A Monster Calls - by Patrick Ness
"a story with meaning and purpose and relevance"
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is not for the faint of heart. The novel follows the main character Conor as he struggles to deal with his mother's worsening illness. Utterly moving, the story has the reader engulfed until the very last word.
Conor has been having the same nightmare ever since his mother began her treatments. But the night the monster appears, he is shocked to find it is not the one from his dream. Instead this monster offers to tell Conor three stories in exchange for the truth. With each reoccurrence the monster becomes more real until Conor must finally face the truth.
The original story came from Siobhan Dowd, who passed away from cancer before completing the novel. Patrick Ness does a fantastic job finishing the story. Ness states in the beginning that he felt like Dowd had told him "Go. Run with it. Make trouble," and he did.
The language of the story is simple and the themes are easy to find but this gives the book a raw and moving quality. The reader can not only feel Conor's emotions as they change from hopeful to angry to longing to desperate but they become absorbed and entangled with them. The dialogue adds to the authenticity and rawness of the story. Ness doesn't try to over sell the story; he keeps it simple with short sentences that get the point across quickly. At times when the monster's dialogue might seem cheesy, it is counter balanced by the descriptions and overall role the monster plays in the story.
Character development is excellent in the novel. Conor develops the most of all the characters which is to be expected. The entire time the reader is tied to Conor. What happens to him is the only thing the reader wants to know. I finished the novel in less than four hours because of the emotional attachment the reader forms with Conor. Conor's grandmother changes throughout, as well, which adds realness to the story. Her actions at the end of the novel help create the heartbreaking atmosphere that closes the story.
A Monster Calls follows a close parallel to Ida B by Katherine Hannigan. Both stories follow a child as they deal with the changes that come as their mother battles illness. A Monster Calls, however, is much more of a tear jerker.
At 205 pages it is a quick, satisfying, read. I walked away without disappointment in the plot or writing style. A Monster Calls is most definitely for a more mature reader, not because of the reading level but because of the content. The story leaves the reader 'uplifted' in sense that anyone can overcome a difficult time by finding people who care.
Overall, A Monster Calls is one of the best young adult books I have read. With every page turned, the reader plunges deeper into the story. It is a story with meaning and purpose and relevance. For those who are like me and don't want to read about teen romance, vampires, and petty problems, this is a book that will satisfy your appetite for a good book.
- Ashley B.
"emotional and creative; we fear the monster's eeriness and love its wisdom"
I started reading A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness at five o'clock in a hotel room the morning before an out-of-town band competition. I was sharing a room with five other girls who were still asleep, so I was sitting on the floor of the kitchen with a blanket over my head and a small reading light attached to my kindle. I thought I would be up for maybe ten minutes before going back to sleep, but two and a half hours later, I finished the book still on the floor, crying until I fell asleep seconds later.
This book is about Conor O'Malley, a boy whose mother has been diagnosed with cancer. Soon after she starts her unsuccessful treatments, he starts having a horrible nightmare that wakes him screaming every night. When her treatment options get limited, a different nightmare starts, one with a monster in the form of a yew tree. When he starts to find yew berries and leaves on his floor in the morning, he starts to wonder if this nightmare is actually reality. The monster continues to come to him every night at seven minutes past midnight, telling him three stories in exchange for Conor telling the monster his story, or his truth that he doesn't think that he can tell.
First of all, the character development happens very quickly. I think that by the end of the first chapter, I was in love with most of the characters. A boy having to watch his mother slowly die while being haunted by a terrifying dream is pretty easy to love. Add in a school bully, a father that lives in another country, and a stern grandmother Conor can't get along with intruding his life – he's an incredibly brave character from the very beginning. As the monster teaches him through the three stories, he grows into a very strong and enduring young man.
The monster's outlook on Conor's life and the stories is not what you would expect. Its wisdom makes the stories unpredictable and gives you a totally different perspective. The eeriness of the monster makes it feared while its wisdom makes it loved. The illustrations add a bunch to this. I wish I would have bought the book to see the details of the illustrations that I didn't get on the kindle, but the quality made it darker and enhanced the mysteriousness and creepiness of the character.
I absolutely loved the plot structure. I am a big fan of a character telling short stories that tie into the bigger story. For these stories, the morals feed into the main plots; it's not just giving a backstory. This story has three major plots: the monster's visits, Conor's family problems and mother's sickness, and his struggles at schools. These plots alternate, which I usually don't like because when you are just getting into one plot, it switches to the other, making it hard to follow. In this, the transitions are smooth and almost unnoticeable without thinking about it.
The book is a little slow, but it's definitely not boring. For me, the pace enhanced the book. Just like Conor didn't want to finish the three stories and have to tell his truth, I didn't want the book to end. In books like this, you know that there is not going to be a happy ending, even if the worst thing that can happen doesn't happen.
In all, this is an amazing book. It is the shortest book that I have read in a while, and I do wish that it was longer, but I don't see what could have possibly been added. When I first bought this, I was a little upset to see that this little book was twice as expensive as some 800 word books that I have read. Now after reading it, I have gotten more out of this book than I did many of those books. It was totally worth it. This is a very emotional and creative book that I would definitely read again.
- Sarah D.
"incredible artwork. Get the real book because e-text doesn't include the pictures."
A Monster Calls is a very mysterious and emotional story about a young boy named Conor whose mother has been diagnosed with cancer. Every night at about 12:07 a.m. Conor has the same nightmare; a monster from his backyard comes to him to teach him a valuable lesson by using stories to relate to Conor's life. Although it's written by Patrick Ness, the book was inspired by Siobhan Dowd, another brilliant author who had the idea for the book but didn't have time to write it because she died of cancer in 2007.
A Monster Calls is a very interesting, well written story that's easy to read. I love all of the amazing drawings in the book. During the entire book I wanted to find out what happened in the end, which made me read really fast. The plot was amazing and really enjoyable - so different from other books. The ideas of this story are so unique and so original and the heart wrenching end is sure to elicit some tears.
The novel makes the reader connect with the story on a personal level; the fear of letting go of someone you love is very difficult and you tend to sympathize with the young hero. The emotions come to you because the story can relate to everyone who is reading it. It's one of the saddest books I've read, and also one of my favorite books. The artwork in the book is also incredible, readers should get the real book and not the e-text because the pictures give you an idea of what the setting and the monster look like.
A Monster Calls is an amazing book and I would recommend it to everyone. I'm not even a big reader and I really enjoyed it. This book has an amazing lesson that can relate to almost everybody's life, and you will be touched by the power of this book when you have finished reading it.