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Saturday, 11 February 2017

Review: A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness (based on an idea by Siobhan Dowd)

I was looking through the huge stash of books that I had borrowed last summer from my school library but hadn't managed to read yet. I picked up A Monster Calls, not knowing anything about it or that a film adaptation was about to be released. The librarian had recommended it, so there it was in the pile.

I tore through the book in just a couple of hours. For those who don't know anything about the story, it is about a little boy called Conor who has to deal with something that all of us would hope never to experience - a parent (in this case, Conor's mum) living with cancer.

Conor wakes up having had a nightmare - the nightmare - which has been afflicting him for months. All he wants is some help, but help comes in an unexpected form; a monster, which appears outside his window. Conor doesn't know whether or not to believe that the monster is real, but over time, he accepts that he is. The monster has appeared to tell Conor three stories, none of which seem very helpful or fair at first. Conor is also suffering at school, isolated and bullied in turn. When Conor finally understands what the monster is trying to tell him, he reveals what his nightmare has been about, and this is a huge moment of catharsis.

It is one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking books I've ever read. Building on Siobhan Dowd's original idea, Patrick Ness has created a story that gets you in the heart and soul. It definitely needs a box of tissues to hand, even if you're not a usual crier.

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