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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.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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?
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.
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.”
It is not scary (at least not in the way you think it might be from looking at the cover). It is pretty short and you can easily read it in one sitting if you have an hour or two. It is heartbreaking and you will cry (probably), but it is important. There are several people I immediately wanted to buy it for once I finished it, so I purchased a copy so I can at least loan it out. If you have ever dealt with loss or grief, read this book. If you are human and have the ability to read, read this book. Please, buy it, borrow it, check it out of the library! Just read it!
I'm looking forward to sharing this amazing read with my students.
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