Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd

Posted by Simcha 8:55 PM, under | 6 comments


When I came across a copy of A Monster Calls I was hesitant about getting it. I had heard great things about the book but I also heard that it packs a real emotional punch and I wasn't sure if I was up to being punched, but I decided to chance it anyways.

When a monster appears in Conor O'Malley's yard one night, Conor is not afraid. He has other things in his life that are scarier, such as the cancer that's slowly killing his mother and the terrifying, reoccurring nightmare of falling. So when the yew tree in the backyard turns into a gigantic, wide mouthed monster, Conor stands his ground.

    Conor O'Malley, it said, a huge gust of warm compost-smelling breath rushing through Conor's window, blowing his hair back. Its voice rumbled lowed and low and loud with a vibration so deep Conor could feel it in his chest. 
    I have come to get you Conor O'Malley, the monster said, pushing against the house, shaking the pictures off Conor's walls, sending books and electronic gadgets and an old stuffed toy rhino tumbling to the floor. 
    A monster, Conor thought. A real, honest-to-goodness monster. In real, waking life. Not in a dream, but here, at his window. Come to get him. But Conor didn't run. In fact, he found he wasn't even frightened. All he could feel, all he had felt since the monster reveled itself, was a growing disappointment. Because this wasn't the monster he was expecting. 
    “So come and get me then,” he said.

To his surprise, the monster announces that he is going to tell Connor three stories, after which Connor will have to share his own story with the monster. Conor has no intention of telling his story but is willing to listen to the stories the monster has for him. Except that these stories are strange and confusing, never ending the way that Conor expects. 

A Monster Calls is a short but powerful story that fairly vibrates with the emotions of its protagonist, Conor O'Malley. Connor is full of anger and fear, which the monster begins to help him express, sometimes with frightening results. But even with the monster at his side Conor's fears continue to close in on him as his mother's condition worsens and the adults in his life fail to provide the support that he needs. It's only Harry, with his daily bullying, that satisfies Conor's need for recognition, and eventually even that comes to an end.

I will admit that the ending left me a bit choked up and if I were the type to cry over a book this one would have had me grabbing for the tissues. There were none of the punches that I was braced for but Conor's feelings of sadness, loneliness and anger are so vivid and easy to relate to that I felt emotionally rung out when I turned the last page. Though at the end it was the unexpected relationship between Conor and his monster that touched me the most. 

The book is also peppered with fantastically dramatic black and white drawings which really intensified the atmosphere of the story.



Highly recommended for readers of all ages.

6 comments:

The trailer is what got me hooked on the idea of this book. This is one book I'll definitely be checking out in the future! Great, well-written review.

I did like what Patrick Ness wrote in..the knife book ;). So I would like to see if he is just as good here

I'm well excited to read this, and I don't know why it's taken me so long! I love Patrick Ness A LOT. But my library is just taking forever to get the book in, and I'm reluctant to buy it sight unseen.

Cass: I haven't seen the for this book but now I'm curious about it. I'll have to go look it up.

Blodeuedd: A monster Calls is different from his knife series but very good. The idea for the book was Siobhan Dowd's but she never got around to writing it so Ness did so in her memory.

Jenny: This is definitely your kind of book. I hope you get a hold of it soon.

I so need this book! I was curious and now I must have it. :)

I've heard nothing but great things about this book and I'm under the impression that I would really like it. I just need to go get it. Thanks for the wonderful review.

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