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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls

by Patrick Ness

Other authors: Siobhan Dowd (Author), Jim Kay (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (185)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (189)
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Conor's mother is not well: since her treatments started, she's lost all her hair, she's always feeling tired and often throws up. But Conor doesn't want help, especially not his grandma's, with whom he doesn't get on, and not his dad's, who now lives in America with his new family. So Conor looks after his mum, and doesn't tell her that he has the same nightmare nearly every night, that he's getting bullied at school, and that the teachers reserve a special treatment for him because they can't imagine what he "must be going through". Then one night a monster shows up at his house, but it's not the one from his nightmare, and as they gradually develop a rapport, Conor realises why it has come ...

I loved the idea of stories being wild and untamed, causing trouble and not behaving as they should, making the listener think and reflect. This is one of them: a story that defies your expectations and challenges your preconceptions. It is a fairly mature book in terms of subject matter, probably not suitable for anyone under the age of 11 owing to its harrowing nature dealing with death, grief and bereavement. It is all very sensitively written, with great psychological insight, yet at the same time leaves nothing to the imagination, and Conor’s struggle, especially at the end, cuts deep to the heart. I can see how this book could be very beneficial to someone undergoing a similar bereavement as the one described in the book: Conor’s feelings of being isolated and invisible, helplessness and guilt, getting special treatment from the teachers and being singled out by bullies at school because of his mother; the things the adults tell Conor all ring true as well: grown-ups resorting to white lies and platitudes because they feel that this is what the child needs to hear, avoiding telling the truth, or maybe because they themselves are feeling helpless being faced with the death of a loved one.

The story is enhanced by the most extraordinary illustrations by Jim Kay; wonderfully atmospheric and eerie, they’re like small pieces of art.

This is not an easy read, and definitely not the usual Young Adult fiction one is used to, but an example of powerful and impressive storytelling nonetheless. Recommended. ( )
  passion4reading | Apr 3, 2015 |
The cover of "A Monster Calls" might make a person think it belongs in the horror genre but it's far from it. Keep your tissues handy as you read this book but by all means read it. A young boy's mother is dying from cancer and he calls on an ancient power to save her. The "help" he receives is a bit like the ripping off of a band-aid, so painful but necessary. I don't want to say too much because the moment the boy learns the Monster's true purpose was one of my favorite parts of the book. I discovered it as he did and felt it's power. Some books you read and truly feel the magic. This was one of those. ( )
1 vote 4Sherilyn | Mar 31, 2015 |
i don't want to blast a really good book like this. so, i won't. but i will still make some critical comments about it.

i liked that the monster was real. i think. no matter, it felt real and was described realistically to good effect. at times, i got the monster viscerally and it was creepy and foreboding. the use of ancient myths and deities that are usually off the beaten path allowed the reality of it to blossom more than using a mythos we're more familiar with would have.

the boy's relationships with his grandmother, his friend Lily, his mother, and his schoolmates are counterpointed nicely from his encounters with the monster in the dark. even his dealings with the bullies seem bright and full of light compared to the monster visits. a tug of war ensues between these two worlds and the boy faces fears and attempts to squirm away from realities.

so, the story is told fairly well and could be of great help to anyone (but most especially a child or adolescent) going through a loved one's struggle with cancer. the ultimate and most private truth the boy harbors lurks near the heart of all our grief and might be a surprise or revelation to many.

my problems with this book are really minor but they do keep it from being a great book, i think. the monster falters at least once in talking about Deep Things because the author himself is out of his depth at that point. shouldn't write beyond what you know. also, some of the dialog especially near the end of the book is repetitive, annoying, and unrefined as if the author was rushing or trying to add tension/heighten anxiety through manic writing. there were other, more pedantic problems that i won't mention but added together weighted the book down from flying into the realm of Gaiman's Graveyard Book.

however, these detracting points do not mean it's not a good book in it's own right. several times it moved me to tears from sadness, hopelessness, but also from the joy of friendship and power of love. ( )
  keebrook | Mar 10, 2015 |
so I started this at midnight yesterday (today?). I knew I was probably going to stay up reading this, but it's the end of Daylight Savings Time, so I get an extra hour, so I was like "what the heck, no better time than the present!" But, unlike all my fellow Goodreadserians, I didn't think I was going to cry, because I almost never cry. Even [b:Wonder|23302416|Wonder|R.J. Palacio|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1412358842s/23302416.jpg|16319487] only elicited a few stragglers from the robot that is Yours Truly.


