Thursday, September 13, 2012

Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

What to say about a book I’d give 10 stars to if I could? Sure, it’s touching, poignant, powerful, and absolutely, gut-wrenchingly heartbreaking, but none of these adjectives properly sum up this book. I don’t think such an adjective exists.

This book had me crying before I even delved into chapter one. I read the author’s introduction and learned that Patrick Ness was asked to write the book after Siobhan Dowd, a fellow YA author who came up with the concept, died prematurely of cancer before she got the chance to write it. That? Is just. Ugh. Seriously.

 The blurb of A Monster Calls, 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.

So I cried. Lots. Gulpy, hiccupy, crying. Super ugly crying that left me with red puffy eyes and forced me to wear sunglasses to the park on an overcast day so that I looked like a hungover mommy. Am I properly conveying to you how much I cried?

It’s the type of book that makes you feel vulnerable and realize how fragile life is and how little control you have over it in the end. It makes you want to hold onto those you love and never let go. I’ve heard it even makes some people climb into their son’s cribs and sleep there for the night. Weird, huh?

Here’s the thing about Patrick Ness: a lot of authors try to convey emotion by using all sorts of fancy metaphors and similes and, let’s be honest, end up coming up a bit short. In A Monster Calls, Ness uses simple language and a quiet, lyrical type of storytelling that conveys raw emotion so amazingly well that it’s like he’s reading my mind and then translating onto paper everything I’ve ever thought about death in a way that I could never have done myself.  

Did I mention it’s illustrated? It is. And they’re absolutely stunning and powerful illustrations. Buy the hardcover for this one. You’ll thank me later.

A Monster Calls is categorized as a contemporary middle grade novel, but this isn’t a book that just children will enjoy. This is a book every single human being can understand, if not relate to. This is a book for anyone who would like to have their still-beating heart ripped from their chest, stomped on repeatedly with spiky-toed six-inch heels, pulverized with a meat tenderizer, and then shot at with an AK-47, only to be put back together in a completely different yet better shape, a shape that makes you feel like sort of like a baby bird emerging from its egg, hopeful and cautious at the same time, and…oh, who am I kidding?

Just read it.


  1.! That good? Okay, I've just bought it. :-)

  2. Thank you! I've been considering buying this, but wasn't sure what to think of it. You just made my decision :)

  3. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. It is amazing, well written, touching and appropriate for so many age levels. Everyone should BUY IT!

  4. Okay, now I really have to go out and get this. I've toyed with the idea long enough and I can think of no better way to spend the weekend than in a weepy puddle. *grabs keys*

  5. I read this a few days ago and it left me sobbing into my newborn's blanket. Such a beautiful, poignant story. I intend to buy my own copy. Thanks for a lovely review!

  6. Oooh this sounds good. Imma definitely read it. Everything else you've suggested I've loved

  7. I'm kind of scared to read this. I'm pregnant and hormonal anyway, and I'm afraid I would be bawling the whole time. I'll save it for post-baby. It sounds beautiful!

  8. *drives to B&N to buy book*

    Yesssssss. Another victim for the TO READ list!