Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Conor was awakened by the monster one night.  But when he looks at it, this thing that is a yew tree, he isn't afraid of it.  In fact, he really doesn't have any feeling for it, because it's just a dream...

Conor lives with his mother in house beside a graveyard with a yew tree.  His father remarried and now lives in America, and his bossy grandma comes by once in awhile, the way Conor likes it.  It's just him and his mum, and he's happy with that.  When her hair begins to fall out, he understands.  Her continuous trips to the bathroom to throw up after treatments have become part of their schedule. 

At school, Conor is alone.  The bully beats up on him, but he won't raise a fist or fight back.  He won't speak to his best friend Lily, because of the secret she revealed to everyone.  No one notices him.

But when the monster calls, Conor goes.  And the monster is going to tell Conor three stories.  The last one will be the one Conor tells.  And that's the scarierst one of all.  It's nearly 12:07....time for the monster to come out.

Don't let the cover fool you - this isn't one to put with the scary reads.  Instead, this is a hauntingly beautiful story about the power of love and strength of hope.  Ness has captured such a perfect story that relies on allegories and double entendres that serious readers will understand.  What exactly is this monster and the crazy stories he tells?  Although Conor may not understand, the reader begins to see the whole picture.  Ness takes the reader into the mind of Conor, how he justifies his actions, and how he deals with this most difficult issue of his life. 
It's been a long time since I cried through a book, and this one packs an emotional punch.  This isn't a book just for children, but a whole range of audiences about love, loss, and letting go.  Highly recommended.

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