Monday, 14 July 2014

A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness

"Conor has had the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that dont quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight when he wakes, theres a visitor at his window. Its an ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth." 

Thirteen-year-old Conor has nightmares. He's losing his mother to cancer and he's losing himself, becoming detached from his own life and others. Every night he dreams a truth he does not want to face. One night, he hears a monster calling his name, and sees it walk from its place to his window. But he's not scared. There are worse monsters, and this is not the monster he was expecting.
This monster, an ancient kind of being in the form of a yew tree that has the ability to heal. He has come walking, because Conor had called him. And it wants to scare him. To tell him stories. To make him admit the truth of his fear, that he faces every night when he falls asleep.
The book is based around several concepts, but most of all Family, Illness and the ability to heal. but also the story is about stories, the strength of the stories we tell each other, and how they can affect us. Stories we tell can hurt and heal us if we use them for that purpose. as always this is a story that tells a story, it isn't rare to find a story within a story.The monster tells the stories, but they don't turn out quite as we might expect from our knowledge of childhood fairy tales.
The plot of Conor's story is quite simple. It is a journey of learning to heal, so there isn't a whole lot of anything even though some action, like his encounters with the school bully, and the clock at his grandmother's house. But mostly there is a lot of character development, and simple events that mould the family in the mist of illness.
I would recommend A Monster Calls to nearly any reader. Older teens might be put off by the young lead character or the simple story, but I hope you'll (if you're reading this) try it anyway. Some readers might find the monster frightening, but it is the best kind of frightening. The kind that shows you that maybe there wasn't so much to fear after all.
Even though the cover is quite intimidating and dark it isn't all that much scary, there is some violence but only of the bully kind. it is a deep story that you may interpret differently than to what I did, but I hope if you do indeed read it that you embrace it's many meanings. 

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