All he could feel, all he had felt since the monster revealed itself, was a growing disappointment. Because this wasn’t the monster he was expecting. “So come and get me then,” he said.
So begins A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, the story of 13-year-old Conor and the monster that visits him on dark night. The book comes out today in the US and to say I’ve patiently waited for this day is an outright lie. I’ve been toe-tapping, room-pacing, bouncing-in-my-seat excited waiting for this book.
Conor wakes one night to a monster outside, but it’s not the monster he’s been excepting from his nightmares. This monster, though, is ready to make a deal. The monster will tell him three stories and afterward, Conor has to tell him a story. And not just any story, but a true story. This monster isn’t even the worst of Conor’s problems. His mother is getting sicker, his long-absent father doesn’t know what to do with him, and his classmates bully and taunt. Conor finds himself drowning in pain, anger and helplessness when the monster finally demands his story. Will Conor be strong enough to face the other monster from his nightmares? The truth or something worse?
Ness is the author of the incredible Chaos Walking series (the first book was among the 2009 Best Books for Young Adults and the 2011 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults and the audiobook version was an Odyssey Award honor book). He based A Monster Calls on an idea from Siobhan Dowd (whose books have been on the 2008, 2009, and 2010 Best Books for Young Adults lists). The two authors had never met when Dowd tragically died in 2007 and Ness was asked to finish the story. Mixing ancient magic, the power of stories, and the tragedy of life, Ness creates a heartbreaking and exquisite story of loss and eventually healing.
Stories are the wildest things of all, the monster rumbled. Stories chase and bite and hunt.
If my clumsy attempt to describe one of the most emotional and well-written story I’ve read all year doesn’t convince you to read this NOW then the trailer certainly will.
— Amanda Margis, reading A Lesson in Secrets by Jacueline Winspear and listening to A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson