Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness
The monster showed up after midnight. 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 cancer treatments. This monster, though, is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.
I would not have picked this book up on my own. Sure, books about cancer can be good (a la The Fault in Our Stars), but in general, they’re really sad and you never know what you’re going to get. So I had no intentions of reading this book until it was a book club pick.
This book was not at all what I expected. I expected something sad, probably a tearjerker that involved a lot of Conor trying to hide how much he’s hurting. It was sad, but it was more…dark. The whole book was dark, with an almost nightmare feel. (The eerie illustrations certainly helped with the mood.)
The story wasn’t so much Conor’s mother having cancer as how people reacted to Conor because his mother had cancer, and how Conor dealt with it. The monster may have been a figment of his imagination (or maybe not – it’s never quite established one way or another), but its harsh manner actually helped Conor deal.
I don’t want to say too much more, because I don’t want to give any spoilers. I don’t want to ruin the experience. A Monster Calls isn’t good in the traditional, I-loved-the-plot-and/or-characters sense, but it is great.
Anyone who’s suffered something emotionally difficult – not necessarily cancer – will be able to relate to this book in a deep way. Not good, but brilliant.