Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dual Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
My Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

This review contains spoilers. Although I have kept the more major parts of this story out, I have still included some prominent scenes that are best read along with the whole book.

" Stories don't always have happy endings....."

I wasn't sure what kind of story A Monster Calls would be when I picked it up. All I knew was that several of my GoodReads friends raved about it and that was good enough for me. Assuming that it was probably some kind of horror/YA hybrid, I jumped right in.
Fast forward to the last 3 pages of the book and here I was:

Why me? Pictures, Images and Photos

About half way through the book I started to peruse some of the GR reviews and realized this definitely wasn't going to be the type of book I thought it would be. It's obvious that this story brings about very intense emotions to it's readers depending on their individual life experience. I've been fortunate enough in my life that I have not lost a close family member at a young age. However, this book definitely invoked feelings in me that were uncomfortable, sad, angry, distraught and more.

This is the story of a 13-year old boy named Conor whose mother has cancer. He is an only child who rarely sees his father who lives in the States. While his mother is undergoing chemo, Conor starts to have a nightmare.  A very, very bad nightmare. The gist of the nightmare is not revealed until the end of the story.
One night, Conor receives a visit from The Monster.

" The monster stood in his yard, looking right at him......'OPEN UP', the monster said, it's voice as clear as if the window wasn't between them. ' I WANT TO TALK TO YOU' "

Side Note #1: The illustrations in the book are amazing. I've been told that the paperback has more pictures than the ebook but this pic from my Nook shows the brilliance of Jim McKay.

Side Note#2: The time 12:07 plays a prominent role throughout the book. I finished this book on Saturday afternoon at .............yep, 12:07. At which point I freaked the fuck out and had to be sedated.

Back to the book....Conor has an ongoing problem at school with bullying. He also has figured out that everyone now knows about his mother because of an error in judgement from his friend, Lily. She told a friend about Conor and it spread to everyone after that, resulting in Conor being treated differently, almost invisible. What transpires at school is heartbreaking and infuriating. He lashes out at Lily and ends up completely alone. Towards the end of the book, Conor receives a note in class from Lily that says:

"I'm sorry for telling everyone about your mum
I miss being your friend
Are you okay?
I see you!"

That scene destroyed me.I was a complete wreck and at the same time couldn't have loved Lily more.

The Monster continues to visit Conor to tell him three different stories. Each one which will eventually help Conor process the circumstances of his life.

" 'There is not always a good guy. Nor is there always a bad one. Most people are somewhere in between., the Monster said'."

 As this was a short book it is hard to relay some of the most profound moments of the book without giving things away. At times,  I hated the grandma, the dad and even the mom. But in the end, I loved all of them for what they were.
Not flawless but flawed. Like all of us.
In the end, I realized that this wasn't just a story about loss. It was a story about a sad, lonely and confused boy who had to deal with too much, too soon. In the end, it was also about a boy who let go of all of these things and forgave himself and the people who love him with the help of a big, scary monster.
This is an incredibly beautiful story and one of the best written novels I have ever read. The last ten pages alone border on perfection. It is sad, funny, disgusting, frustrating and just plain lovely.

This is a dual review with Samina at Escapism from Reality as part of a new series of  buddy reviews from the girls at:

Please check out Samina's blog for a different perspective on


  1. Great review Heather. I don't think I did justice to this beautiful pieice of literature as much as you did.

    Check my post here

  2. Oh, thanks Samina. This was a hard review for me to write. I had to process it for a few days. We need to do this again.

  3. Sounds interesting. And I love the artwork. I'll have to check this out.

    Awesome review, Heather!

  4. Cat- you should totally check this one out.

    HeatherJay - I struggled with this review too. I was simply lost for words.
    I enjoyed this buddy read too.We should team up n do this again.


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