Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Release Date: February 2nd 2012
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.