The short: 4/5 ✦. A beautifully moving novel about grief, love, sacrifice, and monsters.
It’s hard to review a book like this, because a book like this is hard to dislike. A young boy’s mother has cancer. She’s dying. The boy doesn’t know how to deal with this, but he’s trying. He’s trying so very hard.
He washes his own dishes, does his own laundry, goes to school – he tries to be the perfect kid.
What else can he do?
But much like his mother’s fight for her life, he can’t keep this up forever.
And then there’s the whole monster in the backyard thing.
A Monster Calls is the kind of novel I wish I could have read in school or a book club or something. It yearns to be discussed, to be dissected. I know I missed something, and I wish I could talk out the more vague bits. When he did this, what did it mean? When that happened, what was going on?
It’s a story about grief, about denial, about death, and about living. What keeps it from being horribly depressing is the titular monster, who comes and tells the boy stories that both do and do not seem related to what’s happening in the real world. The monster is terrifying but not exactly scary. He can eat you whole – but his entire purpose is to help people. Or is it?
I realize that this review is rather vague itself, but it really is best to go into this without knowing too much. That being said, it’s a wonderful book. Sad, yes – but wonderful.
CURSE YOU, PATRICK NESS, FOR MAKING ME CRY YET AGAIN.
(no but please don’t ever stop)
Also, it seems like some copies of the book have illustrations. Mine didn’t, perhaps because it’s paperback, so look for one that does if you want pictures.
Header image: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (and Siobhan Dowd), published August 27th 2013 by Candlewick Press.