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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.
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?
I've had this book sitting in my queue to read for quite some time, and it's ironic that I was sitting in my mother's hospital room when i finally decided to begin reading it. There's no grand tale here that she past on at 12:07, or that I had nightmares of letting her go - but it was great timing as I feel more peace at not feeling guilty for praying for no more hurt. Praying for no more pain means her passing on. I feel comforted knowing I can wish for that - because it's the truth.
Always tell the truth. Not just when you're caught in a precarious situation, but when you're feeling anything. Life is measured in your actions, not your intentions.
Recommended read for anyone. And I look forward to seeing how the movie compares.
I also loved the prose and look forward to reading more books by Patrick Ness in the future! I loved how this story validated everything that Conor was feeling and the actions he took. This doesn’t mean that Conor always took the best course of action, but the reader can easily see and understand why Conor acts the way he does. Ness did a great job of portraying the desperation Conor felt for life outside of home to resume normally, for school to serve as an escape from his reality at home. This is a powerful story that describes the many feelings that children can feel when experiencing grief and depression, and could be a great tool that helps children from ages 10-14 to understand their own grief when experiencing tragedy.
This book was beautifully written and illustrated and painted a picture of the love a son has for his mother. It showed the importance of knowing what may be ahead, telling the truth, and letting good. Life is never easy, and we see that with Conner. I experienced so many of the things he did while my dad was sick, so there were many moments that hit me so hard it knocked the breath out of me. Even with that, I am so glad I read this. It reminds me it's ok to be mad or sad sometimes, even years later.
If you know someone who is watching a loved one fight cancer, or any other serious illness, I highly recommend this book. I think it can help you relate and see just what it is they might be going through. That was a struggle for me at 13, and I don't want that to happen to anyone else.
I need to go back to the fetal position now to process some more. Amazing book.