A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Genre: Fiction, YA, Fantasy, Horror

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An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. 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 monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd– whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself– Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

When I first heard about this book it had been described to me as a children’s book that will make you cry. At this point I figured there’s no way that a children’s book could make me cry so I bravely read this book while on the train to London…. it was a bad idea. I was a blubbering mess at the end of this book, it was not a good look.

This is an absolutely beautiful book however it brings out your saddest memories and although you can kind of guess at the ending you are definitely not ready for it when it happens. This book resonated with me so deeply and I really did connect with it like no other book before. At a mere 230 pages I figured how bad could it be? The answer to that question…very, very bad.

When you start the novel and you learn that Conor’s mum has Cancer you immediately assume that this is the monster that he has to deal with and confront, this is not the case, the monster is the old yew tree close to their house who comes to tell Conor stories to teach him truths about the world.

Even though the book is called A Monster Calls I didn’t really think of him as a monster, I saw someone who was telling moral stories, stories that everyone should learn, this therefore didn’t make him a monster but a storyteller. At the start of this book I wasn’t really convinced about the monster, I thought it was going to be some powerful, ageless god who tells random stories that fill the pages, however as the stories were developed and given meaning they really did make the story.

The book is described as a children’s book however it is so well written and the underlying themes are so compelling that they resonate with people of any age. It deals with the burdens of responsibility, grief and loss. By the end of the book I was crying in a way that I hadn’t done since reading The Book Thief all those years ago, it is a truly moving book that I would recommend to anyone of any age, do not let the fact that this is a children’s book put you off, it is an amazing book that will have you crying at the end of it.

I think the book affects so many people because it’s not the actual story that makes you cry, it’s your own memories and feelings about this. Even if you have never gone through any experiences with Cancer most people have probably experienced loss and grief and this is what this book makes you remember and I think that is what makes this such a moving story. It leaves you with the rawest of emotions where you are at your most vulnerable, Patrick Ness has done an amazing job of writing such a moving story.

Rating: 5/5

Summing up: A moving story guaranteed to make you cry


4 thoughts on “A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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