Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don’t quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there’s a visitor at his window. It’s ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.
I like a good spooky story as much as the next person, and thought that was what I’d be getting from purchasing A Monster Calls. Yes, there is a monster (of sorts), but one that’s more a reflection of inner turmoil and grief, than a physical monstrosity driven to send chills down the reader’s spine.
It’s a book that deals with the before and during stages of loss, breaking down the complexities of what the mind goes though during such a time, and how relationships with others change. I have to commend Ness for his treatment of the subject matter, using proverb-like tales that draw comparisons to Conor’s situation, with a common theme of dual perspectives that tie in to the plot’s conclusion. Commendation that unfortunately, only occurs long after reading. Needless to say, if you’ve suffered the loss of a loved one, this might not be an ideal read. As for myself, I lost my nan in February of this year, and the last thing I want is a book that’s going to make me cry (which it did). With that in mind, how can I honestly say how I feel about the book? Moved by the story itself, or my own personal loss?
Conor also endures isolation from classmates that essentially ignore him, a father who is both physically and emotionally distant (with more concern for his new family than Conor’s needs), and a grandmother who shows little regard for the emotional support he craves. Despite popular reviews for A Monster Calls, I confess that it’s not my type of thing. I found the book to be two hundred-odd pages of gloom and misery, and despite it winning awards and having been turned into a film, I hope it doesn’t end up on some poor kid’s required reading list one day!