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A Monster Calls: Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd Paperback – March 12, 2013
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From the Publisher
'Patrick Ness is an insanely beautiful writer.' - John Green
'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.
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)
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)
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)
The heavily textured monochromatic illustrations are silent screams, rendering Conor's inner chaos palpable with dense shading and jagged edges symbolizing the wildness within while shifting perspectives alternately create intimacy and distance, like the push and pull he feels as he tries to stay engaged in an impossibly painful situation… Emotionally wrenching, this draws truth across pain in a way that is accessible to middle-school readers.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Heart-wrenching and thought-provoking.
—The Horn Book
Patrick Ness is an insanely beautiful writer.
The power of this beautiful and achingly sad story for readers over the age of 12 derives not only from Mr. Ness's capacity to write heart-stopping prose but also from Jim Kay's stunning black-ink illustrations. There are images in these pages so wild and ragged that they feel dragged by their roots from the deepest realms of myth.
—Wall Street Journal
The monster is a brilliant creation — part giant, part yew tree, destructive, didactic, elemental...The book has the thrills and ambition you would expect from the author of the Chaos Walking trilogy...Ness, Dowd, Kay and Walker have rifled death's pockets and pulled out a treasure.
Featured/recommended on Oprah's 2012 Kids Reading List
An honest, heart-wrenching story that moved me to tears.
—John Boyne (author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas)
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
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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 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.
A must read.
There are some books that are so special to the reader that they are a bit difficult to review. A Monster Calls is one of those. I had to read it all over again - for the third time - before I could write this review.
First of all, don't be fooled by the reviews that say this book speaks about a woman dying of cancer and her relationship with her son.
Yes, it does, but it has much more to it than this, and claiming it is so, diminishes a book full of lessons, morals and ethics. And love.
The sensitiveness, delicacy and openness of spirit of both Patrick Ness and Siohban Dowd, who died of cancer before she could finish the story, make this reading a revealing experience for those who are ready to look beyond the story line.
"A Monster Calls" didn't really surprise me with twists and turns, or with an unexpected end. No. I followed the plot guessing what I would find in the next line. But that didn't make the book less spectacular. Not even a bit.
I know by now that the truth is always hard, no matter how old you are, specially the truth you don't want to acknowledge.
But the unexpectedness and the beauty of this book lies on its way of deconstructing the truth by making we see it, by peeling away slowly the masks of our needed lies and fantasies.
Am I being too cryptic?
Our ego-lies - or ego-denials - to our id-fantasies just make life harder and harder to bear until we can't stand it no more. Either we let them go or they crush us.
Veritas vos liberativ.
Are we ready to know the truth? Are we willing to? What is the price of freedom?
Are we ready for the monster we've called?
Is this a children book? I would hesitate in saying yes. But as children are much wiser than us adults, maybe.
Is it a teenage book? Yes.
Is this a book for adults? Definitively. This book is like an intense therapy session with ourselves.
P.S. 2- I read this on Kindle. It didn't bother me at all to have those illustrations not so perfect. I... hmmm... have a fertile imagination and often prefer the written world than the illustrated one.