When my book club was throwing around book ideas for our October book of the month, A Monster Calls immediately came to mind. I wanted something “Halloween-ish but not scary” and on the shorter side because October tends to be a busy month for most people. A Monster Calls was definitely outside of most of the groups comfort zones, but it ended up being a big hit.
Author: Patrick Ness
Genre: Middle Grade/Young Adult • Fantasy
Version: Paperback (224 Pages)
Published: September 27th, 2011
Publisher: Walker Books
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.
This review is going to be on the shorter side. Not only was this a short read (I finished it in one sitting), but I think the best way to go into A Monster Calls is to go in blind without knowing any details about the plot beforehand. When you look at the cover, and even the illustrations throughout the book, the first thing that probably comes to mind is that this is a horror novel, but in reality it is far from scary. This book was surprisingly beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. This book was so much more than I was anticipating.
“You do not write your life with words…You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.”
Even though A Monster Calls is labeled as middle grade/young adult, don’t let that stop you. The themes within this book definitely appeal to adults, particularly adults who can relate to what Conor is going through. As far as the age range goes, I think this book is more suitable for middle graders who are a tad older and a little more mature than younger middle grade readers. This isn’t because younger middle grade readers wouldn’t enjoy it, but that the overall themes in A Monster Calls are more of a sensitive nature. Furthermore the overall message may go over their head. If I had to put an age on it, I would say 11+.
“There is not always a good guy. Nor is there always a bad one. Most people are somewhere in between.”
This book touched me on a personal level. I cannot exactly say how because that would be giving away details in the plot, but let’s just say that I went through a similar situation as Conor and went through some of the same internal struggles. I really liked how A Monster Calls touched on a harsh truth that many people in this situation feel, but don’t like to admit to themselves. The feelings of guilt over this is all to real. For those of you who have read this, I am referring to Conor’s truth.
This book ended up being a wonderful book club selection. The meeting where we discussed A Monster Calls was probably our most emotional discussion to date. Like I mentioned, this book can be very relatable to adults, and many of our members had gone through a similar situation as Conor. It was wonderful to share our stories and support each other through the tears. Don’t worry there was plenty of wine to drown our sorrows in.
If you are going to pick this one up, the illustrated version is the way to go. The illustrations are what really sets this book apart because not only do they compliment the story, but it enhances the reading experience. Because this book is so short, I am not sure the book would have the same impact not paired with the stunning illustrations. Take it from me, I’ve learned the hard way illustrations can drastically alter a reading experience.
If you are looking to pick up a quick read that will take you on an emotional roller coaster, then look no further! I cannot wait to see the movie adaption that is set to open January 2017. You can view the movie trailer here → A Monster Calls Trailer
About the Author:
He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Born in Virginia, he currently lives in London.