Sunday, 19 October 2014

'Go on and make a move now...'

Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

In the midst of my attempts to read both Donna Tartt's The Little Friend and numerous Game of Thrones tomes, I picked up Patrick Ness's A Monster Calls, looking for a lighter, more escapist read. Escapist it was, but lighter? No chance- and I loved it. 

A Monster Calls is the story of troubled young boy Conor, whose myriad of problems manifest in a hell of a lot of nightmares- oh, and a monster who comes to visit him in the middle of the night for heart to heart discussions. Conor's mother is going through chemotherapy for cancer, his father lives on the other side of the Atlantic with his new wife and baby, and Conor is relentlessly bullied at school. Life is not easy for him, and the monster appears at a time when he needs to work through this. The whole concept of this novel is great, I think, with hardly any flaws; props to Siobhan Dowd, whose idea the story originally was. By the end- and I won't give it away, but it is a pretty obvious one, I was in tears. The character of Conor is perfectly drawn, and his anger and frustrations fit well to his age and situation. He wants to be seen and heard, and is afraid to lose his mother, who is the only person who ever has seen him for who he truly is. 

The inclusion of the monster and his tales were beautiful and fitted perfectly to the novel, adding a resonance and further context to the story. Sometimes when a secondary narrative is introduced to a novel it can seem like the author is just trying to show off or add some kind of fancy metaphor, whereas here it seemed like a natural fit. Ness's writing is great and so easy to read, just on the right side of beautiful for what is probably a middle grade novel. 

Overall, I wouldn't say I enjoyed this novel because it's slightly impossible to when it tugs on your heartstrings as it does, but it's a book I put down and couldn't stop thinking about. It's a book that moved me, and a book that brought out emotions in me I didn't even know I had. 

What's it about? Loss, and not losing ourselves when dealing with that loss. 
Would I recommend? Yes, it's a great and moving book that you'll want to devour in one sitting. 

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