Joe's Reviews > A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
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Oct 29, 11

bookshelves: young-adult, ya-book-club, this-stupid-book-made-me-cry, favorites, own
Read on October 29, 2011

The Ugly Cry.

You know the kind of crying that's so chest-heavingly horrific that you look at your face in the mirror during or after and what you see is so awful you think, "No wonder I'm single." or "If anyone saw me in this state I would definitely be single."?

The Ugly Cry.

I have wept during many books. Silent, salty tears. Or maybe a little sob escaping. Or maybe even a tough, sobering cry. But only three books have elicited the Ugly Cry.

1. Kate DiCamillo's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
2. Markus Zusack's The Book Thief

and now this, Patrick Ness's A Monster Calls.

All three of them are books written for children or young adults. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Literary World.

The allegory as literature is a slippery proposition. It is made even more slippery when it is written for a young audience. Many authors confuse children and teens with idiots and therefore carelessly trot out ham-fisted observations or didactic tropes that bludgeon the reader senselessly.

Ness, whose writing can punch and kiss in a single sentence (read his Chaos Walking trilogy if you don't believe me), does not make this mistake. Ever. He writes with brutal honesty and endless compassion, and he does not suffer fools. Nor does he treat his readers - young or old - like idiots.

The idea for A Monster Calls is not his own. Rather it is Siobhan Dowd's, a fine YA author whose life was eclipsed all too soon. Ness acknowledges this in his stirring foreword to the book. He claims that his only wish for the tale is that it would be one that Dowd herself would have enjoyed.

Certainly she would have loved it, for Ness breathes a fierce and fiery life into the idea. He gives it wings and passion and hope and everything else that makes a story better than just great, but makes it timeless.

There is little I want to say about the plot itself. I believe, actually, that the less one knows about A Monster Calls prior to reading it, the better. This is not because I think the book is terribly profound or life-changing, but rather that it is charged and truthful, and that it will validate the emotions of many children in the world who feel utterly, cellularly, singularly alone.

And that makes it a book worth championing.
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Quotes Joe Liked

Patrick Ness
“You do not write your life with words...You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.”
Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls


Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Jess (new) - added it

Jess Brown Ok, now I HAVE to read this book. It's going on my "to read" list!


Dani Yep. It made me cry. What a beautiful book! (And your review made me read it, so thank you!)


message 3: by Joe (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joe Yay, Dani! So glad you loved it.

Every single member of our book club cried, too.

It's just... so cathartic. And beautiful.


Ashley Blum This sounds awesome! I'm adding it to my list!


Angela I sobbed like a little girl when I read 'the book thief', I thought I was the only one!


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