Wednesday 4 May 2011

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Pages - 215

Published by Walker Books on 5th May 2010 ( tomorrow!)

This book was kindly sent to me by the publisher for an honest review.

The monster showed up at midnight. As they do.
Conor was awake when it came.

A monster shows up at Conor's house in the middle of the night. However it is not the monster Conor is expecting. He believed the one from his nightmare would show up; the one he has had every night since his mother began her treatment for cancer.
This monster is something completely different. It is wild and has been around since ancient times. It wants something from Conor that he is not quite ready to give away. The truth.

If you are not aware about how this book came to be, then please keep reading. The original idea for the story belonged to Siobhan Dowd, who died of cancer in 2007, her premature death prevented her from finishing the book. This would have been her fifth book and she left behind the characters, the idea behind the story and the beginning of it.  The story was handed over to Patrick Ness to complete.

I have yet to read any of Siobhan Dowd's books, so I cannot compare the story to her style of writing; having said that Patrick Ness has stated that he did not write the book attempting to mimick her voice. He took her legacy and wrote it in his own unique style.

I was one of those readers who absolutely loved The Chaos Walking Trilogy and I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book. My initial response was amazement as it really is a thing of beauty.  The cover, the design and the drawings created by Jim Kay, just bring this book into a complete category of its own. I cannot stop staring at it.  All the illustrations are in black and white and they just add to the haunting nature of the book.

The story itself is an unbelievable roller coaster of feelings that rips your heart out and leaves you emotionally in tatters by the end. Never has a story affected me so much that I still want to cry over it two weeks after reading it. I am not sure if I am happy with Patrick Ness's ability to make me cry so often. This is the second time he has written a book that has left me as a blubbering wreck. ( Manchee! I say no more!). He is just an amazing author whose words leave me speechless.

On being introduced to Conor, the main character of the book, you will instantly want to take him into your arms and wipe away his tears, praying that you can make it all better for him. The alienation he suffers at school, is heartbreaking, yet so realistically true and I have seen it happen so many times. He is singled out as being different because of his mother's illness. No one wants to talk to him about it, they just want to talk about him. Why is it when someone is suffering from a life deteriorating disease, we feel the need to talk about them and their family, rather than speaking to them directly? Can we not deal with human frailty? This book makes you look at your own responses to terminal illness.

I can remember being Conor's age and witnessing older members of my family suffering in a similar way, so I can understand Conor's difficulties in coming to terms with his feelings over the whole situation. His guilt must ring true through every one's minds when dealing with a long term illness of a loved one.

The monster in this book is really quite exceptional and I can't say anymore for fear of spoiling the story. He evoked strong emotions within me.

The book is rather deceiving and very clever disguised, as on viewing the cover, I was expecting a book completely different to the one I read. I was expecting a rather dark Gothic tale full of horror, and yet what I received left me with dread as it was just so real and so true. It was a beautifully written, poignant, gut wrenching read. That is all I will say on the matter as I don't want to be the one that spoils it for you. You have to read it. If you read just one Young Adult book this year, then make sure it is this one.

For any teenager or even adult suffering from grief, this is an ideal book to help you come to terms with your feelings. An enchanting book that takes your breath away. The concept, the style, the words and the illustrations - all just stunning.

One of the hardest things to come to terms with whilst reading the book, is dealing with the fact that the story came from a truth. Siobhan Dowd wrote her ideas and storyline whilst undergoing chemotherapy, so it will bring tears to your eyes as you realise she knew how the story would end.

On reading this book, be prepared with a box of tissues. Be aware that Conor's story will stay with you long after you put it down.

If you want to read the first extract from  the book then please click here to read it at The Mountains of Instead. There is also an awesome interview with Patrick Ness too. The next stop on the blog tour will be ...... here on Friday! Squee!


  1. Come on, Amazon! You know you want to ship my copy today! I will DEFINITELY keep tissues at hand. A lovely review, Vivienne.

  2. This sounds really good, off to add it to my wish list. Great review!

  3. It's brilliant isn't it? The man's a genius!

  4. oh manchee!! I can't wait to read this, I love Patrick Ness' work. Great review too :-)

  5. Oh Vivienne, you're killing me!!!! Want. This. Now. (It's on its way!) But damn, if this book makes me cry even more than TKONLG...oh my.

  6. Nymeth - you will need those tissues!

    Dot - you will love it!

    Sya - that is most definitely the best way to describe him. Genius.

    Mummazappa - Thank you. Did Manchee make you cry too. LOL

    Debi - sorry, really sorry, but you are gonna love it. Just keep your tissues handy.

  7. I bet I would sob through that whole book.

  8. This will definitely be being brought next month (one new book a month). Patrick Ness make me cry loads in the Chaos Walking trilogy, so this one is cound to.

    You really have to read Dowd, A Certain Slant of Light is great

  9. OMG - I wanted to read this book before but after that review I NEEEED to read it!

  10. Wow! This sounds like a must-read, Vivienne. Terrific review! I'm adding this one to my TBR skyscraper.

  11. Great review! I did not know about this book, and since I do like his style I am very interested

  12. oh wow, I'd be reading this and crying.

  13. God, I hope this book comes out in America tomorrow too! It sounds amazing!

  14. Wow, this sounds incredible. :D I loved your review - Made me really want to go out and buy it.

  15. Gosh I think I am going to have to read it - brilliant review :D

  16. I saw this book yesterday while browsing on Amazon. I think I saw it at Borders too. So good!

  17. Great review. It is a wonderful book, and the illustrations are so beautiful too.

    I think you are right, knowing that Dowd was going through treatment for cancer, just like the mother in the book adds another level to it :(

    I've read one book by her, A Swift Pure Cry, but I didn't love it. Although I did think some parts of it were very beautifully written. Will have to read more by her when I get a chance.

  18. I loved everything about this book. Amazing it is.


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