A Monster Calls

( 91 )

Overview

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting— he's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient. And wild. ...

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A Monster Calls

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Overview

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting— he's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd— whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself— Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
There's no denying it: this is one profoundly sad story. But it's also wise, darkly funny and brave, told in spare sentences, punctuated with fantastic images and stirring silences. Past his sorrow, fright and rage, Conor ultimately lands in a place - an imperfect one, of course - where healing can begin. A MONSTER CALLS is a gift from a generous story­teller and a potent piece of art.
—The New York Times

A nuanced tale that draws on elements of classic horror stories to delve into the terrifying terrain of loss. . . . Ness brilliantly captures Conor's horrifying emotional ride as his mother's inevitable death approaches. In an ideal pairing of text and illustration, the novel is liberally laced with Kay's evocatively textured pen-and-ink artwork, which surrounds the text, softly caressing it in quiet moments and in others rushing toward the viewer with a nightmarish intensity.A poignant tribute to the life and talent of Siobhan Dowd and an astonishing exploration of fear.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Profoundly moving, expertly crafted tale... a singular masterpiece, exceptionally well-served by Kay's atmospheric and ominous illustrations... tackles the toughest of subjects by refusing to flinch, meeting the ugly truth about life head-on with compassion, bravery, and insight.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A brilliantly executed, powerful tale.
—School Library Journal (starred review)

Ness twists out a resolution that is revelatory in its obviousness, beautiful in its execution, and fearless in its honesty. Kays artwork keeps the pace, gnawing at the edges of the pages with thundercloud shadows and keeping the monster just barely, terribly seeable.
—Booklist (starred review)

A masterpiece about life and loss that will stay with the reader long after the final page is turned.
—Library Media Connection (starred review)

Children's Literature - Shirley Nelson
Thirteen year old Conor has a difficult life. His mother's treatments are not helping her cancer, he is bullied at school, and, most of all, he is haunted by a nightmare which he must never speak of. Then one night at 12:07 a.m., a monster arrives in the form of a giant yew tree. Conor thinks it is a dream, but in the morning, he finds yew berries and leaves on his bedroom floor. Even after his grandmother arrives to help and needs his room, the monster continues to visit at the same time in other parts of the house. The monster tells Conor stories, but demands that Conor tell his story and tell the complete truth. His mother must return to the hospital and Conor must stay with his grandmother. He takes his anger and frustration out on her furniture, but the destruction seems to bring them closer. Readers will share Conor's anger, fear, and feelings of betrayal as they read this sad, but inspiring novel and, with Conor, ultimately face his fear. In a note, Ness tells the reader that he wrote this novel in response to an idea posed by the late author Siobhan Dowd. Surely, she would be pleased at the result. Reviewer: Shirley Nelson
ALAN Review - Barbara A. Ward
Nightmares assail 13-year-old Conor each night. Frightened about losing his mother to cancer, Conor confronts a different type of monster who takes on the form of the yew tree near his bedroom window. The monster tells him three different stories, each revealing the problem with making assumptions, and then demands that Conor tell his own story. While Conor is facing down the monster, he must also deal with school bullies, a grandmother who is completely unlike his mother, and his own demons. When his teachers or classmates offer sympathy for his plight, Conor shuns them, insisting that his mother will be perfectly all right. As the disease ravages his mother, she lets him know that she has known his secret all along. This moving story about loss and the strength that comes from owning up to unpleasant truths is accompanied by haunting artwork that provides complementary texture to the tale. Reviewer: Barbara A. Ward
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763660659
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 3/12/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 50,719
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Patrick Ness is the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling Chaos Walking trilogy. He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children's Book Award. Born in Virginia, he lives in London.

Siobhan Dowd spent twenty years as a human rights campaigner for PEN and Amnesty International before her first novel, A SWIFT PURE CRY, was published in 2006. She won the Carnegie Medal posthumously in 2009 after her death at the age of forty-seven.

Jim Kay studied illustration and worked in the archives of the Tate Gallery and the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, two experiences that heavily influence his work. His images for A MONSTER CALLS use everything from beetles to breadboards to create interesting marks and textures. Jim Kay lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 91 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(60)

4 Star

(16)

3 Star

(12)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 91 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2012

    Moving, thoughful, and inspiring

    I bought this book mainly because I loved Patrick Ness' other books. I was a little surprised after finishing it and realized it had really touched me in a very real way. Mind you, I am in my forties and like young adult novels because they are easy reads. "Monster" is an easy read, but so thought provoking and emotional it felt like it was much more. My ten year old daughter is reading it now and thouroughly enjoying it as well. Highly recomended.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    a masterpiece

