A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Even though I didn’t fall in love with Patrick Ness’ The Knife of Never Letting Go, I enjoyed it enough to read his other books. I’ve seen rave reviews of A Monster Calls so I decided to request a copy from NetGalley when it became available there. I finished reading this book weeks ago and I’ve let a draft of my review rest in my dashboard, hoping that I’ll be able to write something substantial while the dust settles. I admit defeat, nothing that I can write will do this book justice.

Here’s the summary from Patrick Ness’ website:

A Monster CallsThe monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

This book should come with a warning: “Avoid reading this in public places because it will make you cry.” I should have known better than to read A Monster Calls in Starbucks while waiting for friends. I figured I was immune to Patrick Ness’ emotional punches since I remained tear-free while reading The Knife of Never Letting Go. I was wrong. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it here on the blog but back in January 2007, my dad was diagnosed with stage three lung cancer. Five months later, he passed away. I don’t talk about it here because I used to think it’s too personal but I want to share why this particular book resonated with me. To say that I could relate to Connor is an understatement. I wanted to go inside the book and hug him to let him know that he isn’t alone in his pain. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who felt that way. In a world where cancer is becoming more common, I feel like it has touched the lives of almost everyone – be it through a family member or a friend. I’ve lost count of the number of wakes and funerals that I’ve attended because someone lost his or her battle to cancer. I’m thankful that Patrick Ness decided to write this novel because it articulates what so many of us can never put into words – all the anger, the hopelessness, the fear and yes, the denial because accepting the truth is never an easy thing. And that’s what the monster wants from Connor: for him to reveal the truth because he can never move on if he can’t even admit it to himself.

This a contemporary middle grade or younger YA novel and only the presence of the monster adds a touch of whimsy to the story. You don’t have to be a Patrick Ness fan or a middle grade/young adult reader to appreciate this book. What Connor experiences is something that every human being will understand. You know that feeling when a book does a better job of describing how you feel? A Monster Calls is that kind of book. Just thinking about it while writing my review brings to the surface all the emotions that I felt while reading Connor’s story. Ever since I started the blog, I’ve become drawn to well-written, emotional reads that deal with grief and maybe it’s because of my own experience, maybe I’m trying to find the words to illustrate how I felt in the books that I read. I’m fond of quoting C.S. Lewis, “We read to know we’re not alone” because it’s true. A Monster Calls makes me feel that I’m not alone. So thank you, Patrick Ness, I know you already have numerous fans but I just want to say that you’ve gained another one and I will read everything that you’ve written and everything else that you will write. I need to buy an actual copy of this book so I can read it over and over again.

Other reviews:
Book Harbinger
The Book Smugglers
One More Page

20 thoughts on “A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

  1. Beautiful review, Chachic. I am touched. Just reading it brought back all the emotions I had when I was reading A Monster Calls. Such a heartbreaking and beautiful book. I hope you can get your own copy sometime soon because the cover and illustrations are just as lovely.

      • LOL I am planning to read the rest of the Chaos Walking books since I already have copies! I have no idea when I’ll get to them though.

    • I decided to just go ahead and publish my review because I don’t think I can write a better one than this. It really is a very emotional read but I loved it. I do hope I get a copy soon and that I’d get a chance to reread the book with the illustrations – the formatting on the NetGalley edition was wonky.

  2. Every time I read books with grief, I know I can be able to connect fully because I’ve never been there. Not that I want to be there anytime soon, but there’s a certain detachment that I am a lot thankful for. I don’t know if it would prepare me for it, but I don’t really want to find out anytime soon.

    Wonderful review, Chachic. I hope you get a copy soon!

    • Tina, I remember that I thought to myself that it’s experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It’s been years since my dad passed away but I feel like I can never get used not having him around. It helps to know that I’m not the only one who feels that way, I guess. Which is probably why I love reading books like this.

  3. I really love your review. I found this book extremely powerful and phenomenal, and I haven’t experienced losing a parent. Imagining you reading it since you CAN relate a little better than I can makes me want to cry all over again! Sososo glad you loved it too.

    • Allison, thank you so much for the comment! I feel like I poured my heart out in this review and I was a little worried about what others might think. I really HAD to post the review already because just imagining it makes me tear up. I couldn’t help but fall in love with a book that makes me feel that strongly.

  4. Such a heartfelt review Chachic…my eyes were welling up just by reading it. I’m looking forward to receiving my copy so that I can read this one already.:)

    • Celina, I have a feeling you’re going to love this one as well! It made me want to read the rest of the Chaos Walking trilogy books because Patrick Ness’ writing is amazing.

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  8. This is a brilliant review, although I didn’t experience your pain I still felt that Ness dealt with the raw emotions one could expect with a seriously ill parent instead of the Hollywood portrayal of grief. Can’t believe you weren’t shaken by poor Manchee’s demise in Knife of Never Letting Go!

    • Thanks for dropping by to comment! I agree, Patrick Ness did a great job in making readers feel the emotions that he wanted us to feel. I love books like this, the ones that can make you just FEEL everything. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the movie will be just as good (even if that rarely happens).

      I feel bad but I really didn’t love The Knife of Never Letting Go, I just didn’t connect with it like I did with A Monster Calls. I have copies of the other two books in the series but I haven’t picked them up because I think they’re just not my kind of books. Sometimes that happens, we can’t really predict what will work for us.

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