You do not write your life with words…You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do” A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness & Siobhan Dowd
Initial Thoughts: I had discovered this novel on Goodreads a week ago. The premise on Goodreads (featured below) had me hooked instantly. The monster wants the truth, but what is the truth? I had a strong desperate urge to know what the truth was. Once I found out, I was very surprised.
The monster showed up 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… This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth” (Goodreads, A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness & Siobhan Dowd)
About the Book
Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness (Original Concept: Siobhan Dowd)
Year Published: 2011
Genres & Subjects: Fiction, Young Adult, Cancer, Coming-of-Age, Fantasy, Horror, Grief
I finished the book with tears streaming down my face in two parallel rivers. A Monster Calls is a short and sweet novel that will quickly grab your heart. Once it has grabbed a hold of you, it will never let you go. I was warned as I am warning you now, this book is featured on the Goodreads lists “Books That Had You Sobbing” (listed as #58), and “Books That Had Me Bawling My Eyes Out” (listed as #60). As I had been warned ahead of time, I knew that this book was probably going to be sad in some sort of way. I had believed that being prepared would make me less likely to cry. But I was wrong. There I was, with a box of tissues bawling my eyes out as I finished this book in one sitting.
Even now as I write this review, and throughout the day, I have been thinking a lot about this book and what it has taught me. At the beginning of the story, I imagined that this book was a fantasy book with a scary monster. The summary is a little misleading. While there are fantasy elements, I would be more likely to define this book as a bildungsroman, in other words, a coming-of-age story. The book follows Conor O’Malley, a thirteen-year-old boy who faces isolation, grief, and loneliness as his mother is slowly getting sicker from her cancer treatments. I was really surprised to learn that A Monster Calls has been adapted into a film recently. Some books do not translate very well into film. I imagined that this one would fit into such a category as most of the book’s events takes place internally in Connor’s mind. For this reason, I found the book to be a very honest depiction of dealing with loss. Even though I luckily have never been in the same situation or even a similar situation as Conor, I was able to grasp how Conor felt as if it were my own pain.
As I took this journey with Conor, it gave me a different perspective of how people deal with the loss of their loved ones. There are books that paint the loss of a loved one as a tragic but beautiful portrait. A wistful nostalgia hidden behind a smoke screen of optimism. A Monster Calls digs deeper into the honest ugliness within. Grief is anything but pretty, but it is necessary in order to move on. This story was not afraid to venture into these dark places.
Not only is this story unique, its unique conception is one of the reasons why I found this novel to be extremely powerful. The original idea for this story was by Siobhan Dowd, an author who passed away from breast cancer in 2007. She had invented the characters and premise; however, she was unable to finish the novel. Patrick Ness was commissioned to finish the novel after her death. I believe that Dowd’s own experiences gave this novel its honesty and intensity. Patrick Ness gave this novel effortless prose that just leaps off the page and claws at your heart.
I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone, however, make sure you read something happier afterwards. (I ended up reading Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne).
Final Rating: A
Until Next Time,