Synopsis: 12.07… a time of dread and anticipation for 13 year-old Conor. Every night a monster knocks at his bedroom window; but it’s not the monster that plagues his nightmares. This one is of a different kind, one that tells Conor that he called him. Yet Conor doesn’t recall calling such a ferocious and strange creature. This monster is old and has walked the earth for a long time. It claims that he is here to help Conor tell the truth. Will Conor find the courage to tell and feel the truth he has been running away from all this time?
Cover Gushing Worthiness: I think the cover of A Monster Calls is one of the most beautiful and dark covers that I’ve ever seen for a children’s book. Funnily enough when I showed the book to my brother he didn’t believe that it was a book written for children. As he glanced at it, he even said “It seems really dark to be a children’s book. Are you sure it’s meant for kids?”. The truth is that it’s meant for everyone. I like the darkness of the cover because the moment you see it, you instantly feel drawn to it and the story grips you in the exact same manner.
I should say that the original idea for the story was author Siobhan Dawd’s idea. Sadly she lost her battle with cancer before she could write the story. This is Patrick Ness’ tribute to her, where he states that he wanted to write “a book Siobhan would like” and I believe she would have loved this book. I first heard about the book through Stacey’s Blog when she posted some pictures of the book. I became curious about it when I read that it was about a monster visiting a 13 year-old child and that is where the story begins.
The plot of A Monster Calls is universal because it looks at how loved ones of cancer patients attempt to come to terms with the illness that takes over the body and later the lives of those involved. I don’t want to dumb down the story and say it’s a simple plot because I don’t believe that it does the book justice. But this book literally ‘spoke’ to me because I experienced a similar situation personally. However I was older than Conor when I went through it. But I still remember the pain, the grief and the feelings of horror I felt for some of the thoughts I had. The monster is very much Conor’s own creation because it is in the form of emotions Conor has pushed down to the depths of his being. However when the emotions resurface, Conor comes to accept the reality of the situation. The monster tells Conor three stories in an attempt to get Conor to reveal the truth he has been running from all this time. As a reader you know how the story is going to end, but it doesn’t stop you from finishing it because you’re taking this journey with Conor. You feel his pain and anguish. You feel the anger and helplessness and I think this book teaches you a lesson in the human condition.
Character wise I adored Conor. Maybe because I related to what he was going through so much. I felt his emotions so much that I teared up a few times and it forced me to put the book down because I didn’t want the pages to get all blotched up with my tears. After all it’s the library’s copy. While I was older when I went through my situation, I can’t imagine what it must be like for a 13 year-old to watch the life you know literally fall apart as you watch without being able to do anything about it. I have to say that I was happy to have recognized the monster as it introduced himself and a I had a small moment of triumph where I went “Yes! You were in Robin of Sherwood” except he was in a different form. While the monster was a mixture of Conor’s emotions, there was a wisdom to it; like a mentor or a wise old loved one. The relationship between Conor and his grandmother was both heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time because it reflected how much of a toll an illness on loved one can affect those involved. The relationship reflected the strain that both Conor and his grandmother felt because everyone deals with these situations differently.
Before I end this review I want to take a moment to appreciate Jim Kay’s illustrations. They were beautifully done. I liked that the illustrations were done in black & white because the colour combination helped bring the story to life. It reflected the emotions one feels when you’re in a situation like Conor’s. There’s no longer the colour grey because you know there are only two ways to the end of the story.
Overall I will say that A Monster Calls is going to be one of my favourite reads of 2012. It hit close to home for me and it brought up painful memories, but it also reminded me that I got closure, just like Conor did. I’m so glad that this was the first book I read by Patrick Ness because I will definitely be going back to read his Chaos Walking Trilogy. Ness has a mellifluous way with words which resonate with you. I think I might even purchase a copy of A Monster Calls because I know it’s a book that I want to read again.
My Rating: 5/5
Would I recommend it? Absolutely
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Also here is the book trailer for A Monster Calls