Author: Patrick Ness // First published: May 2011 // Genre: Fantasy
This edition: 206 pages, published in March 2013 by Candlewick Press // Get it @TheBookDepository
Read in September 2016
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting– he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd– whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself– Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.
For a long time I thought this book was part of the horror genre. You know, because of the “monster” in the title and on the book cover. Turns out. It isn’t. I tried to know as little as possible about the actual plot of the book, but when the movie was announced and people were starting to talk about it more and more, I couldn’t escape some plot details.
Once I knew a little bit more about what was actually going on in the book, I got anxious. I don’t respond well to cancer stories in general, and reading the book became almost more of a chore. I don’t deal well with grief, and it seemed to be a really big part of the book.
Now, the movie is being screened at various film festivals in the US, and the Oscar buzz is starting to get pretty strong. And since I will most likely watch the movie, I wanted to read the book first, but not too close to the release date to have time to process it; I don’t really like reading a book and going straight into the movie, but that’s just a personal preference.
You meet up with Conor while his journey is already well under way, but you join him in the most difficult part of it. He’s just a kid, so he can’t see things in an objective way, he still holds on to that annoying undying hope that kids sometimes have, even in the most dire situations. He is trying to appear strong to the rest of the world, brave; but that’s really just a way to fool himself as well, because even if he is not willing to admit it, he is all kinds of messed up inside, and the “monster” is here to show him that it’s okay to be messed up, and angry, and scared. It doesn’t make you any less brave.
It was… beautiful. Oh, I cried, don’t get me wrong! But the way the emotions of the main character are portrayed are so spot on. You go on this heart-breaking journey with that boy and the people around him, and it is painful, but so truthful, and almost liberating in the end.
As beautiful as it was, I can’t give A Monster Calls the full 5 stars, because to me, it just is too much like one of my favourite books of all time: Maintenant qu’il fait tout le temps nuit sur toi by Mathias Malzieu. For you all non-French-speaking people it won’t mean anything to you because this book was never translated, but hear me out: a young man just lost his mother to cancer, and can’t make sense of the pain he is feeling. While on the parking lot of the hospital where his mother just passed on, a giant comes to him and takes him on an adventure in a world of shadows to help the young man understand his grief, and help him repair his “shadow” that has been broken by the loss he just experienced.
Does this not sound familiar to you? But anyway, A Monster Calls is brilliant in his own right, and that’s all that matters. I’m just sad you don’t get to read Maintenant qu’il fait tout le temps nuit sur toi.