I remember the first time I saw A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. I was in a bookstore and it caught my eye. There seemed to be a lot of hype about it. I read the back matter and it peaked my interest, though I wondered how much hype could have come from such a short book. Now I know. A Monster Calls is one of my most haunting, beautiful stories I've ever read. It had me in tears. I can count on one hand the number of times that's happened, and in the past, it's been when I'm invested in a long running series and I know the characters. Never from a short, standalone novel. But this book had me crying like a baby at the end. I never expected it, and it was glorious. A Monster Calls is one of the best novels I've ever read, and needs to be read by everyone. It's heartbreaking, but it's honest and meaningful and important. This is not a book that should be missed.
Beautiful simple cover with the very important yew tree!
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.
This is going to be a fairly short review since the book itself is short, but I'll do what I can. The story follows a young boy named Conor as he copes with his mother's cancer, which is slowly robbing her of life. As the story progresses, he meets a strange monster made of a yew tree who comes to him and strikes a strange bargain with him– Three stories for a single truth. Everything that follows is unexpected, gorgeous, and heartfelt. If the ending doesn't get you choked up or strike you in the feels, you're probably made of stone.
Conor is a very good character. He's the scared little child we all are when something as large and formidable as death is lurking around the corner. He's the perfect voice for this story, and watching him process everything that's happening is nothing short of a journey.
Make no mistake– this isn't a happy story. This is a grim tale about grief and mourning, and the struggle we all go through when something like this comes knocking on our door. I don't know if I'd read it again soon (my heart needs a break... No pun intended), but I absolutely loved it. The imagery, the emotions, the turmoil, the single, breathtaking climax that's getting me choked up even now as I write this... Worth it. Ness writes masterfully in a way I can only dream to achieve. I cannot speak more highly of this book. Like The Martian, it has earned every ounce of praise coming its way, and I will recommend it to everyone I know.
That said, let me give you a single piece of advice. When you read this book, do so while you're at home. It's short– I finished it in a couple hours– and before you start, make sure you have a big box of tissue, a warm blanket, and whatever treat you give yourself when you bawl like a baby. Because trust me, you're going to need all three.