Book Review || A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness [spoiler free]

1/09/2017


A Monster Calls follows 12-year-old Conor as he struggles with high school invisibility and more importantly, his unwell mother. One night, he gets a visit from a monster (think of Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy, but less friendly.). The monster promises to tell the boy three stories, and says that the young man will tell him the fourth when it's time. Did Conor dream this? Or are nightmares now in his real life? With confusion and his mother's health deteriorating with every turn of a page, he tries to make sense of everything.

Hauntingly beautiful are the only two words I can come up with when thinking of how to describe A Monster Calls. I devoured (get it? 'Cause it's got a monster in the book? No? Too much of a stretch? Okay.) the 236 pages in under two hours - yes, I'm a fast reader, no, I don't take it for granted. But to be honest, I don't think it matters how fast your eyes soak in words, once you start this book, it really is a difficulty to put it down. The words just flow so easily from the page - which could easily be put down to the fact that the book itself usually falls under the children's/YA category in book stores, but I really don't believe that's the reason why. The story is written smoothly in the way of, there are no kinks and no attempts at over describing or trying to be fancy. It was unapologetically human and most often when dealing with the subjects brought about in this novel, you need the simplicity. Because when it comes to having to live with things in life that test your inner strength everyday, they aren't complicated. Sadness can't be over described, its too potent. It's pain. No and's or but's.

This review will of course but spoiler free, but what I will say is that I really enjoyed how despite the fact Conor is facing something so dark that most children couldn't relate to, he is also struggling with your usual high school problems; bullies, lack of friends, betrayal. You could argue that he was simply foreshadowing his home life into school due to the heaviness of his heart (making everything seem gloomy), but whether that is true of not, it's a remarkable reflection on a lonely child's days. Add onto that the family problems that aren't related to his mother's health, and the abundant hatred of change.. You realise this is just a boy. That's what makes the story come alive, at least for me. The monster was just a scary bonus.

Sidenote: My UK edition didn't have any pictures, which I later learnt some do. So strange.

So as you can probably tell, I enjoyed this book and I wholeheartedly recommend you give it a read if you enjoy a little magic, a little sadness, and a lot of character growth. As you may know, A Monster Calls has now been translated to the big screen and has been released in most places, I personally have no desire to cry alone in the dark, but my partner braved it and said he really did enjoy the movie. Actually, when asked, he said he preferred the movie over the book. But he is a giant movie buff, so that is only 75% surprising. I digress, if you prefer movies, you shouldn't be disappointed by watching it first.

This was my first Patrick Ness book, which has resulted in More Than This being next on my list. (Have you read it? Any of his other books you like? Let me know!) His writing style semi reminds me of being a child and devouring (still not funny?) Roald Dahl books, but with a little more maturity. It's a true story. Until reading this, I didn't realise that I have an inner longing for good story-story books. A little magic never hurt anyone, right? I've been too busy reading about murders, aliens, witches, and people I fangirl over. In spite of the sadness of A Monster Calls, it was still.. light. Something my mother would've read to me when I was younger and then had me pestering for "one more chapter". It was a refreshing change.

- Anne x

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