Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Monster Calls Book Review

Rawr Reader,

  I bought this book because the title sounded interesting, and then I looked it up on my good pal Goodreads and read the synopsis and then that caught my interest even more. And then I saw the book cover and fell in love. I think I was meant to read this book. I don't know why but I like to read about the dark and gothic and estranged in stories, so I didn't waste a minute. A Monster Calls is written by Patrick Ness, who was inspired by an idea by Siobhan Dowd (which is a name that I love), and illustrated by Jim Kay. The synopsis is provided by Goodreads:

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

   A couple of weeks ago I saw the booktuber Ohcakey do a video where she discussed her top favorite books in 2013, and yes this was one of them.

(safe for those who haven't read this book yet)
   I haven't read a book so quite simply written. I want to say this would be for middle-schoolers, since it isn't a long book and it even has pictures (which I will talk about later), but there were sometimes that there'd be like a cuss word so I don't know, for in between middle school and young adult. Conor is 13 so he's in that awkward middle stage.
   Alright, such a fantastic relief to have a main character that isn't a girl. I read a lot of YA so I'm usually living in a girl's shoes which can be overdone since they all ultimately are the same girl, but I digress my point. Conor is a sweet-hearted boy who has a rough life, and so his disposition is rougher than it seems in school and at home. With his mother sick with an unknown illness which the reader assumes is cancer and with having to deal with bullies at school, Conor just wants to get through each day in peace, preferably without having the nightmare. 
    The story begins with Conor awaken at 12:07pm afraid of facing the monster from his nightmare, but when he sees that the monster outside his window isn't what he expects, he finds himself going on a journey that will change his life forever. The monster will tell Conor three tales and by the end, Conor will have to tell the monster the truth.
    While I thought this story was going to be different (I thought the monster was going to be some helpless fictional creature that Conor would learn to befriend-- yeah, not at all), however I am not disappointed with how it worked out. It follows Conor through the nights when he meets the monster and through his life at the hospital with his mom, or at school with bullies and an old friend, or even from visits from his grandmother and father.
    What I really enjoyed while reading was the simplicity of the story. There were I want to say ten characters overall in this book and it was so easy to know one from the other. Obviously there were some more important than others, such as Conor and his mother, but I found myself loving how characterized they all were. Conor has twisted knots with almost everyone in this book, and for some reason I enjoyed that about him. He was conflicted internally and it surpassed to his daily life. He wasn't some mayhoo who suffered in silence, he was just himself, not taking advantage of any pity from anyone. 
   I loved how the ending wrapped up the lesson Conor was learning throughout the book. 
   Okay, and the images throughout the book are so powerful and mesmerizing. I felt like I was walking in a dream. That is to say, I'm not always so dark and morbid sounding, I like color-- but there's something to say when an artist can evoke an emotion with a black and white picture from the viewer. I wonder if Jim Kay, the artist of the images in the book, used charcoal or oils or what to create the images. Or did he just use a computer? I don't know, but whatever they are, if they're sold in large print I would get around to buying a piece. If you're curious as to what some of the images look like, take a look at the book trailer on youtube:
   This is a simple read that someone who is used to reading bulky sized books (like me) can read easily in two to three hours (since a good quarter to a third of the book are images, plus the pages aren't filled with words). I'm so happy I read this book and will probably be rereading it again soon. A simple tale can sometimes be more powerful than a brick-sized book with a dozen plot twists and a town of characters. 

I give this book 4/5 stars. I highly recommend!

Author's Quote:
"You do not write your life with words, the monster said. You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do."
-The Monster, Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls

My Goodreads:

Next To Read:
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

River Song's Spoilers:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so don't read this section)
    I loved the monster character. He seemed like someone who I would get a kick being sarcastic around. For example in the Wildness of Stories chapter, when Conor was being sarcastic and the monster was so confused. That was the moment I really began to connect with Conor's character, and just enjoy the monster's reaction to it. I also liked how he told the stories, making it sound like one thing but meaning something out of the story something entirely different. The good queen who was a bad witch, the greedy Apothecary who healed, etc. And while I didn't necessarily predict how it would all turn out, I had some guess by the fourth tale. Yes I'm slow.
    Which leads me to the chapter with the fourth tale, I absolutely loved how it was written. I mean I loved it all, but specifically that chapter. I could imagine if this book turned into a movie, how the cameraman who zoom around between the monster and Conor, when Conor would make after Harry while the monster would be talking in Conor's ear at the same time. Maybe it was the music I was listening to at the time that made that scene seem so epic. Nevertheless, I loved it so much. I think I made me point.
   And I'm not typically a fan of books that deal with terminally ill characters, especially ones that are directly or relatively close to the main character if their not sick themselves. So when I read that part in the beginning, I was a little put down and expecting not to enjoy this book as much. But by the end I saw why it was necessary and how centrally plotted her sickness would be to help Conor grow-- which is why I read books! I changed along with him and wasn't just part of some small time of his life which some authors think that's why readers read. I don't want to end on a rant, but yes, I loved how everything in this book turned back to Conor and his revelation to the truth. How his thoughts don't define who he is, or what he does. 
    And the images are stunning. I already said that in my review, but I felt like reiterating. Because. They. Are.

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel

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