A Monster Calls


Title: A Monster Calls

Author: Patrick Ness

Series: N/A

Publisher: Walker Books Ltd

Release Date: February 2nd 2012


Five Stars

The monster showed up just after midnight. 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 monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild.

– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.”

I feel like it’s become a theme with all the Patrick Ness books that I’ve read; I go into them not having a clue what to expect and end the book amazed and moved. A Monster Calls is a brilliant and beautiful book, both in terms of the story and the illustrations alongside it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book; I will admit when I read the blurb I thought it would be more of a fantasy book than anything else, instead what I got was a moving story about Conor’s life and his acceptance of what is happening.

Every night Conor dreams of a terrifying monster, and something slipping out of his grasp. When he wakes up at 12:07 one night he finds himself face to face with an ancient monster, though not the one he expects. Conor is not afraid because how can what he faces outside his window be anywhere near as terrifying as what he sees in his nightmares each time he falls asleep.

“Stories don’t always have happy endings.”
This stopped him. Because they didn’t, did they? That’s one thing the monster had definitely taught him. Stories were wild, wild animals and went off in directions you couldn’t expect.

Instead the monster tells Conor that he will tell him three stories, then once he is done Conor will tell the monster his story.

Meanwhile Conor is dealing with more and more in his day to day life. His mother is ill and while Conor believes the two of them can handle everything alone his grandmother and father soon reappear in his life. Every day he seems to become more and more invisible amongst his classmates and he becomes more and more desperate for someone to see him.

The monster’s stories are nothing like what Conor expects, there is no defined good and evil, but they all have their lessons. The monster is always called, and this time it’s Conor who has called it.

…The Characters

“There was once an invisible man who had grown tired of being unseen. It was not that he was actually invisible. It was that people had become used to not seeing him.
And if no one sees you, are you really there at all?”

Conor is obviously struggling under the weight of everything that is happening in his life. His mother is ill and ever since she was first diagnosed Conor has become invisible; the other students avoid him and the teachers only look at him in sympathy. He is angry but there is no proper outlet for his rage so he buries it and lives day in day out as an invisible boy.

Each night he has horrible nightmares that haunt him when he’s awake. The journey that Conor goes on is an emotional one. He cannot accept what is happening to his mother but he tries so hard to be strong for her. He still has hope but it becomes harder to hold onto it in the face of everything he faces.

“You think I tell you stories to teach you lessons?” The monster said. “You think I have coming walking out of time and earth itself to teach you a lesson in niceness?”

The monster in this book is not an easy character to describe; it is ageless, eternal and powerful. When it comes face to face with Conor it expects the boy to be awed and scared but Conor is neither. The stories it tells all have their own lesson but it’s never the one Conor expects to hear. The monster sees humanity differently to Conor, the villain is never the villain, the hero is never the hero, and there is no black and white. Instead it sees people’s hearts, their beliefs, and their potential.

The main cornerstone of this story is Conor’s relationship with his mother. The two of them have been on their own since Conor’s father left and that’s the way Conor likes it. He helps his mother out around the house when her illness is too much to manage, and in turn his mother is the one of the only people who sees him. She allows him to be angry, allows him to express himself without fear of punishment or reprisal. Their relationship was beautiful to read, and one of my favourite family relationships I’ve read in a YA book.

Before starting A Monster Calls I knew this book would be emotional. I was near tears but at the same time the ending felt like a relief as well, and not just for Conor. This book was beautifully written and even though it was a short read it packed an emotional punch.

A Monster Calls isn’t my favourite Patrick Ness book but it’s still an amazing read and it left me even more excited to get around to The Knife of Never Letting Go.

What did you think of A Monster Calls? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

41 thoughts on “A Monster Calls

  1. Nice review! I recently read A Monster Calls, bawled my eyes out, and wrote a (v pretentious) review about its themes of Truth and Storytelling and Catharsis, and I enjoyed reading your interpretation of it.

    Did you get to The Knife of Never Letting Go/Chaos Walking trilogy? They were my first Patrick Ness books and I love them, despite being very different thematically from A Monster Calls.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Zoe, oh yes this was definitely an emotional book. I was practically in tears by the end of it as well. I’m glad you liked my review as well.
      Oh yes the Chaos Walking series is actually my favourite by him. Definitely incredibly different from A Monster Calls but amazing nonetheless.


  2. I love you deep you go in your review Beth! I’ve read other reviews for A Monster Calls but this is the first one that gave me the impression that this book could really move me. I’ve never read anything by Patrick Ness before. If not A Monster Calls, can you recommend any other book of his you think would be a good place for me to start?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Paige. I’m so so glad you enjoyed my review and so glad as well that it gave you a better of idea of what the story is about.
      It’s a really good book, to be honest all of his books I’ve read have been amazing. My favourite of his is More Than This, so if you’re looking for another recommendation then I’d definitely recommend that one! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad you enjoyed this!
    When I read it, I didn’t enjoy it as much as everyone else seems to…but I feel like that’s partly my fault because I read it on a sweltering hot sunny day while sat outside and kept getting distracted. Not exactly the right atmosphere for this kind of book, am I right? πŸ˜† I’m hoping I’ll enjoy it more when I reread it at some point.
    Really lovely review! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought it was an amazing book, so much was fitted into only 200 odd pages as well!
      Ohh no probably not the best atmosphere for this book, but you still enjoyed it a little I’m guessing so it proves it must have been a good book if you liked it despite the distractions. It’s great you’re giving re-reading it a chance though.
      Thanks Ashleigh! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Awesome review! We almost went with this one for Hype or Like and decided on Mrs.Peregrine’s instead. I’m so glad you liked it. Ness is high up on my list of hyped authors I need to read. This book sounds much better than I realized from reading the synopsis on Goodreads. I also didn’t realize it was an emotional book. And here I was thinking it would be a scary read for Halloween. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Jill. Ohh this would have been a good pick for Hype or Like though because it’s a popular book probably the first one that comes to mind when I think of Patrick Ness.
      Ness is hyped but I think his books live up to that hype you know? Yeah the synopsis doesn’t give much away but it’s an amazing read, and I think it would fit with your Halloween theme because there are elements of horror but it’s more emotional than anything else. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We were between this one and Mrs. Peregrine’s. It was a tough decision, but I think more people had a copy of Mrs. Peregrine’s, so that made my choice easier. I plan to read all scary and horror books next month. I’ll probably try to squeeze this one in. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Great review. I like how you have structured the review covering different aspects of the book hence giving a good insight into it. I have heard about this book though wasn’t sure about reading it since I thought its horror or Sci-Fi but It does sound really good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Diana, I’m glad you liked my review and the way I structured my review as well. It helps me write it to separate the points like this. πŸ™‚
      I wouldn’t say it was completely horror or sci-fi, it’s really hard to properly define this book because I don’t think it fits in one specific genre you know. Either way it’s an amazing read. πŸ˜€


