|A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Published by Candlewick Press
Publish Date: September 27, 2011
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
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.