The First novel to win both The Carnegie Medal and Kate Greenaway Medal
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.
©2011 Patrick Ness, from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd (P)2011 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
Not for the first time am I little bit annoyed to read a rave review of a book that failed to mention that it's a children's book. But all in all, I still really enjoyed it.
Apart from the review, the cover really drew me in. I love the cover. I was a bit disappointed to discover that the physical book is chockablock with fantastic illustrations. Why are audiobook listeners deprived of these? Is there still some myth that most audiobook listeners are blind? I would have loved if the images were part of the download. Actually in a perfect world, a digital purchase would get you an audiobook and an e-book in package.
I also just finished listening to a Mark Kermode book where he said at one point "Look at the image below"!
@ Scattered Figments
This was a really touching story. Connor was a great lad and his situation was heartbreaking. His mother, who battles cancer throughout the narrative, was a brave and touching character. Connor's grandmother seemed cold and cruel at times, but was simply a woman trying to remain strong in the face of the inevitability that she would soon have to bury her daughter. Ness subverts expectations with this narrative. He highlights the often sad conclusions of so many real-life narratives, a theme that is all the more poignant given Siobhan Dowd's own untimely death due to breast cancer.
The eponymous Monster of the book was also a subversion of common conceptions. He wasn't scary in a conventional way. Even Connor wasn't scared of him at first. He didn't eat babies or terrorise villagers. He was scary because he made Connor face up to the unfairness of reality and made him see how frightening the truth can be. Sometimes the scariest thing about tragedy is how happy it can make us when it's over...
I enjoyed the tales told by the Monster as I've always enjoyed the sometimes dark-morality of fairy tales. Ness' monster captured this tone and atmosphere superbly. Yesterday I mentioned Stephen King's knack for capturing the perfect tone for dark bedtime stories and I have to repeat this praise for Ness today!
Overall, this was a moving story. It is impressive that such a short tale can have such depth and beauty, and it is also impossible to forget the circumstances that saw it being written. However, great stories live for a long time. It is a touching tribute to the imagination of a strong writer that this tale was given life by the incredible Patrick Ness. His skills breathed life into a tale that might have otherwise been left to dust.
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I've had a different Patrick Ness book on my Goodreads To Be Read list for ages, but recently spotted A Monster Calls as part of an Audible two-for-one offer so ended up buying it first. A relatively short audio book at just under four hours, I listened to it in two chunks whilst walking around Mojacar in Spain. Had I known what an amazing listen it was going to be, I think I would have arranged to complete the whole tale in a single walk! I understand that the printed version has some excellent illustrations which are obviously not included in the audio, but, for me, Jason Isaacs' superb narration more than compensated. His voice and style are perfect.
Patrick Ness has an uncannily accurate understanding of the guilt and anguish of slow bereavement. His story is told through the eyes of a teenage boy yet Connor's emotions are universal and not restricted to someone of his age. I found myself identifying with his anger and dread despite having been more than twenty years older when going through a similar experience. Although intended for a younger audience, I think A Monster Calls would be a powerful listen for most adults as well. Connor's grandmother's tight-lipped reactions as she copes with both her grandson and her daughter are heartrending.
The portrayal of the tree is fantastic in all senses of the word and I loved the device of the four stories, both their non-traditional fairytale quality and Connor's contemporary retorts to them. Stories Are Important! I was surprised by how much I was affected by this story. It was a struggle to keep my tears at bay during the final chapters and I have been thinking back over it in the days since finishing. I now have a clearer view of my own experience and, thanks to that fourth story, an appreciation that it's not just me who has felt that way.
A Monster Calls is a brilliant audio book and I believe any others I listen to in 2015 will be have to be incredible to match its intensity.
Everything about this audiobook is fantastic. From the beautiful story to the underlying thoughts it provokes, through to Jason Isaacs's perfect reading.
Hello to Jason Isaacs, of course, and he is a good place to begin. His voice wraps itself around Conor's world, leaving it unclear what's real and what isn't. He evokes the pain in Conor's mother and the concern of his grandmother, while also using his voice to enunciate the terror of the monster.
Patrick Ness's writing is superb. It is what he doesn't put on the page that truly shines - perhaps a strange thing to say about a writer. Certainly when it comes to Conor's mother's illness, a lot of it is left to the reader/listener to see between the lines; plus whether the monster is real or imagined and, ultimately, heartbreakingly, if it actually matters.
This is absolutely one of the best books I've had the pleasure of consuming. Utterly wonderful.
I really enjoyed this book due to fab. an idea of.................... A monster walking alongside with a young boy on his journey through living hell. The ordeal of his mother having cancer and all the elements which go along side. this In a senstive, thoughtful but clear and clever thought provoking way for all involved and through the all the stages of greif. I would like more.................. loved it. xx.
no, not really
i only read it cause i heard so much about and the awards it won but it didn't really live up to the hypes. overall i think it is depressing story and didn't seem to me like he got over his mother sickness or anything. what was the moral of this story again? hmmmm
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