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review 2017-06-03 05:57
Can't be summed up in a title...
A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness

★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2 (rounded up)
<i>This originally appeared at <a href="http://irresponsiblereader.com/2017/06/02/a-monster-calls-by-patrick-ness/" target="_blank">The Irresponsible Reader</a>.</i>
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I hadn't even heard of this book until a couple of weeks ago, when it was recommended to me by a loyal reader. And I wasn't given a lot of details, just a strong recommendation and something about it being "about grief." I could've used the warning that it was a YA book, but otherwise, that's all I needed to know (and the YA wouldn't have been a deal breaker or maker -- I just would've liked to know what I was grabbing). I'm not going to say much more than that, really. It's about grief, there's some magic, and it's one of the most effective novels I've read this year.

 

There's been so much said about this book by others -- I'm almost afraid to say much, I don't want to ruin anyone's discovery.

 

You've got a 13 year-old boy, Conor, whose mother is undergoing cancer treatment -- and it's not going well. His grandmother (not at all the stereotypical grandmother-type, as Conor is very well aware), comes to stay with them with every new round of treatment, and Conor hates it. His father and his new wife have started a new life in the US. All of this has left Conor isolated, emotionally all alone -- except at school, where he's bullied (when not alone). Somehow in his despair, Conor summons a monster, a monster older than Western Civilization, who visits the boy to help him.

 

He helps him via stories -- I love this -- not escapism, but through the lessons from stories -- and not in a "You see, Timmy . . . " kind of moralizing -- just from understanding how people work through the stories.

 

After reading page 15, I jotted down in my notes, "Aw, man! This is going to make me cry by the end, isn't it?" I didn't, for the record, but I came close (and possibly, if I hadn't been sitting in a room with my daughter and her guitar teacher working on something, I might have.

 

The prose is easy and engaging -- there's a strong sense of play to the language. There's some wonderfully subtle humor throughout, keeping this from being hopelessly depressing. The prose is deceptively breezy, it'd be very easy to read this without catching everything that Ness is doing. But mostly, what the book gives is emotion -- there's a raw emotion on display here -- and if it doesn't get to you, well, I just don't know what's wrong with you.

 

The magic, the monster and the protagonist remind me so much of Paul Cornell's <b>Chalk</b> (which is probably backwards, <b>Chalk</b> should be informed by this -- oops). Eh, either way -- this is cut from the same cloth.

 

That's a bit more than I intended to say, but I'm okay with that. I'm not convinced that this is really all that well-written, technically speaking. But it packs such an emotional wallop, it grabs you, reaches down your throat and seizes your heart and does whatever it wants to with it -- so who cares how technically well it's written? (and, yeah, I do think the two don't necessarily go together). A couple of weeks from now, I may not look back on this as fondly -- but tonight, in the afterglow? Loved this.

 

Love, grief, hope, loss, anger, fear, monsters and the power of stories. Give this one a shot. Maybe bring a Kleenex, you never know . . .

 

<img class="aligncenter" src="http://angelsguiltypleasures.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/2017LibraryLoveChallenge05-400x400-angelsgp.png" alt="2017 Library Love Challenge" style="border:none;height:auto;width:200px;">

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2017/06/02/a-monster-calls-by-patrick-ness
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text 2017-01-29 00:25
Read the Book, Skip the Movie
A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness

If you are a regular reader of this column, or a friend IRL who is used to my dogmatic proclamations, you know that I always make an honest effort to Read the Book First before seeing a movie. 

 

Sometimes, that reading is so profound and hits me in such a visceral, emotional place I know the filmmakers could not possibly do justice to that experience. Let's face it, they're just going to F-it up. 

 

Had one of those experiences recently with "A Monster Calls" by Patrick Ness. So grateful to my friend, L., for the recommendation and the affirmation of that recommendation by the trusted B. This book broke me a little bit. Yes, it's amazingly heavy-handed in its use of symbolism (http://carissagreen50.booklikes.com/post/1511966/knock-knock-symbolism-calling), but it touched a really primal place in me, so it worked. I ugly-cried over this one. Twice. 

