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[Book Review] - A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd

   Author: Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd
   Format: Paperback
   Release Date: September 27th, 2011
   My Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0

     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.

My Review:

     This was a hard book to find, and when I did, I was glad throughout the entire book. This is probably one of my fastest reads. The hardest part of finding this book in particular is I wanted the book not the e-book. Because someone along the lines I read a review of the e-book which explained that none of the illustrations were part of the e-book. That was a huge downside to me, I wanted the full effect of the novel and what Patrick was trying to convey.

     On that note, I want to express my deepest admiration to Jim Kay for the illustrations in this book. They were dark, gritty, and very surreal. I could almost stare at the artwork forever and try to guess what Jim was trying to convey through the artwork, it was just fabulous. I don't know if Patrick Ness found this artist, or if the publisher did, either way I would be honored and humbled to have him work on anything I was part of. The monster and how Conor interacted with the monster was great, and perfectly captured in every still. I almost want to look up Jim further and see the rest of his works.

     Conor is a teen or a young teen in that matter, and I never understood just what plagued his mother. Anyways, she was undergoing treatment of some type that forced Conor to grow up fast. He is independent, knows how to think and live for himself and his mother. To me that's a feat, and furthermore, when his mother's illness gets worse, he tries to make everything work. He believes that everything will be all right in the end.

     What I enjoyed the most about the book, was Conor's growth and the dialogue with the tree/monster. The Monster tells these tales that each have a meaning, and almost make you think. Its not just a right or wrong choice, they all involve some type of moral dilemma and in the end it's Conor who doesn't understand the decision, or the outcome of the tale. In the dialogue with the Monster, we begin to realize just how series the situation is, and how far his mother's illness is weighing on Conor's mind.

     Conor's family comes to his aid, his grandmother which we understand he hates, and wants almost nothing to do with. His father flies in from the US, and that only makes matters worse. Through the involvement of his family, we understand that he doesn't want to accept that his mother is worst than what he thought, and what's happening to her is beyond his control. Yet there's something deeper, something that plagues Conor so bad, that during a talk with the Monster, he destroys his grandmothers living room full of antiques.

     Patrick Ness does a great job at capturing the guilt and emotional trauma of living with a truth we never thought we wished. That's sometimes we create a far worst Monster, than if we admit the truth to ourselves. It's this part that most of us don't see past, and Patrick captures that torture and pain so well. I love this book thoroughly, and would re-read this over and over. Its a great tale to tell your children, because sometimes something will be out of their control, and they will want to admit something life changing or just emotionally devastating, and that you will be there to help. It's just a work of art.

     Furthermore, I have been a huge fan of Patrick Ness, and when I finished The Chaos Walking series, I was looking for some of his other books and I stumbled upon this from an older book club reading I never got around to reading. I was shocked that the emotion conveyed in this book beat that of the other series, and I found at the end I wanted that to be part of The Chaos Walking series as well. I missed the work Patrick is able to do and I thoroughly look forward to reading more.
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