Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Candlewick Press (September 27, 2011)
Source: My Choice

From GoodReads:

This is an extraordinarily moving novel about coming to terms with loss. The monster showed up just 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 nightmare 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, though, is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final story idea of Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel about coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults.

I take it seriously when authors I love tell me that I have to read a book. So, when Kiersten White (Paranormalcy, Supernaturally) posted on twitter that everyone needed to read A Monster Calls, I immediately put it on hold at the library. And then I realized it already had several holds on it, so I did the only logical thing - I picked up my Kindle and bought it right then and there. (I was leaving on a cruise, so it made sense to have a new book with me, right?).

To say this book is deeply affecting would be an understatement. I found A Monster Calls to be hopeful, sad, scary, honest and beautiful all at the same time. As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I found it even more touching in some ways. What Conor must feel and deal with as the child of a cancer patient is so carefully put into words that I wonder if Patrick Ness has first-hand experience with this kind of tragedy.

Each story the Yew Tree tells is like a fable flipped on its head - proving to Conor and the reader that right isn't always right and black can sometimes be white. In a carefully constructed narrative, Ness provides glimpses into a complicated, real world - a world where mean kids get away with being mean, parents get sick and not everyone gets along.

For me, the most profound moment of the book is when Conor must come face to face with his own nightmare - and survive it. The reality of his life and the emotions he's feeling aren't something we talk about too often, especially from the point of view of a scared, emotionally-drained teenage boy. Ness creates Conor in such a way that readers are sympathetic to his sadness, and still able to be outraged by his anger.

I cannot recommend A Monster Calls enough. It's a fast read (I read it in one sitting), but one that you will think about long after the last page is turned. Conor's story could be anyone's story - and his nightmare could be anyone's nightmare.

Final Thoughts: Own and Buy a Copy to Give Away.

1 comment:

  1. I just saw this reviewed on another site too, and it intrigued me. So thanks for this review. It didn't come across as spoiler-ish, but gave me more information about the book.