Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster CallsA Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Heartbreaking, beautifully written and absolutely incredible. I loved it from start to finish.

Stories are the wildest things of all, the monster rumbled. Stories chase and bite and hunt.

I picked this up around 11pm one night, intending to read a few chapters before bed. Two hours later my eyelids were starting to droop but there was no way I was going to stop reading. It pulled me into the story completely and just wouldn’t let go. As soon as I finished I wanted to flip to the beginning and start again.

Synopsis (from GoodReads)

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 Thoughts

I’ve previously read the Chaos Walking trilogy and absolutely loved it but a lot of people had told me that A Monster Calls was by far Patrick Ness’s best work to date. I had my doubts, as I’m always suspicious of books with a lot of hype around them, but I have to say the hype is well deserved.

I managed to get a physical copy from the library and it’s definitely worth it if you can get your hands on one. Just holding it and flicking through the pages had me intrigued. The illustrations are beautiful and somehow add something to the story. They make it feel more like a fairytale which, in many ways, it is.

The story itself is captivating. While it is fantastical, it does give a very real and very honest portrayal of a boy whose mother has cancer. I think most people’s life has been touched by cancer or some other kind of long term illness so it’s easy to relate to the emotions that Conor experiences. There were many instances when I was reading with tears running down my face. He’s very much on his own, his father has moved overseas, he doesn’t get on with his Grandmother, his friends at school avoid him and his teachers pity him. To make matters worse he’s having nightmares and is afraid to sleep.

And then late one night the monster comes. I won’t go into the purpose of the monster to the story as it would give away too much but I will say that it was not at all what I expected and yet in many ways it was.

While it is a story about loss, guilt and letting go it is strangely uplifting. There is a very strong message of hope and love that runs through the story. While it did make me cry I also found myself regularly smiling and by the end felt somehow more positive about life. If nothing else it definitely makes you appreciative of what you have.

Patrick Ness’s writing is, as always, beautiful. He has this incredible ability to make the most fantastic and unbelievable things somehow very real and completely believable. I absolutely love how he describes things (and I’m not a fan of a lot of description) but I especially loved the dialogue. Some of the conversations between Conor and the monster are absolute genius.

It’s not a long book and it’s a YA book so it’s an easy read but somehow it feels packed full. I think it’s probably one of those books I’ll re read as I suspect there are things I missed and I want to know them all. It’s definitely a book I’d recommend to everyone.

I have to admit I’m also pretty excited about the film which is due for release this year.


5 thoughts on “Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

  1. I did exactly the same as you! I think I started at 11.30 and I finished at 2.30 a.m., reading in the bathroom so I wouldn’t keep my husband awake! Lucky too, because my crying would certainly have woken him.
    This is such a good book. It’s about as close to perfect as a story can get. The only problem I have is that it was the first book by Ness I read. I’ve read 6 others by him since and while they’ve been very good, none of them have been quite as marvellous as A Monster Calls. He’s set the bar impossibly high for himself! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, great review! This sounds fantastic, and I really need to read it. Also good to know you loved the Chaos Walking trilogy, I’ve just got all 3 from the library and now I’m really excited to read them!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved this book, too. I was listening to the audio in the car and thought I was going to reach the end while still driving and need to pull over, but I was able to go and curl up on my bed with the final couple of chapters. I keep thinking I need to read the physical book as well, because while Jason Isaacs was an amazing narrator, it did mean I missed out on the illustrations.

    Liked by 1 person

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