A Monster Calls is a story by Patrick Ness inspired by an idea Siobhan Dowd had before she died. Patrick Ness took Siobhan’s idea and ran with it and has created a beautiful, unique story.
Just after midnight, a monster visits Conor. It’s something ancient and wild. But Conor is dealing with so much in his life at the moment - bullies, his mum’s illness, his annoying gran coming to stay - that maybe the monster isn’t that scary.
I really enjoyed this book. It was emotional without being mawkish and dealt with grief and acceptance in a relatable way, interweaving Conor’s everyday life with fairytale stories that help him deal with the stuff he’s going through. I actually listened to it as an audiobook, so I missed out on the amazing illustrations and I think this media might have impeded a little of the emotional delivery.
Conor is one of those characters who really grabs you - he’s dealing with awful stuff in literally every aspect of his life. His dad has moved to America, his Gran (who he doesn’t get on with) has moved in and his mum’s cancer treatment just seems to be taking forever to work. School offers no escape - he constantly dodges the school bullies and the teachers who give him pitying looks. Even his sleep is plagued with nightmares.
A Monster Calls has some really ideas about what constitutes a monster and how some people are dealing with such scary things in their lives that a monster made of an old yew tree might not be that frightening in comparison
Unlike pretty much everyone else I’ve spoken to, I didn’t cry. Maybe I’m cold and hard (in fact, I know I am) but I could see Conor’s denial and kind of saw where the story was going. I was still a very emotional journey, though.