If you are not aware about how this book came to be, then please keep reading. The original idea for the story belonged to Siobhan Dowd, who died of cancer in 2007, her premature death prevented her from finishing the book. This would have been her fifth book and she left behind the characters, the idea behind the story and the beginning of it. The story was handed over to Patrick Ness to complete.
I have yet to read any of Siobhan Dowd's books, so I cannot compare the story to her style of writing; having said that Patrick Ness has stated that he did not write the book attempting to mimick her voice. He took her legacy and wrote it in his own unique style.
I was one of those readers who absolutely loved The Chaos Walking Trilogy and I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book. My initial response was amazement as it really is a thing of beauty. The cover, the design and the drawings created by Jim Kay, just bring this book into a complete category of its own. I cannot stop staring at it. All the illustrations are in black and white and they just add to the haunting nature of the book.
The story itself is an unbelievable roller coaster of feelings that rips your heart out and leaves you emotionally in tatters by the end. Never has a story affected me so much that I still want to cry over it two weeks after reading it. I am not sure if I am happy with Patrick Ness's ability to make me cry so often. This is the second time he has written a book that has left me as a blubbering wreck. ( Manchee! I say no more!). He is just an amazing author whose words leave me speechless.
On being introduced to Conor, the main character of the book, you will instantly want to take him into your arms and wipe away his tears, praying that you can make it all better for him. The alienation he suffers at school, is heartbreaking, yet so realistically true and I have seen it happen so many times. He is singled out as being different because of his mother's illness. No one wants to talk to him about it, they just want to talk about him. Why is it when someone is suffering from a life deteriorating disease, we feel the need to talk about them and their family, rather than speaking to them directly? Can we not deal with human frailty? This book makes you look at your own responses to terminal illness.
I can remember being Conor's age and witnessing older members of my family suffering in a similar way, so I can understand Conor's difficulties in coming to terms with his feelings over the whole situation. His guilt must ring true through every one's minds when dealing with a long term illness of a loved one.
The monster in this book is really quite exceptional and I can't say anymore for fear of spoiling the story. He evoked strong emotions within me.
The book is rather deceiving and very clever disguised, as on viewing the cover, I was expecting a book completely different to the one I read. I was expecting a rather dark Gothic tale full of horror, and yet what I received left me with dread as it was just so real and so true. It was a beautifully written, poignant, gut wrenching read. That is all I will say on the matter as I don't want to be the one that spoils it for you. You have to read it. If you read just one Young Adult book this year, then make sure it is this one.
For any teenager or even adult suffering from grief, this is an ideal book to help you come to terms with your feelings. An enchanting book that takes your breath away. The concept, the style, the words and the illustrations - all just stunning.
One of the hardest things to come to terms with whilst reading the book, is dealing with the fact that the story came from a truth. Siobhan Dowd wrote her ideas and storyline whilst undergoing chemotherapy, so it will bring tears to your eyes as you realise she knew how the story would end.
On reading this book, be prepared with a box of tissues. Be aware that Conor's story will stay with you long after you put it down.