Sunday, 8 January 2012

Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (From an original idea by Siobhan Dowd)
Published by Walker 2011

This is an extraordinarily moving novel about coming to terms with loss. The monster showed up just 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 nightmare 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, though, is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. 
It wants the truth.
Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final story idea of Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel about coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults.

This book has been on my wish list for a very long time. I went to my school library during lunch on Friday and found that they'd just got this in and I would be the first one to take it out. When I asked the school librarian if I could take it, she said she was somewhat concerned about the content and that I should tell her how it goes when I'm finished. She also told me that it was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal this year (I'd taken the school's Carnegie Shadowing challenge last year). I wasn't even sure if I could write a review of this book. I'm going to try, but this is going to be a pretty hard review.
Conor is struggling to come to terms with his mother's illness. He has nightmares: two of them. One is the nightmare: the worst one of all, the one he can't bare to face. The other features a monster; a terrifying but helpful and wise monster. With the help of this monster, Conor goes through a journey to help him face the real truth: the one inside himself.
This book is simply beautiful; the way it's told is much like the way stories used to be told... the ones with monsters and scared kids and a moral. Conor's stages of grief are painfully mapped out in the pages of this book, and his feelings and actions are part of the truth he will ultimately face. His pain was startlingly evident; it seemed like he was numb, moving through life with this new routine brought on by mother's illness. Ness depicted Conor's feelings very well and I feel as if anyone who has ever truly lost someone will know what Conor is feeling. In that sense, this book is very powerful, full of raw emotion even though Conor came across as numb; you could still clearly see all the emotion inside of him. Beautiful illustrations were done by Jim Kay, featured throughout the book. This for me gave the story quite a vivid feel. The truth that Conor has to face, the real one, is so painful he feels the need to punish himself for it. He needs it. This book is ultimately very sad, full of emotion and the need for understanding. 

I think that's all I can manage to say; well, as much as I can put what I thought of this book into words. You need to read this book, now. Hopefully then my review will make more sense...

5 stars

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