Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Review of a YA Titled A Monster Calls - It's a Good One

Our esteemed RBC member, Tina, told me I should read A Monster Calls.  So I did.  I guess you would call it a middle-grade/YA book, since the protagonist is 13. But, believe me, it transcends any specific age.  But what makes this book even more interesting is how it came to be written.  Siobhan Dowd was the author of 4 books.  Unfortunately, she died very young (47) in 2007.  2 of her books came out before she passed away and 2 after.  A Monster Calls would have been her 5th book.  As the author, Patrick Ness, says:  "She had the characters, a premise, and a beginning."  Several years later, Patrick, a gifted author in his own right (he had 4 published books, prior to AMC, along with many awards), was asked if he would write Siobhan's book.  He wasn't sure about it but, ultimately, agreed.  He not only wrote a very fine book, but he also stayed true to Siobhan's vision.

Here's the story line:

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.

And get this - it's been made into a movie that will hit the theaters this December 23.  It stars Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, and Liam Neeson.  If the studio is putting it out at Christmas, then my guess is that they expect it to do well.

There was a lot I liked about this one.  Shall I list them?  But, of course.

1.  The descriptions are very visual.  I really liked that.
2.  I smiled a lot
3.  I teared up a fair amount.
4.  The writing is extremely good.
5.  The stories that the tree tells Conor remind me of the grandfather reading The Princess Bride to his grandson.  I love that movie, so I thought that this was very cool too.
6.  There is a very good message at the end.

This guy can really write.  Let me give you just a couple of lines:
1.  Referring to bread and cereal from a health food store, Conor thinks: "It tasted as unhappy as it looked."
2. " was like a circle had opened around him, a dead area with Conor at the center, surrounded by land mines that everyone was afraid to walk through."

This is a very fast read and, as I said, geared for youngsters (which, to me, is anybody under 50!).  But whether you are 13, 33, or 63, you will like this.  It's a solid 3.25/4 for me.


  1. This book was one of my favorites when I read it in 2012. It is so emotional. I don't think the movie can live up to the book.

    1. This book again shows that regardless of genre or target audience, a good book is a good book.

  2. Does it fall within the horror genre? The mention of monsters/cover depiction make me wonder.

    1. Definitely not horror. I don't want to spoil anything, but "Monster" doesn't refer to an actual monster. You kind of have to read it in order to get it.