…On A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Posted March 26, 2012 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 22 Comments

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Published by Candlewick Press

Publish Date:  September 27, 2011
215 Pages
Source:  Library

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting — he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. 

The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. 

From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd — whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself — Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined. 
 -(summary from Goodreads.com) 

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Shout-Out to Lisa @heylisarenee at LisaisBusyNerding.com 

My Thoughts:  You guys, who am I kidding? Anyone who is familiar with this gal knows I am a Patrick Ness fangirl like WHOA. He shares my status of “favorite” with none other than John Green. I was introduced to the fabulous Patrick Ness by the fabulous Lisa the Nerd, and I will be forever thankful to her for this, because Ness’ Chaos Walking Trilogy has left an imprint on my heart that I can’t explain with mere words. 

I was walking through my library a couple of weeks ago and nearly fainted when I saw that they finally bought a copy of A Monster Calls. As it was brand new and still behind the circulation desk, I literally did the point-and-grunt in the general direction of the library staff. Unable to speak, my rock star library dude grabbed it for me, scanned it, and put it in my bag. These are things I should have been able to do for myself, but we ARE talking about my friend Patrick Ness here…. (I digress.)

So then I make it home, take the book out, and stare at it for awhile…KNOWING that it will make me cry. I’ve read the other bloggers’ sob stories with this one. What’s with me and the sappy books lately, friends? I don’t know! I even talked about this in an IMM video blog (in which Allison chuckled laughed at me). But it’s okay. I can also laugh at myself. I KNEW I wouldn’t make it through the book dry-eyed. So I began to read it v-e-r-y slowly in hopes that I could minimize the damage to myself and those around me. 

Did it work for me – reading it v-e-r-y slowly? 
Did it minimize the tears? 
Let’s find out. 

The first thing you need to know is this
Like I said earlier, I’m a HUGE fan of Patrick Ness. 
It all started with a little series called Chaos Walking. 
Being such a huge fan of the work of this author, it makes it hard to form coherent sentences that are anything other than a gush-fest. So you’ll just have to trust me. In my opinion, the man is a writing genius. He is very good at his craft and his skill is superior. His stories are excellent and are executed brilliantly. Patrick Ness writes about things, too, that are important and relevant – not fluffy and puffy. While fluffy and puffy are fun, the stories of Patrick Ness aren’t always fun. This is one of the things I love about his work. I’m just a huge, huge fan. 

The second thing you need to know is this
When I said I read this book slowly, I mean like 10-15 pages at a time. SLOWLY. 
As a reader – even at my age – I haven’t figured out how to handle huge chunks of emotion. When I read books by this author, I feel huge chunks of emotion and I know others do too. For me, the best way to handle this is to read it in very small doses. This is precisely how I handled Monsters of Men (Book 3 of Chaos Walking Trilogy) and accordingly, this is how I handled A Monster Calls. It was the best thing I could have done. 

Reading tiny bits lets me take in a little at a time and really let it sink in. I love this author so much that I don’t want to miss a single thing that he writes. I know that is a lofty goal in reading – to not miss any details – but I have learned that I can avoid it as much as possible by reading certain books the way I do. (PLUS it let me spend some time on the awesome illustrations in this book.) 

The third thing you need to know is this
The illustrations are some of the best I’ve ever seen. 
As if the story isn’t excellent enough on its own, we have illustrations by Jim Kay to make it even better. Like, in a different league. I am not exaggerating to say that I spent as much time looking at the detail in the pictures as I did reading the story. 


The fourth thing you need to know is this
Your heart will break for Conor at least a dozen times. 
The monster comes to see Conor and is surprised when Conor isn’t scared. He isn’t frightened at all because what lives in his dreams is more frightening than anything at all, so how can this monster scare him? The monster comes back again and again, promising to tell Conor three stories. Upon completion of the third story, the monster says, it will be time for Conor to tell his story, his truth…

Meanwhile, Conor’s mom’s cancer is progressing. Conor denies this with the ferocity of a child in denial yet we as readers are able to see exactly how advanced things truly are. And our hearts are broken. Conor is also bullied by schoolmates, which is heartbreaking. Conor’s father, who lives in America with his ‘other’ family, doesn’t really pay Conor the attention that he desperately needs – cries out for, really – and our hearts are broken. And his own grandmother, his mom’s mother, doesn’t really understand him – the two butt heads almost nonstop. Conor doesn’t seem to have a friend in the world, except for the monster

When it became time for Conor to tell his story, his truth, my heart broke over and over with every word. 


As always, Patrick Ness weaves in the complex with the seemingly simple. He takes this monster – this big, scary monster – and manages to make him something that isn’t scary at all. What Conor learned from him, I also learned from him. Doggone it, Patrick Ness and your way with words…

In the end, I was speechless and emotional. Unable to move, even. This story is so gripping and full of truth and painful and heartbreaking. But OF COURSE it is, you guys! Of course. Nobody else writes with such beauty. Nobody else can make reading something so horrific such a wonderful experience. 

Bottom line: If you are one of the ones that has read this book already, I completely understand all of the emotion you warned me about. I knew it was there, but I have been an active participant now. If you haven’t read this book yet, I would love for you to pick it up and read it: not only because I am a ridiculous fan of this author, but because this story deserves to be read. It’s amazing and brilliant and all things Patrick Ness. 

Have you read this book yet? 

**I do think reading this book slowly minimized the tears. 
Well, that and finishing it the day after I finished The Fault in Our Stars
I did tear up, but I think I was all-cried-out.


