Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Book Review A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd-- whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself-- Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (March 12, 2013)
Page Count: 224 pages

I've heard a lot of things about A Monster Calls. It's one of my best friends' favorite books, I knew I had to read it. It's definitely not what I expected, and I love the artwork. They portray such raw emotion.

The Plot: It's an unusual story. The plot mostly focuses on how poor Conor has to deal with his mother's death and the events that surround it. The monster comes in as a way for him to prepare for the inevitable. The story definitely has a lot of twists and some scenes that are very powerful.

The Characters: Conor is a struggling kid. I think any kid or even adult who has gone through a very hard time in their lives can relate to him, whether it was a sick family member or a divorce or another tragedy. He is angry and he doesn't know what to do with what he's feeling. He's afraid of what's going to happen and he can't accept it.

The Monster is a very interesting character. He's very cryptic and primal yet wise. Other characters are not highlighted as much, but I do really like Conor's mum. She has some of the best lines of the book. The characters are all very deep though from the dad who moved to America to Lillian to Granny. 

The Setting: The setting is in England and it doesn't have anything extremely distinctive, except for the yew tree. The yew tree is very symbolic to a lot of things. Granny's house is also very symbolic as well. 

Epic Things: The Monster is very epic. I love all of his yew tree features. It's so creative. There are many parts when Conor manifests the monster's power and uses it that are pretty epic. 

The Theme: There's a lot of deep themes in this book and I think that's what makes it so powerful. Anger is a big one. Some scenes that got me close to tears where when Conor was commanding the monster to destroy a house in one of his visions and when Conor completely destroys the interior of one house. He was just so angry and he was letting it out in the only way he knew how. 

"It's okay that you're angry. I'm angry too. And if you need to break things, by God you break them." ~ Conor's Mum

I've been that angry. I've been so angry that I want to destroy everything around me. I was almost living through Conor in this story.

There are so many other themes, but part of this book is discovering them for yourself.  

Content Cautions: The story has some violence. Conor beats up another kid. In some of the stories the characters do some violent things like a man murders his wife. It's implied that two individuals in a story have sex. There's some profanity including three uses of h***, and one use of d*** and a***.

What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:

A Story Emphasizing the Power of Stories - Another one of the many themes of this book is stories. It reminds us that stories have great power. They reveal can reveal great truth to us, truths that applies to our lives. That something we should never forget. 

How this can be applied to writing: This seems like a bit of an inception, a story emphasizing the power of stories, but we're so used to entertainment, that we don't often stop and really think about the entertainment in front of us. I like it when stories remind us the power of stories like in the Lord of the Rings or Doctor Who. We forget that these stories have great life changing power. 

Conclusion: A Monster Calls is a very powerful story and one that is certainly worth a read especially to people who have suffered or are suffering very difficult times. 

About the Author:
Patrick Ness, an award-winning novelist, has written for England’s Radio 4 and Sunday Telegraph and is a literary critic for The Guardian. He has written many books, including the Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Crash of Hennington, Topics About Which I Know Nothing, and A Monster Calls
He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Born in Virginia, he currently lives in London. Check out his blog!

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