Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: May 2011
Rating: 5 stars
Patrick Ness has done it again – he has brought me to tears and left me speechless. His novel More Than This blew my mind and instantly sparked my interest in the author. At a Barnes & Noble last weekend, I saw this beauty laying on a table – the very last copy. I took it as a sign from the book gods that I needed to buy it, and so I did (we already discussed my OIBB disorder). I do not regret the $10 I spent on this book. I have to say, if you do intend on reading it, to read a physical copy – it is worth it.
A Monster Calls is a story about Conor. Conor is thirteen years old. His mum is sick while his dad lives in another country with his new family. At school, Conor is bullied and practically invisible to the rest of his classmates, whereas the teachers look upon him with sympathy and pity. Unfortunately, sleep is not a place Conor can escape to. When his mum begins her treatments, Conor begins to have a nightmare – the nightmare. As his mum’s illness worsens, the nightmare begins to occur more often, until he is haunted by it every night. Conor can’t take it anymore. That’s when he starts having another nightmare – a new nightmare – where a monster visits him, only this monster is a lot less scary than the one from the nightmare. But is it a nightmare? Is it even a dream at all?
You can’t help but feel sorry for Conor, and you can’t help but love him, too. I just kept shaking my head and thinking, poor kid. I wanted to give him a hug and say I’m sorry, even though that’s exactly the thing he would have hated. I also had a soft spot for the monster (is he really a monster?). I loved his stories, his wisdom, and he even made me laugh a couple times. It gave me joy to think of this huge, towering tree-monster, all dark and scary-looking, to just start laughing, or to sit down on top of a shed like it’s a chair. He reminded me of Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy, which made me love him even more.
A friend told me this book made him sob. The checkout lady at Barnes & Noble told me it gave her chills she just couldn’t shake. I had high expectations for this book, and they were absolutely met. In fact, this book soared past my expectations by a long shot. I was hooked from page 01 — hell, I was hooked before even opening the cover. Being only about 200 pages, it was easy to tear through this book in only a couple hours, especially due to the larger print, extra white space, and numerous illustrations. It’s designed like a children’s book, but it’s definitely for a different audience. It’s not the type of book you want to read to your five year old. However, it will make you cry as if you’re a five year old. Oh, and speaking of the illustrations, they are absolutely magnificent. Jim Kay did a terrific job (and I guess everybody else thought so, too, which is why it won the Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration). The artwork is bold, dark, and chilling, perfectly mirroring the words Ness writes. They add to the story quite brilliantly.
Like I said, this book isn’t exactly a children’s book, although it is designed like one. Technically speaking, since Conor is thirteen, it is a middle-grade book. However, I think the audience can be anyone, whatever age, if they truly want to read it. I’m nineteen years old and I found it just as enjoyable as a 200-page YA novel or a 400-page classic (actually, I found it more enjoyable than a classic, if I’m being honest). What I’m trying to say is, don’t let the fact that it’s illustrated or the fact that it’s about a 13-year-old deter you from reading this. It’s honestly a great read, no matter how old you are. I guarantee you will be able to connect and relate to this, whether you yourself are 13 or 33.
I could barely read the end of the book because my eyes were blurry from tears that I had to keep wiping away. Once I finished, I closed the book and stared at the ceiling for a bit, just marveling at how amazing Patrick Ness is as a storyteller. I can only dream of being as good a writer as he. I am glad I bought this book (it was an internal struggle, I assure you) and I’m glad I took a break from Atlas Shrugged (yes, I really am still reading that) today to read through this work of art. That is the best way I can describe this book: a work of art.
Favorite Quote(s): “There is not always a good guy. Nor is there always a bad one. Most people are somewhere in between.”
“You do not write your life with words. You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.”