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


22 responses to “…On A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

  1. I have heard that this book is brilliant and heartbreaking and because I hate it when books make me cry, I still have not read it. Same reason I have not read The Fault in Our Stars. One of these days, I'm going to woman up and tackle these beautiful, emotional books…
    Truly Bookish

    • Both were beautiful and emotional, and I'm glad I made it through them. As I mentioned in my post on TFiOS, I don't like to cry either, so I'm proud of myself for even attempting these. But…Now onto happier, more dystopian, more fantasy-like things for me for awhile!

  2. I so need to give Patrick Ness a shot. His books have been on my to-read list forever, but I haven't quite gotten around to reading them yet. I'm a sucker for books that can make me cry. Even though it's always a love it/hate it situation when I actually start weeping uncontrollable tears, the fact that a book can affect me that much always amazes me!

    • Oh gracious, Natalie, Patrick Ness is amazing. His Chaos Walking trilogy is up there for me with the His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman. I just love it so much. And I'm glad that I finally got to read this one. He's such a talented writer – he elicits such emotion from his readers, both guys and gals alike. I highly, highly recommend reading him whenever you get a chance. I really think you'll like his work!

  3. I want to read this book so badly!!! Patrick Ness is the man and Chaos Walking is one of my all-time favorite series!

    I'm waiting to purchase the paperback (which I haven't seen at any local bookstores yet) because I KNOW I need to own it 🙂

    • Oh Kat, you KNOW how I feel about Patrick Ness. I wasn't joking when I said "point-and-grunt" – my library staff laughed at me.

      This book was such the Ness style, but in a much shorter version. I loved it all the way through but when I got to the end, there were some things that he wrote that just GOT ME. Even though I expected the end, he still pulled out some unexpected things. I LOVE that about him. You'll love this one, particularly with the amazing illustrations. It's short and easy to read, but that doesn't mean that you'll want to fly through it. I can't wait for you to read it and to hear your thoughts.

    • Hi Wendy! I DID love this one, so much. I adore Patrick Ness.

      And no shame! I'm so glad you're listening to The Knife of Never Letting Go. I hope you love that series at least half as much as I do. I love Todd Hewitt SO MUCH!

    • I have never read Siobhan Dowd's books. In fact, I'm not familiar with her other work, but I should certainly look it up. This book was – well, there are no words. It took me days, just like with Monsters of Men, but because I chose for it to, not because it was as overwhelming as MoM. I loved every second and I wanted to reach thru the pages and just hug Conor. I hate to return it to the library. I'll have to buy this one for sure.

  4. My own copy of A Monster Calls is arriving on Wednesday because after I read it a couple of months ago, I knew that I needed to have a copy to have and hold forever. I most definitely WASN'T all cried out until after I read it, though, because I SOBBED LIKE WHOA at the end of this book. It was disgusting. But the monster is amazing and Conor is one of those characters I make up a future for in my mind. Like, I wonder what Conor is like in high school and college and where he works and who his family is. (So, I imagine that I have just confessed something HUGELY WEIRD about my reading, but oh well.) He's just such a precious character who seems so real and I love him to infinity.

  5. Amy, I have laughed and chuckled and I love you even more. Please tell me even more hugely weird things about your reading. We all have our quirks. God knows I have mine. I would've sobbed like whoa except I was still dehydrated from TFiOS. Seriously.

    Conor is a precious character. So are Todd and Viola from the Chaos Walking series. Have you read that series yet from Patrick Ness? YOU WOULD LOVE IT. YOU WOULD. I know this.

  6. Oh my goodness. I'm SCARED to read Chaos Walking. I think I've been spoiled (unintentionally) about Manchee, and I'm WORRIED, Asheley. I need to gird myself first, but you love them and Lisa loves them and ALL THE AWESOME PEOPLE love them, so I'll definitely get around to them. I will, I promise. Because I'm sure that there's so much else to love about them.

    • You DO have to gird yourself, you're right. BUT, as Lisa told me, it's worth it. She practically walked me through that series. YOU CAN DO IT and you'll be all the better for reading it. Take it slow and be emotional over it if you want to. Those books are SO GOOD. I could talk about them for days.

  7. "point and grunt"
    Yeah, this sounds like something I'd do. I might even stoop to a "gimme gimme gimme!" if it was something I desperately wanted 😛
    I really need to read me some Patrick Ness. Between you and Lisa I've definitely been convinced of the amazingness that is he writing. I will read some soooon. Promise 😛

    • You're right, you DO need to try out some Patrick Ness. He's amazing. He's in a category all his own. Lisa introduced me to him, and I'm forever thankful. Now I'm trying to spread the good news, lol. If you ever read his books (DO IT DO IT DO IT!) let us know and we'll cheer you on!!

  8. Oh Asheley, I can't believe you had it in you to read this one and TFioS back to back. I hope your heart is still securely in place. I did that exact point and grunt scene at my own library last week when I saw Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins sitting behind the counter.

    I've wanted to read A Monster Calls badly for a while now, but I've been neglecting it due to the whole emotional burnout thing. I have to read TFioS for my book club next month, so I'm afraid this one won't be picked up for a while yet. Thank you SO much for sharing some of the illustrations. They are gorgeous, and honestly the thing I am looking forward to most.

  9. Heidi, I CAN'T EITHER! What was I thinking? I can't do that anymore…I have no more fingernails and my poor heart can't take it. BUT it was a good week in that I finished books by my favorite two authors so there's THAT.

    OH! The illustrations. These are only a few of the many. They're so, so good. I just started at each of them for the longest time.

  10. I'm quite behind on my blog reading, but I had to post to tell you that you sold me on this book. It's going on my to-read list straight away.

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