TITLE: A Monster Calls
AUTHOR: Patrick Ness
PUBLISHER: Walker Books
GENRE: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Horror, Contemporary
RATING: 5/5 Stars
Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don't quite seem to be working.
But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there's a visitor at his window. It's ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.
What I Liked:
- This book is, in every sense of the word, stunning. Ness paces it perfectly, throwing the reader into the heart of the action by beginning it mere days away from it's conclusion, and yet it's build of tension and heartbreak is slow. There are a lot of themes covered here in a way that will make readers ache: terminal illness, grief, loneliness, betrayal and even bullying. Ness writes poetically and pays a great homage to an idea originally fostered by the late, great Siobhan Dowd whose book 'A Swift Pure Cry' remains forever in my heart.
- The characters, considering the short length of this book, were intriguingly complex and shone as individuals. I loved watching their relationships develop over such a short space of time. The relationship between Conor and his Mother was the most enjoyable, though I have to say that in terms of interesting, the monster wins. His wild nature, interesting stories and unknown intent made him my favourite of them all. There was some very witty dialogue that helped to break some of the sadness and tension too and that mostly came from him.
What I Disliked:
- It's short length wasn't a huge issue for me, but did leave me feeling a little disappointed at the end. I wanted more. Of course this works phenomenally as a stand-alone and would hate a sequel, but I feel that an extra chapter of closure wouldn't have hurt at all. Especially after meeting so many characters, I would have liked to have seen more of those. Even Harry and Lily would have been welcome, perhaps as Conor returned to school? I completely understand why Ness left it where it was though and it was still a phenomenal ending!
I don't think I can sing this book's praises any more than I already have. Everything just worked. In some ways it was a children's story, but the handling and exploration of such dark themes as the ones found in these pages definitely pushed it towards a Teen or YA audience for me. This was my second read by Patrick Ness. It certainly won't be my last.