A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (2011)
Everybody Fiction | Contemporary | Paranormal
“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.”
pooled ink Review:
I bought this book two years ago. I had devoured the Chaos Walking trilogy and fallen in love with Ness’ writing. That added to my friend Dillon’s recommendation to also read A Monster Calls pushed me to purchase this book. And yet it sat on my shelf for two years.
It’s not that I didn’t think it would be any good and it wasn’t because I didn’t want to read it. I really did want to…and yet at the same time I did not. I let life come in and whisk it away but with the approaching release date for the movie adaptation I finally sat down, took it off the shelf, and I read it straight through.
Finally finally I have read A Monster Calls and it has wrecked me.
Let me go ahead and say that the illustrations were perfect for this book. The colorless palette, the almost haunted style, it fit seamlessly with the story and were very well done.
Ness’ prose is as beautiful and effortlessly spot-on as ever. Easy and quick to fall into, this story centers on the most important time of Conor’s 13-year old life. Despite the protagonist being a young boy the story it tells, the lessons it teaches, the advice it shares, and the emotions it unfurls are applicable to any age group. Just because someone is young does not mean their life is void of the heaviness of life.
There is not always a good guy. Nor is there always a bad one. Most people are somewhere in between. – the Monster
As I write this review with my thoughts I worry about spoiling anything. But not the ending. The ending isn’t really a surprise, not really, not if you’re honest from the beginning. And yet despite our ability to know the ending right from the beginning we still find ourselves not fully believing it. With each turn of the page the ending draws nearer but we continue to fight accepting what we know. Until the ending comes the ending has not happened and so there is always a chance that we were wrong.
But the facts of the ending are not what make this book immense and emotional. It’s the journey Conor goes on, endures, and struggles with. It’s witnessing each step towards the end and feeling the struggles that come with it.
…it does not matter what you think, the monster said, because your mind will contradict itself a hundred times each day…What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.
Throughout the story there is a monster. But Conor is not afraid because he has seen much worse. So despite Conor’s lack of fear this monster continues to visit him night after night, telling him stories and guiding Conor in his own story. Pain is naturally personified as a monster, but so too can be healing. Often it is the healing process that is far more difficult and terrifying and painful than the wound. And sometimes knowing that you will survive the wound and survive the healing, sometimes it is knowing that you will be okay again that can hurt even worse.
I really cannot put into words how beautiful and difficult this story is. It manages to speak on many different levels of pain, of suffering, of hope, of loss, of healing, of belief, of confusion, of anger, of all the emotions in between. It manages to reach out and speak to those who understand and to those struggling to understand and even to those who can only imagine. So simple, so complex, so vivid, this book tells the story of the turmoil in a boy in a way that helps us all to understand if only a little bit better.
Everything about this book is excellent. The writing, the characterization, the world building, the concept, the final product itself. Some books when you read them have such an obvious target or agenda that it becomes its own undoing. But this book never felt that way. It was human, it was honest, it was terrible, and it was true. I recommend this book to everyone and anyone. And if you’d rather watch a film than read a book then go and watch the movie when it comes out in your country (I’ll put the trailer below). It’s going to be excellent.
A Monster Calls is a vivid story of tethered emotions unleashed at the final battle, ablaze and desperate to find an end and answer to the depthless fight. Delicate, unyielding, honestly brutal, and beautifully written, this book is more than a simple book; it’s a terrifying monster.
Purchase here: A Monster Calls
Meet Patrick Ness!
Patrick Ness, an award-winning novelist, has written for England’s Radio 4 and Sunday Telegraph and is a literary critic for The Guardian. He has written many books, including the Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Crash of Hennington, Topics About Which I Know Nothing, and A Monster Calls.
He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Born in Virginia, he currently lives in London.
A Monster Calls – movie trailer