A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{March 19, 2012}   A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Plot: Shortly after midnight, a monster appears at Conor’s window. But it isn’t the terrible beast from his nightmare, the nightmare that he has had since his mother first got sick. This monster is something ancient and wild. It returns night after night with stories and demands one thing from Conor: the truth.

This is a beautiful, lyrical story that explores grief, guilt and the nature of stories. It has real depth and deserves far more analysis than I can give it here.

Conor is a complex character who is deeply hurt by what is happening in his life, who needs someone to blame and more than anything wants to be punished for feelings he doesn’t dare admit. The bully that he uses for this punishment is an interesting figure because he seems to bully him simply because Conor wants to be punished. He seems less like a character than another face of the monster.

But though I felt for Conor, I was fascinated by the monster. It is never clear if he is real or not but that’s immaterial. He is a force of nature and he defies all expectations. He surprised a laugh out of me more than once. The stories he tells are dark and disturbing. They are twisty things and they make us think about the power of stories and the role they play in our lives.

Stories are the wildest things of all, the monster rumbled. Stories chase and bite and hunt.

Meanwhile the art is beautiful and evocative. It has the dark, indistinct feel of a real nightmare. It adds atmosphere to this thoughtful, troubling novel.

2012 (#30)


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