Author Patrick Ness
Publisher Walker Books
Publication Date September 27th 2011
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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.
I typically don’t read young adult unless it is in the form of Harry Potter. However, a new-to-me young adult book usually gets me out of a reading slump and A Monster Calls was my pick up of choice. It is a depressing book, dealing with the impending death of a child’s mother, but “happy books” have never been my jam.
Unlike The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Patrick Ness does not pussyfoot around the topic of death. It may not be center stage in the plot but it is always looming in the corner and never let’s you forget its presence. However, it does so on a child-like level but still makes the dire situation clear. Despite being child-like it was not dumbed down and puts a higher respect towards a child’s comprehension.
This book was a story within a story when “the monster” comes calling. The stories told by the yew tree were interesting, although the presentation was reminiscent of the grandpa reading The Princess Bride to his sick grandson. Unfortunately, it didn’t work as well and prefered reading of Conor’s reality. The plot was held together better than Conor’s dreamland and didn’t see a cohesive pattern to the tales told by the old yew tree. Conor’s waking world was raw and did need the distraction but I didn’t find the flow to be a smooth one.
Overall, this is a beautifully told story, and while tragic had a satisfying ending that will break one’s heart.