Yay for free books, am I right?
I managed to get this book for free! At Waterstones, you can get these little stamp cards where you get a stamp for every £10 you spend in store, and when you get 10 stamps, the card will basically become a £10 waterstones voucher. So with my book buying being mostly in Waterstones lately rather than online, and with my inability to buy just one book, it didn’t take long for the stamps to build up and for me to get the £10 Waterstones spending reward.
And since I’d been eyeing up this book for so long…well, might as well get it with the voucher!
Little story aside, let’s talk about A Monster Calls!
Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series Status: Standalone
Number of Pages: 215
Goodreads | (Synopsis from back cover)
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 fro 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.
I can’t help but feel a little heartless right now.
I don’t mean to, I swear.
It’s just that absolutely every single person that made a comment about this book to me said I would cry. And while I was sceptical, I couldn’t help but believe everyone because I cry a lot. Honestly, I’m like an emotional drain and my eyes tend to leak a lot. Especially when it comes to books.
But the truth is, I didn’t cry. I didn’t even well up – which is especially rare since my eyes water on a daily basis for no reason whatsoever.
But honestly, I feel like it was my own fault. But I’ll come back to that later.
So, the thing that lured me to this book – and I’m sure it’s the same thing that lured most people in – was the drawings. Though it’s not a typical graphic novel, with the story told entirely through images, the drawings really do seem like one of the most important things about this book. It instantly makes the book look interesting. And with this drawing style, I expected the book to be gothic, almost horror-like with a slight edgy style. I was expecting darkness, terror, a shadowy atmosphere through the story.
But did that happen?
Not really, no. For all the talk of monsters and nightmares, there’s hardly anything scary about this story at all. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. It made me feel a bit detached though, because the atmosphere and overall look of the book didn’t seem to match the story…and I was more interested in the art than the story. I don’t think I’d have enjoyed the book as much without it. Or even picked it up in the first place, actually.
The art does make the novel a quick read though. I mean, it would be a fairly quick read anyway at just over 200 pages, but the added artwork means I flipped my way through the pages within an hour or so. (Which, thinking about it, could be another reason for my detachment from the story. Simply not enough time to sink into the words.)
This is the sort of book that has a lesson behind it. Yes, there’s a slight mysterious air surrounding it. Yes, it’s fast moving. But you see the main character go through so many emotions – pain, anger, confusion – and it honestly feels like you learn a lesson from it. Almost like there’s a “moral to the story”. Especially with there being small stories within this novel, smaller tidbits that seem like fairytales.
“Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?”
While I did think the book would be more dark and haunting, I did like the hopeful feeling it gave me. And the realistic side of confronting hard truths. And, actually thinking about it now, I probably related to this more than I originally thought, going through something similar at the same age as the main character. So this story being told from the view of a thirteen year old, I actually really appreciated. It was a nice change from the books I usually read (if you can call anything about this story “nice”).
As I mentioned at the start, I feel like it’s partly my own fault I didn’t feel as deeply affected as I expected. And that’s purely because of when I read it. I read this entire book on a gloriously sunny day, sat outside soaking up the rare warmth and enjoying myself immensely. Whereas this book is the exact opposite feel. As you can probably judge from the cover (although we’re not supposed to do that, ssshhh). Honestly, I can imagine myself rereading this is the future, wrapped up all cosy on a cold day, and devoting my full attention to the story rather than letting my mind wander in the heat of the sun, and I can imagine myself feeling so much more for this book. So while it won’t leave a lasting affect on me right now, I do think that if I reread it sometime in the future, it will do a lot more emotion-wise.
This book is definitely a unique take on the stress of family problems and illness, surrounding the story in a dark-stuffed bubble wrap casing for you to unravel. And while it didn’t emotionally drain me like I thought it would, the lessons told combined with the art make the story a wonderfully different read.
Rated 3.5/5 stars!
[Available in paperback – and also an edition without the artwork]
Share your thoughts!
Have you read this book? What did you think?
If you haven’t read this book, do you plan to?
Are you excited for the movie adaptation?
Have you read any of Patrick Ness’ other books? I’ve read More Than This and The Knife of Never Letting Go (though I haven’t read the last 2 books in that series yet)
Let me know in the comments!
Until next time…
Come and visit me!