A Monster Calls
by Patrick Ness
Public Library e-book from Overdrive/
Library book from Junior Library Guild
[#5 in my 75 Book Challenge]
“There is not always a good guy. Nor is there always a bad one. Most people are somewhere in between.”
Oh. My. Goodness. Everyone has been talking about this one, and now I see why. Featured on Newbery and Printz hopeful lists, A Monster Calls packs a big punch in a short novel. It made me cry.
This is a story about grief, loss, loneliness, pain, and anger. The main character, Conor, is living with with his very sick mother. At night he has a recurring nightmare and he won’t speak what it’s about. He’s haunted by a monster in his dream, but he also becomes haunted by a monster in reality — the yew tree in the yard comes to Conor’s window. The Monster then tells three tales, and expects a fourth. He expects the truth, and the truth is never as simple as good vs. evil or right vs. wrong…as much as we might want it to be, that’s not how the world works.
This is a story that does things you won’t expect.
As I was reading, I could never predict what was going to happen. I thought I knew where Ness was going, what the moral might be, but then there’d be a twist or a moment that surprised me. Finally, I just had to read. Keep reading. Read to find the message in the story.There’s really no good way to describe the story. I’m struggling to create words that can explain it, but I’m falling short. The best I can do is offer this YouTube trailer, created by the publisher, to give you the basic story, mood, and tone of the tale:
Final Grade: A+ (OH. SNAP.)
The kicker: I think it’s better than Okay For Now, at least on a few levels. Equal on all levels. I’d recommend it to everyone. I’ve been gushing about Okay for Now winning the Newbery for months, but now I’m not so sure. We’ll know soon enough. All of the ALA Youth Media Awards will be announced on January 23, and I can’t wait to see what they decide.
Note: The original story was the creation of Siobhan Dowd, an author who died of breast cancer at 47. This fact added even more emotional impact to the story, in my opinion.