Thursday, 29 December 2016

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
First published by Walker Books in May 2011. Bolinda audiobook edition, narrated by Jason Isaacs, published in 2011.

Featured in 5Books1Theme: Books To Film and one of my Top Ten Books of 2015

How I got this book:
Bought the audiobook from Audible

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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.

I spotted A Monster Calls as part of an Audible two-for-one offer back in 2015. A relatively short audio book at just under four hours, I listened to it in two chunks whilst walking around Mojacar in Spain. Had I known what an amazing listen it was going to be, I think I would have arranged to complete the whole tale in a single walk! I understand that the printed version has some excellent illustrations which are obviously not included in the audio, but, for me, Jason Isaacs' superb narration more than compensated. His voice and style are perfect.

Patrick Ness has an uncannily accurate understanding of the guilt and anguish of slow bereavement. His story is told through the eyes of a teenage boy yet Conor's emotions are universal and not restricted to someone of his age. I found myself identifying with his anger and dread despite having been more than twenty years older when going through a similar experience. Although intended for a younger audience, I think A Monster Calls would be a powerful listen for most adults as well. Conor's grandmother's tight-lipped reactions as she copes with both her grandson and her daughter are heartrending.

The portrayal of the tree is fantastic in all senses of the word and I loved the device of the four stories, both their non-traditional fairytale quality and Conor's contemporary retorts to them. Stories Are Important! I was surprised by how much I was affected by this story. It was a struggle to keep my tears at bay during the final chapters and I have been thinking back over it in the days since finishing. I now have a clearer view of my own experience and, thanks to that fourth story, an appreciation that it's not just me who has felt as I did. A Monster Calls is simply an intense and brilliant audio book.

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  1. I know this one is being made into a movie, which is just another reason for reading it because I have heard such brilliant things about the movie. I especially like the sound of all the emotions this book demonstrates so well in a way a reader can relate to and understand. Brilliant review <3

    1. Thanks Olivia! Very few books tap into my emotions as powerfully as A Monster Calls did.

  2. found it! :) oh wow I love your reviews. Love your writing style. BIG FAN NOW. Yes. This book is something else!