Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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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.


 

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A Monster Calls tells the story about Conor and the monster who visits him at night. This books seems to follow a similar genre to Ness’s other book I’ve read, More Than This, in that its not really fantasy, not really fiction, but something in between. The magical quality honestly reminded me a lot of Pan’s Labryinth, which is one of my favorite movies. It tells a story of a child in a difficult situation and finding a way to cope. Is the magic real? Or is it just Conor’s way of working through his emotions? In the end, it doesn’t really matter if its real or not and that is what makes this story both heartbreaking and magical. This story is about Conor as he works through feelings of love, death, healing and growing up.

One of the aspects of this book I really appreciated was Conor’s innocent perspective. He is only thirteen years old, but has to deal with very mature, very real situations that affect both his family and social life. The reader slowly gets the bigger picture of Conor’s life as they story goes on because we must glean the truth from his innocent lens. The monster that visit’s Conor at night, always at the same time, helps us piece together this truth. Why does the monster visit Conor at night? What is he trying to make Conor understand? He tells Conor three tales, although their meaning is not really clear until the end. I felt everything along with Conor as he faces the truth that has been in front him this entire time. It was a heartbreaking, devastating yet beautiful story that I will remember for a long time. It is not even necessarily about loss, but it is about facing our own truths an learning to let go.

This is the second Ness book I’ve read so far, and although I don’t think I enjoyed it quite as much as More Than This, I still absolutely recommend it. Ness’s writing style is beautiful, simple and yet it really shows you what is happening without telling you. There is a lot to be read in between the lines of his stories. While it was a beautiful story, I could not give it five stars because it was exactly what I expected it to be. I don’t mean that to be a bad thing, but nothing really surprised me. As I was reading, I realized that everything made sense and I while I enjoyed the ride it was not the most mind-blowing book I’ve ever read.

Nevertheless, this is a very important story and I highly recommend it to everyone. I read it in about two days and while it was a quick read, it was so very sad but also hopeful in a way. If you’ve read other Patrick Ness books, you should pick this up. If you’ve never read a Ness book, this would be a good place to start. I hope you enjoy reading about Conor and his monster as much as I did. 

4/5

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