Somehow I missed this book at the BEA, and it's my loss I have to tell you. Thank God for Amy over at Amy Reads! She corrected the situation by lending me her copy. I have two words for you- Gut wrenching. I was crying prolifically from page 162- 205. But wow, it was worth it.
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 form his nightmare, the nightmare 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, though, is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.
Siobhan Dowd had a beginning, a premise and the characters when she lost her struggle with cancer. In his authors note, Patrick Ness says when he was asked to write the story he hesitated, because he didn't want to try and write her book in her voice, rather if he would do it, he had to do it his way. "But the good thing about good ideas is that they grow other ideas", and thus A Monster Calls was born.
I suppose since it's the same subject matter I couldn't help being reminded of Noah Barleywater Runs Away by John Boyne. Both deal with coming to terms with a terminally ill parent by a child, and the fanciful stories that lead them to acceptance. Yet I wasn't the slightest bit affected by Noah Barleywater, and I was chocked up or crying throughout most of A Monster Calls. A Monster Calls really hit all the buttons for me, and although I've never lost a parent, it felt genuine and truthful.
For a simple story, A Monster Calls is very richly written. The characters are lush and evocative, right on down to Conor's bully Harry. And even though there's often spartan dialogue, you still end up with a strong sense of each of the people surrounding Conor. Its astounding the vast amount of feeling and story Patrick conveys in few words, that are often very simple. But I suppose this is why so many of the quotes for this book use lyrical to describe it.
I'm sorry for telling everyone about you mum, read the first line.
I miss being your friend, read the second
Are you okay? read the third.
I see you, read the fourth, with the I underlined about a hundred times.
This paragraph killed me! But there is so much more that is equally wonderful. Truly a beautiful story that you will be greatly missing out on if you don't read for yourself. Oh, and did I mention the stunning illustrations? Every bit as rich and layered as the story, textured, dark and a perfect fit. I honestly couldn't picture the story without Jim Kay's artwork.
So what are you waiting for? Read A Monster Calls already.
A Monster Calls, By Patrick Ness/Siobhan Dowd
Published by Candlewick September 15, 2011
Buy A Monster Calls from Amazon
Check out Patrick Ness's website for news, events and more