Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Not What I Was Expecting: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Just the facts:

Overall: 3 Stars

Addiction Level: I read it when I had spare time.

Believe-ability: It was believable.

Dystopia Factor: Eh. It’s “normal” life.


            A Monster Calls is more of a short story than a novel and it follows a thirteen year old Connor as he deals with the emotional impact of his mother’s cancer treatments. Connor is being picked on at school, dealing with a messed up family life, and experiencing a recurring nightmare when a new monster begins to visit him each night. This monster, however, is unlike his nightmare because Connor discovers that the monster is real and not a figment of his imagination. The monster makes a bargain with Connor that he will tell him three stories but that Connor will in turn tell him a story when the time comes. Connor never really agrees to this, but the monster carries on as if he did.

            I feel like I should say this book definitely could fall under the category of “cover deception”. Yes, I know you should never judge a book by its cover, but that’s easier said than done. I certainly was not expecting a hybrid realistic fiction/ fantasy novel. A pure fantasy novel, sure, but not the realistic fiction part of it.  It caught me off guard but I continued with the story because I have been reading a little realistic fiction lately. We have to try new things, yes?

            Although I thought the story was a little obvious (kids dealing with major illnesses seem to be pretty popular right now) there were some things I really liked about the book. First off, the book has some wonderful illustrations throughout. I read the eBook version and wished I would have had a hard copy so I could enjoy the illustrations more (they turned out ok in eBook form, but it’s just different than print). And secondly, I really enjoyed some of the writing. I don’t usually include many quotes in my reviews, but there were a number that stood out to me in A Monster Calls.

Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak? (pg. 35)

It is a true story, the monster said. Many things that are true feel like a cheat. Kingdoms get the princes they deserve, farmers’ daughters die for no reason, and sometimes witches merit saving. Quite often, actually. You’d be surprised. (pg. 44)

“Son,” his father said, leaning forward. “Stories don’t always have happy endings.” This stopped him. Because they didn’t, did they? That’s one thing the monster had definitely taught him. Stories were wild, wild animals and went off in directions you couldn’t expect. (pg. 83)

            A Monster Calls isn’t necessarily a very surprising book or adventurous one, but it was worth the read, especially considering how short it was. Plus, Patrick Ness is a fantastic author. If you’ve read The Chaos Walking trilogy then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

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