A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.
This is such a moving, and touching story, and told in such a simplistic yet beautiful way.
The writing is just perfect- simple and childlike yet almost poetic, and so many times I re-read the page I had just read to let the words sink in and savour them. All of this is accompanied with stunning black and white illustrations which complement the style of the book perfectly. The story tells of 13 year old Conor, who is trying to come to terms with the fact that his mother is dying of cancer. One night, he sees the old yew tree across the graveyard grow in size, grow limbs and call out to him.
"It's only a dream," Conor said to himself in the back garden, looking up at the monster silhouetted against the moon in the night sky. But what is a dream, Conor O'Malley? the monster said, bending down so its face was close to Conor's. Who is to say that it is not everything else that is the dream? (p40)
You never know if the monster is real or just a figment of Conor's imagination- a coping device- but it never matters. The way he speaks to Conor, logically and frankly, allowing Conor to vent his fear and anger, gets him through some tough times, and gives him the courage to stand up to the bullies at school. Despite the simple, detached style of the narration you get a powerful sense of Conor's loneliness and anger, and his frustration with the unfairness of his situation. Ultimately he finds the courage to accept what is happening, stop lying to himself, and let go. I was completely sobbing by the end of the book- totally touched by this story.
A Monster Calls is an amazing book that easily deserves 5 stars.
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