I bet, that at this given time, most of you guys will be sick of seeing me review Patrick Ness’ books. There have been so many of them lately, and I think part of my responsibility as a blogger is probably to review a myriad of different books.
But Ness trumps this. Ness will always trump this. Because Ness is a literary god.
A Monster Calls is a little book (just over 230 pages) with a big message. Ness was approached to write a book based on the final ideas, characters, and premise of dearly departed Siobhan Dowd. This is a huge responsibility and one that Ness does not take lightly. In fact, he begins the book with a letter to the reader explaining what this book means and how it came about. Do not skip this.
A Monster Calls is about a boy, Conor O’Malley, who is visited by a tree monster in his dreams. This monster promises to tell him three stories and, after that, Conor must tell his own story. Funny thing is, though, Conor isn’t scared of this monster. Because there’s already worse one lurking.
I felt like this book was all a metaphor for coming to terms with a loved one who has a terminal illness. Every different character somehow expressed a different way of coping with loss. Well, loss that hasn’t happened yet. Ness explores the reactions to the knowledge that someone you love is going to die and how every reaction is OK. That, to me, is the message of this book. That dealing with grief is horrible and awful and the only way you can get through it is to do whatever it is that feels like it will help.
“You be as angry as you need to be,” she said. “Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Not your grandma, not your dad, no one. And if you need to break things, then by God, you break them good and hard.”
I loved the tree monster’s three stories. None of them ended the way that you thought they would. They took an abrupt turn at the end and had you questioning what it means to be human. It was beautifully done. The last story was probably the most shocking as it happened in “real time”. I can’t really explain it without giving anything away. Suffice it to say that the message of the last story is probably the most confronting.
A Monster Calls, when all is said and done, is a book about acceptance. Accepting things that you cannot change, accepting yourself, and accepting the world as it is. This book is beautiful and sad and impeccably written.