A Monster Calls is a children's fantasy novel, written by Patrick Ness, illustrated by Jim Kay, and published in 2011. The novel is "from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd", who thought of the idea during her own terminal illness from cancer, but died before she could finish it. A Monster Calls won both the Carnegie Medal and the Greenaway Medal in 2012, for the book and illustrations, respectively. It was the first book ever whose author and illustrator, one person or two, have won both prizes.
At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting-- he's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth.
From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd—whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself—Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.
This novel won the Carnegie Children's Book Award and the Kate Greenaway Award for its illustrations. Because of this, it was given to my daughters to read at their teenage reading group organised by the local library. My 16 year old read the first 50 pages or so, and didn't like it, so I had a go. I agree with her, I won't give it to my younger daughter, and I certainly wouldn't recommend it to any children under 16 or so.
What I find amazing is that the book has got so many very positive reviews on Amazon. It is depressing and without hope. Conor, the main character faces an absent father in America, a seriously ill mother, a fussy grandmother, bullies at school and nightmares. The whole situation is thoroughly miserable, and Ness completely fails to offer any hope or inspiration to a young reader suffering any of Conor's prblems.
What's worse is how ambiguous the novel is. The line between dream (nightmare) and reality is continually blurred. Is there really a monster or is it Conor's imagination? The monster tells stories where the distinction between good and evil, truth and lies are deliberately confused. And yet, the author claims that the main point of the novel is to get Conor (and presumably the reader) to face the truth. But the whole concept of truth is deliberately ambiguous throughout the book.
This is not a healthy book for a young mind. And it certainly not a healthy book for any child facing any of the issues that Conor faces.
I thought A Monster Calls was strange and I only read about 58 pages of the book because I found it not very nice. Conor, the main character, has problems at home and school and is having nightmares about the situation he is in. The book describes his nightmares - every time Conor has a nightmare there is a monster, hence "A Monster Calls". The part of the book I read had only miserable descriptions, Conor's whole life seems to be awful.
The one good thing I can say about this book is the drawings are quite well drawn. They show the monster in Conor's dreams but I still think these drawings were miserable too.
I loved this book! This book definitely gets better. You can't expect this book to say anything helpful for those in Conor's situation before you're even halfway through, because if anything the situation only gets worse.
Part of the reason why this book is so great is that Conor's life is awful. As the saying goes, things get worse before they get better. Conor's life is in a downwards spiral, and believe it or not the monster actually is the main reason why his life improves. At the very end of the book, the monster helps Conor to face his nightmare and the truth of his mother's approaching death, and then helps him to spread the truth so that his life doesn't permanently spiral down further. This book was so great, I read it twice and the ending almost made me cry both times. However, I do agree this isn't really a book for children as it is geared more towards teens.
Best Quote: “Your mind will believe comforting lies while also knowing the painful truths that make those lies necessary. And your mind will punish you for believing both.”
Your review here.
- Reading Age: 16+
- Reading Aloud Age: 16+
Includes themes of nightmares, bullying and terminal illness. Conor and the other teenage characters swear and lie.
If you like this you might like
- Other books written by Patrick Ness.
- ↑ "How we made A Monster Calls". The Guardian.
- ↑ "A Monster Calls wins first Carnegie and Kate Greenaway prize double". The Telegraph.