2 hours later, I look in the mirror and my eyes are swollen and red and just looking at myself makes me to laugh, which transforms into another sob. And snot is dripping out my nose, and tears are running down my face.

so that's why I hate [a:Patrick Ness|370361|Patrick Ness|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1244216486p2/370361.jpg] now.

but seriously, [b:A Monster Calls|8621462|A Monster Calls|Patrick Ness|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1387584864s/8621462.jpg|13492114] taught me that you need to hold on tight before you can let go. and it tore me apart and put me back together again and told me that I didn't have to say that Beanie (my dog) had all those problems and it would be better to put him down than let him die a slow and painful death, because I didn't want him to die. and I never did. and it's okay to be selfish like that. and after I came to terms with that, I found that I could think about him without crying like I usually do.

this book is so special, and I thank Ness and [a:Siobhan Dowd|80760|Siobhan Dowd|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1247239788p2/80760.jpg] for writing this.

but I still hate Ness. ( )
  IsaboeOfLumatere | Jan 14, 2015 |
It started with a dream, or rather a nightmare. And then, the monster came to visit. Each time he came, Conor doubted whether he was real or not, but each morning he would find evidence that it wasn't all just in his imagination. The monster does not scare Conor because there are bigger and more frightening demons he is fighting. To his surprise this monster will share with him three stories and in return, Conor must share one truth of his own. This one truth will be demand every ounce of courage and strength that Conor has to muster.

I was forewarned that I would need a tissue or two after finishing this book. People were right. A story about a boy coming to terms with loss, with grief, with guilt, and with letting go is doubly powerful with the compliments of raw, dark, and visceral illustrations. This is a must read for anyone and I would echo the advice given to me - be ready to whip out those tissues. ( )
  jolerie | Dec 16, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 185 (next | show all)
"... it’s powerful medicine: a story that lodges in your bones and stays there." “A Monster Calls” is a gift from a generous story­teller and a potent piece of art.
added by RBeffa | editNew York Times, Jessica Bruder (Oct 14, 2011)
The power of this beautiful and achingly sad story for readers over the age of 12 derives not only from Mr. Ness's capacity to write heart-stopping prose but also from Jim Kay's stunning black-ink illustrations. There are images in these pages so wild and ragged that they feel dragged by their roots from the deepest realms of myth.
It's also an extraordinarily beautiful book. Kay's menacing, energetic illustrations and the way they interact with the text, together with the lavish production values, make it a joy just to hold in your hand. If I have one quibble, it is with a line in the introduction where Ness says the point of a story is to "make trouble". It seems to me he has done the opposite here. He's produced something deeply comforting and glowing with – to use a Siobhan Dowd word – solace. The point of art and love is to try to shortchange that grim tax collector, death. Ness, Dowd, Kay and Walker have rifled death's pockets and pulled out a treasure. Death, it seems, is no disqualification.

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick Nessprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dowd, SiobhanAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kay, JimIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abarbanell, BettinaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Awards and honors
You're only young once, they say, but doesn't it go on for a long time? More years than you can bear.
Hilary Mantel, An Experiment in Love
For Siobhan (Dowd)
First words
The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.
I never got to meet Siobhan Dowd. (Author's Note)
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary
The monster tells tales
That don't behave and Conor
Accepts a hard truth.

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Thirteen-year-old Conor awakens one night to find a monster outside his bedroom window, but not the one from the recurring nightmare that began when his mother became ill--an ancient, wild creature that wants him to face truth and loss.

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