    Wow. I don't think any book has made me cry this hard (well, except for his Chaos Walking trilogy, that is). This book is poignant and beautiful. And REAL. Cancer has been in my life, and so this book struck a (really sad and deep) chord with me. Ness can really work his words, too. He has become my favorite author, hands down. This book is a masterpiece.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 2, 2011

    Great story and illustrations

    Don't dismiss this book because it is a Teen novel. It is a powerful story of love and grieving that grabs you and won't let you go.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2012

    AMAZING

    This book is the most amazing influential book I have read in a long while. Patrick Ness has an uncanny ability to reach his readers through his simple yet powerful words. Loved it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 27, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    An evocative story for all ages! Grade: A+ or 5 solid stars Th

    An evocative story for all ages!

    Grade: A+ or 5 solid stars

    This is a young adult novel with a simple enough beginning and an incredibly powerful ending! I'm almost at a loss for words.

    This is a story about a thirteen year old boy named Conor O'Malley. He's experiencing anger, anxiety, hope, and pain as his mother battles cancer. Bullies at school are tormenting him. His friends and teachers act as if he is invisible. Conor's father has moved on to a new family and provides limited support. His grandmother is abrasive and seemingly insensitive. This poor kid's life is falling apart!

    Conor O'Malley's voice is strong throughout the book. I felt his every emotion. The author pulled me through this book, never making anything too obvious. Conor's revelation at the end is heart-wrenching.

    There are two monsters in this story, the one from his secret nightmare and the one who comes calling. I'm not sure why some readers have this listed as horror. The monsters are merely expressions of Conor's fear and anger. Nothing scary!

    I believe the intent of A Monster Calls is to share the emotions surrounding dying and death from the perspective of a child. Patrick Ness accomplishes this endeavor gracefully. Even though I knew what was coming this story packed quite a wallop. This is a wonderful book suitable for young adults and older readers. Please be sure to have a box of tissues handy. You will need them!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 20, 2011

    Unbelievable!!!

    This has to be the best book I've read this year! I'd highly recommend it to a child 11 yrs or older, as long as they can handle stories dealing with loved-ones with incurable illnesses.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2011

    Read reviews AFTER you read the book

    This is an excellent book and should be read by one and all. I bought the book because of MR. Ness and knew nothing about the story ahead of time. I truly think that is how it should be read so I will give NOTHING away about the book, except that, you won't be dissappointed..

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2014

    RG We think the book deserved the "Carnegie Medal" for

    RG
    We think the book deserved the "Carnegie Medal" for literature and the "Kate Greenway Medal" for illustration because the pictures really harmonize with the text and the book really touched our hearts. Even though the book describes Conor's situation very closely, many details are left open to the reader. The book teaches at least one valuable lesson, namely whe you are in a difficult situation you have to call "your monster". No just kidding. When you are in such a situation you have to accept the truth.

    Overall the book is very beautifully written and we certainly recommend it to all readers out there.
    AniPat #DFTBA

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2014

    Beautiful

    This book is such a touching story. It is just so beautiful in the literature, and it will have you holding on to every word. Absolutely exquisite piece of writing here. So lovely. Thank you so much for bringing to us such a wonderful piece :3

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2014

    A Monster Calls - Review RG. Although there is a lot of fantasy

    A Monster Calls - Review

    RG. Although there is a lot of fantasy in A Monster Calls, the book still seems realistic. The story is sad, but in a way still beautiful. It shows how bad life can be, but also how much people can love. The illustrations support the gloomy sadness in the book in a effective way.
    I think the author Patrick Ness did a very good job of showing Conor's feelings. The story is emotionally moving. You can really feel Conor's pain.
    I would recommend this book to young adults, but they should be ready to deal with topics like terminal disease and death.
    R&L, DFTBA

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2014

    RG The book makes you feel sad and lets you think about it for a

    RG
    The book makes you feel sad and lets you think about it for a few days after you've finished reading it. The illustrations are really sentimental and fit very well. I find it great that you can read the book in two different ways; the monster being real or just Conor's imagination. If you like sad and emotional books I would recommend to you reading it. DFTBA AdrNik

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2014

    RG. The book is actually good. It¿s quite emotional; as the boo

    RG. The book is actually good. It’s quite emotional; as the book is written from Conor’s perspective it makes it even more depressing & you will probably end up crying with him. The question that comes up is whether the monster is real or Conor’s imagination.
    The pictures in it are really good & illustrative & match to the story.

    It also has some aspects that are disturbing:
    It is clear that Conor’s mom has cancer but the fact is stretched till the end of the story. Aside from that some of the unrealistic things are the bullies in school & Conor’s father.

