Conor has the same horrible dream that jolts him out of sleep sweaty and screaming. A Monster Calls Conor’s name at 12:13 and promises to tell him three true stories in exchange for Conor’s true story. The Monster manages to show him how true stories are completely different from stories. Conor also starts to realise that some things, despite looking bad, are maybe not as unforgivable. Based on an idea by the late Siobhan Dowd, Patrick Ness transforms it into his own piece about courage, anger, and, most importantly, survival.
There are a few characters in the book but it is centered and told from the perspective of Conor O’Malley, a British pre-teen. He lives alone with his mother, until she becomes sickly, and he has to move in with his grandmother. The missing father also visits but is an absolute unredeeming asshole. Ultimately Conor feels alone, except for the monster that visits him and demands of him to speak the truth.
Despite it being a character driven book it is not so long that you manage to develop a longstanding issue with anyone. They are all good and evil in their own way, but you get to see them through Conor’s eyes which are somewhat subjective. The most important element of the book is anger and sadness. It was refreshing to read the rawness that exists behind many guys destructive explosions. Fighting is never the answer but it reminds us that there is a question, and this is rarely addressed in real life. Instead we are given excuses such as “boys will be boys” or “boys like to fight” and thereby completely overriding and dismissing the suffering these boys experience.
It is a very interesting plot and psychologically relevant t0 how kids can respond to trauma and how fantasy can be an incredibly powerful tool. The story is a testament to all of us readers that picked up books to escape, or work through, our own childhood trauma. Conor’s own catharsis at the end of the book becomes your own, the story reads like a guided hypnosis where at the end you let everything go.
The pacing is perfect; we jump right into Conor’s life and learn about his life by following his every day tasks. It speeds up when it’s going the slowest and slows down when everything is happening all at once. The writing is very simple and it is an incredibly easy read to get through. Wether you’re a “sophisticated” reader or 8-years old, this book will ensnare you into its words and plot. Patrick Ness is a very gifted writer in the sense that he manages to convey very important ideas and validate kid’s emotions.
I read this book on a 90 minute plane ride and finished it in that one sitting. It was both smart and stupid to do that because it definitely made the time fly(hehe…) but I was then locked in surrounded by people that would freak out if I started weeping. So, instead I pushed extra chewing gums into my mouth and almost pushed my teeth out of their socket to stop myself from crying.
Ultimately, I gave this a 5-star rating because I thoroughly enjoyed the writing, the characters, and everything about this book! I would recommend this to everyone and I’m getting it for my mom that has never read a book of her own free will… And I’m sure she is going to love it.
Me after reading this book: