A Monster Calls

( 104 )

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: 30,405
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 730L (what's this?)
  • 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
( 104 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(70)

4 Star

(18)

3 Star

(12)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 104 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.

    10 out of 11 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.

    8 out of 8 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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  • 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!

    3 out of 3 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 June 23, 2014

    I really did not enjoy this book much. Too much of the boy being

    I really did not enjoy this book much. Too much of the boy being bad and getting away with it because of his mother dying. Also, the whole book was a sad topic. 
    I would tell my 11 and 14 year olds to read it, but the unnecessary inclusion of a "coupling" and speaking of the couple being naked together was wrong. It did not enhance the book at all, and now I don't want my children to read it. The next sentence after the "lying naked through the night" sentence was a sentence telling that the couple was going to get married the next day. So not only was it telling about sex, but premarital sex in a book for teenagers. I am not a fan. I did like the drawings. It made the depressing book more fun to read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 20, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    After looking at the cover and reading the back cover, I started

    After looking at the cover and reading the back cover, I started reading this book still not coming remotely close to knowing what this book was actually about. This book is not only well written, but filled with a plethora of drawings throughout the book that add a deeper sense of where the story is headed.
    Conor shook his head. “That’s a terrible story. And a cheat.”
    Conor’s mom is very ill, his father walked out on them, and his grandma, who treats him poorly, is trying to force him to move in with her. Conor is constantly being bullied at school, has nightmares at night, and life just flat out sucks for this thirteen-year-old boy. That is until the massive tree in the backyard comes alive and is demanding the truth from Conor. Exactly what the truth is that the tree seeks is a mystery to Conor though. As Conor’s mom falls sicker, he becomes angrier and his life spirals into chaos.

    This book is about the burden of responsibility, grief, anger, and pain and the toppling loneliness that is associated with these burdens. Conor’s story will grab your heartstrings and  make you appreciate all that you have. I would recommend this book, but make sure you thoroughly enjoy the artwork alongside the story.*This book was provided in exchange for an honest review*        
    *You can view the original review at Musing with Crayolakym and  San Francisco & Sacramento City Book Review

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2013

    DINER

    Here

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    First, I must start off by saying that I don't know that there h

    First, I must start off by saying that I don't know that there has ever been a book that I have had such a hard time deciding what my rating
    would be, on top of what my review would be. 

    If there is a book for a person to connect with, this is the book. This is the closest to truth that I think I have found in my reading, other than
    reading a biography. I feel that as children, we all have dreams and possibly even reoccurring nightmares. We all also deal with "monsters"
    within our lifetime and this book does a wonderful job of depicting how a person may really feel while dealing with the monsters of their lives. 

    This book wasn't exactly what I thought it was going to be which is what made me give it an initial 3 stars upon completing it, however, upon
    thinking the premise and the story through, I have to say that I would give it at least a 4 star review. I was so happy to see that Siobhan
    Dowd had such a wonderful thought, and that Patrick Ness was able to pick it up after her death and finish it as though I feel she would
    have, could she have been given more time on earth to do so. I think the idea of this book was brilliant and one-of-a-kind.

    The story was very emotional which gave you a great insight into the characters. Everyone knows that life is really like a roller coaster and
    this book allows us to ride the roller coaster of Connor and his mother's life. The only thing that kept me from giving this book 5 stars was
    that it was more intended for a younger audience.

    Overall, it was a very easy (but emotional) read! I enjoyed being able to experience this book. I couldn't wait to get my hands on it from the
    moment it was recommended to me, and I am certainly glad that I finally got to be a part of it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    A very good book!

    If you get teary eyed easily you may not want to read but this book was very good. The graphics are amazing and the plot itself was suspenceful without being able to not guess the ending. If you want a short read or if you need this for school (i needed it for my college english class) this is your book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

    Amazing

    I loved this book and still do its painful to read at times but I loved it just the same because of just how amazing the story is. It is a deep piece that caused me to stop and tjink about the way I live my life. Also it is a great story not very happy maybe but still for those of you who have read because of Winn Dixie its melancholy just like the candy

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2012

    Hannah abbott

    I am a girl( i know the name gives it away) and i have read millions of sad books, books that make every one cry when they read it, and i dont cry. Just because im a girl doesnt mean i have cry at every thing. It is hard to make a book to make me cry and that is what this book did. One of the best books. Also try the knife of never letting go by this author. Whoever wrote im your boggest fan.

    1 out of 1 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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  • Posted November 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Marvelous!

    Great book

    1 out of 1 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 December 12, 2014

    Touching and heartfelt

    Brought me to tears. Reminded me of the pain I felt when my mother passed. Great read.

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  • Posted November 4, 2014

    A warm wake-up call:

    This story is one of the most relating ones I've read so far. Even though the main character is a young teenage boy, and his peculiar situation is not one everybody's been trough, it has many values and aspects that everybody goes through at some point in their life. It's beautifully written and Patrcik Ness has a magical way of expressing himself. It's a quick read, just over 200 pages long, and in all it's a very good book. If you're looking for a coming-to-age book, please give this one a try.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 25, 2014

    This book. There will never be enough words. My heart aches. So

    This book. There will never be enough words. My heart aches. So much. 

    This is a book that you will have to read for yourself. 
    I cannot tell you what it is about. I will do no justice in trying to summarize Conor's story. 
    Nor the Monster's story. 
    I do not trust my words. I will fail.

    You will feel things. Many emotions. You will need something to wipe your tears away... 
    And when you are done reading, you may need someone close by to hug. To hold you.

    As a mother of three boys, this is one of my biggest nightmares. I don't know if this book would have affected me so severely had I read it before having children... 

    There are a handful of books that have touched me. That I carry within my heart.
    There is only one other book that I cannot speak about; one that I instantly cry over every time I think about it... this book has now joined that one.
    But this book... will probably be the only one, that will forever live inside my soul.

    Mr. Patrick Ness... thank you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2014

    Awesome ^^

    A book about 4 tales which have no moral at all and 3 of them told by a tree, one by Connor a book that gives me courage to face my fears

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  • Posted September 13, 2014

    a touching story that will stay with me forever. for people of a

    a touching story that will stay with me forever. for people of any age to read. highly recommended!

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