Let’s talk about them.
Obviously, they’re pretty awesome. They’re paper and ink and glue and yet they can transport you to new worlds, show you new ideas, and help you come to terms with old ones. That’s amazing, when you just stop to think about it.
Sure, some aren’t very good. And others are good, but not memorable. And then there are the kinds that you just can’t stop thinking about.
It’s the latter kind of book that I want to tell you about today.
It’s titled A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and I do not possess the correct amount of words to describe my love and admiration for this book.
I’ve actually already reviewed it on my own blog, but I’m going to review it again here because I just can’t help myself. I’m also using sections of my previous review in this review because it’s Easter Sunday (speaking of which: Happy Easter! He has risen! *throws confetti made of scriptures*) and I have family to hang out with.
You can’t get in trouble for plagiarizing yourself, right? I would assume not. Unless Me from an alternative reality comes and sues me in this world. But what are the chances? I’ll risk it. Here we go:
Only great matters, matters of life and death, can make the monster come walking. And the monster has come for Conor O’Malley. He wants Conor to tell a story. But how can stories be important when other, far more important things are happening? How can stories matter when his mother’s treatments aren’t working? But stories are wild things, and they hold healing and power that Conor never imagined.
And so it comes about that the monster has come to tell Conor three stories: A tale of saving an evil queen, a story about a selfish healer, and the account of a man that nobody sees. And when the stories are finished, the monster wants a story in return, but not just any story. He wants Conor’s story. THE story. He wants to know about the nightmare. He wants Conor to tell the truth.
If you’ve never read anything by Patrick Ness, then I need to explain something to you: His writing style is like nothing I have ever seen in a modern writer. Ever. He, unlike so many authors, knows how to write thoughtfully and honestly. He can spin a story that will rip your heart from your chest. But then, rather than grinding it into the dirt, he fills it with hope and puts it back. And it hurts. How could it not? But you walk away from his stories with an ache in your heart and a lopsided smile on your face because you just found a book that actually meant something.
This is especially true for A Monster Calls.
Here we have a little boy whose mother is dying. When a monster visits him in the dead of night, he isn’t afraid of it because he has other, bigger things to fear. Like the fact that everyone at his school looks at him differently, or the fact that nobody understands just how angry he is at her sickness. And even those things aren’t the scariest of all. No, it’s his nightmare – what that nightmare means – that scares him.
He can’t face the truth of his nightmare.
All throughout A Monster Calls, Ness explores ideas of grief, fear, and anger in a way that no other writer could. He doesn’t sugar-coat, but he isn’t unnecessarily dark.
He simply tells the truth.
And that’s very fitting for a book that, at the heart of it, is all about learning how to tell the truth. And no, I’m not talking about “Sorry, I broke that vase” truth. I’m talking about the kind of truth where people look their monster right in the eye, acknowledges that it’s there, and stops lying to themselves about what it is that truly hurts and frightens them. That’s not something many people do and it’s important, because how can you fight your monsters if you don’t allow yourself to believe that they are there?
Now here’s something interesting: The idea for this book was actually formed by Siobhan Dowd. She died of breast cancer before she could write it, so Patrick Ness took up the idea and brought it to life for her. That in and of itself is very uncommon.
But get this: A Monster Calls falls into the “children’s literature” category. If anyone other than Ness would have attempted to write a book covering such difficult ideas in a book for children, they would have failed. Completely and miserably.
But, because this is Patrick Ness we’re talking about, he was able to write this book in such a way that I can safely announce that A Monster Calls is one of the best and most special stories I have ever read. Which is huge, because I’ve probably read more books than Hermoine Granger.
Not only is the writing style beautiful, but the characters and their emotions are conveyed realistically and truthfully. And, as mentioned above, the themes are interwoven in an intricate and powerful way that very few other authors will ever be able to accomplish.
Also, if you get the illustrated version (which I recommend), Jim Kay did a beautiful job with the artwork. It really brought the story together and gave special life to the Monster.
Speaking of the Monster, guess who is going to voice it in the upcoming movie?
Yep. I’m excited. Liam Neeson has the perfect voice for the Monster, which is probably an odd thing to say about a person, but he really does. Here, listen for yourself:
Of course I’m really looking forward to this movie. It will be released on October 14th.
But don’t you dare go see it without reading the book. I don’t generally go around presuming to know what books people should be reading, but honestly, you should be reading A Monster Calls. Like, right now. Go grab a copy from your bookstore or hop onto Amazon. Go on. *makes shooing gesture* When you’re done reading, don’t forget to come back and tell me what you think.
Hannah Heath – bookworm and author