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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls (edition 2011)

by Patrick Ness, Jim Kay (Illustrator)

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2,1052333,129 (4.39)255
Title:A Monster Calls
Authors:Patrick Ness
Other authors:Jim Kay (Illustrator)
Info:Candlewick (2011), Edition: 1, Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

  1. 50
    The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (kaledrina)
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    Ciruelo: Each book features a young adult facing a crisis and helped through this time by a supernatural being.
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    Jellaby by Kean Soo (elenchus)
    elenchus: A Monster Calls and Jellaby share a similar premise, as well as thematic concerns with isolation and childhood depression. They're each illustrated, but the words are as important as the images (and vice versa), and though they treat of sobering concerns, are ultimately good-hearted and optimistic.… (more)
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    nsblumenfeld: One's a novel, the other a comic, but both are excellent and devastating stories of grief.
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» See also 255 mentions

English (227)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (233)
Showing 1-5 of 227 (next | show all)
Conor has been having horrible nightmares for quite some time now. So when he hears a voice at exactly 12.07 am that calls from him from the graveyard not far from his house, he is not particularly impressed. Not even when the yew tree in said graveyard gets up and comes to him, insisting that he was the one who called it. The monster promises Conor three stories that will help him, then Conor will have to tell his own story – the story of the nightmare he dreams almost every night.

A Monster Calls is a beautiful book in very many ways. It had me actually crying a couple of times. It’s gripping, haunting and an intimate look at very big issues and the complexities that come with being human. I loved it.

I went into the book not knowing much about it. I bought it a while ago based on the illustrations and finally got around to reading it (with the upcoming adaptation it’s about damn time, too). I can only recommend that you try to go in as unprepared as I did. And I can only urge you to check it out. I think it will pay off for you, too. So, stop reading the review and go read the book.

More (with spoilers) on my blog: https://kalafudra.com/2016/09/10/a-monster-calls-patrick-ness-siobhan-dowd/ ( )
  kalafudra | Sep 27, 2016 |
The literary market is currently exploding with new sci-fi-, horror-, and dystopia fiction mixed with elements from Gothic fiction. And one could wonder; why the attraction? Could it be because literature brings millions of worlds with it, so it might work as a form of escapism?

Naturally contemporary fiction varies from earlier literary works. The language is modernized and elements from modern culture such as smartphones, computers and Facebook are now allowed to be included, but it is interesting to see how old myths still keep appearing in literature and movies. Earlier mythological creatures, such as vampires, werewolves and monsters were portrayed as horrible and evil, while they are now glamourized, beautiful and unique. It is a new element that a character in a book can be a monster and at the same time have magical features, for example: knowing the future, or being able to use their monster status as something good, instead of mainly being destructive.

An interesting contemporary literary piece is definitely Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls (2011) that deals with a boy and his goodbye to his sick mother, and how he must adjust himself to the idea and reality of death. This novel mixes both good and evil within the boy and in the surrounding world, here representing cancer and the death of his beloved mother. Every night a monster shows itself outside of the boy’s window, and every morning the boy has the feeling that something has happened, although he does not remember anything. He only sees the broken furniture in the living room. There are many elements which could be inspired from classic literature, e.g. Frankenstein; elements as the darkness, the monster, the black-outs and the different emotions seen in the boy (the good representing Victor Frankenstein and the bad representing the monster).

“Stories are important, the monster said. They can be more important than anything. If they carry the truth”.

With a Freudian interpretation, it is almost too easy to see the id and the suppressed ego within the boy. But eventually, it is a typical novel in fairy tale style, where the hero or the heroine must overcome an obstacle in order to find the light in a world filled with darkness.

“”Stories don’t always have happy endings”. This stopped him. Because they didn’t, did they? That’s one thing the monster had definitely taught him. Stories were wild, wild animals and went off in directions you couldn’t expect”.

This novel truly haunted me in every way. It was beautiful, tragic and terrifying, but I LOVED IT! This is a really great modern piece of literature which makes it impossible for the reader to ever forget about it. Realizing and accepting are crucial bits of human life, but sometimes it seems impossible. I’m sure that the truth of this novel will tear you apart, as it did me. ( )
  evalucia | Sep 25, 2016 |
From the cover and title, I expected this book to be a horror story. It is, in a way, since the protagonist's mother is dying of cancer, but it's primarily about dealing with fear and loss. In the process of grieving in advance, Conor also becomes invisible at school and with his two remaining relatives, an extra layer of sadness.

This book is a very imaginative look at how teenaged Conor experiences life with his mother's cancer. The monster who visits Conor is a yew tree, which can both poison and heal; the monster's tales are also unpredictable.

This was gut-wrenching, tear-jerking, intense, but also comforting. I'll be thinking about this for a long time. ( )
  Connie-D | Sep 15, 2016 |
Not really world changing but a solid coming of age with a parent dying of breast cancer tale. Highly recommend. ( )
  kale.dyer | Sep 2, 2016 |
The story uses myth and elements of magical realism to address emotional life, and not merely psychological life. As a result, the story has heft and is utterly realistic, if not always naturalistic. It veers toward the sappy, though I think this is a matter of perspective. When a person is not experiencing directly the emotional intensity of a situation, depiction and description can come across as overly sentimental. For the person immersed in the situation, its many layers, I suspect it's difficult to exaggerate or sentimentalise. I found that to be the case with Ness's story, and storytelling.

Kay's illustrations are dense, and also present as either on the periphery (detailed but uncentered) or as if we've noticed something just as it turns a corner, out of sight. Images take in a a huge expanse, say a house set far back in a landscape; or else they are in tight focus, floorboards and the edge of someone's foot. These heighten the tension, yes, but also reinforce the story's sense of sensory overload.

Another book that could not possibly meet my expectations, something having nothing whatever to do with the book itself. And yet, it did not fail them, either. That is perhaps the most realistic hope for these situations, so I'm well enough pleased.


I understand a film is in production. I wonder what the film treatment will do for the story, other than simply reach a different audience. Perhaps put the viewer in the role of the protagonist, which Ness chose not to do. Merely to reproduce in film the story told by Ness & Kay, would not seem to add anything of interest.

Uncanny, but starkly factual: I finished the book, at one sitting, came to the PC and checked the time. 12:07 (actually, 00:07). Yes.

Regrettably, mine is an American English edition: "soccer field", for example, though unaccountably a few other Britishisms remain ("chemist"). ( )
1 vote elenchus | Aug 10, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 227 (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
Iacobaci, GiuseppeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Haiku summary
The monster tells tales
that don't behave and Conor
accepts a hard truth.

No descriptions found.

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.

(summary from another edition)

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