July 1, 2011

Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd
Publisher: Candlewick Press


The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming... The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

Costa Award winner Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final idea of much-loved Carnegie Medal winner Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel of coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults.
My Thoughts

Ok I'll admit that I didn't know a lot about this book before I read it.  I knew it was by Patrick Ness, and I love Patrick Ness, so I wanted to read it.  I also knew that he wrote it based on a story idea of Siobhan Dowd.  Otherwise I didn't know much about what it was suppose to be about.  I, wrongly, assumed it was a scary book.  Well ok it's a scary book, but not about the kind of monsters that normally scare us in books and movies.  The monster in this book, the real monster is much much worse. 

Instead of the book I was expecting, I was drawn into a story that grabbed a hold of me with both hands and didn't let go.  And at times that hold was directly on my heart.  I won't lie, there were parts of this book that were hard for me to read because it hurt my heart (even now as I'm typing this I feel how I felt while I was reading it).  But even at those parts I was compelled to read on.  Why?  Why do that to myself?  I had to be there with and for the main character Conor.  It would've felt wrong to abandon him.  I had to be there with him as he faced the monster in front of him.  As I saw where one monster was leading him right up to the face of another, much worse, monster.  As the reader I knew what was coming, and I could only stand there helpless as I watch him have to face that monster and try to survive. 

Along with facing that monster, Conor also learns some other lessons told in three stories that seem confusing and frustrating to him.  But it is these three stories help Conor face that last monster and the truth that lives within it.  As an adult I was reminded about lessons life has taught me throughout my years.  Lessons that are good to remember even though they were hard ones to learn.

I liked this book.  I really really did.  I has stuck with him in a very personally way.  Some books just so perfectly tell a story you know in your heart.  This one did that for me.  I didn't get the book I expected, but I really think I got the book I needed.  Thank you Patrick Ness for telling Siobhan Dowd's story and telling it so well.

Final thought:  The monsters in this book were far scarier than ones that just go bump in the night
Best stick-with-you image:  More a thought:  sometimes being seen is what you think you want but it might not be
Best for readers who: Can handle a more serious story.  This isn't a story I'd hand to any kid.
Best for ages:  Are at least 11 but really it would depend on the maturity of the child


  1. I have this one on my shelf--I am waiting until later in the summer. I have a feeling I will love it and not want to put it down!

  2. Need to read this one! It's been on my radar for months, but it will probably wait a couple more with my reading schedule...

  3. It sounds amazing! And even though I still haven't read Patrick Ness, this one is on my absolutely-must-get-wishlist. Great review!