Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness (from an idea by Siobhan Dowd)
Audio Read by: Jason Isaacs
Date Read: 13/11/2015 – 15/11/2015
This is a really gorgeous book. Its story is simple, and it is simply told, but that’s what makes it so good. I listened to the audio book, so I missed out on the by-all-accounts beautiful illustrations, but I got Jason Isaacs as a narrator, so I feel that’s a pretty decent trade off.
Conor is thirteen years old, and life is not that great. His mother has terminal cancer, his father has gone to live in America with a new wife and baby, he is bullied at school and he has to live with interminable grandmother. Oh, and he’s plagued every single night by the same terrible nightmare. And then, the Monster shows up. It tells Conor three tales and in exchange expects one from him – the Truth.
Because I’m masochistic and sometimes read negative reviews of books I really liked, I saw some reviews that say they didn’t think Conor was a realistic character, or that he sent a bad message to kids dealing with a family member with cancer. I disagree. People deal with awful situations in different ways, and Conor has a lot of anger bottled up inside him. He doesn’t necessarily deal with it in healthy ways, but I don’t think that makes him unrealistic. I also don’t think Patrick Ness set out to show us a perfect role model.
Though it was pretty easy to guess most of the book’s trajectory, I was still crying when I reached the end.
Jason Isaac’s narration of the audio version was fantastic. He somehow managed to cover all the extremes – 13-year-old Conor, who is angry and afraid, his gradually weaker mother, his brusque grandmother. He even managed a weird hybrid British-American accent for Conor’s father. But regardless of what format you choose, you should definitely read this book!