Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: Sept 2011
Classification: YA Novel
Summary From Goodreads:
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.
I think this book is an appropriate book to review considering my mood as of late. I love my mom. My mom means the world to me and with all that she has been through, I am thankful for each day she is still among the living. She was born early into a world that wasn’t ready for her but she beat the odds and lived on. She has been hit by a car twice and yet, she overcame those obstacles. She is now a pre-active ALS patient (ALS is a degenerative neuromuscular disease that attacks the muscles and nerve endings throughout the body. Eventually, the body breaks down but the brain is still strong, essentially leaving them a prisoner in their own body), yet she still is moving forward. This woman has no quit in her and after reading this book, I immediately called my mom up to tell her I love her. Alas, I am getting ahead of myself.
This book began just as any book does; an idea. It came from within the confines of Siobhan Dowd’s head but unfortunately, she did not live to see this book come to fruition. Dowd lost her battle with cancer but her idea lived on in the form of an outline, eventually expanded upon and constructed into a full length novel by Patrick Ness. Although these authors were unknown to me, the premise of this book appealed to me on the deepest of levels. It only began to leave its full effect on me once I began reading it. By the time I was completed, I was in awe.
The monster in question is actually part of the fragmented reality ( a dream construct) of Conor. This monster comes to him throughout the book at certain points and acts as a higher purpose in progressing the story along. The monster is not real but its message clearly rings true. Conor is dealing with the pain of knowing his Mother has cancer and there is nothing he can do. At his young age, it hits him so hard and affects him in such a way that he begins imagining this Monster is real. At first, the reader is under the impression the Monster is there to torment Conor but in truth, the Monster exists to teach Conor to cope with his pain and to admit his deepest, darkest fear; loss.
This book has abstract illustrations sprinkled throughout itself and these help to intensify the message of the book. This is a noteworthy piece to discover when one reads the book. The illustrations themselves tell a story in conjunction with the text.
I can’t give too much of the story away but I can tell you that this book needs to be pushed in schools for children of a younger age. I would say fourth or fifth graders would really take a lot from this book, but that is not to say adults would not enjoy it as well. It is an all ages read and deals with issues on a deep level, but on its surface, the message is quite clear; love what you have and never take life for granted. Reading beneath that, one might take something else out of this, but that is the message that I could relate with. The writing of this book is not too intricate but it is not so simple you feel insulted. It is passionate yet subdued. The story is paced in a smooth manner and it helps to touch the reader.
By the end of this book, I was in tears and I all I wanted to do was hold my mom tight and never let her go. One day, her light will be extinguished from this world and the world shall be a little less birght as a result. If you love someone as much as I love my mother, then I do urge you to read this book. The pain of loss is one in which we all have to deal with in time, but this book might help you in some way. It helped me, and now I consider this book to be amongst my prized possessions.