Thursday, January 14, 2016

Book Review: "A Monster Calls" by Patrick Ness

Well, it didn't take long to find the first book to make me cry in 2016...

"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."

Every night, 13-year-old Conor O'Malley wakes up from a terrible nightmare, one which leaves him screaming, crying, and gasping for breath. One night, at exactly 12:07, there is a monster at his bedroom window, calling his name. But it's not the monster he's been expecting, the one from his nightmares. This is a different type of monster, one from the elements around him rather than from the horrors he sees while he sleeps.

"In fact, he found he wasn't even frightened. All he could feel, all he had felt since the monster revealed itself, was a growing disappointment. Because this wasn't the monster he was expecting."

This monster promises to tell Conor three tales, each which carries with it a powerful lesson. And when the monster is done, it will demand that Conor tell it his own tale. But with that tale, the monster wants something Conor cannot even fathom. The monster wants the truth, which is far more dangerous than anything.

A Monster Calls is a beautifully moving, emotional story about a young boy dealing with a struggle he cannot handle. He doesn't want people to look at him or treat him differently, but he wants to be seen. But most of all, he wants the path his life is veering toward to change, quickly. And sometimes confronting the truth is the most painful struggle of all.

Patrick Ness blew me away with his latest book, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, which made my list of the best books I read last year, but I was utterly unprepared by the sheer emotional power and anguish of this book. Ness based this book on an idea created by author Siobhan Dowd, who died before she could do anything with it, and knowing that adds an extra note of poignancy to this story.

Ness is a fantastically talented writer, and I will be slowly but surely working my way through the rest of his books. While this is a sad and, ultimately, hopeful book, in the wrong hands it could have turned maudlin. This is just so good, so beautiful, and it truly moved me. Get a box of tissues and read this—you may be sad, but you'll feel so lucky afterward that you found this book.

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