Friday, December 9, 2011

A Monster Calls-- Patrick Ness

I read this book around Halloween-time, and the absolutely breathtaking drawings (Jim Kay) made me feel extra creepy good. The story behind this book is as enticing as the story itself, and was what drew me to it initially. Siobhan Dowd, YA author of books like A Swift Pure Cry, Bog Child, and more, came up with the idea for this story, the characters, and the concept. However, before she could write it herself, she passed away. Patrick Ness was asked to take her notes and write the story for her. And that is what we have in this slim tome; the efforts of three people all mixed up into one rather emotional story.

A Monster Calls is a story of loss, day/nightmares, and monsters. It's Connor's story, and judging simply by the illustrations and the initial chapter, one might expect this to be a scary story. It's not. Actually, I found myself tearing up (ok I cried) at some points and being moved by Connor's struggles to fit in, and moreover, deal with the terminal illness of his mother. We experience Connor's life and emotions right along with him. We are brought in and out of dreams and don't really know which truth to believe.

For me, this book would be nothing spectacular without the magnificent illustrations. This is one of these books that tells some important bits of story through the pictures. I'll be interested if it garners any attention from the actual Printz committee because of it's unique (to YA) format. I would recommend this book to younger teens who won't be afraid of the pictures, anyone who is looking for a story about dealing with grief, teens who like sad or gloomy tales, or to people who enjoy fairy tales.

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