March 26, 2012
A Monster Calls
by Patrick Ness
First sentence: "The monster showed up just after midnight."
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Every once in a while a perfect book comes along. One that engages you both in its story and the telling of it, and is so heart-rendering (and honestly so) that you find yourself aching because of it.
A Monster Calls is such a book.
I don't want to get too much into the plot, partially because it's a lot more complex than my measly summaries can do justice to, and partially the beauty of this book is in the discovering. Know this, though: it's no kids' book. I'm sure there are children out there who will be mature enough to get what's going on with Conor and the monster, and the sensibilities behind it all. But I also think that the more life experience you have, the more powerful this book is going to be.
For, like the monster, the sensibilities behind the simple story, are impossible old. Things like: stories not not just for entertainment, but to learn Things. Truths. And: not everything is simple, and can be wrapped up in a neat little bow. And: Monsters are the Other, which does not always make them Bad. And: sometimes, the person who needs healing is ourselves.
Know this, too, going in: you will cry. (If you don't, you're heartless.) And it will be honest, and well-deserved, because the writing, in its simplicity, is powerful.
I wouldn't hand this to kids, unless they are going through some traumatic (sorry, a bit of a spoiler there, but not much) situation. Then, I think this book would be a powerful tool for healing.
Because that's what good stories do.