I got back to my apartment in Bulgaria and thought I'd read a little bit of this novel before I went to bed. 2 hours later I was still sat in my original position but by this time I was sobbing my heart out. Literally sat there crying like a baby to myself. I doubt this book will be everyone's cup of tea but, whatever it has, it really worked it's magic on me.
I thought A Monster Calls was pretty much amazing in every way; from it's darkly beautiful illustrations (worth buying a paper copy for) to the great big touching metaphor that is the backbone of the story.
Didn't like The Knife of Never Letting Go? Not a problem. Forget it's by the same author whether you liked his previous books or not. Pretend you've never heard of Patrick Ness before because this is nothing like anything he has ever written. It's nothing like anything I've ever read. Where the Chaos Walking trilogy was a fast-paced adventure story, this is a very moving, well-written tale of a boy who's mum has cancer. It's about loss, and that doesn't necessarily mean death, and it's also about learning to let go and forgive yourself and others around you.
Think you've got it? Think you've worked out that the 'monster' is going to be cancer itself? Think again.
Like I said, this is a very different sort of idea (credit to the late Siobhan Dowd) and not the kind of book where you can guess where it's going. It's odd and unpredictable and very sad. Conor is one of those tragic but believable characters that you feel for all the way through. He faces constant battles in every aspect of his life. There's the obvious problem of his mother's illness, but also the fact that his dad has moved to America to start a new life with his new wife and baby. School offers no escape from Conor's miserable reality either as he finds himself between bullies who pick on him because they can and teachers who make their pity obvious every time they talk to him.
Then one night a monster visits Conor. A dream? An ancient creature that appears to those in need? Anything is possible, none of which is important. This monster is here for one purpose... to tell Conor three stories in exchange for the truth. Conor begins to learn that things aren't always as they seem and right and wrong are not so easily defined.
I loved it. It was nothing that I expected but I hope Siobhan Dowd's idea will inspire Patrick Ness to write more like this.