It’s easy to be a snob.
I’m often guilty of assuming that because a book isn’t comparable to my favourite classics or the best literary fiction it just doesn’t hold up. It’s authors like Patrick Ness that prove this thought process wrong. (Plus, it’s not like I’m part of the YA demographic so I should keep that in mind.)
I’ve found it hard to read this week, and I needed something I could devour quickly, but would get under my skin a little. A Monster Calls hit all the right buttons.
“The monster showed up 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…
This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.” GoodReads.
I have never wanted to hug someone fictional (or real for that matter) as much as I wanted to hug Conor – A teenage boy whose mother is dying of cancer.
The idea for the novel, the characters etc.. were created by Siobhan Dowd, who sadly died before she could write the novel, and requested the Patrick Ness carry her baton. Together they have created something so veridical I’m not sure I have all the words to describe it.
A Monster Calls is beautiful in its imagine of grief – how we internalise what we do not want to face. Conor, who’s suffering vibrates through the novel, just needs his need for the pain to stop to be validated – and before anyone else can tell him he’s not a bad person, he needs to be able to tell himself.
The monster of the story helps Conor forgive himself and allows the reader to forgive the adults that surround him. Adults who are less than perfect, adults who are losing the same thing in a different way. Nothing and no one are perfect, and nothing is black and white.