A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Published by Candlewick Press
Beginning when Conor’s mother first got sick, he’s had the same terrifying dream every single night. But one night, when he wakes from the middle of the dream at the same place he always wakes, a visitor is waiting for him. And this visitor isn’t what he was expecting – this monster is physically harmless, but wants the one thing Conor is unable, unwilling to give – the truth.
I’ve been wanting to read this book for what feels like forever. I loved the Chaos Walking trilogy from Patrick Ness (starts with The Knife of Never Letting Go, a book that gutted me in a serious way), and I knew that A Monster Calls was inspired by an idea from Ness’ friend and fellow author, Siobhan Dowd, who was planning to write a book based on this idea but passed away before she was able to do so. Plus, bloggers have been raving about this one since its original release in the UK. I thought I was prepared for this book, emotionally. I thought I knew what to expect. But while I had an idea of what I would find in these pages, the truth of how affecting it would be was lost on me. When I finally reached the end of this book, tears rolling down my cheeks, I finally got it. And now I’m here to tell you that if you have not experienced A Monster Calls for yourself, you must. Absolutely you must read this beautiful book.
Everything about this book spoke to me. Conor, a young child, having to deal with his mother’s suffering from cancer, broke my heart. Not only was he dealing with his mother’s illness, but he had no other adults in his life with even a smidgen of understanding of how to deal with a grieving young child. It was so difficult to read about how the few people his mom had to help them didn’t seem to care about Conor or put any effort into discovering what his needs might be. Truly, this kid just made me want to climb into the book and give him a huge hug.
The illustrations by Jim Kay were gorgeous and I think made this story complete. Seeing the monster added to the spookiness of his existence and made the fact that Conor was seeing the monster with his own eyes more real. The pictures, done in black and white, made the book have that sinister, creepy feel – that feeling that you just know things aren’t going to be happy in the end, but the specifics are a big question mark.
At the end of this book, I was sobbing. This novel is so beautiful, but the truth of the matter is that the issues Conor is dealing with are not pretty. They are difficult, they are heartbreaking, they are real. So please read this book. It’s absolutely gorgeous, such an amazing story, one that will stay with me for a long, long time.