At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting — he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments.
The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth.
From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd — whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself — Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined
As some of you may have seen in a previous post, Caroline and I went to a Patrick Ness/Jim Kay talk. Prior to this event, I didn’t really know who Patrick Ness was (I know! I promise to flagellate myself later for such ignorance) and what with it being only February, I was still feeling skint so promised myself that I was not going to buy, ‘A Monster Calls’ at the signing. Well, that lasted almost as long as my decision to give up chocolate during lent! I just couldn’t help it. The moment I clapped eyes on the black and white foreboding cover and then to caress the pages to be rewarded with such beautiful artwork, I just had to have it!
Thankfully, the story does the artwork justice. The premise is simple, a young boy struggles to cope as his mother battles terminal cancer. As he is becoming increasingly isolated and frustrated, he suddenly gets a visit from a monster who insists on telling Conor three stories, each with an unexpected thought provoking twist and in return, Conor must tell him one that’s the truth.
Whilst Conor is dealing with all this and his father’s pathetic attempts of being supportive, putting up with his not so stereotypical grandmother and being bullied by what can only be described as a sociopath in the making at school, you can’t help but hope that everything will turn out okay for him. Conor isn’t a saint though, there are a few times you’ll be shaking your head over his actions but this only makes him and the story more real – which is surprising really, when the most interesting and influential character in the story is a talking tree…
Verdict: This is a book, even in it’s Paperback form that will be treasured for it’s outer beauty and for the heart wrenching story within
Reviewed by Karen