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Review: A Monster Calls

in a sentence or so: Conor is visited by a monster. it is not the monster he expects.

Conor's mom has been undergoing cancer treatment for a while now. the two of them are getting along just fine, thank you. sure, Conor has to make his own breakfast and do his own laundry and get himself to and from school, but his mom insists it's only temporary until she gets better. because both of them believe she will get better.

Conor has vivid nightmares that he hasn't shared with anyone. imagine his surprise when one night, just after having the nightmare again, a monster appears at his window. only it's not the monster he expects.  this monster knows about his nightmare, however, which is equally as frightening. this new monster won't leave Conor alone and insists on telling him stories that don't make sense, that totally aren't fair, and have nothing to do with him. yet in a world where it's easier for people to ignore Conor than to really see him, Conor comes to rely on the monster more and more each day.

you know when people say 'there are no words' because they are unable to express extreme excitement or sadness or celebration or sorrow? Patrick Ness finds those words. and holy moles are they some powerful words.  something else i love about Ness's writing is his sense of direction. you may not know where you're going exactly, but you know you're going somewhere. Ness provides an emotional depth that's unrivaled in young adult literature. using a story inspired by Siobhan Dowd, Ness blends Dowd's signature unflinching reality of stories with his emotional and absorbing storytelling.

this book had me on tenterhooks from the first sentence
"The monster showed up after midnight. As they do." (1)
seriously. there were passages throughout this book that i read and reread and reread again because they were so emotional, lyrical, and perfect. see for yourself. warning: it's just a touch spoilery, so skip down if you don't want to have a single morsel ruined for you. i won't blame you.
"There is not always a good guy. Nor is there always a bad one. Most people are somewhere in between.
Conor shook his head. "That's a terrible story. And a cheat."
It is a true story, the monster said. Many things that are true feel like a cheat. Kingdoms get the princes they deserve, farmers' daughters die for no reason, and sometimes witches merit saving. Quite often, actually. You'd be surprised." (64)

i loved this book so much more than i thought i would, which is really saying something, because my hopes were pretty dang high. Ness delivers a story that stretches across the emotional spectrum and carries with it amazing amounts of truth and authenticity. the beautiful blend of fantasy and reality is just my style, and very reminiscent of Guillermo Del Toro movies (see Pan's Labyrinth or The Devil's Backbone). which, by the way, i am totally going to start some sort of movement to get this made into a movie by Del Toro because he would do Conor's story the justice it deserves.

A Monster Calls is a contemporary anti-fairy tale with a simultaneously heartbreaking and hopeful story that you need to experience for yourself.

fave quote (obviously i had a million, but here's one worth sharing): "Stories are the wildest things of all, the monster rumbled. Stories chase and bite and hunt." (pg 35)

fix er up: absolutely nothing. at all. this is perfection and the illustrations only add to the emotions that pour from the pages.

title: A Monster Calls
author: Patrick Ness (inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd)
genre: Fantasy, Family, Grief
publishing info: September 2011 from Candlewick Publishing

Buy A Monster Calls: Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd by Patrick Ness

[ftc notice: i received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. i did not receive any compensation.]

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. Yikes, this sounds wonderfully spooky! I love the quotes you mentioned - they make me want to pick up the story ASAP!

  2. Like it, sounds different...maybe good for middle grades? or am I thinking too much about the monster in the closet aspect?...

  3. Tara - YES you should!
    Librarian - i think it would be a fantastic MG. or YA. or Adult. it pretty much transcends age limitations.

  4. This book absolutely made me sob! SUCH an emotionally engaging read. I have really got to read the Chaos Walking books now...

  5. interested in reading. must find time.

  6. You sure do have a way with saying things!

    Wow. I was waiting for your full review on this one! I don't think that this is a book I'd normally even pick up, but now I'm so intrigued!

    Fabulous review. :)


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