A Monster Calls | Patrick Ness

Friday, 27 January 2017


I heard from so many people that this book is heartbreaking, but I didn't realise how heartbreaking. It's probably the saddest book I have every read and I read a whole lot of sad books. It took me two days to read which I think might be a record for me, I enjoyed every page even though it made me a hollowed-out, wallowing mess by the end. But in the best kind of way. 

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Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don't quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there's a visitor at his window. It’s ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth. 

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The first thing I noticed about this book is that it was an original idea from the author Siobhan Dowd, but sadly she passed away before beginning to write it. Ness read the story idea and decided to carry it on and publish it in her name. Even that story really sets the mood of the whole book, poignant but hopeful. 

The charater of Conor is complex and it's so nice to see such complexity in an early teenager, normally they are all tainted with the same brush and can be very vague and disappointing. There aren't many characters in the book, there are probably three main ones not including the monster. But this allows the author to describe them deeply and give them complexity that some YA book's chacracters lack. My favourite charcter in the book is probably Conor's grandma, because she is an absolute bitch, but her heart is in the righ place. 

The story really gives us the insight of suffering from cancer from the family's perspective, something that isn't normally discussed. His mother's illness is not brought up a lot and I think that's because this is from Conor's point-of-view and his mother is trying to protect him from the truth, Conor obviously knows that there is something the matter with his mum and he is fed up of being treated like a child, but he never asks questions because he is scared of the truth. 

Now lets get down to the monster, there may be spoilers here, although I don't know if you can call them spoilers really. What I got from the idea of the monster is that he is a huge metaphore for grief and bereavement. Something that Conor invents as a coping strategy, although the author never explains whether the monster is real or not, he allows the reader to make up their own minds. There is an element of fantasy to the book and it shows us that old fashioned story telling is still the way to engage an audience. After reading the desription of the monster I want one to come and visit me, he's made of a tree and I imagined him so vividly. I love him and Conor's relationship and how he basically becomes a wise friend and I think father figure, who helps him through a difficult time.  

This book is everything a poignant and heartbreaking story should be. There are shock factors, funny factors and even parts that make you smile with tears rolling down your cheeks. After reading it I do still want to see the film but I'm a little sceptical about how they will portray the monster. I have heard good things so I will definitely go and see it. 

I think this is probably one of the most unusual and complex YA books I have read so far and it really does deserve all the recognition it's getting. I never normally cry at books but this one broke me in two, in the best way of course. 

Have you read A Monster Calls?




4 comments

  1. This seems like a really good read. I have been searching for sad books lately, I don't realky know why but I'm currently in the mood, ahahah. Thanks for sharing!

    https://solivagantic.blogspot.com

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    1. It's defnitely sad hahaa! Call me strange but I love a good sad book, I understand why you would be in the mood.

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  2. Such a lovely review, it was interesting to hear your thoughts on this book. I’ve not read it yet, but again from the blog post, I’m attracted to pick it up. It sounds like quite a unique YA book, maybe one that would appeal to any age and the idea of a metaphorical monster is intriguing. Have you read any other Zoella book club books? I think the Zoella book club is a good way to get people reading. My favourite read of the year so far is Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland, another unique YA novel. Happy reading! :-) xx

    Helen | Helen’s Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

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    1. It's such a good read and a brilliant metaphor for bereavement and grief. I've just finished Everything Everything from the Z book club and that review should be up on my blog soon! And yes I definitely agree, it's brilliant to have such a flood light on reading again for young people. Ooo I'll have to give that a go the title sounds interesting, thanks Helen!

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