  6. I really want to read this book before the movie comes out, and I’m so, so happy you enjoyed it so much, and that it has such a strong mother-son relationship. I knew it was going to be emotional already, you confirming that really makes me eager / nervous to finally get to it and cry ahah. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d definitely recommend reading it. I won’t say it’s my favourite Patrick Ness book or anything but overall it was an amazing read, and yeah I’d also recommend reading it before the movie.
      The relationship between Conor and his mother way my favourite part of this story, it was so moving though heartbreaking at times.
      You will cry by the end of this book, I can pretty much guarantee that but thanks Marie, I’m glad you liked my review! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s actually More Than This at the moment, but I still need to read the Chaos Walking books so that could change.
        Yeah it’s a shame the movie tie-in isn’t illustrated but I’d definitely recommend getting the illustrated version. I hope you enjoy this book as well! πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Your review just made me want to get my hands on this even more! I’m going to be at the bookstore tomorrow and I think I’m going to give in and finally buy it if they have it. Some of those quotes you included actually gave me chills which tells me this is a book I’m most likely going to love. Plus the fact that it’s the kind of book that packs and emotional punch! Those are always some of the best books. Lovely review as always, Beth! 😊β™₯

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Melissa. It’s a brilliant book, and a really beautiful one as well with all the illustrations, I hope you enjoy it.
      Oh all the quotes from this book on Goodreads are amazing, and there’s plenty more in the book itself! πŸ˜€
      It’s really emotional and kind of hard-hitting in places as well but I think you’ll really enjoy it.
      Thanks so much again! πŸ˜€ I hope you really enjoy this book as much as I did. ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome!! β™₯

        It sounds brilliant and I definitely have to get my hands on the illustrated edition. They didn’t have it at the bookstore today but I’m ordering it first thing on Monday πŸ˜ƒ.

        I hope so too! Though I have a feeling that I will. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Great Review. I absolutely adore A Monster Calls although, as you said, it does pack an emotional punch. I felt that Conor’s emotions were convincingly conveyed to the reader and his reactions to everything he had to deal with were incredibly honest. Conor had a beautiful relationship with his mother and that made it incredibly hard for me to get through this book. I was relieved when I got through it because I spent a good portion of it with a knotted lump in the back of my throat and tears threatening to fall. Also, this book restored my desire to read the Knife of Never Letting Go trilogy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much. Yeah A Monster Calls is amazing, and even though people said it was an emotional read I didn’t expect it to be quite so emotional you know.
      Conor’s reactions were incredible, everything he went through and experienced just felt so raw it made it easy to identify with him, especially concerning his relationship with his mother.
      Yeah I knew what was coming, didn’t make it any easier to read but some chapters were certainly harder to get through as well.
      I’ve been steadily working my way through Patrick Ness’s books, the Chaos Walking trilogy is next on my to-read list!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great review, Beth! I’m really glad to see that you’ve enjoyed this book. Conor’s relationship with his mother is so complex and so wonderfully written – I kind of wish there were more books dealing with grief and loss in this way, because it’s so powerful.

    I definitely agree that it packs an emotional punch, and while I love the writing and the illustrations, I was glad when it ended because reading it was sooo agonising because it was just super sad. ;_;

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Reg! πŸ™‚ I think the relationship between Conor and his mother was my favourite part of this book just because it felt so real. Everything he went through felt so true to what anyone would go through facing what Conor had to about his mother’s illness.
      I’d definitely be interested in reading more books like this, I honestly can’t think of another YA book that deals with loss like this one did.
      I didn’t expect the ending, I knew it was coming but by the time I reached the last page I was near tears and I didn’t expect that from this book you know?
      Oh yes, I’m glad I brought the illustrated version of this book! πŸ™‚


      1. Yeah, definitely. IT WAS SO SAD. Hmm, I can’t think of any other YA book that deals with loss and grief too… weird, considering there are many absent/dead parents in the genre, haha.

        Is there an unillustrated version? I’ve always thought all of them are illustrated, haha.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m still a little sad now thinking back on that last chapter, it was so moving!
        I think in most other YA books if the parent is gone it’s something that happened a little while ago, so the grief isn’t there as much. I think I’ll Give You the Sun focuses on grief a little but the immediate aftermath of their mother’s death isn’t a major part of the story is it?
        There is an unillustrated edition that’s been released, only recently, but I think it’s possibly the movie tie in(?)


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