A Monster Calls


Reviewed by Sabine

In this novel, A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness beautifully captures the immense grief and responsibility that weigh upon the shoulders of Conor, a young boy whose mother is ill. Conor is visited by a monster, who instills in him three lessons in the form of stories. When the three stories are told, Conor must tell one of his own that exposes the truth he has been trying to hide. This story leaves its readers at the edge of their seats, with teary eyes. At first glance, A Monster Calls, would appear to be a typical horror story, but in reality it is more than that. It explores the mind of someone who is facing real terror. The terror of losing a significant loved one.  It explores pain, guilt, and grief. It explores denial. When the reader reaches the end of the story, they will not be happy, but the ending is important; it is moving. It will touch their heart in ways they could not have imagine and make the reader think of losing a loved one or a loved one already lost.

Ness beautifully articulates the pain Conor feels watching his ill mother’s condition worsen. His way with words will incite emotion within the reader. Ness uses many literary devices within the entire novel which is a metaphor within itself.

To accompany the writing, A Monster Calls features frequent illustrations. These illustrations are also filled with beauty and emotion that capture the mood of the story. In essence, they are dark.

Although vastly entertaining, this is and is not a quick and easy read. Quantitatively, this book is not very long, but it is layered with quality meaning and depth. It dives into a layer anger, grief, and pain that can not be found in most other books, only in our real lives. This book does not spark any happiness either, but rather raw painful emotion. This book can be read by any age and any gender. It could be of interest to children, young adults, and adults. The monster could draw the attention of the children. The coming of age aspect of this novel could interest teens and young adults that are looking for quick, but insightful novel. The deeper meaning and emotion that this book is layered with could draw the attention of adults who are looking for a short but deep read.

Do not read this book, however, if you are looking for a light read or a fantasy novel. This is not close to either. The shortness deceives the reader into believing this book is easy to read. The name and images depicted make the reader believe that this could be a novel about a villainous monster that the protagonist might have to slay.

All in all, this book is good to read if you are looking for a short but deep book that explores topics that are not always easy to think or talk about. It offers insight into grief that is hard to find. It features beautiful illustrations. It is definitely a book that you should read.

Check out A Monster Calls at the Newport Beach Public Library