Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster CallsAuthor: Patrick Ness
Genre: Paranormal, Horror
Pages: 215
Published: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Candlewick
Rating: 5/5 Stars

"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." ~Goodreads
 When I picked up A Monster Calls I figured it would be the perfect Halloween read.  I mean, monsters, hello!  I new that this was supposed to be a sad story as well, but I assumed (incorrectly) that it was more of a thriller than anything else.  After finishing this book, I can promise you that while it is a horror story, the horror here lies in the real life problems that the main character, Conor, is dealing with.  He is bullied at school, abandoned by his father, largely ignored by his grandmother and on top of everything else he is dealing with his mother's cancer.  That's a lot for a kid to deal with.  Then the monster starts showing up.

  • The legacy of the book: The idea for this book was originally thought up by Siobhan Dowd.  Unfortunately she passed away from cancer before the idea could come to fruition.  Although Ness and Dowd had not known each other personally, he was a huge fan of her work.  So, when he was asked to write the book he did so with the utmost love and respect.  One of the reasons that this book is such a masterpiece is because Ness was memorializing and celebrating Dowd in its writing.  This makes the story all the more touching.
  • The realism: Again, this story is less about a monster and more about Conor's internal struggle with his mother's cancer.  However, that doesn't mean that the story is sappy.  The emotions are so raw and real that it is impossible not to feel totally immersed in Conor's grief.
  • The monster: The monster is such a dynamic character.  He is a terror but he is also a nuturer.  He is not only there to scare Conor, he is also there to teach him and to help him.  At the end of the day, it is the monster who makes Conor look at his true feelings and come to terms with his mother's potential fate.
  • The illustrations: Jim Kay's amazing illustrations complement the story without overshadowing it.  They are both terrifying and melancholy.  While the story stands on its own, the book would not be the same without these wonderful pieces.
  • All the feels: Especially during the last third of the book I just could not stop crying.  It takes a lot for a book to make me cry and this one just would not let up.  I suggest having a jumbo pack of Kleenex on stand-by if you are planning to read this one.


Absolutely nothing.  I can't think of a single thing that I didn't love about this book.  You've stumped me Patrick Ness. Well played, sir.

This book is, in a word, flawless.  If you are looking for a different kind of heartfelt read with just a little creepiness, this is your book.  If you aren't crying by the end, you may want to have your tear ducts checked out, there could be a problem.  From, idea to plot to writing and illustrations this book is incredibly well-formed.  I know it will have a place of honor on my shelf for years to come.


  1. I've heard that this one is amazing. I can't wait to read it.

  2. I LOVED The Chaos Walking series by this author. I really need to check this one out too. Glad you enjoyed it!

    ~Sara @ Forever 17 Books

  3. I keep reading reviews about how great this book is! I definitely have to read this soon! Thanks for a review!(: