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A Monster Calls: Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd Paperback – March 12, 2013
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There's no denying it: this is one profoundly sad story. But it's also wise, darkly funny and brave, told in spare sentences, punctuated with fantastic images and stirring silences. Past his sorrow, fright and rage, Conor ultimately lands in a place - an imperfect one, of course - where healing can begin. A MONSTER CALLS is a gift from a generous storyteller and a potent piece of art.
—The New York Times
A nuanced tale that draws on elements of classic horror stories to delve into the terrifying terrain of loss. . . . Ness brilliantly captures Conor's horrifying emotional ride as his mother's inevitable death approaches. In an ideal pairing of text and illustration, the novel is liberally laced with Kay's evocatively textured pen-and-ink artwork, which surrounds the text, softly caressing it in quiet moments and in others rushing toward the viewer with a nightmarish intensity.A poignant tribute to the life and talent of Siobhan Dowd and an astonishing exploration of fear.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Profoundly moving, expertly crafted tale... a singular masterpiece, exceptionally well-served by Kay's atmospheric and ominous illustrations... tackles the toughest of subjects by refusing to flinch, meeting the ugly truth about life head-on with compassion, bravery, and insight.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A brilliantly executed, powerful tale.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
Ness twists out a resolution that is revelatory in its obviousness, beautiful in its execution, and fearless in its honesty. Kays artwork keeps the pace, gnawing at the edges of the pages with thundercloud shadows and keeping the monster just barely, terribly seeable.
—Booklist (starred review)
A masterpiece about life and loss that will stay with the reader long after the final page is turned.
—Library Media Connection (starred review)
About the Author
Patrick Ness is the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling Chaos Walking trilogy. 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 lives in London.
Siobhan Dowd spent twenty years as a human rights campaigner for PEN and Amnesty International before her first novel, A SWIFT PURE CRY, was published in 2006. She won the Carnegie Medal posthumously in 2009 after her death at the age of forty-seven.
Jim Kay studied illustration and worked in the archives of the Tate Gallery and the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, two experiences that heavily influence his work. His images for A MONSTER CALLS use everything from beetles to breadboards to create interesting marks and textures. Jim Kay lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.
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Top Customer Reviews
You know how you come across a book, and after reading it, you feel like EVERYONE needs to read it as well? That is how I felt with this book. As a mother, this book ripped my heart to shreds, and put me in an emotional state as I was reading it to my sons. But it was worth every tear I shed. Guys, if you haven't read this book, Do it! The story, the writing, the illustrations, this book was pure perfection and a total 5 out of 5 stars for me.
If you have read this, what were your thoughts?
This is one of those books that hits you inside. The story is about a young boy facing a reality he's afraid of. He represents everything it means to be a kid facing this situation and human in general. This is highly relateable story of inner demons and the contradiction of humanity. Patrick Ness has written a very true representation of the darkness in humans when faced with an unwilling truth. With fear. This is classified a teen and/or middle grade book, but it reads much deeper than that. As childlike as some aspects are, this story transcends age to reach the core of human emotions and relationships.
I had to binge read this. I started it and could not put it down. It is crafted brutally, beautifully, and as raw as any book can get. I cannot recommend this enough to everyone. It has quickly become a favorite of mine and one I plan to read more than once.
What an incredibly beautiful, and terrific (meaning, wonderful but terrifying at times) book. It's been a while since I've been so moved by a tale. I would highly recommend this read...but make sure you have a few tissues nearby.
Side note: (The hardcover version of this novel is BEAUTIFUL, and I'd highly recommend on adding it to your collection. Everything from the page texture, to the artwork of the cover and throughout the book, add so much depth and personality which truly enhance the story while reading.)
Death is always moving, in one way or another. Whether it evokes anger, separation, anxiety, sadness, contemplation, or fear, it touches everyone. A Monster Calling walks through the process of grieving, before death even shows its face. It is about coming to terms with the inevitable, and letting go of the control we may wish to have.
"He could feel drops of sweat gathering on his forehead, and his chest felt like it was glowing with heat. (-almost like being in the nightmare, that same feverish blur of the world slipping off its axis, but this time he was the one in control, this time he was the nightmare-)"
It is an emotional tale from the prospective of a boy, Conor, who's mum is ill. From the beginning, there is a premonition of how the tale will end, but it how Conor arrives there which matters the most.
Whether death has met you at some point in your life, or hasn't yet, this book provides an interesting perspective on the topic. Normally we think of monsters as beasts who terrorize. But, in this case, maybe the monster in your life is the only thing who may have the ability to help you through. Maybe it is the only one who can help you see the truth, and the light, rather than fear of the darkness.
“If you speak the truth, the monster whispered in his ear, you will be able to face whatever comes.”
Patrick Ness does a magnificent job of weaving so much emotion into such a short book. This is a middle grade book, but everyone at any age could find 100 things to appreciate about it. If you’ve ever felt grief, if you have children, if you breath air…this is a book for you. It will speak to your soul. Conor’s tale is not happy one, but somehow A Monster Calls manages to be uplifting. It still broke my heart into a million pieces but you aren’t left with sparks and glimpses of possible happiness to come. So, don’t let the sadness put you off, if you haven’t read it yet.
Reading this book as the mother of two small boys made me experience things through Conor’s mother’s eyes a bit too. That added another layer of heartbreak for me. I definitely had a nice cry when the book was over. I couldn’t help but think about it over the next few days. That’s always the mark of an extraordinary book for me. I’ve rambled on long enough. Just read it if you haven’t!