Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy

(Note: There may be lots of gushing praise over this story.)

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is a fantasy novel based on an original idea by Siobhan Dowd, and it’s illustrated by Jim Kay. The story follows a thirteen-year-old boy named Conor who is dealing with his mother’s illness. This book is able to demonstrate the psychological nature of an adolescent boy and his difficulties in understanding life and himself.

Conor has been having nightmares ever since his mom started her medical treatments. One night, a monster shows up at midnight. Conor expected a different monster, the one who shows up in his nightmares every night. The monster that arrives tells Conor that he will be told three stories and that after the stories, Conor must tell the monster a story of his own. This monster wants something from Conor that he is reluctant to give. He wants Conor to speak the truth.

A Monster Calls is such a beautiful book. The illustrations are gorgeous and make the story really come together. I have no complaints about this story because I believe it was written and illustrated perfectly. It’s very rare to find a story that can hold your attention and give you such joy for the written word. The novel is able to take hold of the reader and never let him/her go until the story is finished. Once you finish, it’s possible to just sit there to take in all of the details of the story.

The characterization and character development is done amazingly well for a 204 page novel. There is a lot of depth in Conor’s character. He is a teen, struggling with the fact that his mother is sick, and he doesn’t know how to cope emotionally. Conor starts out as an untrusting, hostile boy who wants nothing to do with anyone. The three stories that the monster tells Conor are quite original and demonstrate moral challenges that relate back to the main story. By the end of the novel, Conor grows as a character and learns to deal with his fear and his nightmare.

The story is incredible and sad. A Monster Calls can easily bring a reader to tears. As I was reading, I was close to tears myself. There’s a real longing to help Conor through his struggles. If the reader has ever experienced anything similar to what Conor is going through, it’s easy to relate to him. At one point near the end, I had to put the book down because I was trying not to cry. I had to take deep breaths and start again a few minutes later. I find this to be an accomplishment because I rarely cry over a story. I’m by no means heartless (or so I think), but it takes a lot to push me over the edge. This story had the right amount of believable story, sad plot, and relatable characters that got me to tear up.

I hope this is a book that people will read in their lifetime because it really makes you step back and appreciate everything in your own life. This is a beautifully crafted story that deserves all the praise it has been given. I’m excited to read more of Patrick Ness’ books because I have heard nothing but good things about all of his work.

My Rating: ★★★★★