A Monster Calls

I picked up this book at the recommendation of a librarian.  I haven’t read anything by Siobhan Dowd or Patrick Ness so I had no idea what to expect.  The book jacket says “This monster, though, is something different.  Something ancient, something wild.  And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.  It wants the truth.”

From the very beginning, it’s obvious something is wrong.  Conor’s mother has cancer.  I don’t want to give away the plot because part of what I enjoyed was not knowing what was going to happen when I turned the page.  Enjoyed may not be the best word to use.  It’s dark and twisted.  It’s horrible.  But that’s cancer.  It’s also hopeful and loving, about surviving.  And that’s life.  I’ve lost friends and family to cancer and I’m amazed at how Patrick Ness managed to capture the nightmarish feel of being trapped in a life that you seem to have no control over.  (I don’t think that feeling changes much from when you are a teenager to when you are an adult.  When I was young, I used to think I would have more control.  But I don’t.)

As the story goes on, I guessed what the truth was but it didn’t make it any less heartbreaking when it is revealed (the fantastically dark and horrible illustrations should be a clue) and it doesn’t fall under the cliche “The truth shall set you free”.