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A Monster Calls
     

A Monster Calls

4.5 140
by Patrick Ness, Jason Isaacs (Read by)
 

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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,

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.

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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781455822485
Publisher:
Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
09/27/2011
Edition description:
Unabridged
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 6.50(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

A Monster Calls


By Patrick Ness

Candlewick Press

Copyright © 2011 Patrick Ness
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7636-5559-4


CHAPTER 1

A MONSTER CALLS


The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do


Conor was awake when it came.

He'd had a nightmare. Well, not a nightmare. The nightmare. The one he'd been having a lot lately. The one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming. The one with the hands slipping from his grasp, no matter how hard he tried to hold on. The one that always ended with –

"Go away," Conor whispered into the darkness of his bedroom, trying to push the nightmare back, not let it follow him into the world of waking. "Go away now."

He glanced over at the clock his mum had put on his bedside table. 12:07. Seven minutes past midnight. Which was late for a school night, late for a Sunday, certainly.

He'd told no one about the nightmare. Not his mum, obviously, but no one else either, not his dad in their fortnightly (or so) phone call, definitely not his grandma, and no one at school. Absolutely not.

What happened in the nightmare was something no one else ever needed to know.

Conor blinked groggily at his room, then he frowned. There was something he was missing. He sat up in his bed, waking a bit more. The nightmare was slipping from him, but there was something he couldn't put his finger on, something different, something –

He listened, straining against the silence, but all he could hear was the quiet house around him, the occasional tick from the empty downstairs or a rustle of bedding from his mum's room next door.

Nothing.

And then something. Something he realized was the thing that had woken him.

Someone was calling his name.

Conor.


He felt a rush of panic, his guts twisting. Had it followed him?

Had it somehow stepped out of the nightmare and –?

"Don't be stupid," he told himself. "You're too old for monsters."

And he was. He'd turned thirteen just last month. Monsters were for babies. Monsters were for bedwetters. Monsters were for –

Conor.

There it was again. Conor swallowed. It had been an unusually warm October, and his window was still open. Maybe the curtains shushing each other in the small breeze could have sounded like –

Conor.

All right, it wasn't the wind. It was definitely a voice, but not one he recognized. It wasn't his mother's, that was for sure. It wasn't a woman's voice at all, and he wondered for a crazy moment if his dad had somehow made a surprise trip from America and arrived too late to phone and Conor.

No. Not his dad. This voice had a quality to it, a monstrous quality, wild and untamed.

Then he heard a heavy creak of wood outside, as if something gigantic was stepping across a timber floor.

He didn't want to go and look. But at the same time, a part of him wanted to look more than anything.

Wide awake now, he pushed back the covers, got out of bed, and went over to the window. In the pale half-light of the moon, he could clearly see the church tower up on the small hill behind his house, the one with the train tracks curving beside it, two hard steel lines glowing dully in the night. The moon shone, too, on the graveyard attached to the church, filled with tombstones you could hardly read anymore.

Conor could also see the great yew tree that rose from the center of the graveyard, a tree so ancient it almost seemed to be made of the same stone as the church. He only knew it was a yew because his mother had told him, first when he was little to make sure he didn't eat the berries, which were poisonous, and again this past year, when she'd started staring out of their kitchen window with a funny look on her face and saying, "That's a yew tree, you know."

And then he heard his name again.

Conor.

Like it was being whispered in both his ears.

"What?" Conor said, his heart thumping, suddenly impatient for whatever was going to happen.

A cloud moved in front of the moon, covering the whole landscape in darkness, and a whoosh of wind rushed down the hill and into his room, billowing the curtains. He heard the creaking and cracking of wood again, groaning like a living thing, like the hungry stomach of the world growling for a meal.

Then the cloud passed, and the moon shone again.

On the yew tree.

Which now stood firmly in the middle of his backyard.

And here was the monster.

As Conor watched, the uppermost branches of the tree gathered themselves into a great and terrible face, shimmering into a mouth and nose and even eyes, peering back at him. Other branches twisted around one another, always creaking, always groaning, until they formed two long arms and a second leg to set down beside the main trunk. The rest of the tree gathered itself into a spine and then a torso, the thin, needle-like leaves weaving together to make a green, furry skin that moved and breathed as if there were muscles and lungs underneath.

Already taller than Conor's window, the monster grew wider as it brought itself together, filling out to a powerful shape, one that looked somehow strong, somehow mighty. It stared at Conor the whole time, and he could hear the loud, windy breathing from its mouth. It set its giant hands on either side of his window, lowering its head until its huge eyes filled the frame, holding Conor with its glare. Conor's house gave a little moan under its weight.

And then the monster spoke.

Conor O'Malley, it said, a huge gust of warm, compost-smelling breath rushing through Conor's window, blowing his hair back. Its voice rumbled low and loud, with a vibration so deep Conor could feel it in his chest.

I have come to get you, Conor O'Malley, the monster said, pushing against the house, shaking the pictures off Conor's wall, sending books and electronic gadgets and an old stuffed toy rhino tumbling to the floor.

