Monday, April 14, 2014

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don't quite seem to be working. 
But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there's a visitor at his window. It's ancient, elemental,  a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.

Star Rating 

Having recently read (and absolutely loved) 'More Than This' by Patrick Ness I was thrilled to find this beautiful copy of 'A Monster Calls' for a mere £1.99 in an underrated UK shop called 'The Works'.
First of all I should mention this absolutely amazing front cover with some of the best typography I have seen on a book for a long time. Yes I know you shouldn't choose a book by it's cover but just look at it!!! 

Although written by Patrick Ness, the idea for this book came from the late Siobhan Dowd. In his author's note Patrick explains 'I felt - and feel - as if I've been handed a baton, like a particularly fine writer has handed me her story and said, "Go. Run with it. Make trouble." So that's what I tried to do.'

'A Monster Calls' is the heartbreaking tale of Conor, a thirteen-year-old schoolboy whose father left for America with his new family and whose mother is dying of cancer. Because of this, Conor has had to grow up fast and be the man of the house, 'I'm here because thirteen-year-old boys shouldn't be wiping down counters without being asked to first.' One night, Conor is woken from his usual nightmare by a monster at his window. The monster visits Conor at the same time every night and comes with a mission - to tell Conor three stories and when those stories are told to listen to a final fourth tale that will be told by Conor himself. 

'You will tell me the fourth tale. You will tell me the truth. (If you don't) then I will eat you alive!'

It becomes clear to the reader that the monster has come to help Conor through a particularly difficult time in his life. Through the three tales the monster shares with Conor he slowly enables him to come to terms with what is happening to his mother and bring forth the truth. Patrick Ness' skill as a writer is to make the reader empathise, wholeheartedly, with Conor as we gain an insight into the aggression, fear and confusion he has bottled up inside him. Conor was to me exactly what I would expect any young boy losing his mother to be. The characterisation was completely believable and it is this that makes the book so heartbreakingly powerful! 

'A Monster Calls' has one of the most heart wrenching endings I have read and will stay with me a long time after reading. The ending was neither shocking or unexpected but it was real. Patrick Ness has succeeded in combining painful truths with hope and the courage it takes to survive the difficulties we face in life.

'This is why I came walking, to tell you this so that you may heal. You must listen. You do not write your life with words, you write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.'

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