A Monster Calls Paperback – 7 May 2015
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"A Monster Calls fuses the painful and insightful, the simple and profound. The result trembles with life." --The Independent
"Exceptional... This is storytelling as it should be harrowing, lyrical and transcendent." --The Guardian
"Patrick Ness is an insanely beautiful writer." --John Green
About the Author
Patrick Ness is the author of the award-winning and best-selling Chaos Walking trilogy and the critically-acclaimed novels More Than This and The Rest of Us Just Live Here. John Green has described him as "an insanely beautiful writer". He has won every major prize in children's fiction, including the Carnegie Medal twice. He lives in London.
From the Publisher
Twice Carnegie Medal-winning Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final idea of much-loved Carnegie Medal winner Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself, beautifully illustrated by Jim Kay. Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel of coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults.
A Monster Calls
The monster showed up just 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. The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.
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From the off, it must be stated that it is not just the talents of Siobhán O’Dowd and Patrick Ness that make this book a success. Illustrator Jim Kay is another huge contributor to this novel. His iconic front page image is but one sample of the menacing imagery that he scatters throughout the pages of this book. It was this image that initially grabbed my attention and drew me into the story. His illustrations perfectly match the feelings of black despair, teenage angst and terror that exude from Ness’ neat prose.
The story tells us about Conor who suffers the same recurring nightmare at 12.07 each night whereby he is visited by a tree-like monster that invades his mind. It is not the threat of physical pain that Conor fears, it is the monster’s knowledge and access to the very core of what he is afraid of. Conor has pushed a certain fear deep down inside himself and this ancient creature seems to want to push him towards it. The monster does this by using three very different stories.
In reality, Conor endures a different type of nightmare. His mum is very sick, his dad lives in America with his new family, his granny threatens to take over everything and at school he is relentlessly bullied. Only his friend Lily offers any kind of light, yet even so Conor is so angry and frustrated by his lot that he pushes her away completely. He is all alone in the world and it seems like everything is falling apart and there is nothing that he can do about it.
Without giving too much away, this book takes Conor and the reader to some very dark places. The monster that calls forces Conor to confront a darkness that resides deep within all of us. What Ness does is infuse this serious content with light humour and heartwarming moments to ensure the story does not become too cold. That’s not to say there is a fairytale ending. As the monster teaches us, ‘many things that are true feel like a cheat. Kingdoms get princes they deserve, farmers’ daughters die for no reason, and sometimes witches merit saving.’ When you reach the final page, it all makes sense and you leave a story behind that will stay with you forever.
Would I recommend this book to a friend?
This is a book that everyone should read to fully understand what it is like to endure a serious illness within a family. It is a coming-of-age book like no other and packs a powerful emotional punch that will leave you gasping for air long after the final page. As always, the film has a lot to live up to!
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.
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