Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

The monster showed up 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…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

My Rating: 5 cupcakes
A Monster Calls
is an unflinchingly honest story. It talks about our darkest, innermost secrets and how we leave certain things unsaid because we’re afraid that speaking them aloud will make them real. It speaks of guilt, responsibility, grief, and loss. Most importantly, it speaks about love, and just how difficult it is to let go.

As many reviewers have mentioned, you really must read the paper copy of this book so that you don’t miss out on the beautiful, dark, and sometimes haunting illustrations that accompany this story. They were done by the incredibly talented Jim Kay, and some samples can be found on his website.

Coner is a character that everyone can relate to, whether they’ve been in the same situation as him or not. He feels invisible, misunderstood, angry, and confused. His complete belief and hope in his mother’s recovery was both inspiring and heartbreaking, and there were many times where I just wanted to reach into the book and hug him.

I just loved the monster. To me, he was the embodiment of truth: paradoxical in all ways, and not always the easiest to face. As the yew tree, the monster was both capable of healing (through the treatment) and harming (through the poisonous berries) an individual. It was able to show Coner difficult and confusing truths about the world itself: that good and evil aren’t as clear-cut as we’d like to imagine; that sometimes being seen is worse than being invisible; that stories are incredibly important; that sometimes it’s easier to lie to ourselves than to face the truth. Most importantly, though, the monster showed Coner the truth that he had been hiding from himself, and how his thoughts are just that: thoughts.

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.

A Monster Calls is something that everyone should read, whether they’ve experienced loss or not. We cannot all have a monster calling our name to teach us important truths, which is why this story is so important: it’s beautiful, powerful, heart-wrenching, and healing. It reminds us to treasure every moment, to love fiercely, and to forgive both ourselves and those around us.  It’s a story that touched me personally, and will resonate with me for quite some time.

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