Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Page Count: 225
You do not write your life with words, the monster said. You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.
I started this book last night and finished it just over an hour ago. I couldn’t write a review right away because there was just so much to process. So I took a shower, thought about it and now here I am.
First of all, before the story even starts we see an Author’s Note from Patrick Ness that talks about the tragic passing of Siobhan Dowd who was another author that died tragically of breast cancer. Siobhan Dowd was the author who had come up with the original idea for the book, but sadly didn’t get to write it. That alone had me feeling pretty depressed and upset. I’m glad Patrick Ness decided to honour her memory by finishing the story for her while not mimicking her writing style, but more so just writing it for her in his own words.
A Monster Calls tells the story of Conor O’Malley, a young boy whose mother is suffering from cancer. While looking out of his bedroom window one night he sees a monster who proceeds to tell Conor that he would tell him three tales and that Conor would provide a fourth and that it must contain “the truth”. We learn that Conor has been having a recurring nightmare and withing that nightmare lies the truth.
This story is so heartbreaking and deep with a lot of symbolism. The line between reality and imagination is blurred and I believe it’s up to the reader to come up with some of their own answers. I generally tend not to like it when authors leave the reader with vague explanations only to have to come up with some sort of answer themselves, but there is always an exception.
We learn a lot about the characters without Patrick Ness having to go in to an extreme amount of detail. The story and its characters tend to unravel themselves as it goes on.
It is hard for me to talk about the ending without going into detail and spoiling it for those who have yet to read it, but I think that Conor’s recurring dream had a huge deeper meaning. He loves his mother with all his heart and it is tough for him to be with her in this state and in the end I think everything was satisfying for himself, for the monster and for his family members.
Overall, this story was extremely meaningful. I can easily see this book becoming part of the English curriculum in high schools if it isn’t already. There is so much that can be discussed about this story and it is definitely worth the read.