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review 2017-07-15 00:00
A Monster Calls
A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness,Jim Kay 4,75 stars

Read in one sitting, bawled my eyes out for the last third. I can't write any kind of coherent review right now, other than to say I loved it and it broke my heart.

(Also, I read this as a part of a 24h readathon, of which I have four and a half hours left. What can I possibly follow this up with?)
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review 2017-07-06 12:59
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness

A sad and depressing book. The writing is decent and the story unusual, but I can't say I enjoyed it all that much.

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review 2017-06-27 03:58
Sometimes you need a monster...
A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness,Jim Kay

The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.

opening lines

 

The monster says that Conor is the one who called him. But Conor doesn't understand - if the monster isn't here to save his mother, then why? The monster tells Conor three stories and then asks Conor to tell his truth. Conor's truth is the one thing he doesn't want to face. Conor's mother has cancer and is undergoing treatment. Conor feels like he is invisible at school and he is feeling many different emotions that he doesn't know how to deal with. Conor's grandmother comes to help, but Conor feels like she just makes things worse.

 

This is an amazing story. It deals with the difficult subject of terminal illness and the emotions all family members face in this situation, especially children. The monster is a great character and the stories he tells have meanings even though Conor has difficulty figuring them out.

 

Conor is going through such a difficult time and I really felt for him. I understood his anger and just wanted to give him a hug. The people around Conor want to help him, but they really don't know how. I think that happens a lot in these situations because like Conor, people don't always know what they want or need.

 

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I'm planning to. If it is anything like the book, I will like it, but I'm not getting my hopes up.

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review 2017-06-26 18:14
A Monster Calls / Patrick Ness
A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness,Jim Kay

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.  But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…  This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.  It wants the truth.

 

 

“The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.”

That’s when our worries plague us—in the middle of the night when there’s nothing we can do except stew about them. Your nightmare is now interrupted by real-life worries that are worse. Deal with it!

I’ve lived through a similar situation. I was at my father’s side when he died, after three weeks of lingering in hospital after a car accident. I went through all the stages of grief, repeatedly. Denial, bargaining, anger, depression, acceptance. I had the advantage of a couple of decades of experience more than Conor, but the emotions are the same.

I can’t even remember who I was talking to on the phone, days before Dad died, when I said, “Why can’t this poor man die? What’s holding him here?” Because his life was never going to be the same. He would never be physically or emotionally whole again. His life would simply have been a frustrating struggle and he didn’t deal well with frustration. All in all, it was a relief when he made the decision to let go. I was grateful that he was able to leave, but I have missed him every day since then.

I shed a lot of tears towards the end of this book. I think it would be an excellent offering to any young person who has lost a parent or whose parent is on the brink of death. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be relieved when that parent is released from pain. Whatever you feel, it’s okay.

Apologies to my real-life book club for choosing yet another “cancer book.”

 

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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>
---
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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