Book Review | A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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A Monster Calls | Buy on Amazon

Rating
4-5-stars

Pages | 216 pages

Genre | YA, Horror, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Contemporary

Publisher | Walker Books

Publication | February 2012

Format | Paperback

The monster showed up just 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… The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth. Costa Award winner Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final idea of much-loved Carnegie Medal winner Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel of coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults.

A Monster Calls is a story about a young boy who summons a monster, a monster that ought to be scary and frightful. But instead, Connor finds himself answering back to this monster.

It is revealed that his mother is suffering from cancer, and this is hard for Connor – as all he wants is a normal life with his mum. He tries his best to act optimistically, and to ensure that his mother does not worry about him. Where he was once a normal boy, he is now the recipient of pity from everyone he knew.

What happens in the book is what I would most likely call an ordinary chain of events, but what is extraordinary about this book is how Patrick Ness was able to depict everything be it real or not, in a realistic manner.

In the end, when I finished reading the book – I have come to realise that it is a story about acceptance, forgiveness and finally letting go. It is essentially the stages we go through when we are grieving, when we want everything to go back to the way they were, even though we already know that it is too late to go back.

The story follows the story of Connor and his encounter with an ancient monster, a monster who tells him three stories of when he has walked the earth, and how he is going to hear a fourth from Connor.

The events follow Connor as he struggles to cope with the reality of his mother’s situation, and how this is affecting him. Connor is just a young boy, and he is going through a lot. He has become invisible towards his peers, and the teachers has started to ignore him, as well as acting differently towards him. Not only this, but Connor is also the victim of bullying – but he never stops it, in a twisted way, it is the only time he feels like he is being treated as the same as everyone else.

Character-wise, I thought Connor and his family were depicted really well. What really brought tears to my eyes was Connor’s relationship with his mother. It isn’t hard to see how much they really love each other, and how much Connor truly cares for his mum. Other characters, such as Connor’s grandma and father are depicted fairly well, as well as Lilly – who was Connor’s best friend.

The characters whom I found relatively unnerving was Harry (the bully). He is a whole different kind of bully, and where he has his minions to do the actual dirty work for him – for a 12-year-old to be psychologically bullying a peer is simply… too much. More than any kind of monster, it was him who I would be afraid of. To have the ability to cause psychological trauma, through bullying is monstrous. I was truly scared of him.

Anyway, it is when the second and third stories when I kind of came to the conclusion that the monster is able to control Connor (or that the monster is Connor), that the Monster is something – perhaps real or imagined by the boy in order to admit the truth that he wants his mother’s suffering to simply end. To feel relief that he doesn’t have to worry about her suffering and hurting anymore. To finally let her go. This is his true Monster.

I think it is a great representation of how we are as humans.

The story is written is third person, and I thought that this worked very well in terms of the progression of the story. Where you can remain objective and still see the perspective of the main character.

If there was something I wanted to change in this book, it would have been where Connor’s dad – for just this instance, would have chosen to stay with Connor in what clearly is a terrible time for him. But, I can also understand how this is important for the story to go the way it did, as often in reality this may be what happens.

Also, the ‘nightmare’ was quite underwhelming – says the girl who also has the same fears as the young boy. Underwhelming it may have been, but for anyone it would be the worst nightmare they could ever have. The simple thought of losing someone close to you, especially your mum, is possibly one, if the not, the worst nightmare to have, especially for a young boy such as Connor.

You do learn a lot from a novel like this. For me, this novel tries to teach you about how it is  or how it is like to let go of a loved one – that no matter how hard it is, we must learn that letting go is okay.

Overall, I think that this has been a great novel to read – especially enjoyed the illustrated version. I would most definitely recommend this book, to anyone who like reading!

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