Friday, March 27, 2015

Review: A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Inspired by Siobhan Dowd
Illustrated by Jim Kay
Published January 1st 2011 by Candlewick Press

The monster showed up 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...

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.
A Monster Calls is a book I've heard nothing but positive things about since it's release in 2011, and I was lucky enough to be gifted a copy so I was very eager to read it...but, I knew I had to be in just the right mood to dive in considering the content. So, when the mood presented itself recently, I didn't hesitate for one second.  Although I feel sure my heart won't soon recover from being broken into a million tiny pieces...

As many of you are no doubt aware, A Monster Calls is a book that deals with loss, death, letting go and saying goodbye.  We meet our main character Conor, a young thirteen year old, whose mother is battling an aggressive form of cancer. On an evening just like any other, Conor is visited by a monster. A wild and terrifying monster who wants something from Conor: the truth. A truth that Conor does not want to face. In fact, Conor would rather face the monster's wrath than face up to this truth.  So, the monster makes a deal with Conor - it will visit Conor again and tell him three stories. Once the stories are done, the monster will require the truth from Conor. Or else.

The emotional punch that this book packs is actually staggering. Within a short 215 pages, it takes us on a whirlwind of feelings: curiosity, amazement, wonder, fear, dread...and inevitably, sadness and pain.  I felt myself tense at the unavoidable outcome at about 50 pages in, and the tension only continued to build, amidst my growing sadness and the tears splattering it's pages at various intervals. Conor doesn't want to face the possibility of losing his mother, but despite his denial, he still goes through the many stages of grief in loss in a poignant and thoroughly relatable way.  I found myself hoping blindly along with him, despite the fact that I knew how the story had to end.

A Monster Calls is achingly beautiful in the way it's written, with stirring prose that hits you right in the feels.  It's filled with gorgeous and haunting illustrations throughout that really set the tone perfectly.  This was my first read by Patrick Ness, but it certainly won't be the last.  The fact that he wrote this based on an idea by the late Siobhan Dowd - who tragically succumbed to cancer herself before completing this book - says a lot about Ness' ability as a writer in my mind.

I am beyond grateful to have finally read this little gem of a book that will surely stay with me for years to come.  Though the characters are dealing with cancer specifically, A Monster Calls deals with loss in a universal sense, and the underlying themes of love and acceptance make this a book I feel that everyone should read.  My heart may never recover - and I'm ok with that.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

16 comments:

  1. I'm afraid the subject is much too touchy for me to read these days without turning into a fountain ! But I'll keep this book in mind and am glad you found it to be so gripping :)

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    1. I can completely understand that^^ I don't tend to read books like this either for that very reason. I have to be in just the right mood before I start :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Patrick Ness is one of my absolute favorite authors and I'm so glad you loved this! This book is very true to the style of his other books as well: very poignant and heartbreaking but so worth it :)

    - Kritika @ Snowflakes & Spider Silk

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    1. Excellent, thanks for the feedback Kritika, good to know! I'll definitely be checking out his other books asap - his writing style really drew me in :)

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  3. It is awesome this book was able to tell such an emotionally powerful story in such few pages when there are books three times that size that can't do that. I've always wanted to give this one a try, I'll definitely have to fit it in sometime this year, I'm glad you liked it!

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    1. I think that's one of the things that impressed me most about this one^^ small package, BIG emotional punch! I hope you get to it asap this year Alise :)

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  4. What a lovely review! I have a feeling that this book is going to make me angry/weepy, but I really want to read it more than ever. I loved Ness' Chaos Walking series, and I have a feeling this will be even better.

    C.J.
    Sarcasm & Lemons

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    1. Thank you C.J. It definitely brought along a variety of feels throughout but it's soooo worth it! I'm glad you want to read it more than ever now :D I NEED to check out more of Ness' works for sure. Thanks for stopping by^^

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  5. I've seen nothing but acclaim for this, too, and it's been on my TBR for a long time. I will definitely have to be in the right frame of mind to read it because I'm sure my heart will be shattered by the end of it. Lovely review, Micheline! :)

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    1. Well, it gives me some relief that I wasn't the only one who hadn't gotten around to reading it. And yeah, I needed to be in the right frame of mind too, but I'm glad the mood struck me because it was 100% worth it! Thanks love^^ ♥

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  6. I still haven't read any of Ness' books, but I know Aylee is a huge fan and convinced me to add his books to my wishlist. Since this one isn't that long, I'm going to see if I can squish it in within the next few weeks; I'll have to be in the right frame of mind though because it sounds pretty sad.

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    1. Yup! I remember Aylee raving about his writing too! She's the one who brought him to my attention :) I liked that this one was pretty short too but it definitely packed one serious emotional punch. I hope you find time for it soon and that you'll enjoy it as well!

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  7. I've heard nothing but praise for this novel, I'm hoping to check it out sometime soon though - let's see how it goes. Wonderful review <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

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    1. I hope you will Benish and I also hope that you'll get as much out of it as I did :) Thanks for stopping by^^ ♥

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  8. <3<3 This makes me - happy? - to read your review - I think? I mean, of course this book destroyed me too, but like you I was okay with that because of the profound effect it had on me, so I'm happy you felt the same. Though it's generally not my goal in life to make my friends cry with the books I give them, heh. I'm glad that you've now had a taste of what Patrick Ness has to offer and will be reading more from him! In the meantime, we have the movie adaptation of this to look forward to... not sure how I feel about that, so I'm withholding my judgment until I see it. It COULD potentially be amazing, we'll see. Anyways, perfect review - I loved reading your thoughts here.

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    1. hahahah yes, it's ok to be happy about it^^ I adored it, it was just so incredibly sad at the same time...but, a good? kind of sad. I'm going to be passing this one along to all my friends, my mom and bff have already agreed to read it, so YAY. Oh no way? I had no clue this was being turned into a film...not sure how I feel about that either, but hopefully they do the thing right. Thanks Aylee and thank you again for passing this along to me xoxo

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