Lucky you, Internetland! Two reviews in one day! How awesome is that?
This time around I am reviewing A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, and again it is a book for my Young Adult Literature course. I don’t think I would have been attracted to this book in any way, shape or form had it not been on the reading list, but I am so glad that I read it. It was heartbreakingly sad and real and honest.
The version of the book I read had illustrations by Jim Kay, and they were perfect. Simple, yet detailed and reminiscent of a nightmare.
Honesty with oneself is the main theme in this book, I think.
The story follows Conor, a thirteen-year-old boy, who has been having a reoccurring nightmare for months. When Conor wakes up one night at 12:07am he find a Yew tree monster waiting for him outside his room. Not the monster from his nightmare, but a monster nonetheless. The monster says that Conor called him, and so he will tell Conor three stories before Conor must tell his own story. The truth about what his nightmare is really about.
We find out that Conor’s mother and father are divorced and his father has moved to America to start a new family. Conor’s mother has also been diagnosed with some terminal illness and none of the treatments seem to be working. We never find out exactly what the illness is but it’s highly hinted at being some form of cancer.
The stories that the monster tells Conor are meant to demonstrate that things are not always as they seem and human beings are complicated. Nothing is black and white, there’s always a grey area. For example: a prince needs to do something horrible in order to save his village from a potentially evil witch, a lonely man becomes more lonely after becoming violent, a preacher gives up his beliefs to save his daughter but ends up being punished for it.
Then Conor must tell his own story. In his nightmare he lets his mother go. He tries to lie to himself saying she just slipped away and he couldn’t hold on, but when the truth comes out he realizes that he lets her go and wants all his pain, and hers, to end. Conor has to face his feelings, and the monster was actually called to help and comfort him
I cried while reading this book, and I am starting to tear up just thinking about it. I mentioned in a previous post that watching someone wither away and die in front of you is hard to handle. I have experience with this. Many people do. Conor’s reaction to his mother illness is so real and believable and honest. Exactly the way a lot of people, especially teenagers, react to life-changing events and the death of someone close to them.
Now I want to talk about the monster. The monster says he’s older than everything and takes the form of a yew tree, which a lot of medicines are based off. We find out that this has meaning, because the monster is really a healer. But, I think the monster represents more than just a healer. I think the monster is God. Now I’m not the most religious person in the world, but I do believe in God. If you don’t believe in God, then maybe don’t read this next part.
The reason I think the monster is God is because in the mind of Conor, a thirteen-year-old whose mother is dying, God may be seen as a monster for letting someone he loves die for no reason. The stories the monster tells are examples of how God works in mysterious ways, if you will. And the end scene where the monster holds Conor while he holds his mother’s hand when she dies makes me think of how God is around us when he need Him most, carrying us. Like that poem, Footprints in the Sand. That poem has always made me cry.
So, overall, A Monster Calls is a really amazing read and will make you cry. i don’t know how you couldn’t cry while reading it. Unless you have a heart of stone covered in ice. even then, this book may just melt the ice and turn your heart into flesh and blood again because it is so emotional and honest.