    Overall the book is recommendable & interesting. It will probably stay in your mind after reading it.
    Diya & Chiara. DFTBA.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2014

    RG A monster calls is very intoxicating. You can really put your

    RG A monster calls is very intoxicating. You can really put yourself in Conor's position and you can imagine what his pain must feel like. The description of Conor's trials is very realistic and as a reader you want to help the suffering characters in the story, but that isn't possible.A few scenes are a bit overblown, though contrary to other "cancer" books, it's not the victim of disease herself that takes center stage, but rather the way in which Conor, the cancer victim's son, deals with his mom's terminal disease and her imminent death. What makes the book unique is that everyone can interpret it in their own way. You question both the fictitiousness and realism of the story.
    We recommend this book to people, who like stories with a deeper meaning. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2014

    RG This book is about the truth. It's the story of a young boy,

    RG
    This book is about the truth. It's the story of a young boy, who is struggling with his mother's disease. The autor's style is often overblown, when it comes to the description of the characters and it is often surrealistic. But nevertheless, the main character's feelings are described very realistically. One of the points of the book seems to be to come to terms with your own moral values, and the difference between good and evil- which in this book isn't an easy distinction to make, according to the stories that eponymous monster tells. Sadly, the book isn't very convincing in this regard because Conor thinks like an adult imagines a tvelve-year-old does, even if this way of thinking isn't real.
    Still the book is very moving and made us cry at the end. It may not be perfect but it does make you think about certain "truths" in life, such as death and loss of loved ones.
    DFTBA
    Dianma

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2014

    RG A monster calls is a very touching book. It's written in a si

    RG
    A monster calls is a very touching book. It's written in a simple but emotional way and it moved us to tears. Because of it's difficult plot in which a teenager has to deal with his mother's death, it's not really a book for children. Some of the characters are rather irritating, such as the absent father, the mean bullies and even Conor himself: They are neither wholy believable nor consitant as characters. The drawings really enhance the reading experiance, and although usually only children's books have drawings in them, this book seems more mature because of the drawings- They make it more vivid and graphic and the monster seems more real because of them.
    DFTBA
    T & H

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2014

    Unrealistic RG.We read this book in class and honestly we didn¿t

    Unrealistic
    RG.We read this book in class and honestly we didn’t like it that much. The main theme in A Monster Calls is cancer and dealing with cancer. This is a serious theme but in this book we felt that the way Conor (the main character) dealt with it, for example the way the other characters in the book treat him is simply unrealistic; especially the boy’s in his school, that bully him seem rather over blown – no twelve-year old would be so insensitive about cancer. 
    The monster may work well as a manifestation of his feelings, but somehow it also gives Conor a childish image; as teenagers we are “over” monsters. The looks of the book is in fact rather childish, because of the many pictures and the size of the book, which makes it look like a children’s book.
    A Monster Calls is often considered as youth literature but it has the feel of literature about youth; you really sense an adult wrote it with many stereotypical images of teenagers.
    But still, it’s very sad and pretty good story and might make you cry.
    Jumi #DFTBA

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2014

    RG 'A Monster Calls' is a good book, but it does not deserve the

    RG
    'A Monster Calls' is a good book, but it does not deserve the awards it has earned. The illustrations look nice, but not award-winning. The plot is interesting, but not completly convincing. The language is inventive, but revolutionary.
    *** INCOMING SPOILER ALERT ***
    'A Monster Calls' is about a boy growing up, but his story is overblown. The bullies cannot really seem to fit into the role assigned to them, his grandmother has an abrupt change of character halfway through the story and the ending could have used a bit more work.
    L & L, DFTBA

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2014

    Beautifully written... A MUST buy!!

    This book hit me full force. I didn't know what to expect. A close friend of mine told me this was their favorite book. I saw is was for younger audiences but after reading it...it's for everyone. This impacted me deep experiencing cancer on a personal level. I found myself relating and remembering memories. Its not just the events that get you but the lessons you learn within it. I think this has opened a new door within myself. This can definitely unravel parts of your life you didn't think was possible, if you take it to heart. Beautifully written and will definitely be reading this again. A book I would want my children to read later down the road.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2013

    Beautifully heartbreaking

    One of the best stories I have ever read. I cannot recommend this book enough. Do not let the target age range fool you. The story is a masterfully crafted tale of what it means to love, lose, and (worst of all) let go. Ness' words are chosen carefully, as he does not waste a single one of them. This book grabs you, shakes you, and changes you at your core. Buy this book now!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2013

    Is this book worth my while?

    I got this book from the school library and i nt know if i should continue reading it or just give up on the book.....can some one give me advice on the book?

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