A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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.

A Monster Calls. Patrick Ness.“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.

Have you read Patrick Ness before? I’m thinking of starting his Chaos Walking series next.

19 thoughts on “A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

  1. I haven’t read any of his books, but have been thinking that my dsughter might like to read them. I had no idea what A Monster Calls was about until now. Is it really sad?


  2. I read this when it first came out with a group mostly comprised of teachers. It was interesting that the primary teachers were very moved by it, but of course would never have used it with the younger children they were teaching. Those who had experience of working with secondary age pupils, that is the market for which it was aimed, were less enthusiastic and thought that the concepts were actually too demanding for some of the young people who might pick it up. I am not a great fan of Ness but would encourage you to read Siobhan Dowd’s other books. She was a truly great talent, taken far too early.


    1. After this I definitely will, what a wonderful idea. I definitely think the concept is too intense for the age group it’s written for. It’s a powerful novel for any young person who has experienced loss perhaps, but maybe not one for school.


  3. Oh, the Chaos Walking books are good. They’re a trifle chaotic however (shock shock), and the first two end on huge cliffhangers, so I’d have them all with you at once when you do decide to start reading. Eek, I hope you like them! I cherish them so much!


    1. I’m a little worried that what I loved in A Monster Calls won’t carry through in the Chaos series – did you find a massive difference in writing styles?


  4. Wow, that sounds like a really intense but interesting book to read. It’s also sad to hear about the original author, but lovely that it was finished! *adds to read-next list*


  5. I’ve read More than this by Patrick and i did not like it,with the writing being one part of why i didn’t like it. I’ve always wanted to read this one but I’m not sure because i don’t Patrick Ness’s writing sits well with me.


    1. I read a sample of one of his other books and didn’t like the writing style much either. I get the impression this is quite a different book from the norm. I definitely recommend giving it a go.


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