About My Book Reviews

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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Title: A Monster Calls

Author: Patrick Ness

Published: 2011

Genre: Contemporary

Grade Level: 6th-8th Grade

-Movie Rating: PG

Note: Make sure to get the illustrated edition (by Jim Kay)



Read by: Jason Isaacs

Length: 3hrs 59min

Recommend: Yes!!


Blurb (from goodreads):

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

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.

My Scores:

Writing Style: Top Notch

Could I give Patrick Ness anything less? Of course he’s top notch! His prose is enough to make anyone jealous, myself included.

Unlike a lot of children’s book authors, Ness’ writing style is complex, challenging, and exciting. Nothing about this novel is spelled out, you have to put the pieces together on your own. And when you do, it only adds to the gravity of the situation.

What I love most about this novel is that even though it’s a children’s book, nothing is downplayed. It is an emotionally raw look into the heart of someone experiencing loss at a young age in all it’s ugly, angry glory. More children’s literature should be like this, showing the honest, confusing, and dark truths of this world.

Ness really respected the intelligence of his audience and that’s why I think this novel became so popular so fast.


Characters: Memorable

How can you not instantly feel empathy for our MC, Conor? He is more than relatable, he is a classic embodiment of grief, rage, and self-persecution. Not that Conor doesn’t have a unique voice, because he certainly does. He just also feels like a piece of humanity itself.

The monster is indefinably wonderful. The relationship between the monster and Conor makes for some of the best dialogue I've read in a while. The monster’s design is huge, creepy, and aggressive, and yet the audience never feels threatened by him simply because our MC isn’t threatened by him. It’s also interesting to analyze the monster and try to figure out his symbolism.

While there isn’t much time spent on the other characters, like Conor’s family or classmates, there is just enough details given to understand everything you need to know about them. Each character is given enough development to make them unique, realistic, and properly loved or despised (depending) but the main focus is Conor dealing with his monsters.  


Plot: So Many Plot Twists!

Nothing ends the way you expect it too, especially for a children’s novel. It really does force you to think like adult. This is my second time through, and I enjoyed it all the more knowing what was being foreshadowed (which I cannot say is true for other books).

And despite the impression the movie may have given you, the pacing of the novel is perfect. There just simply wasn’t enough plot to span a 2-hr movie. I think it would have made a wonderful 1-hr movie… Just for the record, I also think the dialogue is better in the book (some of my favorite lines were cut ).

 Overall: Totally Obsessed

Even if contemporary works aren’t something you typically enjoy, I feel like there are enough fantasy elements incorporated to compensate for anyone’s personal preferences. By that same hand, even if you don’t often enjoy children’s books, you might just make an exception for this one.



 “Stories are wild things.”

…and many many more (but they would spoil the fun 😉)


Goodreads Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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