A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd
Author: Patrick Ness. Website|Twitter. Siobhan Dowd. Website
Published: 2 February 2012 (Walker Books)
Book Depository: paperback
Source: Borrowed from library.
Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
I read The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness a little while ago and so I was excited to read something else by him. The story behind this book is quite interesting, as the original idea came from Siobhan Dowd, who sadly never got a chance to write the book before losing her fight against cancer. Patrick Ness has then taken her idea and crafted it into his own take on the story.
A Monster Calls tells the story of Conor, who is repeatedly visited by a monster at 12.07 who insists on telling him stories. Alongside his visits from the monster he must deal with his ill mother, absent father and school bullies.
It's really quite hard to sum up this book because everything about it is so magnificent. The concept is absolutely brilliant, as Conor's visits from the monster echo what is happening around him and reflect the emotions he's feeling at the time. The stories the monster tells Conor a fairy tale/fable quality to them which gave a sort of magical twist to the book. Conor doesn't always like them and starts to seek out the hidden meaning in each one, as he battles his own demons.
Conor's mother is ill, and throughout the book we see how this has affected his life. He doesn't seem himself as the victim, and the sort of attention and special privileges his mother's illness has given him are baffling to Conor. There's some really poignant moments between him and his mum, as well as the other family members around him. The book really focuses on family and how people cope in difficult situations.
The writing itself was just beautiful, and the magical, imaginative quality the story has was completely captivating. The story is accompanied by a stunning range of illustrations that really help bring the book to life. The length and layout of the book would make it accessible to younger readers, as well, who would definitely get something out of reading this story. It deals with the topics of death and grief in a truly unique way. The messages are threaded throughout what it an entertaining story, with enough wit to lighten the tone just when it's needed.
I think it's fair to say I was blown away by this book. It's definitely worth the praise and awards it has received so far. A beautiful story of life and death, and how to battle those fears inside all of us.
What to read next: Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd
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