 

Add this one to the list that includes, for example, "The Giver" by Lois Lowry, "The Book Thief" by Marcus Zusak, and anything "Narnia." Filmmakers, your films won't measure up. You can only fail with these. They'll undoubtedly disappoint me and retroactively mar the book a little bit. Sorry, try again with something I love a little bit less. 

 

-cg

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review 2017-01-24 22:31
A Monster Calls - Special Collector's Edition
A Monster Calls: Special Collectors' Edition (Movie Tie-in): Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd - Patrick Ness,Jim Kay

This was amazing! I loved monster and I loved Conor for not showing his fear of monster. Conor has enough fear in his life without monster adding to it. With his mother sick and his father in America, Conor believes that everything will be okay. His mother had assured Conor that everything will be fine but the activity that is occurring in their household, shows otherwise.

 

I read each word carefully, scrutinizing each illustration as I didn’t want to miss a word as Conor dealt with the monster that had called out to him. Why now, why did this monster come calling to Conor as he had enough issues plaguing his mind? And what was the purpose of all this, why was this tall enormous beast preying on a small defenseless boy? I felt that every single detail was important in this novel, as it all meant something in the long run. The time, the stories, the individuals in his lives and each conversation, all important. What a gem of a story. I would love to hear this on audio.

 

I received this Special Collector’s Edition of A Monster Calls from Candlewick Press and this baby is fantastic. I first have to tell you that this book is heavy, Amazon says it weighs 2.7 lbs. There are three sections to this book. The first section is the book itself, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, the second section is The Story of the Book and the third section is The Making of the Film. There are 342 pages in this book, all on glossy, thick paper. The highlights: the book A Monster Calls was the first major highlight for me as I loved it! I have nothing to compare it too but I loved everything about it including the illustrations that accompanied the text. Sometimes the illustrations were on a two-page spread or sometimes they were intermingled with the text on the page. I felt there were a sufficient amount of the them and they were an important part of the novel. I liked the size font in this novel too. In The Story of the Book, this section has colored illustrations and it was very interesting to read. It is exactly what it says it is, about the making of this novel. The author, publisher, and illustrator talk about the book and there is a also an interview about the making of it. I enjoyed looking at the illustrations in this section as there were illustrations that were not included in the novel. The last section, I haven’t seen the movie yet so I skimmed over this section as I am afraid it might ruin the movie for me. This section has loads of movie clips, some drawings, and interviews. There is a section called Raising the Monster and this was very cool and interesting. I highly recommend this book, this is more than just a terrific novel of A Monster Calls, it is world inside this tale. I can’t wait to see the movie now.

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text 2017-01-09 04:35
A Monster Calls

We just got back from seeing A Monster Calls. Mom and I have read the book, my brother and sister had not. We all LOVED it.

 

Seriously, it was absolutely incredible. I was bawling by the end with no shame. So was a lot of the movie theatre. Possibly my brother but I couldn't tell. 

 

Really, it was one of the best adaptations of a book I have ever seen. About 90% of the book was there, word for word. There were a few differences and they added some new material but overall it was the book I love brought to the screen. The stuff the added was also incredible and fit in wonderfully with the story and enhanced it. The acting was all flawless. I was especially impressed with the young actor who played Connor. He did amazingly.

 

If you love the book, I really think you'll enjoy the movie. Just bring some tissues. I didn't have any and now my hoodie is all gross. 

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text SPOILER ALERT! 2017-01-08 02:24
Knock, knock . . . Symbolism Calling
A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness

Wow - I really can't remember the last time a book beat me over the head so hard with its symbolism. 

 

This book is saturated with it. Freudian. Jungian. Symbols spanning from the ancient mythologies to the New Age. Every. Single. Page. 

 

Ostensibly, this book is for young-ish readers. I wonder how they handle being dunked in the primordial soup of the psyche again and again and again? 

 

-cg

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