A monster, Conor thought. A real, honestto-goodness monster. In real, waking life. Not in a dream, but here, at his window.

Come to get him.

But Conor didn't run.

In fact, he found he wasn't even frightened.

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.


A strange quiet fell.

What did you say? the monster asked.

Conor crossed his arms. "I said, come and get me then."

The monster paused for a moment, and then with a roar it pounded two fists against the house. Conor's ceiling buckled under the blows, and huge cracks appeared in the walls. Wind filled the room, the air thundering with the monster's angry bellows.

"Shout all you want," Conor shrugged, barely raising his voice. 1 ve seen worse.

The monster roared even louder and smashed an arm through Conor's window, shattering glass and wood and brick. A huge, twisted, branch-wound hand grabbed Conor around the middle and lifted him off the floor. 1t swung him out of his room and into the night, high above his backyard, holding him up against the circle of the moon, its fingers clenching so hard against Conor's ribs he could barely breathe. Conor could see raggedy teeth made of hard, knotted wood in the monster's open mouth, and he felt warm breath rushing up toward him.

Then the monster paused again.

You really aren't afraid, are you?

"No," Conor said. "Not of you, anyway."

The monster narrowed its eyes.

You will be, it said. Before the end.

And the last thing Conor remembered was the monster's mouth roaring open to eat him alive.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Copyright © 2011 Patrick Ness. Excerpted by permission of Candlewick Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

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

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

A brilliantly executed, powerful tale.
—School Library Journal

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

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

Meet the Author

Patrick Ness is the author of the Chaos Walking trilogy: The Knife of Never Letting Go, which won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and the Booktrust Teenage Prize, The Ask and the Answer, which won the Costa Children’s Book Award, and Monsters of Men. He has written two books for adults and is a literary critic for the Guardian. Born in Virginia, Patrick Ness lives in London.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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A Monster Calls: Inspired by an Idea from Siobhan Dowd 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 140 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
PlumPudding More than 1 year ago
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.
Bibliophile_TE More than 1 year ago
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.
AnnaNanner More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was absolutely OUTSTANDING
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Here is a book of the monsters we carry inside as we try to face the tragedies that life gives us.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book! The story was so beautifully written, I want to read it again!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is called "A Monster Calls" and is written by Patrick Ness. In the book, a young boy, named Conor, is visited every night at 12:07 for four nights by a monster from his nightmares. The second, third, and fourth night, the monster tells him stories about his life, in exchange for the truth from Conor. My favorite part in the book is when the monster breaks a hole in Conor's house, but when Conor wakes up, there are leaves covering every inch of his floor. I rated this book five stars, because it's a very intriguing book and grabs you right from the start.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At some point in your life, you will read this book. Even if you don't like the genre, you will like this book. I don't get emotinally inbest into books, but this was my exception. I cryed at the ending if this book. I didn't bawl my eyes out, but I had a,some tears. This book made me reavalueate my love for my a family, and for all the people in my life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Brought me to tears. Reminded me of the pain I felt when my mother passed. Great read.
alondra-stgo More than 1 year ago
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.
TheBumbleGirl1 More than 1 year ago
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.
crayolakym More than 1 year ago
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
acorley84 More than 1 year ago
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.
_Love_to_Read_ More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
sailaway7289 More than 1 year ago
Great book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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..
SunshineRising2 4 months ago
Oh so rare to find a book like this that pulls you in and makes you want to keep reading, reading, reading. What is happening and why? It is SO beautifully done. I am in awe of the storytelling power and metaphor here! This is the first time this year a book had grabbed me in so quickly and didn't let go! The artwork is heart-wrenchingly beautiful. It is "recommended" for ages 12-17. Any age reader will get something out of this work. (I always think of board games that say from ages 4-99 when I see an age restriction. Poor Grandma and Grandpa, on their 99th birthday, need to be told they can't play board games anymore? Yeah, no.) This book is stunning. Highly Recommend. Read about other books I have reviewed here: http://www.sunshinerising.net
Anonymous 4 months ago
Anonymous 7 months ago
Finished this book in just one sitting. Well worth the read.
Sandy5 9 months ago
Warning: listening to this audio while driving is hazardous. I finished this audio this morning while doing errands with my husband. I found that sitting too long at a stop sign can make other drivers angry and driving with blurred vision is a driving hazard, no matter how many times I wiped at my eyes, the tears just kept coming. As I pulled into the garage and shut off my car, my husband looked over at me and stated, “that one was an emotional one, huh?” After reading this novel, I knew I had to listen to it. I wanted to know if the strength that I felt in the words as I read them, were as powerful and intense as the author intended them to be. As I read the novel about a month ago, I felt at times that I was pounding out each word as I read, the monster and Conor each going at each other at full strength. As I listened to this 4-disc CD set, which was about 4 hours long, I was visualizing everything in the novel that I read. As the monster called out, “Conor!” I smiled as my body got chilled, this was exactly how I imaged it. Read by Jason Isaacs, he really did an outstanding job. I highly recommend this!! http://www.audible.com/pd/Teens/A-Monster-Calls-Audiobook/B005MS36EW