Book review: A Monster Calls (by Patrick Ness)

Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness
Page count: 237 (text-only paperback)
Rating: 5/5 stars

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*This review contains spoilers. For those who are interested in a TLDR: yes, you should read this book. No it doesn`t matter if you`re older than thirteen. I`m 25 and still thought it was a great book. Yes, it does deal with very heavy subjects like cancer and isolation and loss and guilt and grief, that`s the whole point of the book. But it does what The Fault In Our Stars doesn`t: it offers something to hold on to, a reminder that what you feel is okay to feel.

**Reviewer note: the version I review here is the one with the pretty flower cover but without the artwork inside. I hear a lot of people recommend the version with the artwork, and I might actually buy that version as well at some point, but for now this is why I don`t know if the artwork is great or if it really enhances the story in any way. It`s perfectly fine without the artwork, too, in my humble opinion.

Right, let`s move along.

Goodreads blurb:

“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.”

This book is the only book (sadface) I got for my birthday this year, at least so far – I`m looking at all my friends here. Come on guys, help a broke girl out and give me some books.

But as anyone who has read this blog this year will know, I absolutely love Patrick Ness`s books. So when I got this book, with its pretty cover with the slightly raised flowers and leaves, I was very happy to say the least. I tore my way through it last night, having finished The Night Circus the night before, and finished it within a couple of hours.

Do I even have anything bad to say about A Monster Calls?

Maybe just that it`s a bit predictable, but I`m kind of okay with that, actually. Yes, I could spot from miles away what the structure was like and what was going to happen, but here`s the thing: this book isn`t about surprises. It`s not about keeping you on the edge of your seat in excitement (even it still manages to do so).

This book is about grief, about loss, about feeling isolated and alone and not knowing how to deal with it.

It`s something all of us experience at some point in our lives, whether we`re 13 like the main character, Conor, or if we`re in our 20`s like me, or older. We all experience love and loss and bad situations and it`d be a miracle if we all somehow knew how to deal with it. I certainly don`t.

And what`s even better, is that this book also deals with the guilty feelings of the people who are about to lose someone. The guilt of just wanting that person to go ahead and die, just to get it over with and have this situation done. I`ve been there myself, and boy have I felt guilty (though my mom did come out alive and is currently downstairs happily watching TV).

This book, to me, felt therapeutic in its message. It literally says that it`s ok to have that feeling of just wanting to get the whole deal over with. It`s ok to want to let go of people so you can continue living again. That doesn`t mean you love that person less somehow, or that you`re being disrespectful.

I did cry a lot while reading this book. Like I said before: I understood what Conor was going through, I know those feelings. I had to put the book down a couple of times to grab some tissues and bawl my eyes out.  So be prepared for that when you pick up this book.

I recommend this book to everyone. No really, everyone. Even if you`re one of the few lucky ones who hasn`t lost someone to cancer, this book can still be a good reminder of what it can be like for the people involved.

Just make sure you have your tissues ready.

(Currently (re-)reading: Crusade In Jeans by Thea Beckman, which is a bit of a childhood nostalgia thing, and hopefully also the final book I finish in 2014. A masterpost of this year`s books & reviews and a general review of the year in books is coming up soon, so keep an eye out for that!)

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