Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls. Patrick Ness.

Publisher: Walker Books
Release date: May 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 1406339342
Pages: 215
Goodreads || Book Depository

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.


5 stars

For a really long time, I was reluctant to pick up this book because I’d heard that it was a heart-wrenching story and that’s exactly what it was. It was a sad but absolutely beautiful story with some equally beautiful illustrations by Jim Kay. I’ll keep this review short and sweet because the book is a short one, and it’s probably also best that you go into it without knowing too much so that you can take from it your own messages.

13-year-old Conor is having a rough time. He’s being bullied at school. His mother is battling cancer and is incredibly sick from the chemotherapy. His father has a new family over in America and his new wife pretty much wants him to cut off ties with Conor and his mother. Conor is being forced to live with his grandmother, who’s not like the other smiley grandmothers in the world. And on top of all of that, there’s a monster who visits him in the middle of the night and leaves a terrible mess in his room the next morning.

I really felt for Conor and connected with him on an emotional level in this book. I felt all of his struggles and pain, and I couldn’t help but feel attached to his story. There were times when he acted like a little bit of a brat, particularly at the beginning of the book, but given the circumstances, I can forgive a young boy for not being a perfect angel. I actually thought that he handled his emotional struggles very well and I admired how strong he was when he needed to be.

The monster that visits Conor tells him three stories. These stories were my favourite aspect of A Monster Calls. They had a fairytale-like quality to them and I thought the messages and lessons they contained were very interesting. I wouldn’t have minded a whole book of just those stories to be honest, but I loved how these stories fit into the plot of the book overall.

There are some beautiful illustrations throughout the whole book. These illustrations appeared mainly during scenes where the monster visited Conor. They were slightly creepy, all in black and white, and were very intricate. I loved looking at them and trying to pick out little details that I would have missed at first glance. I thought Jim Kay’s illustrations really brought the story to life and enhanced it. I definitely recommend the illustrated edition of A Monster Calls!

I feel like this is a book I could recommend to anybody. I think everybody, including children and pre-teens, could take something away from this book. The ending of it affected me so much and had me reflecting on some of my own past and present experiences. And like I had anticipated, I ugly-cried for a while after it was over.


25 thoughts on “Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

  1. aentee @ read at midnight says:

    DID YOU CRY?! Omg I read this book when I was getting a hair perm (or something that required ridiculously long at the hairdresser’s) thinking that I could handle it and I ended up SOBBING. The hairdressers freaked out thinking I was upset about my hairdo lmao!! BUT YESS I am glad you appreciate this beautiful story. Now it’s time for you to read Chaos Walking AKA MY FAVE EVER.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      I didn’t cry until about the last 50 pages. I’ve heard so many people say that it was sad and I thought there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t THAT sad. But then the fourth story happened and I was like DYING from the feels. And when it ended, I cried for like 10 whole minutes.

      I am determined to get to Chaos Walking before the year ends! I just need to read Ice Like Fire, Six of Crows, Illuminae and Winter and I will be all set to experience everything that Chaos Walking has to offer. (I also need Kinokuniya or Dymocks Sydney to have The Ask and The Answer in stock.)


  2. Josephine says:

    I’m so glad you finally picked it up! Honestly the climax of this book had me in tears. And then again at the ending, I was sobbing uncontrollably!! Sadly I have not had the pleasure of seeing the illustrations! I need to buy it.
    Wonderful review 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      I almost died during the climax and ending as well. I was crying so hard by the end. But I love how the tree became such a support figure. That was so heartwarming 🙂

      I almost bought the non-illustrated version too but I’m glad I waited for the illustrated one to come back in stock. It’s so beautiful! I kind of wish I’d gotten the hardback though because the naked cover is AMAZING!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      Thanks Jeann! You should totally read it this month since the illustrations are slightly spooky and perfect for Halloween! Plus, it’s a quick read and you’ll be done with it in one sitting. Just have some tissues prepared because you’ll need them!


  3. drizzleandhurricanebooks says:

    Amazing review! I added this book to my TBR because of some great reviews I read about this, and, well, because I want to read more Patrick Ness, too! I think I’ll keep tissues close while I read…I cry so easily while reading books, I’ll definitely need some, haha! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. vlangloisx3 says:

    This book has been recommended to me over and over again, and your review is really pushing me to borrow it from the library. I love it when there are illustrations (even if they do sound a little creepy), and I had NO IDEA how emotional this book was until now. I AM READY TO UGLY CRY!

    Awesome review Jenna!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. napoleonsplit says:

    I absolutely loved this book as well- and am looking forward to starting some of his others soon. You are totally on point with the universality of this book- it read more like a narrative of human nature rather than a story about a boy and his mother. Great review!


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