A fantasy-esque book from the mind of Patrick Ness, author of The Chaos Trilogy, A Monster Calls is a heart-wrenchingly honest look at how people, specifically a thirteen year old boy, copes with his Mum’s serious illness.
Formed from an original idea from Siobhan Dowd, who came up with it during her own terminal illness, Patrick Ness took the idea and made it his own, all the while having that feeling that he was doing something right.
This book is a must-read; emotional as it may be, it is an essential read for young people to get to grips with the cycle of illness and the sad devastating end it may bring.
This review contains spoilers for A Monster Calls.
The book, as stated above follows the journey of Connor as he faces the heart-breaking treatment of his mother – this book made me cry many a tear, the ending was bittersweet but I fully respect that Patrick Ness did not shy away from facing the hard truths – how even at thirteen – death can, and will affect us.
I believe the fantasy-esque setting of the Tree who comes to Connor in the night is enough escapism that it doesn’t overload the reader with raw, deep emotion, as that could make it extremely heavy. The Tree speaking to Connor through the three stories was wonderful, it really is a great way for younger readers to grasp the concept of terminal illness and the different coping mechanisms there are. It showcased the many different aspects that can appear, that you don’t tend to think about unless you’re in that position – how others will treat you, how you want to be treated – the whole vicious cycle.
The writing style of Ness in this novel is incredibly thought out, whilst being understandable and not overly far-reaching it is still flowing and beautiful making it appealing for the vast audience that the book is intended for – I never felt like it got too childish or simplistic, but I also never felt it got to wordy or complicated – a true mastermind at work.
I honestly cannot recommend this book enough – this isn’t my most extensive of reviews, but I feel like this is a book that has to be experienced. It’s not that lengthy at over 200 pages, so can easily been done over a couple of nights (as I did, ending up an emotional mess at 1 in the morning whilst my boyfriend slept soundly next to me..).
A book that extends over many an age group and many a genre is one that I cannot commend enough – as much as I have tried over the course of this post!
Have you read A Monster Calls? Did you feel as I did – wholly heartbroken tinged with bittersweet feeling that we had come full circle as we were meant to? Let me know what you thought of it.