A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Patrick Ness takes over the late Siobhan Dowd’s novel and makes it his own. A Monster Calls follows the life of Conor, a young boy who is trying to cope with the fact that his mother is dying of cancer. He continuously keeps being visited by the Monster– a yew tree who says he is there to find Conor’s truth.

(credit: Jim Kay, illustrator of A Monster Calls, http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8176/8027778590_a6a4a47a1d_o.jpg)

Having to read this for one of the eight books in an English course, I really didn’t have high hopes for it at first. I knew it was just adapted into a movie with Liam Neeson as the Monster, so the fact that Liam Neeson was in the movie adaptation gave me a lot of the hope and willpower I had to read a class-assigned book.

And I learned I should have had much more hope for it in the beginning.

A Monster Calls is a dark tale, aimed for children, with pictures and context to match. There’s a lot within the story to build a discussion off of and even some aspects that the reader can make their own assumptions on, which is really appeasing to me as a reader. In the story, Conor’s a loner with absolutely no one to speak to, and the Monster comes to him because Conor had “called for him” and to help Conor ease his pain with the possibility of having to lose his mother. That’s the most I can say without spoiling anything, because this book is not worth spoiling. Ness worked off of Dowd’s story idea and made it into his own, still giving her the credit she deserves for starting him off and receiving the recognition (like winning the Carnegie medal and the Greenaway medal) that Conor’s story definitely deserves.

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One thought on “A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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  1. Your review made me curious about several things! The first is the way that one author seems to have picked up on and completed another author’s work. I encourage you to say more about this (don’t assume we know!).

    Then, you might still say a *little* more about the book without spoiling it (though I know this is tricky). What are a couple more elements of the story that one could “build a discussion off of” and what are a couple things left to the reader’s assumptions? (Also, I think you mean “appealing,” not appeasing.) Bringing in a couple brief quotes would also help to give us a sense of the author’s voice.

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