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Book Review: A Monster Calls

Monday, August 29, 2016

WARNING SPOILERS

“You do not write your life with words...You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.” ― (The Monster) Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls

August 29, 2016

This book messed me up.

At first, I wasn't that into it. In fact I almost stopped reading it because I thought it to be boring. Then I got about half way and my opinion started to change. "A Monster Calls is about a young boy named Conor O'Malley. He lives in the UK and goes to school like anyone else his age. He lives with his mother in their house and he loves her oh so very much. Yet, his mother has cancer and she's dying. Through his pain and his panic, Conor calls a monster. This monster of his tells him tales of wrong doings and how the monster was called to correct them. Conor doesn't understand why this creature is coming to him or whether he has just gone mad and is hallucinating. Yet over time he learns to work alongside his monster and understand why the monster came walking. 


For me, I have always considered my mental health issues as my Inner Monsters. I actually have a post titled that on my blog. For anyone who has to deal with grief, depression, anxiety, or anything that makes you angry or sad, it can feel like there is a monster inside trying to get out. Patrick Ness was able to turn a simple metaphor into this complex and enlightening novel. I still cannot wrap my brain around it. 

There is a scene in which the bully of the story, Harry, tells Conor that he no longer sees him and it just sets Conor off. I had to read this section a few more times to really understand the impact of Harry's words. Conor had been trying to stay off the radar and go unnoticed because of what his mother was going through. Most of his classmates would avoid him because they never knew what to say, everyone but Harry. Harry and his cronies would bully Conor and sort of remind him that he couldn't avoid everyone. That is until Harry basically says that even he won't acknowledge Conor's existence and I truly believe nothing is worse than that. 


It is one thing to like being alone or one thing to be ignored, but for some to say that they won't even acknowledge that you are a living, breathing human being...damn. Throughout the novel, which by the way isn't exactly long as it is only 205 pages, Ness was able to build relationships and break them down. The two most important relationships are Conor and his mother and Conor and his monster. Conor and his mother's relationship is one of love and comfort, but the one with the monster is more of a mentor and novice situation in which the monster is mentoring Conor in life and morality.

Over time, Conor learns to sort of become one with the monster and it is able to do his bidding. He lives through his monster and the monster is able to help Conor come to terms with many things in his life. Yet, this scares Conor. It scares him because he hadn't known what he was capable before the monster came walking. Conor is in denial throughout the novel and it is why the monster comes to him. It is not to coddle him and tell him everything is going to be fine. The monster comes to him because he needs Conor to see that he cannot keep lying to himself about what is to come. 

Not only is this book beautifully written, but the illustrations are gorgeous. I really think that is what makes this book so different. It is so visually appealing and that helps with imagining this story. I give this book a 5/5. Originally I was going to give it a 3/5 but as soon as I understood what it was trying to get across and immersed myself into the book, everything changed. I recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with their own monsters or to anyone who loves to read books that make you think. After I finished this that's all I did. I was on a 21 hour road trip and I just sat in the car and stared out the window and tried to understand what I had just read. I am definitely going to look into some more of Patrick Ness' books.

I leave you with one of my favourite quotes from the book: Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?” 
― (The Monster) Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls

Happy Reading

- Haley

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