This post is spoiler free.
A Monster Calls follows a young boy named Conor who is visited several times by a monster, only it’s not the monster he expects, the one from his nightmares. This monster is different and it wants the truth. I won’t tell you much more than that, the book is only just over 200 pages (the edition I read was 214) and some of those are strictly (or mostly) illustrations so it won’t take you long to read it. In fact I read it in a couple of hours. For that reason I think you’re better off going in only knowing the basics and nothing more.
I’d picked up this book from the library because everyone seems to rave about it. I saw it sitting there on the shelf and I had meant to pick it up a long time ago, now I didn’t have an excuse.
Oh boy am I glad I pick this up. From the moment I started reading I just didn’t want to put it down. I’d just finished another book and I was very much still in the reading mood, so I grabbed this from my desk to take with me to go see my Nana. I sat on the couch and opened up the book while she and my mum busied themselves, and I got so into it that when it was time to go I just couldn’t until I finished the chapter. The moment I got home I got comfortable and opened the book back up again.
I would say I’m sad I finished the book so quickly, but I’m really not. I didn’t feel like I rushed it. The length, the pacing, everything like that was just perfectly timed. By the time I finished I felt so satisfied. Just like after you watch a really good movie, if it’s done well, you don’t feel disappointed that you got through it in one sitting, instead you feel good at the end.
A Monster Calls is a very interesting read. It does a great job of blending the fantasy elements with the real, every day life. The fantasy side sometimes felt very real, like you could believe it was all happening and that it could maybe happen to you some day, but it was also very good at blending in and being very plausible, blurring the line of how real it really is or not.
At it’s core this book is a simple, but powerful idea that is told in this most uncomplicated, simplistic way. Patrick Ness never seems to go out of his way to throw in too much detail or throw a lot of words around, instead he sticks to the point, but still offers up enough to really capture the fantastical. The writing over all is very good, it was easy to read and there were points where the writing was beautiful, but not over done.
The same goes with everything in A Monster Calls. The characters are intriguing, but not complicated or over done. The emotions portrayed are strong and important, but they never go off and completely overshadow the point. Overall the book stays in check, everything about it is important and powerful and relevant, but nothing is ever complicated or over done, nor does it overstep any kind of mark. Everything is constrained, but still manages to create a beautiful story. It’s the perfect show of discipline.
I really loved this book and I would highly recommend it to anyone. If you were unaware there is also going to be a movie, for me in the UK it comes out in January 2017, but for some it comes out later this year. There are several trailers online, but if you haven’t read the book I wouldn’t recommend watching them until you have.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ /5