.
But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…
This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.
Ah this book hurt my heart so much. I knew early on where it was going to end but I didn’t think it would upset me so much. I must stop making the mistake of reading these sad books on my way to work. No one likes a bus crier.
The combination of words and pictures in this book is just magical. I really admired the art style and loved the way the simple black and white drawings contained so much detail. They really brought the story to life, especially the monster: he looked fearsome but also sometimes comical, crouched down in Conor’s Gran’s living room.
But, even without the pictures, the story is easily brought to life by Ness’ deft descriptions and flowing prose. I have a real love for his writing and this book was no exception. The monster’s stories intrigued me and I loved the debate they provoked with Conor: they read like fairytales but also like real life, as it was never clear who was a ‘good guy’ or a ‘bad guy’, or who was right and wrong, something I’ve found in Ness’ books before and which intrigues me, as all too often in books things are black and white, rather than the different shades that occur in reality.
It’s easy to sympathise with Conor’s situation initially as it’s one many people have experienced, and all others dread. But, as the book progresses and the secret that lives in his nightmares is revealed, I found a whole new level of sympathy and understanding. It may not be something others are familiar with, but I am experiencing a similar situation myself. Horrible as it is, sometimes you do just wish everything could end. You know you’ll grieve and things will be awful for a while, but at least you’re not exhaustively clinging on to every last hope. It was refreshing to read about and did help me feel a bit better about my own situation, because the guilt that comes with those kinds of feelings can be overwhelming.
Ness has taken an original idea from Siobhan Dowd and added his own original touch and captivating language to create a story that will stay with you long after you’ve read it.