This is a shorter review than I would normally write, but really that’s only because there are only so many ways I can say: READ THIS BOOK, without getting repetitive.
A Monster Calls is the story of Conor O’Malley – a thirteen year old boy with a recurring nightmare. He gets bullied at school, lives alone with his sick mother and gets regular visits from a monster in the night. The monster promises to help Conor in return for listening to three tales, and after the monster has told these tales, Conor must tell one back in return. And Conor has to tell the truth.
Even this briefest of synopsis for A Monster Calls is more than I want to write before saying “STOP” – just go and read it. It is a story of profound moral questions, belief at its purest and most importantly of all, the power and unpredictability of stories themselves.
The raw emotion of Conor’s life is harrowing to read, but never feels emotionally manipulative. Ness has created a story of absolute truth – whether you have experienced something like that of Conor in real life or not, it never feels anything other than true. That isn’t to say it’s not entertaining – the scenes involving the titular monster are electric and always satisfying, and Conor’s story outwith the monster is at times funny, shocking and filled with happiness and sadness in equal measure.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the illustrations throughout the book. Drawn by Jim Kay, this book is a stunning creation – if you can find a fully illustrated copy, rather than the text only edition, buy it. The art is haunting and absolutely perfect for the book.
Like I said earlier, this is a very short review – but really I think that just serves to show how I felt about the book. It’s more than deserving of the many awards it’s won, and although it is classed as a YA novel – everyone should read this book. Genre fan or not, A Monster Calls deserves to be experienced. It really wouldn’t be hyperbole to call this book a modern masterpiece, and I hope it’s seen as such in years to come.
Now, go read it.