Saturday, July 14, 2012

Review: A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls
by Patrick Ness
Young Adult
Read From: July 3, 2012 - July 4, 2012

I am having to abandon my “new” way of reviewing books for this one, because this isn’t a story that I can easily break into categories. The elements that I liked also frustrated me, and I am still honestly quite undecided about how I feel about this book. My Readers will be wondering, then, why I gave it five stars, and I must beg you to go on some faith, because I cannot wholly justify why I thought it deserved such a high rating; my gut told me that it should get five stars, so I listened to it. A Monster Calls is an inspirational story, but it isn’t your typical “young teen comes to terms with his life.” Nor is the book a horror story, but at the same it is. There is a monster in the story, and the monster is scary, and while the story does essentially end up being about Conor coming to terms with his mom’s cancer, there is a supernatural and very dark element to the whole thing. It isn’t a feel-good story; I didn’t feel cozy and warm inside when I was done reading it.

The illustrations are way awesome - and also extremely creepy. I made the mistake of showing a friend’s little boy one of the illustrations when he asked to see them, and his smile slipped off his face as soon as he clapped eyes on the monster peering through Conor’s window. It’s amazing what the illustrator did simply with different shades of black, white, and gray.

The end both frustrated and pleased me. It was frustrating because in the end I wasn’t sure if the monster was actually real or if he was merely a manifestation of Conor’s bitter thoughts and feelings. But I also really liked that! Somehow the monster seemed all the scarier to me when I started to suspect that maybe the monster was actually Conor himself. But I think I would have been a little disappointed if the Author had confirmed this. So, by the time I was done with this book, I was left feeling creeped out, frustrated, not at all inspired, and cold. But I was also left feeling strangely thoughtful, pleased that an inspirational story actually held my attention the way it did, and scared in the way that kids feel when they’ve done something terrifying and forbidden, and got away with it (like knocking on the strange neighbor’s creepy house, and lived to tell the tale). But other than the illustrations, I really cannot pinpoint what it is exactly about this book that I liked - and yet, I know I did like it. I am sorry I cannot give a more specific review, and I’m sorry I cannot wholly explain the five-star rating. But that’s the way it is with faith-reviews.

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